Short but sweet


Today’s guest picture is another bridge on the Brecon Canal from Irving, this time a rather more modern construction.


After a night of wind and rain, the morning of the shortest day was only marginally better with the occasional heavy shower and very overcast skies.

It was brightened by the arrival of Mike Tinker for coffee and some thoughtfully posed birds outside the kitchen window.

dunnock and robin

Goldfinches provided today’s landing demonstrations.


I went out and dug up a leek to make leek and potato soup and by the time that I had cooked and eaten it, an amazing change had come over the day.  In an instant, it seemed, the clouds were swept away and magically replaced by clear blue skies and bright sunshine.

Birds, both big and small, basked in the sun’s rays.

pigeon and robin

Though always welcome of course, the low winter sun does give me some problems when it comes to taking pictures at the feeder…

chaffinches in sun and shade

After lunch, I rang up Sandy to see if he would like a walk in the sun and he said that he had a little business to attend to but would be down as soon as he could.

While I waited for him, I popped down to the Kilngreen on my bike in the hope of seeing a dipper.

Timpen at the Winter Solstice

The rain had put a bit more water into the river and although I did see a dipper, it was either more or less completely submerged or flying off as there were no handy mid river rocks to perch on.


As Sandy and I were setting out on our walk, Mrs Tootlepedal, who was working in the garden, pointed out a curious growth on the front lawn….

lawn fungus

…which seemed to be a fungus outbreak.  I don’t think that I have seen anything quite like this before.  I hope it isn’t anything too bad.

The elusive dippers had been my first disappointment.  The second came from the route that I chose for our walk.  I had hoped that we would be able to walk along the river to Skippers Bridge and back in the sun but we had left it too late and although the sun was still on the hills…

Whita in December

…our walk was in the shade for its whole length.

Even a splendid show of pixie cup lichens on the park wall…

pixie cup lichens

….couldn’t make up for the deep shade.

This was one day when we should definitely have taken to the hills.  Mind you, it was quite chilly in spite of the sun and we were in a stream of what the forecasters call “fresher” weather behind the departing cloudy front.  It would have been sunny on the hill but it might have been uninvitingly cold as well up there.

We stopped at the Skippers Bridge to admire the flow of water…..

Esk and heron at Skippers

…and looked more closely at a white dot on the river bank.

The sunlight picked out the background behind the distillery in a way which emphasised our poor route choice.


We needed to be 100ft higher!

In general it was a dull walk with not much to see, except the odd interesting tree stump…

tree stump at Lands' End

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a small flock of long tailed tits in the garden in the morning but they had flown off before I could get hold of a camera.  A friend had told me that they were often to be found in the scrubby trees along the river bank which we would pass on our way back from Skippers.  We kept a good eye out and saw none.

The sun on the hills teased us….

Sunny hills

…on our way out and on our way back…

Castle Hill

…and gave the hills a golden tinge.  When we looked up at the monument, we could see an unexpected flash of white.  The zoom lens revealed….

Monument with van

…that it was the top of a large white van.  What it was doing up there is a mystery.

I got home just in time to catch the last few rays of the sun on our walnut tree…

Walnut tree in December

…where a gap in the hills let some light squeeze through.

Then it was time to go back up to the High Street to collect the car which had been satisfactorily repaired in very quick time.  I did think for a moment of driving to the top of a hill and taking a picture or two but then I remembered that I hadn’t got a camera in my pocket so I drove home and had a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

The shortest day lived up to its name and it was soon dark.  I sank into sloth in front of the telly until it was time to cook my tea and then to post this blog.

The leaves of the day are on a Cotoneaster in the back bed….


…and the flying birds are two very active goldfinches.

Goldfinches flying

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

17 thoughts on “Short but sweet

  1. I think if you Google “fairy ring” you’ll see other examples of your lawn visitors. I think they might be fungi that are actually interested in the organic matter under your lawn than the lawn itself.
    Nice of the robins to pay such frequent visits.
    It’s nice to see the sun on the hills but it probably would have been more pleasant photographically to step into a ray or two. It seems to be harsh light and long shadows here too.

  2. At least the sun was shining and giving you some good views, even it you were too low to enjoy it yourselves.

  3. Rabbit Island included NZ’s only ‘clothes optional’ beach when I last glided by on a boat full of birdwatchers. Apparently the new owners have firmly put the emphasis back on our feathered friends, including my favourite, the Royal Spoonbill

  4. Sorry, my comment of course refers to the previous day’s blog. A senior moment. I seem to be having more of these as the festive season approaches!

  5. Interesting lawn fungus, with what also looks like some moss mixed in. I agree with Allen, looks like some sort of Fairy Ring.

    Always nice to see some winter sunshine, even for a short while. We just got back from California, a quick visit to see friends. Much sunnier, and warmer, down there. One could call the Willamette Valley in winter the “Land of the Long Grey Cloud”.

    1. I don’t think the fungus was a tradition fairy ring. We think it might have been Arrhenia philonotis but it died down so quickly that I couldn’t get a good look at the stems.

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