Today’s guest picture is the view from my older son’s hotel room in Prague where he is spending a romantic weekend with his partner. You may think he should have gone next weekend when it will be St Valentine’s Day but he was sensible enough to check the prices first.
We had a good day. In between the series of wet and windy depressions rolling over us, we had a good day. We saw the sun. The wind didn’t blow very hard. People were wandering around in a daze wondering what had happened. Did I mention that we had a good day?
Dropscone, who has had a very busy week with things that had to be done, had yet another of these things to do this morning so I was able to sit around waiting for the temperature to get above 3°C. I had time to look out of the kitchen window.
When the temperature had hit 4°, I put on my many layers, got the speedy bike out and set out for a circular run round Bailliehill and Paddockhole.
This route starts with a stiff climb followed by a descent which loses nearly all the altitude that you have just gained and then eight miles of gentle climbing. As I also had a light breeze in my face, I took my time over this section and stopped from time to time to take a picture with my phone.
In spite of the wet weather and the grey skies, the countryside is still looking remarkable green and it was a real pleasure to pedal along with the sun on my back surrounded by gentle hills and serenaded by the song of birds.
After fifteen miles into the wind, I was pleased to turn at Paddockhole and get the wind behind me for the ten miles home.
Much of the road surface for the first half of the trip is very poor and non cyclists may be surprised how much this slows you down but you expend a lot of energy going up and down over bumps. As a result, I had to pedal like the clappers for the last two miles to sneak in at just under the two hours for the twenty five and a half mile trip.
I had time for lunch before my friend Jean came round to get a bit of help looking for an embroiderer’s magnifying floor lamp. She has been using mine recently but wanted to have one of her own. We were able to find a suitable item on the internet and it should arrive soon. I often get annoyed when a beautiful view which I wish to photograph is marred by pylons and electricity lines but it is the price to pay for being able to complete transactions like that from the comfort of your armchair at the touch of a button….and of course to put the experience in this post.
After Jean left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided to go for a walk to take advantage of the better day. I was going to show her the walk that Sandy and I had done a few days ago. This is a walk that she has never been along herself so we drove up to Whitshiels and parked the car. As I pulled the handbrake on, it started to rain. We had an umbrella and the clouds seemed to be moving past so we braved the elements and set off anyway.
This turned out to be a good decision as the rain soon stopped and the sun came out.
I showed her the little lichen garden on the gatepost which I had noticed before.
Looking up the Ewes valley, we could see snow on the hills at Eweslees.
Thanks to the protection of a nearby wood, there was no wind at all where we were walking and in the sunshine it felt like a spring day. There were certainly signs of spring about.
We walked on up the hill to the open fields and I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the impressive birch polypores which Sandy had spotted on our last visit.
This is a magical spot on a nice day. Even a conspicuous row of pylons can’t spoil it.
We walked on, leaving the sheep cropped fields, and followed a rough track through the hill pasture until we reached a gate onto the road back to Langholm.
The gate itself was worth a look with a small willow bush on the gate post on the left and a pretty moss garden on the stone pillar to the right.
We stopped at a quarry beside the road on our way back to the car. It has a little bridge over a stream that must have had some purpose when it was working.
The bank at the end of the quarry shows very clearly how neatly the ice sliced through the strata and smoothed our hills in the last ice age…..
…and just how long it has taken for a very thin layer of indifferent soil to accumulate on top of the rock since the ice went.
The rock was sedimentary and Mrs Tootlepedal found what looks like a record of ripples long past.
By this time, the sun was sinking in the west and it was time to leave the quarry and head for the car, home, and a nice cup of tea.
The rest of the day was taken up with dipping into the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and cooking a healthy meal of fish and vegetables for my tea.
I had taken so many photos after the poor weather of the past few days that it took me ages and some grief to decide which to keep and which to throw away but I still only had a standard flying chaffinch for the final picture of the post.