Today’s guest picture shows fungus on Hampstead Heath in London and was sent to my daughter by her friend Claudia with the note that I might find it interesting. She was right.
The day started with a successful attempt to get my cycling mileage up to my target for the year of 5000 miles. A 20 mile trip round the Waterbeck Triangle got me to 5007 miles and since I will not be able to cycle at all in December, this was just in the nick of time.
I stopped near Wauchope School to admire the ingenuity of the tree fellers who needed a way to cross the Wauchope a few hundred yards below the school bridge.
Near Waterbeck, I stopped again to take a picture of this very well preserved example of a traditional East Dumfriesshire cottage.
I got my bike as clean as I could and then made some vegetable soup for our lunch when I got back. The reason for cleaning the bike was a plan to take it into the bike shop at Longtown for its annual service while I will not be needing it.
We ate the soup for lunch combined with some sour dough toast and a selection of cheeses and this made for a meal that would have been the envy of princes and bankers if they had only known about it, for they could not have eaten better than we did. The only sad part about the meal was that it made use of the last home grown onion of the year.
I just had time to snap a goldfinch….
Our plan was to show our daughter Annie the walk round the Longtown ponds after delivering the bike to the bike shop. It turned out to be a good plan because as we drove south, the sun came out and with the temperature at 50°F, we had a glorious afternoon for our stroll.
Both Annie and I took a lot of pictures. I hope that she may show you some of hers while she is guest editing the blog.
Meanwhile here are some of mine.
There were plenty of birds about, both on the water…..
The sun was beginning to set as we walked back to the town and we were slightly bemused to see a walker in the middle of the river.
The sunset, as we drove towards the Solway shore, was outstanding but stopping to take pictures in the middle of a busy main road is not recommended so you will have to take my word for that.
As we passed the retail outlet village in Gretna, every car parking space was taken and an overflow car park was in operation. We felt that walking round the ponds had probably been a more cheerful occupation than shopping in a great crush and drove on towards Brow Houses on the shore feeling a little smug.
It was very peaceful on the Solway shore and there was a very musical accompaniment of bird song to charm the ear. The sand banks were busy…
There was no wind and the scene was so serene that we would like to have stayed but we had come to see starlings so we went back towards Gretna.
By a curious chance, just as we drew up at our chosen parking spot, a car arrived from the opposite direction. Fortunately there was room for two and the other car turned out to be carrying a former colleague of mine and her husband who had had his knee operation a few weeks ago. He indicated that progress was hard work but that he was doing well and advised me to be extra nice to Mrs Tootlepedal as I will be leaning on her a lot over the next few weeks.
Mrs Tootlepedal stayed to pick up a few tips on patient management from his wife and Annie and I walked down the road to look for starlings.
There was an ever growing murmuration forming but it was hard to decide whether to watch them…..
It is amazing to think that those two pictures were taken with minutes of each other while standing at the same spot. The camera makes the light look so different. Above us a moon was beginning to shine and this time, different aperture and shutter speeds made a stunning difference to the resulting shot. Neither picture has been processed significantly.
Both pictures are of course cropped as I didn’t have my big stepladder with me!
We stayed for a while watching the starlings and they were as amazing to watch as ever but they didn’t offer a better photo opportunity so we left for home before they went down to roost.
Mrs Tootlepedal cooked us an excellent bacon and chick pea casserole for our tea and I filled in some admission forms and packed my case, as we have to make an early start for the hospital tomorrow. The forecast is good and the ladies are hoping to make the best of their trip to Dumfries with a programme of interesting visits after they have delivered me. Lucky them.
The flying bird of the day picture is a double, showing two of the more interesting flying objects we saw at Longtown today.