Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He went for one of those walks which risky older people are encouraged to take in these troubled times. He tells me that in his photograph you can see Derby City at the top right, the village of Breadsall in the top middle, and his suburb, Oakwood, in the top left corner.
We had another sunny day here today, but with another chilly start to it. I went out into the garden after coffee, and although the sun was shining brightly, the thermometer was stuck at a stubbornly low 4°C and with a brisk north wind blowing, it didn’t feel like a terrifically good day to welcome the vernal equinox.
That equinox has rather crept up on us this year because it remained so grey, cool and wet for so long that the lengthening days didn’t really register. It has taken these last couple of better days to bring home that it is finally that time of year.
Still, I mustn’t sniff at a sunny day and the hellebores did look stunning
New things are appearing and along with a doronicum and a euphorbia, other mystery plants are developing.
I know what this.
I put my coat, hat and gloves on and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved away over a hot computer on buy-out business, I sieved a little compost.
My set up is basic and low tech but it does produce some good looking results.
Mrs Tootlepedal stopped work for a while and came for a garden stroll. We were pleased to see another frog had arrived in the pond.
We have seen very few frogs this year compared with previous years. Perhaps they haven’t enjoyed the weather any more than we have. We should have had a dozen or more daily by now.
I cycled round to the shop to get milk and rolls and on my way, I stopped to admire the oyster catchers by the Esk. There days, it is a little further to the shop since it moved, but the chance to see the oyster catchers makes up for it.
When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to some Rip van Winkle daffodils that have just come out. They have interesting petals but I will have to wait for a less windy day to do them justice.
After lunch, I spent a few moments looking at the birds but there were very few to be seen and this busy moment was quite untypical.
The siskins have left and there were no goldfinches either today.
In the absence of any birds to watch, I bit on the bullet, ignored the continuing low temperature and keen north wind, and went out for my third bicycle ride in three days.
I resolved to ride straight into the wind for as long as I could manage, and then swoop home, wind assisted. I set off up the Ewes valley.
The view made me forget the cold and the wind.
Although there were plenty of clouds about, they mostly passed me by, leaving me pedalling in the sun and enjoying the views to the side of the road…
…until I got to the head of the valley.
Here, I had a choice of continuing on the main road up a long, steady hill through a narrow pass down which the wind would be whistling, or I could turn right and follow a narrow road along a beautiful stream for a mile or two.
I took the easy option and crossed this bridge…
…and passed this tree…
…as I went along beside this tumbling burn…
…below this hill…
…until I got to this bridge which is at the bottom of a very steep hill…
…where I wisely turned round and headed home.
It had been a slog up the hill and into the wind and my first ten miles took me almost exactly an hour of hard work. I got my reward on the way back to Langholm and I covered the second ten miles of my journey in 34 minutes, whistling merrily as I zoomed along.
In fact, I felt so happy when I got back to Langholm that I added another six miles to my trip by going to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back. Here the opposite effect was achieved and the wind pushed me up the hill almost as fast as I managed to come back down again, pedalling like fury this time.
I adopted an emollient manner towards my legs and they responded in a friendly manner and as a result, I achieved a more respectable average for the same distance of 26 miles than I did yesterday. (The fact that I had had less climbing to do might also have had an effect.)
It has been a good week for cycling and I have done almost as many miles (102) in the last three days as I did in the whole of the month of February.
I wasted quite a lot of time in the evening trying to set up a new blog for the use of camera club members. In the good old days, starting a WordPress Blog was a piece of cake. They gave you the digital equivalent of a piece of blank paper and left you to it. Now they are trying to be so dashed helpful that it is a nightmare to get what you want if it isn’t what they think that you ought to want. I will persevere.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.