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Archive for March, 2012

Today’s picture is from my brother’s recent skiing holiday in Avoriaz.  It makes me ill just thinking of how steep the ski run must be.

Avoriaz

We had a bit of a stay of execution with regard to the promised cold weather and although it was a bit colder, it was still a lovely spring day with a lot of sunshine.  A light northerly wind put a bit of chill into the air and I was well wrapped up as I set out on the (fairly) speedy bike to put in a few gentle miles to end the month.  I headed up the A7 towards Mosspaul once again as it is an easy ride with no steep hills at all.

The traffic was light but I was passed by two caravans, the first of the year.  Caravans are a cyclist’s nightmare as they swing along behind the towing car.  The car is often driven by someone who forgets how long his caravan is when he passes a cyclist and cuts in alarmingly.  The two today were very considerate though.  I stopped to take a picture of one of the many little glens that I pass on my way.  This one is to the east of the main road.

Ewes valley

It is sad to think that I will never have the legs to walk over these delightful hills again but at least I can enjoy the view as I cycle past them.

I looked back down the valley to the south from the same point.

ewes valley south

There had been a tiny sprinkle of rain as I started out but as you can see, the weather was brightening up behind me and I got home dry.

I stopped at the summit of the hill to take a picture of the Mosspaul Hotel.  It has been neatly done up but is closed for business at the moment.

Mosspaul Hotel

Mosspaul Hotel 2012

mosspaul

Mosspaul Hotel 1904. There were more cyclists then.

It had taken me 57 minutes to pedal the ten and a half miles up the hill and into the wind and I got my reward for the labour in the 32 minutes it took me to cycle back again.  This left me with an average of around 14 mph which is my target at present.  It also took me over the 400 miles for the month and although this is 100 miles less than I would have liked, it made March the best month of the year for pedalling so far.

I made up a fancy spreadsheet for recording my cycling statistics at the beginning of the year and I said at the time that being so well prepared would probably lead to trouble and so it has proved.  Still, the spreadsheet has columns in many pretty colours and I enjoy filling it in, even with reduced distances.

Once home, I was able to look for any birds in the garden.  After yesterday’s generous supply, we were on short commons today but I was pleased to catch to rare visitors.

blue tit with a face

A blue tit with a face

great tit

A great tit later in the day. It looks as though it is grasping a seed.

There is still no sign that our new bird box is going to be used unfortunately.

One siskin turned up but made enough fuss for an army.

aggressive siskin

This picture was a revelation to me as I thought when I was taking it that the chaffinch had been driven off empty beaked but as you can see, it was so quick that it landed and took a seed before retreating.

aggressive siskin with chaffinches

And once again, both chaffinches had secured a seed before taking to their heels.

Even though, apart from the daffodils, there are not a great many plants in flower, there are still some good colours in the garden at the moment.

perpetual wallflower

A perpetual wallflower, a recent purchase.

biennial wallflower

A biennial wallflower, grown from seed by Mrs Tootlepedal

flowering currant

The flowering currant is fully out now.

Apart from the flowers, some other plants are interesting to look at as well.

A sedum

A sedum

Inside the house, the amaryllis has taken full advantage of a sunny windowsill.

amaryllis

Mrs Tootlepedal spent another busy day in the garden.  Here she is doing mysterious things in some bushes.

mysterious gardening

The leeks are getting towards the end of their useful life and will need to be picked and frozen soon but I dug up a couple and made leek and potato soup for lunch.  After lunch, I  gradually, with rests, got on with turning the next set of compost into the empty bin I had created yesterday and then started on the task of turning the most recent heap into the space this created.  And so the endless process of composting goes on.  I enjoy it.  I know you can just leave compost to moulder away over the years but I like to be able to use last year’s plants to help this year’s growth.

It turned into such a lovely afternoon that I thought we should do something with it so we went up to the moorland feeding station to see what we could see but sadly, except for the charm of the freshly green trees in the glade..

feeding station

…there was nothing much to see as there were less birds there than there were in our own garden.  I had my special bird watching stool but even sitting on that did no good and we returned home without a picture to show for our visit.

chaffinch triangle

This was just about the busiest moment of the day in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal threw herself back into the work of cutting back old growth which we then shredded and added to our freshly turned pile of compost.  Nothing is safe from the clippers.  I always stand well back myself just in case she is tempted to cut me down to size too.

Some shrubs survived and glowed very nicely in the evening sunshine.

Philadelphus

A philadelphus

A spirea

A spirea

A jackdaw was also taking in the ray in the rays.

shiny jackdaw

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sell programmes at the Wizard of Oz and I sat quietly, recovering from what has been quite a busy day for me.  I am coming to terms with the fact that I just can’t do this year what I could do last year and that I must be patient, which is not my most prominent characteristic.

I struggled all day to try to find another bird to act as chaffinch of the day but in the end I had to settle for a chaffinch and by the time I caught him, the light had gone.

chaffinch flying

 

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During the dry weather there has been a lot of heather burning on the hills and today’s picture was taken by my recorder playing friend Susan on one of her walks.

Ewes valley

Oh horror! Today dawned with the town covered in a thick mist and the natives could be seen wandering around pathetically crying, “Who has stolen the sun?”  Fortunately by coffee time, the mist had burned off and we had yet another lovely day to enjoy.

While it was still misty, I went up to the health centre to see my doctor and her advice, on hearing that fairly energetic cycling on the day after I had taken my new medicine had made me feel very tired, was for me not to do too much energetic cycling, especially on the day after I have taken my new medicine.  It is reassuring to see that all those years of training have paid off.  Apart from that I was given the OK and returned home in good spirits.

Dropscone had sneakily gone out for the morning pedal alone while I was at the doctor and had done an extra hard section too but he made amends by bringing round some of his treacle scones to have with our coffee.  He told me that he would sue me if I mentioned that these, although still delicious, were not quite up to his usual standard so I won’t say a word.

The misty weather had brought the birds back to the garden in force and there was a wide selection to see throughout the day, starting with a rook.

one rook

One rook

two ducks

Two ducks

three starlings

Three starlings

four goldfinches

Four goldfinches

five mixed finches

Five mixed finches

..and a partridge in a pear tree.  (I made that one up.)

As I was taking the doctor’s words to heart and not cycling in spite of the glorious weather, I had plenty of time to watch them.  I also had time to finish the sieving of the compost in one bay and to start the transfer of the next oldest heap into the now empty space.  I did this in very easy stages with a good rest in between every small effort.  I was proud of myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal meanwhile was her usual active self around the garden.  The chief task of the day was to treat the front gates.

front gates

Her capacity for crouching is remarkable.

I used some of the sieved compost to try to level up the new part of the middle lawn, which in spite of our best tramping endeavours when we seeded it, is far from the same level as the existing grass.  It will be interesting, at least to me, to see whether we can get it all level with repeated applications of small amounts of compost from time to time.

The rather flat light at the beginning of the day turned out to be good for taking pictures of flowers…

wallflower

A wallflower in the front bed.

bergenia

An infant bergenia

…and quite good for chaffinches too, with no distracting shadows.

chaffinch

There was a full avian palette today with visits from a single siskin..

siskin

 

…and a brambling.

brambling

There are hordes of blackbirds about and this one was making himself look assertive on the flat feeder.

blackbird

I was quite unsympathetic towards the ducks and hassled them until they left the garden and went back to the dam behind the house.  While I was shooing them along, I noticed this charming flower, a vinca major, just peeping through the bridge railings.

vinca major

The weather is due to cool down a lot and whether any more plants will come out over the next week or so is a moot point.  I will keep an eye out.

All in all, I spent a very pleasant day, pottering about inside the house and out in the garden, doing a crossword here and a garden task there, mowing an occasional lawn, drinking a cup of tea and all at my own speed.  I hope this restful behaviour will let me get out for a decent pedal tomorrow.

Equalling my peaceful demeanour was this frog…

frog

…which spent the best part of the afternoon absolutely still, resting its chin on the top of the water.

I was sitting out under the walnut tree and admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s industry when I noticed that there were a lot of insects about on the box bush nest to me.

insect

I don’t know if there was some sap on the leaves that attracted them.  Sitting there also gave me a different view of the seed feeder outside the kitchen window.

chaffinches and greenfinches

Chaffinches and greenfinches

By the end of the afternoon the gates were looking very tidy indeed.

closed gates

A very pleasant, peaceful day was brought to a satisfactory end when I took the chance of watching Glasgow play Cardiff at rugby on the telly.  It was an entertaining match and as Glasgow won handsomely, all was very well.  (Warning of curmudgeonly remark coming up.) An additional benefit for us is that the commentary is in Gaelic so I can’t understand a word of it.  This is much better than trying to make sense of what a sports commentator is saying when he tries to talk English.

While I was doing this, Mrs Tootlepedal was using her new walking foot to do some quilting.  Two happy people.

I was spoiled for choice today but in the end, today’s chaffinch turned out to be yet another chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s picture  is from my sister Susan’s recent visit to Cyprus where she saw many antiquities like this.

cyprus

Our summer in early spring continued for another day today but as Dropscone was away on family business, I took the opportunity to have a lazy morning and recover from cycling 300 miles in 16 days with one day off.  This is not a lot by last year’s standards but it is a lot more than I have been able to do so far this year and I was feeling the effect.

I did have the strength to go out into the garden and wander around while Mrs Tootlepedal beavered away with trowel and hoe.

blackbird

The garden is full of blackbirds at present and this fine fellow was singing lustily in the walnut tree.

daffodil and friend

Unlike last year's early spring, there do seem to a fair number of insects about this year.

daffodil

The various daffs are enjoying the sunshine a lot.

Inside the house the sun is doing its job too.  Mrs Tootlepedal received a gift of an amaryllis from Margaret, one of our neighbours and it had been sitting looking uninterested on a windowsill until this burst of sunshine  brought it into bloom.

amaryllis

Birds were few and far between again and I had to snap one when I could.

sparrow on branch

Greenfinches were back.

Greenfinch pair

Whether these are the same pair as yesterday only an expert could say.

I did manage to sieve another bucket of compost and have nearly emptied one of the bins.  In spite of her morning of hard work, Mrs Tootlepedal was keen to go for a cycle ride and by the time we had eaten lunch, my energy levels were sufficiently high for me to go with her.

Pausing only to catch two chaffinches in flight…

chaffinches in flight

The nearest one is obviously one of the folding chaffinch family

…we set off at a very sensible pace up the Wauchope road.  Thanks to the mellow weather, I was clad in a natty pair of shorts and several people fainted as we pedalled through the town but we got up to the Kerr wood without misadventure and, once there, we set out on the new road after throwing the bikes over a locked gate.

The start of the road

It was a minor adventure because we didn’t know how far the road went and in spite of appearances the surface was very rough.  The road has been built up so much that it is quite nerve wracking to cycle near the edge as there is a drop of over a metre in places.  The first part, as you can see, rises gently and we stopped at the top of the hill to take a breather and admire the view.  This wasn’t very great because once again, it was a very hazy day but we could see the road stretched out in front of us.

New road

That is Tinnis Hill in the background.

We bumped and bobbled along and once again the appeal of off road cycling as a hobby escaped me. It seems somehow perverse to take a machine that works so well on smooth tarmac and deliberately joggle your internal organs up and down while going rather slowly.   Chacun á son gout.

The road makers have more or less obliterated the original green road that ran here, though we did notice the vestiges of one of the old stone bridges.

culvert

You can still see some of the original stones round the pipe.

The road turned out to go the whole way to Old Irving and so we pedalled on down to the A7 to make our way home.  We saw three buzzards in some sort of flying competition near the farm.

buzzard

Only one stayed still long enough for me to catch it.

It was good to be back on tarmac and to have a tree or two to look at as we pedalled.

Old Irvine tree

We plunged under the new road to get to the old A7 and the cycle track.

Auchenrivock diversion

Functional and elegant in its way.

We dallied for a moment by the Esk to enjoy the view and watch a pair of oyster catchers and I was enraged to see a pair of goosanders swim serenely by knowing that I hadn’t got the good camera with me.  I could hear them chuckling as they paddled off.

Goosanders on the Esk

There they go.

Our trip turned out to be a round ten miles and apart from the bumpy surface of the new road, it was a real treat to be out in the country on such a lovely day.

I had felt pretty good after I got warmed up on the journey but I had to retire for a little lie down when we got back while Mrs Tootlepedal continued in active vein, cutting the back grass and collecting yet more manure from Liz’s manure mine.  Things should grow well this year.

I got up and picked up the good camera.  There was an item in the papers today about how the starling population seems to be declining sharply in Britain but we still have a few round the garden.

starling

At the smaller end of the food chain, the pond is full of skating bugs.

pond skater

A fine example of surface tension.

Some chaffinches appeared as the evening drew on.

evening chaffinches

After tea, I went to the Archive Centre with Sandy.  Jean had toothache and couldn’t join us.  Sandy made up a new set of pictures for the window display and I am so old that I appeared in one of them looking remarkably slim.  I put a week of the E and L into the database and we are now up to the second half of 1882.  There was an epidemic that year and we are recording many infant and child deaths which always makes us grateful for our present universal free health service.

We enjoyed a pint of Deuchars after work and agreed to meet during next week, as Sandy is on holiday, to do some extra work on digitised home movies which we have been given.

I managed to find a chaffinch of the day in the evening sunshine.

chaffinch flying

 

 

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Both my brother and my eldest sister have been on their travels again and have provided me with many pictures.  Today’s shows a fine sunset in Avoriaz in France where my brother went skiing.

It went various shades of red

We had yet another fine mid summer day in March today and it was enough to encourage me to say yes when Dropscone rang to ask if I was fit enough for a pedal round the morning run.  We set a target of being eight minutes slower than yesterday and nearly managed it, with the result that I felt a great deal better for the rest of today than I did yesterday and I was able to do Dropscone’s scones justice with our coffee.

After coffee, I went into the garden to have a look around.  There were tadpoles wriggling about in the pond…

tadpole

…and daffodils simply bursting with colour.

daffodil

One advantage of a town garden is that we can get the benefit of our neighbours’ plants as well as our own.

over the hedge

These are Florrie's flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal’s own flowers are coming on by the day.  Here are a couple of aubretias just getting going.

pink aubretia

blue aubretias

A flowering currant is on its way as well.

currant

The birds were pretty scarce once again but we do seem to have a regular pair of greenfinches.

greenfinches

And two goldfinches but since I can’t tell if they are male or female, I don’t know whether they are an item or not.

goldfinches

I sieved another bucket of compost before lunch while Mrs Tootlepedal busied herself with tidying up the plants round our drying green.  (My task took me ten minutes, hers took her two hours.)

We are thinking of this season’s vegetables and since in previous years, a good crop of potatoes numerically has been spoiled by a lot of slug damage, I am going to try growing some in bags this year to see if that produces a good crop and keeps them slug free.  Thus after lunch we set off on a tour of garden centres with a potato bag in mind.

At the first one we visited, we bought an additional bit of composting kit. At the second,  Mrs Tootlepedal bought a perennial wallflower.  At the third, she bought a spirea and there we finally found some nice bags for growing potatoes in so we were both happy as we went home.  I know that it is possible to grow potatoes in an old dustbin or a black plastic bin bag but aesthetic considerations come into it and we thought the bags we bought will look good as well as being practical.

As the afternoon went on, the chaffinches arrived at the feeder outside the dining room window.  If I appeared at the window, they flew away.  We continued this amusing game for a while and then with great cunning, I drew the curtains and poked the camera through the gap in the middle.  This kept both the chaffinches and me happy.

chaffinch bookends

A matched pair practising to be book ends.

chaffinch with seed

The purpose of the visit demonstrated.

two chaffinches

It even got busy for a moment or two.

I was interrupted by seeing a blackbird trying to become a chaffinch of the day.

blackbird flying

Nice try

In the evening, We went to the new singing group again and enjoyed an excellent sing.  The chap who is taking it has a nice relaxed manner and unlike many people who take choirs, it doesn’t look as though he is going to shout at us.  He has got us singing in parts and considering I haven’t done any singing for thirty years, I am surprised at how well he has got us going.  I hope the group grows and thrives.

There was no substitute for a real chaffinch as chaffinch of the day.  I caught this one as the light began to fade.

chaffinch flying

 

 

 

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Today’s picture was sent to me by my son Tony just to show what a nice day it was in Edinburgh today. Any advertising is entirely coincidental. They all got sunburnt.

Painters painting

We had another uncommonly warm and sunny day here again today after a chilly start. It is rather weird to have midsummer temperatures when there are no leaves on the trees. I saw several butterflies which is unheard of in March. I don’t know what they will find to feed on.

butterfly

butterfly

Dropscone also appeared and we whizzed round the morning run in our fastest time of the year. This whizzing may have been a bit too whizzy for me as I was absolutely jiggered for the rest of the day and frequently had to interrupt whatever I was doing to have a little sit down and rest. I have been able to bicycle every day for the last ten days so perhaps I am getting a message to slow the pace down a bit and allow for some recovery.

Anyway, the frequent rest breaks gave me plenty of time to admire Mrs Tootlepedal’s hard work in the garden. She did a power of work cleaning up the surrounds of the pond.

stone

She stabilised this big dated stone which was in danger of collapsing into the pond. Our house was owned by a stone mason at one time and we have a few of these dated stones about. We wonder if they came from the big mill across the road when it was demolished. A new extension to the mill was built in 1866/7 so it would fit.

Owing to the continuous gardening, the few birds that there are left were keeping away from the feeders and there was little opportunity to catch them in flight.

I saw a starling gleaming in the sun on a wire.

starling

They are the shiniest birds I know.

There were no new flowers to see either but the grape hyacinths are coming along well.

grape hyacinth

After lunch I went out for a very gentle walk to see if I could find a bird or two by the river.

oyster catchers

Two oyster catchers demonstrate the legs up and legs down method of post perching.

There was not much to be seen there so I took a few shots of the streets in the beautiful weather. It’s a trite thing to say but it is amazing what the eye ignores when it looks at a scene and what the camera cannot ignore. There is a vast amount of poles and signs all over Langholm.

The Wauchope and Caroline Street

The Wauchope and Caroline Street

Elizabeth Street with blossom

Elizabeth Street with blossom

The western approach to the town from Pool Corner

The western approach to the town from Pool Corner

Caroline Street with the golf course and the monument in the background on Whita Hill

Caroline Street with the golf course and the monument in the background on Whita Hill

Although the Esk is running low because of the lack of rain, the water is still very clear.

Esk

I took this peaceful reflection in the Wauchope at Pool Corner.

Wauchope at Pool Corner

It was a lovely day for a walk in spite of the absence of exciting birds to snap. I found a somnolent slow worm instead.

slow worm

When I got home, I had just enough energy to sieve a small bucket of compost and then I required a good sit down. Luckily Mrs Tootlepedal had stopped gardening long enough to make a batch of scones so I was able to refuel.

I came out into the garden to sit down and admire Mrs Tootlepedal who was still hard at work until my eye was distracted by the insistent calling of this little bird.

bird in a bush

It turned out to be a blackbird when it emerged onto the hedge. It looks like a young one to me but Mrs Tootlepedal thought it was a standard female.

blackbird

Having done a bit of research, I think Mrs Tootlepedal is right.

Two birds were to be seen in the shelter of shrubs.

sparrow

A female sparrow

A male chaffinch

A male chaffinch

I should have gone to Carlisle in the evening to play recorder but Susan had been away in York on business and couldn’t get back in time and I felt just too tired to think that I could drive safely by myself so I rang Jenny and called off. This is a very rare occurrence as I thoroughly enjoy our weekly session and do my best not to miss it..

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see the Wizard of Oz and I had a quiet night in.

So in the end it was a mixed day. The cycle ride round the morning run was great (as were Dropscone’s scones as usual), the weather was fantastic, the bird life was minimal and the recorder playing non existent. In the great ledger of life it went down as just breaking even.

I did manage to catch one flying chaffinch late in the day when the light was beginning to go so today’s chaffinch is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture gives a feeble impression of another night scene.  It shows the moon and Venus which were dazzlingly bright as I came home tonight. They looked much closer together in real life than in the picture.

moon and venus

Our unseasonal fine weather continued, although it was quite chilly (4°C) when Dropscone arrived for the morning pedal.  By the time we got round, the temperature had risen to 8° and I was overdressed.  The pleasant, nearly windless conditions gave us the opportunity to set our best time of the year so far, though still not as fast as we would have done it last year.  However as we just exceeded the magic average speed of 15 mph, the scones tasted extra good with our coffee.

The winter rush of birds round the feeder seems to be well and truly over and I have to work a lot harder to get a good action shot.  I settled for some sunny portraits in the morning today.

greenfinches

A pair of greenfinches, female at the front.

Goldfinch

A severe looking goldfinch regards me with suspicion.

chaffinch

A perky female chaffinch.

sparrow

A sparrow perching.

Mrs Tootlepedal went to a choir practice while we were cycling and on her return took the Kangoo up to the manure mine to do some serious manure collecting with our neighbour Liz, who is the owner of the manure.

manure

For a small car, the Kangoo is a handy workhorse, bikes or manure are all in a day's work.

They then went back and got a second load which was delivered to Liz.

While they were gone, I sat in the warm sunshine with the camera to hand.

pulmonaria

I passed this thriving clump of pulmonaria on my way to the chair.

elder

The variegated elder outside the dining room window was looking very fresh.

There was a woolly willow catkin (salix lanata) just beside my ear as I sat.

catkin

The walnut tree is the last to get leaves but on a sunny day, I like it better in its bare state  than when it is clothed.

walnut

Looking across the front lawn, I saw a blackbird hopping about on a hedge.

blackbird

I don't know where it had got the worm from.

The daffs on the far side of the middle lawn were looking cheerful.

daffs

I apologise if some of the garden pictures are a bit mundane but they act as a record for Mrs Tootlepedal so that she can check what things were out at a given date.  And I like looking at them anyway.

After lunch, I packed some Handel sonatas and my recorder in a bag and went up to the High Street to play them with Mike (cello)  and Isobel (piano).  It was the first time that I had played with them and I enjoyed it a lot.  Having a cello to add beef to the bass line is a rare treat for me, though Mike was complaining about not having his own share of the tune to play.  It can’t have been too bad as we have agreed to play again next week.

On my way home I was unexpectedly entertained by Bob and Nancy to a cup of tea and a tea cake so life was exceedingly good.

There was slightly more bird feeder action in the afternoon so in between mowing the front lawn (or ‘pressing the moss’ as we call it at this time of year) and sieving another bucket of compost, I was able to catch a chaffinch in flight.

chaffinch flying

And on one occasion, two at the same time.

chaffinches flying

The other day I saw jackdaws systematically trying and succeeding in ripping the top of the fat ball feeder so I have put it back in its fortress and mover it off the plum tree. I am happy to say that the sparrows have found it in its new position.

fat ball fortress with sparrow

The birds are no fools and today I watched a rook lifting a peanut feeder off its wire hanger and throwing it to the ground.  This was no accident as it had two or three tries at it before it succeeded.

Mrs Tootlepedal washed the inside of the car after her manure collecting and I was shamed by this into washing the outside of the car.  It is not somethinmg that I do often but I think once a year is not too much to ask.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came.  He is taking a flute exam this week and I hope he manages to play as well as he can because if he does he will certainly pass it. It is heartwarming to see how much he enjoys playing.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Hawick to hear a lecture from a chap called Andy Wightman, a campaigner on land reform and for more openness on these issues.  He is the author of a fine book called ‘The Poor Had No Lawyers’.

I went to the Buccleuch Centre to watch our local musical theatre group perform a production of The Wizard of Oz.  It was a very enjoyable evening with some excellent singing both from the soloists and the chorus.  It is a pity in a way that the best song in the show comes in the first few minutes  but the girl playing Dorothy sang it so well that it brought a tear to my eye.  Bob, who was the Tin Man, did exceedingly well considering that he was suffering from a heavy cold when we had tea in the afternoon.

I did manage to find a chaffinch to appear in the role of chaffinch of the day.

chaffinch

 

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Today’s picture shows Dropscone (left) and the rest of the Langholm Golf Club team that lost a match at Innerleithen today.  They seem to have taken the defeat well.  They appear to be a fine body of men in every way.

Team golf

We had another unnervingly fine, warm, still day today.  This is not the weather we expect in March and we fear that we will be punished by the weather gods later in the year but nevertheless, we are enjoying it while we can.

The birds must be enjoying it too because they are out and about and not hanging around our bird feeders any more.  There was a single siskin this morning.

siskin

The only one of the day

Apart from that there was nothing to  photograph.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church to sing in the choir and I spent the morning peacefully snoozing in my armchair in front of the telly, an unheard of thing for me to do, as I regard TV in the morning as the work of the devil….especially on a fine cycling day like today.   Nevertheless, I needed some recovery time as I was very tired when I got up and the relaxation paid off because when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church, I was ready for fun so we set off to have lunch at a pub on the southern shores of the Solway.

When we got to the sea, the shore was lined with anglers, each with their rods resting on little tripods.  The sea was some distance away but by the time we had finished our lunch, it had arrived.

Solway anglers

They seemed so regularly spaced that we thought it must be a competition but very few fish if any seemed to be caught while we watched.

We had a traditional lunch of roast meat and veg in the garden of the Hope and Anchor at Port Carlisle and then parked by the shore.  It had seemed a pity to waste some really flat country so we had packed our bikes in the car.  Now we got them out and set out to do a very gentle bicycle ride.

Go to work bike

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought her go to work bike.

Our route was a simple rectangle, south, east, north and west.

Port Carlisle is so called because it was the sea end of a canal linking Carlisle with the Solway.  We crossed the route of the canal soon after we left the car.

canal

The sky was hazy and there was no chance to take pictures of the wonderful views of the Lake District or the Solway which we would have been able to see on a clearer day.  I had to settle for a tree instead.

tree

View or no view, it was a lovely day for a leisurely pedal along quiet lanes and we enjoyed  ourselves very much.  The flat terrain allowed us to achieve a speed of 10 mph for the 9 mile trip without even trying which made the whole thing even more satisfactory.

We parked the bikes when we got back to the car and walked down to the water’s edge.

solway shore

The tide was right in and the weather was so calm that it was more like being beside a lake than the sea.

grassy shore

With the salt marsh grassland meeting the water and the haze making the far shore almost invisible, it was a distinctly other worldly experience and we just stood quietly and savoured it for a while.  Then we returned to the car and drove home.  The new northern Carlisle bypass made the trip exceedingly painless and we arrived home feeling that we had had a really good day out.

The clocks went forward last night and so there was still a lot of the day left and I had time to sieve another bucket of compost and Mrs Tootlepedal did some useful hoeing in the eternal battle to keep unwanted plants at bay.

The daffodils along the back path are coming along strongly now.

back path daffodils

There was the occasional chaffinch about.

chaffinch at feeder

And a starling was calling and flapping on a wire at the back of the house.

starling

One of neighbours has been doing up a derelict shed on the other side of the dam and his wife was sitting in the evening sun watching him work.

Charlotte

Posing for the camera

Her husband peeked shyly round the shed door.

Kenny

The renovated shed is a great improvement to the scene at the back of our house and well worth celebrating with a can.  Their dog looked on.

dog

It really is strange weather for March.

I had a last chance to snap what was the busiest moment of the day at the feeders.

busy moment

Then all that was left was to try to come to terms with the new clock times which is a thing that gets harder and harder with age.

Tonight’s chaffinch is a chaffinch.  There was little alternative.

evening chaffinch flying

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