Today’s guest picture, from my sister Mary, shows Mrs Tootlepedal and Pat on a Christmas walk last week.
It was raining again when we got up so I had breakfast and sensibly went back to bed again. I rose gracefully from my resting place just in time for a cup of coffee, kindly provided by the management who was going full steam ahead through the holiday washing.
After coffee, I took out the sodden newspapers which had been mopping up the steady drips of water coming through the end wall and lit a fire in the hope of drying things out a bit.
The brightest spot of the morning was provided by a robin perching on the plum tree among the raindrops.
Mrs Tootlepedal was just getting ready to go to work for the afternoon when a strange thing happened. It stopped raining and the sky brightened up. I could see clearly now.
The chaffinches put on a little show for me to celebrate.
I had started off a sour dough loaf and dealt with some of the washing which Mrs Tootlepedal had started when a strange light filled the sky. The sun had come out. I took my cameras, got into the car and headed out.
Unbelievably, considering the rain yesterday and the fact that it had been raining all morning, the rivers were running calmly between their banks and the gulls were back on the fence posts at the Kilngreen.
It was as if yesterday and been but a dream.
The heron was in place too.
Some gulls flitted along the river bank…
…while others soared upwards with a beak full of food.
I stood for a while but decided that the light would be all right for a visit to the Moorland feeders. There was plenty of water rushing along and over the Penton road as I drove along it. If there was a snap frost, things would be very dangerous.
When I got to the feeders, they were pretty well all empty so I filled them up and within seconds of sitting down, they were back in business.
The mild if gloomy winter is still providing plenty of food elsewhere and there were only the usual customers on show but as always, I enjoyed watching them.
The bird ringer’s bands show that these are residents. There were some less frequent visitors to be seen. A greenfinch…
…and a siskin.
There were several woodpeckers about too, chasing each other off the feeders. This one came up close for a moment.
I was thinking of walking through the clearing and on down to the river but volleys of shots from below showed that shooters were around and I thought better of it. This pheasant agreed with me and kept well out of range of the shotguns.
The birds in general were unfazed by the noise of shooting but I didn’t find it very restful so I cut short my stay. On the way back to the car, I could see a pair of birds of prey circling high above the moor.
Every now and again, more pheasants sneaked past me, keeping low to the ground as the sound of the guns continued.
For the good of my health, I should have probably been pedalling instead of bird watching but there was a brisk and very chilly wind and the back roads were awash with water so I didn’t take long to persuade myself to stay warm, and dry.
LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEAR
When I got home I looked at my cycling spreadsheet for the last time in 2013. It tells me that I have cycled 4368 miles this year (with perhaps a few dozen unrecorded miles around the town as well). This is an advance of 800 over last year which is good but well over 2000 miles less than I managed in 2011 which is not so good. This is entirely down to having contracted rheumatoid arthritis last year but the generally cold and unsympathetic weather at the the beginning and the end of this year have not helped. I am hoping for warm temperatures and kindly winds to get me over 5000 miles again next year.
Of the four thousand miles, I have done 1211 with Dropscone, 633 with Mrs Tootlepedal and 2524 by myself. I did roughly 900 miles on my belt driven bike, 3300 on the Giant and 150 on a hired bike when we were on holiday in France.
WordPress kindly provide bloggers with end of year stats. These are notoriously unreliable as they don’t differentiate between people who just hit your posts in the hope that you will then hit theirs and people who actually stop and read the stuff. Allowing for all that though, it is quite amazing to find that people from 111 countries have clicked on the blog over the year.
I have tried to post this diary every day but didn’t quite succeed but even so, I must thank those of you who take time to read my ramblings or look at the pictures (and particularly those who do both). Thanks also go to those who comment both regularly and from time to time. This is much appreciated.
I would also like to thank those bloggers elsewhere who provide me with such a rich diet of words to read and so many wonderful pictures to look at in awe. The standards of spelling and the absence of typos are a tribute to the care which people take with their posts and the politeness of the occasional disagreements taken with the general good nature and wit of the posters is a continual tonic.
I have learned a lot over the past three years in this community and one thing that sticks with me, as I sometimes moan and groan about my petty ailments, is that there are many people out there bearing much severe loads than I with a lot less moaning. Still, as I really enjoy a good moan, I don’t think that I will be able to follow their good example.
In a change from the flying chaffinch of December 31 2012, I am ending 2013 with a flying gull.
May I wish all those who have read this far a really happy and preposterous New Year. I hope it exceeds your expectations in every way.