Shaken (but not stirred)

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  Meeting a stranger while out on a recent walk, he engaged him in polite but socially distanced conversation but found him rather uncommunicative.

bruce's friend

I had a disturbing morning.  We had arranged a visit from our bench supplier to discuss a modification to the new bench and he arrived at nine in the morning.  This seriously upset my normal routine of letting breakfast, the newspapers and the crossword run almost seamlessly into getting dressed just before coffee time.  As a result of being dressed and shaved so promptly, I had two hours of wandering around wondering what I was supposed to do before we even got to coffee.

I did go out and look at flowers.   They were not hard to see.

six flowers

It was another decidedly chilly morning with a brisk wind so although we had our customary socially distanced street coffee morning with ginger biscuits, it didn’t last as long as usual, even in the sunshine.

Someone remarked that our tulips are nearing the end of the road, but they are not going out without a final show.

four old poppies

The droplets on the petals are not rain but more of the endless watering that we are doing every day.

New flowers are coming to replace the tulips so we won’t be wanting for colour.

iris, cornflower, geranium, polemonium

My favourite flower of the moment is the aquilegia.

aquilegia close up

There was plenty of bird action today with the feeder appealing to goldfinches and siskins…

siskins and goldfinches

…and an assortment of other birds posing round the garden.

blackbird, jackdaw, thrush and pigeon

The birds that were making the most noise were baby sparrows clamouring for attention from their parents.

sparrows feeding babies

A young blackbird was less successful.

_20S9629

After lunch, I went for a cycle ride.  This was a surprise to me, as the brisk chilly wind in the morning had been enough to make me think of having a day off.  It had warmed up under the sun though, and the wind had eased off quite a bit by the afternoon with the result that taking a spin up the main road north of the town felt like the right thing to do.

This was a good decision, with the Ewes valley looking at its best…

ewes valley view

…and Ewes Kirk, pretty as a picture when framed by green leaves.

ewes church

I was cycling into the wind so i wasn’t unhappy to pause to enjoy the view…

view from A7

…and I think that you may well agree that there might be worse roads to be cycling up.

A7 near Unthank

There was a bit more traffic than there has been lately but it was still pretty peaceful.

I cycled 15 miles north into the wind, and this brought me to the bottom of the hill that has this strange conical monument to the local poet and minister Henry Scott Riddell on it.

ridell monument

The people who spoil views with power lines have done superb work here!  And yes, that is a gull perching on the very top of the monument.

The return journey, with the wind behind, was glorious.

At one stage I was bicycling up a gentle hill though wooded country at exactly the same speed as the wind was blowing.  There was no a whisper of wind in my ears. The road surface was newly laid and silky smooth.  My bike has a superior hub gear and a belt drive so it has none of that loud clanking that goes with a chain and derailleur gear.  There was no traffic.

The upshot of these happy coincidences was that for a good few hundred yards, I was pedalling along in complete silence, in a world of my own, entirely at peace.

And then there was the rush down hill for the last ten miles of the trip, accomplished in just over half an hour.  What fun for an old man.

After a slightly unsatisfactory Zoom meeting bedevilled by technological mysteries and a very satisfying meal of scrambled eggs, baked beans and fried potatoes, the second shock to my well drilled lockdown life occurred.

The powers that be have decreed that we may now go out more than once a day for exercise, so Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the White Yett car park and walked up to the monument.

track to monument

We had coats and gloves with us but while the sun was out, it was warm enough to keep the gloves in our pockets.

Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the moorland for signs of harriers and thought that she could see a couple of them flying in the distance below us…

view of tarras from whita

…but we were totally unprepared to see a bird of prey sitting on a fence not far in front of us.

Although it sat and let us watch it for some time, it was too far away for a definite identification, but looking at the picture when we got home, we think that it was a short eared owl rather than a hen harrier.

short eared owl

When we got to the monument, the view over the town was a reward for the climb…

langholm late evening from whita

…but Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come up here to see local views.  Her ambition was to take advantage of the currently unpolluted skies to see if she could see the Isle of Man, eighty miles away.

Quite amazingly, she could.  It wasn’t the clearest sighting but with her binoculars, the island could be seen.  She gave me a go, and I could see it too.

My camera was quite a bit less sucessful!!

iom

It’s out there somewhere.

It had better luck looking at the Lake District hills which are a lot closer than the Isle of Man.

lake district

The sun had gone behind clouds by the time that we walked back down the hill and it had got quite chilly.  A sheep suggested that we shouldn’t hang about.

sheep on whita

The shades of night were falling fast as we got back to the car.

evening view from white yett

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we are in constant communication with our families so we will be quite happy to remain very vigilant and homebound for the foreseeable future whatever the government may say.  The second daily outing for exercise will be welcome though.

The flying bird of the day is a lark which we saw on our way down the hill this evening.

lark in sky

You don’t believe me?  Here it is.

lark close up

You can spot it in the middle of the big picture just below the line of blue sky if you look very, very carefully!

In the end, it was not the early rise or the second walk that was the biggest surprise of the day.  It was putting that failed picture of the view towards the Isle of Man into the photo editor and finding out what the camera had really seen.

iom contrast

Now that was a surprise.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Shaken (but not stirred)

  1. I am glad you were able to get out for more than one outing! The views there are outstanding.

    A very nice photo of that aquilegia. I am enjoying all your spring flowers and birds. The panels are a nice way to group images.

    Young birds demanding feeding are always a pleasure to watch. All puffed out they sometimes look bigger than the poor hard-working parents trying to feed them. Your solitary blackbird offspring looks a bit down in the mouth.

  2. The shot of the aquilegia is excellent and the subject is beautiful.
    I see the verge mowers have left that road alone, at least for now.
    I’m glad you’ll be able to get out more than once per day now. You have lots of good weather and great views to enjoy.

  3. Thanks Tom and Mrs tootlepedal. Lovely after tea walk. What a glorious place to be with no other bugger.

  4. I do like the surprises the camera can bring. I am envious of the feeding sparrows pics. Given that your friend Bruce clearly had no specs on I am impressed that the photo was in focus.

  5. Oh . . . and a late shot from Dropscone – ouch! That poor bedraggled blackbird looks so forlorn, and Langholm, as always, looks very snug from above.

  6. Well 007 you might not be ( or maybe you are!) but your life is certainly full of wonderful surprises! How lovely to see the owl, the Isle of Man and a lark ( hope it was singing)
    …quite a variety of very interesting subjects plus all the delightful views…”I thought Christmas only came once a year!”

  7. We intend to continue caution through the summer no matter how much things open up. I’m not as afraid of dying as I am of being sick during gardening season!

    I was so glad for you on the day when I read that you would be allowed to have two outings a day!

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