Today’s picture shows that there are fine canals in the south of England as well as the south of France. This is a shot of the Kennet and Avon taken by my sister Susan on a recent visit.
We had the third day of interrupted sunshine running today and some of us are finding it very hard to take it in. I was too tired and the temperature was too chilly for me to join Dropscone round the morning run but he is made of hardier stuff and went round Waterbeck on his own, dropping off the scones on his way. I hadn’t eaten them by the time he got back and we shared them over a cup of coffee or two.
He had been to a very good golf course at Gullane for a competition yesterday and his enthusiasm almost made me want to take up golf again. Luckily I am too sensible to punish my joints and brain by doing anything so rash.
The unfortified fat balls have been attracting the attention of a couple of starlings and I caught this one in an elegant pose. I would say that starlings must have been designed by an Italian.
There have been some chilly mornings but we have been spared a thoroughgoing frost so far and the garden is surviving the cold well. The nerine outside the kitchen window is getting better all the time.
The chaffinches were in residence in the plum tree, enjoying the sun as much as we were.
The dry spell has got the insects out and about again and the Michaelmas daises were covered in a multitude of small life.
And to my surprise, there was a butterfly about as well. This is a red admiral.
I never knew that butterflies were so furry until I had a camera.
The pink rose, after looking as though it was on its last legs, is going great guns and had a proper flower out today.
I enjoyed this final spike of astilbe catching the morning sun too.
The shadows finally cleared the feeders and I was able to take this great tit just before lunch.
After lunch I was turning a little compost when a van drew up outside and the man who makes cider locally came and pruned our apple tree for us. This was very kind but also self interested as he is hoping to harvest a good crop next year for his cider making. It couldn’t be worse than this year. Here is a before and after shot of the tree.
He would have liked to have taken a bit more off but didn’t want to give the old tree too much of a shock. The Charles Ross apples against the hedge caught his eye…
They are for us and not for him.
After he left, I got into some warm gear and got the (fairly) speedy bike out as the temperature was now up to a very reasonable 9° C. As there was a light north wind blowing and I like to be blown home, I set off north up the Eskdalemuir road. After a sharp climb in the first mile, this is a pleasant road to cycle along.
It is an iron law of nature that on a fine day, a man with a camera in his pocket can’t pass the view of the Gates Of Eden without stopping to photograph it no matter how many times he has shot it before….
…and the same applies to the church at Bentpath.
I cycled up to Bailliehill, running the gauntlet of a flock of sheep…
…and then, like yesterday, the lure of a fine bridge drew onwards towards the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers.
This is the bridge over the Black Esk just above the junction of the rivers.
Since the day was so kind, I decided to cycle on for a mile or two. It was gently uphill on a good surface and when I came to Castle O’er….
…I turned round and enjoyed cycling back down the gentle downhill.
I took it easy on the way home and completed the 23 miles at a very sober 12.7 mph.
In the evening my flute pupil Luke came. What with one thing and another, we haven’t had many lessons recently and I asked him if he had been practising while I was away. ‘A lot’, he said confidently and he was quite right. He had made really good progress and I was delighted. I definitely think that he has the makings of a flautist.
Later on, I went to the Buccleuch Centre with Sandy to listen to a musician at the other end of the age scale. This was Ralph McTell, a noted singer and guitarist. We were a bit alarmed when it emerged that the show would last 1 hr 45 mins without an interval but in the event, the time passed extremely quickly. He is a very fine guitarist indeed in the finger picking mode of the American bluesmen such as Blind Gary Davis and has a foot tapping sense of rhythm.
As an extra treat, we could hear every single word that he sang and he retains a most pleasing singing voice. It was refreshing to hear a singer using a natural register and not shouting at us in the strained voice fashionable today. The audience applauded with vigour at each number but there was no shouting or cheering and the whole evening had a very nice old fashioned air about it. The theatre was pretty well full and I would imagine that everyone there went home feeling well satisfied.
There are two flying chaffinches for the price of one today to please Dropscone who likes a bargain.