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Archive for the ‘Views’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

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Today’s guest picture(s) shows the wonderful flowers organised by Valeria, Joe’s sister-in-law, for Joe and Annie’s recent ceremony …..

cake

….some of which turned out to be entirely edible, pot and all.  There were made by the Botanical Baker.

cake cut

We had another fine day here and we are in danger of getting so used to good weather that it will come as a nasty shock when it starts raining again.

In the meantime, we are enjoying it.

We spent the morning in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal working, and I wandering  about.  It was she who spotted the visitors though.

We usually have to wait until next month before we see a small tortoiseshell or….

small totoiseshell butterfly on chionodoxa

…a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly on chionodoxa

…so I don’t think that I can have ever taken a picture of a butterfly visiting scillas before.

And although the sight of a small tortoiseshell butterfly warming its wings in the sun on a paving stone is quite familiar…

small totoiseshell butterfly sunning

…I am pretty sure that this is my first ever shot of a peacock on a daffodil.

peacock butterfly on daff

To add to the garden of delights, a little flock of blue tits passed through and one sat one enough to get its picture taken.

bue tit in garden

At different times I took my pocket camera out to admire the flowers….

pulmonaria, buttercup, fritillary, scilla

…and my bird camera to do the same, though on this occasion my shot of the scillas was photobombed by a butterfly.

daffs, primrose and tortoiseshell

I spent some fruitless time trying to catch any of the many bees that were buzzing about but they would visit the hellebores and disappear into the down facing flowers.

The tidying up bug was in evidence again today, and we added a second shelf to our library of logs…

log library

…I finished the transfer of Bin B to Bin C (and an overflow to Bin D)…

compost in progress

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tidied up the greenhouse sufficiently to give her somewhere to have a rest after all the activity.

Mrs T resting

For the first time this year, it was positively warm in the garden and there was no need for a coat.

Once again, birds didn’t come to the feeder but the garden wasn’t entirely birdless by any means.  We have resident blackbirds and dunnocks.

blackbird and dunnock on fence

I made some brown lentil soup for lunch.  This was a triumph because to make brown lentil soup you both have to remember to soak the lentils over night, and then crucially, to remember that you have got soaked lentils ready for soup making the next day.

After lunch and a bit of a rest, I went out for my permitted exercise of the day.  (Mrs Tootlepedal is taking her exercise in the garden.)

As I had cycled yesterday, I walked today, and was quite happy to do so as by this time, the wind had got up and, coming from the north as it was, there was a distinct nip in the air at times.

Still, in sheltered spots, it was warm and I chose a few sheltered spots to pass through on my way.

Walk 2 Duchess Bridge

I was following the route of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks, though in the ‘wrong’ direction.

wood at Breckonwrae

When I got out of the woods and onto the road to Potholm, the views of the woods…

Potholm hill ridge

…and hills on the far side of the river…

Potholm Hill

…..were quite good enough to make me ignore the breeze.

And if I got bored with the views, the famous two headed lambs of Milnholm were always a distraction.

milnholm lambs

I crossed the river by Potholm Bridge and and walked up the hill to the track back to Langholm,

This seat came in handy after the climb up the hill from the river and I rested there for a moment.

bench above potholm

There were plenty of clumps of wild primroses beside the track…

primroses Langfauld

…and views back towards the road that I had walked along earlier…

Looking back over Milnholm

…and I got back to the Castleholm in good order.  I spent some time there trying to see if I could spot the nuthatch that I saw the other day, but it wasn’t playing today so I went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out and had made another shelf for the log library.  We will fill it up tomorrow.

We had baked potatoes for tea followed by the forced rhubarb, glazed and roasted and served with custard for afters.

Once again a standing bird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.  In saw this lone oyster catcher as I came along the Esk  at the end of my afternoon exercise.

evening oyster catcher

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Keiron, who thought that a Welsh lamb would be appropriate for the time of year. I thought so too.

Kieran lamb

We had another in the run of dry and warmish days that have made March such a contrast to February.  Once again there was thin cloud about but there was plenty of sunshine too and the temperature had no trouble in leaping into double figures (just).

Some daffodils appreciated the sunshine…

daff in sun

…but others are still hanging their heads.

daff drooping

I am developing the skills  required for facing the lockdown and have learned to stretch time to fill the available space.  Where it might have taken me five minutes last week to put my socks on in the morning, now it takes me ten, and where I might have taken five minutes to walk round the garden to check if anything new had appeared, now it might take me a full quarter of an hour.  In this way, the day positively rushes by with no need for extra activities to fill it up at all.

And there was new grwoth in the garden, an emerging grape hyacinth…

first grape hyacinth

…and signs of cracking in the magnolia buds.

magnolia bud

But pride of place in the novelty stakes goes to the cardamine

cardomine

I paid a visit to our local shop and got almost all of what was needed but unfortunately couldn’t get any set honey so I will have to go again tomorrow.  As well as the lack of honey, there was a marked lack of oyster catchers on the river bank on my way home.

My friend Dropscone rang up to have a chat in lieu of coffee and scones and in the course of the conversation revealed one of the deadly hidden perils of the lockdown.  His daughter Susan, who has been laid off and has got time on her hands, is intending to tidy the house.  Dropscone is worried.  How will he ever find anything again?

The tidy bug affected us too and after having had our logs in cheerful disarray for a long time…

rough wood pile

…Mrs Tootlepedal is getting some order into the log store.

neat wood pile

We made good use of an old raised bed surround, I thought.

While Mrs Tootlepedal gardened, I shifted another third of the compost from Bin B into Bin C and should finish the job tomorrow.  Last year, I might have done it all in a ‘oner’  but the new expanded time method applies to composting as well as socks.

After lunch, I went out for my permitted exercise.

It was a day for cycling, and it started well with this fine display of daffodils against a wall just as I left the town.

Alix daffs

It wasn’t all plain sailing though as there was a stiff wind in my face as I headed west and it took me an hour to do the first ten miles.  I was glad to have en excuse to stop to take a picture of this tree on a very steep slope.

tree before grange quarry

I have photographed it before but I am always pleased to see it still resisting the pull of gravity, and if I can keep cycling, I expect that it may well appear again if it survives.

I got as far west as Paddockhole, and then I turned north and headed for Bailliehill up the valley of the Water of Milk.  There are turbines on every side here already….

ewe hill wind farm

…and more are going to appear in the near future.

But it remains a very peaceful valley and a pleasure to cycle up.

water of milk valley

I could see the work being done to prepare the ground for the new turbines in the shadow of the existing wind farm.

crossdykes windfarm

As a bonus for elederly cyclists, the narrow road across the hill has been slightly widened to accommodate the lorry traffic for the wind farm and this lets a car pass me without either of us having to stop.

road to bailliehill

I only met one car though.

At the top of the hill, just before the road swoops down to join the course of the River Esk, this lonely man made pond had been well filled with water by the February rains.

pond at bailliehill

The wind had been behind me from Paddockhole and I had been blown up the hill so I expected that once I turned at Bailliehill to follow the road back to Langholm I might find the wind a bit troublesome.

My fears were largely unfounded and the wind was helpful more often than not so I was able to maintain a reasonable speed to Bentpath, where I stopped to admire the bridge and church, looking at their best.

westerkirk bridge and church

And I took in the view across the river at the same time.

benty and the fell

As I got nearer to Langholm, the hills which were sheltering me from the wind also left me in shadows, while the sun shone on the opposite side of the valley.

view towards potholm

It was still warm enough to make me happy that I only had had to put on two layers of clothing after months of cycling wrapped up like a Christmas parcel.

As I came down Caroline Street in the early evening sunshine at the very end of the ride, my neighbour Irving popped out of a side road and ambushed me.  You can see that I like to wear clothing that passing motorists can’t fail to notice.

biker

Thanks to Irving and Libbie for sending me the picture

Mrs Tootlepedal made a sausage stew for our tea and another day of the crisis passed off peacefully.

In the continued total absence of flying birds at our feeder, the non flying bird of the day is a ‘shopping trip’ gull in the midst of the very sparkly Esk river this morning.

gull in sunshine

Footnote: members of the camera club have sent me some pictures for our virtual gallery while the club is not meeting and they can be seen here: www.langholmcameraclub.org

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Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda.  She is off school but obviously getting good art lessons at home.

matilda's wolf

Here, we had another dry day with a lot of thin cloud again.  It did get slightly warmer in the afternoon and may well have got into double figures at last.

We are limited in what we can do and where we can go so my first activity was to walk round the garden and admire the primroses.

primorses garden

We are allowed a shopping trip so I cycled round to the corner shop and passed the oyster catchers on my way home.  This one likes standing on one leg a lot.

oyster catcher one leg

Then I did a little compost sieving and followed that by making some potato soup for lunch, using chives from the garden for added flavour.

After lunch, it was time for garden action again.  Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing out the old strawberry bed.  We have decided that it makes more sense to buy the excellent strawberries produced by a local grower than use up a lot of space for a not very bountiful or tasty crop of our own.

I finished sieving the compost in Bin C and started turning out the contents of Bin B into Bin C.  I am taking this in gentle stages and did about a third of the pile before hanging up my fork and going for a walk,

Apart from shopping, we are allowed one excursion for exercise each day, and as it was far too windy for comfortable cycling, a walk was the choice for today.

In decided to visit the top of Warbla and as I walked up the track from the park to the Stubholm, a ray of sunshine brightened the day…

sun on trees stubholm track

…but it didn’t cut through the haze and the rest of the walk was pleasant enough but didn’t offer anything in the way of sunny views.

I saw horses…

two horses stubholm

…and the bench that my neighbour Liz likes to sit on when she takes her dog for a walk in the morning.

bench on warbla

As I got near the top of Warbla, a gap in the cloud let the sun pick out this blasted tree…

tree on warbla

…and when I got to the summit, I was able to take a quick shot over the town before the clouds  began to close again.

town and ewes cloudy day from warbla

I couldn’t stop on the summit as the wind threatened to blow me over the edge so I began to walk down the other side of the hill towards the cattle sheds which you can see below.

view down from warbla summit

This was an adventurous route for an old man with dodgy knees, crossing rough ground and finding gaps in old walls…

warbla wall

…but fortunately there was a reassuring sign telling me that I was going in the right direction.

walks sign warbla

Just as I was getting towards the bottom of the hill, I saw a cloud of sheep ready to head upwards…

sheep gathering below warbla

…so I had to make a diversion and was able to watch them heading uphill as I passed below them.sheep at skipperscleuch

I came to Skippers Bridge and the water was low enough to let me take a picture from the upstream side….

skippers March

…where I could enjoy the clear water splashing over the rocks…

esk at skipeprs

…and get a good view of the old distillery building.

distillery March

I walked home along the Murtholm.  There are not a great many hazel catkins this year but one bush is doing very well and when I looked more closely, I could see that it also had a lot of female flowers on it.  I have never seen three flowers together like this before.

three hazel flowers

The sheep were safely grazing…

sheep eating

…and I rounded off my walk by seeing a garden escape adding a little colour to the river bank above the Park Bridge.

colour at the park bridge

When I got home, I saw the familiar pair of piebald jackdaws on the path beside the dam. It  seems amazing that that prominent white feather has not fallen off.

piebald jackdaws

I passed a family party of four on the hill and a lone dog walker on the flat during my walk so I reckon that it was isolated enough to be fine.  If the weather stays good, I hope to have a cycle ride for my permitted excursion tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal is crocheting a blanket to keep herself occupied during the shut in and I am waging a losing battle against my computer security suppliers which may well take me the rest of my life.  We are both keeping busy.

The flying bird of the day is not flying.  It is a jackdaw perching on the park wall.

jackdaw on park wall

For some not very clear reason, no birds are coming to the feeder at all at the moment so flying birds will be at a premium.

 

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

annie's peach blossom

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

first tulip bud

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

first pressing of moss

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

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

buddleia compst

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

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

daffodil panel

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

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

hen harrier march

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

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

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

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

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

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

Looking back I could see the monument….

 

monument from county boundary

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

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

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

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

tarras car park lichen

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

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

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

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

view towards cooms

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

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

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

tarras bridge

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

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

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

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

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

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

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

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He went for one of those walks which risky older people are encouraged to take in these troubled times.  He tells me that in his photograph you can see Derby City at the top right, the village of Breadsall in the top middle, and his suburb, Oakwood, in the top left corner.andrew's walk

We had another sunny day here today, but with another chilly start to it.  I went out into the garden after coffee, and although the sun was shining brightly, the thermometer was stuck at a stubbornly low 4°C and with a brisk north wind blowing, it didn’t feel like a terrifically good day to welcome the vernal equinox.

That equinox has rather crept up on us this year because it remained so grey, cool and wet for so long that the lengthening days didn’t really register. It has taken these last couple of better days to bring home that it is finally that time of year.

Still, I mustn’t sniff at a sunny day and the hellebores did look stunning

hellebore

New things are appearing and along with a doronicum and a euphorbia, other mystery plants are developing.

doronicum, euphorbia, bergenia and mystery

I know what this.

primula

I put my coat, hat and gloves on and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved away over a hot computer on buy-out business, I sieved a little compost.

My set up is basic and low tech but it does produce some good looking results.

compost sieving

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped work for a while and came for a garden stroll.  We were pleased to see another frog had arrived in the pond.

frog equinox

We have seen very few frogs this year compared with previous years.  Perhaps they haven’t enjoyed the weather any more than we have.  We should have had a dozen or more daily by now.

I cycled round to the shop to get milk and rolls and on my way, I stopped to admire the oyster catchers by the Esk.  There days, it is a little further to the shop since it moved, but the chance to see the oyster catchers makes up for it.

two oyster catchers esk

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to some Rip van Winkle daffodils that have just come out.  They have interesting petals but I will have to wait for a less windy day to do them justice.

daffodil rip van winkle

After lunch, I spent a few moments looking at the birds but there were very few to be seen and this busy moment was quite untypical.

busy feeder

The siskins have left and there were no goldfinches either today.

In the absence of any birds to watch, I bit on the bullet, ignored the continuing low temperature and keen north wind, and went out for my third bicycle ride in three days.

I resolved to ride straight into the wind for as long as I could manage, and then swoop home, wind assisted.  I set off up the Ewes valley.

The view made me forget the cold and the wind.

ewes valley view

Although there were plenty of clouds about, they mostly passed me by, leaving me pedalling in the sun and enjoying the views to the side of the road…

fiddeton view

…until I got to the head of the valley.

Here, I had a choice of continuing on the main road up a long, steady hill through a narrow pass down which the wind would be whistling, or I could turn right and follow a narrow road along a beautiful stream for a mile or two.

top of ewes view

I took the easy option and crossed this bridge…

ewes bridge

…and passed this tree…

carretrig road tree

…as I went along beside this tumbling burn…

carretrig burn

…below this hill…

hills near carretrig

…until I got to this bridge which is at the bottom of a very steep hill…

Carretrig bridge

…where I wisely turned round and headed home.

It had been a slog up the hill and into the wind and my first ten miles took me almost exactly an hour of hard work.  I got my reward on the way back to Langholm and I covered the second ten miles of my journey in 34 minutes, whistling merrily as I zoomed along.

In fact, I felt so happy when I got back to Langholm that I added another six miles to my trip by going  to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.  Here the opposite effect was achieved and the wind pushed me up the hill almost as fast as I managed to come back down again, pedalling like fury this time.

I adopted an emollient manner towards my legs and they responded in a friendly manner and as a result, I achieved a more respectable average for the same distance of 26 miles than I did yesterday.  (The fact that I had had less climbing to do might also have had an effect.)

It has been a good week for cycling and I have done almost as many miles (102) in the last three days as I did in the whole of the month of February.

I wasted quite a lot of time in the evening trying to set up a new blog for the use of camera club members.  In the good old days, starting a WordPress Blog was a piece of cake.  They gave you the digital equivalent of a piece of blank paper and left you to it.  Now they are trying to be so dashed helpful that it is a nightmare to get what you want if it isn’t what they think that you ought to want.  I will persevere.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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

Jocks Pool Simon

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

forsythia

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

scilla

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

two oyster catchers

I like a reliable bird.

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

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

forced rhubrab

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

ice from barrow

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

starling on holly tree

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

And kept an eye on the birds.

perching chaffinch on stalk

I got an unusual view of a wood pigeon.

back vire pigeon

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

two male chaffinches sun

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

Both male…

flying chaffinch male panel

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

flying chaffin female panel

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

chionodoxa and crocus

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

chaffinches in plum tree

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

clouds over Langholm

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

clouds over callister

And by ten miles, they looked more friendly still.

cloudscape gir road

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

pylons in the sun

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

clouds over gretna

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

half morton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

flying chaffinches

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