Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She came across this Antony Gormley figure in Winchester Cathedral on her recent visit.
We woke to a beautiful sunny morning here. The price to pay for this was a temperature of 1°C when I got up. After a quick peek showed me that there was ice in the car windscreen, I was in no hurry to get out and about. I was quite happy to read the newspapers and do the crossword until Dropscone came round for coffee.
As well as some of his excellent scones, he brought news. He had had a letter telling him that his winter fuel allowance, which the government hands out to old people, had gone up £100. I had had no such letter, and he explained, rather gleefully I thought, that this was because I was two months too young to qualify for the extra payment. He then went on to point out that as I had missed my flu vaccination because I was a year too old, I had managed simultaneously to be too young and too old at the same time. How we laughed.
When he went home, I ventured out into the garden. The ice on the car windscreen had melted by this time, and when I looked around, I found that the dahlias had survived the chilly night with aplomb.
And, as you can see if you look carefully at two of the pictures in the panel below, there were even some bees about.
The nerines were totally unaffected.
I had a look at the clover in the vegetable garden.
Along with the long grass around it, it is due to head for the compost bin soon, as Mrs Tootlepedal gets ready to dig the bed over and plant potatoes in it next spring.
I passed a hosta, which I thought was ageing gracefully, on my way to the front garden.
Although it was only 6 degrees, the sunshine was enough to bring out both red admiral butterflies and various bees.
Mrs Tootlepedal was busy writing up the minutes of a Langholm Initiative meeting, so I was happy to go back indoors and do nothing much until lunchtime. At this time of year, the sun takes a long time to get round to the bird feeder in front of the house, so I couldn’t even watch the birds profitably.
The sun stayed out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, so after lunch I put on several layers of my cycle gear and went for a ride. At 7° it was still quite chilly, so I chose a route that would keep me in open sunshine for the most part.
It was not the most scenic route but it did have its moments.
And even when I stopped for a snack at junction with the motorway near Kirkpatrick Fleming, there was an interesting pattern in the gravel to keep me visually entertained.
There was just enough wind to slightly annoy me on the way out, but not to help me noticeably on the way back, so I had to concentrate on pedalling.
At this time of the year, the sun is already beginning to sit fairly low in the sky all day, and by the time that I got near Canonbie, the shadows were starting to lengthen.
After cycling along the newly surfaced and now wonderfully smooth section of the Canonbie by-pass, I stopped to take in the view . . .
. . . and then made a little diversion down to the bridge over the Esk at the Hollows . . .
I have been using tinted wrap round cycling glasses for some time now, but there is no doubt that they make winter cycling a bit gloomy, even on sunny days. It occurred to me that non-tinted glasses might make my cycling life a bit more cheerful, so I have purchased a pair with interchangeable lenses ranging from dark to light. I wore them for the first time today, and it was wonderful how much brighter both the scenery and my mood were.
The bird feeder was in sunshine when I got home . . .
. . . but a great tit perched on the shady side . . .
. . . and a small cloud came over when a coal tit perched on the sunny side . . .
. . . and on top of that, my timing was seriously off when it came to trying to capture a flying bird . . .
. . . so I gave up, and went and had a shower before our regular Zoom meeting with my siblings. My brother was in very good form, because yesterday he had been to his first live concert since the lockdowns started, and he had heard a Brahms piano trio played very well.
Because of my failure to catch a flying bird of the day when the sun was on the feeder, today’s candidate is a shadowy figure from the morning.