Today’s guest picture from my South African correspondent, Tom, shows a jackal. Not something we see round here at all!
My day was conditioned by an awful warning of heavy rain; one of those warnings that comes with a little yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre. We were to expect rain so I expected rain.
It was a pleasant sunny and dry morning, a little breezy to be sure and not warm by any means but fine for cycling so I cycled; but I expected rain by lunchtime and when I saw some very dark clouds looming up, I took the hint and cut a putative 35 mile ride down to 25 miles. Some cows took a dim view of my cowardice (or prudence).
I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to record the first turning of the leaves….
…but my camera misinterpreting my wishes, kindly slid the incipient yellows back to light greens so the effect was less impressive than I had hoped.
Still, I got home dry and warm; but still expecting rain….the forecast had put it back to three o’clock by this time.
Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I had a slice of bread and raspberry jam and went out to mow the drying green grass before the rain came.
Bees, butter and hover flies were having fun on the Michaelmas daisies beside me as I mowed…
…and the the poppies looked gorgeous as always.
The large lilies are developing and I wondered if they would attract a butterfly or two.
I saw an odd thing at the other side of the garden….
…a peacock butterfly with only one pair of eyes. It must have had its second wing tucked under its first. I have never seen this before.
After I had finished my cycle ride, I had arranged with Sandy to go for a walk (before the rain came) and he arrived on cue and drove us to the top of Callister where we intended to walk round the forestry plantation. We were discouraged when we found that there were fierce signs telling us not to enter on account of forestry operations but a queue of cars emerged through the gate and one of the drivers kindly told us that there were no operations going on today and that we could proceed with care.
We proceeded with care.
Although we were in the sun, there were dark clouds about….
…and depending on which way you looked, sometimes very dark clouds.
We walked on expecting rain.
I led Sandy down the middle of a wide forest ride. It was very tussocky and hard going and if you lifted your head to see if there was anything interesting to see, you tended to fall over. We therefore didn’t see much until we went into the forest beside the ride to see if the going was better. There we saw fungus…
…and when we emerged back on to the ride, we saw a very unusual set of fungi, pressed like buttons on a sofa in the peaty side of a drainage ditch.
We battled on to the end of the ride and joined a track. It is fair to say that I enjoyed plunging through the heavy going a good deal more than Sandy did. I used to do a lot of orienteering and ground like this was second nature to me.
We came to a pond beside the road….
…which would have looked better, I thought, without the telephone pole at the end of it.
And it started to rain. I was so appalled by this that it soon stopped and disappeared apologetically.
We continued our walk expecting rain.
We were walking round a small valley and crossed the stream that flowed out of it. It dropped into a dark and mysterious pool as it flowed under the track.
Strange spirits might dwell in a pool like that.
It was a lot brighter at the dark pool than it used to be because they are going to build another windfarm to add to our local collection at the far side of the forest and to that end, a lot of tree felling has been taking place.
…which leaves a bit of a mess to say the least. It is amazing though how the ground recovers as a look at a new plantation nearby shows.
There were three existing wind farms visible as we walked and we could see the offices for the soon to be built farm beside our track.
I welcome these wind farms as we have a tremendous amount of wind round here doing nothing but annoying innocent cyclists so it is good to see it being put to good use. Each turbine must take a little energy out of the wind and this should make it easier for me to pedal about…..though I do realise that we might need a whole lot more turbines before any noticeable effect could be felt.
The tree felling led to some impressive piles of logs beside the track.
Like this heap, quite a few of the piles had ‘chip’ written on them and we wondered of they were going to be chipped for use in the wood fired power station at Lockerbie.
There were some plants to be seen as we walked.
As we got near to the end of our walk, black clouds over Callisterhall looked threatening.
It is a pity that this is no longer an inn as our two and a half mile walk had been quite tiring with tough going at the start and some hills on our way back. A light refreshment would have gone down well.
We had to wait until we got home until we got a much needed cup of tea and a Jaffa cake or two to restore our energy levels.
When Sandy left, I set about sieving the rest of the compost in Bin D and while Mrs Tootlepedal distributed the results around the vegeatble beds, I turned most of Bin C into the now empty Bin D. When I flagged, Mrs Tootlepedal lent a hand. As a special treat for those pining for compost bin illustrations, I photographed the result.
The contents of Bin C had rotted down well.
We didn’t stay out in the garden too long as we were expecting rain but we did have time to look at some flowers before we went in.
I have picked three favourites. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the dahlia on the left for its colour, the big bumble bee likes the dahlia in the middle for its pollen and I like the new hellenium on the right for its shape and pattern.
Everyone was happy.
Dropscone had dropped in before I went cycling this morning with a generous gift of a sea bream which he had acquired on his recent travels and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked it for our tea. I don’t think that I have ever knowingly eaten sea bream before and I thought it tasted very good. Dropscone says he will tell me all about where he found it when he comes for coffee tomorrow.
As I sat down to write tonight’s post, the rain finally arrived. I had been expecting it.