Today’s guest picture is another from Simon’s recent walk to Langholm from Canonbie. He found the sun shining directly along this track.
We had a very cold night here, with temperatures as low as -6°C overnight. It was still -3° at breakfast time . . .
. . . but it was very dry, so the paths were not icy, and there was not a lot of frost art in the garden.
All the same, I didn’t rush outside for any length of time, and was happy to have a quick look at the birds from inside . . .
. . . before welcoming Dropscone (and scones) for coffee. Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to take the minutes at a Langholm Initiative meeting, so we had the house to ourselves and chatted away for well over an hour.
When he left, I had another look at the birds where I found a more active situation . . .
. . . before I cycled off to the shop.
After the cold start, the day had warmed steadily, and with dry streets and a light wind, it was almost pleasant as I cycled along.
Mrs Tootlepedal came back in time for lunch, and as she had plenty to do at home in the afternoon, I considered an outing. I had expected it to be too cold for cycling, but my earlier trip to the shop convinced me that cycling might be perfectly possible. I put several warm layers of clothing on, and had a quick tour of the garden, where I found a revived snowdrop, a very optimistic rosebud, along with a hopeful hydrangea and an enthusiastic euphorbia.
The Met Office forecast suggest sunshine and showers, but the BBC was more optimistic, and I was very pleased to find that the BBC was better informed. It was 5°C by now, and when the sun was out, which it was for most of my trip, it was really quite tolerable. The wind turned out to be quite a bit stronger than I had expected though when I got out of the shelter of the town, and while my outward ten and a half miles took me 58 minutes, I only needed 46 minutes to get home again. That is what I call good route choice.
I saw a bird perched on the topmost twig of a very tall tree on my way out, and extended the zoom on my little Lumix to get a closer view. It was a buzzard, feathers ruffled by the wind.
I headed straight along the Wauchope road, over Callister, and then down the other side to the bridge over the Water of Milk at Paddockhole. The wind was brisk enough to make me have to pedal hard to get down a 30 mph hill at at a sluggish 18 mph.
I took a few pictures of the scenery as I went along.
My favourite shot was of a gate on Callister. It is in much the same state as the photographer who took the picture, past its best.
The bridge at Paddockhole looked very much as usual when I got to it.
At the bridge, I ate a banana and took a few minutes to recover from cycling into the wind for an hour. The trip home was a pleasure. I took a few more pictures on the way.
My final view on the way home was the best of all, not just because it shows Wauchopedale in all its glory, but also because it signals that there are only three and a half mainly downhill, wind assisted miles to go before meeting a cup of tea and a chocolate eclair.
As I write this in the evening, the wind has started to blow hard and rain is rattling the windows. It is the start of several days of unsettled wet and windy weather, so I am doubly glad that I got out for my ride this afternoon.
Before I went in, I checked on the crocuses. They didn’t seem to have been put off by the cold night.
The cup of tea and the chocolate eclair were just what the doctor ordered.
I couldn’t get a picture of the biggest treat on the cycle outing. As I was cycling down Callister on the way out, a kestrel took off from a wall and flew down the hill just below me, its wings showing a rich brown in the sunshine. It used to be quite common to see these beautiful birds along this road, but I haven’t seen one for years. I hope that this one has come to stay.
In the evening, after our regular Zoom with my brother and sisters, our friends Mike and Alison came round. Alison and I played music for recorder and keyboard by Marcello, Telemann, Woodcock, William Williams and Andrew Parcham, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal sipped white wine and swapped news.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch. I wish that I had been able to capture that kestrel.