Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo’s trip to New Zealand. It shows South Taranaki Bight, a fierce place, Mary Jo says. She is back in Canada and having to spend a fortnight ‘self isolating’ on her return to the country.
We were promised a dry day and we got one so that was a bonus and then a woodpecker appeared on the plum tree after breakfast, a very rare occurrence indeed…
… so that was another bonus. It was altogether a very good start to the day.
On the down side, it was only 6°C and with a brisk wind blowing, it felt pretty chilly for mid March. I was determined to go for a cycle ride, but I wasted some time on doing the crossword and looking at goldfinches and redpolls on the feeder….
…while vainly hoping that it would get warmer.
After I had had a cup of coffee and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any warmer, I finally set off on my cycle ride.
I was hoping to go a reasonable distance and my plan, in the face of the brisk west wind, was to go as far west into the wind as my legs would stand, and then to get blown home again.
This plan took me past the Chapelcross Nuclear Power station near Annan. It is being decommissioned very slowly.
This was it in 2010….
…and this was it today.
When I got to Annan itself, I was intending to take a moody shot of the high water running under the bridge over the River Annan but I got distracted by rabbits and shot them instead.
I left Annan and followed the coast road to Powfoot where I hoped to see the sea. However, following Mary Jo’s example, the sea was self isolating. Indeed, it was so far out that it looked as though it might be quite possible to walk to America.
I looked across the Nith Estuary towards Criffel…
…noted a daisy and some salt marshes…
…ate a honey sandwich and headed for home.
Battling into the wind, which was gusting at 25mph, had kept my outward speed to a measly 11.2 mph. Floating home with the wind behind was a much more sprightly affair and I was happy to stop to record my first sighting of blackthorn blossom this year…
…and a generous clump of lesser celandine beside the road.
I was even more happy to stop to admire the church at Kirkpatrick Fleming as it is halfway up a steep hill.
I had two more convenient stops, the first with the barrier of this motorway bridge to rest my bike against…
…and the second with these steps set into the churchyard wall at Half Morton to rest my bottom on while I had my second honey sandwich.
After that, it was a case of pressing on, though I did make one last stop to record an outbreak of lambs at the Hollows. You don’t often see lambs in jackets but it has been cold and wet so perhaps it is a wise move from the farmer.
I was able to up my average speed thanks to the kindly wind and I managed 14.1 mph on the way home. This meant that I just squeezed under four hours of cycling time for my 50 miles journey by a few seconds.
It was still only 6°C when I got back. I had hoped for a little warming sunshine on my trip but it remained cold and grey and I was pleased to have been well wrapped up.
The sun did come out after I got home. Mrs Tootlepedal was out too and she had left me a note to say that she was up on the moor looking for hen harriers. She got back soon afterwards but with no sightings of harriers at all. She had done some useful gardening while I had been off cycling though.
I watched some more reliable birds.
It was a pleasant evening so after I had had a shower, I went for a little three bridges walk.
I expected blossom and there was blossom beside the river….
…and I hoped for interesting waterside birds but there were only ducks.
They are paired up at the moment and I saw a hopeful third party getting short shrift when he tried to muscle in on a spoken for lady.
As I crossed the sawmill Brig, I noticed that it hadn’t taken very long for lichen to start to colonise the new parapet stones which were installed in 2016..
I liked this moss which looked as though it was gently snoozing on a more established wall a few yards further on..
It was still cold but the evening sunshine made it feel more cheerful than it actually was.
When I got home, we had venison stew for our evening meal and we both felt that we had earned it.
Reducing our social interactions drastically has not been so bad for me because I have always got Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to. Of course it is not so satisfactory for her as she has got me to talk to. I managed to irritate her so much at one time yesterday that she looked at me witheringly and summoned up the worst insult she could think of. “You’re just like Boris Johnson!”
I was chastened.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.
For those interested, details of the ride can be found by clicking on the map below.