Top down or Langholm under a cloud

Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony in East Wemyss. He found a delightful beach in nearby Kirkcaldy when out walking his dogs.

Our spell of dry weather under a ridge of high pressure is coming to an end, and it gave us a taste of things to come with ten tenths cloud from dawn to dusk….and thanks to the clouds, dawn and dusk seemed pretty close together.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been using up some spare wool by making a crochet pillow cover and this was just the day to find out if it made for comfortable snoozing on the sofa.

It passed the test with flying colours.

It may have been very cloudy, but it was also a very still day and as it wasn’t raining, I got my bike out and went for a short cycle ride. It was so gloomy that I put a flashing rear light on my bike and even then, I didn’t feel entirely secure as cars whizzed by me at great speed because the traffic was very light and there was nothing to hold them up.

I went up the main road north out of the town as it is the easiest cycling, but there was no chance of lovely views of the Ewes valley today. I could just see the church…

…but the hills on the other side of the valley were hard to make out.

I was intending to go up the hill to Mosspaul but the clouds came right down to road level at Fiddleton after eight miles, so I turned back and headed home. I found Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret having coffee in the garden, with our neighbour Liz having dropped in for a chat after her morning walk.

Our local weather station says that the temperature was 43°F (6°C) at 11 o’clock, but Mrs Tootlepedal reported that in the still conditions, it was quite pleasant to sit outside and chat. I think that I can safely say that if it hadn’t been for the lockdowns, we would never have contemplated an outside cup of coffee at this time of year.

I joined in the chat and had a couple of biscuits and then, when the coffee meeting closed, I set off again up the Wauchope road to add another four miles to my total. I like to do twenty miles at least if I can when I have gone to the trouble of getting my bike out. I haven’t quite done 300 miles this month, which is disappointing, but today’s twenty took me over 4000 miles for the year. I have done a lot more regular walking this year in an effort to use more than just cycling muscles so reaching 4000 miles on my bike is very satisfactory. It is a great deal further than I have driven this year.

I took pictures of two surviving garden flowers before I went out for my second cycling trip.

And I took some pictures of birds when I got back.

It was a quiet day at the feeder with no competition for places at the table, and occasional chaffinches were interrupted by a lone dunnock.

A couple of greenfinches dropped in later on.

The light was so poor that it wasn’t really a day for spending a lot of time watching the birds and even a chaffinch seemed to have difficulty in spotting where the perch actually was.

After a late lunch, I had a bit of time on my hands before the virtual Carlisle choir practice so I went for a short walk.

The mallards at the Kilngreen have started to pair up….

…though the sole white duck is yet to find a friend.

As you can see from today’s header picture, the gulls have taken up their posts beside the river again and they kindly put on a small flying exhibition for me as I passed.

It was not a day for views….

…so I looked at lichen on tree branches as I walked round the new path on the Castleholm. (I had to use the flash on the camera.)

The resident sheep were too busy grazing to look at anything.

I looked up though and saw my friend Mike Tinker walking towards me. He kindly changed tack and we walked together up to the Duchess Bridge, where we saw hazel catkins looking almost ready for spring…

…and then down the other side of the river, where we spotted that fungus beside the river that looked so curious when I first saw it when it was young and soaked with rain. It turns out to be quite normal when older and drier.

It was good to have some company.

The virtual choir practice was enjoyable but nothing like the real thing. I am getting impatient for the return of singing in the company of sixty or seventy other singers. I did a recording for a virtual choir performance of Silent Night yesterday for a church in Carlisle and it was a bit painful to hear just me singing instead of being part of something much bigger.

I was cheered up by a second helping of profiteroles with my cup of tea after the practice. Mrs Tootlepedal had made some creme patissiere to go with them and it went down very well.

She had also slow cooked a shin of beef with parsnips, carrots and barley and this made for a delicious evening meal, so although the singing part of the day may not have been perfect, the eating part was very good indeed.

The flying bird of the day is one of the Kilngreen gulls.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

33 thoughts on “Top down or Langholm under a cloud

  1. Your 4K miles this year is a milestone to be proud of and well done..you should make December an easy month 😊
    Your right about walking as well as cycling,I’ve probably walked nearly as far as I’ve cycled this year,meaning I haven’t done much cycling,but I have had a few health issues as an excuse.
    Mrs Ts crochet work looks fantastic.
    Like your header photo of the gulls.

      1. They have probably spent less time walking than most and hitting the ground is supposed to be good for your bones so that might be understandable if it is true.

  2. That is a beautiful pillow cover by Mrs. T. I enjoy seeing her work, too.

    Your weather looks very much like ours today. It was 34 degrees at sunrise time, with thick fog all day long. It’s a little less than an hour until sundown now and 40 degrees. The sun is now trying to burn through the fog and I see a few patches of blue.

    Those surviving flowers look lovely, and I enjoyed the photos from the day, even in mists. Lichens should be enjoying the damper weather, and that is a fine grouping of them in that panel. Our hazelnut catkins are out, too.

  3. Well, we didn’t reach the heady high of 6ºC today, but it was still very nice. As you noted it’s a sliding scale, which is good as it allows you to enjoy your coffee mornings in temperatures you’d scorn in June.

    Glad to hear you dug out your bike light today! I’ve been wearing LED snap bands on my wrists when I walk in the dark – feel a bit like a Christmas tree, but better that than flat.

    1. I need to get a new light as the fitting to fix it to the bike is broken and I had to stick it on with tape. I like the idea of a moving Christmas tree.

  4. 4000 miles would please me. I can’t even imagine it.
    Nice to see the mallards and the gulls. I like seeing them on their posts.
    The lichens are beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single one of them here. One or two look like they might be lungworts (Lobaria), which would be pretty special.

    1. Lungworts do occur in western Scotland. I will have to look more carefully.

      The 4000 miles works out at about eleven miles a day or less than an hour. Many dog walkers spend more time walking their dogs every day than that. 🙂

  5. Beautiful picture of the church. We still have our chairs set up on the patio. Unheard of in Maine when it’s nearly December. We even had a visitor today. Visiting in the time of the pandemic. Bravo for 4,000 miles. In the U.S., that would be going cross country, and then a thousand miles into the return trip.

  6. You did well with the pics in the circumstances. Your observation about making it worthwhile to get the bike out reminds me of the days when 5 miles running wasn’t enough to get changed for 🙂

  7. I guess you’re not by the radio at 9.45 every morning, unlike me, so you will not have heard the book extracts last week (BBC Radio 4). I found it so fascinating that I have bought and downloaded the book, ‘Entangled Life’ by Merlin Sheldrake. It was on fungi, and there was one section on lichen, which was repeated in part on Pick of the Week on Sunday evening.

  8. I like Mrs TP’s crochet pillows. Well done on your mileage on the bike too. I see today choirs will be allowed at Christmas here in England so I wonder if your Carlisle choir will be able to perform?

  9. Love the crochet pillows ..sad they won’t ever be needed when you two hardly ever sit down to relax! Like the atmospheric photos and the mallards…who look jolly happy finding their mates and that very determined flying gull. Best of all the header photo – always makes me smile when you capture birds on posts…I’m sure they are posing for you!

  10. I’m very impressed by your 4000 miles of bicycle riding, along with all your walks. Well done! I must admit, too, that you had me googling another word not in my vocabulary… profiteroles. They appear to be very tasty indeed and that makes for a lovely new word!!

    1. I have had plenty of time on my hands (and feet) this year so it hasn’t been hard to find time for cycling. I can recommend a profiterole if you get a chance to try one.

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