Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia. These are just a few of a large flock of white storks which she saw flying over her in Morocco.
As it was Friday, Dropscone came round for coffee but in a big turn up for the books, he brought no treacle scones with him. Plain scones were the order of the day. He claimed that problems with the Chinese supply chain had led to a lack of treacle in the town but I have my doubts about that. The plain scones were very satisfactory so I had no complaints.
When he left, I battled with a tricky crossword rather than taking some much needed cycle exercise. Then I wasted a little more time by looking round the garden. There is colour but another three inches of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge…
…explains why most of the crocuses have given up the unequal struggle and are lying flat on the ground.
I made some lentil soup for lunch (Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work of course) and watched the birds before and after eating it.
Here is a perching siskin, just for Mrs Tootlepedal.
Two greenfinches cvisited the feeder…
…and the rather battered blackbird foraged for seed below.
I did catch some feeder action.
In the end, I couldn’t waste any more time and got my cycling gear on and went out for a pedal. The wind had changed from the prevailing west winds of recent days to an easterly wind today, still chilly but not too strong.
I find it a bit hard to get motivated to cycle these days when the temperatures is in single figures and a chilly wind is blowing, so I chose a route with the wind behind me as I set out to give me early encouragement.
This proved a good idea and I enjoyed the ride a lot.
I stopped for a minute or two at every five mile mark and took a picture, ate some guava jelly and had a drink of water.
Here are the five mile pictures and some details of the ride to give you an idea of how much difference a hill or an adverse breeze makes.
5 Miles: 338ft of elevation gain but a following wind: 26 minutes.
Picture: Two buzzards flew round over my head.
10 miles: 250 feet of elevation loss with the wind still behind: 20 minutes, my fastest 5 miles of the trip.
Picture: A hint of blue sky but not enough to make a French sailor a pair of trousers.
15 miles: An elevation loss of 91 ft and with the wind still behind, 21 minutes.
Picture: The rather odd looking mismatch between the porch and church in Eaglesfield.
20 miles: A net elevation loss of 58 ft (pretty well flat) with the wind now across. 23 minutes.
Picture: An alder catkin looking good.
25 miles: Another flat section, more or less dead straight with an elevation loss of 59 ft, wind still across. 23 minutes.
Picture: An old mill and forge converted to accommodation to take advantage of the Gretna wedding trade.
30 miles: Turning for home. Wind across but more helpful than not: 171 ft of elevation gain. 28 minutes.
Picture: The international border bridge between Scotland (this side) and England (over there)
I looked over the bridge to see if Boris Johnson had managed to bring the nations of the UK closer together as is his stated wish, but the gap between the banks remained exactly the same as ever. Must try harder.
I had stuck to my plan of only taking pictures every five miles up to this point but I cracked when I saw the last tree in England just before I went back into Scotland…
…the first lambs of the year at Glenzier…
…and this charming little hill at Ryehills Farm.
I got back to business again.
35 miles: A net gain of 156 ft (some of it steep!) and a reasonably helpful wind, 28 minutes.
Picture: Curious bulls near Wauchope Schoolhouse.
40 miles: Back down the hill into the town with a couple of miles through the town and back added to round off the distance. Net height loss of 188ft, sheltered from the wind. 21 minutes
Picture: The view of the bridge over the dam and the gate to Wauchope Cottage, always a welcome sight.
I reached a heady average speed of 13.5 mph after 15 miles with the wind behind me, but the changes of direction and the hills on the way back home, took their toll and I ended with an average of 12.5 mph. Towards the end of the trip, the wind obligingly moved round a few points so it wasn’t against me as much as it might have been and this made the ride very enjoyable. I still wouldn’t mind a warm day though.
In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and among some familiar pieces, Alison and I tried out a new sonata by Daniel Purcell. It sounded promising.
After playing, the general conversation turned to the virus and its effects. A lot of things have been cancelled; Mrs Tootlepedal’s embroidery group, the camera club meeting, the Carlisle Choir and the Langholm Choir, the forthcoming performance by our local operatic society, Mrs Tootlepedal’s and my proposed trip to London to visit Evie, and train trips to Edinburgh to see Matilda.
Life will be quiet.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.