Today’s scenic guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom in South Africa. He says that they have started to pick the table grapes there.
I apologise before I start as took far too many pictures today so I will stuff as many as I can into galleries so that they can be easily slid over by those with better things to do than look at eight pictures of hair ice. I am also starting to write it rather late in the evening so it may be more incoherent than usual.
I had quite a full day, starting by walking up the hill in frosty sunshine to have coffee with Sandy. His recovery is progressing and he has hopes of being able to walk down the hill next week to have coffee with me.
I had a second cup of coffee with Margaret and Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back, did a bit of shopping, made some Garibaldi biscuits, ate some delicious lightly curried parsnip soup, courtesy of Mrs Tootlepedal, and then drove up to the bird hide on the Nature Reserve. Mrs Tootlepedal was fully occupied and couldn’t come with me.
I sat in the hide for a short while, but birds were few and far between . . .
. . . and as I wanted to go for a walk and the days are still short, I soon put down my bird camera, picked up my little Lumix, and set off to cross the Tarras Water by the ‘swing bridge’.
This involves a short section down quite steep bank in a wood so it would have been helpful, to say the least, if I had remembered my walking poles. However, as the one thing that there is no shortage of in the woods at the moment is a fallen branch, I was soon able to pick up a stout stick which served me very well.
I went carefully through the woods down to the riverside . . .
. . . lightly vaulting over fallen trees, and stopping to look back at the wood that I had come through when I got to the flat beside the river.
The path to the bridge is very clear and I had no difficulty finding my way. The bridge itself blended into the surrounding scenery but a white warning notice helps to show where it is.
There is a clearing on the far side of the bridge with some fine old trees. . .
. . . but I soon found myself in the woods again.
I thought that some careless walker had thrown litter away when I saw a splashes of white on the ground, but a second look showed me that the forest floor was covered with hair ice. It was everywhere. A day like today, just above freezing, with a bit of sunshine after a sub zero night, is a perfect day for seeing hair ice.
You can send a long time searching among examples while trying to get the perfect hair ice picture, but I tore myself away and continued up a sunken road . . .
I have never walked along this track in this direction before, and when I got to the top of the little hill, I couldn’t decode which way to go as there were several possible tracks on offer. My first choice led to this unreliable looking bridge . . .
. . . which I didn’t care to test out. I retraced my steps and tried another track. This petered out and I spent some time wandering about hopefully . . .
. . . until I finally hit on the track which took me out of the wood and onto familiar ground.
Here I leaped over little streams, passed a lot of icy puddles, coal seams, and the sites of good bramble bushes which provided us with fruit for the jelly that we are still eating, and I took some photos, mostly of icy puddles, as I went along.
The track beside the river brought me to the road bridge over the Tarras Water, and I crossed the bridge and headed back up the road to the bird hide. There were some fine trees silhouetted against the skyline . . .
. . . but Storm Arwen had given the new crash barrier beside the road a good dunt . . .
. . . and nearly destroyed a whole plantation up by the Roman Fort.
We are still shaking our heads over how selective the storm was.
As I got back to the bird hide, I could see our car patiently waiting to take me home . . .
Although the sun was sinking . . .
. . . it wasn’t as dark as the camera makes it look. It was a remarkably clear evening, and the Lake District hills had a faint pinkish tinge.
There was enough light left at the hide so that I could see a blue tit in a bush . . .
. . . and a small group of bullfinches which flew off into a tree when I picked up my bird camera.
I had made biscuits earlier on because my friends Sue and Susan were coming to play recorder trios in the evening. The fourth member of or group, Jenny, was unable to come on this occasion, but we have a good stock of trios, and we enjoyed a thoroughly good play. We hope to be a quartet again in a fortnight. If any local reader plays the recorder and sight reads, we would welcome a fifth player.
So all in all, I had an excellent day.
The walk, at under two and a half miles, was just what my knee wanted. Miraculously, my knee had cured itself over night after yesterday’s bicycling pain, and it made no complaints as I wandered round the woods.
The flying bird of the day is one of the bird hide bullfinches, fleeing for cover as I approached.
Footnote: Definition of toddle
1 : to walk with short tottering steps in the manner of a young child
2 : to take a stroll : saunter
the act or an instance of toddling
Both definitions suit my outing today pretty well. I did not vault over any fallen trees!