Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She caught Mr Grumpy’s London cousin pretending to be a statue.
I think it may be true to say that we have already had more frosty days this winter than we had in the whole of last winter which was exceptionally wet and mild…and our winter hasn’t really started yet.
It was another bright and frosty morning today and the thermometer outside our window never reached 3°C all day with the result that the ground stayed frozen and untreated roads tended to be slippery in places.
Under the circumstances, cycling was out and I was more than happy to welcome Dropscone (and scones) for coffee. The minister’s scone radar was working well and he dropped in to join us with perfect timing.
It took until after midday for the sun to creep far enough round to shed a little light on the feeder area.
The garden was full of blackbirds.
In spite of the cold, there wasn’t a great deal of traffic on the feeders and I didn’t get many chances to see a flying chaffinch…
…and when I did, there was always a shadow in the way of a perfect picture.
We keep hoping that we will be visited by waxwings and there is a large flock of them thirty miles away to the west. They must be going to have eaten all the berries over there soon and should head this way next with luck. All I saw today was an occasional goldfinch.
After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh and I went out for a walk.
I started out by visiting the river to look for black headed gulls.
Then I decided to walk along the track to the High Mill Brig and consider whether I had the time and energy to cross the Target Burn and walk up the hill when I got there.
The track to the High Mill Brig was very soggy in parts but did have a friendly face on the way…
…some excellent views…
…and a delightfully wooded ending.
On the way, I passed several tempting meals for waxwings.
I walked down through a field to the High Mill Brig, which was looking very cheerful in the sunshine…
…and decided that I did have enough energy and the day enough sunlight left to make the Target Burn walk a good idea.
The track along the bank of the Ewes to the junction with the Target Burn was decorated with puddles full of ice designed by Picasso…
… and I soon passed the remains of the targets which give the burn its name. The targets were used for rifle practice in years gone by.
I crossed the burn and took to the hill. Any colours other than brown were conspicuous by their absence…
…though if you lifted your head high enough, there was a distant prospect of fields and hills with some green about them still.
It was another day with hardly a cloud in the sky and it was great to be out and about on the open hillside in such crisp weather.
The Target Burn route follows a wall across the moor….
…and I can tell you that the last part of the climb is a great deal steeper than it looks in the picture. I was pleased to reach the easier surface of the road and decided that there was not enough time to complete the walk by going up to the monument on the top of the hill.
I walked back down the road for a while and after a last look up the valley…
…I left the road, took the path across the hill and walked back to the town down the golf course.
The course was looking in very good condition in spite of the cold weather…
…but I was surprised to see a hardy golfer with a few clubs in his hand heading up the third fairway, trying to squeeze a hole or two in before the sun set.
Down below in the town, someone had lit a fire.
When we first came here, forty years ago, the whole town would have been covered by chimney smoke from coal and peat fires on a still day like today. The building of the pipeline to bring North Sea gas to the town has given us a much cleaner environment these days.
By the time that I had reached home, the sun had sunk behind the hills and it was very chilly and grey in our garden.
I made a cheerful smoked sausage risotto for my tea and was ready for Susan when she came to pick me to go to Carlisle for our usual recorder group meeting. All five of us were present for the first time for a few weeks and we had a good evening of playing.
It was -2°C as we drove home but Susan took great care and we arrived safely. I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had successfully driven home from Lockerbie too.
I didn’t find a leaf of the day today but one of the black headed gulls left its perch for long enough for me to get a flying bird of the day.