The bike is back, the rescue service is gone.

South Africa walk

Today’s guest picture was kindly sent to me by Tom, a Langholm exile, and shows a lovely scene from his early morning walk in South Africa.

South Africa walk

It was only just above freezing when we got up today but it soon warmed up a bit and unlike yesterday, the siskins didn’t hang around this morning but got straight down to business.


As it was a fairly calm day, even though there was only the occasional glimpse of sun, I thought that a (hopefully) last ride on the slow bike before the fairly speedy bike came back from the bike shop was in order.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train to London was due to leave in the early afternoon so after a cup of coffee, I set off to do 15 miles without stopping for too many photos on the way.

I did stop at the bridge over the Collin Burn…

Collin Bridge

…which was totally rebuilt in 2013 and is settling into the landscape quite well.  It has even got some lichen on its parapet like a proper bridge should have.

Collin Bridge lichen

By the time that I got home, the workers next door had already got some of the posts for the new fence in position.

new fence

The sharp eyed will notice that it shouldn’t be too long before the garden is full of daffodils.

My timing was very good and I had just the right amount of time for a shower and some scrambled eggs on toast for lunch before it was time to set off for the station in Carlisle.

There were even a couple of seconds to spare to look out of the window before left.

A bright eyed chaffinch eyeing up his lunch
A welcome sighting of one of the robins

As is always the way when you leave in plenty of time, the roads were clear, the traffic lights were all at green as we approached and there was a convenient parking space just where we wanted so we arrived at the station with a lot of time in hand.

Rather than hang around awkwardly, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to read a magazine and went back to Longtown to pick up the fairly speedy bike.  It had got a new gear changing mechanism installed and was ready to go.   When I got home, I thought of taking it out for  test ride but decided that a walk would be a better idea.

I sent a text to Sandy to see if he was interested in coming but he replied that he was actually in Carlisle himself and had seen me driving out of the station.

I looked at the busy feeders for a while….

siskins and chaffinch
A chaffinch deciding to avoid the warring siskins
siskin and chaffinch
And another one wishing that he had too

…and then I had a cup of tea and went out by myself in the hope of seeing an oyster catcher or two.

oyster catcher
My hope was soon fulfilled

There was some cheerful blossom on the river bank beside the birds.


I saw a couple of grey wagtails near the Sawmill Brig but they were too quick for me and I will have to go back and try to catch them another time.

I consoled myself with some pretty white crocuses on the river bank at the Kilngreen….

white crocuses

…and a moss close up on a wall opposite the estate yard.


There is a striking bush of pink flowers near the Lodge….

pink flowers

You might think it was a rhododendron but it is far too early so I rely on a knowledgeable reader to tell me what it is.

The snowdrops are nearly over but in some sheltered spots, clumps are hanging on well.

It has been a good year for them

As well as oyster catchers, I had been hoping to find some male hazel catkins…..

hazel catkins

…and check to see if the tiny female flowers were out yet.  They were.

hazel flowers

It is thanks to the excellent New Hampshire Gardener’s blog that I learned to look for these little gems, which are only a few millimetres long.  The camera was very well behaved today as I usually find it a trial to get the flowers in focus.

There was a last burst of blossom as I walked past the school…


…so, in spite of rather gloomy conditions for my walk, I arrived home in cheerful mood.

My mood was rather flattened by the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal over the tea table but I was cheered up again by having one of her prepared mandarin jellies for my pudding.

When I look at the weather forecast for tomorrow, it is suggesting that the wind may be blowing at thirty miles an hour so perhaps I should have given the fairly speedy bike its road test today!  Still, I enjoyed my walk.

No frog of the day today as the pond was very quiet but two flying birds instead.

flying greenfinch
A greenfinch with the brakes on
flying chaffinch
A female chaffinch in cruise mode.  I like the colours in this shot.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “The bike is back, the rescue service is gone.

    1. That is hard to answer. You have to remember that I go round searching for any tiny flowers that I can find. In general we are still in pre-blossom mode.

  1. Yes, I’ve often wondered about where all your flowers come from. And all the calm weather. I tried for some close ups of catkins yesterday and the wind started right on cue.

    1. You never see all the blurry catkin pictures that I discard. Some wild flower photographers carry round bits of card to shelter and provide backgrounds for their shots.

  2. Oh the flying birds, especially that first siskin defying gravity and the female chaffinch. And the blooms, so much color already. Gives me hope.

  3. Thank you for the blog mention. I went looking for female hazel blossoms here but I haven’t seen them yet. Your hazel shrubs blossoming is a good sign.
    The leaves of the unknown shrub look like a rhododendron but the flower buds look very different from those I’ve seen, so I’m not sure what it is.
    It’s nice to see the fruit trees blossoming. Spring has really taken hold there.

    1. I was pleased to see the hazel flowers as I thought that I might be a bit too early to find them. The consensus among those who know seems to agree on the rhododendron identification. I didn’t know that they came out so soon in the year.

  4. A beautiful spring series! A reminder to go out back and look for hazelnut blooms myself. I love the white crocus,so pure looking. I found a single white one here, growing next to the sidewalk by the old garage. It has found a spot not easily attacked by gophers. It is the only survivor of that mass crocus planting up front many years ago.

    Your flowering trees are well ahead of ours., although I am hoping to see some cherry and plum blooms here in the next few weeks, weather depending. The mornings have been warmer now.

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