Today’s picture is a tribute to the crocuses which have been brilliant in the cold weather but which are now going over as the days warm up a bit.
I had intended to cycle a forty mile circuit in the morning before the predicted winds got up in the afternoon. As it happened, it turned out that I had an number of tasks to do in the house at the same time. I hit on a suitable compromise and cycled up and down the Wauchope road in legs of 12 miles, 6 miles, 12 miles and 10 miles, making up my forty miles and enabling me to discharge my duties in the house at the end of each leg. It also ensured that I got back in good time to let Mrs Tootlepedal go to a meeting of the Embroiders’ Guild so that I could wait in for expected B & B guests.
The revised plan went well, the wind staying light and my legs holding out. I even did the last 10 miles leg at a faster speed than than the three preceding efforts.
The sun was out when I finished my pedal and the garden was loud with the sounds of frogs. You may think that it takes great skill to find a frog to photograph but as you can see, on a sunny day I am spoilt for choice.
Mrs Tootlepedal has recently planted out some fritillaries and has been nurturing them carefully through the cold nights. They are doing well.
I was very pleased to see a blue tit in the garden. This rather worn looking one popped in several times during the day. At least, I think it was the same one.
The feeder was as busy as ever and I managed to find four different types on it at one time, nibbling away in harmony for once.
Other more alien birds arrived.
In the end, our visitors arrived before Mrs Tootlepedal left and I was free to do whatever I wanted. I wandered round the garden looking for new flowers and found an anemone in a flowerbed and a chionodoxa growing unexpectedly in the lawn.
I saw a redpoll but fell victim to the downside of shooting in manual rather than using auto when I snatched up the camera to catch it but failed to adjust the aperture/shutter speed in time.
As I was at a loose end, Sandy suggested an outing and I agreed. While I was waiting for him to arrive, I managed to catch a frog in mid croak in the pond.
Its throat is expanded to double its usual size.
Sandy’s plan was to go to Carlisle and walk along the banks of the river Eden and this seemed good to me so off we went. We left the car in Rickerby Park and walked down to the river bank. Inevitably by the time that we got there, the sun had gone in but the walk was very enjoyable nevertheless.
We walked along the north side of the river and then crossed the fine bridge, admiring the fortitude of an angler in what must have been very cold water…
…and then walked along the other bank. Our path followed the edge of the Carlisle municipal golf course….
…where Dropscone often defeated me when I was a regular but erratic golfer.
We met the angler walking along the opposite way and asked him if he had caught anything. “Nothing,” he replied, “the wind was far too strong.” He then went on to say with a smile that anglers were never happy because if it wasn’t the wind, it would be too much sun, too little sun, too much rain, no rain, too hot or too cold and he walked off quite cheerily. We saw him back in the river in a different place when we returned from our walk so he obviously wasn’t too discouraged.
We walked through a small wood and could hear bird calls. It turned out to be two long tailed tits but they were most uncooperative and hopped from branch to branch above our heads without showing their faces.
The wood was showing some signs of spring.
The river soon winds into the country but as the motorway crosses it not far away, there was always the noise of traffic to be heard. In addition, there was a football match being played at the Carlisle United ground which is just across the water meadows and we were serenaded by the songs and shouts of the fans as we walked along.
This peaceful looking river is liable to flood and the golf course is often under water. It caused tremendous flooding in the Carlisle itself in 2005 and a large system of flood walls have been built to try to contain it. It was quiet today though and there was a fair number of birds about.
There were swans, ducks, oyster catchers, wagtails and a lot of gulls.
There was one of those helpful signs on the river bank telling you about all the animals and birds that are supposed to be there but which you never see but we were happy enough with what we saw and walked back to the car when a light rain began to fall.
I allowed myself one intentionally moody shot of an old piece of piling now marooned in the water…
…but the trip was more enjoyable as a quiet walk in good company than as a photographic outing.
We arrived home safely and Sandy was thanked for his driving skills by means of a slice of sourdough bread and a slice of Mrs Tootlepedal’s walnut and banana loaf.
After he left, I collapsed in a heap, thoroughly tired from walking and cycling and did nothing else but slump in my easy chair and watch the golf from Augusta for the rest of the day. Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys watching the Masters too, partly for the golf and partly for the azaleas.
The flying bird of the day is a brambling.