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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  On a clear day recently, he was able to look across the Forth and see North Berwick.  We haven’t organised a holiday there for this year yet.  This may be the closest we get to it.

north berwick

On a normal Sunday at this time of year, we would go to Church to sing in the church choir in the morning, and then go to Carlisle to sing with Community Choir in the afternoon.  Thanks to the dreaded virus, both church and community choir are closed for the foreseeable future and time hung heavy on my hands.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with community buy out work, but I just mooched around feeling hard done by, not even being able to raise enthusiasm for a walk or even compost sieving.

On the bright side it was another sunny and dry day (after another frosty start) so I did wander around the garden where I found a lot of the potential tadpoles developing well.

developing tadpoles

The cold mornings are not encouraging new growth so I had to make do with daffodils…

daffodil in sun

..and chionodoxas for floral cheer again.

chionodoxa clump

The silver pear is offering signs of hope…

silver pear march 22

…and a single flower on the head of a drumstick primula hinted at good times to come.

first primula flower

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were sitting on our new bench enjoying the warmth of the sun when we heard the buzzing of a bee.  I rushed to get a camera but only managed a very fuzzy shot of the buzzer.

faint bee

Any bee is welcome though.

Taking a last shot of a fancy cowslip, I went in to make lentil and carrot soup for lunch.

cowslip

After lunch, I stirred myself enough to get my bicycle out in the hope that the good Dr Velo would offer a cure for my blues.  It was not very warm in spite of the sun and the temperature was still in single figures, but the wind wasn’t too bad.

The blue sky was almost cloudless and the good doctor soon began to work his magic, helped perhaps by the fact that I had chosen a very easy route, my favourite Sunday ride down the main roads to the Roman Wall and back again.

As I passed the junction at the start of the Canonbie by-pass, I thought that I heard people hooting at me but when I looked up, I saw it was a skein of birds flying overhead.  I stopped and got out my camera but they were well past me before I could press the shutter.

gaggle

I cycled over the bridge at Longtown and was pleased to see that work has started on repairing one side of the bridge at least.

It is not  a very photogenic ride but a bright bracket fungus on a tree stump did make me stop…

barcket fungus newtown road

…and I was happy to see young lambs at the far side of the field.

two lambs

It was a clear day and I could see the final fling of the northern English fells in the distance.

north england hills

I got to Newtown, my twenty mile turning point, and was glad of a rest to eat a banana while sitting on my customary seat…

newtown bench

…and admiring the daffodils round the old village drinking fountain.

newtown pump with daffs

The wind had been in my face the whole way down so I was fully expecting the weather gods to play their usual tricks and either change the wind direction or let it die away completely on my return journey.

On this occasion though they were at their most benign, and after taking 90 minutes for the southern leg, I only needed 79 minutes for the return to the north.

I paused for this fine English tree…

longtown road tree

…and for the Welcome to Scotland sign at the border.

welcome to scotland

It is not an impressive gateway to our beautiful country, comprising as it does of a scruffy lay-by, two litter bins and a slew of ill matched road signs.  To add to the lack of warmth in the welcome, the illuminated digital sign up the road was telling people to stop doing all this travelling around anyway.

“Ceud mìle fàilte” as they say.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon split between business and the garden but she had finished by the time that I got back so I nodded at a blackbird perched on the greenhouse…

blackbird

…and went in to join her.

Mrs Tootlepedal hunted out some more of her chicken cacciatore and we had it with rice for our tea.

I had tinned peach slices with Mackie’s excellent ice cream for afters, and that rounded off a day that ended with me feeling much better than when it had begun.

I had thought that the skein of birds that flew across me when I was cycling were geese of some sort but a closer look on the computer showed me that all my flying birds of the day were not geese but swans.

gaggle closer

It’s not often that all your geese are swans.  It was lucky that I saw them because there was hardly a bird at the feeder all day.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  It shows some early peach blossom.

annie's peach blossom

We were promised wall to wall sunshine today by the forecasters with some confidence so it was disappointing to get up to a cloudy day with the standard chilly wind.  Still, it didn’t rain and I was able not only to have a walk round the garden, after coffee with our Archive Group treasurer Nancy, where I could enjoy the first tulip bulb of spring…

first tulip bud

…but I was also able to get the mower out, and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved over a hot computer again, I gently pressed the moss on the middle lawn.

first pressing of moss

Grass had been growing through the moss though and I took quite a lot off.  This should encourage more grass growth, I hope.  The light green patch at the far end of the ‘lawn’ is solid moss.

As well as the mowing, I did some more compost sieving and when Mrs Tootlepedal came out and attacked a buddleia….

buddleia compst

…we shredded the cuttings and I put my share into compost Bin A and Mrs Tootlepedal used her share as mulch for one of her hedges.

I noted that we are at the start of the days of the daffodils now.

daffodil panel

After lunch, we drove up on to the Langholm Moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal hoped to see a hen harrier and we did see one.  It was hovering over the hill rather too far away for even my long lens to get a good shot of it.

hen harrier march

I hoped to see goats and we saw lots.  In fact we had to be careful not to run them over as they were right beside the road.

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

…and an older goat with a stunning kiss curl gave me a profile.

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

Although these are genuinely feral goats, they are neither aggressive or afraid and they munched away quite happily as I took my pictures.

We left the goats and motored on across the Tarras Water and up to the county boundary.

Looking back I could see the monument….

 

monument from county boundary

…and looking down to the Solway, shining in the distance, I could see the past and present of power generation.  On the near shore, I could see the now defunct Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station which I passed on my bike a couple of days ago, and very faintly behind the chimneys in the middle of the firth, I could just make out the rows of turbines of the Robin Rigg wind farm, currently making power in the brisk wind.

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

We didn’t stop at 1000ft for long as the wind was chilly and we soon headed back down to the shelter of the Tarras valley, where we parked the car and went for a walk.

I checked out the wall behind the car park and found that it was rich with lichen.

tarras car park lichen

We had been along this road not long ago in a howling gale so it was a big improvement to walk along it today, well sheltered from the breeze.

There was less water running down the Tarras and this suited the little cascades down which the river proceeds in leaps and bounds.

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

We strolled along, serenaded at times by flocks of meadow pipits, for about a mile and a half until,we came to this point, where after a look further up the valley…

view towards cooms

…we turned for home.  We had the breeze behind us now, and as the sun came out, it felt positively spring-like as we went back down the valley to the car, passing little gullies…

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

When we got back to the car park, I went forward to take a picture of the road bridge that we would cross to get home…

tarras bridge

…and as I looked at the bridge, I could see that the goats were still on the road beyond it.

Once again, they were happy to hang about for a photo opportunity….

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

Although it was only a short drive and a short walk, it had been a very satisfactory outing and we were well satisfied as we sat down for a cup of tea when we got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a chicken cacciatore for our tea and while it was cooking, Evie and her mother Annie gave us a video call.  If the world had been better organised, we would have been going to London by train today to visit them, so this was a welcome substitute for a real meeting.

The chicken turned out very well and we felt that with a good gardening morning and a successful outing in the afternoon,  we hadn’t done too badly at all in spite of not going to London.

There were very few garden birds about and I was lucky to find this chaffinch willing to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon.  He is offsetting the disappointment of the disappearance of all his normal work thanks to the coronavirus by taking healthy walks along the beautiful Esk between some humdrum jobs which he has taken to fill the gap.

Jocks Pool Simon

I took a walk in the garden after breakfast.  It had been frosty when we woke but the sun made things feel quite pleasant…

forsythia

…and a scilla had added a little more colour to springtime.

scilla

There was shopping to do, so while Mrs Tootlepedal combined shopping and business, I pedalled round to the corner shop passing the oyster catchers at their regular spot beside the river on the way.

two oyster catchers

I like a reliable bird.

After coffee, we went out into the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal did some vegetable bed preparation and I did some compost sieving.  The compost, from the back end of last year, was some of the best that I have made and I put this down to some careful attention to layering green and brown material in the original bin and not letting it get too wet.

We checked on the forced rhubarb and decided that it looked good enough to pick a stalk or two. Its colour was wonderfully fresh.

forced rhubrab

Although it was warm enough to garden comfortably in the sun, the morning cold was not gone and when I tipped some rainwater out of the wheelbarrow, the evidence of the underlying chill was plain.

ice from barrow

A glittering starling serenaded us from the top of the holly tree as we  worked.

starling on holly tree

We went in and Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some administrative work on the computer while I made some lentil soup for lunch.

And kept an eye on the birds.

perching chaffinch on stalk

I got an unusual view of a wood pigeon.

back vire pigeon

There were no siskins in the garden at all today and not many goldfinches either.  This left the field clear for the chaffinches, who gathered on the plum tree…

two male chaffinches sun

…and flew into the feeder uninterrupted by the hostility of siskins.

Both male…

flying chaffinch male panel

…and female chaffinches  took advantage of the peace and quiet.

flying chaffin female panel

I had been waiting for the day to warm up a bit before going cycling but even though the sun was still out after lunch…

chionodoxa and crocus

…and there was a crowd of chaffinches basking in it on the plum tree…

chaffinches in plum tree

..the thermometer refused to rise above 6°C so I put on several layers of bike clothing and then went back in and put on some more when I saw this cloud looming up over the town.

clouds over Langholm

A few drops of rain fell as I set out but I persevered, and the clouds, although still quite impressive,  looked a bit more friendly as I approached Callister.

clouds over callister

And by ten miles, they looked more friendly still.

cloudscape gir road

Out of the sun, it felt chilly but there always seemed to be a bit of sunshine ahead.  Here it was lighting up the pylons that I would follow for the next few miles.

pylons in the sun

Things didn’t look quite so good when I got over the hill and headed down towards the Solway Plain, but the rain shower was a good few miles away so I cut my intended route short, turned away from the dark clouds, and headed for home.

clouds over gretna

It looked like a good decision as I passed this pastoral scene at Half Morton…

half morton

..but life is seldom perfect and I had to pedal through a few miles of light rain not long afterwards.

However, it didn’t last too long and it certainly didn’t dampen my spirits.  This was because my spirits had been considerably dampened already by arguments with my legs.

They were in a very uncooperative mood and I got into trouble with OFFLEG (The office of the regulator of Leg use by Elderly Gentlemen.)  It turns out that in this day and age of politeness, you are no longer able to call your legs “Old Celery Sticks” or “Soggy Spaghetti” when they refuse to help you get up hills.  Ah well, I will be nicer to them when I go out next and hope that that makes them work better.

Still, I managed 26 miles at a very modest pace and that has taken me almost to 600 miles for the year.  After the appalling weather in February, that is not too bad so I shouldn’t complain.

Mrs Tootlepedal roasted the rhubarb with a little sugar coating for a dessert with our evening meal.  The colour was an attractive translucent pink and the taste, enhanced by some custard which I made, was not bad either.

We should have been visiting Matilda in Edinburgh today but we had to make do with a video call in the evening instead.  Matilda and her parents seem to be surviving ‘house arrest’ very well.  Al and Clare are both working from home and they are making use of on line material and help from her school to keep Matilda entertained and learning at the same time.

I had a choice of flying birds of the day but I chose this back view of a male chaffinch to fill the role.

flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture comes from East Wemyss where our son Tony tells us that his dogs found the sea a bit too rough for their liking.

wemyss waves

It was another windy here again, and once again it was very grey too.  The threatened frost didn’t arrive but it wasn’t far above zero at breakfast time.

I cycled round to the shop and checked on the oyster catchers on my way back.

two oyster catchers

Then I walked up to see Sandy.  Trapped in his house for six weeks after his operation, he doesn’t see what all the fuss about a tiny bit of self isolation for the virus is about.  His main worry is that the hospital may be too busy to take his plaster off when his six weeks is up.  That would be hard to bear.

I was very sympathetic and even more so when he plied me with chocolate ginger biscuits to go with good coffee.

When I left him, the rain was holding off so I went home via the track to the Becks Burn.  If you chose your view carefully, the day didn’t look too bad….

view over field topwards warbla

…and there were signs of spring to be seen…

bud becks track

…along the way…

early primroses

…but in general, it was still a pretty miserable day with grey views to match the grey weather.

wintery view becks burn

Still, a nice show of lichen on a gate cheered me up…

lichen on gate

…and when I got to the road, instead of going straight home, I went along Gaskell’s Walk, enjoying the long stemmed moss which carpets the banks in places.

moss

When I got to the Stubholm, I rather felt that the moles had been working so hard that they had made mountains out of their molehills.

molehills

Encouraged by the continuing absence of any persistent rain (there had been one or two opportunist little showers), I extended my stroll to take in Easton’s Walk and was rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a dipper in a little stream at the far end if the Beechy Plains….

dipper murtholm

…and seeing no less than two grey squirrels as I walked back along the river.  If you look with the eye of faith, you may just see one of them scampering up a tree in the picture below.

grey squirrel eastons

They are trying to keep grey squirrels out of the  area to protect the resident red squirrels but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle.

It started to rain seriously as I walked through the park and the sight of blossom dangling from a tree seemed very incongruous as by this time it didn’t feel like a spring day at all.

early blossom park

When I got home, it was lunch time and Mrs Tootlepedal called on all her haute cuisine skills and prepared a dish of baked beans on toast for our delectation.  It went down well.

After lunch, the weather remained very depressing and I gave up thoughts of the great outdoors and settled down to watch Cheltenham races on the telly.  Views on whether the meeting should have taken place at all are divided but the racing was excellent and the sun even shone.

Although the light was too poor for good pictures, I watched the birds when the rain eased off.

A goldfinch and a greenfinch had joined the siskins on the lower level of the feeder.  This was because….

mixed birds on feeder

…there was no seed available at the top level, thanks to dereliction of duty on the part of the feeder filler.

siskin checking on seed

A dereliction of which the greenfinch took a dim view.  He didn’t care to be mixing with impertinent siskins.

greenfinch on feeder

In a quiet moment, a chaffinch sneaked in.

flying goldfinch

I had to look twice to see what sort of bird this was, perched on the feeder.  It turned out to be  greenfinch, probably a juvenile.

young greenfinch

I made a sausage stew for our evening meal and when we had eaten it,  I joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was organising an envelope stuffing event at the Day Centre for the community buy out group.  This is for a mass posting to give everyone in the town a chance to see the prospectus for the proposal and add their support to the group if they wish.

Seven stuffers were in action but as there were 1400 envelopes to stuff with five separate pieces of paper and a brochure for each one, it was not the work of a moment.  We got finished though and the envelopes are sitting in our front room as I write this, ready for distribution over the weekend.

envelope stuffing

If any local reader would like to help with the big task of distribution of the brochures in their street or area, Mrs Tootlepedal would be very happy to hear from them tomorrow.

Flying birds were hard to spot in the gloom so this goldfinch was the best that I could do.

_20S7837

Footnote: I just manged 10,000 steps for the day.  If I can’t get a cycle ride in, I am at least trying to get a good walk if I can.

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Today’s guest picture once again arises from my brother Andrew taking his son on vigorous hill walks to help Nick prepare for a trek in Nepal.  Ignoring Storm Jorge’s strong winds, they battled up to the top of Bunster Hill and enjoyed this splendid view of the junction of the Rivers Dove and Manifold (and some traces of the recent flooding).

Manifold and Dove rivers

I did no hill climbing today, or indeed any exercise of note at all, apart from walking to church in the morning.  To be truthful, I walked back too, but that still didn’t amount to much.

I had felt so much better after my restful day yesterday that I decided that some more of the same would be a good idea.

I wasn’t entirely idle as I made a beef stew with carrots, turnip and parsnip for the slow cooker in the morning and a loaf of bread in the bread maker in the afternoon.

In between, I did some archive group work on the computer and watched the birds.

We have a small but select supply of redpolls at the moment…

redpoll looking round

…of which I approve, though I am not sure that this siskin is so keen on them.

redpoll and siskin

We had a good few chaffinches around and the siskins definitely didn’t approve of them…

siskin and chaffinch

…and any chaffinch approaching got a dusty welcome…

siskin blasting chaffinch

…and was quite likely to be blown away by the ferocity of the welcome.

siskin shouting at chaffinch

These goldfinches were more relaxed when a siskin approached them.

siskin threatening two goldfinches

I had a look round the garden before lunch but it was very cold in the brisk wind so I didn’t loiter and this encouraging azalea bud was the most exciting thing that I saw.

azalea bud 1 March

I was soon back inside, drinking coffee and watching the birds again.  A dunnock lurked among the flower stems…

dunnock among the plants

…and a pigeon arrived for some fallen seed…

pigeon head and shoulders

…while up above a goldfinch checked the feeder for aggressive siskins before venturing down.

quizzical goldfinch

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the community choir there.  We were early so I had time for another look round the garden with my phone camera in hand before we left.  This time some flowers caught my eye.

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some old dead stems from around the pink hellebores to give us a better view of them from the kitchen window.  They looked unusually cheerful about this, I thought.

hellebore

The first pulmonaria flowers have also appeared.

pulomonaria

When we got to the choir, we found that our usual conductor Ellen was not there and we were inclined to be a bit disappointed, but she had sent down a really excellent substitute, Andy.  He was in tremendously energetic form and passed on some very useful techniques for improving our singing at various points in our pieces as well as jollying us along to produce some really whole-hearted choral efforts.   We all left the practice feeling uplifted by the warmth of his personality on a cold day.

The drive home had two good points about it.  Firstly, it was still light the whole way home, and secondly, the starlings were in fine form overhead as we drove through Longtown.

The stew turned out well and it rounded off a day which was a great improvement on the one which dire forecasts of the malevolence of Storm Jorge had led us to expect. The forecast for next week suggests that we will have nothing more than a mild breeze until next weekend.  Some relief from strong winds will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: After my two quiet days, I am feeling pretty well, so I hope to be more active tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Northumbrian holiday.  It shows Bamburgh Castle, which he visited with his daughters and granddaughter even though he had to pay to get in.  His granddaughter got in free in her pushchair though.

bamburgh castle dennis

As Mrs Tootlepedal had an assignation to have coffee with her ex-work colleagues, I walked up the hill to have coffee with Sandy.  With Dropscone being away, there has been a scone drought so I was very happy to find that through the good wishes of an earlier visitor, Sandy had a supply of unlicensed scones to go with our coffee.  They went down well with some raspberry jam.

After our recent sunny days, it was back to normal today and it rained from morning until after dark.  When I left Sandy’s, the rain had eased back to a gentle drizzle so I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk across the Becks Burn.

A horse and and I had a meeting of minds on the state of the weather.

horse giving me the eye

There has still been no demand for the fallen crab apples beside the track.

fallen apples becks track

A sheep posed nicely for me and showed off how wet the ground is now.

sheep becks track

When I got to the Becks Burn, I was able to see the law of unintended consequences in action.    The stream used to flow straight on when it was flooded making access to the bottom of the steps on the far bank very difficult if not impossible.  Someone created a serviceable dam out of natural materials and now the stream stays in its bed and it is possible to get to the steps on dry ground.

bank dammed becks burn

However, the strength of the stream as it is forced to go round a corner instead of going straight on has eaten away at the opposite bank so that support for a walkway has been undermined and getting down to the bridge is getting more difficult all the time.

bank collapsed becks burn

It is still passable though so I crossed the bridge and walked up the steps to get to the road home.

There were several crops of fungus, bright enough to catch the eye on the way.

fungi becks trackfungi becks burn 2fungi becks burn 1

As I walked back down the hill to the town, I could see that the snowdrops are nearing the end of their flowering life…

snowdrop becks road

…but there is never any shortage of lichen on the hedge plants…

lichen on hedge becks road

…or moss.

mossy hedge pool corner

The trees by the river are mossy too.

mossy branches pool corner

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got back so I did the crossword, had a light lunch and occasionally watched birds.

There hadn’t been many about after breakfast…

birds on feeder

…but I had changed the feeder before I went to Sandy’s and two greenfinches were enjoying the new feeder.  They were managing to waste a lot of my expensive seed.  I will have to offer the birds lessons in neat feeding.

two greenfinches dropping food

On the whole, the birds were a bit shy…

shy chaffinch

….and as the light was poor, I didn’t do a lot of bird watching.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back thoroughly soaked from bicycling around the town on business but the heavier rain didn’t discourage the siskins who arrived later…

siksin on feeder

…and instantly…

ill bred siskin behaviour 2

…started arguing.

ill bred siskin behaviour 1

A blackbird kept well out of the way.

balckbird crocus

I spent some useful time practising songs for the Carlisle Choir and looking at hymns for Sunday’s church service and managed not to get too depressed by the return of the rain.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a news item which said that Scotland has had twice the normal rainfall this February. February is usually the driest winter month apparently, but with it being a leap year so the month has an extra day and another named storm arriving tomorrow, this month is going out in whatever the opposite of a blaze of glory is.

For our tea, Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious toad in the hole with some sausages lightly flavoured with chillis and perfect batter.  The evening was further brightened by a visit from Mike and Alison who were pleased to find that the rain had stopped by the time that they came round for their usual Friday evening visit.  I enjoyed the duets with Alison.

It hadn’t stopped when I took the flying bird of the day picture earlier on. The chaffinch was expertly avoiding the heavier raindrops.

flying chaffinch

Welly boot note: The Norwegian weather forecast says that we are not going to be too oppressed by Storm Jorge tomorrow.   I hope that they are right.  The BBC was more gloomy.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo on her visit to Australia.  She found that King Parrots are very partial to an offer of a snack.

IMG-2671

We had a bit of a contrast to Mary Jo’s sunny Queensland weather here, as the hills were covered in mist and the ground was white with sleety slush when we woke up.

Even the colours on the redpoll…

_20S7399

…and goldfinch seemed subdued.

_20S7404

It was raining in a persistent and mean minded way (when it wasn’t sleeting, that is) and going outside was not an attractive option.

So I stayed in and watched the birds.

Until I got bored and walked round to the shop to get milk.  I was protected from the worst of the wind and rain by a large umbrella.

After the delight of yesterday’s sunshine, it was not a colourful day….

P1030496

…but the route to the shop takes me along the waterside so there is always the chance of seeing something interesting.  Today it was a pair of oyster catchers keeping as snug as they could in the horrible conditions.

P1030498

Perhaps their posture is an example of keeping a weather eye open.

I took the milk home and then took myself off to visit Sandy, who is still housebound.

He was very cheerful and entertained me to coffee and excellent ginger cake.  On my way home, I stopped to look over the town to see if the prospects for the day had improved at all.

They hadn’t.

IMG_20200224_112622

When I got back, I put the bread maker to work and made some soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had another look at the birds.  There was no shortage of customers for seeds…

_20S7403

…and the redpolls got into some keen competition for perches.

_20S7411

The winner returned to the perch, although it didn’t look very happy about it…

_20S7413

…while the loser sat on a pole and pretended that it didn’t care.

_20S7419

Down below, a dunnock merged into the background.

_20S7420

The wind dropped and after lunch, it stopped raining for long enough for me to put on my cycling gear.  Then, of course,  it started again.  I wasn’t going to take my gear off though, after all the bother of putting on what seemed like several hundred layers of warm clothing so I got my bike out and went off with hope in my heart and rain on my cycling glasses.

I was worried that the morning sleet might still be lying on the road in slushy patches but it was well above freezing and the rain had done its work so the road was clear.  It was running with water in many places and I was very glad to have a stout pair of waterproof socks to keep my feet warm and dry.

I had an unusual experience when a lorry coming the other way met me at one of these puddly spots.  As it approached me, and absolutely on purpose, it slowed down and passed me without splashing me.  I was so shocked that I nearly fell off my bike.

After three and a half miles when I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse and began to feel the wind in my face as I left the shelter of the valley, I considered the way ahead…

P1190535

…and went back to Langholm.

A bull in the field opposite was not impressed by my lack of get up and go.

P1190536

I took this picture on the way back and despite what you may think, it is a full colour shot.

P1190537

When I put it into my photo editor in the evening, I changed it into greyscale mode. It summed up the day when as far as I could see, nothing changed in the picture at all.  Truly a grey day.

I got back to Langholm and since the rain had stopped, I went round the town and pedalled back up to Wauchope Schoolhouse again. In the end, I squeezed sixteen miles out of a miserable afternoon but as it was my first cycle ride for two weeks, I was grateful to get any miles in at all.  And I felt a lot better for the exercise.

I put my bike away and went in to watch the birds again.  I had put a second feeder out in the morning as there seemed to be quite a lot of birds about, and both feeders were getting well used before I left with a selection of goldfinches, siskins and redpolls in action.

_20S7422

By the time that I got back, a lot of the seed had disappeared.  The redpolls and goldfinches had disappeared too and the siskins had taken over completely.

_20S7423

They were everywhere, under the feeders, on top of the feeders…

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…all over the walnut tree…

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…and on the feeders themselves.

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I counted over a hundred of them in the garden.  I just wish that the light had been better so that I could have done them justice.  As it was, the rain started again and I went off to have a shower, leaving the skins to it.

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When I came downstairs, I found that Mike Tinker had dropped in for a cup of tea so I joined him and Mrs Tootlepedal for a chat and some serious biscuit consumption.

When Mike left, it was time for my flute playing friend Luke to come round for our weekly burst of duets.  He told me that is going for a job interview tomorrow so I wished him luck.  I would employ him as he is a very sound lad.

The active day ended with a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie, always a good way to end a day.

Looking at the forecast, there seems to be no end to our run of cold, wet weather for the next week with only a very occasional glimpse of sunshine promised, so I am more pleased than ever to have sneaked a few miles in today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who arrived before the siskin invasion.

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