Today’s guest picture is the third and last of the inviting gates and doors that Venetia discovered when she visited that garden at Whatcombe in Somerset.
Once again we had a frosty night here (min 25.5 °F ), and once again we had a chilly morning. It was dry though, and the wind was brisk and nippy but it was far from a gale. Once again, I managed to get out on my bike before coffee time. With the temperature only just making 40°F (4.5°C) as i set off, I was well wrapped up. Unlike yesterday, there was no sun to warm me up and taking my gloves off to take pictures was not an attractive possibility so my camera stayed firmly in my pocket as I went round my familiar 20 mile trip to Canonbie and back. It wasn’t a clear day at all, so I couldn’t even see if there was still snow on the Lake District hills.
I did stop a couple of times on my way back from Canonbie when I had warmed up a little. They have finally almost finished work on the new Canonbie Waste Water Treatment site, a project that has been in development for what seems likes decades. It is a very neat construction but as you can see, they obviously feel that it has to be screened by exceedingly dense rows of new trees.
When I got to Irvine House, I was struck by the progress that the Jack by the Hedge is making. It is bidding to take over the world.
A little shower of mixed hail and sleet discouraged me from any more photographic activity, though the sun came out just as I got back in time for a quick walk round the garden before lunch.
I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had already voted in the Scottish Government election. Feeling full of energy after this good deed, she was proposing a cycle trip round the forest track at Westwater, a fifteen mile outing. I was up for it but when I cycled along to the Buccleuch Centre to place my vote in the ballot box after lunch (and a check on the birds)…
…I was nearly blown off the road by a heavy gust of wind. Cycling back home, it was obvious that the wind had got up a lot since my morning rid. As there was a possibility of rain too, we decided to postpone the cycle outing and do some gardening instead.
I used the time to get some more moss out of the front lawn with our electric powered scarifier. In spite of a bit of light rain, I got the machine to work and it did a good job…
…and helped by Mrs Tootlepedal, I cleared the moss off and then mowed the lawn to give it a finished appearance. It is only a small lawn, but we got five wheelbarrow loads of moss out of it. If there was a market for used lawn moss, I would be rich.
Moss is almost impossible to compost in a standard compost pile so Mrs Tootlepedal took a sackful and she is going to see what happens if you keep it hermetically sealed for a year.
As I mowed the lawns, the weather gods had their bit of fun by making the sun come and the wind drop. It was too late though, and we will cycle round Westwater another day.
I needed a sit down after the lawn work and I found another insect on the doronicum beside the new bench.
Insects are still scarce. Later on we saw a lone butterfly flutter across the garden, and a single bee working the dandelions in the vegetable garden.
After trying the new bench for a while, I went in and picked up my bird camera…
…and then went out to record the many blackbirds about in the garden. There was a lot of competitive singing and collecting worms and grubs to feed the young in the nest in the clematis.
Then I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window. This gave me a fresh angle on the bird feeder.
The birds were not bothered that I was sitting close to them and clicking away.
Suddenly it was time for a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.
Since the sun was still out, I decided to go for a little walk to stretch my legs and ward off some unwelcome lethargy which was creeping over me.
I started by crossing the suspension bridge.
This was more significant than you might think, as the bridge is going to be closed from next Monday for several months for some long overdue repairs. I wonder how often I will automatically walk down Caroline Street on my way to the High Street before I remember that the bridge is closed and I will have to use the Town Bridge instead.
As I walked over the bridge today, a pair of goosanders swam underneath it.
The bank on the far side of the river was rich with Lady’s Smock.
I followed the goosanders down the river and felt that spring is finally arriving…
The water in the river is still low, so after I had crossed Skippers Bridge, I scrambled down the bank to stand on the stones beside the water and look at the bridge from the upstream side for a change…
…and I took a special picture for my cello playing friend Mike who is interested in water levels..
I saw a sandpiper on the opposite back, and it would have been nice to stop there for a while to try to get a good picture of it, but black clouds were looming up. I wanted to avoid getting wet if I could, so I set off along the Murtholm track.
There were more signs of spring beside the track…
…but sadly, the sun had gone behind the clouds by the time that I got to the bluebells. They are coming along well…
…and should be at their peak next week with some more rain and some genuine warmth on the way.
The clouds had not yet produced rain so I finished my walk by going along the track from the Stubholm, past a fading blackthorn…
…and taking the Gaskells Walk path through young birches.
This got me out onto the road at the Auld Stane Brig and I walked back to the town at a good pace as spots of rain were beginning to fall.
My last shots of the day were a tiny ivy leaved toadlfax flower next to an impressively hairy Herb Robert plant on a wall near Pool Corner.
Mrs Tootlepedal had purchased an individual steak pie from the butcher for my evening meal and I felt that I had earned it.
The flying bird of the day is a siskin seen from the bench outside the kitchen window.