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Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  It shows the Hood Monument at Compton Dundon.  She tells me that Admiral Samuel Hood (1724-1816) was the son of the local vicar who took in a navy captain when his carriage broke down. Young Samuel (and his younger brother Alexander) were so taken by the captain’s stories that they both joined the navy when they grew up.

Hood Monument in Compton Dundon

After breakfast our new car took us up to the bird hide at the Moorland feeders as I was once again acting as a fill in feeder filler.  Mrs Tootlepedal came too in the hope of seeing hen harriers on the moor but the mist was lying so low on the hillside that she joined me in the hide and we watched a woodpecker instead.

woodpeckers at hide

Unusually, the woodpecker allowed a siskin to share the feeder for a while.

As we left, the mist lifted off the moor…

mist clearing off whita

…but we still didn’t see any raptors.

We got home safely and I had a look round the garden.

A smaller bumble bee was visiting a white dicentra and Solomon’s seal and lily of the valley completed a white trio…

six garden flowers

…while more colourful flowers added a contrast.

I always like our spireas but I like them particularly when they show evidence of overnight rain.

spirea with raindrops

Dropscone arrived for coffee and after the interest shown in his drop scones last Friday, he brought a matching set of soda scones for today.

four soda scones

They were still warm from the cooker and went down very well.

While we ate, drank and chatted, I noticed a blue tit visiting the peanuts.

blue tit on peanuits garden

We haven’t seen one of these for some time so I hope that this one has a nest nearby and will be a regular visitor now.  I like blue tits a lot.

After coffee, I gave Dropscone a  very short ride in the new car and he was quite impressed by its smoothness and quietness.

When he cycled off, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set to work in the garden. We were distracted by a large aircraft making a tight turn above our heads….

passing aeroplane

…but we soon got back to work and added a second fruit cage skeleton to the new beds…

two fruit cage skeletons

…laid the wood chips which we had collected yesterday on a path between the beds…

path and sweet opea cage

…and tied together an ingenious sweet pea defence construction made by Mrs Tootlepedal from bamboos.

We did this in spite of all that the weather  could throw at us…

…though in fact, all that the weather could throw at us was a warm and gentle breeze with some very light drizzle so it was no great Hardship.

This took us up to lunchtime and I went in and watched the birds as I munched on my bread and cheese.   I had filled the feeder in the morning and it was already more than half empty thanks to a steady demand for seed.

goldfinch and siskin

I was quite tired for no very obvious reason so I had a sit down with the crossword after lunch and then I took another wander round the garden.

It just needs a warm and sunny day to bring out the full force of the rhododendrons and azaleas but the first flowers have started to appear…

rhododendrons and azalea

…and there are still tulips waiting to spread their wings.

dark tulip

After a last look at a goldfinch…

goldfinch on feeder

…I spread my own metaphorical wings and went for a slightly longer cycle ride round the 20 miles of my regular Canonbie circuit.

My favourite tree was looking very springlike with added lambs in a brief moment of sunshine..

bloch tree

…but the sun didn’t last and a few spots of drizzle and some very ominous black clouds made me think of taking a short route home.

I stuck to my guns though and was rewarded when the clouds went off to bother someone else.

There are fresh wild flowers in the verges now…

white wild flowers

These are probably stitchwort

…and a full range of green leaves on the trees beside the Esk at the Hollows.

view from hollows bridge May

I stopped to stretch my legs at Irvine House and looked at a couple of trees in the field beside the road,  If these are oaks, which I think they are, they are coming out rather earlier than usual.

two trees at Irvine House

A cow, grazing nearby, took a dim view of my photographic activity.

cows at Irvine House

There are bluebells all over the place now and this display is all that is left of one of the best bluebell woods in the area. Most of it was cut down a few years ago and the bluebells have never recovered.

bluebells on old A7

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and unusually, we had both an accompanist and a conductor today, so we got a lot of detailed practice done.  This was handy as we have a concert coming up at the end of this month.

We are going to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to go to Edinburgh tomorrow and this will be the first serious outing for the new car.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes to plan.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Bruce from his recent visit to Sheffield.  I have never seen a public bicycle pump station like this before but it strikes as me as a good idea.

public bike pump

There was never a dull moment today with no less than three visiting experts.  Ian painted the garage doors, Scott put a special socket on our outside wall and Jordan mended our central heating and got our boiler back in action.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy time distributing posters for the Buccleuch Centre and then helping out at the well used coffee shop there over lunchtime.  In her absence, it fell to me to do a lot of watching other people at work. This was no hardship to me as I am like Jerome K Jerome.  I like work,  I can watch other people working all day.

In between times, as it was a sunny morning, I wandered round the garden admiring tulips.

four tulips

They have come out a little early this year and they are going over a little quicker than usual but there are still enough around to give great pleasure to someone who likes tulips.  I am included in that number.

scarlet tulip

Who could not enjoy sights like these?

pink tulip

Although almost every other daffodil has now been dead headed, a stubborn clump under the plum tree are still showing well.

last of the daffodils

I wouldn’t like you to think that everything in the garden has been cultivated to within an inch of its life.  There are wild flowers about too.

garden wild flowers

Indeed we are just beginning to see a burst of cow parsley (planted intentionally) which will contrast well with the many alliums just waiting to pop out.

cow parsley and allium

Mrs Tootlepedal got hold of some more woollen packaging from Matilda’s father (it comes with a regular delivery he receives) and put some of it out on the lawn to see whether nesting birds might find it useful.

A jackdaw jumped at the opportunity…..

jackdaw pecking wool

…to collect a beakful.

jackdaw withwool

And then two jackdaws did the same…

two jackdaws pecking wool

…and collected two beakfuls.

two jackdaws with wool

…and made off with them.

jackdaw with wool flying off

I saw a blackbird on our mossy front lawn…

blackbird on mossy lawn

…and was so appalled by the state of things that I treated the lawn with this newfangled no rake moss treatment and grass fertiliser which I had tried recently on the middle lawn.   Rather to my surprise…no, very much to my surprise, it seems to be working well on the middle lawn so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it can cope with the much greater amount of moss on the front lawn.  The front lawn lives in shadow for a lot of the deep winter months so it is always the more mossy lawn of the two.

I had to sit down on our new bench after the effort of spreading the mixture and this gave me the opportunity to watch a ladybird creep across a leaf…

ladybird

…and a bumble bee get stuck into a dicentra.

bee on dicentra

I know that I put a lot of bee and dicentra pictures on the blog but I like bees and dicentras so I make no apology and on this occasion the attraction of the dicentras for bees gave me the opportunity of not just capturing the flight of the bumblebee but also…

bum of the flightle bee

…the bum of the flightlebee.

flight of the bumbelbee

I think that these are white tailed bumble bees.

Other bees were available on other flowers.

bee on pulmonaria.jpg

I think that this is a tree bumble bee visiting a pulmonaria.

Mrs Tootlepedal  came back after lunch to find all three visitors had completed their work so after a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit, we went out into the garden and erected the skeleton of a fruit cage over the gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes.

enbryo fruit cage

This may look like a simple task but it involved a hacksaw, measuring tape, a crowbar, a screwdriver or two, a spirit level and a good deal of “To you, to me”. However, we were pretty pleased with the regularity of the result and will add the netting later.

The new socket on the outside wall looks like this…

charge point

…and with its help I can now fill up our new little white thingy with electricity so it becomes a very zingy little white thingy and good fun to drive (as long as I don’t tread on a non existent clutch).

We had a second go at filling the boot with buckets of wood chips and this time I managed to get back to the house without spilling them. Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased.  The fruit cage and the wood chips are all part of the remodelled soft fruit end of the vegetable garden and things are looking promising.  We just need the right weather now to give us enough berries to have made all the work worthwhile.

There was time left after all this to let me get out for another short 12 mile bike ride in the evening.  Although the sun had disappeared behind thin clouds at lunchtime, it was still a warm and pleasant day with very light winds and even without the carrot of other cyclists to chase up the road, I managed almost exactly the same speed as yesterday.

The road verges all round us are full of dandelions and I stopped to record this contribution beside the road up Callister.

dandelions callister

We had thought of rounding off our day with a visit to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of Gounod’s Faust but a look at the small print revealed that it lasted for three hours and three quarters.  That seemed to be too much of a good thing to us so I cycled and Mrs Tootlepedal relaxed instead.

I had no time to look at the bird feeder today but I did get a flying bird.

flying jackdaw with wool

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this wonderful cave on one of his walks.  Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave) is a natural cavern located at in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire,

thor's cave

I got up quite early for me but an early bird had got up even earlier.

partrisge at breakfast

A partridge was out after seed rather than worms.

After breakfast I drove our Kangoo down to Carlisle where I traded it in for a smaller little white thingy which we hope is going to carry us about but need a lot less in the way of running  repairs.

I checked that the new car was going to be fit for purpose by stopping off on the way home to buy a big bag of bird seed.  The car carried it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal couldn’t come with me as she had to stay at home as the garage doors were being painted and she was waiting for a gas engineer to arrive.  The gas engineer had not arrived by the time that I got back and I had time to look at a bee on a dicentra..

bee on dicentra

…the trillums, which continue to do well in a shady corner…

trillium

…and signs of good things to come.  The first flower on the strawberries, the first row of lettuces and some broad beans waiting to be planted out.

strawb, lettuce and beans

The painter finished the undercoat and the gas engineer arrived.  He came to service the boiler which had developed a fault. He discovered that the boiler needs  a new part and we need a new thermostat and as he didn’t have either, he will come back tomorrow and fit them then.

After lunch, we tested the new little white thingy to see if it was up to Mrs Tootlepedal’s requirements by going off to collect some wood chippings to cover paths between the new beds in the vegetable garden.  We filled up the boot with buckets of chippings and we were nearly home, when I forgot that the new car is an automatic and stood heavily on the brake thinking that it was the clutch.  This brought the car to a sudden stop and tipped all the buckets of wood chips over.  What fun we had clearing the chippings out.

I will have to practice driving without a clutch and gear stick.

I sat down to watch the birds for a while and to recover from all this excitement.

The birds were rather dull.  First a set of goldfinches…

four goldfinches

…and then a more varied selection.

siskin, repoll goldfinch

But there weren’t many and so I went out and looked for bees in the garden.  They were quite a few buzzing about, visiting the apple blossom…

bee on apple

…and hanging out on the rosemary with well filled pollen sacs.

bee on rosemary

Back on the feeder pole, a blackbird issued a challenge to all comers…

blackbird speaking

…and waited to see if anyone would take him up.

blackbird silent

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a useful session, concentrating on musicality and phrasing to good effect.

After he left, I got my bike out and went off to see if my feet were up to a few miles pedalling.

It had been a beautiful sunny day but I hadn’t got far before the clouds gathered together to blot out the sun .  However, it was warm and dry so I enjoyed my ride.

clouds assembling

I stopped to look at two lambs…

two lambs

…which were bleating loudly.  I soon found out that this was because they were part of a small group of lambs on one side of a little stream and their parent were on the other side, also bleating loudly.

lost lambs

The lambs got safely back across though and by the time that I came past on my way back, the families were reunited.

While I was taking these pictures, I was passed by a couple of young ladies out for a bike ride themselves.  Seeing them whizzing up the road, I thought that I ought to try a bit harder too and although I couldn’t catch them up, I pedalled a lot more quickly than I usually do.  Luckily they turned off before I killed myself but all the same, my average speed for my little 12 mile ride was considerably faster than of late.  Pride is a great motivator.

Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked an tasty meal and I was pleased to sit down and eat it when I got home.

We are expecting the painter, the gas man and an electrician tomorrow so it will be a full day.

Flying birds were few and far between and this one nearly got a way before I could catch it.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture shows one of our son Tony’s dogs enjoying the sunshine on the East Wemyss Riviera.  It’s lip-smackingly good there.

Tony's dog.

Our spell of dry and sunny weather started its drift to normality today as the temperature dropped a degree or two and the sun became rather shy as the day went on, but it was still a remarkably nice day for the time of year.

The morning was made even brighter by the arrival of Sandy for a cup of coffee and when he left, I had a look for new flowers and found that the Limnanthes douglasii, better known as the poached egg plant had come out….

poached egg flower

…though there was not much evidence of the white of the egg in most of the flowers.

Mrs Tootlepedal has two perennial wallflowers and the second one is just flowering…

perennial wallflower new

…and it has so many potential flowers that I have a feeling that it will appear many more times in posts before the end of its season.

The chief event of the morning though was a visit to Mike and Alison Tinker’s garden.

This charming acer brillinatissimum welcomes  visitors to the estate.

acer brilliantissimi

I reported a few days ago that after waiting twelve years, Mike and Alison’s Kowhai plant from New Zealand had produced a flower.  I can now report that it hasn’t stopped producing flowers since…

kowhai

…and it was looking very impressive indeed.

Mike showed Mrs Tootlepedal another of his Antipodean guests.

wollemi pine and gardeners

This is a wollemi pine, a plant so rare that it was thought to be extinct until a few specimens were discovered in a remote valley in Australia in 1994.  In order to preserve the species, the original plants were the subject of a scheme of propagation and material was distributed round the world.  Mike’s daughter, a professional gardener obtained this plant for him and it is now thriving in his garden.

wollemi pine

There were several other interesting plants to see.

There was a snowflake, a bulbous perennial of the Amaryllis family.

snopwflake

And a wine and rose rhododendron.  As it is an early flowerer it had to be carefully protected by Mike and Alison with fleece during the recent frosty nights but the trouble they took was well worthwhile.

wine and rose rhododendron

As well as white trilliums, they have these striking red ones too.

trillium

And as he knows that I like fuchsias, Mike pointed this Fuchsia Thalia to me.  It is certainly unusual but I don’t think it is my favourite Fuchsia.

fuchsia thalia

We may have white and red pulsatillas, but Mike and Alison have purple ones.

pulsatiila

Their garden may not be the biggest in Langholm but it is probably one of the most interesting ones.

We went home and I sieved some compost and then went in to do some business which involved phoning a large insurance company.  We are on a roll just now and after the very satisfactory visit from an engineer yesterday, I got straight through on the phone to a competent and courteous young man and resolved my business satisfactorily in just a few minutes.  What are things coming to?  I won’t have anything to complain about soon.

Then we had lunch.

After lunch, we were visited by the representative of the power company who had come to weigh up the scheme for replacing our old and rickety electricity pole which sits in the vegetable garden.  After some discussion, it was agreed that they would bring in a mini digger to dig the hole for the new pole and that company agreed to make good any damage to the vegetable beds affected.    This meant moving our present strawberry bed so Mrs Tootlepedal gave the strawberries a very good watering and while this soaked in, we went off for a short bicycle ride to view the bluebells which she hadn’t seen so far this year.

I couldn’t help taking a few pictures while we there.

more bluebells 5

They have spilled over from the top of the hill and the whole banking is now going blue.

more bluebells 4

Wall to wall carpeting was to be seen on all sides.

more bluebells 3

Mrs Tootlepedal was thoroughly pleased that she had made the effort to visit.

more bluebells 2

We pedalled home by the long route, going along the Murtholm, across Skippers Bride…

distillery with leaves

…and back to the town along the other bank of the river.  I stopped on the suspension bridge to admire the cherries and remark on how low the river was.

cherries by esk between bridges

And looked downstream too.  The trees are green.Down river esk from suspension bridge

When we got home, we moved the strawberry plants to their new bed and gave them another good watering.  They look healthy enough so we hope that they will not mind the move too much.

I went to our corner shop to buy some eggs and came upon the travelling fishmonger’s van on the way back so I had smoked haddock kedgeree for my tea and Mrs Tootlepedal had hot smoked salmon.

After tea, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our community choir, and it was good to be singing together again after the Easter break.  We have a concert coming up in a month so we worked hard.

The weather had finally broken and it was raining as I walked home.  Fortunately, I had checked the weather forecast before going out and I had a brolly with me.  The rain is welcome  but the drop in temperature is not so welcome.  We may even see the return of the vest.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch creeping up on a redpoll.

flying goldfinch and redpoll

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Today’s guest picture is a weather vane from the Somerset Rural Life Museum sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  The weather vane is a memorial to a long serving volunteer at the museum, a nice idea.

weather gauge somerset

The weather here was warm and sunny but not quite as warm and sunny as yesterday as the wind was stronger and the sky a bit hazier.  Nevertheless, it was a great day to be out in the garden, and after an early visit to the town for a bit of business, I spent a lot of the day in the garden.

Before I went out into the garden, I took the advice of a correspondent and tried applying some ice (in this case, a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a  tea towel) to my tender Achilles tendon.  It gave me some relief and I repeated the process a couple more times through the day.

There was plenty to look in the garden as well as to do so in between dead heading daffodils, sawing the sweet pea frame down to fit the new beds, and sieving compost, I admired a small corps de ballet of Ballerina tulips…

ballerina tulips

…and a single in-your-face orange variety of which I do not know the name.

bright orange tulip

Pond skaters have come to the pond in numbers.

three pond sketers

Blossoms have come out on two of the three espalier apples…

two apple blossoms

…and it shouldn’t be long before they are joined by the third one.

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with her trilliums which have just come out too.  They were given to her by Mike Tinker and by coincidence, he passed the garden just as we were looking at them and came in to share the experience.  They are beginning to multiply so we are hoping for more next year.

trillium april

I am noting new things all the time and these tulips, the bluebell, the Solomon’s seal and an alpine clematis have all appeared over the last couple of days.

new flowers april

On top of that, we are getting very excited by the prospect of entering the age of the azalea.

first azalea

If you want eye catching green, then euphorbias are the thing to have.  Mrs Tootlepedal has them in flashy and discreet but they are both very green.

euphorbia panel

We had to stay at home as we  were expecting a visit from an electrical engineer who was going to do interesting things to our meter.  He arrived bang on time, was very polite and efficient, did some extra work beyond the call of duty to make things convenient for another engineer who is coming next week, complimented me on the coffee that I made for him and tidied everything up very neatly before he left.  Not everything in the modern world has gone to pot!

I was interested to see that he took photographs before, during and after he had finished his task as a record of what he had done.   That seemed like a very good idea to me.

While he worked, we stayed out in the garden and I looked at the trout lilies which are enjoying the good weather a lot…

trout lilies

…and the Christmas tree which is growing in every possible direction.

christmas tree busting out

We went in for lunch when the engineer had gone and I saw this blackbird with nesting material on the chimney pot outside.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is nesting in the climbing hydrangea growing on the front wall of the house.

blackbird wirth nest material

On the feeder itself, things were much as normal…

normal feeder

..but we did have visits from too very contrasting birds, a dove and a hawk.

collared dove and sparrowhawk panel

The hawk paid us several visits over the day without catching any of our little birds…

sparrowhawk staring

…and gave us a very exciting chase sequence to watch as it pursued a little bird across and out of the garden with many a squeal of rubber and handbrake turns on the way.

In the afternoon, I looked at the front lawn and felt that this was the day to scarify it.

The panel below shows the unscarified lawn on the left, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, and on the right, the very large amounts of moss that the machine lifted as it passed.

lawn scarifying

The bottom panel shows the results of going over the lawn a couple of times with the mower on a high setting to pick up the moss and one of the three wheelbarrow loads of moss that I took away.  Don’t be deceived, there is still a mass of moss in the lawn.  I will scarify it again in a few weeks time.

A poor peacock butterfly was trying to sun itself on the drive and had to keep flying up into the air as I passed with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.  It settled down again each time and must have been really fed up by the time that I finished disturbing it.

peacock butterfly sunning

The peacocks are appearing about a week earlier than usual this year.

While I was caring for the lawn, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing her sweet pea fortress for the coming hostilities with the sparrows.  I predict a win for Mrs Tootlepedal this year.

sweet pea cage

As the afternoon wore on, I felt that I should make good use of the day by going for another short cycle ride and went out for fourteen miles at a gentle pace, clad in a T shirt and shorts.

The wind was gusting up to 20 mph and blew me up to the top of Callister.  I stopped on the way down to take in the view.  The garden may be springlike but it will the best part of another month until the hills go green.

callister view

I had to pedal hard just to get down the hill into the wind but I made it back to the town and enjoyed the cherry trees along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

cherry tree beside esk

Our good spell of weather is coming to an end and it is going to get gradually but steadily cooler over the next few days and we may even see some much needed rain soon.  I just hope that it knows when to stop.  I won’t need my cycling T shirt and shorts again for a while, I fear.

The flying bird of the day was almost a sparrow hawk…

missing sparrowhawk

…but as you can see, I was too slow, so a goldfinch takes over the duty instead (no doubt keeping a sharp eye open for any hawks).

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is a second from Bruce’s recent visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.  I make no apologies, I love steam engines.  This one was built in 1896 and is a lot older than me.

Bruce's train

We had yet another lovely day here with more wall to wall sunshine and no call for a jumper or jersey at all.  It is going to be a shock when we get back to normal spring temperatures in a few days time.

Meantime we are enjoying the weather without complaint.

The tulips are enjoying the weather too…

two glorious poppies

..with new ones coming out each day.

red and white poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal has a lot of dicentras spread about the garden and that makes me happy as both the bees and I like them a lot.  I got a rare shot of one without a bee nearby today.

dicentra trio

In general, the garden is looking very cheerful with plenty of colour on all sides.

garden flower panel

I spent a happy morning pottering about, chatting to neighbours over the fence and dead heading daffodils as well as doing a little mowing while Mrs Tootlepedal  planted some onions.

The plum blossoms are pretty well over and the birds are now posing among the leaves.

goldfinch and plum tree leaves

After lunch, I went for a short walk, crossing the Wauchope Water which has been reduced to a trickle by the lack of rain…

wauchope in a trickle

…and enjoying a rhododendron in the park as I climbed the steps…

park rhododendron

…up to the Stubholm track, which was looking leafy.

stucholm track

While this adds to the pleasure of going along the track, it detracts from the views along the way.

leave sblocking view

The purpose of my walk was to take a second look at the bluebells to see if two sunny days had brought them on.

They had.

bluebells glade

There were bluebells on all sides.

bluebell panel

The individual plants are looking very healthy this year…

bluebells 1

…and the combined effect is well worth a walk to see.

bluebells 2

At the bottom of the hill, I saw the first wild garlic of the year…

wild garlic april

…and looking along the Murtholm, I could see that the trees are going green in earnest.

murtholm in April

My feet are still a bit troublesome so I turned and walked back to the park along the Beechy Plains.

beechy plains

Keeping an eye on the river as I went along.

corner of Esk

Two gulls were in position on handy rocks.  They were just too far apart to get them both into one shot

gull on rock in river

When I got home, I had a moment to look at the birds…

redpoll

…but there were not a lot about, possibly because the sparrowhawk paid several unsuccessful visits to the garden during the day.

After a short rest, I got my bike out and stretched my tender tendon by cycling fourteen warm and sunny miles at a gentle pace, stopping only once to record a good show of blackthorn along the Cleuchfoot road.

Cleuchfoot blackthorn

The bicycle is a fine mode of transport because not only does it get you from A to B reasonably quickly and very economically, but it also has magical properties.  You may be a fairly elderly person, with unreliable joints and poor eyesight but when the road is flat and the wind is helpful, even you can whizz along at such a speed and with such freedom and ease that you can easily imagine yourself as Young Lochinvar or one of the three men who brought the good news to Aix from Ghent and feel quite young again.

Of course any little hill or change in the wind direction can knock that fantasy on its head in a moment but there is nothing like it while it lasts.

And Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea to round off a good day.

While we were taking a late turn round the garden, we were visited by an old friend who has returned from America after many years away.  He is a good flute player and I hope that when he has time, he will give me some tips to pass on to Luke.  (We didn’t have a lesson today as it was both a holiday and too good a day to waste time indoors.)

The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting ready for a landing on the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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