Today’s guest picture shows an approach to the village of Ilam in Staffordshire. It is on the banks of the splendidly named Manifold River and was visited by my brother Andrew last month in pursuit of a cream tea.
I had no need of a cream tea because Dropscone dropped in for morning coffee and as it was Friday, he bought a supply of treacle scones with him. He was in a very good mood because he had bought some cycling overshoes at a handsome discount and been rewarded with food and drink too when he and his daughter Susan had gone to the our favourite bike shop’s Dutch Christmas event last Wednesday.
We hadn’t gone cycling before the coffee because the temperature was exactly at zero at breakfast time. The fierce winds of yesterday had dropped away completely so although it was chilly, it was quite pleasant outside.
I had a walk round the garden and everywhere I went, there was rustling in the undergrowth nearby. It was usually one of the numerous blackbirds scrabbling for worms.
The cold weather provided us with a large number of well fluffed up feathered visitors, some on bushes….
…some on the ground…
…but mostly in the plum tree.
The windless day had encouraged the tits to come back.
Desperate to get on the Christmas card, this robin hung about in front of the kitchen window for a lot of the morning.
The still day encouraged the goldfinches to go to the very top of the tree.
The treacle scones and the bird watching took up much of the morning but I still had time before lunch to go for a wander round Gaskell’s Walk. I took Pocketcam with me as I was determined to try to use my eyes as I walked and look at what I was passing. I have been inspired to do this by the New Hampshire Gardener‘s blog which is well worth a visit. (Make sure you have plenty of time in hand if you visit it, because there is a lot to see and learn there.)
As a result of looking, I saw quite a lot of interest.
On a larger scale, one of the benefits of December walking is that you can see the rivers now the leaves are off the trees.
Altogether the walk was very interesting (to me at least) and it was rounded off nicely by meeting a severely trimmed bush with its own home made Christmas lights.
As I passed, I took a picture of the parish church.
I had been thinking of a quick pedal after lunch but the amount of ice on the paths that I had just walked along was enough to put that idea out of my head and I spent quite a bit of time playing on my computer, developing my frame making skills instead. The results will take some time to come through but it is wonderful what can be done with some noise, a bit of Gaussian blur and some movement blur.
While I was out walking, Mrs Tootlepedal did some hard work clearing the flower beds and the garden is looking well cared for and the gardener is getting ready for spring.
In the early evening, I got the belt bike out and pedalled cautiously down to the Co-op where once again I was helping to sell raffle tickets. This time the chief salesman was Gavin, the raffle organiser.
Gavin and Margaret have had four two sessions selling the tickets at the Co-op and managed to raise over £200 which should feed a bird or two for a while.
There was a very, very light sprinkling of snow as I pedalled down but it had come to nothing by the time that I pedalled back home for a second helping of the slow cooked ragout and tagliatelli. It was followed by an apple crumble made with our own Charles Ross apples which are keeping well.
After tea, we were joined by Maisie’s grandparents, Mike and Alison and Alison and I enjoyed playing some flute and recorder pieces with Alison at the harpsichord. The harpsichord is provided by my keyboard, a Roland ep 75 and although it may not be the real thing, it sounds quite good and has the inestimable benefit of never needing tuning.
The flying bird of the day was a goldfinch whistling down from one of those topmost twigs in the chilly early morning light.