Patient transport

Today’s guest picture from Gavin shows the Devil’s Slide, a (very) unusual geological formation located in northern Utah’s Weber Canyon.


My plan was to get up early and do twenty miles on the bike before coffee and the plan partially worked as I got up at my normal time and did fourteen miles.  All right, it didn’t work at all but at least I got some miles in.

They were a great pleasure to do, not because of the weather, which was cold and grey again, but becuase it is always a treat to go out on a freshly serviced bike where every bearing is greased and every joint is tight.  Smooth and silent running makes it seem as though you are cycling faster than you actually are!

Although I try to keep my bike clean and lubricated, I lack the confidence to take it to bits and put it together again (in case I leave a bit out) and it is never as good as when the professionals have given it the once over.

While we were having coffee, our neighbour Liz, who had called in for some horticultural advice from Mrs Tootlepedal, suddenly pointed to the window and said, “What’s that?”

It was this:


The sparrowhawk was looking for a snack.  It came back again twice during the day but without any luck as far as we could see.  The small birds only take a few minutes before they return to the feeders after the incursions.

The chief task of the morning was to give Sandy a lift to the hospital in Carlisle.  Because we left in plenty of time, the roads were traffic free and we arrived far too early.  Sandy was very patient though.

He has been in a bit of pain lately and was due for a minor operation.  He sent me a text to say that he was being kept in overnight and would be operated on tomorrow.  A later text in the evening told me that he was bearing up remarkably well under the circumstances.  An operation is always a worry but getting rid of the pain would be most welcome for him so we wish him all the best for tomorrow.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden but as she was working round the back of the house, the birds were happy to come to the feeder while she toiled.

siskins and goldfinch
The siskins and goldfinches had taken command of the feeders and the chaffinches hardly got a look in.

The chaffinches were not without sustenance though because, as you can see in the picture above, siskins are very careless eaters and there was always plenty of seed under the feeders for the chaffinches to collect.

Siskins are argumentative as well as messy.  They argue with goldfinches….

siskina and goldfinches

…among themselves..


…and they would probably argue with me if I went out and joined them.

When they are not arguing, they are handsome little birds.


I made some more brown lentil soup for lunch but kept an eye out of the window as I did so.

The action was incessant.

siskins and goldfinch
Too busy eating to argue.

I did some counting after lunch.

busy feeder
10 birds on the feeders…
under the feeder
19 (I think) scavengers underneath (with a brambling among them)
busy plum tree
And maybe thirty more waiting on the plum tree

I should have gone out in the afternoon and topped up my cycling miles as it was just staying dry in spite of a token drop or two of drizzle but the chilly wind persuaded me that I might find warmer things to do indoors.

I did go out and photograph a bunch of daffodils…


…but basically, I footered the afternoon away doing this and that in a desultory way.  I did find time to practise some of the songs for our Langholm choir.

When I went to the choir meeting in the evening, I found that practice in the afternoon didn’t  necessarily lead to perfection in the evening… a long chalk.

Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t come and sing because she wanted to go to hear a lecture on a great hoard that has recently been unearthed not far from us.  The excavation and the finds have been very carefully recorded and she had a golden time looking at the treasures that had been unearthed.    This is a subject close to her heart and she lives with the hope of unearthing a fascinating artefact one day while delving in the garden.  So far it has mostly been old children’s toys and pots and jars of recent vintage but she can dream.

You can see the hoard on ‘Digging for Britain’ on the telly at 9pm on BBC 4 tomorrow.

A flying chaffinch, searching for a vacant perch, is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Patient transport

  1. Interesting how information about my own country has to go to Scotland and back again before I hear about the Devil’s Slide, which I’ve never seen or heard of. It’s pretty amazing.
    The garden is looking good with all the bulbs blooming and birds visiting, even the sparrowhawk.
    I hope they are able to ease Sandy’s pain some.

  2. I just read today about Joan of Arc’s ring having made it back to France, and now being the subject of arguments worthy of your siskins. England says it should come back. France says, Mais, non! And there it rests, at least for the time being. Perhaps Mrs. Tootlepedal will find something of equivalent interest in your yard.

    1. She certainly keeps digging so you never can tell. I personally am keeping reasonably calm about the whereabouts of Joan of Arc’s ring as I never knew that we had it in the first place.

  3. Thanks for the tip about viewing your local hoard on television.
    Fine picture of the sparrowhawk.
    Do hope Sandy’s operation goes well.

  4. I share Mrs Tootlepedals dream for an archaeological discovery. I was very fascinated by such things as a child and it never went away. I hope one day she finds a treasure. 🙂
    Lovely sparrowhawk picture and I enjoyed all the pictures of the busy action at the feeders. The siskins are such an attractive vibrant colour. They do seem to be quite stroppy birds though! 🙂

  5. I hope that Sandy’s operation goes well and he’s pain free afterwards.

    Great shot of the sparrow hawk one of these days, it’s going to be the flying bird of the day.

    I had never heard of the devil’s slide either, but there’s so many rock formations in the western US that it’s entirely understandable why I hadn’t heard of it before.

  6. Again I add the Homestead’s best wishes to those already directed Sandy’s way. The hoard sounds fascinating! I, too, live in hope of uncovering something wonderful whilst tilling the land although Vikings and the like never really ventured this far 🙂 So far the most interesting find has been the various parts of a postman’s bicycle. As one of the past residents of the Homestead was indeed a postman this helps to keep our enthusiasm in check.

    1. Mrs T recognises that we may have been the sources of some of her exciting garden finds. I am surprised that the Vikings didn’t get to NZ. They seem to have got to everywhere else.

  7. Very nice photos of your siskins and the sparrow hawk. I have been enjoying watching ‘Digging for Britain’ but sadly we missed last night’s episode as we were out.

  8. The sparrowhawk is arresting. I might argue with siskins, just to keep in practice, but I don’t think I’d care to argue with the sparrowhawk.

  9. A sharp-eyed and determined sparrow hawk! Beautiful photos.

    Cleaning out the back end of our farm when we moved here was interesting, but no buried treasure. We found the history of plumbing and types of windows, old hazelnut boxes and drying racks, dishes, a few old bones (none were human), old tires, boards and lots of bewildered mice who were nesting amid the debris.

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