I needed something cheery for my guest picture on a very gloomy day, so I looked back for this picture from my Lancashire correspondent Paul, who was in the Lake District earlier in the year.
When I got up, it looked as though we might have a cheerful day here after a -5°C night . . .
. . . but it proved to be a false dawn. By the time that we had finished breakfast, the clouds had come in and the rest of the day got progressively gloomier and gloomier.
It wasn’t a day for going out, so I stayed in and tried out a new recipe for parkin. This is a kind of tough gingerbread made with oatmeal and wholemeal flour with butter, treacle, syrup and dark brown sugar. While it was in the oven, Sandy metaphorically brightened up the day by coming down for coffee, but even he couldn’t shift the clouds.
I had misread the recipe for the parkin and had set the oven a bit too hot, so it came out overcooked on the outside. Inside though, it was delicious, and I will certainly make it again.
Once the parkin was out of the oven, I watched the birds for a bit.
The feeder was fairly busy at times, and there were several blackbirds and doves about, as well as an anonymous bird trying the peanut butter feeder.
The star of the show was a robin, posing on a willow twig.
I got itchy feet after lunch. Although it was calm enough for a bike ride, the temperature had hardly crept over zero degrees, so I settled for a short walk to check on the storm damage. It had been raining in the town but I couldn’t tell whether it had fallen as snow over the hills. This was because I couldn’t see a hill at all.
I started by going up the Eskdalemuir road. I didn’t get very far before I came to a stop. A pole had snapped and wires were threaded through a fallen tree.
There was devastation on all sides, and when I had crept through the first tree, avoiding the wires, I soon came upon another obstacle which was totally impassible.
I took the hint and turned back for the town.
Walking along Eskdaill Street, I could see some of the spruces which we had cut on the moor waiting to be transformed into Christmas trees.
I went into the park and up the steps to the Stubholm where I saw that the large oak tree which Mrs Tootlepedal and I had seen on Saturday morning was still lying across the track . .
. . . so I headed the other way to see what the track to Gaskell’s walk was like. It had not escaped the carnage but I could sneak under a couple of fallen trees until I got to another kind of obstruction, the notice about the dangerous bridge.
I didn’t sit on the bench to admire the view for obvious reasons.
I thought that I might as well round up my review of local paths, so I went back down to the park and tried Easton’s Walk, the path along the river bank.
The story was much the same., although I could get along fairly safely for a bit . . .
. . . until I came to this . . .
. . . where I thought it prudent to stop. To tell the truth, I had to stop, prudent or not, as there was no possible way through.
It looks as though our local walking opportunities are going to be severely curtailed for some time. After the initial excitement of seeing the havoc wreaked by the winds, it has got rather depressing as the extent of the damage has become clear. The scale of the mammoth task of clearing things up is daunting. The very gloomy weather didn’t help at all, so it was lucky that there was some tasty parkin to have with a cup of tea when I got home.
Mrs Tootlepedal had given up on the day quite early in the proceedings, and we settled for closing the curtains as soon as possible, and ignoring the outside world.
The flying bird of the day is a beleaguered chaffinch.