Halfway to paradise

Today’s guest picture comes from Mike and Alison’s recent visit to New Zealand where they saw this handsome NZ kingfisher.  I don’t know which of them took the picture.

NZ kingfisher

It was reasonably warm for the time of year again this morning but once again the effect was somewhat spoiled by light drizzle and a very strong wind.  I stayed indoors and did some useful stuff.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to the dentist for some treatment and I filled some of the time while he was out by watching the birds.  I was able to confirm that we have at least four lesser redpolls visiting us at the moment.

busy feeder with redpolls

I am not sure if the hidden bird at the back of the feeder is another redpoll or a siskin.

There were plenty of siskins shouting and beating people up.

busy siskins

A wood pigeon brought a more stately air to the proceedings.


The forecast was for a fine afternoon with a further rise in the temperature so after lunch, I thought of cycling although the wind was a bit off-putting.  However, I did manage to get into my cycling gear and go out.  Virtue was rewarded when it turned out that the wind had dropped considerably from the morning and although it was still noticeable, it wasn’t totally discouraging and I enjoyed pedalling in some warm air.

There were signs of spring along the road and although the prettiest was probably this primrose…


…..the most welcome was probably this larch twig, a real forerunner of the new green season.

larch bursting

As always, I looked at a wall if I stopped to take a general view and I liked this crusty set of lichen…

lichen on wall

…and was interested to find that there were some tiny red spots of colour among the stems when I put the picture on the computer.  I hadn’t been able to see them with the naked eye.

The most noticeable thing was not the roadside flowers or the larch needles but the fact that the grass has at last started growing in the cultivated fields.

Ewes valley april

We are greening up….

Ewes valley april

…although the rough hillside has some time to go yet before it goes green.

I was a bit sorry to find that the day was more amenable to cycling than I had thought that it would be as I could have gone a more interesting route if I had realised.   I made up for my dull route choice by stopping at the Kilngreen to buy a nougat wafer from the ice cream van there and I ate it while sitting on a bench by the river and enjoying the bird life.

This is a lesser black backed gull (I have to thank a reader who corrected my view that it was a herring gull last time one appeared in a post),

lesser black backed gull

And these are a small fraction of the hundreds of rooks that swirl about in the sky over the town.


I took a picture of the Langholm Bridge to show how much the river has dropped since yesterday…

Langholm Bridge

…and then I pedalled home, arriving just as the sun came out.

It was such a lovely afternoon that I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal, who was just having a cup of tea indoors after some hard work in the garden, to come and drink it outside.

Mrs T's new bench area

She has almost finished her new bench area so we put a couple of plastic chairs out and tested it.

This is the view that we had from the chairs.


It was wonderful to be able to sit out and enjoy the warmth and the sunshine as this was our first opportunity for months.

The new lawn shaping has been completed and this is how it looked this afternoon.

new look middle lawn

You can see the new bench are on the right.

I was quite pleased to see the grass on the middle lawn trying to win the battle against the moss so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  There is no picture of the result there as the moss is still winning hands down.

I had time for a camera-wander.  I got a fleeting glimpse of a tadpole in the pond….


…which was very encouraging.  There were lots of others about too.

The first fritillaries are out…


…and I found a corydalis in a pot and the rosemary next to the greenhouse.

corydalis and rosemary

The temperature is due to drop back a bit but even half a day at 18°C was enough to cheer us up enormously.  We have had such a long spell of cold and cool weather that we had begun to think that things might never warm up again.

The are a lot of daffodils to choose from but this one was my daffodil of the day today.


I made some risotto for our tea and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir.  Our concert with the local orchestra is in two weeks so we worked hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It is not a good picture but I think that it conveys some of the energy that these tiny birds put into their visits to the feeders  so I have put it in.

flying siskin

I would like to thank Canadian reader and Langholm exile, Joyce Lewis, for a very kind mention of this blog in an article which she wrote for our local paper.  It is very nice to think that the pictures can bring back youthful memories of the area.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “Halfway to paradise

  1. What a glorious glimpse of the English Spring you’ve given here. I enjoyed it all so much – from the greening hills to the tadpole, from the nougat icecream to the cup of tea in your lovely garden. Thank you.

  2. I have never thought of a wood pigeon as stately! Lumbering would be my description, but unlike many I do actually like the bird. I shall try to have more respect as well in the future.

      1. My stately lumberers have decided after all to make a nest in my hornbeam, as in previous years. They’ve started building today, having, I suspect, decided that after all the grass isn’t greener elsewhere.

  3. The gull looks very regal, the water droplets on the primrose are lovely, and . . . what a view from the bench area!

  4. That’s a nice spot for the bench with a view like that one. I’m sure it’ll get even better as time passes.
    We’re greening too but your grass is far ahead of ours.
    You might see some purple larch flowers on that tree if you look closely. They’re probably 10 times the size of a hazelnut flower but they’re still tricky to find.

  5. Thank you for your kind mention Tom.
    I think this blog brings great joy to many Langholm exiles scattered far and wide who feel just a wee bit nearer to the old haunts of home through your photos and words.

    1. And not only the Langholmites – abroad or in town – enjoy Mr Tootlepedals daily covering of birds, flowers, landscapes. Also a fan of the Muckle toon like me on the continent is enjoying how he lets us take part. Many thanks to that.

  6. Oh, my word! Those daffodils are gorgeous. A wonderful place to have tea. Also, like that black smudge of a tadpole.

  7. I loved the images of the garden that show a wider view, especially the new seating area, and the view from it! The garden is much farther along than what I had thought from just seeing the flower photos that you’ve posted so far, it’s so good to see waves of flowers at one time for a change from the miserable weather that we’ve both had this spring. Although, the daffodil of the day is lovely and I appreciate seeing it alone.

  8. What a joy seeing your garden coming to full daffodil life after our horrid winter. A splendid idea too making a pleasant viewing area to sit and enjoy all the hard work and thought that goes into creating a garden.

  9. The image of the garden and bench area really makes me appreciate all the work that Mrs T has put into the yard. I suspect you’ll have some lovely times spent there contemplating the flowers and the birds.

  10. Next year I must concentrate on getting pics of all my different kinds of daffs. My favourite flower. I like the angles on Mrs T’s new bench area. And what a golden view!

  11. Just catching up again, and it will take me another day or two. The Tootlepedal garden looks very beautiful! The rest of Scotland also looks to be greening up nicely, too. We had a couple of days here in the 80s, which has just about finished off the daffodils. Our fruit trees are in full bloom.

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