Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie. She has been working hard in her allotment and has got a nice selection of seeds doing what seeds do.
The forecast said “Rain later” but the morning was a continuation of our sunny spell with the added benefit of enough haze about to keep the temperature up. Under the circumstances, the obvious thing to do was to get out the fairly speedy bike and go for a ride so I did exactly that.
The question of what to wear was important. The temperature when I started was about 6° or 7°C which is by no means warm but it was bound to be warmer as the day went on so the trick was to find a combination which wouldn’t let me freeze at the start or boil at the finish.
The wise reader will say that one can start with an extra layer and take it off as the day warms up and this is true but harder to do for your feet and legs and head and if you have to take gloves, overshoes, skull caps and jerseys off then you have to stow them somewhere and that means carrying bags….and so on. Still, I made a one off choice and was a bit chilly at the start and a little hot at the finish but quite contentedly so in both cases. I did swap gloves for mitts at Eccelefechan.
I should add that this is only a problem for the older cyclist. The young ones just put on shorts and a vest and go out regardless.
The wind was light, the roads were empty and the route choice was good so I enjoyed my ride.
It really felt like spring and I was serenaded by lambs in many places on the ride.
I love this bridge at Paddockhole because the riparian owners have clearly heeded my plea to make bridges accessible to passing photographers. The banks used to be covered with scrub. All bridges should be like this.
The bridge crosses the Water of Milk and I always enjoy looking at the Water further along as it snakes through the hills.
You can see from the picture above that it was very hazy so I took no views today.
I cycled along the Lockerbie road but turned off a few miles before the town to follow the Water of Milk down its valley.
The road crosses the main railway line and the motorway and between the two I stopped between where a new road has been constructed to cross the motorway. I walked a short way down the old road to find a little bridge crossing a tributary of the Water of Milk.
There were laid back lambs in the field here….
…and a magnificent roadside tree.
This was the most scenic part of my route (and the hilliest) and for the next section I pedalled along the rather dull old A74 to Gretna. I stopped for a snack at Ecclefechan and parked my bike against a concrete post well supplied with lichen….
…and while I ate my banana, I enjoyed the wildflowers beside the road…
…and the sensible energy choices of a householder and a small business in the village.
I kept an eye out for spring in the hedges as I pedalled down the long straight road to Gretna and it wasn’t hard to find some evidence.
I was following well travelled roads after Gretna so I kept my camera in my pocket and concentrated on getting home. I was once again seized by decimal fever when I got into the town and had to cycle right through it and go a mile out of the other side so that I could ring up an exact 50 miles for the outing.
This took me to just over 500 miles for the month and left me ahead of schedule for the year so I cannot complain about March from a cycling point of view at all.
I had enough energy for a stroll round the garden when i got home (Mrs Tootlepedal was busy there already of course).
There was nothing new in the floral department to catch the eye but the weather for the next few days is going to be warm and wet so I am expecting quite a bit of growth.
I did see a most unusual large bumble bee with a very red back but this was the best picture that I could get of it.
I think that it is probably a tree bumble bee, a relatively new arrival in Scotland which would explain why I have never seen one before.
I did think of sieving some compost and mowing a lawn but strangely found sitting down and having a cup of tea and a biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal more attractive.
I looked out of the window though.
The large flock of siskins which has been eating me out of house and home has moved on, leaving one or two to come to the feeder but there were plenty of chaffinches and goldfinches to fill the gap.
Some bad bird has made off with two of the perch bars for one of the feeders but goldfinches are quite good at clinging on to the feeder regardless.
I had to pay a routine visit to the Health Centre to top up my system and when I got back, another look out of the window was rewarded with a sighting of a redpoll in very bright raiment.
Not long afterwards, the promised rain arrived so I was very pleased to have made good use of the recent fine weather by cycling every day for the last six days.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to work out where the missing perches are.
Those interested may get further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.
The calorie counter is a fantasy. I ended the ride heavier than I started!