Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s portfolio of London’s parks.
With the thermometer at 2°C, it was warm enough for yesterday’s snow to be melting slowly but cold enough to keep me off the roads on my bike. As a result, I girded my loins and did ten very boring miles on the bike to nowhere in the garage.
I am using a low cost magnetic resistance trainer on top of which the back wheel of my slow bike sits. On the plus side, this gives me a sensible riding position but on the minus side, there is no inertia at all and as soon as you ease off the pressure on the pedals, it slows down instantly. It is like pedalling through porridge. There is no free-wheeling and none of the helpful spinning of a flywheel which you get with a gym model. The result is like cycling constantly uphill and it makes an hour seem like a lifetime.
I was pleased to get off and look out of the kitchen window.
You can see that by lunch time, it had started to rain and sleet. This didn’t make the siskins any more well disposed to other birds than usual.
It eased off not long after it started though and that was a blessing even if it left things looking distinctly soggy.
By the time that we had finished lunch, it had stopped entirely and after going nowhere in the morning, we thought it would be nice to go somewhere in the afternoon.
We combined the need to put a little petrol in the car and get some shopping done with an excursion to Canonbie for a walk on less snowy tracks.
Though it is only six miles away, the path through the Byreburn wood was almost snow free…
…though the lack of snow was made up for by plenty of water.
The walk up past the Fairy Loup and back down the road turned out to be a sociable occasion as we met the owner of the Archimedes Screw at the Hollows Mill on the way. He was walking with his wife and tiny baby but was happy to stop and tell us about the workings of the Screw. He invited us to come and have a view and we will certainly do that at the first convenient time.
There was plenty of brown water rushing over the waterfall at the Fairy Loup…
Further up the track, we met two more friends, parents of children at Canonbie School when I was teaching there, and we had another good chat with them. Their daughter, a grand athlete in her primary school days, has taken to running very seriously and ran 1500 miles in the course of last year. It made my knees hurt just to hear about her efforts.
We walked on beside the leaping stream….
…until we got to the top of the track and then we headed back to the car by the quieter road.
For a day that looked quite cold….
… and grey….
…the walking was very kindly. The unusual absence of anything but the lightest breeze made for perfect conditions for a January stroll.
We filled the car up on the way out and managed our shopping on the way home . When we got back, we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and a sit down.
We didn’t have all that long to wait though before we were off again. Our target this time was the Buccleuch Centre, where the RNSO were presenting a New Year Viennese Gala.
The hall was packed and so was the stage, with 60 musicians ready and willing to give us a seasonal treat. There was nothing unexpected in the concert but the sheer delight of having 60 accomplished musicians playing live music in a good humoured way to an appreciative audience banished any thoughts of rain and snow completely.
As a bonus, there was a sparkling soprano too and when she sang Vilia, Oh Vilia as an encore, you could almost hear the physical and mental strain of the many amateur opera singers in the audience trying desperately not to sing along with her.
The RNSO, our national orchestra, is on a new year tour of some of the most notable towns in Scotland outside the big four cities. They are visiting Dunfermline (pop. 50,000), Inverness (pop. 46,000), Stirling (pop. 36,000), F0rfar (pop. 14,000) and Langholm (pop. 2,301). It’s hard to work out but we don’t ask, we are just grateful.
There was a flying bird in action during the morning snow today too.