Two surprises

Feeling the need for a bit of sunshine, I have gone back a couple of days for my guest picture of the day to this delightful sunset over the roofs of Kentish Town, London. It was supplied by my sister Mary.

It turned out to be another grey and windy day here today but at 5°C, it was a day with the definite possibility of a bicycle ride in the real world instead of in the garage. The trouble with bicycle rides in the real world is that you actually have to go outside and pedal if you want them to happen. That requires many layers of clothing and a bit of determination when a cold north easterly wind is gusting at 20 to 25mph.

I had a number of things to detain me indoors; first the curds for the Greek style cheese needed turning to help with the draining of the whey; then there was a crossword to consider and this was one of those where they tell you the clues but don’t tell you where to put the answers so it takes some thinking about; then there were the birds.

I saw four goldfinches on the feeder early on…

…but I had to wait to see any more birds at the feeder and that might have partly been the fault of this visitor.

The light was so poor that my camera was having difficulty using its autofocus and I had it on manual when the sparrowhawk arrived. Annoyingly, I couldn’t change it in time to get the hawk in focus before it flew off.

I finally ran out of excuses and set off to do a few miles. Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that it started to rain almost as soon as I had left the house. I sometimes think that the weather gods have got one of those surveillance cameras pointed at out back door.

Still, I was well wrapped up so I pedalled on and by the time that I had done six miles, the rain had stopped and there was even a patch of blue sky overhead.

At this time of year, blue sky overhead does not mean blue sky on a cyclist’s back as the sun is still low in the sky. The newly felled wood at the Kerr looked sombre…

…and although the day had definitely brightened up a little…

…I was in no danger of getting sunburnt.

I did a three pronged attack on Cleuchfoot, the Kerr and Callister and by the time that I had battled through the wind to get back to Langholm, I had done 19 miles. With the words of my late friend Arthur Bell ringing in my ears (“It’s not worth going out for less than 20 miles, Tom,”), I pedalled through the town and out of the other side, battling on into the wind up the Ewes Valley for three miles.

At first sight, the valley looked quite benign…

…but a closer look at the head of the valley…

…made me glad that I had not chosen to go there today.

The twenty five mile trip was very satisfactory in the end, the furthest that I have cycled this year so far, and a good one to have got in as it looks as though our temperatures are going to be one degree or less all next week.

Refreshed by a bowl of soup with some bread and shop bought cheese, I settled down for some keen sofa work, first in front of “Anne with an E” on Netflix, and then in front of the England vs Scotland rugby international.

In between the two, I had another look at the birds. There were a few chaffinches about in the gloom….

…and the seed level in the feeder had gone down a bit while I had been out cycling.

Perhaps this chaffinch was responsible for that.

The dim light brought out the best in a dunnock….

…but flying birds were hard to shoot, so I got my Lumix out for a portrait…

…or two.

I often intend not to watch Scotland playing international rugby, as usually it is a vale of tears and upsets me quite unreasonably when we lose, which is frequently but I usually end up watching at least a bit of a match.

This time I managed to watch all the way through, and instead of playing well and losing, Scotland played pretty well and won. This was unsettling. Now all I have to worry about is them losing their next game ignominiously.

As soon as I have finished this post, it will be time to salt the Greek style cheese curds and leave them for a final twelve hour rest. If everything goes well, there will be a photograph.

The extremely scarce flying bird of the day is a male chaffinch alarming a female.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

44 thoughts on “Two surprises

    1. They made less mistakes than usual and England kindly didn’t capitalise on the ones that they did make. We will just have to hope that Wales are as generous next week,.

  1. I enjoyed seeing the birds, as many as did show up. The Grim Reaper of the bird world visited your feeders again, but seems to have come away empty-footed.

    The snow frosted hills from your ride are a treat as well. February seems it will be a cold month here, too.

  2. Glad to see you are watching Anne with an E. we watched it during the first Lockdown and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. How the heck do you even start doing a crossword where they don’t tell you where to put the answers? I wouldn’t have a clue even if they gave me every single one of them!

    1. The grid pattern made you look for 8 letter words that would fit their fourth letter with the second letter of a 6 letter word and so on. The hardest thing is having to do most of the clues without any crossing letters to help.

  4. Birds rarely give me a second chance at a good shot but I didn’t think the sparrow hawk was bad.
    I like the desolate looking paved road.
    I’m glad you got a ride in that wasn’t icy. You wouldn’t have been able to here, though I do see wide bike tracks in the snow.

    1. You have to have enough snow to make buying special tyres worthwhile though a friend a mine has got some use out of his studded tyres on icy roads this winter.

  5. Magnificent mileage, pictures, especially another one of your resident sparrowhawk, plus the glorious win over England. Best I have seen a Scotland team play for some time. I am already worried about the Wales visit to Scotland next week, and we still have to play Ireland today! Gulp! Dod ar Cymru!! I can write it but perhaps I should only shout it quietly as her indoors is a proud Irish girl. Cheers.

      1. Sure enough from a Welsh point of view it was a very poor performance. The team struggled against 14 men, it does not bode well for next Saturday. Cheers.

  6. Forgot to mention we are both up for the needle this week, her indoors Tuesday at 18.00, and myself 13.45 on Thursday at the same venue. Margam House Orangery 20 odd miles away. If we didn’t have a car there is no way we could get there, despite our free bus passes. Sadly planning is not that great down here. But at least we are getting the jab. Cheers.

    1. Good luck with the jabs. A lot of people from our town have had to travel 20 miles to get their jab, so we were lucky to be able just to walk down the street for ours.

    1. It was a rather abstract game. I doubt if the ref would have given that many penalties against England in the face of 70,000 baying supporters, Home advantage has been less influential in soccer games without a crowd.

  7. Good to see you out on the open road again and sharing those views over the snowy hills. The hills always seem to look larger with their covering of white. Scotland played really well and it was a good match to watch whereas I can only watch Wales play through my fingers! Think I’ll have to go for a walk next Saturday afternoon!

  8. Very brave bike ride in the conditions,good effort,and it’s one more proper ride than I’ve managed.
    Had my Oxford Az jab on Friday with no reactions so far,wether that’s good or bad I don’t know.
    Rather unexpectedly it’s come as some kind of strange relief I’ve had it,and has perked me up a bit.

  9. I feel your pain about focusing on the hawk but my what a beautiful bird. The chaffinches and the dunnock are lovely too. I think I might trade our cold sunshine for rain right now.

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