Free at last

Today’s guest picture come from my Welsh correspondent Keiron who knows that I like a tree.

We woke to some rather disappointing rain which took its time before it passed over, but it had brightened up by the time that we had had coffee and I looked out to see if there were any birds about.

The feeder started quietly with a mixed bag of chaffinch, greenfinch and goldfinch…

…but it got a little busier…

…as time went on.

The finches made themselves scarce when a starling arrived.

I couldn’t hang around for the sun to get to the feeder. This is late in the morning at this time of the year and I wanted to get a bit of sunshine for myself.

I haven’t been out on the bicycle for nine days, so this was too good an opportunity to miss. I finally got going at about midday. It takes me a long time to get organised. I get my bike out, and then I keep on having to go back in and get all the things that I have forgotten – phone, camera, glasses, snacks, water bottle, helmet etc. It wouldn’t be so bad if I got them all in one go but I go back and get one, go out again, and only then remember the next thing. It is a kind of miracle when I actually put foot to pedal and get going.

Just before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to the amazing lichen on a twig from the plum tree.

I was pleased to see my new heron friend in position at Pool Corner as I left the town.

I had thought of going for a slightly longer ride than my default 20 miles but after sampling the joys of cycling into what the Norwegian weather forecasters call a light breeze and what I call a stiff wind, I changed my mind and settled for a pleasant and leisurely ride round the Canonbie route.

After five miles, I came to the wood where I had seen a track being made among the trees on previous rides. The track must be completed and the foresters haven’t wasted any time.

In the ‘old days’, the foresters used to fell the trees and then drag them out to be cut and stacked. Nowadays they have the machines to fell, cut and lay them in neat rows where they once stood.

One side effect of the felling is a new view of the Solwaybank windfarm.

They were a few clouds about, but the sun peeked though just as I came to this little green hill half a mile further on.

The ‘gentle breeze’ was coming at me in the form of a brisk crosswind, so I concentrated on cycling until I got down to the bottom of the bypass and turned for home. With the breeze behind me, I stopped for some pictures on the way back.

The three tree trees at Grainstonehead have lost all their leaves now…

…and looking between the bare branches, I could see the viaduct over the Liddle Water which takes the railway line across the border.

Campaigners are working hard to get rail traffic running on this line again after fifty years. I hope that they succeed.

I stopped again at the Hollows Tower….

…which has been restored and now operates as a visitor attraction, especially for members of the Armstrong clan. (They are trying to keep as open as much they can under the present circumstances and those interested in the border reivers can find information about the tower here.)

I made my last stop to record a tree that is almost entirely covered in ivy near Irvine House.

I got home very happy to have been out on my bicycle after such a long gap (and relieved that the ride had postponed the necessity of using the bike to nowhere for a bit at least). With a bit of luck, I might get out again tomorrow, though low temperatures are forecast.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy on the drive while I had been out and after I had had a bowl of her excellent ham broth for a late lunch, I came out to lend her a hand for the last stage of putting a new slab in place. I took a picture of the twelfth slab, along with the tools of her trade.

It is a major work. She has replaced twelve slabs and still needs to do one more just to have completed half the task.

In between helpful moments, I wandered round the garden searching out surviving flowers.

There are a few left in fairly poor condition.

Still, we are quite lucky to have any this late in November.

The perennial wallflower deserves a picture of its own as it seems to be perpetual as well as perennial. When a flower dies, it just sticks its neck out a bit more and grows another flower.

I went shopping, and as I have over the years had quite a few grants from the National Lottery for various projects, I think that it is only fair to buy a scratch card every now and again to put a bit back into the fund. I had won five pounds on the last card I bought so I kept £1 back and invested £4 on two fresh cards. When scratched, these revealed that I had won £12. Next time I go shopping, I will keep £2 back and re-invest £10, and if this rate of return keeps up, I have calculated that I only need to go shopping 12 more times before I become a millionaire. I will remember my friends.

Our Langholm choir is attempting a simple virtual choir number for a virtual Christmas concert and I am going to record my contribution tomorrow so I had a practice after a quick shower. It has been nine months since the choirs stopped singing and my voice has got very rusty through lack of use. I hope it stands up to the task tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some tasty mince and tatties for our tea so the day was firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I got two pictures of a rook flying home late in the afternoon and it is the flying bird of the day.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Free at last

  1. Glad to see you got in a bike ride..after a bit of a lay off, the first ride back is always enjoyable.
    I’ve got my turbo set up ready in case I chicken out of an outdoor ride with stevie wonders ‘excellent songs in the key of life to listen to,which actually has some very poniant lyrics for our present day.

  2. I wish I had that lichen in my yard. Actually I wouldn’t mind a plum tree either.
    The Hollows Tower has an interesting history and an interesting construction. I doubt anyone breached those walls, even with a cannon.
    I’ve put down many stone patios and walks so I can appreciate the hard work Mrs.T is doing. The slabs look dead level. I hope she has a good stout pair of gloves, and a strong back as well.

    1. She has both fortunately.

      To be honest, it turns out that the lichen covered twig came from the walnut tree and not the plum tree so I am sorry for misleading you.

  3. That is a fine lichen community residing on that plum twig, and a reminder to me I should go out back and see what has been growing on our hazelnuts.

    You still have a wide variety of blooms going. I appreciate seeing them in this weather. It has been in the 30s and foggy all day here.

    Mrs. T does beautiful work. Laying stone is a hard job.

  4. Mr. Grumpy looks quite smart in his close-up shot.

    Under our most recent lockdown rules we are only allowed to purchase essentials and lottery tickets are not considered essential. That particular restriction isn’t much of a hardship for me though because I don’t win so much as a sniff of a free play. I hope your wins continue to compound!

    1. That heron is not Mr Grumpy and I think it might be a daughter of his if anything though my heron identification skills are not very good.

      My scratch card record is abysmal which is what made winning twice in two days so exciting.

      1. Oops – apologies to Ms. Grumpy – clearly my own heron identification skills are lacking!

  5. Surely that is a bird in the middle of the viaduct photograph? Initially I thought it the top of a turbine. Thanks for your posts Tom they are appreciated.

  6. You walking back and forth must keep your steps up for the day. Since we now have to wear a face mask when we go shopping here, my steps for my Fitbit are well up! I have a complete memory block that prevents me remembering to put it on. So just like yourself I have to walk back to the car to put it on, and thus walking twice the distance. I have to say I am quite proud of that shot of the tree you used from your Welsh correspondent, I took it while waiting for “her indoors” in Tesco’s car park, Ystradgynlais. They have some other much larger, grander even, specimens but I thought this one had everything going for it, sat there in the sunshine, shame about the green fence though. You had a nice pedal as well, so your Fitbit totals must be well up. I have also stayed off the bike for too many days now, even though I have been off work, the weather has continued to be very wet. There was a time a few years ago, that I would be out on my Pioneer on my days off before 06.00 every morning, no matter what the weather, ( except heavy frost, snow and ice). On top of my commuting to and from work. I want to try and get back to that habit, but I seem to be too lazy, plus always something needs doing. Yesterday, I had a reminder (much needed) from the DVLA to apply for a new drivers license, before my 70th birthday in February next year. I have to admit, I didn’t know you had to. Which jolted another reminder of the fact I have to pass a medical to retain my license to signal trains, gulp! Fingers crossed, I want to keep going for another year. Cheers.

    1. I don’t have a fitbit and my new phone doesn’t have a step counter so I can easily delude myself into thinking that I have taken a lot more exercise than I really have.

      I need to get a new driving license too. I have to apply every three years now.

      I hope that your signal license goes well and congratulations for keeping working at such a ripe old age. 🙂

  7. I’m not sure but I think that somebody has to celebrate a birthday around these days. So all the best! Nice to have the opportunity for a short ride. And also nice to have a wive paving the way for you 🙂

  8. I’m going to have a list by the back door… bag, purse, car keys, shopping list…face mask!! Why do I forget to leave the mask in the car! Doh! Hope the campaigners get their wishes and the line reopens maybe they’ll get further inspiration from the work that has gone on by Mrs T and the other campaigners! Good to read that someone wins on a scratch card!

    1. The top half of the Carlisle to Edinburgh line was opened very successfully a few years ago so there is hope that the rest of the line can be restored too.

      I don’t mention the many torn up cards over the years.

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