All change

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Caroline. She was surprised to see this lone rose blooming so early in the year.

Although they say the rest of the week is going to be as gloomy as forecast (except Thursday which is going to be fine but with a serious gale), today proved the pessimistic prognosticators wrong. It was a fine day from start to finish, with not a hint of rain to be seen.

I got up early, put out the bin, had breakfast, went round to the shop, walked up to have coffee with Sandy, who is getting ready to go back to hospital for a second operation this week, walked back again, admiring the beautiful day as I strolled along . . .

. . . and got out for a bicycle ride all before lunch.

I took an oatmeal and raisin biscuit with me, as the ride was 30 miles and I certainly wasn’t going get back in time for lunch.

The wind was noticeable and coming from a northerly direction, so I headed north up the Ewes valley . . .

. . . with the intention of being blown home by a benevolent breeze.

As you can see from the picture above, there does not seem to be an obvious way out of the head of the Ewes valley, and it seems no clearer when you get there . . .

. . . but the road sneaks round and up a narrow glen following the pylons, and providing welcome shelter from the wind. It was breezy once I got over the top at Mosspaul, and I had to pedal hard to get down the hill on the other side. Luckily, recent roadworks have done a wonderful job in smoothing out what was a very rough section of road and the journey through Teviothead to Colterscleuch has changed from a battery of bumps into a festival of float.

I stopped at 15 miles and ate my biscuit. While I munched, I could look across to the strange monument on the hill . . .

. . . dedicated to the memory of Henry Scott Riddell, the Teviothead poet. He was a man of parts, and as well as writing songs and poems and translating parts of the bible into Lowland Scots, he also received a prize of £10 from the Highland and Agricultural Society for an ‘Essay on Foot-rot in Sheep.’

The benevolent wind did indeed blow me home at a good speed. I stopped to admire the fine shop sign of the Teviothead goldsmith and silversmith . . .

. . . though his gallery door attendants looked a bit odd to me.

The gallery is named after Johnny Armstrong of Gilnockie, who has a memorial of his own nearby.

I made another stop to enjoy a view up one of the many little side glens that come down to the main road . . .

. . . before whizzing back down the hill to Langholm, covering the last ten miles in thirty four minutes, an average speed of 17.5 mph, a real treat for me these days.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy time entertaining Margaret with coffee and conversation, and then writing up minutes for the Langholm Initiative, but she had also found time to make a big pot of sweet potato and rice soup. I enjoyed a bowl of this for a late lunch, and found a moment to watch the birds too.

Feeling that I had done too much cycling and too little photographing for such an unexpectedly fine day, I went for a short three bridges walk after my soup.

I saw not one but two pairs of oystercatchers (and a gull). . .

. . . and one pair put on a short flying exhibition for me.

There were more familiar faces too.

Castle Hill caught the last of the sun as I walked towards the Sawmill Brig . . .

. . . but by the time that I had crossed the bridge and paused for a look at the lichen on the parapet . . .

. . . the sun had been overtaken by clouds and I just missed the opportunity to catch it backlighting the moss on the wall of the Castleholm.

There was a lot of bird song to serenade me as I walked up tot the Lodge, and I saw and heard a raucous jay high in a tree too. At the lodge, blue tits, coal tits and a long tailed tit were visiting a garden feeder.

There was a woodpecker too, but it flew off before I could get organised.

The hazel catkins have been looking well developed, although it is still quite early in the season . . .

. . . so I have been keeping an eye for the tiny female hazel flowers, and I finally saw one today.

Although this seemed quite early to me, I looked in my records and found that I actually saw one on exactly the same day, February 14th, two years ago. Usually I don’t see them until March.

I could have done with some better light to take the picture of the hazel flower but rather annoyingly, the sun waited until, right at the end of my walk before it reappeared from behind the clouds.

There was time for a cup of tea and another two oatmeal and raisin biscuits before the regular zoom with my brother and sisters.

Looking at the Met Office website as I write this, I see that the forecast for tomorrow has already got better than it was earlier in the day, and I also see that the threatening windspeeds for Thursday have been dialled down a bit. With a bit of luck, the rest of the week may not be so bad as I had feared. Fingers crossed.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

32 thoughts on “All change

  1. Sunlight on the hills and benevolent breezes sound good to me. Henry Scott Riddell sounds like a fascinating character.

    I liked the hazelnut blossom. I caught one here with a water droplet held in the flower like a gemstone in a setting. My photo is not as good as yours, though. I usually start seeing them in early February, though this year I spotted one in late January.

    The count at my feeder dropped off over the last few days, a bit worrisome. Perhaps the weather is confounding them. A day of passing rainstorms here is ending in bright sunlight as sundown grows near.

    1. Our bird feeding numbers have definitely gone up a bit lately which is comforting but we still have a very limited range of visitors. Your hazel flower picture sounds exciting.

  2. There is little as exciting as the first hazelnut flowers in spring, at least in my opinion.
    That’s a great shot of it and the moss spore capsules.
    I’m glad the weather turned and you had a good outdoor day.
    Much luck to Sandy in his upcoming operation.

    1. Thank you for your good wishes to Sandy.
      I wonder when I will see the next hazel flower. That was the only one that I saw after some hard looking.

  3. An uplifting post with many wonderful photos especially when the forecast looked dire. Good to see the hazel flower and many of the tit family on the lodge feeder. The flying oyster catcher photo is striking …didn’t know it had that beautiful feather pattern!

  4. I’ve never seen a long tailed tit on it’s own before. They have always been in a group of a dozen or so, flitting from tree to tree along the hedgerow at the back of our garden (more like a tip, let’s just say it is rewilded}. I thought I saw such a group yesterday working their way down the hedgerow towards me. Too far away for me to definitely identify them as long tailed tits, I never have the binoculars to hand when I need them. Then, they flew off in the opposite direction, it is difficult trying to observe the natural world. But your blog helps this frustrated observer. I hit 71 today, feel like 17, but sadly move just as you’d expect a 71 year old. Thanks for your report on your outings yesterday, they are much appreciated. Keep on tootling, cheers.

    1. There were a lot more long tailed tits about but they flew away when I approached. Happy birthday, and take a tip from an older man, enjoy your youth while you can. 🙂 I read dire warnings in the paper today about floods in Wales. I hope that you escape the worst.

      1. They are hyper little bundles of energy. Thank you for the Birthday wish. Hopefully using my youth better the second time around. Though we are very close to the river Neath, here in the valley, thankfully, we are a good 50 feet or so above it. But it doesn’t bode well for neighbours closer and those further on down the valley. Of all days we are off to Newquay on the Cardigan Coast. Spending the night in a hotel, the Penwhig. A Christmas present from Donna a friend of ours. We should have a grandstand view of the storm as it comes into the bay and harbour. North Wales is due for the worst of it according to the forecast. Cheers.

  5. Wow for the Long-tailed Tit: I don’t recall having ever seen one. The hazel flower is somehow otherworldly. I like the calm of the Oyster Catchers.

  6. Love the shot of the two oyster catchers facing each other! So many beautiful shots today with the great weather, everyone was enjoying it. Very handsome Mallard too!

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