Today’s guest post comes from Venetia who recently went on a music making spree where among other activities, she sang while someone played a sackbut. What is a sackbut? This is a piece of a sackbut:
The forecast was right and we had a sunny day here. As is often the case, with winter sun comes winter chill and it was a meagre three degrees when Dropscone arrived for coffee, wishing that he had remembered to put on his gloves before cycling across the town.
His treacle scones were as good as ever, unaffected by the advancing of the years. He had played golf on Boxing Day on an outing with a small gang of fellow golfers and as he had come equal first, he had enjoyed the outing immensely. He had then driven to London and back to see his oldest son and I was quite exhausted listening to his adventures.
Luckily, scones and coffee revived me enough to watch the birds for a while when he had gone. In spite of the sunshine, it was too early for bird watching and the feeder was still in deep shade.
There was plenty of sun on the top of the walnut tree though.
On the feeder, a goldfinch took a sceptical view of another bird’s boast of flying twenty miles before breakfast…
…while a chaffinch pulled off a nifty one footed landing.
Just to make sure that I took advantage of the sunshine, I had got dressed into my cycling gear and drank my coffee with Dropscone in full cycling garb.
I didn’t wait for the sun to arrive at the bird feeder but got out my bike and pedalled off into the wide blue yonder…
…where there were twisted trees…
…and a flock of fieldfares in a field…
…and gorse beside the road.
My progress was slowed both by the chill in the air (3.7°C) when I set out and by a brisk south westerly wind making me work hard. Still, if I am working hard because of the wind, so are our turbines and I was happy to take the rough with the smooth.
The strong wind meant that I had to concentrate on the pedalling if I was to get any miles in so I didn’t stop to take many pictures today.
However, we had noticed the Station Inn at Kirkpatrick Fleming when we passed on our way to Lockerbie yesterday and as well as a smart new sign…
…it has a locomotive too, ironically sited in the car park.
The sign on the tender says that it is a replica of Stephenson’s Rocket, the winner of the Rainhill Trials. The notice also said that I was welcome to stand on the footplate for photographic purposes at my own risk. I played safe and stood on the ground.
Needless to say, thanks to the march of progress, there may be a Station Inn at Kirkpatrick Fleming but the railway station was closed in 1960.
There have been many exhortations and promises since the last election on the subject of ‘bringing the country together’ and I thought that I would add my contribution to the subject with this picture. It shows that it will be hard to bring the countries of the union much closer together as hardly any distance currently separates Scotland on the left of the stream from England on the right.
Maybe Boris will build a bridge.
When I think of it, there is already a bridge and I crossed it a mile or so further on.
These Scottish trees caught my eye while I had stopped to take the border picture…
…and these English trees neatly spaced along a hedgerow made me stop again.
I didn’t stop too long though as a glance behind me showed some threatening looking clouds looming up over Gretna…
…so I made encouraging noises to my legs and pushed on.
In spite of my encouragement and the faintest hint of some drizzle, my legs demanded a rest before the final little hills into Langholm and I stopped for one last tree at Irvine House.
The thought of a cup of tea gave me enough strength to add a couple of miles onto my journey when I got back to Langholm and I reached the nice round number of 40 miles (at a very moderate pace) for my trip.
By the time that the dream of a cup of tea had become reality, the light was fading fast. I was looking out of the window and listening to my friend Alison on the phone as she told me that she and Mike were too bothered with colds to be able to make their traditional Friday evening visit when I realised that an odd looking bird on the lawn with its back to me was in fact a sparrowhawk waiting to fly off with its prey. It had flown off long before I could put the phone down and pick up a camera. Alison remarked that the sparrowhawk doesn’t seem to visit their garden which is only 100 yards away from ours.
Following a hint from a blog reader, we watched the first episode of a new version of Worzel Gummidge on catch up telly in the evening. It was very charming and we enjoyed it (though it did suffer from a distinct lack of Una Stubbs in the cast list).
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, caught indistinctly in the morning shadows.