Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He met a rather alarming animal while on a walk through Derby.
The improvement in the weather continued and we got a day that was positively warm and pleasant, even though once again, it was a bit short in the sun department.
It was cloudy when I went out for my morning walk round the garden, and as I was taking things easily today on account of old age, I did no dead heading or weeding, just a bit of looking around.
There is more to see each day, thanks to the warmer conditions, and flowers that were coming out one at a time are mob handed now.
And ones that were a bit shy are open to the world.
Parents were taking their responsibilities seriously…
…pollinators were concentrating…
…and on the other bank of the dam behind the house, our neighbour Kenny’s plants are looking really healthy.
The main business of the morning was to have coffee and conversation with Fred, a young Social Anthropology student and creative producer, who is working with the Langholm Initiative on the community buy out.
He is going to make a film about the people involved in the buyout, the people of the town and development of the nature reserve on the moor. He was interested in talking to Mrs Tootlepedal about the historic background to the land ownership. He was so interested indeed that our conversation lasted for two hours, and it was lunchtime when he left.
I had time for another look round the garden before going in for my tomato sandwich. Mrs Tootlepedal took a geranium in last autumn to protect it from the frosts and it has done very well indoors over the winter. She has put it outside again, now that the frosts are past, to let it get used to real life again.
The young starlings in the holly tree were making very demanding noises all morning and they didn’t let up as I watched them.
A brief burst of sunshine picked out the pansies.
After lunch, I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we might cycle the mile up to Bessie Bell’s to see how the bluebells on the hill were getting on. In good years after our woodland bluebells are just past their best, we then get a show of bluebells on the open hill, proving that there was once a wood there too in times past.
This is a good year.
Although the sun disobligingly went behind the clouds as we cycled up the road, the bluebells made the trip well worthwhile.
As we looked up the hill, we could see that we had been right to come.
They are best seen from a bit up the hill, so we climbed up. Mrs Tootlepedal sat and rested peacefully among the flowers while I went further up the hill.
There were so many possible views to take, that even though I took a lot of them, there was always the feeling that I had missed the best one. I will put just a few of the many pictures that I took without further comment.
Mrs Tootlepedal also enjoyed the view back across Wauchopedale towards Castle Hill.
Among the thousands of bluebells, a few tormentils could be found. For some reason, perhaps because they are so low to the ground, the sheep don’t graze these pretty little flowers off.
We cycled home, in a very contented state of mind. It was warm enough for children to be swimming in the river at Pool Corner.
I left Mrs Tootlepedal to watch the penultimate stage of the Giro and went off to some cycling of my own.
Since it was a Saturday and there would be little if any heavy traffic on the main road, I decided to head down to my favourite bench at Newtown on the Roman Wall. It was warm enough for me to wear a single top layer and shorts, so it felt very different from the cold, well wrapped up rides of the first weeks of this month.
The twenty miles to Newtown takes the form of a shallow V, with the first ten miles to Longtown being gently downhill and the next ten miles to Newtown being gently uphill. The road also has a change of direction at Longtown and this meant that today, I went downhill to Longtown into a light wind and then uphill to Newtown helped by the light wind. Naturally this pattern was repeated on the return journey so this was as good a day for the route as it could possibly be.
I only stopped on the way out when I got to the bench at Newtown. My bike always likes to have a short rest there.
On my way back, my legs demanded one or two little extra rests so I stopped on Longtown Bridge…
…and looked down…
…and up the river Esk.
Thanks to the benign conditions, I completed the 40 mile ride at 14.5 mph, which was quite a bit more quickly than my last effort in chilly February. It is a very easy ride and there is something most enjoyable every now and again just to put your head down and pedal without having to worry about taking pictures, narrow roads, big hills, or dangerous descents.
A young starling was still waiting to fed in the holly tree when I got back, and jumped for joy when its parent appeared.
If the sun comes out tomorrow, I might pop back up the road and see what the bluebells look like in better light.
The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting the traditional welcome at the feeder.