Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s encounter with spring. Not content with yesterday’s relatively small host of golden daffs which she saw on her way to tennis, she saw a much bigger one on her way back. They were defying a rather gloomy day.
By contrast, we had another cold but sunny day here. At just above freezing, I deemed it too risky to go cycling so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in church, I took myself off for a walk.
I was passed by a couple of intrepid cyclists but I wasn’t envious. A very chilly wind made walking a more pleasant prospect.
I was hoping to see an oyster catcher and I was lucky. As a bonus, there was a grey wagtail a few yards and I clicked away happily. How much better the results would have been, if I had checked my camera settings before clicking. You’ll just have to take my word about the birds.
I did see an old friend though.
He stopped for a portrait and then flapped lazily off up the river.
On the far bank, a father and child were feeding the ducks. This attracted a lot of black headed gulls…
…who swooped out of a blue sky down to the river.
I left them to quarrel over scraps and walked up the river myself.
I was able to look at the hills I had walked over the other day.
And I enjoyed the many pine trees on the Castleholm as I pottered along.
The cold weather wasn’t helping my breathing a lot so I was happy to be detained in various conversations as I went along by a jogger, a blogger and a nature lover.
The nature lover told me of woodpeckers and squirrels that he had seen but I wasn’t in the right place at the right time to see either. I did see a nuthatch while we chatted but it kept too high for a photo.
I went up to see if the snowdrops were out but the cold weather had kept them back. A fine crop of frost hair….
…was a small consolation.
I walked up through the woods…
…and onto Castle Hill. It would have been a good day to go to the top of the hill and enjoy the views but I had things to do so I turned and headed for home, crossing this fine stile…
…on my way. It was one of the first stiles that was put up when the Langholm Walks were established but it wouldn’t do these days as wall and fence crossings have to be much more friendly to walkers of all abilities and some sort of gate is needed.
I passed along the river on my way back, hoping to get another chance to shoot an oyster catcher but I had to settle for a mallard. The colour of the water was almost more interesting than the duck.
I was really pleased that I had chosen to walk rather than bicycle because I had been sheltered from the nippy wind for much of the time and I was feeling quite tired.
My last pictures from the walk show the Esk from the same spot in three different directions. It is noticeable how varied the colour of the river is depending on how the light falls on it.
My three and a half mile walk took me nearly two hours but taken at this sensible speed, it had been very enjoyable.
When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy gardening so I put the final load of compost from Bin D into a barrow for further distribution by her and made a quick start on the transfer of material from Bin C to Bin D. Spring really is in the air.
After all this fun, I had a sit down for a cup of tea and a slice of toast and an occasional peer out of the window.
I had recently hung a half coconut shell filled with a suet mixture under a branch but it had not had any visitors so I put it out on a bench where it immediately proved much more attractive…
…to a wide variety of customers.
When the jackdaw arrived, the starling tried another treat.
I just had time for a shower and a shave before it was time to head for Carlisle, rather earlier than usual.
I was going to combine a choir practice with a visit to see how Dropscone was getting on in hospital. By good fortune, the hospital is very near our choir practice venue so we were able to hit three targets with one arrow. Mrs Tootlepedal dropped me off at the hospital and went to a neighbouring supermarket for some useful shopping, I visited the invalid and then I walked down to join Mrs Tootlepedal at the choir practice.
Dropscone was in surprisingly good form for a man who was so recently swept off to hospital in an ambulance. We chatted for a while and then he was able to accompany me as far as the main entrance to the hospital when I left. He did come outside for a moment but wisely decided that it was far too cold to be suitable for a man in his condition. If all goes well, he is hoping to be allowed to go home tomorrow.
With our choir competition in Manchester coming up in two weeks, we had another very hard working session. We are having a double length session next week with additional expert singing tutors so we should be ready on the day with a bit of luck.
A good day was rounded off by a delicious meal of cauliflower cheese when we got home. As it is St Valentine’s day, the lady who sits next to Mrs Tootlepedal told her that she was going home to a large bunch of roses and a special Mark and Spencers’ Valentine meal prepared by her husband. That seems a poor substitute for cauliflower cheese but it takes all sorts.
The flying bird of the day is one of the bread seeking gulls.