Today’s guest picture is the second portrait of Tony’s dogs by Tash. It looks as though the dogs had had a New Year’s splash even if Tony hadn’t.
We were promised better weather today and we got it but it took some time to arrive as we were covered in mist for most of the morning.
I had an early start as I had to take our car to the garage. It had been sending us intermittent signals of distress through the dashboard display recently. Intermittent distress signals can be very annoying as they always disappear as soon as you take a car to the garage and that is what happened on this occasion. The garage’s diagnostic machine though is very smart and can tell what a car was thinking yesterday as well as today so the garage was confident that they could get to the bottom of the trouble.
I walked home and had breakfast and then there was a pause in the day as I waited for the mist to go. It was too thick for safe cycling and at 2°C, it was a bit chilly anyway.
This gave me a chance to do a tricky crossword and occasionally look out of the window.
The robin was upset by being substituted by a chaffinch in a recent post so it made sure I got its best side today.
The other birds weren’t posing. They were too busy trying to get at the seed.
Although the picture is not of good quality, I liked this shot of a siskin sizing up its chances of knocking a goldfinch off a perch.
The mist thinned enough after coffee for me to put my cycling gear on and get the fairly speedy bike out. Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and after putting away some bread and marmalade and a banana as fuel, I went off up the road, hoping that the mist would clear.
It took its time and while I was going along the valley bottom, things looked a bit gloomy…
…but as soon as I turned up into the hills, things brightened up and I got above the mist.
Soon, I could look back and see the mist lying along the Wauchope valley that I had just cycled through. It looked denser from above than it did when i was in it.
Once I got over the hill and looked down into the Esk valley, more mist was to be seen.
And the windmills at Gretna were up to their knees in it.
Looking across from Tarcoon, Whita Hill was an island in a sea of mist…
…and looking ahead to where I was going, a solid bank of mist lying along the Esk made it look as though there might be dangerous conditions for cyclists when I got down to the river.
But once again, the mist wasn’t as bad when I was in it as it looked from above and although my favourite trees at Grainstonehead had a misty background….
…by the time that I had gone a couple of miles further, the mist had gone and the river was bathed in sunshine.
As was the tower at the Hollows…..
…and the Ewes valley when I had cycled through the town and out of the other side.
Having cycled a bit along all our three rivers, I felt that it was time to give my ice cold feet a break and head for home and a bit of warmth. It was still only a meagre 3°C in spite of the sunshine.
When I got back, I had a look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new path….
…and went in for a late lunch, pretty happy with 26 miles on such a chilly day.
Mrs Tootlepedal had got some useful gardening in while I was out.
I kept an eye on the birds while I had my lunch.
I could see seven blackbirds round the feeder at one time but couldn’t get them all in one shot so I took some individuals.
One popped up onto a hedge to make things easier for me.
The goldfinches had given up fighting and were concentrating on eating.
While Mrs Tootlepedal went and fetched the car from the garage (it got a clean bill of health), I had time for a shower and some singing practice and then Mike and Alison came round for their regular Friday visit. They usually come in the evening but once again, we had something to do in the evening so an afternoon visit with music, conversation, tea and shortbread was arranged instead. All four were very enjoyable.
Making music in the home is always a pleasure but in the evening, we went to the Buccleuch Centre and got real musical joy in spades.
It was the annual visit to the Buccleuch Centre of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for their New Year Viennese Gala. We are incredibly lucky to get this treat on our doorstep as the Buccleuch Centre concert is their only appearance in the whole of the south of Scotland, the other three appearances on this tour being in Dunfermline, Inverness and Stirling.
They don’t stint either, bringing a 60 piece orchestra to play a programme designed to bring joy to the hearts of a full house.
The orchestra’s players are not particularly fond of playing in the Buccleuch Centre because they find the acoustic dry and don’t get the feedback that they would wish but I love listening to an orchestra here because of the superb clarity of the music. Sometimes a big orchestra just makes a big noise but you can hear every instrument in its place here and the excitement of having a 60 piece orchestra playing only a few yards away from you is immense.
As an ex schoolboy viola player myself, I took a particular interest in the viola players in the Roses from the South, a piece we played with our school orchestra. It seems a bit extravagant in a way to bring a bunch of talented players down and then just make them go “rest, bom, bom” on the same note for bars on end. But that’s orchestral music for you and it was wonderful to listen them all.
The flying bird of the day is a crowd.