Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia. She came across this delightful converted mill on one of her local walks. You can see the mill wheel if you look carefully.
We had another grey and damp day here with no sunshine and occasional rain. I got round to the shop on foot in the dry but it rained at coffee time, so we had coffee inside alone and I watched the birds from time to time.
We were visited by a small flock of greenfinches today, and the feeder got quite busy for a while. Greenfinches are specialists at looking dour….
…and if you get four greenfinches together you get four times as much dourness.
Not many of our other small birds will attempt to knock a greenfinch off a perch and even other greenfinches tend to stay at a distance and flap in the hope of blowing a competitor away.
The flock must have been on a garden tour because they didn’t stay long and gradually other birds got a look in under a disapproving eye.
Some birds arrived erratically…
…and others didn’t wait to get booted off when a greenfinch unexpectedly returned.
As usual, blackbirds appeared under the feeder from time to time.
I was pretty well resigned to spending an afternoon indoors because of the frequent rain showers but when I looked at the forecast, it suggested that if I did go out, I might not get too wet. Emboldened by this, I put on my winter coat, picked up my sticks and went off to try a new route up Warbla in a light rain.
This involved walking along the Wauchope road for a mile and then striking up the hill in the hope of meeting the usual track up to the mast at the corner where it turns towards the summit.
The open hill was steep but the going was good and I could soon look back down towards the town, happy that the rain had stopped.
It was steep enough for me to be forced to stop and admire the view and anything else that I could see from time to time.
What I didn’t expect to see as I climbed higher was this….
…but it did show that I was getting near the track that I was aiming for as the van driver had obviously being servicing some of the equipment round the mast at the top of the hill.
I looked back down the steep slope that I had climbed…
…and then a few more strides took me exactly to the corner that I was aiming for.
I didn’t follow the track to the top of the hill here but struck off across some tussocky ground to the right before turning back toward the mast.
I had already fallen over on the way up the hill, when one of my telescopic poles untelescoped without warning just as I had put some weight on it and pitched me forward as I crossed a ditch so I had got soggy knees, and now it wasn’t always easy to pick a good route amid the tussocks…
…and I plunged into a very soggy boggy bit and added soggy ankles to the soggy knees. Luckily my new waterproof socks kept my feet dry and warm and as far as navigation went, I was in no difficulty as x marked the spot that I was aiming for….
…though I used the gate and not the stile when I got there.
Scanning the view from the summit, I thought for a moment that someone had set the town on fire….
…but the smoke faded away before long.
The van was not the only traffic that I met on the track today…
…as these two intrepid riders had brought their mounts to the top of the hill too. The horses must be sure footed as it was very slippery on the track as I found out when I fell over yet again as I went through the gate. Happily I bounced well enough, and was able to walk back down the track to the town with no trouble (apart from having to be very careful not to fall over again).
I passed another horse on my way down…
…and found that the smoke that I had seen from the top of the hill had come from a chimney fire which was being attended to by a fire engine in Henry Street just round the corner from our house.
Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy working indoors and had missed all the excitement.
I had got most of my short (3.5 miles) but quite adventurous walk in without being rained on, and when I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to do a little work on the drive project. Of course, it immediately started to rain so we went in again. I photographed a colourful leaf on my way.
For some reason, I felt quite tired and went for a little nap after I had taken all my soggy clothes off and put them into the washing machine. However, a cup of tea and a slice of cake with an additional biscuit restored me to good form and we enjoyed a lively Zoom meeting with my siblings.
The forecast says that it isn’t going to rain tomorrow but we will believe that when we see it.
The flying bird of the day is a respectable chaffinch.
Footnote: The part of the hill which I walked up today is often covered with blue bells in the spring. This was how it looked in 2019….
…and it is something to look forward to again from the very darkest part of the year today.