Today’s guest picture shows a great crested grebe, sent by my Glastonbury correspondent Venetia. It was seen while on a visit to Shapwick Heath nature reserve with my sister Mary.
Our dry spell continued with another mostly sunny day here but the cool north easterly wind meant that it wasn’t a day for the natty shorts as yesterday had been.
Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t care because it was quite good enough for her to spend a day in the garden doing useful stuff all over the place.
She started in the greenhouse and I came and sat in the warmth while she potted out seedlings. I could see the rosemary in flower through the glass and went out to try to get a picture of it.
While Mrs Tootlepedal toiled, I enjoyed a leisurely morning which was enhanced by the arrival of Dropscone bearing some traditional Friday treacle scones. After he left, I had space to do the crossword, visit the shop and make some lentil soup until it was time to eat the soup for lunch.
There were not many birds about and the plum tree was operating a separate gender policy for chaffinches at first….
…although shy glances were exchanged later.
A redpoll was in full breeding colour.
I had a look at the pond and was impressed by the ripples of agitation which a light footed pond skater created.
And Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a rather fancy daffodil which she couldn’t remember buying, let alone planting.
During the morning, we got a call from the bike shop in Longtown to say that my slow bike was ready for collection so after lunch we drove down to pick it up.
The slow bike has a belt drive rather than a chain so that it has no chance of getting oil on my trousers when I ride it around the town. On this occasion I had got the bike shop to make it even more convenient by fitting a solid tyre to the back wheel thus making sure that I could never get a puncture.
Robert William Thomson of Stonehaven patented the pneumatic tyre in 1846 but he was frustrated by the lack of thin rubber and he turned to the development of his solid rubber tyres. It was not until 43 years later that the pneumatic tyre returned, when it was developed as a bicycle tyre by John Boyd Dunlop. It will be interesting to see if the return of the solid rubber tyre catches on 130 years later.
With its enclosed gears, stand, belt drive, rear view mirror, mudguards and solid tyre, my slow bike should be the perfect vehicle for a leisurely tour through town or country.
I was interested to see how it would ride with the solid tyre fitted so I took it for a spin up the Lodge Walks to check for possible nuthatches while testing it out.
There were no nuthatches to be seen but the trees are beginning to show their springtime green…
…the primroses are very fine…
…and it is always a treat to have an ice cream from the van on the Kilngreen and have a chat with Mr Grumpy at the same time.
The new tyre coped with all the bumps very comfortably and handled well so first impressions were good.
When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to an extension of the trial by cycling with me up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back. In spite of the sun, it was chilly enough in the wind to need a coat but it was a beautiful day to be out.
I stopped to record the continuing dilapidation of the cottage across the field from the road…
…and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the first bluebells of the spring.
Once again, the bike handled well and dealt with any bumps most comfortably. The rolling resistance seemed very reasonable too so I am quite happy with my new tyre after the initial ten miles. The bike shop man told me that this was the first solid tyre that he had fitted so he too is interested in how it rides. The only unanswered question is how durable it will prove to be. That question will take some time to answer.
I had another walk round the garden in the afternoon.
The euphorbias are enjoying the sunshine a lot…
…and I liked the contrast between a tiny lithodora and an extravagant tulip.
Later on, Mrs Tootlepedal made the first rhubarb crumble of the year and I enjoyed a generous helping for my tea along with some cauliflower cheese.
In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a go at a new sonata (for us) by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739). I had found it in the bottom of a drawer under a pile of other music and it turned out to be very attractive and not too difficult so it will certainly appear on our menu again.
I haven’t made the best use of the recent sunny weather for taking the flying birds of the day but there haven’t been many birds about and I have had plenty of other things to do so once again, the flying bird of the day is not of top quality and I apologise.