The last post

Today’s guest picture is the final one from Venetia’s Moroccan trip.  It shows a gecko basking in the sun.


It was another grey day here but slightly warmer and not actually raining as I walked to church in the morning.  Our bus driving organist had been called to do an an extra shift owing to shortage of staff in Edinburgh but a late replacement appeared so we had accompanied hymns even if they were not the ones that we expected.

I went out into the garden when I got home to check on frogs.  Once again there were none to be seen so I had to make do with a pulmonaria and a bit of colour on a viburnum…

pulmonaria and buds

…and some lawn talk with my neighbour over the garden hedge.  Another sign of spring.

Things in the garden are developing very slowly in the continuing damp, grey and cool weather.

I went back in and watched the birds for a while.  There has been a brisk demand for seed over the past few days and I have been kept busy refilling the feeder.

A siskin watched a queue of chaffinches filing past…

siskin watchinmg chaffinches

…and although this siskin has got its head stuck into the seed, its tail and wing position show that it is fully aware of the incoming chaffinch.

chaffinch and siskin

A bird needs to be alert as there is no knowing when a passing chaffinch might decide to give you a hefty kick.

all action siskins

Quieter scenes were also available.

chaffinch on pole

In both directions.

siskin on pole

We had a second helping of tomato soup for lunch and I printed out 200 more envelopes and covering letters for Mrs Tootlepedal.  These are going to go down to Canonbie where other people will deliver them.

When I looked, I saw that the seeds had dropped below the top perch level and a helpful chaffinch had to explain to a pal that the seed was down here now.

chaffinch too high

Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come to church as she was busy again delivering brochures in the town for the proposed community buy out.  She is not alone in this work and one of the team came round to collect more envelopes.  While she and Mrs Tootlepedal mulled over the work in hand, a heavy shower of rain swept through the garden and by the time that they had finished talking, it had gone.  Good timing.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off in the car to deliver envelopes to some of the outlying houses in the area and I didn’t go with her to help as I wanted to go cycling.  There was alarming talk on the news websites of old people in the UK being made to remain in their homes for a long period in the not too distant future so I wanted to get some exercise while I still could.

I got my cycling gear on and just as I was going to go out, it started to rain. In normal circumstances, I might have got fed up and stayed a home but having told Mrs Tootlepedal that I couldn’t help her, I thought that I ought to actually go for a bike ride, so I set off.

I chose a route up the Ewes valley as this meant that I would start with the wind and rain at my back and not get discouraged too soon!

The rain persisted but never came to much so I quite enjoyed my wind assisted cycle up the hill to Mossspaul.

I wasn’t intending to stop for pictures in the rain but this unusual little waterfall in the middle of a field caught my eye.

unexpected oxbow waterfall ewes

When I looked at the scene more closely, I could see that I was watching a geography lesson in action.  All the makings of the formation of an oxbow lake were before me.

oxbow lake ewes

It is not often that you see that.

There was plenty of water running off the hillside and every little stream was busy.

stream at mosspaul

When I stopped at Mosspaul  after ten miles, I took a moment to enjoy this pine tree…

pine at Mosspaul

…before setting off back down the hill to Langholm.  I had feared that it might be an unpleasant battle with wind and rain but the rain had eased off and the wind came round a point or two and was often more across than in my face.

All in all, it was a much more enjoyable ride than I had expected when I started out, and as I managed to average just over 14 mph for an outing for the first time this year, I was a happy man when I greeted Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her post outing and was busily folding the letters which I had printed earlier.

She didn’t need any help so I went for a short  walk.  The day had dried up and there was even a hint of sunshine.

monument in late sun

Waterside birds are paired up.

three bird pairs

And other signs of spring are to be seen.

three sings f spring

The birds still look as though they are finding life…

oyster catcher in esk

…a little chilly…


…but the crocuses on the Kilngreen are certainly brightening things up.

kilngreen crocus panel

The sun didn’t come out so I didn’t dilly dally but willow and moss made me pause for a moment or two…

willow and moss

…and I went to check on the hazel catkins beside the Esk on the Castleholm.  When I last looked, there were several female flowers but very few catkins.  Today, there were a lot more catkins but I had to look very hard to find a flower and in the end, I only saw one and it was nowhere near the catkins.

The weather seems to have confused the hazels.

hazel catkin and flower

I made some corned beef hash for tea and we settled down for a quiet night in.  It had been strange to have no Carlisle Choir to go to but at least we had got the delivery work and a cycle ride done between us so we hadn’t wasted the day.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, approaching the feeder with the confidential manner of a head waiter at a posh restaurant.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  The Coronavirus news is everywhere. 

Yesterday I read a headline that said “Borders Shut” so I thought that we had been closed down without us knowing about it.  It turned out to be about the closure of international borders in Europe not the border counties of Scotland.  Phew.

Today it said “UK over 70s to be confined to home for a long period”.  That was most unwelcome.  Closer reading showed that in Scotland, us old folk will be allowed some freedom to toddle about outside if we are prepared to ca canny, which we definitely will do.  Phew again.

Don’t think that we aren’t taking this seriously, because we are. 

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

40 thoughts on “The last post

  1. I am glad that you have the feeders, flowers and views for entertainment if you do get locked in for a while. We are still waiting to see what happens here next. The panic buying is rather depressing on top of politics and other aspects of coronavirus.

  2. We are, too. Taking it seriously, I mean. But life has to have a ray of humour. Thanks from a snowy Saskatchewan (2 confirmed cases of, you know, it).

  3. I’m with your sister on this! Of course I will self-isolate at the slightest symptom, but they’ll have to drag this ‘elderly’ person, and no doubt hundreds of thousands of others, before the courts to try and force me to stay at home. On a lighter, but still very important subject, just hiw many leaflets are Mrs Tootlepedal and her team hoping to deliver?

  4. Liked your unusual waterfall shot.
    When the over 70s stay at home advice comes in I doubt that cycling would put you at any great risk and would be better for your general health than sitting at home. Imo
    You’ll rarely get within less than 20ft of anybody else on your ride if you dont stop to talk.
    I still intend to do my occasional ride,but WILL stay away from close social contact…the pub for example.
    The problem is my 7 yr old grandson lives with us so if he were to contract will be well nigh impossible for him not to pass it on to us.
    Hopefully it wouldnt make us too ill..god willing.
    It does make you wonder if divine intervention is warning mankind that even with all our amazing knowledge and technology there are things we can’t control and we aren’t as clever as we think we are.
    A salutary lesson we should maybe consider.

    1. My chief social contact is with the choirs but as they have closed, I am not in danger there. I hope that your grandson avoids the disease and passing it on. There is considerable debate about closing schools. Do you think that they should be shut?

      1. The school closure issue is a difficult one with logical arguments on both sides.
        I think keeping them open for now just about wins out,even though it’s not good for me personally.
        We live in a very small community of around 30 residents which should hopefully safeguard us a little.
        Hope everybody in your little town stays safe.

  5. We’re doing voluntary self-confinement here (with an occasional exception to restock groceries). Perhaps it’ll give me a chance to catch up on blogging since I’ve been missing in action for at least a month now.

    What lovely countryside you have for your bike excursions.

    1. I can’t complain about the views, just the incessant wind. I hope that your self confinement works and that you stay healthy. It is all a bit worrying.

  6. Sometimes your titles are scary. :-). I am glad you had an outing.

    All restaurants and bars in our state and many other US states are closed, except for take out items (which also seems a bit iffy to me re safety). I’ve read science fiction books that start like this and then go completely pear shaped. We got a big job finished and are trying to stay home for a few days and see how things turn out.

    Sent from my iPad


      1. Sounds wishy washy and ineffective, have been following it on BBc news but now that I have a little more time, I would like to also read a Scottish paper. Which one do you you recommend?

  7. I don’t see how walking or riding alone with no contact would harm anyone.
    I hope the headlines are more warning than fact. They have now closed schools here and we’re in wait and see mode.
    That is an odd thing to see in a field. I’ve never seen anything like it.
    I’ve noticed that the female hazel flowers come out before the male catkins are ready as well but it seems to work because we almost always have hazel nuts. The wind does its job.

    1. The advice now is to allow us old folks to get some healthy exercise as long as we don’t annoy anyone while we are doing it. We get the impression that they are making it up as they go a long a bit.

  8. Going for a cycle ride to cover yourself with Mrs T? Now I’ve heard it all. Keep well, both of you. My mother used to address the envelopes for a missionary charity by hand in the olden days.

    1. After stuffing several hundred envelopes, Mrs Tootlepedal is getting quite close to saying, “Stuff this for a laugh” in the immortal words of Alan Bennett’s vicar.

  9. You,very really spolit us all with an extra long tootlepedal adventure with a geography lesson as well. Ox- bow lakes, the meandering river in it’s old age, takes me back. I used love geography and geology, which reminds me of Mr Davies our welsh speaking and very strict geography master. He would come into the class and fire off questions to an individual. It was my turn one morning, he pointed at me and said, right Curtis Bach, where is Melewi? I looked at him dumbfounded, and after repeating the question several times, turned to the class to ask anyone. To a boy we all had no idea, he just got more and more cross, we all thought we were going to suffer over this. Finally, he put the map of Africa up on the board and pointed to Melewi’s position. It was of course Malawi, we had never heard his version “MELEWI” in his very severe welsh accent. Of course he could not see it was his accent that caused the confusion and we all had 100 lines, “I must pay more attention in class”. So I know where both Malawi and Melewi are. Cheers.

  10. Just posting off a Landscape Modelling book to our grandson, who is working hard developing his model railway – your photos of the Scottish landscape would be perfect for him to see and copy! Love both the portraits and the action shots of the birds- keep cycling and sharing your world – please!

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