Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony. Just to show that the sun doesn’t always shine in East Wemyss, he has sent me this lovely picture of one of his dogs on a walk in the dark.
We had a chilly but not freezing day here, and as it didn’t rain, we looked on the bright side.
It was cold enough to persuade me that it might be a good idea to catch up on some archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to stuff brochures with the spring programme of events into envelopes at the Buccleuch Centre. The centre currently has 33 volunteers helping out, a testament to the value which the town puts on having such a good resource.
I added another parish magazine to the Archive Group website and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database. This edition covered the death of Queen Victoria, a historic moment if ever there was one.
In between times, I watched the birds and was pleased to see a few siskins at the feeder.
Mrs Tootlepedal left a few sunflower stalks standing near the feeder when the flowers were over, and the birds are very grateful to her because the stalks make a good place to stand and ponder, as this chaffinch is doing.
There were a great many flying birds at one particular moment but the reflections of a glimmer of sun in the window made the resulting picture look rather odd.
Jackdaws like the fat balls but don’t find it easy to get a grip on the feeder and get beak to ball.
After lunch, I went out for a walk. I could have gone cycling, as it was probably just warm enough not to have icy patches on the roads, but with a forecast of thirty mile an hour gusts and a very chilly wind, it wasn’t an attractive option.
I have been working hard in the last few months on doing exercises to improve my back and foot joints so I thought that instead of taking things easily after walking five miles in Saturday and three miles on Sunday, another briskish five mile walk today would be a good test to see if things really had got better as far as walking went.
I set out with the intention of not stopping until I had got out of the town but the sight of these severely cropped shrubs still carrying a good crop of berries made me pause for a moment.
Someone had told me that they had seen a lot of woodpeckers knocking about at the Moorland Project bird hide, so I thought that the hide would make a good target for my walk. I had walked in much the same direction on Saturday but this time I went round the circuit in the opposite direction, and took the usual path through the woods instead of venturing onto the hill.
The path was muddy but fairly level so I made good progress…
…and I especially enjoyed the oak wood from start…
…not least becuase the sun came out.
When I got to Broomholmshiels, I turned left and walked up the road towards the bird hide. You can see the trees where the hide is on the horizon.
My informant may have seen a lot of woodpeckers on her visit but I didn’t see a single one on mine. I did see great tits…
…blue tits …
and coal tits enjoying the peanuts…
…and chaffinches and goldfinches having fun at the seed feeder.
I believe that the trees here are soon to be felled as they are larches and have got signs of a disease which means the compulsory clearance of trees affected so I took a picture of the hide, the clearing and the comfortable bench inside the hide where I sat to watch the birds.
I didn’t stay long in the hide because although the sun was out, it was already getting low in the sky. Soon I was on the road that leads down to the Esk.
Once again, I pressed on, trying to give my feet a good workout, but the mossy wall can’t be ignored entirely…
…and I passed another of the little stone cairns which carry a welcoming message for walkers.
These welcoming signs have been overtaken by events as thanks to a recent law, one can walk anywhere one likes on open land in Scotland as long as you behave sensibly and don’t damage crops or interfere with the legitimate activities of others.
I couldn’t pass Skippers Bridge for a second time without taking a picture…
…and an old friend and an interesting log detained me for a moment or two.
Just as I was crossing the bridge, a motorist hooted at me and I was just going to scowl at the car for interrupting my peaceful walk when I saw that it was Mrs Tootlepedal returning from getting her new specs adjusted in Longtown. I waved cheerily instead and walked home along the Murtholm.
The light had gone by this time so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures but the dying sun tempted the camera out of my pocket just as I got to our front gate.
The walk was about five and a quarter miles and because I am boringly interested in these sort of things, I can report that it took me 43 minutes to walk the two and a half miles up hill to the bird hide and 53 minutes to walk the two and three quarter miles back down the hill to the town. I should have been able to go back more quickly than I went out but the eleven minutes that I spent sitting on the comfortable but hard wooden bench in the bird hide made my feet hurt far more than the walking to get there. A lesson learned; don’t sit down in the middle of a walk.
Mrs Tootlepedal had beaten me home and I had just made a pot of tea when the finely honed tea radar of Mike Tinker clicked into action and he appeared bang on cue to join us. We sipped and chatted and not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke arrived and he and I had an encouraging half hour of musical enjoyment.
As Mrs Tootlepedal had been making a fish pie for tea and her fish pie is a thing of joy when it comes to an evening meal, the day finished on a very good note.
The only fly in the ointment was the news that the train company that takes us to Edinburgh on a Thursday had introduced its new timetable today with such efficiency and competence that half its trains were either cancelled or horribly late. We just hope that things are going to get better by Thursday.
A daring chaffinch effecting a handbrake turn is the flying bird of the day.