Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who found a fine example of supportive crochet attached to a tree near his house.
It turned out that a year had passed since my last birthday so I woke up today a year older (but not much wiser).
The weather gods were in a benevolent mood and gave me a fine day to enjoy, although it was pretty chilly after breakfast so I waited for a while before getting my bicycle out to have a celebration birthday bike ride.
I did pretty well and only forgot one thing which I had to go back in for before setting out (but I can’t remember now what it was).
I took a break from my two most familiar circuits and went for a 25 mile pedal with a generally downhill start for a change. This was lucky because my legs weren’t suited to temperatures of 4°C to 5°C fairly early in the day. However, I did manage to get them going eventually, and pedalled quite happily along. I stopped to admire a very green hedge at Silverhills…
…and if you are wondering how I came across a green hedge in November, it is because it is a rhododendron hedge, not a common sight.
I liked the birch trees behind the hedge too.
It has appeared in the blog before, but the sunshine made this well painted signpost look so cheerful that I took another picture today. It is a long standing post as the Cumberland County Council was abolished in 1974.
Looking in the other direction I could see three of my favourite photographic subjects in one shot, a hedge, a tree and a windfarm.
I had come this way in the hope of seeing flocks of geese feeding but I was disappointed. I heard geese calling at one point, but there were none to be seen on the ground or in the air.
I didn’t have many hills to go up but I was happy to stop for a moment on one of them to look at two very different trees.
In the shelter of the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was able to sit for over an hour in the sunshine chatting to our neighbours Liz and Margaret over coffee while I was out cycling. There was enough coffee left for me to have a cup when I got back.
Then, after a plate of the excellent ham broth for lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal brought out a birthday cake which she had made earlier in the morning and lit a complicated arrangement of candles which if you close your eyes and squint may give you a clue to my age. I have put in two versions, plain and artistic.
The candlelight makes the cake look a bit odd but it was a delightful iced chocolate sandwich.
After lunch I had a look for interesting birds and actually saw one.
The first brambling of the winter appeared at the feeder.
It is much the same size as a chaffinch or sparrow…
…and sometimes, you need to see the white breast to make sure that it is a brambling.
Chaffinches were very active today.
This one was flying towards the feeder with great determination.
I put down mt camera and went down to an old factory unit in the town which has been temporarily converted to to a Covid safe recording studio, and there I recorded a unison rendering of White Christmas as part of the Langholm community choir’s contribution to a virtual Christmas concert. The organisation of the whole thing was very efficient, and I surprised myself by finding that my voice was in reasonable condition.
On my way home, I wandered about a bit taking photos.
I was very envious of this very smart mower which Stevie was using to trim the Old Town bowling green.
There were several people walking their dogs on the Kilngreen so riverside birds were in short supply except for a wary blackbird and some gulls which had just been fed.
The moss on the wall past the Sawmill Brig has been a bit depressed by the weather but there was some left in good condition.
I walked round the new path on the Castleholm and was quite surprised to find a slackline walker in action beside the river. He had slung his tape between two trees and was enjoying himself.
He told me that he had taken up slacklining at the beginning of the covid lockdown and found that it gave him a lot of good fun and useful exercise. He added that it kept him warm but looking at his bare feet, I found that hard to believe.
After seeing lichen on a fallen twig in our garden yesterday, by co-incidence I passed another fallen twig today with equally fine lichen on it.
I looked round the garden for anything of interest when I got back.
I had got home in time for another slice of cake and a cup of tea before my second vocal event of the day, the virtual practice of the Carlisle Community Choir. Our conductor Ellen and chairman Neil have been hard at work, and they were able to play us the edited performance of Thank You for the Music by Abba which members of the choir had recorded individually at home some weeks ago. It was most enjoyable to hear our choir singing again. You can hear us too if you wish, as it is on You Tube here.
You need good eyesight to see me in the video because Neil kindly kept my picture very small so viewers wouldn’t be alarmed by my toothless grin. There were only two tenors singing so you have to have good hearing to pick us out. Still, I am very pleased to have done it. The church choir are thinking of having a go at this sort of thing too and I hope that we can manage it.
We rounded off the day with a meal of slow cooked lamb stew, accompanied by a bottle of beer from a Glastonbury craft brewery. They were both very good. The beer was a birthday present from our son Tony.
The flying bird is not a chaffinch for once but a jackdaw gliding over the garden.