Today’s post will be briefish as in the absence of Mr Tootlepedal, the blog has been entrusted to the Tootlepedal editorial team and frankly managing to get photos from the photo library onto this blog post is a bit of a triumph.
Team Tootlepedal were up before dawn had cracked in any way, and after a quick but essential cup of tea and slice of toast, we departed for Dumfries, arriving safe and sound about 8.00am. The very nice surgeon talked Mr T through the funfest ahead of him again and having drawn a comfortingly large and hard to miss black arrow on the right knee (which in this case was the left knee) he left us to say our farewells. It occurs to me that a more prepared stand-in-blog-writer would have a picture of said knee and arrow, but alas, all our minds were perhaps on too many other things to think of photos.
Given that it’s an hour’s drive either way to the hospital we had decided we would lurk in the general area during the day, before returning in the afternoon post operation to see how the patient was getting on. So having said a temporary goodbye to Mr T, we had made a plan to visit the Caelaverock Wetland Centre to look at some birds, which somehow seemed about the right thing to do, especially as the pressure was on to find a flying bird of the day. As might have been said before on this blog, the centre is well worth a visit. It is currently home to several thousand Barnacle Geese, which travel from Svalbard in the Arctic Circle to spend the winter on the Solway Firth.
Of course as soon as we arrived, camera in hand, they mostly flew off to far flung fields as they are not trapped or penned in any way. One of the advantages of arriving at opening time, however, was the opportunity to watch the 11.00am swan feeding session. The centre does two of these a day and apart from giving the public the chance to see a wide range of Whooper swans (which travel here from Iceland), Mute swans and any number of ducks and other birds very close up, it allows them to eventually tempt the swans into a section they can close off so they can ring the birds and give them a health check. Their ringing projects provide incredibly useful and detailed information on the habits of these precious species – the man leading the feeding session today (who you can see below) was able to tell us that a group of young swans who had just arrived that morning were the great grandchildren of a pair who used to winter at Caerlaverock.
There were quite a lot of swans and ducks…
Some parts of the centre were less busy with birds, but it was a peaceful and beautiful place to spend some time and think about Mr Tootlepedal waiting for his op.
All in all was an excellent morning and after another refreshing cup of tea and bacon sandwich, Team Tootlepedal set off to explore the beautiful Solway coast a little more. Our route took us past many photo opportunities, from Sweetheart Abbey to Southerness, but we eventually parked at Sandyhills and had a little stroll on the very pretty beach there. Apparently there was some sea somewhere but it was a long way away.
Sandyhills was much more picturesque than the above photo, which does not do it any justice. We completed our drive round the coast in absolutely glorious sunshine and stopped at the handsome town of Castle Douglas for a toasted teacake.
At this mid-afternoon point the reader will be very pleased to hear that a text was received from Mr Tootlepedal to say that he was back on the ward, the operation had happened and he was smiling!
A short drive back to the hospital and we were able to see his smile for ourselves which was very nice indeed. He’d been advised not have a general anaesthetic and that seems to have been an excellent decision as he really did seem on very good form. We once again failed to take a photo to mark the occasion, but we will make amends for that tomorrow. We left him in good spirits and looking forward to some supper, as he had not eaten anything except a handful of raisins since 6.30am.
For all the thousands of birds we saw today, it was surprisingly difficult to find a flying bird of the day, but we were very happy to see these two elegant swans cruise past overhead as we were leaving Caerlaverock.