Blow dry

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited Coal Drops Yard beside the canal near St Pancras on one of her recent walks. It is described on Google Maps as ‘an upscale shopping centre in stylish digs’, and is normally crowded with visitors.

Although the wind is moaning and the rain is battering at our windows as I write this in the evening, we had a dry day and made the most of it.

It was cold again but that didn’t keep us out of the garden, and after breakfast, we got another slab in place in the drive project. This leaves us with two to go. The work took us conveniently up to coffee in the garden with Margaret. To reward us for our hard work, the weather gods provided some sunlight to go with the digestive biscuits, and a robin provided a musical accompaniment.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to chat, so we had a cheerful time.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal got busy with some gardening. She has set herself the task of remodelling the front beds and this has given her plenty of work to so. I washed, sieved and raked gravel on the drive to get a level surface to go with the slabs. This work took us almost up to lunchtime. I did have a moment to wander round the garden before my cheese toastie.

Daffodils caught my eye…

…and I was happy to see developments on both the silver pear and plum trees.

After lunch, we went back out into the garden to do more gardening and drive work but I stole a quick look at the birds before I went out.

Chaffinches were besieging the feeder.

When I had had enough fun washing and raking gravel, I wandered round the garden again and saw promising dog tooth violets and cowslips…

…and drumstick primulas which Mrs Tootlepedal liked a lot.

In spite of the cold and windy weather, it really did start to feel a bit springlike.

I packed away the tools, had another quick look at the birds…

…and went off for a walk. It was still too windy for an enjoyable cycle ride as I am strangely reluctant to head off into a stiff breeze (30mph gusts) in single figure temperatures (45°F).

I chose a sheltered route for my walk, and spent some time trying to get good pictures of first a pied wagtail and then a grey wagtail in the Wauchope Water. Both birds skipped from rock to rock a second before I could get my camera focussed and I took many unsuccessful shots. I have put some of them in a panel just to show that I tried.

The little Lumix has many merits, but chasing small birds about on a grey day is hard work for it (and me). Larger birds standing still are simpler.

I crossed the Sawmill, Brig and walked up the hill past the Estate offices. Peltigera lichen is abundant on the wall beside the road.

Although it goes along the side of the open hill, I walked along the Baggra. As the wind was behind me and there is a hedge and then a sheltering wall, I was quite comfortable. One benefit of the regular windy conditions is that things dry up quickly after rain, and the track was in very good condition.

I saw hill cattle on the field on one side of the track…

…and more lichen, tiny cladonia this time, in crevices in the wall on the other side of the track.

I got to the end of the track, followed the path round the field, came down to the High Mill Brig and then walked back towards Langholm along the main road. It wasn’t a day for beautiful scenery, as any hint of that morning sunshine was long gone, but there were still things to look at beside the road…

…and I walked back over the Sawmill Brig and round the Castleholm in pursuit of more.

I saw willow flowers…

…what looks like a garden escape…

…and a lone hazel flower among the catkins.

I took my walking poles with me today, and although they are a nuisance when you are trying to take pictures of wagtails, they certainly take a lot of the pressure off my knees. I got round the 3.7 miles with no complaints from my joints at all. This is good because the wind and the rain look set to continue, so bicycling will give way to walking in these conditions. I may even have to contemplate the bike to nowhere.

We change to British Summer Time tomorrow. This is the weather gods’ idea of a really good joke.

The just in time flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: For gardening reasons, we moved the bird feeder a yard or two nearer the house to day. It will be interesting to see if that means that I can get better bird pictures (when the weather improves).

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Blow dry

  1. Great shots of two of my favourites,the robin and the dunnock.
    Heartening to see buds appearing on trees and shrubs,even though a bit later than last years.
    With luck we might get a good summer to make up for it though.
    How’s the knee?

  2. Your garden escapee’s leaves look like our trout lily but they have yellow flowers.
    I saw daffodils and scilla blooming today so I think our record warmth has caught us up with you.
    That’s another great shot of the male and female hazel flowers together. A very hard one to get.

  3. I enjoyed all your spring photos, especially the lichens. The lone hazel flower and catkin was also a very nice find.

    Our weather tomorrow will be like yours was today. We had a sunny and upper 60s day which was good for gardening, and I even got a maple tree planted. A pair of killdeer are nesting in the driveway again, and they are sitting 4 eggs. Everything has been roped off.

  4. Funny, this year spring is coming slowly to you and faster—relatively speaking—to us. Those daffodils are so lovely. Looking forward to seeing your drive when you are done.

  5. I often follow Anne in writing my comment and i very often agree with her as today including the use of upper case letters. All the signs of spring were very welcome too.

  6. Where did that year go? It seems like only ‘yesterday’ you and Mrs t affirmed that the clocks going back wouldn’t change your rising habits in the mornings. I thought it was a brilliant idea, though I didn’t follow suit. We are in the middle of a wet and windy day today, but the promise is for warm weather next week? Glad to hear those walking poles save those knees of yours, I would hardly be mobile at all if it wasn’t for my NHS crutch. Very impatient to see that physiotherapist. Even in this wind and rain I’d love to be out there pedalling for an hour or so. Thanks for keeping my mind out there in the fresh air. Cheers.

    1. After getting up at the same clock time today, we are going to work back in quarter of an hour jumps to get back to getting up at the same time of day.

  7. The close-up of the round wee robin is wonderful, as is the action shot of the fbotd on final for landing. I look forward to seeing what changes you note with the feeder moved closer to the house. Better of shots of birds behaving badly and beating on one another, is my guess!

      1. I just realized I could have phrased that better! There’s nothing wrong with your current photos – perhaps I should have said you will have easier opportunities to get shots of birds behaving badly, etc.! 😦

  8. Not sure how you can improve your bird shots…they are always excellent quality now! I like the description and photo of Coal Drops Yard- hardly know what it means though! I like the panel with the wagtails and the careful landing of the chaffinch.

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