Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He came across the River Erewash on a recent walk. It was a peaceful scene.
I almost wrote that we had another frosty night followed by a sunny day our of sheer force of habit, but as it happened, we didn’t have a frosty night at all, but we did have another sunny day.
The morning was spent in customary fashion for these dry sunny days. I dead headed daffodils, sieved some compost, went to the shop and had coffee with Liz , Margaret and Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden. Time passed pleasantly but uneventfully.
As usual, we were surrounded by blackbirds singing loudly all morning…
…and there was quite a lot of the buzzing of the bees too. The dicentra is always a bee magnet.
Although you can see that a bee visited a trout lily in the panel above, the trout lilies have suffered badly from the frosts. They were looking very strengthy when they first put out their flowering shoots, but both leaves and flowers have got quite depressed since then.
Tulips have done a bit better.
Last year the late frost killed off all our azalea flowers, so we are keeping our fingers crossed that they get a better break this year. They are looking promising…
…and the morning frosts have been keeping the willows in a state of suspended animation, but they are showing promise too now.
There were birds about. I liked the sight of a chaffinch perched among the plum blossom…
…and a passing rook frightened the little birds away for a moment.
Mrs Tootlepedal topped up the water in the pond and this encouraged the tadpoles to swim about.
…and pond skaters skated.
After lunch, cycling was the preferred option for both Mrs Tootlepedal and me. Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz went off on an adventurous eleven mile journey including a bumpy farm road, a stiff climb, a forestry track and beautiful views.
I took a more round about route starting in the same direction but taking in the Water of Milk valley…
…the Crossdykes windfarm with turbines coloured by sunlight and shade…
…and the road to Eskdalemuir by way of Castle O’er.
This road follows the course of the White Esk, up a valley that starts narrowly…
…and gets wider as it goes along.
This used to be my favourite road but the surface has suffered badly during the winter months and it is positively dangerous for cyclists now in places.
Still, I got to Eskdalemuir unharmed and enjoyed the view of the river coming from the north…
…while I crossed the bridge…
…and headed south myself.
There are two old stone circles beside the river near Eskdalemuir, part of the Eskdale Prehisoric Trail. I had seen one from the other side of the river on my way up. You can see it in the top left corner of the panel below. It is called the Girdle Stanes. I parked my bike and crossed an alarming stile to visit the other. It is called the Louping Stanes, allegedly because young men would show their daring by leaping (or louping) between the two largest stones.
Why there are two circles so close to each other is a mystery.
Shortly after I had left the circles, I came to the Crurie Brae, a steep climb with a starting gradient of 10%. I took this at walking speed, but cycled the whole way up, and then enjoyed the reward of the long steady descent back down to the river at Enzieholm.
The road crosses the Esk there, and I stopped to take a picture of the river…
…and the bridge.
The water was so low that I had hoped to be able to walk under the bridge and take a picture from the sunny side. Alas, a cunning farmer had put a temporary fence under the bridge to stop enterprising sheep with the same idea. The best I could do was to look up when I got directly under the bridge.
From Enzieholm, it was only seven and a half miles back to Langholm and my legs were pleased about that because it had been a hilly ride.
I enjoyed a look back at the Esk as I started to climb the final hill before home….
…and I enjoyed the whizz back down the hill into the town even more!
Mrs Tootlepedal was nowhere to be seen when I got home, and it turned out that she had combined going to fetch some seed potatoes from our friends Mike and Alison with drinking a glass of their wine, a good reward for her hilly cycle ride.
As I hadn’t watched the bird feeder much during the earlier part of the day, I took a few minutes before our evening meal to have a look.
There were a number of redpoll about. The bright red chests are a sign that it s their mating season.
A chaffinch flew in out of the sun in the face of siskin rudeness.
And a siskin and a goldfinch had a small disagreement about perch priority.
We should have another unfrosty night tonight which will be welcome, and there is wild talk in weather forecasting circles of as much as half a centimetre of rain early next week. We will only believe that when we see it.
The flying bird of the day is a morning siskin.