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.