On thin ice

Today’s picture, which was sent to me by Dropscone’s niece Hilary, shows dawn over Lake Zurich.  It was taken by her husband.

Lake Zurich

Today was another brighter day with some morning sun so in spite of pretty low temperatures, Dropscone and I embarked on the morning pedal.  It was cold but sunny and there was no ice on the puddles so we were enjoying ourselves.  As regular cyclists will already know, councils will put salt on main roads in anticipation of icy conditions but cycle tracks will not be treated until hell freeezes over.

In fact is was not hell that froze over today but, out of the blue,  the cycle track at Hagg-on-Esk and after sliding my way over a large section of ice, I took fright and persuaded Dropscone to cycle for the rest of our trip on the main road, a thing he doesn’t enjoy at all.  Fortunately it was a holiday and there was no heavy traffic which made it less alarming than it might have been.  Instead of going round our usual morning run, we headed down to the border with England and there turned for home.  In a curious turn of fortune, the wind blew us up the hill to the top of the Canonbie by-pass on the way south and then blew us up to the top again on the way north.   I hope this is a good omen for the coming cycling year.

Here is Dropscone after enjoying the first post cycling coffee of 2012.


Sandy has given me a copy of the films taken by Dropscone’s uncle that the Archive Group has had digitised and by chance, Dropscone was able to see himself on my laptop as a very tiny boy on one of the ones we looked at over coffee.

After we had had our coffee, I went up with a fresh bag of birdseed to fill up the feeders at the moorland feeding station.  It was lucky that I had a bag of seed about me as the feeders were very low.  I stopped for a moment after I had filled them to see what birds were about.

MF Great tit
A great tit takes one of the newly provided seeds

Greenfinches are supposed to be generally in short supply but there were plenty her today.

MF Greenfinch
On its own
MF greenfinches
..and in company

I am happy to say that a woodpecker also made an appearance even though it was on the ‘wrong’ side of the track and hard for me to see.

MF woodpecker wrong side

Before I had gone to the feeder station, I had been offered a glimpse of the common ‘Jardiniere Curvata’ and I was pleased to see that the normal order of things has been resumed.

the gardener

She was still at work when I got home again.

I took a picture of a flying chaffinch just to demonstrate the improved light in the garden today.

flying chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal also pointed out a cowslip in bloom which is very unusual for this time of year.


Although the weather has been very miserable, it hasn’t been really cold and she is beginning to worry that the plants will think it is spring and then get clobbered by late frosts.  We could probably do with a couple of really cold days fairly soon.

Because it was still quite pleasant, we went for a walk after lunch.  It threatened rain every now and again but we got round dry.  We headed along the path above the Lodge Walks.  Above Pathhead, I took a shot which really shows how tucked into the valley Langholm is.

Langholm in valley

Nearly everyone in the town is fed up with the blue netting round the scaffolding on the Erskine Church which you can see in the middle of the picture.  It has been up for literally years and is an eyesore.  No-one seems to be able to do anything with the church building which has been out of use for a long time.

We passed this curious old building sunk into the ground.

Sunken building
We think it might have been a game larder or even an ice house

While I took the picture, Mrs Tootlepedal strode out along the track.

Striding out

I was struck by these two fine conifers with Timpen in the background.


We headed home from the North Lodge by way of the bank of the River Esk.

River Esk

As we went along the Castleholm, we noticed these trees looking rather unnatural in their shape.

Brush top trees
The trees that used to stand between them and the wind have been cut down, leaving their spindly trunks exposed.

Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that this ha-ha looks much older than it is.


In fact it was built only a few years ago to keep animals off the new playing fields.  The landlord insisted on having this elaborate device rather than a simple fence to avoid spoiling the view of the fields from a house that was knocked down in 1953.  I think that I am not the only one who should get out more.

We passed by the elegant Duchess Bridge which I never tire of seeing. It was probably the first cast iron bridge to be completed in Scotland.

The walk came in at a fraction under three miles and I was pleased that my knee had got through a short cycle ride and a walk as well with no aggravation of the problem.  I had a celebratory bath when I got back with some posh huile de bain which I had been given for Christmas.  I may be old and creaky but I am a delightfully smelling old and creaky person now.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

5 thoughts on “On thin ice

  1. The countryside photos are always great.

    Your curious building reminds me very much of the half-buried structures that the farmers once stored their crops of potatoes in back in my home province. My Grandpa had one. I don’t know how likely that is in your area.

  2. Glad the ‘huile de bain’ was a success, that your knee is not too bad and that you didn’t fall off your bike on the ice. Loved the picture of the flying chaffinch, very clever.

  3. I’m not sure and may stand corrected but I’ve got a feeling that the curious building would be a water reservoir for the lodge. The game larder is the wooden building on the right just before Holmhead.

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