Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.
Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf. It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.
The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already. I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm. I will have another go.
I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…
…including another visit from our resident robin.
I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…
..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.
I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.
It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.
I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….
…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…
…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.
In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull. This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.
The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive. Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.
I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley. I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.
An old tree trunk posed for a picture.
I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…
… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..
…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.
When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…
…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…
…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.
My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.
Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart. This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.
Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme. Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house. I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants. We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.
The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.
A grand night out in every way.
As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.
Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.