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Archive for the ‘Langholm’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland tour.  He stopped to take a picture of the Connel Bridge on the Oban road.  He has had lovely weather for his trip.

connel bridge

Our spell of sunny weather came to end today and it was rather chilly and grey with a brisk wind.  I am still looking after my leg so I was very happy to stay out of the wind and entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  While we were sipping and chatting, Nancy, our fellow archivist, arrived with the final sheets for 1898.  Every time we embark on recording a new year of the paper, we feel a surge of satisfaction.

When Sandy left, I watched the birds for a bit.  We are still not getting a great deal of traffic but from time to time, the feeder does get busy.

whirlwind at the feeder

Mostly it was pretty quiet and the chaffinches were able to land at their leisure…

landing chaffinch

…though some still needed a steadying wing.

one armed chaffinch

Trying to catch a coal tit in flight was as tricky as ever.

disappearing coal tit

Rather than face the chilly wind, I put some time in on the bike to nowhere in the garage.  It is a little dull but it does have the benefit of allowing me to moderate the effort I put in and keep things smooth.

Then I made some vegetable soup for lunch and was able to use an onion and potatoes from the store in our garage.  The onions will soon run out but there are a fair number of potatoes still to go.  It is doubly warming to eat a soup with home grown veg in it.

While I was making the soup, I kept an eye out.

The best looking chaffinch of the day was loud and proud….

resplendent chaffinch

…but down a below, a blackbird was skulking around.

creeping blackbird

After lunch, I went for a walk and as my leg seemed to have taken no hurt from the morning pedal, I even ventured on a slightly more hilly route and went round Gaskell’s Walk.

By this time of the year the sun is so low by three o’clock that it may shine on the hills…

sun on the hills november

…but it wasn’t shining on me down in the valley below.

There were things by the way to keep my kind off the chill.  The fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was a positive garden of delights today.

auld stane brig fence post

A fallen log was playing host to moss and fungus

fungus and moss

And the back of a fern revealed a delicate tracery.

back of a fern

When I got to the park, I thought that I ought to show the park wall in all its mossy glory…..

park wall overview

…and not just pick out the detail on the way.

park wall moss and lichenpark wall leaves

When I put the pictures from my walk on the computer in the evening, my favourite was this view of Meikleholm Hill, not just because of the sun on the hillside but because of the smoky effect of the willowherb seed heads in the foreground.

sun on the hills with rosebay willowherb

When I got back, I made a cup of tea for Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy at her pantomime dressmaking (there will be plackets) and Mike Tinker who called round.

They arranged to go to a public meeting in the evening regarding our local newspaper which is now owned by a community company.  I would have gone too but it was camera club night.

The next business was playing duets with Luke.  I am rather cross with him as it may well turn out that he will be a better player than me.   Ah well.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me  delicious fry-up for my tea and I went off to the camera club to learn about taking portraits.

Because of the newspaper meeting, our numbers were a bit down but two members had brought lighting equipment and there was lively discussion about lighting kit and exposure meters and members volunteered to be sitters.  I had a go at shooting them.

Stan

Stan without a flash

Andy

Andy with lighting and a reflector.

There is always plenty of discussion at our meetings and Thomas can be seen here showing Stan some of the many capabilities of the camera on a mobile phone while Corrie looks on.

dav

I took this picture with my new mobile phone which arrived today.   I am very pleased that the camera looks to be quite a bit better than the one on my old phone.

I will try to up my exercise a bit tomorrow, either inside or out as the weather permits.

The flying bird of the day is a ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She is getting out and about again after a hip operation and was able to enjoy the colour in Regents Park today.

regents park

We had a very lovely sunny day today, though with the wind coming from the east, it was lovelier if you could find a sheltered spot.

When I went to bed last night, I gave my sore leg a gentle massage as I generally do but on this occasion, I hit upon just the right spot to work on with the result that when I woke up, the pain had gone down dramatically.

It was with a light heart therefore that I cycled along with Mrs Tootlepedal to the Buccleuch Centre where a small group of singers from Langholm Sings had been asked to sing carols at the British Heart Foundation coffee morning.   We had no accompaniment so did the best we could and this must have not been too bad because after we had paused and had a cup of coffee, we were asked to sing again.  Although it is a bit early for carols, it was an enjoyable occasion and got the day off to a good start.

Things got better when Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to cycle the three and a bit miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse to test out my leg.

Mrs Tootlepedal led the way….

Mrs T cycling

…and I followed behind, taking things very easily up any hills.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to examine a telegraph pole and I considered the mystery of why some rosebay willowherb  still keeps its white seed heads…

rosebay willowherb

…while others are quite bare.

There were a lot of catkins on the trees along our way.

catkins

The wind had blown us up the hill on our way out but although it was chilly when it was in our face coming back, it wasn’t very strong and I could appreciate the fine weather and the leafless scenery…

bare tree and monument

…and it all made for another enjoyable experience.

And my leg didn’t hurt.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on a pantomime costume which she is making up and I went to look for flying birds.

I had set the camera up when we got back from cycling but a builder arrived to fix some broken tiles and that put paid to bird watching so I headed off for the Kilngreen in the hope of finding some black headed gulls in the air.

There was a line of them at the meeting of the waters…

gulls at meeting of waters

…but none in the air.

When I walked towards them, they rose up but instead of flying about in a useful way, they settled down immediately on the fence posts beside the Ewes water.

gulls in post

I waited hopefully but the gulls refused to leave their posts.  I nobly resisted the temptation to say “Boo!” very loudly.

I waited a bit more, and it has to be admitted that there are worse places to hang about than the Kilngreen on a sunny day….

kilngreen on an sunny november day

…but in the end, I gave up and set off towards the Sawmill Brig with a view to walking round the Castleholm.

I hadn’t gone very far though before something disturbed the gulls and they whizzed past me in all directions.

gull and lampost

flying gull with trees

I snapped away for a while and then crossed the Sawmill Brig, admired the moss on the Castleholm wall…

moss on wall

…and walked back down to the edge of the river and cautiously approached the posts where the gulls were back in their positions.

gulls on Castleholm posts

gull on Castleholm posts

Obligingly, one or two of them took off and gave me a low level fly past.

 

gull above ewes water

I left them to themselves and continued my walk along the path beside the river.

Intrigued by Mrs Tootlepedal’s new found interest in electricity poles, I stopped to check on one near the cricket club.  It had many carved inscriptions on it…

electricity pole castleholm

I couldn’t interpret any of them.

The horizontal line was quite low so I take it that this means that the pole is well planted in the ground.  It didn’t have a stay at any rate.

One advantage of the season is that bridges come more into view as the leaves disappear and I could see the Jubilee Bridge well before I got to it.

jubilee bridge november

I looked back from the bridge towards the path that I had come along.  I still think of it as ‘the new path’ but it is looking quite well integrated now.

new path november

There was enough sunshine left for a walk round the garden when I got home…

november colour in garden

…and then I retired indoors to rest my leg before I got too cocky and did something to set it off again.

Having manged a six mile bike ride and walked a mile and a half, I was very pleased to find that my leg was still pretty much pain free by the end of the day.  I will give it another rub on the same spot tonight!

I settled down to watch Scotland play South Africa at rugby football and after a scintillating first half in which both teams played an open and interesting game, the second half was a disappointment as South Africa closed the game down and Scotland reverted to making crucial mistakes when under pressure.

The defeat was not unexpected though as South Africa are one of top teams in the world.   What was much more surprising was that the Scottish association football team actually managed to win a vital game in the evening and by a handsome margin.

It is a clear night here so I am going to keep an eye out for shooting stars as there are supposed to be some around in the early hours but in the  meantime, I leave you with a high flying gull as the flying bird of the day.  It makes a welcome change from the interminable chaffinches.

flying gull in sky

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Ashby de la Zouch  in Leicestershire and admired the castle there.  It reminded him of our prime ministe.  Like her, it is rather battered but still standing.

Ashby de la Zouche castle

In a complete reversal of the normal order of things, Dropscone arrived for coffee this morning but didn’t bring treacle scones with him even though it was Friday.  He had been at a golf meeting up in the borders yesterday and had visited a supermarket on his way home.  Once inside, he had been tempted by a seedy malt loaf which was on display at such a reduced price that it was irresistible and he brought that to coffee today instead of scones,  It was very tasty.

When he left,  I admired a greenfinch taking in the rays on the plum tree…

greenfinch

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal led me out on a cycling expedition round the New Town.  We were tracking the dam from source to outflow.  I recorded our journey.

dam 4

  1. The dam starts at the sluice at Pool Corner, squeezes under the new flood wall just below the sluice and heads off beside the old dump (now covered over and a recreation area).

dam 3

2.  We followed its course and looked back towards Pool Corner and then turned 90 degrees to watch it as it flowed past the edge of Latimer’s shed and burrowed under Caroline Street.

dam 2

3.  It creeps along the road under the pavement here until it takes a sharp left turn  at the green hedge which you can see  and emerges to go through a patch of wild country between Caroline Street and Wauchope Place.  It creeps under the street there by a very plain bridge.

dam 1

4.  Once across Wauchope Place, it enjoys a moment of freedom as it heads between manicured banks towards the spanking new bridge at Wauchope Street and then, after passing our house,  it once more heads underground, this time beneath Walter Street and across Henry Street.

dam 5

5.  Once across Henry Street, it visits the Skinyards and then appears for a brief moment at a sluice in Reid and Taylor’s yard before sinking underground again and passing under Elizabeth Street, where it emerges from a tunnel on the banks of the Esk…

 

Esk with dam outlet

…joins the river and ends up in the sea in the Solway Firth.

The reason for this adventure was to record the dam in its present state as there has been talk of decommissioning the dam when the Reid and Taylor’s site is redeveloped.  Those who live along it would be very sorry to see it go.

While I was at the river side, I took a shot of the willows below the suspension bridge. They have been adding some late colour to the riverside scene but they are fading away now like the year.

Esk with late willows

The gentle flat cycle outing probably did my sore leg some good and I let that be my exercise for the day.

I watched the birds when I got home and once again, it was very quiet for most of the time at the feeder.  We had some busy days when the temperature dropped but it hit 13°C today and most of the birds must be happy to forage for food in the countryside at the moment.

The small flock of goldfinches returned over lunchtime, led by this handsome but slightly ruffled bird.

goldfinch ruffled

At times, there was a great deal of to-ing and  fro-ing and flapping of wings….

goldfinches on feeder

…and some smart one legged landing.

goldfinch arriving

On other occasions the landing had to be one legged as the other leg was being used to kick away the unfortunate occupier of the perch.

goldfinches coming and goin

A lone chaffinch appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinches

We took a walk round the garden and I was impressed by the staying power of the sweet rocket which would be long over by now in a normal year.

sweet rocket mid november

Mrs Tootlepedal liked the strong impression made by these primroses.

white primroses

The hips on the Goldfinch rose are  flourishing thanks to the warm summer.

goldfinch rose hips

And a few of the calendulas have suddenly taken a new lease of life and are looking as good as new.

bright calendula Nov

Not all growth is good.  Mrs Tootlepedal is a bit worried to see spring bulbs showing above ground at this time of year.  These tulips shouldn’t be visible now.

very early tulip shoots

I spent the afternoon doing useful things on my computer and in the evening, Mike and Alison came round as usual on a  Friday and Alison and I rounded off the day with some enjoyable duets.

The forecast is good for tomorrow so I might try another short, flat cycle ride to keep my leg exercised as today’s effort seems to have done no harm.

One of the goldfinches is the flying bird of the day today.

goldfinch nearly arriving

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was heading to Oban on  the west coast today when he came upon this overfull river at Callander.

floods at callander

We got a better day here today with occasional brief sunny spells and no rain so we were grateful for that.  We didn’t make much use of it though as Mrs Tootlepedal had to do a lot of internet research into a costume she is making for our local pantomime and I was resting my leg.

As a result, the morning passed with very little discernible activity and even the birds were pretty quiet in sympathy.

There was a lot of posing from a pigeon…

lofty pigeon

…a blackbird…

blackbird

…and a chaffinch.

sunlit chaffinch

Even the feeding was rather sedate with a chaffinch being at the bottom of the pecking order today.

pecking order

The coal tits were back again…

hungry coal tit

…and rather to my surprise, they tended to chase each other.

sparring coal tits

I made some potato soup for lunch and then decided to test my leg with a short flat walk.

The sun was out when I started and gulls….

lonely gull

…were gleaming in its rays.

two black headed gulls

I crossed the town bridge and met an old friend on the Kilngreen.

standing heron

I don’t blame Mr Grumpy for being well tucked because as soon as the sun went in, a brisk wind made it feel quite chilly.

Among our ordinary mallards, there is one white duck.  I was hoping to shoot a sitting duck but it saw me coming and popped into the water before I could catch it.

sitting duck

The leaves are pretty well off all the trees now and the Lodge Walks are bare.  This does let the sun through to brighten things up though.

Lodge Walks december

With no leaves on the trees, the casual passer by can admire the moss….

moss on tree branch

…and the lichen which festoon many of the branches.

lichen on tree branch

As always, I paid attention to walls on my walk and the one at the head of the Scholars’ Field had wild flowers and ferns growing out of it in a very satisfactory way.

wild corydalis

little wild flower

harts tongue fern

My plan to have a gentle, flat walk and mildly exercise my stiff leg was a complete failure and I was back into heavy limping mode long before I got home.   Considering that I had done this walk a few days ago with no trouble, this was discouraging and tomorrow will have to be a serious day of doing nothing.  I have got plenty of useful things that I can do so I will do them and resist the temptation of a little walk ‘just to see how my leg is’.

I spent quite a lot of time when I got home choosing some pictures for a short presentation of images from Eskdale which I am giving next month.  I limited myself to those that I have taken in the last 12 months and have managed to make a preliminary selection of 100 with no flying chaffinches in at all.  This was quite hard.

The flying bird of the day today isn’t a chaffinch either.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was bowled over by this burst of colour as he walked through the Nottingham Arboretum today.

Nottingham Arboretum

I had a good day today.  The weather was kind when I needed it to be kind and it only rained when I was safely back indoors watching rugby.  Even the rugby was kind when after a rather nerve racking first half, Scotland ran away with the game against Fiji.

In addition, I seem to be completely recovered from the minor ailment in the middle of the week and my leg is steadily improving, though it has to be said that it is steadily but slowly improving.

Still, it was well enough for me to set my old fairly speedy bike up on a turbo trainer in the garage and have a couple of careful five minutes of pedalling to nowhere during the day.  Alert readers may recall that the fairly speedy bike has a crack in its frame and worry about my safety but with no potholes to go over and no log lorries to fall off in front of, I am confident that the frame can stand a little light stationary pedalling.  Time will tell though and if you hear a strangled cry, you will know that I was wrong.

I had had quite an energetic day yesterday so I took the morning quietly and spent time watching the birds.

After a bright chaffinch start….

sunlit chaffinch

…things turned gloomier for a while….

grumpy chaffinch

I was reminded of Mrs May greeting the approach of Boris Johnson.

…and I was treated to a spectacular last minute handbrake turn…

handbrake turn chaffinch

Then the chaffinches were superseded by a small flock of goldfinches who showed a regrettable lack of courtesy towards greenfinches…

goldfinch kicking goldfinch

…and towards other goldfinches.

goldfinch kicking greenfinch

I took yet another coal tit picture, partly because I like these little birds…

coal tit with seed

…and partly to record the fact that we seem to have two pairs of regulars in and around the garden at the moment.  I hope that they stay for the winter.

As the forecast was for rain later, I went for a walk in the early afternoon before having a late lunch.

I included a short hill in my walk for the first time since pulling my muscle and was pleased to get to the top without making things worse.  From there I had a gentle stroll along the Stubholm track.

I had chosen a good moment for a November walk…

Easton's Walk November

…and I got an early hint of Christmas from some cheerful holly berries beside the track.

holly

I could look down and see the Community Centre where Mrs Tootlepedal would spend the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and beyond it, the suspension bridge, the Langholm bridge and the Sawmill Bridge over the far two of which I had taken my flat walk on Friday.

three bridges

For the most part, leaves are now on the ground rather than on the trees…

Upper road

…though as I looked across the Murtholm fields towards the Round House, a few patches of colour were stubbornly hanging on.

 

roundhouse from Murtholm end

There has been enough rain lately to get the little streams flowing freely off the hill and into the Esk.

little stream

I walked back home across the Beechy Plains beside the river…

Beechy Plains (2)

…were every other tree seemed to have a mysterious message for me written in script lichen.

script lichen

Other lichens were available.  This one was on the cut end of a felled tree trunk  above the path.

lichen by riverside

I was happy to see that keen volunteers have been renewing the route signs on the Langholm Walks posts.  This one is in the park.

Langholm Walks post

It makes the walks look more inviting when the waymarkers are bright and new.

I got back to the house just in time to wave Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off to embroider.

There are still a few select blooms about in the garden.

garden flowers november

But very few.

Once home, I had scrambled eggs on toast for my lunch and settled down to watch the rugby.  It is a  tribute to the capacity of the Scotland rugby XV to make terrible mistakes that even with a lead of thirty points and only a few minutes to go, I was still feeling slightly nervous that something bad would happen.

It didn’t though and Mrs Tootlepedal came home so all was well with the world (as long as I didn’t watch the news).

I rounded off the day by cooking myself an evening meal of pan fried lamb’s kidneys in a spicy red wine sauce on a bed of rice.  Happy days indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

As a footnote I add the information that Mrs Tootlepedal is worried about the dam that runs behind our house.  There has been a report that there are plans afoot to fill it in.  When it looks as gentle and inviting as it did when I went on my walk today…

dam under threat

…you can see why she would like to stay as it is.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another blast of sunshine from the past.  This time it is a pleasant valley scene from one of my brother Andrew’s Derbyshire walks in early October.

derbyshire

After a rather restless night, I got up to a sunny morning and a much improved interior economy and after a quiet morning, I was back to normal by lunchtime and able to eat without any ill effects.

I didn’t take any risks though and did nothing more energetic than have a walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

The berberis was positively glowing….

BERBERIS

…and the special Grandma was having a final fling.

special grandma

The display of rose hips is easily the best that I can remember and many roses that don’t usually have any are covered with them after the good summer.

rose hips

There is no denying that we are well on the way to winter though.

red leaf

It is good to have blackbirds back in the garden as they have been pretty scarce since July.

blackbirds

I didn’t stay out long and when the sun went in so did I, and I was soon back in the kitchen looking out of the window.

It was an extremely quiet day for birds.

lonely chaffinch

I haven’t been able to work out why the feeder can be mobbed one day and deserted the next.

Even the sight of plenty of available perches didn’t discourage some uncouth pushing and shoving.

pointless violence

After lunch, I tested my constitution and my leg by going for a short walk over three bridges.

As I came to the river, I could see glowing trees in a garden on the hillside opposite…

yellow trees

…and golden willows below me on the river bank.

willows beside esk

Wherever I looked on my walk, there always seemed to be a defiant patch of colour among the leafless branches.

autumn colour November

I was impressed by the careful relaying of turfs on the site of the big bonfire on Sunday.

bonfire patch

After I crossed my second bridge, I met a fellow camera club member walking his dog and spent my time chatting rather than snapping and it was only when we went our separate ways that I took the camera out again to record a little more late colour.

Lodge tree

I crossed my third bridge and made my way quietly home…

duchess bridge tree

…only pausing for a wild flower on the edge of the Scholars’ Field.

november wild flower

My leg is working but still sore and there is no chance of getting on my bike for a while yet but my constitution was unruffled by the walk so I was happy.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy watching a YouTube video on sharpening woodwork tools so I realised that she had left the garden and gone back to rocking horse restoration.  I settled down to put a couple more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  My lack of cycling may be regrettable but it has let me catch up (a bit) on the backlog of data.

My friend Susan wasn’t available to come to our monthly recorder group meeting today so I had to drive myself to Carlisle.  The effort was very worthwhile as we had an excellent evening of music.  One of other members was unwell so we were a quartet  tonight and this made for a change with some different music to play.

Having been 150 miles ahead of my mileage schedule at the beginning of October. I am now 200 miles behind and with no hope of catching up, I am officially abandoning any targets for the year and will take any miles that I can squeeze in as a bonus.

Once again there are two flying birds of the day, this time goldfinches, one with wings in…

flying goldfinch in

…and one with wings out.

flying goldfinch out

Variety is the spice of life.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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