Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who celebrated his fiftieth birthday by taking his dogs for a swim.
After a night of rain, we woke to slightly higher temperatures here, and it stayed comfortably above freezing all day. There wasn’t a trace of snow and ice in the garden and as the hills were quite snow free too, I thought that I might get my road bike out of the garage and do some actual cycling for the first time in 2021.
This was my plan but it took many hours to bring it to fruition. I wasted time by watching birds who weren’t there. Two chaffinches with tails up and down were the best that I could do…
…as once again the light was very poor and the odd flying bird that did appear was not very clear.
I did the crossword and read the newspapers carefully, and then I read one of those magazines that have long articles with no pictures and make your head hurt. There was soup to eat for lunch too with bread and cheese.
But finally I ran out of excuses and time wasting activities and had to get on my bike and go.
After twenty five days off the bicycle, I wondered how my legs would take to it, but they seemed happy enough and I chose an easy start to the ride by cycling down the main road to Canonbie.
I checked on the river Esk as I crossed the Hollows Bridge and found that there wasn’t as much water coming down as I had expected.
I was pleased to see the Archimedes screw patiently turning, unaffected by our recent cold weather.
It was a grey day so there was not much in the way of exciting views as I went through Canonbie. I settled for some trees, which I always appreciate.
The three sisters at Grainstonehead looked quite dramatic against a sky which had a hint of sunshine in it.
And the pylons crossing the Fauldie road were even more striking.
I couldn’t tell from the sky whether I was going to get some rays or some rain but I had to keep my head down as there were some severe potholes and puddles along this stretch of road. I don’t often cycle along it these days, although Dropscone and I must have passed this tree…
…dozens of times in the days when we went for a ride round this route as many times a week after breakfast as we could fit in to our golfing schedule.
I came to the main road between Langholm and Annan and had to decide whether to go tamely back via the A7 or to take the road across the hill by the Kerr Wood and come back down the Wauchope road. My legs were in a perky mood so I chose the hilly route.
The snow may have disappeared from the fields, but there was plenty of water still about as this small inland sea near Tarcoon shows.
The ripples indicate that I was cycling with a vigorous cross wind, and this wind combined with a short but steep climb meant that I was happy to stop to take a another couple of trees…
…and check the weather. It was still looking variable as the forecasters say.
For a moment, the sun won out over the clouds…
…and stout beech hedges gave me shelter from the crosswind…
…so everything looked promising as I pedalled on towards the sunlit uplands.
Although there were still dark clouds about…
…I was happy with my route choice, but pride comes before a fall, and I was quite lucky to avoid a fall as I was caught out by a sudden change of road conditions…
…which I hadn’t expected. The combination of ice and potholes made for a couple of miles of very cautious cycling indeed, especially when I had to negotiate a car and a van coming in the opposite direction.
They have been busy felling the Kerr Wood….
…and soon it will all be gone.
Coming down the hill towards the Wauchope road, I finally got clear of the remains of the snow on the road, but my delight was tempered by the appearance of a rainbow leaning on a telegraph pole.
Where you have a rainbow, you have rain so I was in no rush to pedal quickly down the road back to Langholm in spite of having the wind behind me at last in case I caught up with the shower. I got ahead of myself though and caught the rain up before I got home. It didn’t last, and I was able to stop and take a picture of a reasonable amount of water going over the caul at Pool Corner…
…and note that there was hardly a drop of snow left on Whita.
When I got home after 21 miles, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off for a walk through the oak woods to Broomholmshiels while I was out cycling. I put the bike away and walked down to meet her. The Old Town bowling green showed that still frozen ground is going to be slow to let surface water drain away.
Mrs Tootlepedal had been a bit delayed on her walk by socially distanced conversations with other walkers but she had got round the four miles at a good speed, and was nearly home when I met her.
We both were grateful for tea and toast after our exercise.
It is not going to freeze over night so with a bit if luck, I might be able to get out for another pedal tomorrow. If I do, I shall be sticking to well used, low level roads.
It was a great pity that thanks to the virus we weren’t able to celebrate Tony’s fiftieth birthday in person, but we spoke on the phone and he told us that he had had a good day.
The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.