An unexpected treat

Today’s picture shows yet another visit from the slender robin.


Coincidentally an early frost and my newly ordered yaktrax both arrived this morning which gave me an excellent opportunity to try the yaktrax out.  At first sight I thought they looked unpromising but I strapped them on and ventured out into conditions which our postman had warned us were lethal.  Within seconds, I was running down the ice bound drive in complete safety.  They are very effective and I was only sorry that the temperature soon rose and cleared the ice away.  I would like to thank Mrs Uphilldowdale for pointing me towards these.

The first bird to appear was a chaffinch and it sat in the plum tree in lonely splendour.

lonely chaffinch

Before long a blue tit appeared as well.

chaffinch and blue tit

And soon the goldfinches were in full swing on the nyjer seed feeder.  Following our prime minister’s lead in Europe, it was every man for himself.

goldfinch aggression

goldfinch dispute

goldfinch mob

In between times, I managed a first and (just) caught a coal tit in flight.  You can see that this one has been ringed.

coal tit

On the ground, a dunnock quietly gets on with the task of stoking up.  They seem to keep out of scraps with other birds.


I was pleased to see a greenfinch back as they have not been regular visitors.  This one looks like a young bird to me but, as they say, what do I know?


In combination with a chaffinch it provided a colourful show in the plum tree on an otherwise grey day.

feathered fruit
Feathered fruit

We had a sudden rush of blackbirds and I was taken with the handsome appearance of this one.


They were skipping all over the place.

skipping blackbird

Finally, in this set of pictures taken around ten o’clock in the morning, the sparrows formed up in a nice diagonal line for me.

Is this a pecking order?

The day had warmed up sufficiently for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her courage in both hands and drive to Newcastleton where the embroiderers were having one of their celebrated pub lunches.   I expect they have themselves in stitches with their witty repartee.

Pausing only to take one more bird picture….

flying chaffinches

…and have a cheese toastie for my lunch, I got out the slow bike and set off to go round the morning run a little belatedly.  I hadn’t expected the frost to clear so well and it turned out to be the best day for cycling some time, an unexpected bonus.

It was still only 3C but there wasn’t much wind and I had two layers of clothing on any moving parts and three or four layers on the stationary bits of me so I was perfectly cosy as I pedalled along.  I took the bike path beside the new Auchenrivock diversion and soon met with three or four patches where running water across the road was still frozen so I changed my plan and headed back onto the main road which was ice free.

I went down to the bike shop in Longtown and booked  my speedy bike in for a winter service.  Levi was so taken by my winter cycling get up that he took a photo for the shop website.  I am not quite sure what it will represent.

On my way, I looked at my speedometer and I seemed to be going quite well.  It doesn’t matter how many times it happens but when you are going well, you always attribute it to your manly thighs or your big heart and never entertain the possibility that the wind may be behind you or that you might be going gently downhill.  However reality hit when I looked at my speed at Longtown and reckoned that I would have to face the wind on the way home.  On this one occasion however, I had not deluded myself and the wind was in fact behind me on the way home with the result that I managed the 22 mile trip at exactly 14mph which made me very cheerful on the slow bike.

I took two pictures en route.  The first shows the border as I came back into the Scotland.

border sign

The Gaelic phrase underneath the welcome says ‘please repatriate our powers’.  It’s a message to Eurosceptic English Tory MPs.

I took the second picture for Gerry, who asked in a recent comment if there are ever any cars on our roads.  Of course there are, Gerry.  Here’s one at about 2.30pm on a Saturday.

heavy traffic on the A7

For those who don’t know, this is the main trunk road between the north west of England and the East of Scotland.  It is not always this busy.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had already returned safely from Newcastleton and was busy sewing a couple of costumes for the community pantomime.  I had a moment to look out of our window.

A siskin gives me a cheery nod

Saturday nights are set aside for home entertainment at Wauchope Cottage as first Strictly Come Dancing, Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite,  arrives on our telly and later the subtitled Danish delight, The Killing, my favourite, comes along.

A flying coal tit, a pleasant pedal, a plate of lamb stew and two good telly programs.  Could there be a better day in December?

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

8 thoughts on “An unexpected treat

    1. To be quite truthful it is usually a fairly busy road and I mostly use it at weekends. It is new and is only one and a half miles long and since I contributed to the many millions it cost to build, I like to enjoy a bumpless pedal on it every now and again before hitting the poor surface at either end. The side roads are often atrocious.

  1. Enjoyed all the sideswipes at Cameron and the blackbirds particularly. Very good that the yaktrax worked so well, they will be very useful when/if you get lots of frosts and snow.

  2. I’m pretty nothing when it comes to sparrow-like birds. I would call those small birds sparrow. It makes me wonder if the bird that visited me the other was actually not a sparrow… hmmm could you tell when you saw the photos in my blog?

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