A full day

Today’s picture illustrates the general unfairness of life.  It shows that spring has already come to my sister Mary’s garden in London in fine style.

rhododendron on 27th Feb 2013

We haven’t got spring here although there are odd hints of it about but we did have another wall to wall blue sky day.  Clear skies at dawn tend to mean cold starts and it was minus two degrees when we got up.

Mrs Tootlepedal was called in to cover for a sick colleague at work and I added a few credit points to the ledger by cleaning the front stairs when she had left.  It was too cold to cycle seriously and I was pleased to get a call from my friend Jean alerting me to the presence of goosanders on the river.  I jumped on my bike and went to see.

There were goosanders there.
female goosander
The hairstyle of the female goosander never fails to make me smile.

They are nervous birds and they didn’t hang around long when I started snapping away and soon flew off.

flying goosanders

As a thank you to Jean for taking the trouble to ring me up, I invited her round to look at some photos.  She is a keen and skilful painter and I was able to print out half a dozen photos that she thought that she might use as a basis for a painting.  If she does use them, she has promised that I will get to photograph her paintings of my photographs and if I do, I will post the results.

I spent the rest of the morning preparing music for the choir.  It is possible to download sheet music from the web quite easily but it is still a time consuming business to make thirty copies of everything and then collate and staple them so I didn’t have a lot of time to stare out of the window.  The strong sunlight and shadows made it easier to catch birds in the plum tree rather than in flight when I did.

Plum tree medley
Sparrow and jackdaw above and green and goldfinches below.

Once the sun had hit the feeder, I enjoyed this fierce greenfinch and brambling encounter.


When I was finished with the music, I went out into the garden and dug up some leeks but I had to go to the shop to buy potatoes to go with them into the pot to make some leek and potato soup for my lunch.  It tasted good with a bit of bacon thrown in for added flavour.

After lunch, Sandy came round.  Wednesday is his day off and he had spent the morning introducing a new young(ish) volunteer to the delights of photo scanning and processing for the Archive Group collection.  It is very pleasing to get new people interested in the work of the group.

He had taken some night pictures at the White Yett yesterday evening and had managed to leave a glove up there so our first trip was to recover the glove which we found with the help of some advice from this dog’s owner.

Kenny's dog

The only clouds in the clear blue sky were coming from the keepers who were burning off the old heather to encourage new growth.  Every hill top seemed to have its own fire.muir burn

This has to be done at this time of year when it is dry and before the ground nesting birds have started to build their nests.

Although there was very little wind, there was just enough to bend a column of smoke.


Sandy’s sharp eyes picked up a low flying jet in time for me to get the camera up.  You will see that I really do mean ‘low flying’.

low flying jet
You can’t get much lower than that.

Leaving the hill top, we went down to the other end of Whita to see what we could see at the moorland bird feeder station.  The answer, as far as I was concerned, was not much and this blue tit and coal tit were the most interesting birds that I saw.


We didn’t stay too long and drove on towards the Hollows.  We parked the car and walked across the Hollows bridge and along the west bank of the river so that we could see the Byreburnfoot bridge from the far bank.  It turned out to be less than satisfactory because of the trees growing on front of it but it is still a commanding bridge even though it no longer carries a through road across it.

Byreburnfoot bridge

The riverside here was absolutely beautiful in the winter sunshine and my camera couldn’t really do it justice.

A riverside dwelling

Esk at Byreburn

Once Sandy had managed to straighten up….


…we strolled back to the Hollows passing a well maintained fishermen’s hut.

fishing hut

Before we reached it,   we dropped back down to the waterside to get a shot of the Hollows bridge from below.

Hollows Bridge

I have walked, cycled and driven over this bridge hundreds of times (it used to be in my way to work) and I have always assumed that it was a single arch bridge but close examination revealed a second arch.

Hollows bridge

That goes into the category of ‘you learn something every day’.

The buildings that you can just see through the bridge are a water mill which is still in operation though I don’t think that they grind corn in it.


Hollows Mill

We climbed back up to the road and after a brief detour to snap Hollows Tower….

Hollows Tower
The modern cottage at the front can be rented as a holiday home.

..we headed home for tea and a biscuit.

Sandy couldn’t stay long as he is going up to Selkirk tonight to visit their photo exhibition.  We both have photos entered in the competition but I am not expecting to win any prizes as this is a quality event.

I couldn’t go with him as Mrs Tootlepedal and I were going to our choir.  I was supposed to be doing the conducting as the MD was away but a car breakdown meant that he couldn’t  get far and in the end I conducted the first half and he dealt with second half of the practice.  This is quite satisfactory as doing the whole evening is tiring and I enjoy a little singing.

During the day, after the sun had warmed the garden up and the frost was gone, I noticed that a little clump of early crocuses had come out.  The lone cream crocus under the bird feeders had also done its best.


The gardener was hard at work…


..watched with interest by a robin.


We all agreed that this was a good day in every way and we will remember it when the rainy days return.

The flying bird of the day is a diving brambling heading from the top of the plum tree to the feeder.





Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

19 thoughts on “A full day

  1. Beautiful and vibrant colours in the flowers – both yours and your sister’s. And as always, I enjoy the round little robin.

  2. My husband thinks there is no real Mrs. T. It’s just a mannequin in a bent over position. No one could do that much of it. I was helping pick up oranges and branches after trimming hubby’s mom’s tree, and I thought I was going to die, standing on my head for so long. I always complain to him now, “Well, I am no Mrs. Tootlepedal!

  3. I could’t get any greener with envy looking at the crocus in your garden! Here we experience the most acherontic winter season since records are kept. While the average is about 160 hours of sunshine from December through February, this winter provided just about 100. So your pictures of birds and landscapes are appreciated all the more.

    1. The last year we lived in the Scottish highlands (1973 if I remember rightly) we had 7 hours of sunshine in the whole of December. This may have contributed to it being our last year there. I am sorry about your Dis-functional winter.

  4. What a splendid robin, and well done capturing the low flying jet. Glad you had such a splendid sunny day.

  5. The mill framed by the bridge arch is a good composition. That’s a healthy serving of stonework.

    One disadvantage of my recent habit of reading and commenting on blogs about once a week is that other people usually have already made any comments I might think of. Such as: photographs of paintings of photographs.

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