Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia. She found a bench after my own heart on a visit to a National Gardens Scheme garden at a place called Midney.
I had an unusual experience this morning as I had a cycle ride with a purpose. I was shipping a delivery of grass across the border. Before some over enthusiastic algorithm from the security services gets too excited, it was not that sort of grass.
Mrs Tootlepedal had arranged with a fellow soprano from the Carlisle Choir to send her some ornamental garden grasses, and they had arranged that their husbands, both keen cyclists, would be the method of transport.
Thus it was that I got going quite early in the morning for me, after a quick check on the bird feeder (nothing but siskins).
I had a couple of panniers holding the grasses on my bike as I made my way down to Gretna to meet Bill at the border.
I passed a goose at the Longtown pond on my way…
…and arrived for the meeting on schedule. Bill was waiting for me. I gave Bill the grasses and he kindly provided me with a cup of excellent coffee from his flask and an enormous biscuit to fuel me up for the return home.
It was far colder than it has been lately and we had had to return to our full winter cycling gear. I had had a battle against a cruel wind on the way down so I was looking forward to a wind assisted return home and chose a slightly longer route back to add a few miles before next week’s really bad weather arrives tomorrow.
After a three mile whizz down wind to Longtown with Bill, I soon found that I had chosen the rest of my route home very badly. For a lot of the time I was back battling the wind again. I was grateful for some good shelter from these hedges near Tarcoon.
I could have done with some shelter from the Kerr Wood but that has been reduced to matchsticks now. The felling has revealed a curious structure in the distance on the moor behind the felled wood. I wonder if Dr Who is involved in some way.
I had intended to do 40 miles but my poor route choice made me settle for 34 miles in the end. And even at that, I was very pleased to get home.
Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing some gardening but was making soup when I arrived. She and I walked round the garden as the soup simmered. Although it was cold, a brunnera had arrived to join the other spring flowers…
…and the light was suitable for another go at getting a better picture of the viburnum flowers.
The star of the show was the first tulip of the year, almost out and showing a lot of promise.
We went in for lunch and after enjoying a bowl of first rate vegetable soup, I had a chance to look at the birds.
The siskins had been replaced by goldfinches on the feeder…
…but there were other birds about and the ringed redpoll from yesterday was back again
When the goldfinches left a space, it was soon filled up…
…and I watched a blue tit have an unfortunate experience as it dropped the seed that it was trying to trap beneath its feet.
I liked the way it looked round for somebody else to blame.
We went back out into the garden and I did a little work on the gravel on the drive project and shifted the last of the compost from Bin B into Bin C, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some therapeutic garden tidying.
After that we needed a quiet sit down on our new bench in some welcome sunshine.
I had my camera in my pocket and looked about for things to point it at from time to time.
I saw euphorbia…
…and the first fully out dicentra…
…and a selection of other flowers including a bee on a scilla.
The magnolia is not as well wrapped up as Mrs Tootlepedal would like as she ran out of fleece, but it has survived a couple of frosty nights fairly well.
When we got back in, I saw a jackdaw tip toeing across the lawn…
…and some rude behaviour from a goldfinch.
After a cup of tea and a slice of toast and strawberry jam, I went for a short walk. Having had to cut my morning cycle ride short, I didn’t want my legs to think that they could boss me about.
I walked down to the Kirk Brig and enjoyed the daffodils on one side but was more pleased to find a pair of goosanders on the banks of the Esk on the other side of the bridge.
It was overcast and a bit chilly by this time, but the walk round Easton’s and Gaskell’s walks was enjoyable…
…and it has been very dry lately so the paths and tracks were a pleasure to walk along.
I saw woodrush and wood anemones in the woods, and lichen underpants…
…and a sycamore bud beside track and road.
I always like to see a proverb or saying in action.
I took my final bird picture of the day when I got back…
…and then settled down to enjoy an excellent meal of roast chicken and roast potatoes cooked to perfection by Mrs Tootlepedal.
According to the forecasters, we are going to have a windchill factor of zero degrees all next week (except Thursday when it is going to rain instead). It is not entirely clear what is going to happen but while others get snow, we may get very windy but cold and sunny days. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I couldn’t decide between two candidates for flying bird of the day so I have put them both in.