Sunshine sketches of a little town

Today’s picture from my sister Susan shows a brilliant flash of winter colour in Regents Park in London.  (I have not tweaked this in the photo editor at all)

Burning bush

The title for today’s post comes from the works of Stephen Leacock, a Canadian author, who along with Mark Twain and P G Wodehouse, brought a sense of humour to my early years as a reader which has never left me.   As I walked around our little town today, the title of his book of short stories came irresistibly into my head and I only just restrained myself from flinging myself on a horse and riding off in all directions.  I was sorry to find out, having done a little research, that I wouldn’t have agreed with almost any political opinion held by Leacock but that won’t stop me still enjoying his writing.

Anyway, the upshot of all this musing is that today’s post is a sunshine sketch of the surroundings of our little town as we had another glorious day of blue skies today to delight us.  This brought to mind another of Leacock’s immortal passages:

It was a gloriously beautiful Scotch morning. The rain fell softly and quietly, bringing dampness and moisture, and almost a sense of wetness to the soft moss underfoot. Grey mists flew hither and thither, carrying with them an invigorating rawness that had almost a feeling of dampness.

It is the memory of such a morning that draws a tear from the eye of Scotchmen after years of exile. The Scotch heart, reader, can be moved to its depths by the sight of a raindrop or the sound of a wet rag.

But not today.

It was below zero when we woke up so cycling was ruled out and after a glance or two out of the window…

A siskin managing to drop a bit of seed upwards. I don’t know how it does that.
A blackbird searching for fallen seeds.
A dunnock or hedge sparrow weighing things up.


…I turned my hand instead into putting a week of the newspaper index into our archive database and answering some Archive Group correspondence.   After coffee, the temperature had risen enough to make a cycle excursion possible and I popped out on the slow bike to see how the snowdrops at Holmhead were getting on.




They were not quite fully out but I thought that they were well worth the small trouble taken in getting to see them.

I found a favourite tree strikingly catching the sun as I pedalled home.


And I enjoyed the conjunction of a vapour trail in the blue sky and the last of the snow on the hill.

snow and sky

When I got home, the noise of two birds calling to each other in the garden was very noticeable.  A quick look round located the source of one end of the conversation.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off up the Wauchope road to enjoy the weather.

Mrs Tootlepedal at speed
Here she is streaking up the road. She was trying out my ski goggles as it was still a chilly day.

We pedalled up to the bottom of Callister and back, a journey of about nine miles and then when Mrs Tootlepedal retired to do some more costume making, I did the journey again, this time stopping to take some pictures as I went.

The sun had picked out these strata diving into the burn at Westwater. I have passed this spot countless times without noticing them before.
Bigholms burn
A few yards further up, nature had built its own wall.

On reflection, I wonder if the recent heavy rain combined with the melting snow had produced a flood here which had stripped the vegetation off the banks and revealed the underlying rock.  The burns were very high a few days ago.  I thought about getting to the edge of the water to get a better picture but it would have involved either going the long way round or vaulting over a barbed wire fence with an electric fence just behind it so I decided to live with  the long shot.

Back down the road a gate drew me to it.


On the other side of the fence, a large granite erratic lies in the middle of the Wauchope Water.  It looks out of place and it is, having been dropped there by a retreating ice sheet at some time in the past.

The big Dowie

Going back to the road through the gate, I was met by a blaze of colour from the dead bracken on the hillside on the other side of the road.


The faint shadow of the photographer can be seen in the bottom left of the picture.  The sun struggles to get up into the sky at this time of the year but this helps to provide the lovely light so we mustn’t complain too much.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a crocus poking its head out from under the bottom bar of a bench.

The first of many. The shelter provided by the bench seems to encourage it to be the first out each year.

And I thought it only fair to take a picture of her avenue of snowdrops which is looking good.  The camera does not do this justice for some reason.

garden snowdrops

I changed into wellies and went off to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the mysterious rituals involved in manure mining and then helped her distribute the product onto the vegetable garden.  It is quite well covered now.

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke arrived and pleased me greatly by playing Greensleeves not only with a good tone but also very musically and, even more importantly, without any mistakes.  He is taking a music grade exam next month and he should do well in it on this evidence.

After tea, I went out to do some playing myself with Isabel and Mike and had one of those musical evenings which leave you with the feeling that, for a moment a least, the world is absolutely all right.  One of the great things about playing music is that if the music that you are playing is good music then you don’t have to be a brilliant player to get great satisfaction out of playing it.  This is lucky.

I found a flying chaffinch for today.

flying chaffinch




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “Sunshine sketches of a little town

  1. Some inviting pictures–I’m stepping on through the gate. The wild snowdrops remind me of the trilliums in Ontario I used to love to stumble on in the spring.

  2. As always, I finish reading your blog with a sense of satisfaction and delight. Thank you. The gate, my favorite today.

  3. I’m embarrassed to admit that aside from distant schoolboy memories, I don’t know Leacock’s work very well. I should revisit them.

    My daughter liked the picture of the rock in the stream and commentented that it looks like an animal rising out of the ocean.

  4. You are so fortunate to live in such a scenic area, and we are fortunate that you share your photos with us. And, I do believe you are correct about the flood exposing the rock formations.

    1. The ones in the wood are probably wild but they may have had a helping hand at the start. This is a particularly fine patch but you see them in hedgerows and woods all over the place.

  5. I haven’t read Leacock for years but remembered the quote about the horse when I read it just now.

    You seem to have had an enjoyable and fruitful day. Thanks for the picture of the robin, it brightened up my day.

  6. It sounds like an excellent day and the snowdrops at home and abroad make a fine show. The sunshine has arrived here today.

  7. Always an education, a visit to your blog. Today’s gem: ‘erratic’ as a noun. My Mom used to say only a fool doesn’t learn something new every day – what’s on the agenda for tomorrow’s class?

  8. Perfect blog today! Snowdrops don’t do well in Eastern Ontario, they arrive for about a week in late April. Loved seeing the photos of the ones up the Lodge Walks and those in your garden. Funnily, I have just reread Sunshine Sketches because it was free on my Kindle. Every small town everywhere has its share of characters.

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