Today’s guest picture is another of Laura’s views from the icy shores of Lake Michigan.
After the drop in temperatures last night, I was expecting an icy morning here today. It was an agreeable surprise to find that warm air from the south had blown in, and the thermometer stood at a very reasonable and ice free 5°C at breakfast time.
This should have been the cue for a rush to get out the bike and eat up some miles. It should have been, but it wasn’t. By the time that I had grappled with the crossword, drunk coffee with Margaret, made some honey sandwiches, and watched the birds for a moment (seeing a great tit, several blue tits and a coal tit). . .
. . . it was nearly twelve o’clock before I finally got going.
I chose a route with an easy start and headed off down the main road into England, and then through Longtown and out on the Brampton road. This should have been a doddle, but an unexpectedly brisk wind made it hard work and by the time that I had done 15 miles, I was beginning to think that I should have brought more food with me.
Turning off to head east straight into the wind, reinforced this view and I was happy to stop and take a picture looking back down the road I was cycling along.
Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that wide verges mean that this is probably one of the roads which was made when the land was enclosed into fields. I like these roads because they are well drained and consequently their surfaces stay in good order. It helps that they are not pounded by heavy timber lorries.
There was pine tree catching the sunlight nearby.
I crossed the A7 at Blackford Church . . .
. . . and found some more picturesque pines a little further on.
I had done about twenty miles into the wind by this time and was more than pleased to turn for home and get a little help every now and again from the mainly cross winds.
I stopped near Justicetown to eat one of my honey sandwiches, and as I got off my bike, a flock of birds floated gently and silently down out of a row of trees beside the road and into a grassy field. It was rather uncanny, there were no bird calls and no flapping of wings, just a gentle glide down to the grass. As I munched my sandwich, as if at a given signal, they rose as one, circled round over my head and perched in a tree behind me.
I got a fuzzy picture of one quite far off in the field . . .
. . . and I wonder if they were fieldfares.
I headed on back into Scotland, went through Gretna, dived back into England again for a mile or two, and then entered Scotland for the last 15 miles home.
Just after I left Gretna, I came to the Black Sark, where a man making the new steps for the footpath by the bridge last year told me that he had seen otters. I stopped on the off chance, walked down the steps and admired the bridge . . .
. . .but found that any potential view of otters was hampered by yet another fallen tree.
In spite of a fairly helpful wind, I found it quite a slog from Gretna, which is 18 feet above sea level, to the top of the hill at the Kerr which is 500 feet higher and I needed a couple of stops to admire the views to stop my legs getting too discouraged. There are one or two welcome sections of down among the pervasive ups.
I liked the late afternoon light in this shot of the open country just before the final summit.
I got home before the sun set after 41 miles. I was pleased with the distance, but a bit unhappy about how long it had taken me. I will take more care with my nutrition on the next occasion when I go for a longer ride.
Here is my route map. My Garmin bike computer tells me where I have been in case I can’t remember.Those interested can click on the map for more details of the ride.
When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been gardening. She had been cutting back a berberis under the walnut tree, but had paused in the middle of the task to go and have a cup of tea with our neighbour Liz. When she got back, we shredded the rest of her cuttings and Mrs Tootlepedal showed me a fungus that she had found in the garden.
I will try to get a better picture of the fungus tomorrow.
Then we had a meeting with our plumber to discuss a possible new boiler.
In spite of the generally slow pace of things, it had been quite a full day, so I was content to let the rest of the day unwind gently without me dong anything to upset it.
No flying bird today but a couple of cheery perching chaffinches instead.