Today’s guest picture comes from my South Africa correspondent, Langholm exile Tom. He is tormenting me with pictures of delicious looking table grapes almost ready for picking. I love grapes.
We had another in our series of cold days here after another icy night, but by way of compensation, there was hardly a cloud in the sky all day. As we are in state of lockdown, this wasn’t quite as useful as it might have been, and I spent 50 minutes on the bike to nowhere after breakfast while waiting for our groceries to be delivered. It is very good of John from our corner shop to offer this service, but as cases in our area are going through the roof, it is a really good thing that he does.
The 5o minutes cycling takes about three hours when getting mentally ready and recovering with coffee afterwards are factored in so that filled up a morning at home pretty well.
In spite of the sunshine, the cold seemed to have discouraged the birds and a lone blue tit was the only visitor at the feeders that I saw before lunch..
As well as the groceries, my new pair of Yaktrax arrived in the post today which was a pleasant surprise. I fitted them with a pair of straps left over from old cycle pedals in an attempt to ensure that I didn’t lose another one and set out after lunch to climb a hill and see if I could find the one I lost. I felt it was pretty certain that now I had a new pair, the old one would turn up immediately, but although I tried to follow my route precisely, disappointingly there was no sign of it.
My new ones worked very well and the straps held them on safely so I enjoyed my walk anyway. I didn’t want to take the same pictures again as I have done this walk twice recently but once you get on the hill, the urge to click away is overwhelming as it is such a beautiful place to be on a sunny day.
Here are today’s efforts, some fresh, some familiar:
A tree, which like the photographer, has seen better days.
The turbines at the Craig windfarm which were standing quite motionless on a still afternoon.
This was awkward as it was cold enough for a lot of electricity to be required for heating. It is not enough for the government to encourage people to put up turbines, serious thought and investment needs to go into storage too. That requires forward planning which is in short supply politically at the moment.
However, politics was washed away from my thoughts by the views.
The town had remained snow free, but there had been more snow on nearby hills overnight…
…although the valley below was very green.
Further up the valley, I could see the corner of the racetrack at our local horse trainer’s establishment…
…which is owned by an enterprising family who are about to start construction of a large cannabis farm to grow medical cannabis. They are promising good employment possibilities for local people, so I hope it works out well.
I walked over the top of Timpen and along the ridge again in the hope of seeing my missing footwear but all I saw when I got to the far end was the ridge along which I would have to walk back again.
This was no great hardship as the ground is still frozen solid and I could walk straight over the boggy bits with a song and a smile.
I went up the little rise to the Black Knowe at the end of the ridge and admired the snow-capped hills to the north again…
…the forestry workings across the valley…
…and my favourite view of the Gates of Eden with sunshine on both sides of the gates today..
I walked a little way along the ridge to the north but stopped when further progress would have meant a considerable loss of height which would have had to have been recovered on my return.
I will try to walk right along it this summer when I have more time for a longer walk.
The walk back to Timpen was uneventful and my only stop was to admire a new gate in the fence.
If I had been lost, the snow on the gatepost would have been a good guide to north-east and south-west.
When I got to Timpen, a kenspeckle figure was leaning on the trig point. It was my friend Stan from the camera club, a great walker and photographer. He had already been on a six mile walk in the morning so it was no wonder that he was taking a breather.
It seemed too good an opportunity to miss so I took a picture of him and his faithful hound…
…and he took a better one of me.
I didn’t look quite so perky ten minutes later when I slipped while shutting the gate onto Meiklholm Hill after getting in a tangle with my walking poles and the gate. I gave myself a painful bruise on my bottom. This was all the more annoying when my Yaktrax carried me safely over all sorts of treacherous snow and ice during the rest of the walk.
I stopped for a view of the sinking sun illuminating the upper parts of the town on the lower slopes of Whita…
…and was amazed shortly afterwards to find a bright yellow buttercup in bloom on the frozen hillside.
When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal made me a sympathetic cup of tea and I looked about for some birds to photograph. There were still very few about, although a chaffinch or two did turn up at the feeder…
…and there was a collared dove on top of the walnut tree.
I saw a single familiar jackdaw beside the dam out of a back window…
…and out of a front window, I saw a few more picking up scraps which Mrs Tootlepedal had put out on the drive.
When the jackdaws went, a very brown blackbird came to see if there were any scraps left.
For some reason, I was a little tired after my morning pedal and afternoon walk so I went upstairs and had a little snooze before the regular sibling zoom meeting. We are a little depressed by the rising covid numbers all over the country and the conflicting messages about the vaccine, but we stayed as cheerful as we could.
I made bacon and eggs with sweetcorn for our evening meal and followed that with peach slices and ice cream to whihc I am currently addicted, so I was quite recovered by the evening.
Writing this post was interrupted by watching an attempted coup in Washington. My jaw dropped even though I was not entirely surprised. We await developments with unusual interest.
The non flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch at the feeder holding on tight just in case.