Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was cheered up by a bit of brightness at Coal Drops Yard on a very gloomy day at Kings Cross.
We were cheered up on another very gloomy day here by a lively performance from the Sunday Club children at our church service this morning. This was followed by a baptism so it was a service for the future and with well over 100 people in the church, the future looked as though it might just be all right.
When we got home, there was time for a cup of coffee and a check on the birds.
A goldfinch and a sparrow arrived at the feeder from different sides.
Then siskins appeared…
…and a goldfinch made an exit.
Having looked at the forecast, we decided to have a late lunch and get a walk in while the going was good, so we put on our walking shoes, said goodbye to a pigeon on the drive…
…and set off through the park towards the Kernigal.
Some little white fungus on an old tree stump caught my eye as we walked along the Stubholm track….
…and I thought that a mossy branch was the equal of many pieces of sculpture that I have seen in art galleries.
As always, I kept an eye for lichen and was pleased to see this colourful clump just before we got to the wood…
…which was looking quite majestic in the misty conditions.
We followed the mountain bike path through the trees and it was too dark to see much.
Only another crop of white fungus stood out and even that needed a flash to capture it.
When we got out of the thick wood, we thought that we were going to get rained on but it was only drops from branches overhead….
…and we were able to follow the path back down to the river without getting wet.
It was rather a damp scene all the same.
I thought that this tree, against a drab background and with a fallen branch at its foot, summed up the day well.
On the plus side, it was well above freezing and there was no wind, so walking was a pleasure and incidental treats like these very glossy beech leaves kept us interested as we went along.
We crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back beside the river towards the town.
I enjoyed seeing the fence lichen in magnificent form and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a teasel, a rare thing in this part of the country.
We called at the Co-op to get something for our late lunch and as we were walking along the narrow path behind the Dyehouse, I noticed a couple of birds ahead of us. At first I thought that they were just rather colourful chaffinches but as we got nearer…
…we could see that they were bullfinches and that there were three of them.
One of them stopped and stared for long enough for me to get the zoom working but it was a good way ahead of us…
…and then they played a most amusing game.
I had the shopping in a bag. They stopped on a bush, waited until I had put the shopping down and got my camera out and then they flew on. As the light was so poor, I needed to get quite close to them to get a decent shot, so I picked up my bag and followed after them. As soon as I started walking, they stopped, I put down my bag, got out the camera and they flew on again.
This went on for quite some time and even Mrs Tootlepedal had to agree that it looked very much as though they were just tormenting me on purpose.
What the bullfinches were looking for were the seeds on these plants…
….and they stopped long enough once or twice for me to get blurred shots. When they got fed up with laughing at me, they flew back over our heads and doubtless waited for another passer-by to tease.
The forecast got it bang on and it had just started to rain as we got home and that concluded the outdoor part of our day.
We had a late lunch and whiled away the rest of the day in reading the newspapers and conversation. After a while, Mrs Tootlepedal started to listen to an interesting radio programme on jackdaws and rooks and I went off to catch up with my correspondence on the computer.
The winter solstice arrived at 4am today and the TV weatherman told us that tomorrow our day will be one second longer. We are very excited by this and are planning to make full use of the extra second when it comes.
We had a mince pie each after our evening meal and felt quite festive. Then we watch the final episode of His Dark Materials. Both of us were more or less completely baffled about what was going on. I await the next series with impatience in the hope that some explanation will be given. Perhaps if we had read the books it would have helped.
The fuzzy flying bird of the day is a siskin.