Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent. Fiona was taking refuge in a bird hide at the Rising Sun country park when she took this shot. ( She was hiding from the huge piles of work she has to do for an exam.)
We were greeted by a scattering of snow on the ground when we woke up today but fortunately there was not enough to cause a nuisance and although the day remained chilly, it was just warm enough to see the snow off.
While it was still too cold and potentially slippery to do anything active outdoors, Dropscone appeared bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones and that let the time pass pleasantly until it was safe to go out for a walk.
I put my wellies on and clumped off round the Becks. There were signs of both new and old growth as I walked along the track towards the woods.
And proof that the minister is not the only chicken fancier in the town.
There were bigger animals to admire as well.
When I got to the woods, I walked down to the Becks Burn and because I had prudently put my wellies on, I was able to stand in the middle of the stream and look into the rocky grotto which houses the little cascade.
It is an unusual little waterfall for our area with the flow of water sliding down smooth grey rocks and splashing into a very blue green pool at the foot.
I took another view, not so attractive but giving a better idea of what the little gorge looks like.
I’ll have to return when the light is better as I think that there is the making of a very pretty shot in there somewhere. It certainly was well worth standing in the stream to look at it.
I continued round the walk and as always, I was struck by the variety of mosses and lichens on the walls beside the roads.
Most of the lichens are reasonably compact but here and there, they lie over the walls like spilled custard.
As I got to Pool Corner, a ripple in the water attracted my attention. It was a dipper dipping but it was too far away for my camera and flew further off as I got nearer.
I will have to creep up quietly next time I come round the corner.
When I got home, it was time for lunch and I used a bit of quality cheddar to make a couple of slices of toasted cheese which went down very well. I looked out of the window while the cheese was toasting (and again after I had eaten it as well).
They look very dainty but are the most belligerent of all our visitors.
The goldfinches rose above this vulgar hullabaloo.
And later on a chaffinch checked carefully to see if the siskins had gone.
After lunch I was slightly delayed by a call from Scottish Power asking if the Archive Group was keen to renew its contract with them. I was a bit lost for words. In the end she said that she would email the complaints team to get them to ring me (I have been waiting a week now for a promised call) and I said that I would be in later on.
In the meantime, I made good use of what had turned into a very pleasant, almost windless afternoon by pedalling for twenty miles up and down the Wauchope road, not getting too far from home in case of a breakdown or puncture.
On one of my laps, I met Mike Tinker and wished him a happy birthday. I finished off the last lap and was in time to join him for a cup of tea. As he left, I took the official birthday portrait.
I think that you’ll agree that he looks very well for his age.
I went in and rounded off my photographic day with a blackbird.
Scottish Power didn’t ring of course but I cheered up after tea when I went to the Buccleuch Centre for the second day running. This time, I listened to a very entertaining live jazz concert which had a lot going for it. Firstly, there was no amplification at all, secondly, there was no drum solo and thirdly, the double bass solo was both very good and reasonably short. As these are all requisites of a perfect jazz concert to my taste, I was very happy. A delightful extra bonus was a baritone sax played with great zest.
The eight piece band, called the Classic Jazz Orchestra, specialises in playing Jelly Roll Morton’s works but they threw in all sorts from Bix Beiderbecke through Count Basie to Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim as well. Unfortunately, there was a regrettably small audience so they couldn’t exactly get the joint rocking but we were very appreciative and they certainly played with every evidence of enjoyment.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch lit by some early evening sunbeams.