Out and about

Today’s guest picture shows that Langholm isn’t the only place with fallen trees. My sister Susan in London found this tree blocking her way to the supermarket today.

We had a reasonably calm and generally sunny day here today. It was frosty to start the day off, but by the time that I had got out to the moor where volunteers were planting more trees, it was quite pleasant in the sunshine . . .

. . . and two hours passed quickly as we planted dozens of dog roses and hawthorns round the edge of the planting area. These bushes go into small plastic tubes with a cane for support, so they were easier to put in than the trees that needed wooden stakes hammered in beside them last week. The Nature Reserve has been given a lot more trees, so we will be back at work again soon.

As we gathered round for the now traditional blackcurrant juice and a piece of cake and the end of our stint, a meadow pipit flew round about us, finally perching on a wall for a moment . . .

. . . and to remind us that it was quite chilly when the sun went in, we could see snow across the Solway on the Lake District hills. I quite like the combination of the new world and the old, with electricity wires, a television mast and the tips of turbine blades all visible in the photograph.

As I walked back to the car, I enjoyed the bright gorse hedge by the road.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been taking minutes at a Langholm Initiative meeting, and we both got back in time for lunch. I needed a pause after lunch, so I watched the birds for a while. I was pleased to see a redpoll back at the feeder . . .

. . . as it gave a bit of variety to a scene . . .

. . . dominated by goldfinches today.

I had been hoping to go for a cycle ride in warm, calm weather, and I went out into the garden to test the conditions. It was sunny but surprisingly breezy.

Plum blossom had survived the overnight freeze . . .

. . . a large bumble bee was visiting the hellebores . . .

. . . tulips were opening out . . .

. . . on all sides . . .

. . .and the first of the dog tooth violets (Erythronium dens-canis) had appeared as well.

However, the sun went in and there were some fierce looking black clouds looming up while the forecast was muttering about a heavy shower, so I went back inside to see how things developed from the safety on my armchair. Mrs Tootlepedal continued to toil in the garden.

After a while, the clouds thinned out and the threat of rain receded, so I got my bike out and set off to go round Canonbie with the proviso in mind that I would turn and run for home if the shower did appear. Mrs Tootlepedal thought that it was too unfriendly to continue gardening and went inside.

The wind was helpful and the sun even came out, so I was very optimistic about my chances until I glanced up and saw that the black clouds had not entirely gone away.

I kept going in the hope that they would stay in front of me, and this hope was realised when I got to the furthest extent of my journey and found the prospects were still quite bright . . .

. . . and the dark clouds were quite a distance away. I was worried that the friendly wind that had blown me down the hill at a good speed would give me trouble on the way home, but I was quite sheltered in the valley from the worst and the trip home was unexpectedly easy going.

When I had crossed the Esk at Canonbie, I looked round to see if the butterburs that live on a piece of rough ground by an old bus stop had arrived yet. They had, though they are not fully out yet.

They love this little patch of inhospitable ground, and they were joined by a carpet of celandine and a single dandelion today.

I got home in dry weather, very pleased to have got a few cycling miles under my belt.

As I enjoyed my cup of tea and some tasty gingerbread, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that jackdaws were ruining the lawn. By the time that I had got my camera to hand, the jackdaws had been chased off by two crows, who were also ruining the lawn . . .

. . .and didn’t mind doing some strutting about just to show off.

We went off to do some shopping, arrived back and remembered that we had forgotten about the usual Zoom with my siblings. We joined in late and enjoyed a cheerful chat.

A smoked sausage, sweet pepper and mushroom risotto rounded off a mildly busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch searching for higher things.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

16 thoughts on “Out and about

  1. I was looking for trout lilies today, which look identical to your dog tooth violet except for the yellow color. All I saw were leaves.
    I still haven’t seen a tulip but I did see a hellebore today. Yours are much prettier than what I saw.
    It’s very strange how the birds peck the lawn up like that. My first guess would be grubs among the roots but I’m sure you would know if there were any.

    1. I think that your trout lily is different but closely related to our dog tooth violet. Ours are about to burst out in great quantities. The two flowers in the pictures were outliers and earlier than the rest. We think that the birds might be looking for leather jackets. They certainly peck away very enthusiastically.

  2. In your report of today’s ride, you mention glancing up and noticing threatening weather. That almost sounds like you’re still using drop handlebars on your bike, where one tends to ride with a bit of a nose-to-the-grindstone posture rather than a more upright posture with non-drop handlebars. I thought you’d reported getting new handlebars for your bike. I wonder if they are installed, and if so, how are the working for you. I also wonder if new handlebars required other changes, like brake levers and brake cables. Perhaps you’ve already reported on this and I’ve missed it. If so, I apologize.

    1. I hope to get the new handlebars fitted later this month but it will depend on if they are in stock. Brakes and gear shift and my invaluable mirror will all need refitting. I hope that there will be space for a bicycle bell as well! A photo will follow when all is completed.

  3. Something has happened and no photos are showing up for me in the reader, or directly looking at your site today. Same with your older posts. I’ll check back later.

  4. The photos have shown up again. The snow on this hills seems to portend some cooler weather, at least for a while.

    So your jackdaws were chased off by crows? Aren’t the jackdaws the bigger bird? Yes, those corvids do like strutting. One year we watched a crow strutting away between the two rows of table grapes, looking side to side as if he was imaging how good they were going to taste later on. He seemed to be telling Rick to keep on doing a great job of tending the grape vines for him. ๐Ÿ™‚

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