Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo. At first sight it might look like a row of gallows along the roadside, but she tells me that they are used to take electrical connections over the sidewalks. The electricity is used to heat up oil or cylinder blocks before trying to start cars on very cold winter days. We don’t know what cold weather is here!
It was a degree or two below zero here today when we got up, but as the sun was out, we took it in our stride. Mind you, we didn’t go as far as to stride out of the house, because we were both quite tired. I let a special holiday prize crossword fill up my morning, and I watched the birds for a while too.
When I saw that the lack of seed was causing a ruckus . . .
. . . I went out and filled the feeder up. This had a double benefit as I scared off a visiting sparrowhawk when I opened the back door. Fortunately, the little birds had seen it coming and got out of the way safely.
After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk. It was a beautiful afternoon with a cloudless sky and the cotoneaster at the end of our drive was positively glowing.
Mrs Tootlepedal has been noticing pairs of jackdaws on all sides. They form lifetime bonds and look rather charming as they perch in their pairs. We passed a couple as we set out.
In spite of the sunshine, it was still only about 4°C. Where the sun hadn’t shone, icy patches and frosty grass could be seen. At the Kilngreen, Mr Grumpy had taken on the role of international man of mystery . . .
. . . but the view up the river was as good as it can be at this time of year.
I kept an eye out as we walked along up to the Sawmill Brig, passing decorative white berries (Mrs Tootlepedal collected some for planting at home) . . .
. . . a black headed gull . . .
. . . a fine piece of hair ice at Walkers Hole . . .
. . . and an opportunity for those with time on their hands to count the tree rings to see how old one of the trees blown over by Arwen was. (I thought at least 70 years old on a rough count.)
With only two or three days to go before the shortest day, the sun really struggles to get up over our hills at the moment, so any tendency to look behind us as we walked was dazzling, mist was starting to rise from the Ewes Water, and the grass in the field hadn’t seen the sun all day . . .
The cold temperatures had kept the ground reasonably firm underfoot, so the going was generally good, and I could raise my head up as we went round and enjoy the trees.
We were walking more or less straight into the sun as we came back along the Baggra . . .
. . . but I could look to the side to see frozen moss on the wall beside the track . . .
. . . mist rising over the town . . .
. . . and the new view over the rugby pitch and up to Whita.
The recent tree felling here means that this is probably the first time for over twenty years, that walkers have been able to enjoy this view from the track.
As we came back down the hill to the Castleholm, we got into the shadows and it felt quite cold. We didn’t hang about, but headed home without stopping again, except to say hallo to a charming puppy who wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to get a good picture.
On our way into the town, we were passed by a gritter lorry spraying the road, and it is below freezing again as I write this post.
We had walked just under three miles, and were quite happy to slump down in front of the telly and watch some horse racing from Ascot.
My cold has been getting steadily better and I hope to be able to declare myself cured by tomorrow morning.
I made toad-in-the-hole with vegetarian sausages for our evening meal, and there was enough batter left for us to have a pancake with sugar and lemon for our pudding.
We got the second monthly delivery of Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday flowers today, and I hope to get a photograph of them when she has arranged them to her satisfaction. Some of last month’s flowers are still on the go.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.