The open road

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba where cold is really cold. She was intrigued by this strange crack in the ice on the Assiniboine River.

It was quite cold by our standards here this morning, but above freezing. On the other hand it was raining heavily so it didn’t score many marks on the ‘nice day’ scale. Things improved though, as Sandy came down for coffee and the rain stopped at the same time. We were joined by our neighbour Margaret, and we were very sociable for a while.

After coffee, I had a look out of the window and saw a dunnock on the feeder, a most unusual sight. I just caught it, before it flew off.

I went out and saw a blackbird on the roof, a much more common occurrence.

I walked round to the shop for supplies and then made a sweet potato, carrot and parsnip soup for lunch. Mrs Tootlepedal voted it ‘tastier than usual’ when we had some for lunch. I think that the parsnips probably were the secret to the added flavour.

After lunch I had another look at the feeder and once again saw only chaffinches . . .

. . . until a robin appeared to cheer us up.

It looked as though the rain might hold off, so I went for a walk to see what progress had been made in getting the road to Bentpath open. In spite of the Road Closed sign still being in place, the first signs were quite promising as the piles of logs that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had seen beside the road on our last visit had gone.

It is fair to say that the road was still not in a good state though.

I couldn’t hear any tree felling machinery in action, so I walked on . . .

. . . and found that an immense amount of clearing up had been done.

. . . and I was able to walk past the Potholm road end where the road closed sign at the other end of the damaged section was situated, and onto a clear and clean road beyond. Looking back, it was hard to realise the chaos that sat just round that corner.

I decided to walk on along the road to enjoy the very quiet road. There was hardly any traffic on it for obvious reasons. It had been raining on me while I was among the trees, but when I got to the open, it stopped and the sun came out on the hills ahead.

It was quite a contrast to the scenes half a mile behind me.

There was sun on the hill on one side . . .

. . . but snow on the far hills on the other . . .

. . . so I didn’t get overconfident and go too far.

There were bits of damage from the storm to be seen, like this hole in a clump of trees by the river. . .

. . . but it is still amazing to see the difference that a few hundred yards made to the amount of damage that was done by the wind, with other woods untouched . . .

. . . and the trees on Castle Hill looking unaffected too.

There will have to be work done on the telephone poles carrying the all important fibre optic cables before the road is fully opened.

Word must have got round about the state of the road, because in spite of the road closed signs, a couple of cars sneaked shiftily past me as I walked back to the town.

I didn’t go straight home, but walked down across the Jubilee Bridge and onto the Lodge Walks. Looking one way in the sunshine, you would wonder what all the fuss was about . . .

. . . but going the other way, you could see that something had been happening.

We are only a couple of weeks away from the shortest day and the sun was already low in the sky by the time that I looked across to the row of pines on the Castleholm.

Luckily, when I got home, there was a cup of tea and the last of the parkin to give me strength against the oncoming dark night.

I catalogued another two boxes of recorder music, had a Zoom with my siblings, made and ate some cauliflower cheese for my tea, and then wasted two hours of my life trying to get some sense out of Microsoft and utterly failing. I was trembling with frustration when I finally gave up. I will gird my loins and try again tomorrow but I don’t hold out much hope as their entire help system is designed not to help you unless you have a problem that can be answered by a robot. The contrast with my phone company’s helpful response could not be greater. I am much less impressed by Bill Gate’s philanthropy than I would be if he spent any of his money ensuring that his old business had enough staff to answer questions sensibly on the phone.

The flying bird of the day is a buzzard which flew overhead on my walk.

Footnote: We are supposed to get another storm tomorrow, but the forecasters are optimistic that it won’t affect Langholm much, if at all. I hope that these are not famous last words.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

35 thoughts on “The open road

  1. When you can’t reach a person and have to argue with the options an automated “help” line gives you, it’s enough to make you implode with frustration – I feel for you. Hope you are able to get things sorted before you’re driven to drink.

    What will be done with all the logs from the storm damaged trees? That one pile on the Lodge Walks would likely keep our hangar stove blazing for as long as we’ll be using the building.

    1. Depending on who cuts them down, they may go into local people’s wood burning stoves, to a local sawmill, or to a big sawmill attached to a wood burning power station.

  2. Robots respond to a limited vocabulary – part of the dumbing down of society. Getting a human to respond to queries is rare, so good luck with solving your issue. On the brighter side, your photographs, especially of the trees, are beautifully dramatic. I especially like the last row of pines that you show.

      1. Do you think your call may be one of those designated as being “recorded for training purposes”? 🙂

  3. Nice to see that the birds are back 🙂 Let’s hope that the storm will not effect Langholm, one time in enough ….
    Unless the trees are moved, there is still a lot of work to do. It seems that your fibre cable working 🙂

  4. The robin looks especially sweet. Glad the soup was a success. Enjoyed the pictures along your walk. Fingers crossed for a quite different experience with Microsoft today.

  5. It was nice to see the shots of the robin. It’s a cute little bird.
    It wasn’t as nice to see the destruction but it was interesting to see how localized it was.
    I can remember the days of having to wade through Microsoft DOS to find answers, so I find things a little easier now. Still, I have to agree with your assessment of the company. It’s a shame how they treat their customers these days.

    1. I don’t know what happened to the anti monopoly laws. These firms are just too big to have to worry about individual customers. If there was real competition, things would change.

      A lot of technology has changed for the better. I think of being able to put cards in and out of your computer without upsetting them or the system.

  6. I was once working on an automated system thought to answer humans over telephone. It never worked out as planned, no matter how many sessions I spent on it. But now as I try to get a date for my third corvid shot I look back in adoration to my work of then. Now I only get “please call later”.

    1. You want tech when it is suitable and people when it is not. It is difficult to get the balance but some firms just don’t try. I hope that you get your booster shot soon.

  7. Good luck with getting help for the computer problem. I remember the pre-Windows days of Microsoft when DOS was the operating system and humans still answered the phones and did not want a credit card number. Those days did not last long. It is a good thing we have flowers, birds, lichens, beautiful skies and scenery to ease the pain of modern living. Nature is a great comforter.

  8. Such a dear little robin captured in your lovely photos. Thank goodness the storm damage is getting cleared up so everyone can get back to ‘normal’…what is ‘normal’ these days?

  9. A dunnock on the bird feeder a rare sight indeed,well captured.
    Nice to see the lodge walks again,a lovely track.
    Impressive shot of the buzzard..we used to see them on our local moor, but they seem to have disappeared this year.
    I’ll give your potato,carrot and parsnip soup a try,it sounds tasty.

    1. The soup was good. It was what my daughter in law would call generic orange soup. It can have many ingredients and the results are a bit pot luck. This one was one of the good ones.

  10. Extending sympathy for the frustration over Microsoft problems. That sort of thing is not for the faint of heart.
    Must be off to your next post to see if you dodged that next storm.
    Sadly, after a good start in December, our storms seem to have withered. That doesn’t bode well for the coming summer if we don’t get any more rain.

  11. I burst into bitter tears today when I couldn’t get in to my Labor and Industries account today (required for one job gardening for a local government entity) and then couldn’t find the right form I was supposed to get filed by tomorrow and could only find a WRONG form that had been rejected last year. It took me all day to calm down and then try again on my iPad instead of the “business computer” (Allan’s) and made it work…maybe because it was a device new to them so they didn’t remember all my mistakes, who knows. So I understand the trembling part!

    1. Nothing is more frustrating than when computers don’t work well because there is nothing that you seem to be able to do about it. You can’t talk to a computer and work things out.

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