Today’s guest pictures come from Laura in Michigan. She tells me that these ice sculptures were carved during the recent St. Joseph Magical Ice Festival. Some stand about 8ft tall. (They also have a frozen fish tossing contest at the festival I believe.)
We were far from icy here today and the weather seems to have settled into a warmer, windier mode for the present. The warmer bit is very welcome but the wind was very brisk and rather piercing so it was still a case of wrap up warm if going out for a walk.
I did wrap up warm because I was going out for a walk with Sandy after coffee. It seems a long time since we had coffee together in one or other of our gardens let alone in our houses, but there is nothing we can do about that.
We met at his house and strolled along the track to the Becks Burn and back. One of the features of the present situation is that there is often no news to exchange when you meet a friend and that was the case today. It was lucky that a robin took it upon itself to offer us some vocal entertainment as we passed.
You can see the brisk wind ruffling its feathers.
And if the views are rather dull, as they were today in cloudy conditions, there is always plenty of fungus to look at. This set all came from the same pile of logs…
…and wherever we looked, there were more examples to be seen.
In spite of the chilly wind, there were plenty of people out walking so we took our time getting back. It was good to have a walk with Sandy and I hope that we can get out again soon.
When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on her drive project. The project has been on hold for nearly two months thanks to the frozen ground, so it was good to see her in action again. She was working on the paved and cobbled section in front of the kitchen window bench.
I had a look round the garden before lunch. There are good looking snowdrops all over the place now…
…and a little colour, some old, some new, too.
After lunch, there was even an opportunity for some weeding in the vegetable garden for Mrs Tootlepedal, while I dug out a couple of leeks for tomorrow’s soup. The strong wind and the garden activity had put off the birds and this starling, sitting above us as we worked, was the only bird that I had the opportunity to photograph in the garden all day.
The camera may have made the sky look blue but it was as grey as grey could be.
I let a little time go past in the hope that the wind might drop a little and then went out for a cycle ride. I was very well wrapped up!
The ski goggles were an excellent choice as they stopped my eyes watering and my nose running, and in addition the thick band that holds them on kept my ears warm. This was fortunate as the wind hadn’t dropped very much, if at all.
After yesterday’s trip to the Sorbie road end, I thought that I wouldn’t wait for summer but go there again. This time I would pedal up the hill, go through the Gates of Eden, down to the Burnfoot Bridge and then back to Langholm on the other side of the Esk. This is a ten mile loop.
To give an idea of the strength of the wind, I did the first four miles up the gentle but steady gradient to the Sorbie road end at well over 14mph. The next four miles into the wind, admittedly hillier but with a lot of downhill too, took me almost exactly twice as long. I was down to four miles an hour as I battled over the col at the Gates of Eden while the wind funnelled through the gap towards me. I was happy to stop to take a couple of pictures.
Looking ‘through the gate’…
…and looking back down into the Ewes valley.
Once I was over the little col, I had to pedal madly to get down the hill into the Esk valley…
…but the Bridge at Burnfoot was well sheltered so I stopped to add it to my bridge collection.
It was peaceful down beside the river….
…but I tore myself away and puffed up the hill to Craigcleuch, looking back across the valley towards the Gates of Eden that I had just cycled through.
I will do the loop again on a sunny day when the views are better.
I got back to Langholm in just under an hour, and felt that I had been on a mini adventure as I hadn’t done that route for a long time. In fact, I felt so cheerful about life that I went through the town and out again on the Wauchope road and did another loop, less testing as far as the wind and hills went, but a little longer. Garmin kindly provides me with a neat map. The many blue sections show where I was slowest and the rare red sections where I was (relatively) speedy.
The bottom loop took me over familiar roads, past my favourite tree (in black and white this time for variety)…
…past the ever diminishing Kerr Wood…
…and past my new favourite field near Auchenrivock…
…and back home again.
Once again my route planing worked out well as it brought my total mileage for the month so far up to exactly 100 miles, and my total cycling time for the month to exactly eight hours. I like a well rounded number.
I was a bit late in and just had time for a cup of tea and slice of toast before our regular Zoom with my siblings.
Thanks to the complete lack of flying bird opportunities in the garden, the flying bird of the day, spotted on my walk with Sandy, is a bird of a different sort.