Cutting the clouds

Washington wildlife centre

Today’s guest picture comes from a visit by my Newcastle correspondent to the Washington Wildfowl Centre (the real Washington, not the one in America).  It was ideal as one of her children is a wildlife fan and the other likes Lego.  Win, win.

Washington wildlife centre

I am trying to make inroads into my newspaper index backlog by making sure that I put a week into the database before I am allowed out on my bike.  I managed to put a week in this morning and then make bread and go for a routine visit to the health centre before making some vegetable soup for lunch so there wasn’t much time for pedalling…or looking out of the window.

A sober minded pair of goldfinches taking things quietly.

It wasn’t that there weren’t a lot of birds about….

plum tree chaffinches

…(I counted 32 in this shot (including our brambling) and it was like this for most of the day) it was just that I didn’t have time.

I finally got the bike going after lunch.  The forecast had suggested that there might be some heavy showers about so I was very flexible in my route planning.  This was just as well because there were some very black looking clouds about when I got 10 miles out of the town.

gloomy weather from Gair

The advantage of cycling over walking in this sort of weather is that you may have the legs to outrun or dodge some nasty looking weather so after a quick stop to admire a gorse bush…


…I picked a route that looked to pass between a couple of the least aggressive looking rain showers.  It worked out well because after a fifteen minute splash through rain, I came out on the other side into first a light drizzle and then some pleasant sunshine.

I kept a weather eye out for any more threatening formations and picked a route that got me home dry.  It wasn’t always a certainty…

View from Corrie's Mill
Both shots taken from the same spot. I had come from the blue sky and was heading towards the black clouds.

…but some careful zigzagging brought me out above the Wauchope valley with four miles to get home in beautiful sunshine.

Wauchope valley view

I even had time to stop and admire some wild flowers in the verge.


I was pretty pleased with my navigation as I had expected a thoroughgoing soaking more than once on the way round but I was even more pleased to find that the 35 miles had taken me up to exactly 500 miles for the month.  I haven’t managed to hit this magic figure since September last year and indeed only managed it that once in the whole of 2015.  Perhaps this is an augury that we are in for a better year of weather in 2106.  I hope so.

Feeling that the post would be a bit colourless, I popped out into the garden to take a couple of flower pictures before tea just to brighten things up a bit.

grape hyacinth


I had time for a shower and a quick meal and then we went off to a practice for our local choir, Langholm Sings.

We were delighted to welcome two new members to the choir and I was particularly pleased as one of them was a tenor with a nice voice who can read music.  Such people are very scarce.

We had a useful practice and got through a power of work so that rounded of a busy day very well.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

An update on my son Alistair’s health:  He went to the doctor who diagnosed (this is the technical term) ‘gunk’ in the bottom of his lungs and gave him some big pills. The medicine is working and he is feeling quite a bit better.  He very much appreciates the kind thoughts that have winged his way across the ether.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Cutting the clouds

  1. Hope Alistair is degunked and up and about very soon. I can’t believe I, hailing from a country where the plant is loathed, find myself oohing and aahing over the gorse photo. That’s all the colour you need, right there ! 🙂

  2. Glad the bad weather didn’t catch up with you, and glad your son is no longer under the weather.
    The gorse is beautiful. It reminds me of a very old fashioned rose that has coin sized, lemon yellow flowers. I see one once in a blue moon.
    I like the straight and narrow stone wall in that landscape photo.

  3. Congratulations on 500 miles for the month. Hopefully that bodes well for all of us in the northern hemisphere as far as the weather this year. Also, it’s good to hear that your son is on the mend.

    I hope that some one appreciates the diligent work that the archive group is doing, there must be a few of you working on it from your past posts.

    1. There is a small team of hard working volunteers and we are rewarding by steady attention to the database by people wanting to find out about their family history.

  4. I do hope Alistair improves quickly. It sounds very nasty. Hopefully the big pills will do the trick. The yellow gorse is stunning and certainly brightens up the landscape. Although the clouds bring showers, I do enjoy the interesting formations they make. The blue flowers are gorgeous too.

  5. Very glad to have the news of Alistair. Glad the pills are being effective.
    Congratulations on your bicycling mileage – very commendable.

  6. What a lovely stone wall. Do you have any idea how old it is? I only ask because it looks to be remarkably straight and level. Also – well done re. the 500 miles!

    1. I couldn’t say but the stone wall builders were highly skilled at building straight walls in unforgiving country. They might be anything up to 200 years old I think.

  7. Crikey, Congratulations ! 500 miles in a month – hope you gave yourself a treat! Good news too that Alistair is on the mend. Lovely photos with a splendid smart chaffinch to end.

  8. The leaden skies made the gorse glow. I love the word “augury.” It’s not used enough. I’m curious as to whether your local choir welcomes all comers or if people must meet some sort of minimum carry-a-tune test.

  9. I have to chuckle every time you mention the lovely gorse. Over here in the great state of Washington, U.S. of A. we call it a noxious weed and you can be fined if you don’t pull it immediately! It is lovely catching the sun’s rays.
    I’m amazed at how similar are our weather patterns. But our birds have not yet returned from their winter vacations.

    1. Yes, I gather that gorse is poison in New Zealand too. It can be a pest here but generally it is regarded as a cheerful bonus in the spring. I hope that your weather is better than ours at the moment because after a good month, we are back in the wind and rain again.

  10. I am glad Alistair is on the mend now. I know of two people who have cracked ribs from coughing and my husband’s nephew’s partner is ill with pleurisy and pneumonia. The gorse, celandine, grape hyacinth and primula photos are very nice.

  11. Is Gorse the same plant as Scot’s Broom? Here in Oregon it is considered an invasive species.

    Glad to hear Alistair is getting better. Some of those infections that settle in the lungs can take q while to recover from.

    Good shots of those dark clouds! I have learned when I see weather like that coming up the southwest mountain pass here, I have exactly 5 minutes to finish up whatever I am doing.

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