My brother saw the Thames in flood when he visited Oxford recently.
We had a break from the gloomy weather today and very welcome it was too. I had to take the car to the garage for its annual service first thing in the morning and walking back through the town, everyone I met had a spring in their step.
The forecast was for a windy start to the day so I kindly let Dropscone go round the morning run by himself and entertained him to coffee and biscuits when he returned. He told me that he had been in sunshine for almost the whole twenty miles. He helped me make some serious inroads into the sweet biscuit mountain left over from generous Christmas gifts.
When he left, I put a little of the special bird food that I had bought in Carlisle yesterday onto the lawn. It was designed to attract blackbirds but the chaffinches had scoffed the lot within minutes. This blackbird showed what she thought of the whole affair.
The wind had dropped a little by the time that I got my cycling gear on but to compensate, the sun had gone behind some thin clouds. It was still very pleasantly warm for the time of year so I enjoyed my visit to Eaglesfield.
There was very little traffic about and although the road surface is not as good as I would like it to be, I had little to complain about, especially as by the time that I got to Waterbeck, the sun had come out and the countryside was looking as good as it could in the middle of winter.
I stopped to take a picture or two just after I left Waterbeck.
I passed through Eaglesfield and stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle Water just outside the village.
I went on through Gair and stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle Water at the bottom of the hill there too.
Then I got to Falford, where I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle water there.
Then there were no more bridges over the Kirtle Water to photograph so I cycled home without stopping. Thanks to the kindly effects of gravity and a following wind, I did the last five and a half miles at an average speed of over 23 mph. All life should be like that.
I did pass a tree or two as well as all these bridges.
In spite of the speedy finish, my average was very moderate but the ride was a bonus after so much wind and rain.
When I got back, I discovered that Mrs Tootlepedal had not been idle either and had put in some very good work in the garden. She drew my attention to a large but rather revolting fungus (I think) which she had spotted on the stump of an old silver birch.
It was too nice a day to be indoors so when Mrs Tootlepedal said she was going to continue to garden, I rang up Sandy and we went for a short walk round Gaskells.
Full of the spirit of adventure, we went round in the opposite direction to our usual route.
The fungi seem to be thriving too.
When we reached the Auld Stane Brig, the lichens were in very fine fettle. Every patch seemed to be breaking out.
I said to Sandy that I had never seen them like this before and he suggested that this was probably because I had never looked properly before. He may be right. Mrs Tootlepedal agrees with him but I have a sneaking suspicion that if they had been so three dimensional in previous years, even I might have noticed.
The light was fading by the time we had finished admiring the lichens and the low sun was reflected in the Wauchope as we looked up stream from the bridge.
Up above our heads, the moon was smiling back at the sun.
One final growth caught my eye as we got back to the town.
When we got home, Sandy helped me to diminish the biscuit mountain a bit more and then headed off. I settled down to catch up with my correspondence and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database as the data miners have restarted their researches after the break.
Talking of the Archive Group, a notable land reform campaigner called Andy Wightman has used some of our pictures in a very interesting discussion about the Kilngreen. It gives a picture of how so much common land has disappeared from common ownership over the years. You can find it at his blog here. He is a very interesting chap and I went to a talk which he gave in Langholm last year. If he ever decides to stand for election as king, I will be voting for him. By coincidence, a TV programme, ‘Who owns Scotland?’ is on as I am writing this. Mrs Tootlepedal is recording it.
I managed to find a moment to catch a flying chaffinch during the day.