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.