Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. It shows all the cakes that he and my sister Susan didn’t eat when they visited a garden centre cafe. They are both models of restraint.
I was woken in the middle of the night by a tremendous rattling on the windows, and thinking it was another rainstorm, went back to sleep expecting to see high water in the morning again.
In fact, the noise was made by a brief hailstorm and little rain fell overnight. As a result there had been a marked alteration in the state of the River Esk by the time we went to church at ten o’clock.
This was quite surprising but very welcome.
It was still windy and although it was dry, we were pleased to have our coats on when we walked home after the service.
I stooped to look at the first hellebore of the season…
…before going in for a coffee.
The picture is a bit of a cheat as I had to hold the head of the flower up to get the shot.
After coffee, I spent a moment looking at the birds. In a contrast to the usual state of affairs, it was hard to take picture today that didn’t have a flying bird in it.
I finally managed to get a flying bird free shot, but as you can see from the nervous look on the face of the goldfinch..
…it didn’t take long for another flier to appear.
I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that it would be a good idea to go for a walk The wind was still very brisk so we chose a spot which we thought would be sheltered and drove over the hill to the road along the Tarras Valley. There is a handy car park there beside the river…
…and the road is quiet and perfect for a walk.
We headed up the valley with the strong wind behind us. It wasn’t quite as sheltered as we had hoped.
The Tarras Water trips over many little cascades as it heads down to join the Esk and even on a chilly winter’s day, this is a delight to cascade lovers like myself.
I tore myself away from the waterside and we walked on until we came to the flatter section of the valley where Arkleton Cottage Stands beside some elegant bends in the river and road.
On the hillside beside the cottage, there are walls within walls.
As we walked along, Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out for interesting raptors and any sign of other wild life.
She didn’t see any raptors, but she did spot some interesting looking boulders. When the boulders started to move around, we could see that they were in fact some of the the wild goats which roam these hillsides.
Often they looked like indeterminate lumps among the long grass but when one lifted its head, we could see what they were. It was extremely difficult to take pictures of them because they were quite far away and the wind was so strong that it was hard to stand up straight. The Lumix did what it could.
As you can see from the goat pictures, the weather was changeable and we did have the occasional glimpse of sun but by the time that we got to the cottage, which can be approached by a ford…
..or a footbridge…
….it had started to rain, so we thought it wise to head back to the car.
We were delayed for a moment by some excellent lichen on a boulder…
…and talking to a passing cyclist with three dogs who was heading back down the road into the teeth of the very strong wind. He was very relaxed and this turned out to be because he was on a very serviceable electric mountain bike with fat tyres and low gears. This was enabling him to face the wind with equanimity.
He pedalled off into the distance and we followed after him, very much slower and battling into a fierce wind which made walking difficult. The sleety rain in our faces did not help.
All the same we were able to spot another small group of goats. I rested my camera on a roadside salt container and was just about to take a good shot when the dratted beast stuck its head down behind a tussock and started munching.
I had to make do with another cascade further down stream…
…and then we followed the river back to the car.
Although we had walked less than two miles, it had felt quite adventurous thanks to the battle against the elements and we drove home very satisfied with our little outing.
The sun came out when we got back and the birds settled down too.
Mike and Alison very kindly brought round a cot for the use of our granddaughter Eve, who is coming to visit next week (with her mother) and then we drove off to Carlisle for a choir practice.
We were somewhat nervous about what we might find from flood and storm damage on the way, but the sun came out, the road was dry, and there was no debris at all. A stranger might have found it very hard to believe that a storm had passed over us at all let alone that there were flood warnings out all over the rest of the country. Once again, we have been very lucky.
The choir practice had enjoyable moments but in one piece the tenors, who were lacking a few of their competent singers today, found themselves rather exposed by some tricky harmonies. The need for some serious home work is indicated. All the same, in our defence, I would like to say that it is very hard to come in on a G when everyone else is singing an A and there is no help from the piano accompaniment. At least, I think it is.
I had put beef stew in the slow cooker in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some vegetables to go with it when we came home. I counted seven vegetables in the meal in total so it was probably quite healthy as well as being tasty.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.