Today’s guest picture comes from our son-in-law Joe. He got quite close to a swan.
We had a dry day here, quite warm for the time of the year, but a brisk wind made it feel quite chilly when we ventured out.
I am happy to report that Sandy has got home from hospital, and he told me that he had thoroughly enjoyed a good night’s sleep in his own bed. I am hoping that he will be fit to entertain me to a cup of coffee sometime next week.
We had a busy morning, with preparation for the arrival of our daughter and granddaughter tomorrow a priority. As usual, Mrs Tootlepedal did all the work and I did all the supervising. I also cycled up to the town to visit the chemist, popped into the corner shop, and took a few pictures of spring in the garden.
The reason for the visit to the chemist was to get advice on a sore eye. I was quite impressed when he suggested that time might well be the best cure, and sold me a very modestly priced bottle of eyewash to give time a little helping hand. It is good to find that unlike big business, not everyone is trying to screw the last penny out of you. (Either time or the eyewash is working, as my eye is much more comfortable as I write this in the evening.)
We took a break from preparing for Evie when Margaret came round for coffee.
Over lunch, I took a look to see what the birds were up to. The siskins were arguing with anything that came in range . . .
. . . and it was a rare moment when a chaffinch or goldfinch could approach the feeder unmolested by shouting siskins.
After lunch, it was too windy for enjoyable cycling, so I went for a walk. I started by going along the river to the Kilngreen, and found plenty of birds to watch on my way, both in the air and on the ground.
It must be spring as the black headed gulls are now showing why they are called black headed gulls.
Leaving the birds behind, I headed up the Lodge Walks and along the Langfauld, managing not to take yet another snowdrop picture on my way.
I looked at liverworts on trees instead. For years I have been going past these plants thinking that they were just more moss. Now I look more carefully, and can even identify one or two. I found two different sorts today, a few inches away from each other, side by side on the same tree trunk. These are (probably) Metzgeria furcata (top right and bottom left) and Frullania dilatata (top left and bottom right).
As I went along the track to Potholm, I admired young larches, vibrant fungus, and the view ahead.
When I got to Potholm, I took a short diversion to the Staplegordon churchyard. There once was a motte and bailey castle as well as a church here, and it was the original centre of the area. Now all that is left is the graveyard. I went through the two gates, enjoying the moss and lichen on the stone one, and walked round the graveyard, reflecting on the fact that there might be worse places to be buried than this . . .
. . . and left on a farm track that crossed a lively stream.
The track took me round the corner so that I could look back down on the bridge over the Esk . . .
. . that I would go back and cross from left to right a few minutes later. The river takes a sharp turn beneath the site of the old castle.
On my way down to the bridge, I noted that the snowdrops below the farmhouse are going over, but there are wild strawberries flowering in the wall now.
Having crossed the bridge when I came to it, I found that the sheep in the field on the far side were in four minds about their lunchtime menu.
Some went for turnips, some grazed the short grass, some went for the silage, and one or two felt that they deserved a rest from all this browsing.
It was good to see that they weren’t just all following each other like sheep.
There was some fine xanthoria lichen on the hedge beside the field . . .
. . . and a vivid selection of different coloured lichen which I can’t identify on a wall beside the road a bit further on.
Just to show that I am not lichen obsessed, I took some pictures of varieties of moss on a wall and a concrete fence post when I got to the other end of the Potholm road.
As I walked along the main road back to Langholm, I was happy to spot a scarlet elfcup. I have seen them here before, but I thought that they might all have been buried this year under the mass of fallen branches along the roadside. On the other side of the road, a song thrush was producing a fantastic variety of songs.
I got back after six enjoyable miles to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had been spreading more crocuses around the garden. I pointed out two yellow flowers to her . . .
. . . but she wasn’t as pleased to see the dandelion as I was. It is now residing in the bin. She is all for wild life and encouraging pollinators, but there are places in the garden where dandelions are not welcome.
Now we are just praying that the train service from London is reliable and that our visitors will arrive safely tomorrow.
The flying bird of the day is a Kilngreen mallard. This is a female showing off her unexpectedly bright blue flying feathers.