The lady varnishes

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s trip to British Columbia. She was impressed by the thoughtfulness of this road sign.

When I woke up in the middle of last night and saw a starry sky, I expected to find a frosty morning when I woke up at the proper time. I was very pleased to find that I was wrong. We had a sunny morning, quite calm, and with the temperature five degrees C above freezing from the start.

The Tarras Valley Nature Reserve volunteering had been out forward to half past ten, so I had to be on my toes to have breakfast, go to the corner shop, get my volunteering socks on, and be at the appointed place on time.

Mrs Tootlepedal had an appointment for coffee with her ex-works colleagues, so I went by myself. Only three other volunteers turned up but we set to work with a will. We were back beside the Tarras Water again today, removing more of an old pheasant enclosure . . .

. . . and it was hard work. The ground is rough and often steep, and the bottom of the wire fences are well buried beneath grass and bracken.

All the time we worked, the Raegill Burn on the other side of the wall chattered away cheerfully.

And after a while we had added quite a lot more wire and fence posts to the pile by the road.

It is quarter of a mile from the road to the enclosure, and carrying stuff through the very boggy ground adds a lot to the work of removing the fences. After more than an hour of heaving and hauling at the buried wire netting, I made one journey back and took a rest while the other volunteers went back to fetch more wire and posts.

I spent a bit of time looking round the bridge over the river. It is a modern affair, replacing an older bridge.

I looked at the water running under it . . .

. . . the flourishing lichen on the metal parapet on top of it . . .

. . . and the equally flourishing hazel beside it.

The picture shows just how tiny the hazel flowers are compared with the catkins.

In time, the others returned . . .

. . . and we ended the session with the customary hot blackcurrant juice and shortbread.

Well sheltered from any wind, with the sun out and temperatures rising to 10°C by the time that we finished, I found that I was positively hot myself, and was quite pleased to get home and shed some of my working layers. I did take a walk round the garden before I went into the house.

The crocuses were enjoying the hot day.

They are doing so well, that in the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal went out and divided up some of the bigger bunches, and replanted them elsewhere in the garden. She is going for total crocus next spring.

I looked back out at the birds after I went in. Oddly, for such a nice day, there weren’t many about.

And one of the ones that was about, made a big effort to avoid becoming the flying bird of the day. by hiding its head.

After a lunch of fried bacon in a brioche bread sandwich, I made the mistake of sitting in a comfortable chair and found myself falling asleep.

Luckily, I caught myself at it in the nick of time and decided to make better use of a fine day by going for a cycle ride.

It was a good plan, but it turned out to have one or two defects in it. As I set off, the sun went and disappeared for the rest of the day, the wind was a good deal stronger than it was in the morning, and the temperature took a sharp downward turn. All in all, the ride was harder and colder work than I had planned, so I cut out any idea of a long and gentle pedal in the sunshine, and went round my familiar Canonbie route in a slightly grumpy mood instead, not stopping for many charming photographs on the way.

My legs forced me to stop for a breather at one point where I noticed an unusual metal gatepost . . .

. . . but that and today’s header picture were the only two that I took.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day. As well as coffee with her colleagues, she did some crocus gardening, fixed a retaining hook to the garage door which had been repaired after being damaged in a storm . . .

. . . and varnished a little chair which she is preparing for the visit of our daughter and granddaughter at the weekend. She acquired the chair on a trip to our local dump where a lady was preparing to throw it away, but kindly gave it to her instead. With another coat of varnish, it will be as good as new.

I was sufficiently tired from hauling our fence wire and slow cycling that I almost missed the regular zoom with my brother and sisters and had to be reminded.

I think that the disturbing news from Ukraine has knocked a bit of the stuffing out of me.

However, I did manage a flying bird today.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

33 thoughts on “The lady varnishes

  1. The crocuses are beautiful. I think that one is my favorite but I see it here only occasionally.
    It is a bit deflating when the weather changes so quickly from warm to cold. It has been happening here quite a lot this year.
    With a son in the Air Force I have to take the news from Ukraine in very small bites.

  2. Crocus blooms seem to shine with their own internal light source.

    Will you be posting a photo of the rescued chair all cleaned up and varnished? It is always good to hear about furniture that has been recycled, cleaned up and made new.

  3. Much good news hidden away here among the cold and gloomy weather: well done on your participation in the removal of those fences – that such hard physical work could be followed by a cycle later is testimony to your overall fitness; the crocuses are looking cheerful – its as well that politics does not concern them; and there is the refurbishment of the rescued chair – I am also hoping to see its new self being revealed.

    1. I will try my best to get a chair picture taken. The garden and cycling are helpful when things are needed to take you mind off the troubles of the world.

  4. I laughed when I read the title of today’s post. Just a couple of hours ago, I was wondering what the Friday evening classic movie on TV would be this week. Lately, they haven’t interested me, and I remembered one of their best, “The Lady Vanishes”. So of course I was delighted to see “The Lady Varnishes”. I seem to remember that both music and train trips are important in that movie, but I don’t think it involves tootling.

  5. You said it well: “I think that the disturbing news from Ukraine has knocked a bit of the stuffing out of me.” It describes how I feel also.

      1. My family fled from the Soviets when I was but 6 months old. Too young to understand the happenings, but ones that surely left their mark. “History doesn’t repeat but it often rhymes.” I’m not sure who said it, but it sure rings true.

      2. The most fantastic thing about the whole unfolding disaster is that Putin should imagine that anyone wants to be back under an autocratic Russian regime.

      3. Problem was that he didn’t get so much as a slap on the wrist when he ‘annexed’ Crimea. It’s not good to encourage a bully like that. 😧 At least the Ukrainians are very nearly as bad-ass (if you’ll excuse the vernacular) as the Ruskies.
        Going along on your excursions are a pleasant diversion from drowning in all the latest news.

  6. I’m not surprised that you were gutted after your work at the reserve. Working with rolls of wire is tiring, full stop, without it being tangled in dried grasses and bent unevenly through use.

    The “almost fbotd” is a nice shot even without its head – I like the look of anything turning and banking, be it a headless bird or a plane!

  7. I was wondering where Mrs T had disappeared to and then I read the title more carefully! Love the recycled chair idea – hope the finished result is shown being used! Energetic day for both of you..love the crocuses.

    1. As our granddaughter does not have an internet presence, you may get a picture of the chair but whether Evie will be sitting on it is another matter. 🙂

  8. The news from Ukraine is very disturbing indeed; no wonder you are working hard to take your mind off it. The volunteering must be exhausting! We use quite a lot of chicken-wire in our garden to keep deer, rabbits, pheasants off our plants and inevitably, grass grows through it and it is extremely difficult to move.
    Enjoy what you can of this weekend.

  9. As someone who earns her living varnishing, I was quite taken with your title. I’ll be eager to see the chair, also. My varnish goes on boats rather than furniture, but the process is the same!

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