Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture shows Langholm exile Tom getting ready to set off on the Capetown Cycle Tour  a few days ago.  He tells me that it is 109 kms around the peninsula, with great views but the route is hilly.

Tom biking in SA

He suggested that it might be just the thing for me next year but I fear that the bus fare to get there might be a bit steep too.

I should have been able to excite readers with a selection of exciting bird and frog pictures but I took the card out of my camera and put it down somewhere so sensible that I can’t find it all.  You will have to imagine the birds and frogs and this shouldn’t be too hard as they will be much the same as ever.

I had a quiet morning as Mrs Tootlepedal went off early  to visit Matilda in Edinburgh and I retired to bed until lunch time as I had had  a very poor night’s sleep.

The fact that it was raining all morning as well as being cold and windy made staying in bed seem like a really good idea.

In the afternoon, I went to Carlisle and discussed bikes with the bike shop man.  He showed me a picture of the crack in the fairly speedy bike…

cracked bike

…which looked quite serious to me.   It is possible to get an aluminium frame crack welded but I am not going to do it because if one has appeared, it seems likely that another one might follow it.  The bike has been bumping over our rotten roads for many years on high pressure tyres and I feel that it doesn’t owe me anything and can be gracefully retired.

Besides, it is exciting to be contemplating a new bike, even at my age.

Oh, Mrs Tootlepedal has just come in with the camera card which needed her skills to be found.  Here is a late bird and frog show.

A happy frog…


…a cautious chaffinch…


…and a chaffinch catastrophe.  Ouch.


Back to the story in Carlisle:

After doing the new bike contemplation, I went to the station to meet Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had had a day of misfiring transport links with late buses and a missed train but had still managed to have an enjoyable lunch with Matilda and her father.

The reason for the early start and return was the need to be present as our Carlisle choir sang in the Carlisle Music Festival.  We were entered in two classes for open choirs, one with seven entries and one with four.  Rather to our surprise, we won the larger of the two classes and came second in the other.

The shield for the winning choir was enormous….

choir at Carlisle music festival

…which was only fair because our choir is enormous too.

choir at Carlisle music festival

This is about half of them.

Our very talented conductor can be seen in the back row looking justifiably proud of his work.

What with considering a new bicycle and singing in the choir, the day ended a great deal better than it had begun.

I even caught a flying bird of the day while I was having my sardine sandwich for lunch.




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In contrast to yesterday’s Antiguan sun, today’s guest picture shows a typical day in Derby.  My brother Andrew was suffering in the rain there a couple of day ago.


We had another very welcome dry day here today and things are even beginning to hint at drying out a little.  A bit more warmth would help the process.

A brisk wind also helps and we got that today, the downside being that it was a pretty chilly breeze and it made the day which was theoretically warm at 10°C feel a good deal colder.  Still, it was a useful day for a pedal and some gardening so we were happy.

My fairly speedy bike was still in the bike shop so I went out on the slow bike and stuck to skulking 18 miles twice up and down the Wauchope valley, as far out of the wind as I could stay.

I was impressed by the dedication of a flock of sheep to getting their strength up and stopped for a shot…


…and as I always look closely at a wall when I am leaning over one to take a photo, I took some lichen pictures while I was at it.

lichen on wall

I like the variations in colour, shape and style that the lichen on our roadside walls provides.

Otherwise, I kept my head well down in the crosswinds on the ride and didn’t take any more pictures.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had completed some errands round the town and was busy gardening.

She is very pleased with the early crocuses this year and so am I.

There are some brighter ones about…


…but the bulk of the flowers are a delicate pale violet and I like them both for themselves and when they mingle with the snowdrops.


And because I like eating it, I was very happy to see that the rhubarb is looking very promising.


Then I went inside and looked out.  The kitchen makes a warm and comfortable bird hide and supplies good coffee too (Rwandan today).

I looked high…


…and low.


After lunch, I went off for a walk.  It had been gently sunny while I had pedalled along in the morning but the clouds had come over for my walk and it was a grey afternoon.

Pathhead track

Snowdrops provided some cheer both at the start and near the finish of my walk.


On grey days, I tend to keep my eyes on the foreground and ignore the views and there is always something to help to pass the time.

This wall provided a home for some luxuriant moss.

mossy wall

And a birch tree had a neat circle of script lichen.

script lichen

As always, walls are a never ending source of delight and today I came across a growth which I hadn’t seen before.  It is the coral like structure on the left in the panel below.  I think that it must be lichen but I am by no means confident about that.

lichen on wall

On the other hand, I am confident about this.


This is definitely cladonia lichen.

I had already stopped at a promising piece of wall before I had noticed the tiny spots of red so either my lichen radar is improving with practice or I was just lucky because I didn’t see any more along the the wall.


It really is very red indeed.

I started and finished my walk with a visit to the Kilngreen in the hope of seeing some oyster catchers.

There was a pair at the Meeting of the Waters when I was on my out but they flew off with a gull before I could get too close…

oyster catchers

And there was a pair (probably the same pair I would imagine) in the same place when I came back an hour later and they flew off again, first to further up the bank of the river…

oyster catcher

…and then again to join the gulls on the fence posts.

Luckily one of them flew right past me.

oyster catcher

When I saw that I wasn’t going to get close to them, I took a shot through an arch of the Langholm Bridge which gave me a lot of pleasure even on a grey day.

Langholm Bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden again when I got back and I fell easily into a supervisory role.  It is a suitable role for me as it doesn’t involve doing anything else but walking around and saying, “That looks good.”

In the evening, I went to sing with our local choir and enjoyed myself not least because I am sitting next to my cello playing friend Mike who is an excellent singer and keeps me right.

He remarked that he and his wife have been enjoying the frog pictures on the blog so here is one from today, especially for them.


The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull which  flew by while I was tracking the oyster catchers.  It has almost got its spring black head.

black headed gull


Oh and the title of the blog refers to a telephone call which I received from the bike shop this evening to tell me that the fairly speedy bike has got a two inch crack in the frame so it is time to say farewell to an old friend. Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that it is just as well to discover a crack like that when it is in the bike shop and not when you are going down hill at 30mph.

I don’t remember exactly when I bought the fairly speedy bike, a Giant SCR, but I must have had it for over ten years so it will have done about 40,000 miles at least.  It has been a good servant, comfortable and reliable and I will be very happy if my new bike turns out to be as good.

I am going to look at getting a replacement suitable for a elderly gentleman with no great bike handling skills but who enjoys getting a few miles in over a year. Like Two Ton Tessie O’Shea used to say about herself, it will be built for comfort more than for speed.  I know my limits now.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  From Manitoba but not in Manitoba as she has taken a break from endless winter to catch a ray or two in Antigua.  It looks like a good decision as more snow has arrived at home.

Mary Jo's holiday

We had a generally sunny, almost totally dry day here which was very welcome.  A nippy wind kept us from discarding many layers of outdoor clothing though.

I started the day by going to a warehouse on the banks of the Wauchope to collect some bags of potting compost for Mrs Tootlepedal and I admired one of the many little Wauchope cascades as I waited for  the compost treasure house to be opened.

Wauchope cascade

When  I got back to the garden, a song thrush was living up to its name by giving a recital from a branch of the walnut tree.


Down below a blackbird was engaged in a worm hunt.


And in the pond, frogs were being shiny.


Dropscone dropped in (with scones) for a cup of coffee and I got an update on a Scottish Golf meeting which he had attended where revolting members had gone against the wishes of the executive.  That is par for the course these days.

While we sipped and chatted, a robin flew in.


After Dropscone left (to go and play golf), I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden only to be greeted by some rain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long and after this shock, the day behaved itself admirably.

All our neighbours were out in their gardens too and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to pass a surplus rhubarb plant across a fence to Irving and Libby who are establishing their new garden.

I wandered around counting bees….

bees on crocus

…and finding that there were a lot to count.  I was trying to catch them while they were still flying with variable success…

bees on crocus

…this one seems to be flying with one wing and resting with the other.

Still, it was very encouraging to see so many bees among the crocuses.

The frogs were providing a musical background for the bee hunt and I went to visit them too.

Some were getting together….


…and some were just thinking about it.


After lunch, I put on some cycling clothes, went outside and tested the wind and then went back in and put another layer on. Then I got the slow bike out and went off for a gentle pedal with pictures in mind.

I didn’t go along the Wauchope road as I usually do but went up the Esk valley towards Bentpath.  This route is very up and down and luckily gives me plenty of excuses to stop for a photo as I go along.

It was a glorious day for being out and about but in spite of the sunshine, there were still traces of snow about….


Just before I reached the village of Bentpath, I passed a hare which had been run over by a car and got a bit of a shock when there was a tremendous flapping of wings and crying and mewing as two buzzards rose up and flew above my head.  Usually buzzards just fly off quietly when anyone approaches but the reason for their agitation became clear when I saw this:

buzzard on road

I take it that is a young buzzard and the cause of its parent’s excitement.  I passed it by and went on for a good few yards before looking back, expecting to see the parents swoop down and go off with the youngster but nothing happened.

There was no sign of the other two birds and the buzzard on the road stayed stock still even when a car could be heard approaching.  I waved the car down and it slowed and passed within a few feet of the bird which didn’t move an inch.

I was considering my options when another car approached.  Once again, I waved it down and its driver summed up the situation very well.  He drove up to the buzzard, stopped and sounded his car horn gently.  At this, the buzzard flew off and normal service was resumed.

I pedalled on but not before admiring a tree, wall and gate composition on the other side of the road.

Benty gate

I crossed the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath…

Benty bridge

…but couldn’t get a good view of the bridge because of the scrub beside the river.  I couldn’t get a very good view of the church beside the bridge either because the powers that be have thought it best to put as many posts, wires and road signs in front of it as possible.

Westerkirk Church with poles

It would be nice if they could all be made to disappear but the camera never lies…

Westerkirk Church without poles

…or does it?

I pedalled on and just as I was wondering if they still kept alpacas at Georgefield, I got the answer in the middle of the road.

alpaca on road

As I didn’t want to chase it along the road, I was worried about not being able to get past the animal but the alpaca took the matter into its own hands and trotted past me into its own farmyard.

Having been delayed by a bird and and an animal, I was expecting to be waylaid by a fish later in the journey but they kept themselves to themselves and I managed to get home with no more alarums and excursions.

I recrossed the Esk by the Enzieholm bridge and headed back down the valley.  I got a better view of the Benty bridge…

Benty bridge

…and spotted a pair of oyster catchers beside the river nearby.

oyster catchers Benty
I have cycled over the bridge across the Boyken Burn at Old Hopsrig many times but never stopped to take its picture before.

Boyken Burn bridge

As usual, I had a look at the bridge parapet to see if there was any interesting lichen or moss there and was very surprised to find a tiny but perfectly formed tree growing in a gap between stones.

Boyken Burn bridge tree

The route I was taking has been used for many hundreds of years and I could see the site of a hill top iron age fort at Craig.

Iron age fort

When I got home, needless to say I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  She had planted out her primroses but hadn’t been able to put them all where she had planned because, rather unexpectedly, some winter aconites had poked their heads above the soil.

winter aconite and primrose

Still, that is welcome problem to have and she found a home for the primroses elsewhere.

By this time, even on a fine day, the light was beginning to fade and the temperature drop so we went in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We are expecting a light frost tonight but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is light enough to do no harm.  It is the price to pay for a bit of fine weather at this time of year.  (A quick look at our local weather station tells me that it is zero degrees C  as I write this.)

In spite of the fine weather, I didn’t manage to get a picture of a flying bird today so I have had to make do with this big bird scraping the roof tiles of our neighbour.

low flying plane





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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Bruce.  He had ventured as far as Aberdeen where he saw this pillar box.  Reading the crest on the front which says Edward VII,  he reckons that it has been standing there for over 100 years.

aberdeen postbox

After some slightly warmer weather, we reverted to type and it  struggled to get over 5°C and because the air was quite damp and the wind was coming from the north east, it felt quite chilly all day.

But it was dry and the wind was light so I got out the fairly speedy bike to have a last ride on it before it went in for its service.  We had plans for the afternoon so I rather boringly went round my customary short 20 mile run through Canonbie.  Since the route was familiar and the skies were leaden, I didn’t intend to stop to take pictures but I almost always carry my camera and I couldn’t pass these characters at Canonbie without stopping for a snap.

canonbie cow

canonbie cow

And my favourite….

canonbie cow

…there is an eye there if you look very closely.

I had just arrived home when the minister, with his coffee radar in perfect working order, arrived.  He told us that he had done a 60 mile sportive in Yorkshire on Saturday and considering that he has done hardly any miles on his bike this winter, he was very pleased to have got round in good shape and at a decent speed.  Kudos to him.

When he left, I had to clean my bike to make it respectable enough to go to the bike shop and then I cleaned the bird feeders and then took a moment or two to look around.

However, the light was so poor and the flowers in such a sulk that there was nothing to see so we went off for our outing.  We combined dropping off the bike at the bike shop with a visit to a garden centre for lunch and then a bird feed emporium to buy more seed.

I took the opportunity to buy a new helmet when I was in the bike shop.  I tried many helmets on but they didn’t fit at all well and woggled about on my pointy head.  In the end, the only one that fitted well and was light and comfortable was also among the most expensive.  I bought it anyway because a comfortable and light helmet is worth a lot

When we got home, I had another look around and this time there were many frogs to be seen.


And a lot of frogs spawn.


Mrs Tootlepedal embarked on some gardening work and I tested the compost in Bin D to see if it would sieve.  It did and I was able to spread a little about on one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new beds.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that the sparrowhawk had paid three visits to the garden in the morning so it was not surprising that there weren’t a lot of birds about today.  One blackbird caused a stir when it flew up on to the kitchen windowsill and stuck there, frozen into immobility.  Even the arrival of the window cleaners couldn’t persuade it to move and in the end Mrs Tootlepedal went out and shifted it by hand.

blackbird on windowsill

On a nearby bench, another blackbird expressed concern.


I don’t know what had happened to it.  It wasn’t trembling and I wonder if it had seen its own reflection in the window and was baffled about what was happening and where to go.  It flew out of Mrs Tootlepedal’s hand so it wasn’t fatally injured.

The few male chaffinches which came to the feeders were looking very bright.

chaffinch and siskin


But they were not as bright as some gaudy primroses which Mrs Tootlepedal purchased the other day and which are waiting to go into the garden.


The colour will be very welcome.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a good time playing a Haydn sonata.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and although as Isabel put it, we had some room for improvement, we enjoyed the playing a lot.

The absence of birds and the gloomy light made finding a flying bird of the day very hard and this was the best that I could manage.

chaffinch and siskin








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Today’s guest picture is my final offering from Venetia’s American trip and shows more wildlife from Yellowstone.  This time it is a mule deer.

deer in Yellowstone

The forecast was for a dry sunny day here today and I had hopes of a decent cycle ride but the good weather came with a frosty morning so I had to wait to get going.

The frost had frozen the first clump of frog spawn in the pond…

frozen frog spawn

…and I don’t know whether potential tadpoles can stand being frozen and unfrozen.

The sun soon brought the early crocuses to life…

fly on crocus

..with added insect.

There weren’t as many birds about today as there have been lately so I only put out one feeder but traffic was brisk for a while on it.

busy feeder

Luckily, the ever reliable Dropscone was on hand with some traditional Friday treacle scones to help to pass the time over a cup or two of coffee and when he left….

…there were more crocuses to look at….



…and there were enough frogs in the pond to ensure that there should be fresh supplies of spawn soon.

frogs in pond

It was interesting to me that I had been able to take much better frog pictures yesterday on a duller day than I could in the fairly bright sunshine today.  It just goes to show how important light is to a camera.


In the end, I waited so long for the temperature to rise to what I considered a safe level that I had to have some lunch before I set out and it was early afternoon when I finally got going.

The trouble with the heaps of snow beside the back roads is that as they melt, they cover the road with water and if this freezes, it is impossible to avoid.  Thanks to my delayed start,  by the time that I was on the road things were safe enough….

Near Cubbyhill

…though a driver thought that this rather narrow avenue was just the place to pass me.  I don’t like to rejoice in the misfortunes of others but I wasn’t as sympathetic as I might have been when she ran into quite a deep pothole just after she had almost squeezed me into the snow.

I headed down to the flat country round Gretna as I find it hard to get my legs really interested in hills when the temperatures are low.  The wind had shifted a bit to the north west and was colder than yesterday so it was lucky that the sun stayed out to warm my old bones.

There were good views to be had.


I stopped regularly to have a snack, a drink and a breather for a minute or two and on one bridge, I found some unusual looking moss when I leaned on the parapet for support.

moss on railway bridge

It was a railway bridge and a train whizzed past underneath me as I stood there.

virgin train

The trains look exactly the same from either end so you have to know that trains drive on the left to realise that this one was going away from me by the time that I had got my camera focussed.

As I crossed the border between England and Scotland no less than four times on my short journey and each time on different roads of different sizes, I reflected that the airy politicians who talk of the Irish border being no trouble to organise just using technology are very optimistic to the point of stupidity. (And of course, we don’t talk about Gibraltar.)  My mind often wanders while I pedal along.

It was such a nice day that I thought that a trip to the sea side was in order and so I went down to the Solway shore  at Brow Houses where I found someone else enjoying the sunshine on a handily placed bench.

Brow Houses

It is only really the sea side when the tide is in.  On a day like today when the tide was far out, it is more just the estuary of the River Esk….

Esk estuary

…as it runs between sandbanks.

Still, I could see the Lake District hills on the English side…

Solway and Lake District Hills

…and some interesting water fowl on our side…


…so I was pleased to be there as I munched a banana and some prunes.   I was a bit too far away from the ducks to get a good picture but I think that they may be shelducks.

I have been short of bridge pictures lately owing to doing so little cycling during the winter so I stopped to admire this neat railway bridge carrying the Gretna to Annan railway…

railway bridge near Rigg

…before taking a pretty direct and wind assisted route home through Gretna and Longtown.

This gave me the chance to book the fairly speedy bike in for its annual service at the bike shop in Longtown and to consider buying a new bike helmet as the one I was wearing today has a serious crack in it after the unfortunate incident last month.

I am not intending to fall off again but then I wasn’t intending to fall off last time so one can’t be too careful.  There was a big item on the news last night about the benefits to the health of elderly people that a few hours a week on a bike brings but it didn’t mention the possible side effects for the careless pedaller!

I went through Canonbie on my way back as the main road was fairly humming with traffic and this gave me the opportunity, as I stopped for my final snack and breather, to get a sideways look at my favourite three trees…

trees at Grainstonehead

…and to enjoy the late afternoon sun catching the church and manse as I went through the village.

Canonbie Church

When I got home, I found that the gardener had been making good use of the fine weather by working on the new arrangements of lawn and flower beds.  She was taking a moment to view the work in progress.  Note the neat line of transplanted snowdrops/

gardener in thought

The man who made our compost bins came this morning to consult Mrs Tootlepedal about renewing some of her raised vegetable beds and he is also going to make us a new bench to replace the one on the picture, which is well past its ‘best by’ date.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been counting the frogs in the pond and told me that she had seen eleven at one time.   There were still several about when I looked.


After only managing 140 miles in the whole of February, I have done 112 in the last four days so it is not too surprising that I am feeling a little tired tonight.  The forecast says that there is a good chance that it might rain all day tomorrow so I might get an enforced rest.

The flying bird of the day was one of the early morning visitors.

flying goldfinch

For those interested, here is the map of my ride and a click on the map will bring up the full details.

Garmin route 8 March 2018

If you bring up the route and look at the map, a click on the third button along on the top left of the box will give you the chance to choose the ‘satellite’ option.  This, if you zoom in, gives you a very dramatic view of the Solway Firth with the tide well out, just as it was today.

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Today’s guest picture puts our recent snow here into perspective.  It was sent to me by Lucie from Manitoba and it shows an unwelcome late and heavy fall of snow which was making life hard for birds on her feeder.

snow in manitoba

We had another chilly day today but it didn’t rain and the sun came out for a while so we were quite pleased about that.

As Sandy is a bit poorly at the moment, I took his turn to fill the feeders at the Moorland Project feeder station.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and while she sat in the car and scanned the skies in vain for hen harriers, I looked for smaller birds from the hide.

tits at Laverock hide

Great tit, coal tit and blue tit complete a set.


The one glimpse of a woodpecker that I got


A male chaffinch


And another one

flying chaffinch

And one of a lot of flying chaffinches catching the morning sun

Mrs Tootlepedal may not have seen any raptors but she did get a good view of an impressive cloud behind Whita.


We got home in good time for a cup of coffee and a slice of walnut and banana loaf and then I did the crossword until the day had got warm enough to make for inviting cycling.

The garden birds were not as co-operative as the moorland birds had been and indeed, some of them indulged in behaviour that can only be described as very, very childish.

birds' bums

There is no need for that sort of thing at all.

I left them to themselves and went to look for frogs.  There were a lot in the pond.


For some reason the light was perfect for reflections today.

Although it wasn’t very warm and the sun wasn’t very bright, the crocuses were responding to the better weather.

In the end, I ran out of excuses for not cycling and wrapped myself up as warmly as I could and set out to do a thirty mile circle avoiding as many potholes as I could.

I paused for a moment by a bridge not far from home to adjust a wrinkle in my many layers and was impressed by the variety of life to be seen on it.


There was still a lot of snow beside the back roads….

gair road

…and indeed there is more piled up there than in the neighbouring fields.


But the roads were mostly dry and while the sun was out, it was a pleasure to be cycling.  Once the sun went in before the halfway mark, it was much chillier and I kept going rather than stopping to take a lot of pictures.

At 17 miles, I was thinking that I wasn’t anything like as fit as I would have liked to be but when i turned for home, I discovered that I had been so well wrapped up that I hadn’t realised just how strong the wind was.  It blew me home in a very satisfactory manner.

By the time that I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I made a sausage stew for my tea.  That sounds a bit basic but if you dignify it with the name of sausage casserole or even sausage cassoulet (it had beans in it), it sounds a bit classier.  It tastes just the same though.

The reason that I did not go with Mrs Tootlepedal to Edinburgh was that it was a recorder day and in the evening, Susan came round and she drove us to Carlisle where we enjoyed a good evening of music with our recorder group.

This has been a rather perfunctory description of a very enjoyable day but it was quite late by the time that we got back from Carlisle and I am a bit tired so I apologise.

Because the garden birds were so uncooperative, I did think of using a frog as the flying bird of the day today just to teach them a lesson…


…but I found that I had got a reasonable flying chaffinch from our morning visit to the Laverock Hide.

So here it is, the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture is an impressive sea cave from Dropscone’s Irish holiday.


Our thaw continued and there was no snow to show on the lawns when we woke up.  It was still fairly chilly and grey with occasional rain so we are not breaking out the spring champagne yet.

It took the siskins a bit of time to get to the garden this morning but there were plenty of them when they finally arrived….

siskins and goldfinch

…with the occasional goldfinch and chaffinch trying to gatecrash the party.

siskins and chaffinch

There were no blackbirds or robins in sight when I looked out of the kitchen window but I did see a lone dunnock.


I don’t know if the low level birds are put off by the siskins, who are quite noisy or whether they have found somewhere else to go for the time being.  Life is full of inexplicable mysteries.

After coffee, I girded my loins and got my cycling gear on and of course, it immediately started to rain.   I had a marmalade sandwich while I waited and when the rain stopped, I set off.

The rain started again.

But it didn’t last and by the time that I was three miles up the road, things looked a lot brighter.

Bloch view

I thought that this narrow back road over the hill down to Canonbie might be clear of snow so I pedalled on cautiously and apart from some wind-formed snow sculptures beside the road at Tarcoon…

snow at Tarcoon

…there was little snow to see let alone to worry about.  As the sun had come out, it wasn’t a bad day for a pedal at all, though the brisk and chilly wind made me grateful to be very well wrapped up even in the sunshine.

I was quite keen to get home before any more showers arrived so I didn’t stop for any more pictures.  Although the skies clouded over before I got to Langholm, I arrived home dry and cheerful

A quick walk round the garden revealed crocuses trying their best…


…and a pond full of frogs.  They all dived under the water as I approached except this one who waited for a portrait.


It is a source of wonder that a frog’s eye is so prominently reflected on the surface of the pond but it can be a bit annoying for the happy snapper.

It wasn’t hard to see a lot of moss almost everywhere I looked in the garden.

It was on trees, piles of stones….

garden moss

….paths and lawns.  It sometimes feels that if we don’t get a good long dry spell sometime soon, we will gradually be engulfed under an inexorable tide of moss.

After lunch, a man arrived and hitched up the dam bridge repairers’ tea shack and office to his pick up…..

dam bridge repairs

…and drove off with it.   The road closed signs were also removed during the morning so we are almost back to normal again.  Just the railings to come.

It was a bit gloomy outside in the afternoon so Mrs Tootlepedal thought that a walk might be more cheerful than scratching around in a cold, damp garden and we went off to view the felled wood at the Becks Burn.

Of course, there was moss to look at on a wall as we walked along…

moss on wall

…and we liked the very vivid green of the expanding layer around the edge of this clump.

As we walked up through the field from the road, we could see that the Beck’s Burn was running freely with a combination of melted snow and rain…

becks burn bridge

…and Mrs Tootlepedal, who hasn’t visited the felling before, found that the view ahead was dramatically changed.

becks burn wood

We went up for a closer look, passing a striking tree stump on the way.


A bench had been placed on the edge  of the felled area.  If it was me, I would have turned it towards the view of Warbla to the left but as it was…becks burn wood

… it was looking at this.


Not the most exciting view in the world.

As it started to rain, the prospect was even more gloomy than usual.

On the far side of the burn, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the steps and railing that were part of the walk through the wood before the tree eaters arrived.

becks burn wood steps

I wonder if they will try to re-instate the walk when the felling has finished.

We didn’t stop to explore further because of the drizzle but as soon as we turned for home, it brightened up again…


…and we got home just before the rain re-started.

We passed this rather  artistic tree stump on our way.

mossy tree stump

We had paused to chat to a friend in the street outside the house when we were interrupted by a huge flurry of wings and an entire flock of siskins rose out of our garden and flew off.  It was an impressive sight as there must have been well over 50 birds.

In the evening, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local community choir.  We spent the evening singing operatic choruses in preparation for a concert with our local orchestra next month.  These are fun and quite difficult to sing really well (perhaps because everyone thinks that they know them and they don’t pay enough attention to the score) but they are not as satisfying as singing ‘proper’ choir pieces in four part harmony.

There is a possibility of more snow overnight but we hope that if it does snow, it won’t come to much.  Fingers crossed again.

It was too gloomy for good solo flying bird of the day shots so a sparring duo has got the honour instead.

chaffinch and siskin


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