Taking a brake

Today’s guest picture shows the charming Old Bell Hotel in Derby.  It was taken by my sister Mary during her recent visit there.

The Old Bell Hotel, Derby

We had a calm day today and as we are forecast to have several days in a row of high winds and heavy rain, it could be correctly described as the calm before the storm.  It was so calm that when Dropscone and I arrived at the top of Callister on our way to Waterbeck on our morning pedal, the hill was shrouded in low cloud and mist.

Callister in mist

Dropscone had not been feeling at his best and had lagged behind a bit as we climbed the hill into the clouds.  A short stop to take the picture and have an investigation revealed that it wasn’t old age or incapacity that was holding him back but a seized up brake.  We got it loosened off and went on our way.  It was a day for back lights, especially as the quarry lorries and been diverted by road works onto our route so the pedal was by no means as peaceful as it should have been.

All was made well on our return by the judicious application of scones and honey with our coffee.

I am currently 10 miles ahead of my schedule of 14 miles per day cycling and need another 116 miles before the end of February to keep to my target so I  am hoping that the bad weather to come doesn’t last for too long. I don’t enjoy pedalling in rain and strong winds.  I was talking about the schedule to a lady at our choir in the evening and she was saying that it seemed a long way each day but as it turned out that she walked her dog for three miles every day and we both take about an hour to do our daily ration, she changed her view.

It wasn’t sunny but it was pleasantly warm for the time of year so I walked round the garden to see what was there.

As well as the snowdrops and primroses…

snowdrops and primroses

…there are crocuses coming along well….


…and some croaking in the pond revealed that the frogs are back and ready to go.


While I was crouching down to snap a crocus, a shadow fell across the lens.  It turned out to be a blackbird about three feet away from me.


The garden is full of blackbirds at the moment and you can hear more as you cycle along the roads round the town.  In fact, it wasn’t only the quarry lorries that had cut up our peace when we were pedalling earlier on, there was a steady chorus of birds as well.

I kept an eye on the chaffinches too.  I like it when they come in towards the feeder in neat lines.


It wasn’t always so well organised.  Which way is the bottom chaffinch flying?


The most welcome flower was this winter aconite.

winter aconite

It is all by itself at the moment but Mrs Tootlepedal planted 100 of them last year and is hoping that it finds a friend pretty soon.  They are hard to get established here.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the morning but returned for lunch in the mood for a pedal so after another look at the feeder….

A greenfinch looks round to see who is standing on his back.

…and a shot of a military transport plane passing exceedingly low over the town…

low flying

…and a quick look round the garden, we set off to go round Potholm.  This is road and track 5 mile circle which goes past the snowdrops, through the woods and comes back along the road.  It was too dark to take pictures in the woods but we stopped when we got to the open farmland.

Potholm Bridge
We crossed Potholm Bridge
And admired the woods on the far bank of the Esk

We were keeping an eye for lichen and fungus as we went.  There was lichen on the bridge….


..and a feast of fungus on a fallen beech tree at Milnholm.


fungus on beech tree

It was so striking that I took another view of it.

fungus on beech tree

There was some coral spot along the trunk of the tree so it was very good value.

The walls along the fields as we went towards the Breconwrae offered up a wide selection of lichens in many colours.

lichens on wall near Breconwrae

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardenkeeping in the garden while I went off for a short walk to see if I could find some riverside fungus.  Nothing caught my eye except for a flourishing lichen on a tree near the church.

tree lichen

In the evening, we went to a practice for our local choir, Langholm Sings.  We are preparing for a joint concert with the local orchestra doing Gilbert and Sullivan numbers and as is often the way with joint ventures, things weren’t quite as well organised as they might have been with some uncertainty about what we are actually going to sing.  The songs require many soloists as well as chorus work and in the absence of other volunteers, I have offered to do one of the easiest ones myself.  Mrs Tootlepedal is astonished at my self confidence since I have had little experience of singing but not being able to do things has never put me off trying.  For those with a knowledge of G&S it is Sir Joseph Porter’s song from HMS Pinafore.  It is a ‘patter’ song and doesn’t require the highest vocal technique.  This is lucky.

I was surprised, given the warmer weather today, that the birds ate twice as much food from the feeder as they have been doing.  Perhaps they are getting their energy up for the mating season or maybe they know something about the coming weather that we don’t. Maybe though, it is a cost benefit analysis thing and it is simply that the birds don’t need to use so much energy flying when it is warmer so more came to the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

22 thoughts on “Taking a brake

  1. You’ve got some beautiful lichens over there. The coral pink one is amazing. I’ve never seen one like it. The first black and white one looks like rock disk lichen (Lecidella stigmatea). The yellow one might be yellow map lichen (Rhizocarpon geographicum).

    1. It is remarkable how many cycling opportunities there have been in the midst of a very gloomy spell of weather. The absence of freezing temperatures has been a great help.

  2. Have you been training your birds in acrobatic flight, or is that something that they have taken upon themselves to learn to keep your readers amused?

    A fine variety of photos, from the lovely countryside, the birds, and colorful lichens.

  3. Wonderful pictures – encouraging amount of springlike colour in your garden.
    The blackbird was obviously keeping a beady eye on you.
    Good for you to offer to do the patter song.

  4. Blackbird is beautiful. The fungus looks like another planet altogether – amazing. Ah, and another flying goldfinch, I am reading your blog backwards so this one is even more remarkable.

  5. Oh my goodness! nice written words and the image…from the top No.8 I have never seen a bird shot like that before! You must have a lot of joy in witnessing all of that. Lucky you! Nice post
    Kind regards

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