A break in the weather

My brother saw the Thames in flood when he visited Oxford recently.

The Thames appeared about ten times wider than on my last visit.

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.


garmin 8 Jan 14The 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.

Waterbeck village
Waterbeck village
Fields round waterbeck
The long shadows of the trees show how low the sun is even in the middle of the day at this time of year.

I passed through Eaglesfield and stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle Water just outside the village.

Bridge over Kirtle water

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.

Bridge over Kirtle water

Then I got to Falford, where I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle water there.

Bridge over Kirtle water

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.

fungus on 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.

There were catkins on every side.
Wauchope and becks
And plenty of water in the Wauchope and the Becks Burn

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.

I have no idea what this is at all.

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.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

23 thoughts on “A break in the weather

  1. How wonderful to see the sun! 🙂 So pleased that you could get out and enjoy it. Andy Wightman – yes, he’d have my vote too! It was a grand blog article yesterday. Do you know which station his TV programme was on? A poetry reading tonight, so I’ve missed it.

    1. It turned out not to be his programme but just one in which he appeared briefly and it was very disappointing with nothing much to say. All you could glean from it was that the capacity of landowners’ lawyers to inhibit discussion is unabated.

  2. I think your mystery fungus on the stump might be a slime mold instead because of the way it has enveloped the moss. Possibly Fuligo septica. If it disappears quickly without leaving hardly a trace you’ll know.
    I think the grayish / whitish lichen on the right in the double photo with all the fruiting bodies might be the perelle lichen (Ochrolechia parella), which was once used to make purple dye.
    The lichen before the flying bird looks like an excellent example of the horizontal dog lichen (Peltigera horizontalis). The pinkish / reddish bits are its spore producing fruiting bodies.
    That was an excellent day of photography and botanizing!

  3. I hear that Sweet Biscuit Mountain is a lovely place to visit, but that it has certain inherent dangers at this time of year.

    The three bridges are fine, and the dilapidated remains of fence at each don’t seem to offer a very serious barrier. Are they for livestock?

    I read the land ownership blog link and found it very interesting. I sometimes get worked up about the fact that the Queen is our head of state here in Canada. If I lived in your part of the world I think I might be constantly simmering near the boiling point. On the other hand, we have more than enough collusion between government and private interests against the common good in my part of the world to keep my dander up.

    1. The dilapidated fencework is for stopping livestock getting through when the river is low.

      Between selfish landlords and tax dodging big business, my dander is keeping well up.

  4. What a splendid trio of bridges, the perching blackbird was also a winner in my view. Thanks too for the link to the land ownership blog, very depressing.

  5. I found the bridges very beautiful, and began to think of the hours of backbreaking labor that went into building them. Men were men back when those bridges were built.

  6. A glorious collection of bridges. We could do with some of those. At least we have lots of trees.

    I read The Vassalage of Langholm and felt a familiar rising of dander. The same sort of thing happens here, especially with respect to lake access rights and the whole issue of Odawa and Ojibwa fishing and hunting rights. Very depressing indeed. But better to think about it than to pretend it isn’t happening.

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