Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan and shows her neighbourhood pig, sensibly masked up but in festive mood. The tree beside it is cheerfully blossoming.
There were moments today when a ray of hope was born. It was reasonably warm for the time of the year and there was quite an expansive spread of blue sky over the garden after breakfast for a while. Sadly, it was only flattering to deceive and as we got nearer to coffee time, it started to rain out of the blue sky, clouds came over and the sun never arrived.
Not many birds arrived either, even before the rain started, and it was rare to see more than two chaffinches at a time.
Occasionally a blue tit or a coal tit would join in.
I liked this chaffinch, which looked as though it had had already eaten plenty of seed but was still heading for more.
There weren’t even many blackbirds about and this was the only one to come in range of my camera today.
I found that there was a chilly wind but no riverside birds when I walked round to John’s shop after the rain had stopped. To make matters worse he told me that it had been a fine sunny morning when he had been in Carlisle an hour earlier, only twenty miles down the road.
Still, some soup with bread and cheese for lunch cheered me up and then I went for a walk..
The rain had stopped and to a certain extent, the skies had cleared and I had a faint hope that the sun might come out as I went along.
There had been articles in the paper and items on the radio in the morning about paths in popular walking areas being made ever wider by the influx of walkers during the recent restrictions. Walkers were accused of wearing inappropriate footwear and avoiding muddy sections thus widening the tracks to the detriment of the very beauty among which the visitors were walking. It is true to say that there has been a lot of walking round Langholm in recent months and our paths are suffering from the same effect in places and getting ever wider. I goodly put my wellies on and ploughed straight through the middle of puddles and boggy bits when I came to them today.
As I spent the majority of my walk on roads and tracks, it wasn’t too much of a hardship.
I walked through the town and up into the oak and birch woods on my way to Broomholmshiels.
The bracken round the oaks is still lending some colour to the woodlands…
…and there were some splendid birch polypores on a fallen tree…
…as well as a river of moss down a gully.
And there was always a bend in the path to add an air of uncertainty as to what might be round the corner.
You never know when you might meet a charging rhinoceros.
When I came out of the woods, I noticed that the work to remove the stones from the new road made by the pylon maintenance crew had been completed.
It looks a bit stark now but I don’t think that it will be too long before plant life will creep in again.
Looking across the valley to my right, I could see that once again the sun was shining where I wasn’t, a common theme on recent walks and rides….
…but it was dry and fairly clear when I looked behind me…
…with the occasional hint of blue through the clouds.
I took the road back down to the river, enjoying more twists and turns…
…past one of my favourite walls, home to frequent outburst of ferns in some places…
…and mini forests and meadows of moss in others…
…as well as lots of lichens.
I didn’t think the my camera had done the lichens justice so I called my new phone into action…
…and got a surprisingly good result as the light was not very good and these red fruiting bodies are so tiny that I had to look quite hard to see them with the naked eye in real life.
I got to the final bend that stops the road plunging straight into the river…
…and walked along the bank of the Esk to Skippers Bridge, and then back home by the Murtholm track. Of course far from the sun coming out, it had started to rain by this time so it needed something quite colourful or unusual to get my camera out of my pocket on an increasingly grey afternoon.
Hazel catkins provided some modest colour rather earlier than normal…
…but a horse at a gate was by far the brightest thing that I saw.
When I got to the park, it was obvious that the carved monsters were no more happy about the weather than I was.
Still, the rain had stopped and I got home more or less dry, and there was a cup of tea and some good biscuits on hand there, so the four and a half mile outing could be reckoned as a success.
The dark evening soon arrived and the rest of the day was spent quietly indoors doing puzzles, reading, watching box sets and eating the very last of the brisket for our tea. There may have been tinned peaches and ice cream to follow but I won’t mention them as I don’t want to make readers too envious.
The Norwegian forecast for Langholm offers rain all day tomorrow and Saturday. I might try a different forecast to see I can get anything better.
A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.