Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to The Newt. They have made good use of an old tree trunk there, though I don’t think that anyone has cycled far on the bike in the picture.
Owing to being a bit dozy when I wrote last night’s post, I didn’t notice that my camera had recorded some garden pictures on its second card, so just to show that there is a bit of life in the garden even in January, here are the pictures that I took before going to Edinburgh yesterday.
There may have been no birds at the feeder, but once again there were pairs of jackdaws in the walnut tree….
…whereas today saw the return of a small flock of goldfinches.
There was not much feeder activity though, partly because there was a good deal of coming and going from the house and partly because of the arrival of the sparrowhawk.
It sat in the plum tree for a moment before flying off empty handed.
I had spotted the hawk through the kitchen window while I was sipping coffee with Dropscone, one of those responsible for the coming and going.
He arrived bringing not the traditional Friday treacle scones but a large pile of drop scones instead. We managed to survive the shock. He had had some eggs which needed using up, he told me. I would have taken a picture of the large pile of scones but before I could get my camera out, some person or persons unknown had eaten them all.
Dropscone reported that the crows were still stealing golf balls on the golf course..
When he left, I tried to catch a bird at the feeder, but even when one or two did appear, they were so nervous that they flew off as soon as I approached the window.
It was a relatively calm day with a hint of blue sky and when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the shops with some bananas, I took two of them, put them in my back pocket with some guava jelly cubes and went out for a cycle ride.
I wasn’t feeling particularly bright when I set off but the great Dr Velo soon put me to rights and I decided on a slightly more adventurous route than usual, heading onwards due west when I had got over Callister, adding a bit more climbing than customary to my journey.
This is the view as I set out into the wide blue yonder on the far side of Callister.
I stopped after ten miles and ate half a banana and a small cube of guava jelly and reflected on the subsidy regime which led to the planting of many small clumps of commercial conifers in the middle of pastureland.
My ride today was a story of rivers and streams, large and small. Once I had climbed out of Wauchopedale by going over Callister, I dropped down into the valley of the Water of Milk…
…home to two wind farms. This is the Ewe Hill farm….
…and some rolling countryside.
I love the way the river curves along the valley floor but I am slightly less enamoured by the way that the road goes up and down as it winds along the hillside above.
I reached the top of the last little hill and stopped to note the pretty little church at Tundergarth.
I was following the hilly road to Lockerbie, home of the most unreliable station in Scotland, but I didn’t go as far as the town but turned off three miles earlier and followed the Water of Milk down this quiet back road.
I liked this back lit tree on the way.
I was getting near to the major road and rail routes between Carlisle and Glasgow by this time.
This is the railway going over the Water of Milk on a modest viaduct…
and this is my back road going under the motorway.
I followed the old main road to the south as it runs alongside the motorway and railway and saw the railway crossing another viaduct, this time over the Mein Water, which like the Water of Milk, joins the River Annan a few miles to the west.
After a run down the old road, I came to Kirkpatrick Fleming and took the the road back towards Langholm. It is a gently undulating road and I crossed the Logan Burn, the Cadgill Burn, the River Sark and the Glenzier Burn before dropping into Eskdale and following the course of the Esk for the last five miles north to Langholm
I couldn’t stop to take many more pictures on this section as I was running short of time to get home before it became too dark to cycle safely without lights, but I did have a pause with ten miles to go for a last half banana at Half Morton church. There is a Korean Pine in the churchyard there. The cones do not fall off the tree and the seeds are spread by birds or animals which feed on them. This crop had been well eaten but there were still some cones relatively untouched.
I was helped by the wind to get home and the road was much less hilly than the first half of my trip. This was reflected by the fact that the twenty miles out, over the hills and into the wind, took me 1 hour 47 minutes and the second twenty miles back only needed 1 hour 26 minutes. That’s what I call a well chosen route.
The house was empty when I got home because Mrs Tootlepedal was at the Buccleuch Centre enjoying a tip top tip toe experience at a screening of the Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet. With the accompanying chat and two long intervals, this screening took her longer to sit through than it had taken me to cycle 40 miles. We both considered that our time was well spent.
As I was splattered with grit from a passing gritting lorry as I cycled up the A7 back into Langholm, I expect that it will be a frosty morning tomorrow, so it will be touch and go whether I get another cycle ride or have to go for a walk instead.
I completely failed again and two collared doves looking down at the feeder from the electricity wires are acting as flying birds of the day today.