Modified rapture

Today’s guest picture comes from my nephew Dan who is in Tromsø in Norway.  It rained so much that he and his companion had to take refuge in the Tromsdalen Church, sometimes called the Arctic Cathedral.

Tromsø Tromsdalen Church or the Arctic Cathedral

The forecast, which had suggested a sunny day and a temperature of five degrees by lunchtime, was partially right.  We did have a beautifully sunny day but the temperature  was still below two degrees at lunchtime, and the lawn was still covered in frost.

frozen lawn

Any thoughts of cycling had had to be abandoned.

Circumstances have not been kind to my cycling ambitions in November and December and after doing sixteen hundred miles in the four months from July to October, I have barely done three hundred miles in the last two months of the year.  I am hoping for no injuries and better weather next year.  I started this year hoping to do 4000 miles and have had to settle for a little bit over 3000 instead, but I have done more walking recently so I am reasonably content.

The roads were a bit icy in the morning so I did the crossword, had coffee and watched the birds.

They were looking cheerful in the sun.

sunny chaffinch

A dunnock tried to look like a heron…

sunny dunnock

…and a siskin tried to find someone to argue with…

sunny siskin

…while the robin made a welcome re-appearance after a few days of being invisible.

sunny robin

The bird that I was most pleased to see was this lesser redpoll, the first one that I have seen this winter.

first redpoll of winter

After lunch, I set out to make some use of the sunshine.  I still had to tread carefully while I was in the town as there were icy spots here and there, but once I got onto the track up Warbla, the going was good.

It was easy to see where the fields had been in shadow during the morning.

sheep in sunshine

Looking across the Wauchope valley,  I could see a favourite little ridge, Naze Hill, which is pleasingly symmetrical.

naze hill

I had to pay some attention to where I was walking as well as looking at the view because there were icy puddles on the track.

ice on warbla

I tried to avoid taking too many pictures because I posted quite a few shots of this walk not long ago when I came the same hill with Mrs Tootlepedal, but it was such a lovely day that I had to take one or two when I got to the summit.

view up esk valley from warbla
Holmwood and the Esk Valley
langholm from warbla
Langholm and the Ewes Valley

On this occasion, I did not go back home by walking down the way that I had come up.  I headed on down the far side of the hill, roughly following the line of the electricity poles which would take me down to Skippers Bridge in the end.

view of way south from warbla

It was rough ground but the frost kept things firm and made the moss look very festive.

frozen moss

Towards the bottom of the hill, I was on the shady side of the ridge and there was a distinct chill about.

two warbla trees

As I walked down to the main road, I was surprised to see some hair ice beside the path, but as I went on, I could see that there was a lot of it about.

hair ice

Wikipedia tells me:

In the year 2015, German and Swiss scientists identified the fungus Exidiopsis effusa as key to the formation of hair ice. The fungus was found on every hair ice sample examined by the researchers, and disabling the fungus with fungicide or hot water prevented hair ice formation.  The fungus shapes the ice into fine hairs through an uncertain mechanism and likely stabilizes it by providing a recrystallization inhibitor similar to antifreeze proteins.

The fungus must be spreading round Langholm because I see more hair ice every year.

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back to the town along the river bank.  There is a fine tree beside the river at the Co-op store.  It has some good fungus and a mysterious tag which has been nailed on to it.

tree at Co-op

I have noticed several trees round the town with these little tags on them and would welcome help from any reader who can shed light on what they are for.

The sun was still high enough to shine on me when I got back to the town so instead of crossing the suspension  bridge, I continued on to the Kilngreen and had a word with the gulls.  They were also enjoying the sun.

gulls on grass

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the bottom of the Castleholm, where the castle was doing a little basking in the  sun too…

Langholm castle in sun

…and went home via the Jubilee Bridge and our corner shop.  Our neighbour Liz was doing a little shopping there too so we walked home together.

I had done five miles and that proved quite enough exercise for me for the day.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing some creative sofa slumping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the blog over the past year, and in particular those who have added the always polite and often informative comments that make writing the blog feel worthwhile for me.

I hope that 2020 brings readers all that they might wish and a little bit more.

I personally am keeping my fingers crossed that our National Health Service can weather the storms ahead.  Our church organist Henry, who drives a bus for a living, recently had to wait three minutes to get an emergency call answered when a passenger had an epileptic fit on his bus.  When his call was finally answered, the call handler told him that as his passenger wasn’t actually dying, no ambulance would be sent out.  This is not very satisfactory.  Voters will have to learn that there is a crucial link between paying taxes and having a good health service and politicians will need to learn that leaving sick people lying beside roads at night is a matter of great shame in a civilised country. (Henry took the patient home in his bus.)

On that cheerful note, I end by wishing all and sundry a very happy new year.  I hope to meet you all again next year.

The flying bird of the day is a gull, disturbed by an elderly walker and heading for a fence post.

gull landing on post

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

47 thoughts on “Modified rapture

  1. The patterns in the ice are very striking indeed. I laughed at the elongated dunnock! Thanks for another year’s work in maintaining the blog for your many appreciative readers, and the best of 2020 to you and yours.

  2. I liked your trees and can never have enough views, your countryside is so beautiful. I look forward to reading more posts and looking at more pictures in 2020. Happy New Year.

  3. I love the patterns in the ice and the hair frost.

    I’d say that 3000 miles on a bike is quite an accomplishment.

    I see the same numbered metal tags on trees everywhere and I found out this about them:

    “The tag helps identify the attributes of a tree, such as its size, species and age. A tree can be tagged for a variety of reasons, but it’s mainly to keep up with health and wellness – things like pruning of the trees, removing dead wood, raising canopies, and providing clearance for playgrounds, trails and other pedestrian areas.”

    Have a Happy New Year

    1. That sounds as though it might be the reason for our tags. They seem to appear on mature trees. I hope that you continue to supply your grateful readers with interesting information and great pictures in 2020.

  4. Nice to see the return of your handsome robin.
    Wouldn’t be too bothered about your yearly mileage, 3k is an excellent achievant in anybody’s book and more than 3 times my figure..well done👍
    I must try harder in 2020.

      1. Aye,that was my first ride in around 4 weeks due to a horrid chest infection.and as you can tell from my lowest ever avg speed it was particularly tiring..
        As you know the indoor bike is all well and good,but not the same as climbing hills into a headwind,which my last 6 miles always are but which is still preferable to the ride to nowhere 😄
        On the plus side owever I walk my dog 3.5 mls or more every day over the local moors sometimes further,so on my calculations I’ve actually walked further in 2019 than I’ve cycled,so not sure I actually qualify as a cyclist.

        I will need to get my priorities in order for 2020..illness permitting.
        Your friend Ken peddled an amazing yearly mileage,congratulations to him.👍

      2. The dog walking is impressive thought I am drawn to wondering if it helped your recovery from the chest infection. Dog owners must walk good yearly distances if they take the dog out every day.

  5. Thank you for another great year of entertaining news and views from the Muckle Toon. They are very much appreciated by this exile.
    Happy New Year!

  6. Half way round the world in the shaky isles we are having to learn that same lesson about politicians and taxes paid for the health system. There has been much in our news about various unacceptable situations and with our national elections coming up this year many people will be doing what they can to educate our electoral candidates.

  7. Thank you for the enjoyable posts, as always! May 2020 be kind to you and your family, and the community of Langholm.

    Looks like you are getting some beautiful clear and cold weather there, and I enjoyed your photos, especially the feeders. Tonight, we are getting heavy rains in my area, and I am glad we are home for the evening.

  8. I regret, I have creative sofa slumping, down to fine art. I am in constant admiration of the activity in the Toots household! and often feel shamed by the achievements and indeed aims. long may this continue, hopefully, I may be inspired enough to get out more myself. Sincere best wishes for 2020 and the new decade

  9. A five mile hike to close the year, over 3000 miles pedalling, and a another year of your daily posts, fantastic achievements for 2019. Long live 2020! Thanks from myself and no doubt all your other readers for providing us these accounts of your adventures, I really enjoy my daily dose of tootlepedal, long may it continue, cheers and a very Happy New Year to you and yours, and also all my fellow readers of your wonderful blog,

  10. Happy new year to you both, we are at campsite in Newcastleton , go home tomorrow. Hope you get to cycle more in the coming year, I think you did pretty well last year anyway.

    1. It was my worst year since I started keeping statistics in 2009 but I hope for better next year. Camping in Newcastelton for New Year! You like to live on the edge.

    1. It would have been better with an additional 2 degrees but a neighbour cycled 30 miles so I have only my timidity to blame for not cycling myself.

  11. We had a sunny Silvester and right now the new year welcomes us with sunshine too. All the more reason to enjoy views of Langholm which our trustworthy commentor delivers on a daily basis. Thanks for that and all the best wishes for you and yours in the new decade.

  12. I too worry about our precious NHS, and many other things. People who act with the generosity of your bus driver friend fill me with hope. We must have hope. I think that dunnock has been to yoga classes. Health and happiness to you and yours in 2020

    1. It was unusual behaviour in a dunnock, I agree. They mostly creep about trying to be unobtrusive. Henry is a good chap and an example to us all.

  13. Thank you Tootlepedal for all your wonderful posts throughout the year. Such great photos of the countryside around your home, your cycle rides and maps, your beautiful garden ( courtesy of the hardwork by Mrs T), your lovely family, your characterful birds, your interesting facts, your clever guest photographers, your political jests, your friends who call with scones etc, your excellent effort at witticisms! 10 out of 10 for hard work and effort- and long may it last. Happy New Year to you and all your family.

  14. It seems the birds change their outfits when they cross the oceans. Our siskins seem to have quite a bit more stripes than yours. Your robin’s outfit is much prettier than ours, as well.

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