Today’s guest picture, sent by Bruce, does not show some distant desert but rather a glasshouse in Aberdeen.
The main event of the morning was the arrival of another gas engineer to put a new heat exchanger into our gas boiler. He told us that the old one was in very poor condition and we hope that the replacement is going to sort out a persistent loss of water pressure which has been plaguing us for some time.
While he was working, Mrs Tootlepedal slaved away on the garden.
Neither sitting nor lying down was very comfortable for me so I got the slow bike out and went off to do some constructive standing about. My hip was feeling somewhat easier than yesterday and I was able to visit the Kilngreen and the Castleholm without much difficulty.
The Kilngreen was a treat. First of all Mr Grumpy was dancing The Twist….
…and the view up the Esk to the Jubilee Bridge was very easy on the eye…
…and the icing on the cake was the presence of two female goosanders, lazily paddling about in front of me.
One even got out to give me a full portrait.
I was hoping to see a dipper but when none appeared, I cycled along to the Jubilee Bridge to wait for a nuthatch to arrive. I didn’t have to wait for long.
I think it was bringing food for the other bird inside the nest.
While I was waiting for a second viewing, there was quite a disturbance on the river behind me so I went to investigate. Small birds were flashing across the river shouting in a most excitable way.
I think that they were sandpipers and I think that they may have been upset by a goosander coming too close to their nest. They were flying too fast for my camera to get a good shot.
Leaving the nuthatch nest, I cycled on to check out another possible nest site a few hundred yards away. I saw a butterfly….
….any amount of signs of spring….
…glorious tree colour….
…but no nuthatches so I cycled home.
The gasman had finished his work on the boiler by the time that I got back so after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested putting the bikes in the car and going to Longtown.
She had three purposes on mind, a visit to the bike shop to check her tyres, a visit to a garden centre to buy some sweet peas and a gentle pedal. The constructive standing up had eased the hip and as cycling is always therapeutic, I readily agreed and off we went.
I should say that the weather was so inviting that I wore cycling shorts for the first time this year. My knees were very pleased.
At the bike shop, Mrs Tootlepedal’s tyres were given the all clear for further use, my brakes were adjusted and a new mudguard for the speedy bike was ordered. My old mudguard was broken past repair when I was unseated by a pothole recently and I don’t like to ride a bike without a mudguard if I can help it, as it makes for so much extra bike washing.
The forecast had promised that we would just avoid some rain just to the north but it was quite a close thing as this picture, taken at the farthest extent of our ride, shows.
A sheep in a field beside the road seemed to have made a poor job of her mascara.
The journey back to Longtown took us along some typical north Cumbrian back lanes…
Because the land is a bit better on this side of the border, there is not so much forestry and the back roads are not subject to the pounding of incessant timber lorries and have many less potholes than out local roads as a result.
There were some very fine cloudscapes to be seen as we pedalled along.
In a more down to earth way, I enjoyed this handsome shed near Easton.
There are some stunning views over the Solway plain from the little settlement at Easton but they are too big for Pocketcam to do them justice. Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on the splendour of the views to a lady who was working in her garden in the village and she told us that the price to paid for the views was the strength of the winds blowing across the Solway from the west at their house with nothing between Easton and Ireland to stop them. She didn’t specify whether she thought that the price was worth paying.
We got back to the car after fourteen enjoyable miles and went to the garden centre to buy some sweet peas and we added a single tomato to the shopping basket.
Once home, there was time for a walk round the garden where we saw an unusual butterfly.
I had many nuthatch and goosander pictures to sort through so Mrs Tootlepedal kindly made the tea and then I went off to Carlisle (without Susan who was too busy at work to spare the time) to play recorders. Heather, one of the players, told us that she has used my sourdough starter to make a loaf and that she had left it to rise while she came to play. I hope it turns out well.
The drive home was illuminated by a very bright moon.
All in all, I had a much better day than I expected and my hip stood up well to all the standing, cycling and sitting that it had to do. I am crossing my fingers that it is well on the way to settling down completely.
The flying bird of the day was one of the goosanders.