Posts Tagged ‘birch polypore’

Today’s guest picture is another from Joe and shows our daughter Annie crossing a bridge in the highlands when she came to it.

highland bridge

I was anxious to make up for the defect in my spreadsheet calculations by having a 30 mile plus cycle ride today so I was pleased when I got up to find that the temperature had stayed at a very temperate 9°C, the wind wasn’t whistling and the rain was staying firmly in the clouds.  Under the circumstances, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to represent the family in the church choir and set off to visit a well known bench in Newtown, twenty miles away.

I reached the bench without any undue excitement….

Newtown bench

…had a drink and a few raisins and set off back home again as it wasn’t a day to linger about taking in some rays.

I stopped at the bridge over the Esk in Longtown..

Esk at Longtown

….out of respect for my legs which were muttering under their breath at this point.

And got home in good order after finally (and definitively) reaching 4000 miles for the year.  My secret target had been 4200 but the pulled leg muscle in November put paid to that and 4012 miles will just have to do.

It was made up of 153 rides with 320 hours in the saddle, meaning an average distance per ride of 26.2 miles at an average speed of 12.5 mph.  As 827 of the miles were done on my slow bike while I was waiting for my new bike to arrive, the average speed for the new bike will be a bit higher than that but not a great deal.

It was still warm and dry when I got home so after a nourishing plate of duck soup and some bread and cheese, I went out for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We chose a modest two bridge walk up one side of the river and down the other. Mrs Tootlepedal strode out bravely, ignoring the trees leaning over the path….

Riverside path with Mrs T

…and the ones that had leaned finally and fatally in the woods along side.

fallen trees beside the river

This bank of the river spends a lot of its life in shade and the trees are very mossy to say the least.

mossy tree

But they are very much alive and the catkins and buds on a birch beside the Duchess Bridge were looking very healthy.

birch catkins

We crossed the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge

…passed a fine show of ferns…


…and walked onto the Castleholm track through a gate with a garden of moss on the gatepost.

moss on gate close up

Looked at more closely, the moss seems rich and lush.

moss on gate

Further on, the trunk of a Scots pine showed evidence of wear and tear…

pine tree trunk

…and a fallen birch was playing host to a splendid set of birch polypores.

birch polypore

To my eye, this tree on the bank of the river had the look of a samba dancer with a skimpy backless costume of fern.

tree with ferns

We crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the track behind the school where we came across what looked at first sight to be a shrub in full flower…

pernettya bush

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eye noticed that the colour came from berries and not from flowers….

pernettya berries

…and she correctly identified it as a pernettya, presumably a garden escape.

Although it was still quite early when we got home, the gathering gloom made taking pictures of birds on the feeder impossible so I didn’t even check to see if there were any about and it wasn’t long before the curtains were drawn and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked gammon and egg for tea and it was very satisfying to have a serving of home grown marrow on the side.  The marrows were picked a long time ago and have survived very well in a cool place with no special care required.

In the absence of a garden bird, the non flying bird of the day is one from the Castleholm.  It sang very loudly and continuously as we walked down the path but it was too far away for a good identification.  We wondered if it might be a blackbird or a thrush.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

singing bird in tree

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Today’s guest picture is the view from my older son’s hotel room in Prague where he is spending a romantic weekend with his partner.  You may think he should have gone next weekend when it will be St Valentine’s Day but he was sensible enough to check the prices first.


We had a good day.  In between the series of wet and windy depressions rolling over us, we had a good day.  We saw the sun.  The wind didn’t blow very hard.  People were wandering around in a daze wondering what had happened.  Did I mention that we had a good day?

Dropscone, who has had a very busy week with things that had to be done, had yet another of these things to do this morning so I was able to sit around waiting for the temperature to get above 3°C.  I had time to look out of the kitchen window.


A blackbird hunting for worms


A robin waiting to dart up to the seed feeder above.

When the temperature had hit 4°, I put on my many layers, got the speedy bike out and set out for a circular run round Bailliehill and Paddockhole.

garmin route 7 Jan 2014This route starts with a stiff climb followed by a descent which loses nearly all the altitude that you have just gained and then eight miles of gentle climbing.  As I also had a light breeze in my face, I took my time over this section and stopped from time to time to take a picture with my phone.

In spite of the wet weather and the grey skies, the countryside is still looking remarkable green and it was a real pleasure to pedal along with the sun on my back surrounded by gentle hills and serenaded by the song of birds.

Near Benty

The roadside scene

Near Benty

The road itself

River esk

The Esk in the valley below

hill farm

A typical hill farm near Paddockhole.

After fifteen miles into the wind, I was pleased to turn at Paddockhole and get the wind behind me for the ten miles home.

Much of the road surface for the first half of the trip is very poor and non cyclists may be surprised how much this slows you down but you expend a lot of energy going up and down over bumps.  As a result, I had to pedal like the clappers for the last two miles to sneak in at just under the two hours for the twenty five and a half mile trip.

I had time for lunch before my friend Jean came round to get a bit of help looking for an embroiderer’s magnifying floor lamp.  She has been using mine recently but wanted to have one of her own.  We were able to find a suitable item on the internet and it should arrive soon.  I often get annoyed when a beautiful view which I wish to photograph is marred by pylons and electricity lines but it is the price to pay for being able to complete transactions like that from the comfort of your armchair at the touch of a button….and of course to put the experience in this post.

After Jean left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided to go for a walk to take advantage of the better day.  I was going to show her the walk that Sandy and I had done a few days ago.  This is a walk that she has never been along herself so we drove up to Whitshiels and parked the car.  As I pulled the handbrake on, it started to rain.  We had an umbrella and the clouds seemed to be moving past so we braved the elements and set off anyway.

This turned out to be a good decision as the rain soon stopped and the sun came out.

Ewes valley

I showed her the little lichen garden on the gatepost which I had noticed before.


My research says that it is Red crest or British soldier lichen: Cladonia cristatella

Looking up the Ewes valley, we could see snow on the hills at Eweslees.


Thanks to the protection of a nearby wood, there was no wind at all where we were walking and in the sunshine it felt like a spring day.  There were certainly signs of spring about.

hazel catkins

Hazel catkins

We walked on up the hill to the open fields and I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the impressive birch polypores which Sandy had spotted on our last visit.

birch polypores

This is a magical spot on a nice day.  Even a conspicuous row of pylons can’t spoil it.


We walked on, leaving the sheep cropped fields, and followed a rough track through the hill pasture until we reached a gate onto the road back to Langholm.

Langholm road

The gate itself was worth a look with a small willow bush on the gate post on the left and a pretty moss garden on the stone pillar to the right.

willow and moss

We stopped at a quarry beside the road on our way back to the car.   It has a little bridge over a stream that must have had some purpose when it was working.

quarry bridge

The bank at the end of the quarry shows very clearly how neatly the ice sliced through the strata and smoothed our hills in the last ice age…..


…and just how long it has taken for a very thin layer of indifferent soil to accumulate on top of the rock since the ice went.

The rock was sedimentary and Mrs Tootlepedal found what looks like a record of ripples long past.

rock ripples

By this time, the sun was sinking in the west and it was time to leave the quarry and head for the car, home, and a nice cup of tea.


The rest of the day was taken up with dipping into the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and cooking a healthy meal of fish and vegetables for my tea.

I had taken so many photos after the poor weather of the past few days that it took me ages and some grief to decide which to keep and which to throw away but I still only had a standard flying chaffinch for the final picture of the post.

flying chaffinch





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