Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa. While he was up near the Orange River, he saw this a tree. It may not look much but he tells me that the tree is a Shepherd Tree, the tree of life which is useful for man and beast. It is probably 3 to 4 hundred years old.
My plan for the morning was to get up early, have a nourishing breakfast and then cycle 40 miles and be back before noon. It was a good plan and it worked.
I chose a very boring route, straight down the main roads and back but it was very satisfying except that my average was 14.99 mph rather than the 15 mph that was in my mind. You can’t have everything though.
Conditions were perfect and the roads were empty….
…and there is a very convenient bench exactly at the twenty mile turning point where an old man can get a seat for a few minutes and eat his banana.
The sharp eyed will notice a pair of thick gloves beside the banana. It was quite crisp when I started and although it was a lovely day, it never got very warm and I kept the gloves on for the whole ride.
Beside the bench was a gate and a willow tree so that made it an even better place to spend some time.
On my way, I passed a large number of people behaving very suspiciously in a field. It turned out to be a metal detectorists’ rally. Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to have been there as she dreams of turning up a Roman coin in our garden.
I got home in plenty of time to make a venison and mushroom stew for the slow cooker, watch the birds for a bit and walk round the garden.
The birds were very active again even though the sparrowhawk is making regular flying visits.
In the garden, the tulips are coming on well…
..in a good variety of colours.
The chionodoxas have swiftly passed but the scillas are still very much alive and kicking…
…and they make a dainty contrast to the more sober fritillaries.
The reason that I had to be back from the cycle ride was that it was a choir day so after a shower and some lunch, I went off to Carlisle to have a sing.
There are a lot of very small houses in Carlisle dating from the time when it was a railway centre and had a thriving industrial scene. This row is right opposite the church where we sing.
We spent the whole practice on one song, a tricky thing for me with a heavily syncopated style and a lot of words in a very short space. Ominously, the practice went so well that the conductor talked of us be able to learn it off by heart. This undoubtedly means that he has his heart set on some clapping at the very least and possibly clapping and swaying. Nightmare!
We should have tried less hard.
I thought about a little sightseeing on my way home but instead settled for the direct route and a walk round the town when I got back.
I passed our magnolia on my way out of the garden and thought that it was worth another look.
My aim was to enjoy the evening light and take a picture of anything that caught my fancy in the course of a half mile stroll.
But I was distracted by birds. There were two goosanders again. The male was floating down the choppy waters of the Esk between the bridges at a great rate…
…and I saw the female doing a little fishing in some calmer waters further upstream.
Mr Grumpy must have done something bad because he was behind bars.
Whatever it was, he looked sorry about it.
When I got back, I sieved another modest amount of compost and picked the first rhubarb of the year. Subsequently, I ate my venison stew and followed it up with some rhubarb and custard.
Mrs Tootlepedal is having a good time with Matilda in Edinburgh but plans to be home some time tomorrow. I shall be pleased to see her.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.