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Posts Tagged ‘Auld Stane Brig’

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who recently visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and came across this giant insect.

eden insect

We had another lovely day here and the flowers were looking very cheerful as a result, whether hanging over the edge of the dam…

aubretia

..or popping up in a flower bed.

ballerina tulip

New tulips are opening on all sides…

yellow and orange tulips

…and the euphorbias are growing ever bigger and brighter.

euphorbia

I had a close peer at the magnolia because a reader had asked me if it had a good scent, but sadly, it is scentless for all its handsome looks.

magnolia flower centre

I got out some magic granules that I had bought in a garden centre.  The packet says that they will perk up my grass and eat the moss on the lawn without the dead moss needing to be raked out.  This sounds far too good to be true but nevertheless, I measured and weighed carefully and spread them on the middle lawn as per the instructions on the packet.   I await developments (without holding my breath).

It was warm enough for a blackbird to do a little cooling down on one of the hedges…

blackbird sunning on hedge

…so I resolved to go for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and look for bluebells.

I found a charming red currant beside the river…

currant beside esk

…but soon came upon a good show of bluebells along my favourite bluebell path.

bluebells 5

They are not fully out yet but could still provide the blue ‘carpet’ that makes them so special at this time of year.

bluebells 3

I don’t know who was more surprised when we met, this pheasant or me.

bluebells 4

I walked through the bluebell wood…

bluebells 1

…and took the path the leads to Gaskell’s Walk.

blackthorn stubholm

Although the larches below it are very green, Meikllholm Hill still looks bare.

meikleholm hill from gaskells

There were several peacock butterflies warming their wings on the path as I went along.

Most of them flew off as I approached but this one settled down again for a moment.

peacock butterfly sunning

The path itself was very springlike, and I think that this is the best time of the year to walk along it.

gaskells in spring

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I took a couple of pictures to show that we are still waiting for the leaves to appear on many of the trees around us…

stane brig

…but the bridge is attractive at any time of year on a sunny day.

auld stane bridge with reflection

Sadly, by the time that I got home, it had become apparent that while wearing gel insoles might be very good for arthritic toes, it might also put a strain on an achilles tendon and my ‘good’ foot was so sore as a result that the rest of a lovely day was wasted in sitting around and moaning.

I did get outside enough to admire a pulsatilla…

pulsatilla

…but that was the extent of the excitement.

The foot situation is very annoying as things were definitely getting better.  I hope that a good rest over night will see things back to where they were as it is a pity not get a cycle ride in when the weather is so fine.  Today taught me not to get too adventurous.

Mrs Tootlepedal made fish pie and apple crumble for our tea and that brightened things up a lot.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from East Wemyss where it seems that the sun shines  frequently.  Our son Tony got a new camera for Christmas and sent me this picture to show that it is working well.

tony's trees

There was a complete lack of sun here today and after singing in the church choir and having an early lunch,  I went for a short walk which proved the point.

low clouds

When I started my walk the clouds had almost covered the town completely and as I walked on the clouds got lower…

very misty trees

…and lower….

eskdaill street in cloud

…so if I hadn’t had the flash on my camera, I would have been pushed to record anything much as I strolled along.

As it was, I could see a fine burst of lichen on a tree trunk…

cript lichen

…an old seed head…

old seed head

…and a promise of spring to come….

mew needles

…as well as some pixie cups on a post at the Auld Stane Brig…

cup lichen

…and a crop of curiously damp lichen on the bridge itself.

lichen with raindrops

In fact there was so much lichen about that at times it seemed almost to be dripping off roadside walls.

wall lichen

There was enough light to see the Auld Stane Brig itself,

auld stane brig

Considering  that many of our bridges are old and most are made of stone, it is hard to work out why this bridge got the name of The Auld Stane Brig in particular when it could have been applied to so many others.  Still, it is a bridge, it is old and it is made of stone so I shouldn’t grumble.

The clouds were soon back down again and the only colour of the day….

misty tree

…was provided by Mrs Tootlepedal’s developing crochet blanket on the kitchen table when I got home.

crochet

I look forward to a whole colour symphony when she is finished.

Peering out of the kitchen window during over lunch, I could see that there were more birds than usual about.

They were mostly chaffinches…

chaffinch arriving at feeder

…both male and female…

three chaffinches

…but sparrows and goldfinches put in an appearance too.

sparrow and arriving chaffinch

I didn’t have long for my walk or any bird watching as we had to go off to Carlisle for the first meeting of the year with the Carlisle Community Choir.  By this time, the clouds had really hit rock bottom and we needed both front and rear fog lights on the car to get us safely to the meeting.

We began work straight away on songs that we will take to a competition in Manchester in March and I will need to start learning my part off by heart as it takes me a long time to get songs to stick in my memory.

As I write this post in the evening, the clouds are still pressing down on the town and the air is full of the plaintive cries of pink footed geese as they circle overhead.  I hope that they finally find a safe landing.

In spite of the gloom, I did find a flying chaffinch of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Sharon, world famous as the mother of flute playing Luke, who has been spending a few days in Germany.  She didn’t tell me where she was staying.

Berlin wall

We had a grey, gloomy morning and I was very happy to put it to use with some creative lounging about, a little coffee, some computer work and the occasional look out of the window.

A coal tit was a welcome sight.

coal tit

There were very few sparrows today and we got a good crop of goldfinches instead.  Some of them were not fully developed…

bald goldfinch

…but were quite capable of unseemly rowdiness….

goldfinches arguing

…but mostly, co-operative behaviour was the order of the day.

peaceful feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to the first Embroiderers’ Guild meeting of the season and I did a little harmless gardening…and looking around.

I dead headed the dahlias…

dahlia with many petals

…and was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of red admiral butterflies on the small buddleia.

red admiral on red buddleia

The red admirals have taken over from the peacocks as our most frequent butterfly visitors.

The new bench under the kitchen window has proved very attractive to some nasturtiums needing a sit down.

bench with nasturtiums

When I checked Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge this evening, it had registered 4 cm or 1.5 inches which reflected the mixture of sunshine and showers through the week.  The garden has kept its colour and the fruit is being very fruitful.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that the first frost doesn’t come too soon.

The weather looked as though it might not be too bad and it was warm at 15° C so I put my cycling gear on and went for a pedal.  It was quite breezy and with the threat of more rain, I was prepared to skulk about in the valley bottom going up and down to Wauchope Schoolhouse three times.  However, when I got to the schoolhouse for the first time, the sky had brightened up a lot so instead of turning back, I kept on and did the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Looking back from the top of the hill, I could see the discouraging black clouds over Whita…

clouds over whita

…but ahead of me, all was sunny.

sunny view from tarcoon

On my trip, I saw two fine toadstools…

red toadstools

…new trees coming out of tubes (landowners have to plant a few deciduous trees when they put in monoculture  coniferous plantations)….

trees in tubes

…another outstanding cow…

outstanding cow

…and much else which I didn’t photograph.

When I got home, the sun was still out and it looked like too good and evening to waste so while Mrs Tootlepedal did the accounts arising from her meeting (she is the treasurer), I went for a walk.

My intention was to go up the road past Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…walk past Wauchope Graveyard…

Wauchope graveyard

…where the trees are winning the long term battle against the stones….

stones vs trees

…and then cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk back through the woods along Gaskell’s Walk.  For the second time today, I altered my route plan because it was such a nice evening and turned up the hill before crossing the Auld Stane Brig so that I could look back down on it….

Auld strane bridge in the evening sun

…and then I crossed the Becks Burn instead.

I walked through the wood that was felled earlier this year.

Becks wood felling

The scene in February

…but already new growth is to be seen on every side…

Becks Burn Sept 18

…and from being an airless, dark and fairly sterile wood, it is now a green and pleasant place for a walk on a sunny September evening.

Bridge oberr Becks Burn after felling

The Estate have reinstated the path and made sure that the old wooden bridge is still accessible to cross the burn.

I saw a few patches of colour in the verges and in the old wood as I walked along.

three wild flowers

Soon after I had crossed the bridge, my camera battery expired so I resorted to my phone for the last picture from my second delightful evening walk on successive days.  We can put up with gloomy mornings if we get evenings like this.

view of Whita

Some of the plums from our tree have been magicked into a plum crumble by Mrs Tootlepedal and we ate that for afters at our evening meal, garnished with custard.  It rounded off a day that ended a lot better than it began.

A different flying bird of the day picture today with a sparrow trying to get a look in among the goldfinches.

flying birds

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working hard in Zurich at the moment but found time to admire this trio of trees ageing differentially.

Zurich trees

Yesterday we had a sunny morning and a grey afternoon (and by the time that we went to bed, the inevitable rain had returned).  Today we had a grey and drizzly morning which was extremely depressing but by the afternoon, the clouds had broken and a cheerful sun appeared.

As a result, we spent a quiet morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal engaged in domestic tasks while I went off to the producers’ market and made some judicious purchases of fish, honey and a variety of beef, lamb and venison for slow cooked stews over the next month.

To hold my purchases, I had taken along a very stout store bag which Mary Jo from Manitoba had given to us when we met in London and I was quite surprised when a lady at the venison stall said, “I know where that comes from.”  And even more surprised when it turned out that she did know where it came from as she had spent time in Canada and in Manitoba itself.  It’s a small world, as they say.

I put the bad weather to good use when I got home by practising choir songs and putting another one into the computer.  Because I don’t play the piano, the computer gives me a lot of help when I meet a new song.

We had a good lunch and then, as the day had brightened, we went out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal set about improving her new path and I did some dead heading and shredding before I got my camera out.

bees on dahlia

The honey lady at the producers’ market had told me that the bees are very hungry at the moment and they were tucking in at the dahlias as soon as the sun came out.

The poppies and cornflowers were quieter.

poppy and cornflower

The absence of really cold mornings has allowed the cream coloured potentilla in the garden to keep flowering and has encouraged the Ooh La La Clematis to have a second go.

clematis and potentilla

A butterfly was to be seen clinging to the back of a dahlia, presumably to get some sun on its wings.

red admiral

It was looking in good condition

The weather seemed to be set fair so I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

My confidence in the steady state of the weather turned out to be misplaced and I soon found myself pedalling through a curtain of drizzle.  There was still plenty of sunshine about though and I had the wit to stop and look behind me.

rainbow over wauchopedale

The rain subsided and I pedalled on until I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse where I considered my options.  I had planned to do a triple Cleughfoot recycling route and the weather looking back to Langholm appeared fair enough…

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking east

…but behind Cleughfoot things looked very threatening.

black clouds

I decided to risk sticking to my plan and pedalled as  fast as I could uphill and into the wind towards the black clouds, stopping briefly to admire a combination of sloes and haws….

sloes and haws

…before turning at the top of the road and whizzing back downhill and downwind as fast as I could, hoping to outrun any rain.

The sloe photo opportunity proved my downfall though as I was caught by the shower and had to stop to put my rain jacket on to protect my camera.  Still, it was only just the edge of the rain and I was soon back in sunshine and when I got to Langholm, I stopped in our garden where Mrs Tootlepedal said it had hardly rained at all.

I decided to let the shower get well past before going up the road again and this gave me a chance to admire the nasturtiums and calendula at the end of the drive….

nasturtiums and calendula

…and an unusually dark solo nasturtium flower beside the new path.

nasturtium

The sedum shone so brightly…

sedum

…that it seemed to be giving me the all clear so I set off on my second lap.  In spite of some gloomy looking clouds, it stayed dry and I was enjoying myself when I went over a slight bump in the road and my water bottle fell out of its cage.

I had to stop and retrieve the bottle from the verge and when I realised that I was within a few yards of my favourite cascade, I took this as a sign and clambered down the bank to have a look.

Wauchope cascade

There was not as much water going down the river as I had expected but it is still a lovely spot.

Because I had been delayed by the rain, I was a bit behind schedule so I abandoned the third repetition and only did enough to bring up twenty miles.  I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine to go for a walk so I got changed quickly and set off to walk round the Becks before the sun went down.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had done a hard couple of hours work on the path, thought that a cup of tea was a better option so I went by myself.

The difference between the miserable morning and the sunlit late afternoon was chalk and cheese.

Whita Hill

It was a pleasure to be out and about.

Becks track

Warbla

I walked down through the woods and across the Becks Burn, keeping an eye for fungus in dark places.  I saw this crop of tiny fungi on a dead branch.

Becks fungi

They were smaller than my fingernail

I was pleased to come out into the sunshine though as it was muddy underfoot in the woods and there were many opportunities to put a foot wrong and end in an undignified position.

As I walked down the hill towards the Wauchope road, the Auld Stane Brig caught the last of the sunshine.

Auld Stane Brig

I was very surprised to see an umbellifer in flower as I walked along the road, but bearing in mind the hunger of the bees, I was less surprised to see that they had spotted it too.

umbellifer with bees

The bee keeping lady told me that the bees are waiting for the ivy flowers to come out to provide them with a last big feed before shutting down for winter.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t really approve of garden owners who let their plants impinge on the public highway but there can’t be any objection when it is a magnificent fuchsia like this one.

fuchsia

There was just enough light left when I got home to let me enjoy a last look at the spiky dahlias.

spiky dahlias

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to volunteer at a concert in the Buccleuch Centre and I sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing and admired the relentless energy of the professional dancers.

I am hoping that the weather is kind and that it will let me out for a morning ride tomorrow.  A ride tomorrow would make this a good week for cycling and go some way to making up for my poor efforts in September.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.

springbok

The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.

poppies

And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.

poppy

As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.

potentilla

All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….

clouds

The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.

nerines

We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.

dipper

It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….

Springhill

…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.

Warbla

Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s visit to Nottingham.  As well as bridges, he saw this wheel.  Your town or city is unappealing if you don’t have a big wheel these days it seems.

Nottingham wheel

After a lonely breakfast, I checked on the vigour of the wind outside and decided that this would be a good day to stay indoors for a while and catch up on putting some of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have been very slack lately and have not been doing my fair share of the work.

It took me quite a bit of time as there were one or two existing entries in the database that needed editing and by the time that I had put my week in, gone to the corner shop to get some milk and done the crossword there was not a lot of time to look out of the kitchen window.  It was fun when I did look out.

siskins and chaffinch

Some birds who were on the feeder were shouting at others as they approached….

goldfinch and chaffinch

…and others who were approaching were shouting at those who were on to get off

I went for a walk round the garden too.  The crocuses were looking very pretty.

washing green crocuses

white crocus

The pond was humming with frogs again today.

frogs in pond

Sandy rang up and we made an arrangement to meet for a walk in the afternoon.  Time was a bit tight so I made a quick leek and potato soup for lunch and then popped out for a short test run to see how the new rear gear mech was working on the fairly speedy bike.

It worked very well but the very brisk wind made testing it quite a trial.  I pedalled five miles up to Callister and in spite of trying quite hard, it took me 31 minutes.  By contrast, the return journey back to town took me 14 minutes.  I had time for a battle back up the road to Cleughfoot and another 20mph glide back home to complete 18 miles.

I topped my fuel up with a cup of tea and a roll and honey and was just changed and ready as Sandy appeared.

We walked along Gaskell’s and The Becks, starting along the river beside the park.

mossy wall at park

The glowing green of the wall at the park made me moss conscious and we looked for a few more examples as we went round.  They were not hard to find.

Moss on gaskells

Sandy’s sharp eye caught sight of a scarlet elf cup in a ditch near the Auld Stane Brig….

scarlet elf cup

…and I knew another place later in the walk where we should see more if they were out.  I was right and the example on the left is from Sandy’s ditch and the two on the right are from a large crop in the Becks wood.

The light was good enough for big views at the start of the walk….

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

…but the sun went in as we walked along and once we were in the wood, it was hard to get the cameras to focus.  We saw some bootlace fungus on a dead log and lots of hazel flowers in a dark corner.

bootlace fungus and hazel flowers

On the whole though, it was a better day for stretching the legs than taking pictures.

I did stop to take yet another picture of the Auld Stane Brig, just because I could…

Auld Stane Brig

…and a splendid gnarly tree beside it.

tree at auld stane brig

On our way back along the track after crossing the Becks Burn and coming up through the wood, we saw equines of various sizes…

pony

…some with very cheerful associates.

Ramsay and horse

When we got home, Sandy stayed for a cup of tea and a biscuit or three and then I made a  really delicious dish of baked eggs in a bed of spinach with a cheese sauce topping.  This is a recipe with so many variables (how much mustard in the sauce, how long to cook the spinach, has the cheese got enough bite, is the sauce too thick, too thin, are the eggs cooked properly or like bullets) that when you get them all right by sheer accident, eating it is like dining with the gods.  Tonight was such a night.

I had a shower and a shave and went off to the Langholm choir practice in a very good mood after such a generally pleasant afternoon of cycling, walking and eating.

The choir practice was enjoyable as well and it rounded off a day which was as good as any day without Mrs Tootlepedal in it can be.

There is a frog of the day….

frog

…and a flying bird of the day to go with it.

flying chaffinch

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