Step one

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my neighbour Liz, who has just been on holiday in Spain, shows a handsome monument carved from an eucalyptus tree that she saw there.  The ladder gives a clue as to its height.

eucalyptusI had time for breakfast and not much else before setting off to Dumfries Infirmary for the purpose of undergoing a pre knee operation check there.

I left myself with enough time to enable me to drive by back roads and stop off at the little Caerlaverock nature reserve by the banks of the Nith estuary on my way.  Although it was a sunny day, the upper slopes of Criffel were wreathed in cloud on the other side of the estuary.

Criffel in cloudI walked through an ancient wood on a well made new path….

Caerlaverock nature reserveStopping every now and again to take pictures….

fungus Caerlaverock nature reserve…of fungi….

fungus Caerlaverock nature reserve….and more fungi

Caerlaverock fungi….and lichen….

lichen and gorse…and some of the gorse which seems to be in flower all over the place at the moment.

I was headed for a little bird hide on the edge of the salt marshes but when I got there, an elderly couple, chatting cheerily away as they came along a path in the opposite direction, had cleared all the bird life away.  I didn’t have time to sit around and wait for peace to return so I looked across at Criffel again…

The clouds were thickening up as I walked along.

…and walked back through the woods….

Caerlaverock nature reserve…admiring the catkins as I went along….

catkins…until I got back to the car and drove off to the hospital.

The pre knee op assessment went well.  I proved to be able to breathe, have a pulse, some blood and a regular heartbeat and to be able to remember my name and address.  We checked that they had the right leg (the left leg in this case) in their notes and I was sent on my way with a merry wave.  It was very reassuring to see how seriously they were taking the whole thing.

I am going back again tomorrow to see the occupational and physiotherapists at their joint school and to learn how to look after my new knee when I get it.   I hope that I might be able to find out when the operation is going to be while I am there.

In order to make the best of having to drive eighty miles for the visit, I stopped off at Gretna on my way home.  It was raining gently when I arrived but by the time that I had parked the car, it had stopped and turned into a pleasant evening.

gretnaMy object was to see the celebrated starling murmuration but I was a bit early and had to admire a fine pylon instead.

gretnaThe starlings like pylons too.

starlings at gretna Nov 14They were soon up in the air from trees where they were lurking…

starlings at gretna Nov 14…and flowing to and fro in characteristic fashion.

starlings at gretna Nov 14Other groups joined them from time to time and soon the sky was full of birds

GretnaIt wasn’t one of the best displays that I have seen and numbers are still fairly low compared with a few years ago so there weren’t many opportunities to catch the spectacular waves that make them such a lure for amateur photographers.

starlings at gretna Nov 14I was getting a bit chilly so I cut my losses and headed for home before they went down to roost for the night.

Mrs Tootlepedal still hasn’t completely got over her cold but she was well enough and kind hearted enough to make a splendid corned beef hash for my tea.  Fortified by this, I went off to a choir practice for Langholm Sings, our local community choir.  The practice was better organised than usual and we had a useful time rehearsing pieces for two forthcoming concerts.

It is in the lap of the gods as to whether I will be available to sing any of the songs I am currently practising with both the Langholm and Carlisle choirs as it will depend on the date of my knee operation and my ability to recover from it in time.

In spite of the hundreds of starlings, the flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch shot before I left in the morning.


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Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Step one

  1. Best of wishes of course for the speediest and most thorough recovery with your knee. Since you are related to the best baby in the world, I am sure it will be the best new knee experience in the world.

    Also, murmuration is such an excellent and descriptive new word for me. I have several times seen a murmuration of starlings, around the tower of an old-fashioned New England library. It was not huge but was nonetheless extraordinary.

    1. It is a great sight. The number of starlings at Gretna seems to have gone down a great deal in recent years. There were times in years past when the heavens were full of birds and the noise was indescribable.

      Thank you for your good wishes re the knee.

  2. I like the path through the gnarly trees and the starlings are always an amazing thing to see. I didn’t know that you had orange jelly fungi there.
    Mrs. T seems to be recovering well and I hope the same for you after the knee operation.

  3. Splendid views on your walk, a good collection of fungi pictures and the exciting starlings to finish with, what a good post. Glad the knee business went well even though it was a long way to drive.

  4. Glad to read that the medics were able to prove that you are alive, and that Mrs T is well on the way to recovery.
    Love the pylons!

  5. Great pictures on your way to and from Dumfries. Glad the pre-op assessment went well. Hope the joint school is worth that long drive.
    The murmuration was in the newspaper recently, so it is good to see your photographs.

  6. Another lovely walk full of fungi but a very long journey to the hospital. I suppose that is the penalty for living in such a beautiful rural area. I loved the starling shots.

  7. I haven’t seen a murmuration in years not being in the right place at the right time, so I enjoyed your photos very much. I also loved the pictures of Criffel.

      1. Hope you are recovering well. When I had an ankle op at Stobhill Hospital I was fully awake and could hear the drill and see the surgeon walking about.

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