Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom in South Africa. He found a layer of mist floating above the river when he went out for his morning cycle ride.
We had a layer of frost on our lawn yet again when we woke up today, but once again it was followed by a beautiful sunny day. The constant frosts have done a lot of damage to the magnolia which was looking very promising a couple of weeks ago, and they have put paid to the drumstick primulas which looked like this at the end of March, full of promise.
I haven’t the heart to show you what they look like now. I saw a very despondent bee visiting the bent and withered flower heads this afternoon in the vain hope of finding at least a grain of pollen. It left disappointed.
I went to the corner shop and paid my bill after breakfast and then we had a warm, sunny and chatty coffee break in the garden with our neighbour Margaret. Our friend Nancy dropped in for some gardening advice on her way from her allotment, and when she had gone, our neighbour Liz joined us after her morning walk.
After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about laying the final half slab for the drive project. It shouldn’t have taken long, but it had a mind of its own when it came to lying flat. It just wouldn’t do it, and it took an age until we were satisfied enough to go in for a late lunch.
The pattern was dictated by the available slabs!
If it wasn’t for the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal wanders up and down the slabs pursing her lips and shaking her head from time to time, I would say that we had finally finished, but I fear more adjustments may be required to meet exacting standards.
While we were working, I spotted a jackdaw on a neighbouring roof…
…and a blackbird came to check on our progress.
After lunch, I had a walk round the garden. The cold mornings are keeping things back but tulips are opening by the afternoon…
…trout lilies are beginning to show flowers…
…and the weird and wonderful world of euphorbias is unfolding.
I idled about while Mrs Tootlepedal drove off in the car to collect several buckets of horse manure and some useful mulch.
When she came back, I roused myself to watch the birds for a moment before she began gardening.
It was a quiet day at the feeder and even the siskins were more interested in feeding than fighting.
I decided that it was too good a day to waste entirely, so I got my bike out and went for a rather belated ride. I was a bit tired, so I chose an easy route to start my ride and went straight down the main road south of the town. There was a light breeze against me and I looked forward to being blown home, but I made a mistake in the route choice and found myself on a gentle but long climb with the wind often across and sometimes even against me. The effort so addled my brain that although I stopped to take several pleasing compositions on my way, I didn’t notice that the camera was on the wrong settings.
A couple pictures came out almost OK in spite of the settings…
(This is our version of the Rio Grande.)
…but it wasn’t until I tried to take some close ups of the Korean Pines in Half Morton Churchyard that I noticed my mistake. Even with the right settings, the evening sunshine made capturing these extraordinary trees tricky. They were covered with male flowers…
…and there were plenty of potential cones too.
These are possibly the busiest trees that I know. I will certainly keep an eye on them over the coming months.
A little further on, a gang of lambs was keeping an eye on me.
I was so cross with my poor camera work that I stopped to take my favourite tree just to cheer myself up, even though it was in a post only a few days ago.
I really enjoyed the last few miles, down hill and with the wind now firmly behind me.
I had a final look at the birds when I got in and the evening light turned a siskin an odd colour.
Today’s header picture was taken a couple of nights ago by our trail camera. Unfortunately a tiny bit of plastic on the battery cover has snapped and we are going to have to send the camera back. I was able to have an actual phone conversation with a real person from the online retailer and she emailed me a return label without making a fuss. I was pleased and surprised about that in equal measure. Apart from the fault, we are very happy with the camera and I will get a replacement. Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased to see evidence that the hedgehog is alive and well.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.