Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit to Liverpool by my brother Andrew. He found it in a colourful mood.
After some very grey days, we had a much more colourful day here today. The sun shone and the wind dropped and it looked liked a good day to go outside.
As usual, I found a number of things to do indoors before getting organised, and of course, the birds needed watching.
I hadn’t had to fill the feeder for a couple of days, and although it was getting near the bottom today, it was still of interest to the chaffinches.
Seeing these two pecking at the last of the seed made me go out and change the feeders over.
The new feeder, well filled, proved attractive to chaffinches too.
I finally ran out of excuses and got my bike out and set off up the Wauchope road. I passed a man with a tractor with a flail attached, and found out that he had been doing quite a lot of violence to anything that he could reach beside the road. It was lucky that he was on one side of the road and I was on the other as I might have had some difficulty getting past the debris that he left behind.
I decided to turn off at the first opportunity and I was soon heading uphill, away from the carnage and with my favourite view behind me.
Although the 40 mph winds of yesterday had subsided, there was still a brisk breeze left behind and I had to battle my way down the hill to Gretna Green where I was happy to take a rest and look at the clasped hands sculpture at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop tourist centre.
There wasn’t a tourist to be seen today as I took a picture of the art work. I can see what it is supposed to symbolise and newly married couples often have their picture taken under its arch, but it always looks rather creepy to me as though someone has been buried under ground and is praying to be let out.
But there are some very decorative berries in the hedge at the entrance.
Ignoring the cross winds, I pedalled down the new road beside the motorway into England and when I reached the outskirts of Carlisle, I turned and headed back towards Greta, going through Rockliffe.
The wind was still across but now it was marginally behind me so I made good progress.
This tree in a field at Rockcliffe looks as though it has had some battles with strong winds itself.
The wind was certainly ruffling the waters of the Esk as it flowed under the railway bridge before it meets the Solway.
Once I had reached Gretna, the way home was plain sailing as I cycled up the main roads to Canonbie with the very helpful wind pushing me along.
I turned off onto the old main road to Canonbie which has triple delights, like these three trees at Grainstonehead…
…and the three shaggy cows in the field, two of whom were more interested in eating than having their picture taken…
..but one was in a more accommodating mood.
I took one last stop for a drink and snack before getting back to Langholm and noticed some healthy peltigera lichen on the wall against which I had propped my bike.
I saw that I had done 43 miles by the time that I got back to the town and was pedalling on up the main road, thinking happily that 50 was a nice round number when we had a vote and my legs voted for stopping. I am a democrat so I turned back and ended up with a satisfactory 45 miles for the outing.
Mrs Tootlepedal had also made good use of the better weather by going for a good walk and getting some light gardening done while I was out. She was very cheered by seeing an actual bud forming on a daffodil in the garden. There may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Still, we needed to replace a little of the energy expended and very fortunately she had bought some cream which, when whipped up, went perfectly with meringues.
A goldfinch arrived at the new feeder.
I had a shower and then went out to investigate a claim from a blog reader that there is a small murmuration of starlings in Langholm. The claim turned out to be quite true.
By some murmuration standards, it is a small flock but it still had about a couple of hundred birds in it at its busiest.
The starlings circled round above the Esk at the Town Bridge and from time to time, other things caught me eye.
Ducks and gulls took to the air, Mr Grumpy supervised more ducks on the river and the moon shone in the background.
In order to capture the moon, I had to make the sky dark but as you can see in the picture below, it wasn’t really as dark as that.
After they had finished murmuring, the starlings fell out of the sky in dramatic fashion and disappeared into a remarkably small bush in front of Greenbank.
I got home in perfect time to have a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal. Our friend Mike dropped in for a cup and helped us out by eating one of the remaining meringues.
There is talk of snow on the hills tomorrow morning but I will only believe that when I see it.
The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches.