Biscuits but no cheese

Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom in South Africa. He has sent me this cheerful study of plumbago and blue sky.

We woke to find that the merest speckle of snow had settled on Langholm overnight. It might have been that sort of snow that was too thin to be picturesque but thick enough to make things slippery, but fortunately it was so thin that even with temperatures only just above freezing, it soon disappeared.

Even so I saw an early blackbird trying to sort out seed from snow under the feeder.

As I had decided that today would be a day of rest after a busy week, it didn’t bother me one way or the other because I wasn’t going anywhere in the morning. Instead, I had my hair cut by my resident barber, Mrs Tootlepedal, followed by a shower, and then an hour of taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch run by the RSPB. For those who are unfamiliar with this annual event, it involves watching birds in your garden and counting them.

We had a rather disappointing turnout, with only a couple of siskins, no wren, no greenfinches, no thrush, no collared doves and only the usual suspects, and even they were not present in large numbers.

The chaffinches tended to work on the one in, one out principle…

…though sometimes we got two together.

We had different styles of approach, rush up and stick on the brakes…

…and cruise in coolly.

Some birds just stood around when they had arrived…

…but others took the Big Garden Birdwatch seriously and really watched the garden.

When the birds had been watched and counted, I made a batch of Garibaldi biscuits. I made them slightly thinner and a little more crispy than the last batch. This turned out to be an obvious mistake because they had almost all disappeared by the time that I came to write this post. Where they can have gone to is a mystery, but it is probably not helping anyone to stay slim.

In spite of having resolved to have a complete day of rest, the weather turned out to be so nice after lunch that I couldn’t avoid going for a stroll. I didn’t go far and I didn’t go fast, so it was a pretty restful walk.

As I left, I noted a starling on the walnut tree catching a bit of the sunshine that had tempted me out.

The walk was a good decision and I started off by seeing some excellent dog lichen on a wall.

And then the scene on the Wauchope just above Pool Corner reflected the calmness of the outing very well.

I had intended to go round Gaskells Walk, but I found myself catching up another walker heading in the same direction. I didn’t want to end up overtaking him and then having to let him go past as I stopped for a photo opportunity (and possibly having to do that more than once), so I turned off up the road to the Becks and looked back down on the Auld Stane Brig rather than crossing it.

I was happy with the route that I had chosen and passed a lone tree…

…on my way up the hill.

After seeing the frozen old curling pond at Lockerbie in Elaine’s recent guest picture, I thought that I would go to see how the disused Langholm curling pond was doing. To say that it is bit overgrown is an understatement. It needed the eye of faith to see that it was ever a pond at all.

…but there were consolations.

A pile of mossy branches made a pretty picture…

…and two scarlet elf cups could hardly be missed.

There was fine fungus on nearby tree stumps…

…and an unassuming pile of logs…

…turned out to have an astonishing array of fungi on almost every one.

The views were very reasonable…

…so I was in a very cheery mood when I walked back to pick up the path over the wooden bridge crossing the Becks burn..

…that would take me back home.

From this point, I spent quite a lot of time avoiding other walkers and left my camera in my pocket.

I had taken plenty of time over my stroll but I still had time for a cup of tea and several Garibaldi biscuits before (and during) the virtual Carlisle Community Choir practice. We have been sent some new music so I had opportunities to nibble my biscuits and sip my tea while the sopranos and altos were going over their parts.

I then took my courage in both hands and installed a Virtual Private Network on my phone and both my laptops (I have a back-up laptop for that terrible moment when this one finally gives up).

Whether this proves to be a good idea, only time will tell. It has been recommended, and with criminals (and advertisers) getting ever bolder at devising methods to creep into your private spaces, I thought that I ought to give it a go.

The day ended restfully as I cooked a simple meal of scrambled eggs and baked beans for our tea and settled down to watch Countryfile on the telly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch. We counted him in and we counted him out again.

Footnote: As I walked up the hill towards the curling pond, I noticed water running under a patch of ice beside the road I thought that this was interesting enough to take a seven second video of the effect.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

39 thoughts on “Biscuits but no cheese

  1. Because I do a weekly return to the BTO, I don’t do this annual RSPB one for fear of double counting.
    What does a VPN do?
    Your 7-second video took 20 because of buffering!

      1. It just stops website owners knowing who you are in general. Using Duck Duck Go as a search engine instead of Google is a good thing too.

  2. I hope you turned off your mic before you munched cookies during rehearsal!

    A VPN sounds like a good idea but I know very little about them and look forward to hearing how it works for you.

    1. The conductor mutes us all! I think it will take a bit of time before i work out how to get the best out of the VPN. It is just annoying me at the moment.

  3. Log piles are great places to find fungi. I never pass one without having a look.
    I see water running under the ice like that quite often. It can be mesmerizing.
    The mossy branches are beautiful. That’s something you might see once in a blue moon here.

  4. I can’t help wondering if the birds knew that you were waiting to count them and remained hidden until your hour was up – rather like people avoiding the census! I enjoyed the views from your walk and the water flowing under the ice was worth the wait, thank you for that.

    1. The weren’t many more birds today so I don’t think that we can attribute ill will to them. But it was annoying to get so few all the same.

  5. My sister had similar poor results with her garden Birdwatch. My best one was when we took the kids to my parents to do the birdwatch (their garden birds were better than ours. We walked in and found they had three Jays in the garden. A few years ago a Sparrowhawk spend ten minutes watching me from a neighbour’s chimney then flew away without passing over the garden. It can be a frustrating hour!

    Water under ice was fascinating.

  6. What a beautiful shrub with flowers that is there in South Africa. Your trip looked very interesting again. I think the red fungi are very special. Great video of the streaming water under the ice.

  7. There would be a lot of work involved to get your Langholm curling pond restored! I walked past the Lockerbie pond today and was surprised to see it was still frozen, although the ice was getting thinner round the edges.. I also heard a woodpecker for the first time, much louder than I had imagined!

  8. It must be lockdown fever…I loved the video! Typical of the birds to know about the count – I had a mouse eating the nuts…couldn’t find a space to add that to the list! I love the photo of the lone tree, the road and fence – they tell a story!

  9. I’m afraid the RSPB Garden Bird Watch passed me by this year, though I have taken part for the last few years. I bet you wish you could use all the birds you and Mrs T have seen on your walks, and cycle rides. Last week we had a strange visitor in our garden, a yellow wagtail, I see them regularly by the rivers hereabouts. Enjoyed your post, keep them coming. Cheers.

  10. Forgot to mention your foray into film production, I could watch it all day, quite a hypnotic effect on myself. I remember staring at lava lamps in the same way, ooh, a very long time ago, or perhaps that was more psychedelic? Child of the swinging sixties as I was, fortunately, I definitely, missed out on the real psychedelia. Cheers.

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