Home and awhey

Today’s guest picture comes from my occasional correspondent Elaine. She found the pond at the Lockerbie nature reserve well frozen the other day. As the pond was a curling rink in a previous existence, there must be ex-curlers looking at it with regret.

We had another grey and chilly day here today, but it didn’t freeze overnight, so we were ice free again.

Except for the big ice disk from the bucket, which will take some time to melt.

My plan was to go bicycling, and I had hoped to be able to get started fairly early and go a little further than my standard twenty miles.

Events conspired against me. For a start, I had to cope with a gnarly crossword which took quite a bit of time to unravel. Then, just as I got changed into my cycling clothes, it started to rain. It wasn’t particularly heavy, but when the temperature is around 2 to 3 degrees C, getting wet is not much fun on a bicycle. I drank coffee and ate ginger biscuits and toast until the rain stopped an hour later.

I also looked at the birds of course.

I was pleased to see a greenfinch, the first for quite some time…

…and at one point, we had two greenfinches, a goldfinch and a chaffinch on the feeder.

As usual these days, there were more chaffinches than anything else..

…but there were quite a few goldfinches too.

Once the rain had stopped, I still had time for a reasonable ride, but when I got going up the main road north out of town, I found that there was a brisk 15mph northerly wind in my face. It was not only brisk, it was mean and unforgiving too. By the time that I had got up to Mosspaul, ten miles up the road and more or less straight into the wind, I had had enough. The ten miles uphill and into the wind had taken me an hour, the ten miles back took me half an hour.

I stopped halfway up for a picture or two at Ewes church. The weather looked better on one side of the road…

…than it did on the other…

…but by the time that I got to the last climb to Mosspaul, it looked pretty wintery both at the bottom and the top.

…with plenty of water running down the hillsides.

I might have gritted my teeth and gone on a bit more if it hadn’t started to rain just as I got to the hotel. This was the last straw. I enjoyed the whizz back downhill to Langholm a lot.

The number of Covid cases in our area is reflected in this sign at our popular visitors’ car park on the Kilngreen…

…definitely a sign of the times.

I had a walk round the garden when I got home and was impressed by a bunch of snowdrops beside the back path. Not out yet, but a definite hint of spring there.

Lunch was leek and potato (made with whey) soup, with goat’s cheese on (made with whey) bread, and very tasty it was too.

The cheese had improved with age, even a single day making a noticeable difference.

After lunch, I had another quick look at the birds and found that the chaffinches were busy again, flying in all directions.

And a blackbird looked rather optimistic about life, I thought.

Mrs Tootlepedal was occupied so I rang up Sandy and we arranged to meet for a short walk.

I explored the wood above the Scholar’s Field while I waited for him. It is full of interesting things; trees stumps, fungi old and new, and a strange building which was probably once the ice house for the Langholm Lodge.

It turned out that I was waiting for him here, while he was waiting for me there, but we came together in the end and had an an enjoyable stroll over the Duchess Bridge, round the pheasant hatchery and back by the Jubilee Bridge.

We were doing more chatting than looking around, but Sandy spotted this slug crawling up a tree trunk..

…while I noticed a tree with colourful red bark and a mass of lichen on it…

…and the macro mode on my phone came in handy when we took a closer look at the slug and lichen (and some moss too).

We thought that is was unusual to see so many different lichens closely packed on the one tree.

A good patch of wild snowdrops near the Lodge was a cheerful sight.

We parted after our walk, looking forward to the time when we might have the freedom to travel further, try different walks and find more interesting things to talk about than lockdown restrictions.

I got home in time for tea and ginger biscuits (the last of the recent batch), and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a lively Zoom with my siblings. It was my brother’s birthday so we sung Happy Birthday to him. He took it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal has acquired another ham hock to make stock for soup and this enabled her to cook ham rissoles for our tea. They went down very well.

I have been complaining about January being a chilly month so I looked up the average temperatures for the last 40 years in Dumfries and Galloway on the Met Office website and the average maximum has been 6.8°C and the average minimum has been 1.5°C. Our local weather station has recorded that we only just got up to 6° on two days this month, we have been below freezing for at least 11 nights, and once we went down to -10°. The average temperature for the whole month, day and night, has been 1°C so it really has been chilly, and it is not just old age making me grumble.

A goldfinch is the flying bird of the day today.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Home and awhey

  1. “As the pond was a curling rink in a previous existence…”. My brain must be a very twisted one, because, before it got to your next words, it saw ex-curler cadavers under its surface… I should perhaps consult someone.

  2. Well done for getting out on the bike at all…it.will have to be at least 8 c before I even.consider it.At least the turbo trainers are getting some use..you’ve done very well to get in two outdoor rides..
    That ice store tunnel looks quite interesting,apparently a lot of thes mansions / large houses had them back in the day,along with heated greenhouses to grow exotic fruits such as pineapples,and with a large staff of gatdeners,cooks and servants.
    If ever there was a time of the haves and the have nots that was surely it
    Not a lover of slugs myself,but are necessary for the food chain.

  3. I liked the shot of the ice house. I’ve never seen one.
    I’ve never seen so many different lichens on a single tree either. I wonder if the slug was after them. They eat the algae off certain lichens, my lichenologist friend tells me.
    It was great to see the snowdrops. I see on my blog that I was taking photos of flowers in February last year so I’m full of hope.

  4. Thank you for the photograph of the ice house – a fascinating relic from the past. I am pleased you and Sandy got to walk a way together. I miss hearing of both him and Dropscone.

  5. Love the snowdrop raindrop photos and the patch of snowdrops in the woodland. The woodland with the background of the fallen autumn leaves just makes the perfect setting. Never sure if trees covered in lichen and moss are healthy or not doing so well! Maybe the curling rink could be brought back to life again if we have more of these cold winter months!

  6. Your winter grass looks nice and green, as it does in western Oregon. The views in your area are beautiful, even in mist and rain. I enjoyed the birds, especially the optimistic blackbird, and those are fine lichens and moss.

    We haven’t had a really long freeze here in my area since December 2009, when it dropped into the single digits and hovered in the low 20s for a while. Pipes broke, and those in the plumbing profession worked overtime around the area, and were paid well.

  7. The blackbird does look optimistic, and so does the water flowing down the hillside… The lichen is amazing. I’m impressed by your culinary whey experiments. Leek and potato soup sounds divine.

  8. I have to admit I feel the cold a lot more these days, but home made soup is just the antedote. I need to go on so many courses from making bread, soup, and cheese to blogging, photography, and gardening. Despite snow, sleet and some very frosty nights, I believe, it has been really mild here in the Neath valley over this past month. I hope we are on our way to spring now, I want to get back cycling every day. My ambition is to get back to cycle commuting by all the way to and from work, doubling my present round trip daily mileage from approximately twenty to forty miles. I’ve noticed that my heart rate was in the mid fifties per minute, way back three(?) years ago, when I cycled all the way. Rose into the sixties while cycling half way, and now after only one cycle in this past month is 68 beats per minute. Lethargy, eating far too much, and very little exercise has, undoubtedly, been the cause. So, I am praying for this mild winter to tail off into a nice warm spring and glorious summer, to keep me pedalling. I pre-ordered a Swytchbike today, at a hefty price, even at 50% off, for me. It is a conversion kit to turn either my Pioneer 27-speed tourer or Jamis Sputnik single speed into an e-bike, I haven’t decided which one yet. No matter what, by the summer I hope to be cycling the full distance. Wish me luck, and fair weather. Just in case I am going to get a complete waterproof onesie, which will be another major cycling commute investment. Cheers. .

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