Today’s picture shows the new lens standing proudly on its tripod. You can see why I can’t use it casually. It makes the camera look like a toy when it is attached.
It was another sunny, cold morning with frost on the ground again as we woke up. I was determined to have a pedal and put my cycling gear on even though I knew it would be some time before I went out. In fact, it was eleven o’clock before the temperature got up to 6° and I felt it was warm enough to actually enjoy a pedal into a north wind.
I had time to point my old lens at some birds before I left. The feeders were as busy as usual
Next time I looked out I saw this.
They are so stubborn that I expected them to hold their own for some time but when I looked again…
The greenfinches got fed up with the constant harassment and left and shortly afterwards Mrs Tootlepedal left too. She was going to help with a litter clean up. I had no excuse now and I left as well, heading north up the A7 towards Hawick so that I could get the benefit of the wind to help me home.
I took it steadily uphill and into the wind and stopped to take photographs on the way up to Mosspaul to ensure that I didn’t overdo the effort.
I stopped first to take a picture of Ewes Church. It is still in use though now it is part of a linked parish and shares the minister with Langholm and Eskdalemuir.
The A7 has been much improved in recent years and at Ewes Hall, the old bridge has been bypassed and a new one built.
I took a picture of the old one from the new one and then I took a picture of the new one from the old one. Here they are together.
From beside the bridge, I looked up Meikledale.
It is no pain cycling up here on a sunny day, even when the wind is against you.
I stopped once again just before the last hill up to Mosspaul to take a picture of one of the little burns that join here to make the Ewes Water.
Thanks to these photo stops, when I got to the top of the hill at Mosdspaul, instead of turning back as I have been doing, I was fit enough to head on over the col and down the other side into Teviotdale. I stopped at the fifteen mile mark where I enjoyed this view of a different monument to the one I see every day.
I snacked on some dates and raisins and then set off home with the wind now firmly behind me. It was less effort cycling up the hill to Mosspaul again than it had been cycling down the hill into the wind. After I had got over the summit, the trip back to Langholm was a breeze. I averaged over 18 mph for the return 15 miles without raising a sweat. Because I had done the outward journey very gently, the average for the whole trip was happily in my target area.
The thirty miles I had done was the longest trip of the year and I was very pleased to able to do it without feeling too tired or suffering any great aches and pains. I hope to be able to keep up a steady improvement in mileage from now on. My spreadsheet tells me that I have kept my average speed for my trips on the speedy bike this month to just over 14 mph whether by myself or with Dropscone so I am pleased with the self discipline that this shows.
After a late lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal got tucked into some gardening and I took my favourite riverside walk. As I crossed the suspension bridge, I saw two goosanders just down stream. I walked down towards them and while they stayed quite still while children shouted merrily in the park behind them and dogs splashed in the water beside them, as soon as I took my camera out, they flew off cackling insanely.
I turned and walked back towards the Langholm Bridge and to my surprise, I found them swimming peacefully between the two bridges.
There must have been a lot of food about because they were doing a great deal of underwater work and just a few yards further up the river another pair were also diving with great vigour.
I went on to the Kilngreen where I met that hardened frog thief, the heron. It looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.
But a quick blast of the north wind revealed a very different character.
Disturbed by this change of character, I walked on, passing the dipper who posed for me again but not near enough to make a good picture, and went into the Armstrong Museum. This has been reorganised inside since I was last in it and I thought it looked very smart in its new layout.
Walking up the lodge walks, I was able to take a picture of more of the many dogs that I meet on my outings. These one are very well behaved as you can see.
I crossed the Castleholm where new growth is to be seen on every side..
..and walked home admiring the white of this magnolia against the severe stonework of the manse.
A bit further down the road, the fairly mild winter has let this camellia really flourish.
And that was the end of my varied day as I needed a quiet sit down after so much fun…though I did find time somewhere to sieve another bucket of compost.
Today’s chaffinch is a goldfinch doing its ‘Look, Mum, no hands’ routine.