Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin. He was walking with Mike Tinker when they came across this fine example of hair ice this morning.

Gavin’s hair ice shows that it had been a sub zero morning, but it also shows that the sun was out, both conditions needed for hair ice formation. I was a bit wary of going for a walk myself because I found the roads very slippery with black ice in places when I went round to the shop for milk. However, this was just in a few places and by the time that I went up to town at midday on an errand, things were much better.

Since it was Christmas Eve, it was time to bring the Christmas tree in from the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal did a first rate job of the decoration. (My errand was to get new batteries for some of the lights.)

I had some time to check on the birds and found that there were still not many about. A few chaffinches called in…

…but I didn’t see any goldfinches and only one greenfinch.

A rook kept an eye on affairs from the top of the walnut tree.

Mrs Tootlepedal had put some cheese rind scraps out on the drive and a pair of jackdaws came to try them out. They were a bit shocked to find that it was Stilton.

One took it calmly…

…but the other gave us a very quizzical look.

We have a regular pair of dunnocks which scurry about under the feeder so quickly that it is hard to get a good picture of them. One stood still for a second today.

After lunch, I went for a walk. I set off with the intention of walking up Meikleholm Hill and then along the ridge to Timpen, but when I got to the gate on to Meikleholm Hill, I saw that there were cattle just where I wanted to walk so I changed my mind and beat a retreat. My next plan was to go round the bottom of Meiklehom Hill on the road and walk up Timpen from the side instead of along the ridge.

This went well up to a point. I walked along the road and was able to find a sheep track that led me up the lower slopes of Timpen. I needed a breather after a while so stopped for a picture…

…and then headed on up the track.

One disadvantage of my revised route was that I was in the shadow of the hill and was not enjoying the brilliant sunshine, but I soon got high enough up to see the sun shining on the valley behind me.

Looking ahead though, I could see another disadvantage and that was the steepness of the hillside I was walking along.

It was muddy and occasionally icy and I don’t like heights, so the combination of the steepness and the thought of slipping and falling overtook my enthusiasm for getting a really good view from the top of the hill, and I turned back for a second time and headed down for easier ground and gentler slopes…

…and looking up at hills instead down from them.

It would have a been an easier walk to follow that wall up to the ridge but time was passing so I went down to the road, headed back towards town and walked through this delightful wood…

…down to the river.

On my way along the road, a flash of red beyond the fence caught my eye. It was more scarlet elfcups on a moss covered fallen branch.

I was amazed to see them at all at this time of year and very surprised that they had survived the morning frost so well.

To add a bit of distance to make up for the missed height on my walk, I came home across the Duchess Bridge, along the Lodge Walks, over the Sawmill Brig and onto the Kilngreen. There I enjoyed the wavy picnic bench…

…and a fly past of gulls.

Looking behind me, I thought that it didn’t really look like a Christmas Eve scene…

…but the long shadows at half past two in the afternoon did show that we are in deep December.

Since it was a clear day. Mrs Tootlepedal and I thought that after sunset we should drive up to the top of Callister Hill to see if we could see the planets in their conjunction. Perhaps we set off a little early but we saw a wonderful sky when we got there…

…but sadly, although we could see the moon very clearly above us…

…the ever deepening sunset…

…was all we could see in front of us.

It was worth the trip to see such a night sky but we were still a bit disappointed as we drove home.

We are preparing for a very quiet day tomorrow, interrupted we hope by several family zoom/whatsapp calls, the best that we can expect as things are. My brother thinks that Zoom will be so overloaded by family calls that it will crash. We shall see.

I take this opportunity to offer all those who follow these ramblings, the best possible Christmas that circumstances allow them.

The flying bird of the day is almost inevitably a chaffinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

39 thoughts on “Cowed

  1. Great bedtime read Tom thanks for sharing another of your days with us, your readers. You, Mrs tootlepedal and all your family have a great Christmas. Best wishes from welshcyclist and her indoors, cheers.

      1. Had a really great day today, feel a bit like a child again because of the Christmas presents I was given. A Garmin Edge 130 from my son Tieloch. I have been busy all day getting it set up, charging it, pairing it with my phone. Now all I’ve got to do is attach it to my Pioneer, that will have to till tomorrow. Plus I had bicycle bottle opener.

      2. I got a statuette of a man holding a bicycle from my son Tony so I was happy. I hope that you get a good ride to test the new garmin.

      3. Just got to get the settings done, such as a 20 minute start so I match your speeds, cheers 🚴‍♂️

  2. Happy Christmas to you,Mrs T ,family and friends.
    Not forgetting of course your little and not so little feathered friends.
    Hopefully next Christmas we can all get together with our loved ones.
    Great sunset shots btw. 🚴🏻🚴🏻🚴🏻

    1. If things haven’t improved by next Christmas we will all be in a very bad way, One year of this will be more than enough. I hope that you had a good day.

  3. Wikipedia indicates the scarlet elf cup should grow here too, and the wiki page was interesting. I will keep an eye out for it.

    So the jackdaws have grow particular about the cheese rinds? I always enjoy seeing the birds and your commentary.

    It was somewhat sunny here today, but cold. Rick and I got a little work done outside today. It was 25 degrees at dawn, with a high of 37 today and a very cold fog which has finally cleared as sundown approaches.

  4. What spoiled birds: they’ll soon be clamouring for water biscuits and a tray of oysters with their stilton.

    Cold here this morning (-30C), and yet -5 predicted for tomorrow. Hard to figure what coat to leave by the door these days!

  5. Merry Christmas Mr. and Mrs. T. I hope your day tomorrow is filled with all that is good. Thank you for all the beautiful photos and witty comments that has kept us entertained and in touch with the Muckle Toon.

  6. Merry Christmas Tootlepedal wishing you and all your family a Happy and Healthy 2021. Thank you for your always fascinating insights into life in the Borders.

  7. That’s a nice shot of the moon and the monument and the sunset colors were beautiful.
    Your climate must be perfect for scarlet elf cups. You find a lot of them.
    The Christmas tree is perfect too. Have a wonderful Christmas!

      1. We have the benefit of distance and population. We need to remember not to get “too far up ourselves” (Kiwispeak) and do the little stuff right

  8. I, too, wish you a Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous new year. The same wishes for all your family and associates. I very much enjoy your blog. Thank you.

  9. Great sunset pictures, even if they weren’t what you had planned. Same goes for the walk pictures. A bit like 2020, things have been unexpected but not all of them have been bad.

    I hope Zoom worked for you and that you and the family all have great Christmas and an improved New Year.

  10. Even though I’m arriving late, as usual, I have been looking forward to seeing your Christmas tree. An extra treat was seeing your bookshelves, too, and I spy that excellent Jewel Garden book by Monty and Sarah Don.

    That was funny about the bird and the cheese.

    Since I am late wishing you a merry Christmas, I will wish you and Mrs T a happy new year early in case I am late again. I do like to read the comments here…which is certainly not true of news sites!

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