Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. It goes to show that as well as a lot of sunshine, they have terrific fungus in East Wemyss too.
As the new year dawned, we were greeted by the moon. It had obviously had a late night out and was showing among the pink morning clouds above Holmwood.
On this occasion the only warning that the red sky in the morning had for us was , “Watch out for ice!”
It was freezing again, but it had been a little warmer overnight with the result that the snow which fell yesterday evening was busy changing into ice. Stepping out of the back door after breakfast was a risky business.
On every New Year’s Day for many years now, enthusiastic walkers and runners have taken on the challenge of the eight mile ‘whisky run’ to mark the occasion. Because of the limitations on social gatherings and the recent retirement of the event’s long time organisers, no formal arrangements had been made for this year, but I knew that some keen walkers were going to try at least the short route regardless. I had intended to go myself, but having walked part of the route yesterday and found it quite icy, I thought that it could only be worse today so I chickened out and spent an hour on the bike to nowhere staring at the garage wall instead.
When I had done that, I had a shower, a cup of coffee and a look at the birds.
I was delighted to see that a dunnock had discovered the peanut butter feeder and it spent some time pecking away, giving me plenty of opportunity to take pictures.
This is rare with dunnocks, as they normally spend their lives scurrying about secretively under hedges.
Others birds were in posing mood too. This is a rook on the very top of the walnut tree…
…and one male chaffinch sat on the plum tree…
…while another settled for Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree.
A female chaffinch kept out of the sun.
It was such a lovely day that in the end, it seemed a pity not to go for a walk. I had an early lunch and decided to stick to a road for my outing, avoiding any slippery paths and hoping that the sun would have melted enough of the ice to give me a clear route.
It wasn’t a very promising start, as our own road and the road at the top of our road were both slippery, but I walked along slowly and carefully and as soon as I got out of the town, things got a bit better. Pool Corner was looking very serene…
…and although there were many icy patches on the road, there was always a way through or past them and I got to the cemetery at the top of the hill without accidents.
I met a bold group of walkers there, including Archive treasurer Nancy, who had nearly completed a sporting six mile walk along a horseshoe ridge. Encouraged by this, I headed onwards. The state of the snow was curious. A side road was white but the hill beside it was green…
…and it was often safer to walk on the snowy part of the road that I was following than risk black ice where there was no snow.
The problems were more potential than actual though, and as long as I kept an eye on where I was going, I was safe enough. I was able to stop from time to time to take in the sights, like these hawthorns on a bank…
…and a wall packed with various lichens. I got my phone out to take these with its macro function.
I never cease to be amazed by the rich variety of lichens that can be found within a yard or two on some of our walls.
I put the phone away and got my camera out to take a couple more lichen shots and note the rather ghostly remains of last year’s rosebay willowherb.
One thing that I wouldn’t have seen if I had walked along this road on January the first last year was any turbine ahead of me. The Solwaybank windfarm was still waiting for its first turbine then.
My original plan was to walk the three and a bit miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, but the road was so clear and the sun was so inviting that I passed the schoolhouse by and went on.
I stopped to chat to the white bulls…
…and they kindly gave me their impression of the source of the UK governments recent public pronouncements.
I made no comment and walked on up the hill to that spot where I could turn round and enjoy the view back down Wauchopedale.
The traffic was so light that I was able to walk down the middle of the road to avoid any icy patches where necessary, and should I have been tempted to break into a run, I would have been able to tear down the dotted line.
The Whisky Run is about eight miles long so I thought that having failed to manage that in the morning, I might do eight miles in the afternoon instead. The four mile point coincided with a favourite tree…
…and also gave me enough time to get home before it started to freeze again if I walked briskly.
I walked briskly and only stopped for two more pictures on the way, one near the start of the return journey…
…and one just before the Auld Stane Brig near the end.
Although I was worried about icy patches, I should probably have been more worried by motorists coming towards me blinded by the low sun. Luckily, I only met four cars in the whole four mile return trip and three of them were going in my direction.
It had got pretty cool by the time that I got back to Pool Corner and the sun was only catching the tree at the very top of the bank…
…so I was happy to have my Yaktrax in my pocket so that I could put them on for the last few hundred yards. This was just as well, as the road had become very icy and the pavements in the town…
…were a skating rink where every footstep in the melting snow had formed into a block of ice.
Securely shod, I strode home ignoring the ice and managed the four miles back in exactly an hour, a very good speed for me these days, though it must be said that it was generally gently downhill.
I rang up Mike Tinker when I got in to wish him and Alison a happy new year. He had been one of the brave walkers who had ventured out in icy conditions in the morning, and he reported that it had been a testing experience to say the least, with the roads unwalkable along at times, with the only recourse being to tramp along the narrow verges. Under the circumstances, my afternoon walk seemed more enjoyable than ever, though I did regret not having kept up the tradition.
Mrs Tootlepedal kindly made me a cup of tea when I got back. She had been busy painting the front hall while I was out. The drive project is on hold at the moment as the ground is permanently frozen at the moment. As it is 27°F (-3°C) as I write this, laying the next slab may still be some way off.
The day concluded with another sibling zoom where the subject of vaccinations was much discussed. My elder sisters,, having had their first injections, look as though they will have to wait for the second dose so that Mrs Tootlepedal and I and my brother can get our first one too. We shall see how it all works out. All this would be less unsettling if the government didn’t say one thing one day, and then something completely different the next day.
Flying birds were few and far between again today until I suddenly got two and a half at the same moment.