Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He was pleased to find that recent rain had refreshed the Markeaton Brook in Derby. He tells me that although it looks very bucolic, it is actually running through the heart of the city
We had a miserably cold start to the day, with a cruel northerly wind making it feel colder than it was. It wasn’t at all warm to start with.
On a brighter note, Mrs Tootlepedal had her hair cut professionally for the first time for ages. The result was very smart.
We had coffee indoors, and although we did get out into the garden, we didn’t linger too long. I did some dead heading and compost sieving while Mrs Tootlepedal distributed some decorative bark about.
I had a look round for new flowers and found brunnera and trillium coming out, and I saw that old favourites hellebore and lamium are still doing very well too.
The rain had filled the pond and pond skaters were enjoying themselves.
It was a lot warmer being inside and looking out at the birds.
A greenfinch turned up in a sunny moment and as time went on, chaffinches tried unavailingly to get a seat at the table.
With rude siskins about, chaffinches queued up when a perch was free…
…and then became just as rude as the siskins.
Photographing pot plants indoors was warmer too.
I had got rather low by yesterday evening, after a day of being stuck indoors. During the lockdown I have become a bit addicted to my daily exercise outdoors, and miss it when I can’t get it. As a result, in spite of a showery forecast and a chilly wind, I went out for a walk in the afternoon. It certainly wasn’t an attractive day for cycling so walking was the best option.
I met my friend Gavin, who was also out for his daily walk, and we admired the green of the willows and poplars beside the church and the pink of the cherry beside the Esk.
I stopped to photograph a pair of goosanders on the Esk…
…while he walked on in the hope of finding a dipper at the Sawmill Brig. When I caught up with him, he had had to make do with an oystercatcher. At this point, he went his way and I went mine.
He went up the Lodge walks. My route was to the Hill Mill Brig and then back towards the town along the Baggra. I passed lichen, hawthorn, marsh marigolds, and moss and more lichen…
…and with a little sunshine and the wind now behind me, walking along the Baggra was a pleasure. I looked back as I got near to the end of the track.
I turned up onto Castle Hill, and after a shirt climb, I took the track round the contour of the hill. When I looked back over Langholm, I was very happy to see definite signs of trees with leaves in the foreground…
…and there were more when I looked ahead along the track.
This so cheered me up that I was almost able to ignore the light rain which had started as soon as I had got to this exposed section of my walk.
However, I was soon walking in the woods and only the odd clearing with added bluebells…
…took me out into the rain again.
I followed the forestry tracks until I got to the track above Potholm where I joined the road down to the bridge over the river. On the farm wall above the bridge I saw my first Welsh poppy of the year and from the bridge itself, I saw my second sandpiper.
As I walked along the road back towards Langholm the rain persisted for a while, but I was distracted from it by lots of lichen when I looked at the wall beside the road, and occasional lambs when I looked over the wall..
Luckily the rain didn’t persist, though it stayed rather grey and damp. As I had my walking poles with me, I ventured along the narrow and sometimes rather exposed path cut into the bank above the river down to the Duchess Bridge.
At the bottom end of the path, there was a wonderful display of wild garlic.
In spite of the rain, the path was still very dry and I got safely down to river level where I crossed the Esk twice, once by the Duchess Bridge and then back by the Jubilee Bridge. In between, I walked down the Lodge Walks (with added colour today) and then round the new path on the Castleholm.
I had a check on the Noble Firs there, and found that a lot of the male flowers had now gone and the female cones were developing nicely.
My route had been well chosen for shelter from the wind, and as the rain had not been very heavy and didn’t last too long anyway, I was able to enjoy my seven and a half miles without qualification. I felt a great deal better for the exercise.
I ate three of my ginger biscuits with my post walk cup of tea so I am not sure that it will have done much for my weight loss programme.
While I had been out, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone down to the river and acquired several willow branches. She used these to replace the buddleia branches which we had stuck into the ground around our bird feeder to offer the birds a bit of protection and a perching place while waiting.
She hopes that the willows may root. They certainly look better than dead buddleia branches.
The change didn’t put off the birds and soon after I had refilled the feeder, three greenfinches arrived…
…and goldfinches and chaffinches tried the willows as leaping off places.
As the evening went on, we got the best weather of the day and Mrs Tootlepedal cycled down to the co-op to do some shopping. It was too late for me though and I just enjoyed the sunshine vicariously without going out into it.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch full of determination this morning when the buddleia was still in position.