Slow going

Elliot Graham surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is on holiday with his family in Spain.  His picture shows his grandson Elliot surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum.

Elliot Graham surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum

We got the promised sunshine today.  The whole country has been gloomy over the past few days so there were amusing remarks on the breakfast radio show that I listen to about a strange light in the sky.  The show comes from London where they had added warmth while we had ice and the remains of the snow.

ice and snow in April

Still blue sky is blue sky and always welcome.  Sandy is always welcome too and he arrived after breakfast and drove us up to the Moorland bird feeders were it was his day to refill the feeders.  I gave him a hand and we sat in the hide for a while to see what was about.

The answer was not much but the bit of sunlight gave me a chance to take a picture or two.

great tit, blue tit and siskin
Great tit, blue tit and siskin
chaffinch and blackbird
Chaffinch and blackbird
coal tit
Flighty coal tit

As you can see from some of the pictures, it was quite windy and cold and a pheasant looked thoroughly fed up.

pheasant

It was chilly, even in the shelter of the hide and interesting birds were conspicuous by their absence so we didn’t stay too long and went back to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

After Sandy left, I did the crossword and looked at our own garden birds.  The usual suspects were there….

redpoll, goldfinch, siskin

…but in was very pleased to see a couple of redpolls back at the feeder.

redpoll

The siskins, as well as being very messy feeders, were as belligerent as ever.

siskins

I had decided not to go to visit Matilda today as the weather demanded a cycle ride of reasonable length and thanks to the early frostiness, I wasn’t able to get out soon enough to be able to catch the afternoon train to Edinburgh.

Matilda did very well without me and swam nearly a whole width of the swimming pool on her back with no help.  She will doubtless be aimed at the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

I had a nourishing lunch and got the slow bike out.  In spite of the sun, the thermometer was only just touching 6°C (about 40°F) so once again, I was well wrapped up.  Although it was coming from the south west and should have been warm, the wind was once again both brisk and nippy so pedalling into it at the start of my journey was hard work.

This bit of road, near Eaglesfield may not look very important…..

road near eaglesfield

…but it was the first bit of road that I had cycled on for fourteen and a bit miles which was not heading into the wind.    To give an idea of the meanness of the wind, it took me one hour and forty six minutes to do the first 15 miles of the route and only seventeen minutes longer to do the next 25, which were either across or downwind.

As my average at the end of the ride was only 10 mph, the whole thing was painfully slow.  Partly this was caused by the wind and partly it was because the road I chose for the main downhill ten mile section of the trip was full of potholes and floods…

puddles and daffs

… though it did have some fine daffodils, and few celandines…

celandine and sheep

…an interesting sheep and a fine view across the Solway Firth…

skiddaw from Rigg

…as consolations.

My asthma has not been helped by the constantly wet and chilly weather over winter so I found that I needed quite a lot of concentration just to keep going and since I had to keep a keen eye out for potholes on unfamiliar roads, I didn’t find many interesting things to photograph on my route but I did stop to note the delightful blue of the Longtown gravel pit pond….

Longtown pond and windfarm

….and the new windfarm behind it.

It is good to see that as well as annoying me, our never ending supply of wind is being put to good use.

It  was still a lovely day when I got home so I had a walk round the garden….

garden flowers early april
I was pleased to see the first of the ‘main crop’ daffodils out.

…and then I had a mile and a half  walk round Gaskells to make the most of the rare good day.

I adopted a very modest pace and this let me see quite a lot as I pottered along.

I was very interested to see buds on the hawthorn…

hawthorn buds

…as this is real sign of better things to come.

I heard some loud engine noises and was surprised to see how literally the pilots of a couple of planes were taking the phrase ‘low flying’.

low flying plane

I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she found that they had moss on the undercarriage when they got home.

I saw tiny lichen and big fungus…

lichen and fungus

…and the first rabbit that I have noticed this year.

rabbit

I like the way that rabbits equate ‘standing very still’ with ‘hiding’.

Two more tried the same stratagem a little further on.

rabbits

The main purpose of my walk was to check out the red tipped lichen on the park wall to see if it had survived the frost, rain and snow.

There was a rather scraggy patch along with a promising wild flower…

lichen and wild flower

…just to prove that our park wall is a rich habitat and not just for moss and lichens.

Finally, almost as I had given up hope, I found a healthy looking clump.

lichen

My discovery of photography in my later years has provided me with a lot of pleasure but I don’t think anything is better than the ability of a camera to let you see wonders of nature that you just can’t see with the naked eye.  These lichens are tiny, the red dots like pin heads.

Mrs Tootlepedal told me in a phone call this evening that she had enjoyed both sunshine and very pleasant warmth in the deep south but I wasn’t envious.  Honestly.  They don’t have traffic free cycling routes on public roads like us.  I hardly saw a car for 34 of my 40 miles today.  Mind you, a little warmth wouldn’t go amiss.

I am really looking forward to the coming of my new bike.  I have pedalled three hundred miles on my slow bike over the past twenty two days but in the same amount of time and probably with less effort, I might have done sixty to eighty more miles on a quicker bike.

The low flying ‘bird’ of the day is the second of the air force planes that passed me on my walk.  Credit goes to the nerve and instrument reading skills of the pilots.

P1080619

Those interested can see details of the bike ride here

And you can see Sandy’s day here.

 

 

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “Slow going

  1. Many current digital cameras with their close focus capability are truly a window into a new world. I also think it’s great the way we can draw the experience and image together almost as if they are one. Something that wasn’t possible in the film days.

  2. The photos of the planes flying so low remind me of the stories my dad used to tell. He was in the Air Force and repaired the planes. The pilots would fly so low that the propeller tips would be bent and beaten up, and the radiators, on the underside of a P 51, would be full of vegetation that was sucked into the radiators. Once, he found a turnip in one, now that’s flying low! I’m surprised that they allow the planes to fly so low these days though.

    I loved the photos of the pheasant and the flowers, along with the ones that you shot from the hide.

    I applaud your determination to cycle as much as you have as cold and windy as it’s been.

    1. Generally planes are not supposed to fly too low by dispensations are granted. It is difficult to tell just how low these were but they looked to be hugging the contours pretty closely. Not quite at turnip height though.

  3. That view across the Solway Firth is excellent; a beautiful scene, and I love the photos of the rabbits and the lichen. I wish I could say which one it is. Possibly Cladonia didyma.
    The pheasant is an odd bird that seems to change regularly. Or maybe it’s just my memory that makes them look so different from photo to photo.
    It’s great to see the flowers,

    1. I am leaning towards Cladonia coccifera which my book tells me is widespread in the British Isles in acid soils. I reckon the wall must be quite acid.
      There are two sort s of pheasants locally.

  4. Oh, that red tipped lichen. Stunning! Yes, so good that the camera can catch what the eye cannot.

  5. What a lot of energy – so glad you had some sunshine for your ride and walk.
    Well done to Matilda for swimming so far.

  6. The photographer is more important than the camera. They make you see things that you might miss. All your photos covering such a range of subjects today are brilliant…love them all.

  7. I really like the photo of the ice – wonderful pattern! The view of the Solway Firth and the first rabbit photo are also favourites. Well done to Matilda!

    1. I always like the view across the Solway. It is a pity that unless you wait until a sunny summer evening, the light doesn’t make taking photos very progressive.

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