Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s partner, Marianne. It shows the view from outside her place of work the other day. I might be happy about going to work early on a dark morning if I got views like this.

We had more heavy rain showers over night, but they didn’t last too long and we were not under water when we woke up. Indeed, there was a hint of occasional brightness in the sky and I was able to walk round to the shop to pay my bill in the dry, and then have coffee in the garden with Margaret and our other neighbours, Liz and Ken.

Before coffee, I had time to watch the birds for a bit. The sparrowhawk had had a fly through and the birds were wary. The odd chaffinch turned up…

…and I spotted a dunnock, scurrying about on the ground…

…and it was followed by a blackbird.

The coffee session didn’t last as long as we might have hoped, but we had time to reminisce about the days of our youth and set the present world to rights too. This was most satisfactory.

The communal outdoor coffee morning meeting, which we have enjoyed on every possible day since the lockdown began in March, has been one of the features that has helped us to get through these difficult times without going mad. We have had coffee in excessive heat, in mellow sunshine, plagued by chilly winds, under heavy clouds, sheltering from rain and blanketed against frost. We are now waiting for some snow to complete the set.

After coffee, I dug up seven leeks from the garden. Mrs Tootlepedal prepared six of them for the freezer, and I used the other one to make carrot, leek and potato soup for lunch and went back to watch the birds while it was cooking.

The day had got brighter and more birds arrived, but I had one of those days when getting a satisfactory flying bird was elusive. There were plenty of birds flying..

…but they were very keen on approaching the feeder from the back…

…instead of from the side.

And they were very quick to fly off before I could get a good shot too.

In the end, I settled for a full house of goldfinches on the feeder…

…and a solo goldfinch who posed so nicely in the sun on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree…

…that I took two pictures of it.

I think the goldfinch was as pleased about the sun as I was.

After lunch, I looked at a forecast that said it would be windy but dry for two hours and then rain, and another that said it would be windy and rain for two hours and then get dry. I decided that that was good enough for me, and as it wasn’t actually raining at the time, I went for a cycle ride.

Looking back towards Langholm after three miles, I could see why the forecasts might have been a bit uncertain…

…with both blue sky and dark clouds about.

When I got to the point of deciding about going on or running for home after a couple more miles, I could see this to my right, in the direction from which the weather was coming.

I made a quick calculation and decided that: a) the shower might miss me altogether as it looked quite compact, or b) even if it did hit me, it shouldn’t last for too long….and pedalled on round my familiar Canonbie circuit.

I stopped to take a moody picture of a tree against clouds another mile or so on…

… and the shower did hit me. Luckily supposition b) turned out to be quite correct, and the rain had passed over me after another two miles. It wasn’t even as heavy as it had looked at a distance so I got off very lightly.

I did keep an eye on the skyscapes as I pedalled along. This threatening effect was at the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass with nine miles still to go…

…but there was a better picture if I looked a little further to my left.

I passed on old friend on my way to Canonbie village…

…and took another look at the weather while I was saying hello..

The clouds stayed away from me, and although I didn’t want stop for many more pictures in case they caught up with me, a monkey puzzle tree beside the road when I had gone through the village caught my eye…

…as did another fine cloudscape at the Hollows.

It didn’t look as though I could escape another shower but when I got wet again, it was from below and not from above.

I met this…

…as I came round the corner between the traffic lights at Irvine house. Even my waterproof socks couldn’t protect my feet from a soaking and I pedalled home without stopping again.

In spite of the wet feet, I enjoyed my twenty mile ride, and attentive readers will realise that the twenty miles took me over my target of 4200 miles for the year, my best effort since 2014. As I have also done quite a bit of walking this year, I am very pleased to find that I am still in reasonable working order. Of course, there have been few other distractions this year since March.

After a shower and a cup of tea with a piece of a delicious French cake, I made thirty ginger biscuits. When I came to take a picture of the results….

…mysterious gaps had appeared in the carefully curated layout. Still, as Mrs Tootlepedal says, it is essential that the biscuits should be tested for quality as soon as possible. She says that they satisfied the quality inspector.

We are in for a spell of frosty weather from Tuesday, so I was very pleased to have found a window for a pedal today.

I couldn’t find a solo flying bird of the day today. A goldfinch among friends wears the crown.

It is the winter solstice tomorrow. Hooray.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Skyscaper

  1. After your record cycling achievement,those excellent ginger biscuits were just the icing on the cake so to speak.
    Well done sir👍

  2. Congratulations on exceeding the 4200 mile target, and making a fine batch of ginger biscuits. Mrs. T is correct, QC should always check the work. 🙂

    Your cloudscapes today were quite dramatic, and showed considerable depth in a multilevel sky.

    Morning coffee in snow will be interesting. I know someone who back in pre-Covid times had sculpted chairs and end tables from snow for limited gatherings. Granted, they did get a lot of snow to be able to do that.

    1. Cold is not a bar to enjoying life outside, it’s when it is combined with damp that it becomes unpleasant. I like the idea of snow chairs though.

  3. The cloudscapes were beautiful.
    Nice of the goldfinch to pose in the sunshine. Your photos of it are excellent.
    Congratulations on pedaling so many miles. I would think you could eat as many ginger biscuits as you pleased after burning so many calories.

    1. Sadly, it takes a lot more miles than I do to let you eat as much as you like without gaining weight. I still have to be a bit careful or I find myself carrying extra weight up the hills.

  4. Quite right to test those biscuits, or gingersnaps as we would call them here. Also, outside visits have indeed been a wonderful thing. We have some hearty friends who are willing to come for driveway visits even if there is snow in the driveway. Before the pandemic, we never would have thought of setting up chairs in our snowy driveway for an afternoon visit.

    1. I might call them ginger nuts or snaps if they were firm enough. I cooked them more slowly and for longer this time and they came out more snappy.

      I agree about the pandemic. Having coffee in the garden at 4 degrees would not have been on my list of things to do.

  5. I, too, thought the Goldfinch lovely. But I’m wondering about the “fake tree”. Those twigs certainly look real to me. Are they actually real twigs, but not part of an actual tree?

    And congratulations on 4200 miles – over 80 miles per week. I wonder if you have a log of your miles hiking or walking as well. It seems like you often get four or miles during your walks or hikes. You’re an inspiration.

    1. The twigs are indeed real but the cunning Mrs Tootlepedal had stapled them to a fence post to give the birds a staging post to the feeder.

      I haven’t recorded my walking miles, though I have thought about it.

  6. Wonderful portraits of the goldfinch and very fine cloudscapes – all that and cooking and reaching your target – most impressive.

  7. I loved the posing goldfinch and all those wonderful skyscapes. Congratulations on achieving your cycling goal, something accomplished, something done.

  8. Wonderful photos of the goldfinches- such pretty little birds especially when sitting in the sunshine.
    Love all the cloudscapes too- such a good selection of all those dramatic skies over winter landscapes. Best of all though is your cycling achievement – it really is special…all those miles and you’ve taken us all with you. Thank you…looking forward to your travels next year now! Have some more cake and biscuits to get in training!

  9. Lovely description of your coffee sessions. I pictured a time-lapse set of images in my mind: “A graphic review of Pandemic Times”.

    What great shots of your solo goldfinch. I didn’t realize how stylish they were with that red/orange face. Far nicer than our so-called goldfinches (looking more like canaries during breeding season).
    Your old friend is looking a bit dishevelled. But congratulations on meeting your target. Seems that 2020 wasn’t a total loss after all.

    1. I like the idea of a time lapse coffee series. January would be quite blank for the outdoor sessions though between the weather and the lockdown restrictions.

      1. I’m getting carried away envisioning even empty chairs for the blank months! Pity we didn’t think of it when the coffee visits first started. That could have been fun!

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