Zooming about

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She was rather taken by the Dior decorations on the front of Harrods as she passed by the famous shop on her way to an exhibition today. I suppose that they do sum up the modern spirit of Christmas rather well.

The change to cooler weather arrived on cue today, but it was still three degrees above freezing when we got up, and as the sun stayed out all day, it was a very acceptable day for late November.

My active day started with a phone call from fellow archive group member Nancy to say that the microfiche reader in our base had broken down for some inexplicable reason. I walked across town to see if I could be of any assistance but unsurprisingly I couldn’t sort the machine out. When I got home, I looked on the internet to see if there was any guidance to be found. I couldn’t find any but I did find a reconditioned microfiche reader at a very reasonable price and a quick phone call ensured that it should be with us by the end of the week. Sometimes the internet is just as wonderful as its inventors hoped that it would be.

I had got home in time to make a pot of coffee for Sandy who came down to join Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a catch up on all the news while we had been away.

After coffee, I did a little work on the computer for a project of Mrs Tootlepedal’s, and then I put on my warmest cycling gear and went off for a pedal. It was a heady 6°C.

I was in a slightly confused mood, keen to go for a bike ride but not at all keen to go anywhere in particular so I pedalled up to Cleuchfoot while I was waiting for my mind to come up with a route suggestion. It was a lovely day . . .

. . . so I decided to broaden my horizon a bit and go up Callister. This was the view looking back down behind me.

Once I got to the top of the hill, it seemed sensible to go down the other side and see what happened. I still was swithering so I took a two miles loop round Crowdieknowe while my plan developed. In many years of cycling around this area, I had never cycled along this particular road in this particular direction before . . .

. . . so it was a treat.

I got two surprises along the way, a turbine apparently blessed with more blades than is usual . . .

. . . and a view of the small graveyard . . .

. . . which is the subject of one of Hugh MacDiarmid’s more accessible poems.

Oh to be at Crowdieknowe
When the last trumpet blaws,
An see the deid come loupin owre
The auld grey wa’s

Muckle men wi tousled beards,
I grat at as a bairn
 ‘ll scramble frae the croodit clay
Wi feck o swearin.

An glower at God an a’ his gang
O angels i the lift
Thae trashy bleezin French-like folk
Wha gar’d them shift.

Fain the weemun-folk’ll seek
To mak them haud their row
Fegs, God’s no blate gin he stirs up
The men o Crowdieknowe!

I took a closer look at that turbine and found that it was two towers neatly aligned . . .

. . . and I took a closer look at the graveyard too.

In spite of MacDiarmid’s view of those beneath the ground, it seemed wonderfully peaceful today.

Having done my loop, my mind was finally made up and I pedalled on through Gair to Chapelknowe and then back home by way of Glenzier and the A7. As I came up the hill past the old school at Glenzier, a figure dressed all in black waved me down. I thought twice about stopping but then I recognised the familiar figure of Scott, our ex minister, dressed in his working clothes. I pulled in to greet him and found that he had been conducting a funeral. A large flock of starlings took off and flew over our heads as we chatted.

The temperature was dropping steadily by this time, so we didn’t talk for too long and I was soon on my way home. It was still a sunny day as I looked over towards Whita Hill . . .

. . . but I hadn’t pedalled at any great speed and the sun was dropping very low in the sky by this time and here wasn’t much warmth to be had from it.

In the end, I covered thirty one miles at a modest pace. My legs don’t go round so freely in the cold.

I took a look at the birds when I got in and found a chaffinch and a goldfinch looking one way . . .

. . . and a sparrow and a goldfinch looking the other way.

Life is never dull at the feeder.

I had filled the feeder before coffee and, as you can see, the seeds had almost all gone by this time. A sparrow lurked on a willow branch hoping to get a look in.

The evening was taken up by two Zooms, the first with our son Alistair and his recorder playing daughter Matilda, and the second with two of my sisters and my brother.

The cold weather is set to continue for several days but without any sunshine if the forecast is to be believed. Ah well, it is less than a month to the shortest day.

The flying bird of the day is that lurking sparrow launching a bid for glory.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Zooming about

      1. Not yet… I have up to 40 at times in my garden at this time of year, and from my front window can see multitudes of them flowing towards their evening roosts and away to their (other!) feeding grounds in the morning.

  1. It was a good day for a pedal,although the air was a bit to cold for my dodgy chest.
    Nice quiet roads on your ride and well done.
    I’m sorry to say I would need a translator for Hugh’s poem.

    1. I have put a translation in the reply to Zyriacus’ comment. I kept a steady pace on my bike ride as I didn’t want to be gulping in great wafts of chilly air.

  2. Lovely header photo. As for Hugh MacDiarmid’s poem – he certainly didn’t think much of the French!

    1. I was very pleased to find that the the weather allowed for a cycle ride. Thanks to our week in London, I have been short of cycling miles this month.

  3. Your crisp scenic shots seem to echo the crisp chilliness of the air – beautiful for me to see when our predicted temperature is 34 degrees C!

  4. The views from your bike ride are beautiful, as I would expect. I like the poem by Hugh MacDiarmid, though I need help translating it in places.

    The birds are always a pleasure to see. I have noticed here seed is going faster at our feeder now the weather is colder and wetter. I put out more suet and some extra seed today.

  5. As a citizen of the continent my scots isn’t at its best. But I hope the “Muckle men wi tousled beards” will leave me in peace even if they are leaping over the stones. Would like to have a translation into plain English, but couldn’t find one on the net. But otherwise a fine outing.

    1. Here is my effort:
      Oh to be at Crowdieknowe
      When the last trumpet blows,
      An see the dead come leaping over
      The old grey walls

      Big men with tousled beards,
      I cried at as a child
      Will scramble from the crowded clay
      With a good deal of swearing.

      An glower at God an all his gang
      O angels on high
      Those trashy blazing French-like folk
      Who have made them move

      In vain the women-folk will seek
      To make them stop their row
      Faith, God’s not fearful if he stirs up
      The men o Crowdieknowe!

      1. A lot of thanks. I had quite a lot guessed. But some still was obscure. Thank you for enlightening me.

  6. Such wonderful words in the poem – don’t know what they mean but one can get the gist- I think! The Beautiful star Christmas decorations at Dior seem to be replicated in the blades of the turbines- your very own lovely cycle through wonderland!
    Just found your translation of the poem- thank you!

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