Today’s guest picture shows an ominous haze behind the financial district on a sunny day on the Thames in London. Perhaps it is an ill omen for 2017. My sister Mary took the picture.
A bright but chilly day ushered in the new year here and encouraged by the good weather, I took up an invitation from Mike Tinker to join his party for the now traditional New Year ‘Whisky Run’ which Mike has organised with his wife and Charlie Graham for many years.
I should say straight away that Mike’s party, consisting of Mike, Mike’s daughter Liz and his grandson William along with Charlie, was of the strictly walking variety while others did the running.
The object of the event is to go round the eight mile road and track course starting at such a time and going at such a speed as to get you to the Market Place exactly as the clock strikes eleven.
We started early in the day!
The sun was just rising as the party set out….
…but it was still behind the hill as we went along the road above the River Esk.
With a north wind in our face, it was decidedly chilly and it wasn’t until we had crossed the river and climbed up the road leading towards the gap in the hills which you can see in the picture above, that we could look back and see the sun at last.
It was a glorious day for walking…
…and the surrounding hills were covered in gold.
Our way back took us through woods and as we got nearer to the town, groups of brightly clad runners began to pass us.
We reached the Lodge Walks in good time….
…and actually arrived at the Market Place ten minutes early. The walk, exactly eight miles long, had taken us two hours and thirty five minutes. As this was the longest walk that I had undertaken for many years, I was grateful both to my new knee which had made it possible and to the company of Mike and Charlie which had made it most enjoyable.
Waiting in the Market Place was Matilda and her father who had walked up from the house to meet me. We stayed for a while to listen to the Langholm Town Band which arrived soon afterwards…
…and Matilda enjoyed their performance a lot, concentrating hard on clapping in rhythm.
This is just a glimpse of what Matilda was listening to.
We walked home, following the band for part of the way, and as we went up Lizzie’s Entry, we were reminded of how low the sun is in the sky at this time of year even when it is near the middle of the day..
When we got home, there was time to look at the birds.
The small birds were enjoying the sunshine of the bright new year.
After the older members of the household had had a cup of coffee, her father and I took Matilda to the park to get the best out of the fine day. She enjoyed herself a lot….
…as did her father.
We didn’t stay too long though as Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked us a delicious lunch of roast chicken.
There was just a brief chance to look at birds again before the meal was served.
By the afternoon we had all slowed down a bit so we settled in to watch Frozen. I hadn’t seen this before but it is a favourite of Matilda and her parents and they all joined in the songs with gusto. Matilda was quite cross that I couldn’t sing them too.
There was more good food in the evening and then Matilda enjoyed dancing along to the Vienna Philharmonic new year’s day concert under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel in the Musikverein. Her polka was most energetic and her waltzing was particularly expressive. We all joined in.
We shall miss Matilda, Al and Clare when they go back to Edinburgh tomorrow. They have given us a very cheerful New Year.
The flying bird of the day is not this hopeful chaffinch…
…but this stylish high flyer.