Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony and shows that the temperature was lower in Fife than it was here this morning.
We had been promised a day of freezing fog so it was a pleasant surprise to find no fog and a temperature of two degrees above zero when we got up. It was still too cold for cycling though as I am resolved not to risk hitting any icy patches this winter so I had a relaxing morning of chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and making ginger biscuits.
I had a good deal of time to stare out of the window and was happy to see one or two birds making a welcome re-appearance at the feeder.
I caught a great tit in the plum tree…
…a redpoll on the feeder…
…and a blackbird on the ground below.
There were visits from a robin and a blue tit too but these went unrecorded as they were too quick for me.
The jackdaws were back again…
…but there was still not a great number of finches. I met two neighbours this morning, one of whom reported that his garden was short of small birds and the other who had many sparrows but no finches.
It was still only 2°C at lunch time but it was such a nice day that a walk was in order even if cycling was not on the menu so after a cheese and chutney sandwich, I set off to walk up to the monument.
There were no flowers to be seen except the occasional gorse bush but some bright lichen on a small bush beside the track caught my eye.
I was resolved to see if I could walk up the hill to the monument without stopping but one or two views compelled me to pause for a second or two.
This is what lay ahead.
Although the ground looks a bit rough, there is a path all the way to the top and I was soon looking back on the lower hills across the valley…
…and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the hill and look over the wall across the Tarras valley. The camera makes it all look rather flat but it would be very hard work to walk across the moor, down across the river and then up to that hill in the distance which is quite a bit higher than Whita.
Looking out to the west, I could see Criffel, 30 miles away, rising above a sea of mist over the Nith estuary. We were obviously getting the best of the weather.
Looking around I could see a mixture of commercial forest and sheep grazing grounds. It seems as though we are going to have more forestry and less sheep round here in the future as the grants system makes timber more profitable than meat at the moment.
I took a zig zag route back down the hill as the direct route is steep and would have been hard on my knees and as I walked down the track towards the White Yett, the low sun picked out these heather clumps…
…and I cast a long shadow as I went.
I didn’t go right down to the road but followed the track that the riders come up at the Common Riding back down towards the golf course.
Below me, I could see that the woodcutters had left the pines standing when they otherwise cleared felled the wood at Hillhead.
I passed a small tree as i came down the hill. Trees like this are very scarce where the ground has sheep on it but once the sheep are taken off, trees start to grow quickly.
A little cairn marked my route down the hill…
…and I came safely back to the top of the golf course with my knees intact.
Looking down towards England, I could see the Lake District hills in the distance, looming over the mist covered Solway plain.
We were still mist free and the golf course was very peaceful….
…as I walked down the side of the course without being disturbed by cries of “fore!” or being hit by a golf ball.
I timed my three and a half mile walk well as I got home just as the sun dipped below the hills and a distinct chill came over the town.
Once inside, a cup of tea and some delicious ginger biscuits refreshed body and spirit and I was fully recovered when Luke arrived for some flute playing. We played the Loeillet sonata which we have been working on and it went very well, with some good ornamentation and some faster tempi. Although practice hasn’t made us perfect yet, we are definitely making progress.
The forecast is once again offering us fog tomorrow so I hope that we end up with another sunny day like today.
We are well prepared for Christmas Day and intend to have a quiet but jolly time. I wish all readers of the blog a Happy Christmas and I hope that they have held Santa’s hand firmly when presents were being considered so that nobody is disappointed.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch enjoying the sunshine.