A degree of difference

Today’s guest picture, sent by my sister Mary, shows the Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor of the University 1617-30, in a design by Rubens, looking very pleased with himself in front of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Rubens outside the Bodleian

It was an almost sunny day today.  All day it looked as though the sun was going to burst through the thin clouds but it never quite made it wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless it felt a good deal warmer than it has lately and it made quite a difference when I went out on my bike to repeat the double trip to the top of Callister and back which I had done on Thursday.  It was just as windy or even windier today but the extra warmth made pedalling a pleasure and although I didn’t seem to be trying any harder,  I took thirteen minutes less to do the 25 miles today than I did on Thursday.  Roll on summer.

When I got home I walked round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was working and shot one old friend…

A crocus surviving in a sheltered spot

…and one new arrival.

The first sign of a tulip this year.  Something has been eating its leaves.

After lunch, I went out with Mrs Tootlepedal to do some bird watching.  First we went to the moorland feeders.  Unfortunately, there was another photographer there already with his camper van parked right in front of the gate with a huge lens sticking out of the window.  Mrs Tootlepedal stayed in our car with binoculars in hand while I sneaked past the camper van  and got behind the screen.  Unsurprisingly, the birds weren’t very interested in coming too close to the camper van and I didn’t have much to look at.

Great tit
A great tit came close and gave me a sideways look.
There were several woodpeckers about but they stayed well away from me.

Only the pheasants weren’t bothered by the van at the gate.


I gave up quite soon and went back to the car.  Mrs Tootlepedal, unlike me, had been having a grand time watching lapwings on the hill and hen harriers in the sky above.  I got a glimpse of a harrier before it flew off.

hen harrier

Although there was blue sky about, the weather was very hazy and the hilltops were covered in mist…..

hazy weather

…so we drove round to the other side of the hill to see what things were like there.  They were just the same.  It looked as though it was sunny but it wasn’t.  We did catch a glimpse of a bird of prey not far off…

bird of prey

…but I am not convinced that this was another harrier.

It was very windy as well as being hazy so once again we didn’t stay too long and were soon back home.  Mrs Tootlepedal who had been gardening for most of the morning, went back to work again.  She is waging a war on celandine which is threatening to overwhelm one of her borders.  While she was at it, she trimmed and cleared and thinned and did many other wonderful things.

I rang up Sandy and went for a walk with him round the Becks.

The light wasn’t great but it was warm and sheltered and the walk was very enjoyable in itself.

Becks walk
There was a moment of sunshine but we were in a wood at the time.

There was plenty to look as as we walked along the Becks road.

There were strange signs…

sick pole
I didn’t realise that the pole had been ill.

…beautiful lichens….



…colourful conifers…


…and of course my favourite bridge view.

Auld Stane Brig

We visited the old Wauchope Graveyard on our back along the Wauchope road.  It is now closed and the gravestones are in many cases quite neglected.

Wauchope Graveyard

Because they are carved from different sorts of stone, there are many different lichens to see.  Here is just a small selection.

lichens and algae
The middle one is an algae not a lichen


We fell into conversation with a couple who were out walking and the lady showed us some very nice pictures which she had taken with her phone camera.  We suggested that she should get some of them printed and put them into our exhibition in June but contrary t0 all the evidence of the great number of pictures which she showed us, she said that she wasn’t really interested in photography.   Ah well.

They walked on and Sandy and I stopped to lift one of the small sheets that have been put down on top of a wall to offer protection for slow worms.  I was surprised to see that there were a couple of young worms there.

slow worm

We arrived home ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit.   I would have offered Sandy a crumpet but somebody had eaten them all already.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for the final performance of her show and I stayed in and watched bits of  two rugby games on the telly.  One had the commentary in Gaelic and the other in Welsh so I didn’t understand a word of either.  I didn’t feel that this was a great loss though as I could see what was going on perfectly well for myself.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin at our own feeder.




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “A degree of difference

  1. The people with the camper van obviously don’t really understand bird watching. We used to have a golden pheasant as a pet when I was a child. If we found a spider in the house we’d catch it and take it to him, he treated them much like Fluffy does cat treats. The lichen photos were lovely, graveyards are very good lichen hunting spots.

  2. That photo of the pheasant is outstanding! I also love the sunbeam through the trees. It looks almost like a fairy glen. I do love an old graveyard, they are so very interesting.

  3. Lest any reader be confused by your Rubens reference,I believe that the bronze statue at the entrance to the Oxford Bodleian Library featured as your guest photo is of course of William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, Chancellor of the University 1617-30 (and a dedicatee of Shakespeare’s First Folio), cast by Hubert Le Sueur to the design of Peter Paul Rubens.

  4. The slow worm is an exciting addition to the cast of characters populating your blog. I assumed it was a snake, but wikipedia informs me that I was wrong.

    1. Good question. BT is British Telecom and their plants might be bugging devices I suppose….though come to think of it, they never listen to their customers.

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