Today’s guest picture is another from sunny Derby. My brother Andrew points put that if it wasn’t for the lockdown, Bonnie Prince Charlie would normally be surrounded by gangs of people enjoying a picnic. He looks a bit lonely today.
We were promised a day of gentle wind so I had planned to get out early and put in some serious cycling miles. The still day duly came but it was accompanied by a very chilly mist which made serious miles a good deal less alluring than they had been. A goldfinch and greenfinch shared my gloomy feelings about the day.
In spite of the unspringlike weather, a collared dove was picking up nesting material…
…and two siskins looked as though they might be thinking of going on a date.
While I considered my route options, a robin considered the peanut butter jar.
I finally made up my mind to take the simple option and set off down the main road south, hoping that the mist would clear before too long.
The mist was never thick enough to make cycling on a main road dangerous but it did make an already chilly morning feel even colder, and my legs were not enthusiastic about the outing at all. It was still misty when I got to the Longtown pond…
…and it was still cold too. I had to take off my gloves and give my hands a good rub to warm them up before continuing.
By the time that I had got through Gretna and arrived at the last bridge over the Kirtle Water before it joins the Solway Firth…
…the day had begun to brighten up a bit. The improvement continued as I passed the Arts and Craft style hall in the tiny village of Rigg…
…and by the time that I got to a handy memorial bench at Brow Houses after 19 miles…
… there was even a hint of sunshine reflected on the still waters of the Solway. I sat on the bench, ate half a banana and a honey sandwich, and enjoyed the view in a subdued way.
I was soon on my way again. I turned off after Eastriggs and cycled up to join the Annan-Kirkpatrick Fleming road at the Stapleton Toll House.
Here, I turned right again and began the return journey to Langholm.
In theory, the light wind was now behind me and I should have felt that I was being helped along. In practice, my legs had got so fed up after the cold start to the ride that they never got going at all today, and the wind was not nearly strong enough to be of material help. As a result, I gave up any idea of good mileage and settled for the forty miles that would bring my total for the month to 300 miles.
The sun was out by now and I should have been really enjoying my outing, but I found it hard work for once and didn’t look about as much as I normally do.
I was happy to stop to take a picture of the lichen covered church at Kirkpatrick Fleming. It stands at the top of a steep little hill, and I was glad of the breather.
I stopped once more at the other side of the village to admire this roadside pine…
…and then put my head down and pedalled on steadily, intent on getting home before my legs gave up entirely. Perhaps it was the cold start, perhaps it was the seven mile walk yesterday, but whatever it was, I was glad to get home.
When I did get back, I was greatly cheered by the crocuses in the garden on a sunny afternoon on what is supposed by some to be the last day of winter.
I went in to have a late lunch and looked at the birds for a while. They were quite busy at times…
I went back out into the garden to see if I could spot a bee which I had heard buzzing about before lunch. Like me, it was interested in crocuses.
I saw that the tree peony buds are developing…
…and went back in to have a shower and then take part in the virtual choir practice with our Carlisle Community Choir. Our musical director Ellen is planning another virtual performance so I will have to work hard to get my voice back into condition as soon as possible.
After choir, I went down to the river to see if there were still 40 oystercatchers about. There were two today!
I liked the fact that although this one was standing in the shade, the river around it was still reflecting the clue sky above, making for an interesting composition.
The other bird was definitely a sun lover.
It was such a beautiful evening (though still very chilly), that I extended my walk into a three bridges affair, going along the Kilngreen…
…then past the pines on the Castleholm…
…and finally checking out the willow buds as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge.
We have a week of dry but chilly weather with cold nights to come according to the forecast, so spring might be put on hold for a while.
Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a tasty evening meal of ham rissoles, and that rounded off a hard working but still enjoyable day.
It has been a cold but mostly dry month and I have managed to walk 100 miles (largely in the first two weeks) and cycle 300 miles (almost all in the last two weeks), so it has been a good month for getting out, especially compared with last February when the weather was absolutely foul all month.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with its landing gear deployed.