Calm before the storm

Today’s picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  It show Parliament Hill Fields in London.  One of the best things about London is its many green spaces.

Parliament Hill Fields 2nd Dec 2011

It was freezing when we woke and the snow was still on the ground so there was no question of cycling.  Mrs Tootlepedal even abandoned her cycle and walked to work which is most unusual.  I waited in to greet a gas engineer who came to install a new insulated pipe which will, we hope, mean that the condensate from our condensing boiler won’t freeze this year.  He had to work in rather cramped conditions.

Gary, gas engineer

He exhibited a slight tendency to cry when he first sized up the job and realised that he might have to drill a hole through our very thick stone walls.  He brightened up a lot when he discovered that previous plumbers had made a start for him and there wasn’t far to go.  In the end he made a very neat job.

the new pipe

The installation of the pipe, tested to -20C, should ensure that there is no chance of very cold weather this winter.  To make assurance doubly sure, I was so taken with the name of the non-slip footwear mentioned by Mrs Uphilldowndale in her comment to yesterday’s post that I checked them out and have ordered a pair for myself.  I am now expecting the mildest winter on record.

Bruce and Dropscone joined me for coffee and scones.  I could get used to coffee and scones without having to cycle twenty miles first but it would destroy my moral fibre.  It doesn’t look as though we will get a pedal soon as the forecast for the next few days is terrible with a combination of gales and icy conditions in store for us.  Still, I read a regular report from a body called Meteogroup in my newspaper and never a week goes by without terrible weather conditions leading to typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, floods, fires or droughts somewhere in the world so I keep reminding myself how lucky we are to live in such a kindly climate.

The birds were as active as ever.

skinny robin
The slender robin appeared today
robin drinking
A drop of the wet stuff

After the recent visit of the blackbird with a black beak, we got a more regulation bird today.


The goldfinches were both busy…

goldfinch eyeballing
Not seeing eye to eye

…and sedate…

perching goldfinch

At the shady end of the garden, they were queuing for the feeders.

feeder frenzy


As you can see from the perching goldfinch picture above, in spite of the low temperatures and brisk wind, it was a temptingly sunny day and after lunch Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove down to the Hollows and enjoyed a walk through the Byreburn wood.

The little streams in this wood have cut deep channels over the years and we walked up the road that runs beside one of these.

The Byre Burn
Mrs Tootlepedal striding out
Mrs Tootlepedal striding out, well wrapped up against the cold wind.

Half way up the track there is a waterfall.  This is known as the Fairy Loup after a story that in times past someone leapt unscathed over the burn at this point.

The Fairy Loup

It would have had to have been a fairly hefty leap.

The falls at the fairy Loup

Although it had threatened to rain as we walked through the wood, we emerged at the top into a fine sunny spell.

View at Gilnockie

We walked back to the car down the road and I stopped to take a few pictures of the woods as we went down the hill.

Byreburn wood

I am particularly fond of mature woods which have clear ground beneath the trees.

Byreburn woods 2

I even took an arty shot which is quite unlike me.  We were actually looking vainly for some slime mould at the time.

mossy stump

On our way home we went up to the Moorland feeders but it was blowing a gale by this time so we didn’t linger there.  On our way back past Broomholmshiels Cottage, I had to apply the brakes quite sharply because of these two fellows engaged in a staring out competiton.

sparring pheasants

I drove to within two feet of them and still they didn’t budge.  In the end I had to get out of the car before they wandered off, still giving each other hard looks.

Our walk was just over one and a half miles long and that is about enough for my knees at the moment.  I was pleased to sit down when we got home.

Near a window.

Great tit
A male great tit

A redpoll was very obliging.  First it showed the characteristic pink breast.


Then it showed its deep red head.


I stepped up in class from mince and tatties by making eggs florentine for my tea and then enjoyed an hour of mumphing about the terrible failure of Channel 4 News to make a good job of interpreting the interesting times in which we are living.

When I have posted this, I will put in another week of the E & L to round off a quiet but rewarding day.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

4 thoughts on “Calm before the storm

  1. Woberful redpoll and very cheeky pheasants, good news about your boiler for this winter. I thought about getting those things to walk on snow and ice but, since they don’t work on hardsurfaces I thought I wouldn’t get much use out of them. Hope you find them useful.

    1. They are extremely inconspicuous. We must have had them in the garden before I got a camera but I only noticed them with the aid of the zoom lens.

      I hope I find the yaktrax as useful as you..

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