Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona. Her father is currently gadding about in California but she thinks that there is just as much fun to be had on Tynemouth Sands and who could disagree.
We woke to a perfect March morning. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the frogs were purring in the pond and there was a definite hint of spring in the air.
My first business of the day was a visit to the physiotherapist to see if she could put a bit more spring in my step by magically curing my hip pain. She gave me a set of exercises and a month to do them. Then we will see. Her ankle exercises cured my ankle last year so I am approaching these hip exercises in a very positive frame of mind and that is more than half the battle.
This good start to the day was enhanced by the arrival of Sandy and Dropscone for coffee. Dropscone had made a batch of scones at such short notice that they almost qualified as fast food.
He is working very hard at mastering the rules of golf at the moment as he is shortly going to sit an exam in his quest to become a highly qualified official. The rules of golf are not quite as simple as you may think – hit it up the middle, walk after it and hit it again – and contain many tricky points. He may face multiple choice questions questions something like this:
A golfer hits the ball into a large puddle. In bending to retrieve the ball, he is bitten by an alligator and falls on top of the ball burying it in mud. In retrieving the ball, it is snatched from his uninjured hand by a passing heron and dropped into a nearby bunker. In making his way to the bunker, he trips over his opponent’s clubs and falls headlong into the hazard, once again burying the ball. He retrieves the ball, drops it correctly but strikes his opponent accidentally during his backswing, breaking his leg and as a result tops the ball back into the bunker.
What happens next?
A: The player is penalised two strokes and the game continues.
B: There is no penalty as all the events have been caused by an ‘outside agency’C: The player wins the match as his opponent is unable to continue.
D: The player wisely gives up golf and takes up billiards.
We wish him luck.
We were visited during the coffee break by a pair of bramblings in the plum tree (I caught them both)…
…and a pair of noisy and lumbering helicopters (I only caught one of them).
At coffee, Sandy told me that he had been out for some photography advice on Sunday from a very well known professional nature photographer and had learned some useful things. I asked him if we would impart some of his learning to me and he generously agreed so we went off to the Kilngreen to see what we could see.
We saw ducks.
They were paddling…
…indulging in disgracefully sexist behaviour…
…and just thinking about stuff.
I saw a pied wagtail too.
We saw gulls.
And we saw lots of beautiful crocuses…
Some with added bees.
Collecting pollen was the name of the game.
As we left, Sandy told me that the soundest piece of advice he got was to come back to the same spot several times and try to take better pictures at each visit having learned from the previous efforts.
When I got home I found that fellow archivist Ken had delivered another letter from Scottish Power. It said that they were baffled by the whole affair and might talk to me again in a month. I rang up their amusingly titled ‘Customer Service’ department and expressed mild disappointment. They said that they could quite see that I might be disappointed.
We have a visitor coming next week so Mrs Tootlepedal is currently very busy getting her painting and decorating done in time. I have offered to help but it was explained to me, in a kindly manner, that the time taken to train me up to a half decent standard would be far greater than the time that I would save by helping so I went off for a pedal instead.
It was a good day for a pedal…
…especially on the way out where the wind was behind me. I got to the bridge where I intended to turn round and was going to take a picture to add to my portfolio of ‘Pretty Stone Bridges of Eastern Dumfriesshire’ but decided that it wasn’t pretty enough. However, where there is a stone bridge there is always some lichen on the parapet so I photographed that instead.
The bridge may not have been very pretty but the view from the bridge was striking.
The trip back was a bit less heavenly than the wind assisted outward leg and even though I pedalled like a ‘pipistrelle ex Averno’, I was two minutes slower on the easier return journey than I had been on the way out.
Still, the good weather this month means that at the half way point, I am well ahead of my monthly schedule. Thanks to the earlier storms though, I am still behind my annual target distance by some way.
In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we did some of that boring sort of practice that is necessary from time to time if technical progress is to be made.
Isabel and Mike were busy thinking high thoughts at a manse meeting so there were no trios in the evening. I was secretly quite pleased because I shot the pictures at the Kilngreen in the morning in RAW format and processing RAW pictures takes a bit more time than just clicking the auto contrast button on a JPEG and I had plenty to look through.
One of them appears as flying bird of the day. It features the aptly named black headed gull.
*The correct answer in the golf quiz is of course answer D