Today’s guest picture is the last of the Derby insects sent to me by my brother Andrew.
I am irresistibly reminded of my favourite limerick. I remember it as:
There was a young man from St Bees,
Who was stung on the knee by a wasp.
When they said, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
Thank goodness it wasn’t a hornet.”
But I see that the original was by W S Gilbert who wrote:
There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet.”
With the greatest respect to WS, I think my version is snappier.
But I digress.
Dropscone recently took a boat trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam, coming back on what should have been the final day before Brexit and he dropped in this morning on his way back from the gym to have a cup of coffee and tell me about it. His main impression was that Amsterdam is a very easy place in which to get run over by a cyclist.
I had resolved to have a very quiet day today as I was feeling far from my peak so after he left, I constrained my activity to a brief walk round the garden.
The cold and wet weather of the last week has put new growth on the back foot again and there are few developments but some flowers are doing well in spite of frost and rain.
And the fritillaries are fabulous.
There were sunny spells in the morning and these four chaffinches looked very cheerful in one of them.
The blossom on the plum tree is just waiting for a warmer day to break out fully.
The sunshine didn’t keep everyone happy as this study of a lady chaffinch giving a little siskin a kicking shows.
However, the siskin had the last laugh because it stayed in the perch and the chaffinch had to retire in confusion.
For the first time this year, we had several redpolls on the feeder at the same time and although they are small, like the siskins they are tough little birds and not afraid of anything.
After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself to visit Matilda in Edinburgh (and her other grandparents who are visiting too). Matilda is basking in glory as she came second in her first ever dance competition yesterday and got a medal!
I stayed at home and mooched around in some showery weather until the skies cleared and I thought that my foot might benefit from a little walk. I don’t want to seize up altogether and I have been severely limiting my exercise for five weeks now so it is important to keep moving, even if very slowly.
I walked up onto the Meikleholm hill and looked back to see the town bathed in sunshine while Whita Hill in the background was still under a cloud.
Six minutes later, the town was in shadow and the hill was sunlit. It was that sort of day, with a very brisk and chilly wind.
I had intended to do a Grand Old Duke of York and go to the top of the hill and then come down again but I found a herd of cows in my way and thought better of it and went back down and continued my walk by going along the track to the Becks Burn.
I stopped and had a chat with Stan from the camera club who was walking his dogs. He told me that he has already sold a picture from the exhibition at Canonbie so that was good news.
I walked further along the track with one of the smallholders who have fields there. There was no need to ask which were his sheep because as we approached his field they careered down towards him in the justified hope of some food. He has already got some traditional spring lambs…
…and there were other more exotic ones in a neighbouring field.
There were white things to see as I went along…
…and plenty of new growth in the hedgerow when I had crossed the burn and was walking down the road on the other side.
I crossed the Becks Burn again by this bridge which carries the Wauchope road back into the town.
In spite of the recent rain, there is still very little water in the stream after our dry spell in March.
As is so often the case, where there is a bridge and a wall, there is lichen.
I had thought of a slightly longer walk at this point but my foot put its foot down and told me to go straight home so I did.
When I got to Pool Corner, I lifted up two of the little squares of roofing felt which a nature lover has put there and underneath them, I found two baby slow worms and an adult.
Just before I got home, I passed a man with an unusual hedge.
It is a quince hedge and he told me that when the fruits come, people pick them and bring him a jar of jelly in return.
When I got back, I found that there were more redpolls about…
…and they weren’t averse to trying to establish a pecking order…
…though the one on the top right seems a bit astonished by the bad behaviour of the other two.
I was cooking some ginger biscuits when Mike Tinker dropped in and I was more than a bit embarrassed to peer into the oven and to see no biscuits at all. The little round balls of dough that should have melted out into flat biscuits were still little round balls of dough. When I took them out of the oven (after Mike had gone), I found that they were dry, tasteless and inedible.
A bit of brain racking ensued (as far as I still have a brain to rack) and a second look at the recipe told me that I must have forgotten to put the sugar in. I made a second batch, hoping not to miss out some other vital ingredient this time. I must have got everything in because I got some undeniable biscuits out of the oven and they tasted quite good. I am going to have one or two with a cup of tea when I finish writing this post. Or even three.
In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a very quiet evening in.
The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.