I nagged my sister Mary to take another of her photographs of Regent’s Park on her way to play tennis and she very kindly obliged with this beautifully composed guest picture when she went to play today.
We awoke to a pleasantly sunny day here too but our delight was tempered by the fact that it was freezing. With damp patches on the roads providing many icy opportunities, there was no way that I was going cycling until things got quite a bit warmer.
I was therefore very pleased to welcome Dropscone (bearing scones) for coffee. He had been up bright and early and had already been shopping in Carlisle. As well as scones he brought us a gift of leeks, which he had purchased there for a very reasonable price. I feel a bowl of soup coming on.
He is under orders to let his broken ribs heal gently and is going to put in the time by thoroughly mastering the rules of golf, a gargantuan task which should keep him fully occupied.
The feeder outside the window was in deep shade so I had to look to the plum tree for birds that I could recognise. The brambling was back.
The birds at the feeder could only be seen in silhouette.
Some were not easy to identify at first. Was it a siskin?
Zooming in on two of the shots made me think that I had spotted a redpoll…
…and the photo editor confirmed it.
Before Dropscone had arrived, I had cleaned and oiled my chain and I had also taken the precaution of getting dressed in my cycling gear for breakfast to ensure that I would have no excuse for not cycling when the time came. It was nearly mid day though before the thermometer reached 3 degrees and I felt able to set out. I armed myself with two of Mr Ritchie’s power boosting filled rolls and a banana and pedalled off into the distance.
It was far from warm, even in the sunshine and I skirted nervously past quite a few icy puddles on the road in the sheltered parts of the Wauchope valley but once I was out in the open, the ice disappeared and so did my fears.
There was a light but very nippy north wind blowing and I was pleased to be suitably dressed. I had two pairs of socks, shoes and over shoes on my feet, long johns and cycling shorts and leggings to protect my bottom half, a helmet with two under caps and a buff round my neck to protect my head and, most importantly, four top half garments as well.
There were times when I thought that I might have overdone it when I was puffing slowly up hills but as soon as I picked up speed, I was grateful for the four tops. For some reason I couldn’t get the strains of “Reach out, I’ll be there,” out of mind as I pedalled along.
I chose a mainly flat and rather dull route, going through Ecclefechan and passing the wood powered power station at Steven’s Croft, near Lockerbie….
…before stopping at the 25 mile mark for a breather and a filled roll.
I turned for home with the wind now behind me.
I was heading down the old A74, once the main road between England and Glasgow but now relegated to a minor route….
…hemmed in between the railway on the left and the new motorway on the right. It is handy to have this road for days when I feel the need for an undemanding ride.
‘Pagedogs’, one of my correspondents, suggested lackadaicycle as a good word for gentle pedalling and with a slight adaptation of this clever thought, I was enjoying a lack-a-day cycle today. (You have to say Pagedog’s suggestion out loud if it means nothing to you when you read it.)
It was good to be getting a few miles in without trying to rush though I did push on a bit when it started to hail near Waterbeck on my way home. There were some impressive clouds about…
…both to my left….
…and to my right so I pushed on and escaped with only the lightest of pinging for a few hundred yards.
I haven’t done much cycling recently, lackadaisical or not, so I was very happy to arrive safely home after fifty miles, tired but cheerful.
I had time for a quick look round the garden.
In spite of the sunny day, there was not much to see – another two aconites, some very fed up hellebores which have come out too early and been subjected to several frosts and a potential crocus.
Mrs Tootlepedal had been working in the garden along the dam at the back of the house for almost all the time that I had been cycling so she was quite tired and happy too.
The light had reached the feeder by now and I took a picture of two siskins in conversation.
They are probably discussing the political situation and wondering where they will migrate to if Britain leaves Europe.
After sitting down on the bike all afternoon, I practised sitting down in an easy chair for the evening. I did get up twice, once to catch the end of a lovely day…
…and once to take a shot of the almost full moon…
..but I was a day late and I should have done this yesterday.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, taken when I had got back from cycling.