Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my recorder playing friend Susan who saw this fine skyscape on a recent cycle outing.
We had a sharp frost during the night but the ground was remarkably ice free in the morning and while there was still frozen water in a bucket outside the back door at 11 o’clock, I was able to walk up to the town to do some business after breakfast without having to watch my step. I was then able to walk back up to the town a short while later to do the other business which I had forgotten on my first trip. Fortunately, it was a sunny day so it was no great hardship.
When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her church choir practice, we had time for a cup of coffee before setting off to visit another member of our recorder group, though presently retired from tootling, Sue. She lives deep in the Cumbrian countryside beyond Brampton and we arrived just in time for a tour of her garden and lunch.
She has a large garden and she and Mrs Tootlepedal spent some time discussing gardening and composting. The lunch was excellent and it was enhanced by some of Sue’s home made sour dough bread. Even better than the food though, was the view from the window as we ate. Sue likes birds and has several feeders outside her window which provided us with a steady diet of birds to watch.
The star of the show for me was a nuthatch, one of my favourite birds.
There were small birds of every description, goldfinches and robins…
…great tits and house sparrows…
….coal tits and blue tits…
…and even a greater spotted woodpecker but it lurked behind a branch and flew off without posing for me. Sue tells me that her dunnocks or hedge sparrows have learned to fly up to her feeders. The ones in our garden won’t do that so it was a pleasure to see one perched on a branch ready to go for some seed.
There are obviously advantages to living in the country.
We had intended to go bicycling with Sue but a forecast of rain in the afternoon combined with a strong and very chilly breeze persuaded us to leave our bikes at home. However, it was quite dry after lunch so we set off for a short circular walk on very quiet roads instead.
Sue lives on the very last gasp of the Pennines as they fall away into the Solway plain and a short but steep climb out the village of Talkin soon gave us some splendid views across the Eden valley towards the Lake District,
A short while later, we had a panoramic view across the whole Solway plain and Sue and Mrs Tootlepedal who had binoculars with the them, could see the monument of Whita Hill above Langholm, twenty five miles away to the north.
I pointed my zoom lens at the lake District hills.
It was a most rewarding short walk.
As well as the long views, we could look down on Talkin Tarn…..
…admire the brilliant gorse in the sunshine against a backdrop of very threatening grey clouds…..
…enjoy a stand of Scots pines….
…and peer at a host of wild flowers on the hedgerows. The strong breeze made it hard to get good pictures so these were the best that I could do.
That last one on the right is improbably called a Moschatel or the Town Hall Clock (because it has one flower facing upwards and another four facing in four separate directions like a town hall clock in a tower).
I found some blackthorn and local lichens to enjoy too.
Sue loves this short walk and was delighted to find that we thought that it was wonderful too. What made it even better on this occasion was the many heavy showers which we could see on all sides and which were raining on other people and not us.
We were serenaded by curlews and oyster catchers as we walked and I had hopes of catching a flying bird of the day as a curlew flew close overhead but I was too slow and it was gone before I could catch it.
Sue and Mrs Tootlepedal looking at some very dark clouds in front of them.
I should mention that we saw a little lamb….
When we got back to the house, it was time for us to go home and we managed to fit in some useful shopping on our way. We really enjoyed our visit and we are determined to go back when the weather is good and let Sue show us some good cycling routes.
The gloomy forecast, which we had avoided on a walk, arrived with a vengeance when we got home…
…and we had another snap snow storm with flakes the size of tennis balls. The flowers won’t know what to do, 17°C and sunny one week and 2°C and snowing the next.
In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a very enjoyable time paying duets. Now that his exam has been successfully dealt with, I am intending to find as much music as possible that he can play for pure pleasure.
After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we hit on some relaxed tempos for our playing which allowed us to enjoy a stress free session and play many of the right notes at the right time.
Although I saw a lot of birds during the day, I was unable to catch a flying bird of the day so a kind nuthatch has agreed to act as perching bird of the day instead.
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