Today’s guest picture shows a colourful winter scene from Parliament Hill in London a few days ago and was sent to me by my sister Mary.
The new year arrived in a more polite and agreeable mood than the old year stamped off in.
A calm and dry day was very welcome but a light covering of ice on the drive persuaded us that there was no rush to go out to greet the glorious morn.
In fact there was plenty of time to watch some birds….
Not all the chaffinches were badly behaved and I really enjoyed the style of this one approaching the feeder in the nonchalant manner of Fred Astaire on roller skates.
A pause for a cup of coffee allowed the thermometer to hit 5 degrees C and for most of the ice to disappear and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out on a five mile walk to welcome the New Year in.
Although it was very calm and pleasant for walking, the light was still poor with the low sun covered in clouds so we chose a route for varied interest rather than spectacular views.
I took a shot of some lichen on a tree in the garden as we left as insurance in case we didn’t see anything of interest on our walk.
The unseasonably warm and wet weather of the past weeks meant that there was flourishing moss and fungus to be spotted as we walked along the riverside path…
…though I don’t know how long that will last if it gets a bit colder.
The first puddles we came to were still frozen…
…but luckily, Mrs Tootlepedal found one further along the riverside road that allowed for a good paddle.
We left the river and followed the road up hill…
…where the wall on the right was richly covered with mosses…
…and even played host to a foxglove as well.
At the top of the hill, which divides the Esk from the Tarras valley, the moss gave way to lichen…
..and we turned off the road to pick up the track back through the woods to Langholm.
The track doesn’t pass through quite as many trees as it used to.
The rings on the right show that that tree was just under 40 years old when it was felled and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the vivid pattern is caused by the saw cutting through at the exact spot that branches spread out from the trunk.
The felling of the trees leaves a mess on the ground but reveals a fine view across the Esk that has been hidden for a long time.
Our walk took us through mixed oak and birch woods where the oaks are very old….
…and the birches are fairly young.
It doesn’t look as though the oaks are going to regenerate as they may be too old to bear acorns and anyway, they are being hemmed in by the fast growing birches.
As we got back towards the town, we spotted some more fresh fungus beside the track….
…and a notice that would have told us that we were being watched by neighbours if a tree hadn’t eaten it.
I wonder how long it will take the tree to swallow the whole thing.
We called in at the Co-op on our way home to buy a newspaper. A packet of six (very reasonable priced) iced finger buns got accidentally entangled with my hand as I went to pay for the paper so we had to take them home too. We lived with the pain.
The walk was most enjoyable and the buns soon restored our energy levels to maximum. (Somehow, I needed five of them and Mrs Tootlepedal just one. It is odd how much more energy I use when we are doing the same walk.)
In the traditional manner, our neighbour Margaret came to visit for a small sherry and some pancakes to welcome the new year in and Mike Tinker’s cup of tea detecting radar was working so well that he was able to join us and we were a merry company as the light faded.
I hope that a good walk and good company on the first day of the year will set the tone for the rest of it and that there will be many and various (but much sharper) flying birds to follow today’s first flying chaffinch of 2016.