Mrs Tootle takes a pedal

Today’s picture, which was taken by my brother in New Zealand, shows my sister walking (wo)manfully up a big hill.  She tells me that the snow capped mountain in the background is 100km away.

NZ mountains

In contrast, there was not much of a view here today as we had another cold, grey and intermittently snowy day.  The one thing you can say for the snow at the moment is that it isn’t settling so although it is cold, the roads are safe to cycle along.   Mrs Tootlepedal has been working a lot lately, covering for an injured colleague but today she had a day off and, feeling in a frisky mood, she decided to cycle to a garden centre.  As the  one she had in mind is twenty miles away by the quickest route, I was quite impressed and as it was blowing a brisk and chilly easterly wind, I offered to come and fetch her  and her bike in the car for the return journey.

The offer was accepted and arrangements were put in hand.  An early robin was shot….

This one has learned to use the cage to get at the fat balls.

….and coffee and cake were consumed as fuel for the trip.  Vast numbers of layers of clothes were donned as the temperature was a measly 4 degrees and there were flakes of snow in the air.   The plan was that we would set off together and I would do my boring triple Wauchope Schoolhouse run while she pedalled off into the wide grey yonder.  The route she finally decided upon avoided the main road but increased to the distance to 25 miles.  A sensible plan B was put into place involving stopping at a nearer garden centre at 18 miles in the event of conditions proving to be too testing.

We set off and I got my nose over my front wheel and pedalled up and down furiously, stopping only to take a picture of a dry stane dyker at work.

dry stane dyker

He was repairing the damage to a wall that had been caused by a car skidding on the snowy road recently.  These dykers are skilled men and they also have to be very hardy people.  I was pretty chilly although I was taking vigorous exercise.  He has to stand in the freezing wind all day.

When I got home, I cleaned my bike and gave the chain a much needed wash and brush up.  When I had finished I got a call to say that Mrs Tootlepedal had adopted plan B in the face of the strong wind and some snow flurries and was nearly at the second garden centre.  I got changed and drove down to Whitesyke to find that she was already in the café there, pretty chuffed with her expedition and eating a nourishing meal.   As she remarked, this was an ideal bike ride, ending as it did with a convenient place for a cup of coffee and a toastie.  She also bought a climbing rose for the back fence so we reckoned that the morning had been well spent.

I had to fill the seed feeder for the third time when we got back because the birds had been almost as busy as Mrs Tootlepedal.

chaffinches and goldfinch
Approaching the feeder. Spot the odd one out.
female chaffinch
Because they are more colourful, I tend to catch more male chaffinches. Here is an elegant female at work.
There a quite a few siskins around. Here a female rises above a male.

Thanks to the continuing cold weather, signs of spring are hard to find even though we have arrived at the vernal equinox.   I wandered round the garden in hope.

rose leaf


Some way to go yet.

The frogs are surviving the cold,  This one was lurking under the bridge over the pond .


While Mrs Tootlepedal got busy in the greenhouse, I finished spiking the top half of the front lawn and brushed in some sand which I had bought at the garden centre.  The lawn is so mossy that I feel that I might be wasting my time trying to get it looking good but I did find one or two blades of grass among the moss.  Never say die.

As I went inside, this blackbird watched me go.  They are the least alarmed by the proximity of humans of all the birds in the garden.


While I was standing  at the back door watching the birds on the feeder, a sparrowhawk flew along the front of the house and passed me so close and at such a speed that I thought that I could feel the air from its wings as it whizzed by.  It didn’t stop for a picture.

At some time in the afternoon, a chaffinch and a siskin shared the seed feeder calmly together.

chaffinchand siskin

But a moment later the serenity disappeared.

siskin and chaffinch
You can see the wind ruffling a few feathers here

Spiking the lawn and brushing sand in is the sort of task that used to be no bother but these days I find it surprisingly tiring.  I was intending to go for a little photo expedition with Sandy after I finished but he was engaged in a futile search for blinds for the Archive Centre and it turned out that a sit in a comfy chair was the only option available to me.  I took it (though I did mange  a couple of peeks out of the window).

I think that this is a different robin and not the one that has learned to use the fat ball cage.

And I was very pleased to catch a glimpse of a blue tit on the peanut feeder.

blue tit

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a nun again.  The show is playing to full houses and happy audiences so she is enjoying herself.

I munched my way through a plate of sausage stew and then entertained Sandy to a glass of wine and heard about his unavailing efforts to purchase a pair of blinds.  Still, as he said, at least it got him out of the house on his day off.

A siskin takes its place as flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

22 thoughts on “Mrs Tootle takes a pedal

  1. I specially liked the 4 birds in one frame picture, very clever. Glad Mrs T’s show is going so well and that you have a little spring colour in your garden.

    1. Ours has lasted for about 10 months now with only very brief respites. We are all beginning to worry about what will happen if we don’t get some sunshine and warmth this year. Food prices are quite high enough already.

      1. Global warming? Pah!!! Strong squally easterly winds, temperatures down to minus ten degrees centigrade, thats what they forecasted here today for the weekend.

      2. It is probably global warming that is making the jet stream so atypical and that is what is playing silly beggars with our weather. Sorry about your cold weather, it’s cold enough here but you are much chillier.

  2. Working on stone wall seems like an almost idyllic pursuit. I like stones, I enjoy being outside in all (or most) sorts of weather, and I have occasionally enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. I wonder if it pays well. I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be other drawbacks.

  3. The blackbird and robin pictures have come out particularly well. Well done to Mrs T and yourself for taking so much exercise in the cold conditions.

  4. What tool do you use for spiking your lawn, and how deep are the holes?

    The little robin sitting in the green grass is lovely.

    1. An ordinary garden fork to as near six inches as i can get it. I used to use a hollow tiner but it was always getting clogged up and was more trouble than it was worth.

  5. Wonderful ride for Mrs. Tootlepedal. I would have enjoyed that style of ride also….. one that ends with my cute husband rescuing his “damsel in distress”. Where is spring? It surprises me that you spotted frogs in that cold. Though I sometimes here them this early, I’ve never seen them this early!

  6. Please tell Mrs. Tootlepedal she is my hero! I want to be her one day! I was tired just reading all she did, nit to minimize your contribution but you do have an amazing wife!

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