Today’s picture, from my sister Mary, shows two pelicans reading an information board to find out what species they are.
The wind had dropped, the sun had come out…and it was below zero so the morning pedal was postponed for an hour. By 10 o’clock the temperature had crept up to 3 degrees and we set off, well wrapped up and keeping half an eye out for icy patches. Luckily the roads were so dry that we had no trouble except for negotiating a lot of fallen small branches and twigs on the A7 cycle track, a consequence of the recent high winds. As this track is never swept, it will remain like that for the indefinite future.
We felt so good that I had to ease off over the last few miles again to avoid going too fast. This is a nice problem to have at this stage.
What with starting the cycling late and then doing a little work on the compost heaps, I didn’t pick up the camera until after lunch which is most unusual. Luckily the birds were still hanging about waiting to get their pictures taken. It was a chaffinch heavy day as the siskins have gone off again.
The one on the left would have been chaffinch of the day if her right wing had not gone fractionally out of the frame. She’ll learn.
Mrs Tootlepedal dug up the last of our leeks for freezing and I took two of them to make a leek and potato soup. When we had enjoyed a bowl of this, we set out for a gentle spin on our slow bikes along the forest track to Potholm Farm.
We were looking for the lonesome pine. It was not difficult to find it.
Those are not the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in the background. The surface of forest tracks goes through a cycle. They wear out into potholes which are bad to cycle through…then they cover the road with loose stones to fill the potholes and that is very hard to cycle on…then the stones get bedded in and for a while the track is ideal for cycling until the potholes start to appear again. Today the track was in an ideal condition and with my front suspension working well, it was kinder to cycle on than the appalling surface of the back roads Dropscone and I had been round in the morning.
Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the first wild bluebell of the season by the roadside. It was in a clear felled area with a good southerly aspect and must have been getting a lot of the recent sun.
When we got to Potholm, we made a short diversion to Staplegordon churchyard and we were impressed by the large motte nearby on which Barntalloch Castle once stood.
We headed back down to Potholm Bridge over the Esk. This is not the most elegant of our local bridges but it was made better by the presence of Mrs Tootlepedal and a fine bank of daffodils behind it.
There were signs of spring all around.
We went slowly and as you can see, I stopped quite often to take pictures so it was not a very strenuous ride and although it brought the day’s mileage up to 26 miles, which is the furthest I have done for a few weeks, I felt very well after it.
When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal got to work in the garden and I sieved a bucketful of compost from the bin I turned recently. It has rotted down very well. Mrs Tootlepedal found a home for some of the plants that she had bought yesterday…
..and I noticed a couple of tulips which have defied the frosty morning.
Across the road I saw our neighbour Liz chatting with Nancy, my fellow archivist.
I wandered over to see what they were talking so animatedly about. It was manure. That is of course a subject of never ending allure.
Nancy came across and politely took an interest in our compost before passing on to look after her small allotment.
In the evening, after a nourishing meal of mince and tatties and leaving Mrs Tootlepedal busy at her quilting, I went off to play some duets with Mike, the cellist. We did a certain amount of violence to pieces by Bach and Beethoven while enjoying ourselves thoroughly. He lives just round the corner from the Archive Centre so it was easy to meet Sandy there when the playing finished for our usual Thursday work session.
Jean was poorly still and couldn’t come out to join us but sympathy for her did not stop us going to the Douglas for the traditional after-archiving refresher. Very good it was too.
In the ledger of life, a day with two pedals, a tootle, some compost sieving, a meal of mince and tatties and a pint of Deuchars is deeply on the credit side.
Today’s chaffinch is, not surprisingly considering the absence of other birds, a chaffinch.