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Posts Tagged ‘British soldier lichen’

In contrast to yesterday’s Antiguan sun, today’s guest picture shows a typical day in Derby.  My brother Andrew was suffering in the rain there a couple of day ago.

Derby

We had another very welcome dry day here today and things are even beginning to hint at drying out a little.  A bit more warmth would help the process.

A brisk wind also helps and we got that today, the downside being that it was a pretty chilly breeze and it made the day which was theoretically warm at 10°C feel a good deal colder.  Still, it was a useful day for a pedal and some gardening so we were happy.

My fairly speedy bike was still in the bike shop so I went out on the slow bike and stuck to skulking 18 miles twice up and down the Wauchope valley, as far out of the wind as I could stay.

I was impressed by the dedication of a flock of sheep to getting their strength up and stopped for a shot…

sheep

…and as I always look closely at a wall when I am leaning over one to take a photo, I took some lichen pictures while I was at it.

lichen on wall

I like the variations in colour, shape and style that the lichen on our roadside walls provides.

Otherwise, I kept my head well down in the crosswinds on the ride and didn’t take any more pictures.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had completed some errands round the town and was busy gardening.

She is very pleased with the early crocuses this year and so am I.

There are some brighter ones about…

crocuses

…but the bulk of the flowers are a delicate pale violet and I like them both for themselves and when they mingle with the snowdrops.

crocuses

And because I like eating it, I was very happy to see that the rhubarb is looking very promising.

rhubarb

Then I went inside and looked out.  The kitchen makes a warm and comfortable bird hide and supplies good coffee too (Rwandan today).

I looked high…

greenfinch

…and low.

dunnock

After lunch, I went off for a walk.  It had been gently sunny while I had pedalled along in the morning but the clouds had come over for my walk and it was a grey afternoon.

Pathhead track

Snowdrops provided some cheer both at the start and near the finish of my walk.

snowdrops

On grey days, I tend to keep my eyes on the foreground and ignore the views and there is always something to help to pass the time.

This wall provided a home for some luxuriant moss.

mossy wall

And a birch tree had a neat circle of script lichen.

script lichen

As always, walls are a never ending source of delight and today I came across a growth which I hadn’t seen before.  It is the coral like structure on the left in the panel below.  I think that it must be lichen but I am by no means confident about that.

lichen on wall

On the other hand, I am confident about this.

cladonia

This is definitely cladonia lichen.

I had already stopped at a promising piece of wall before I had noticed the tiny spots of red so either my lichen radar is improving with practice or I was just lucky because I didn’t see any more along the the wall.

cladonia

It really is very red indeed.

I started and finished my walk with a visit to the Kilngreen in the hope of seeing some oyster catchers.

There was a pair at the Meeting of the Waters when I was on my out but they flew off with a gull before I could get too close…

oyster catchers

And there was a pair (probably the same pair I would imagine) in the same place when I came back an hour later and they flew off again, first to further up the bank of the river…

oyster catcher

…and then again to join the gulls on the fence posts.

Luckily one of them flew right past me.

oyster catcher

When I saw that I wasn’t going to get close to them, I took a shot through an arch of the Langholm Bridge which gave me a lot of pleasure even on a grey day.

Langholm Bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden again when I got back and I fell easily into a supervisory role.  It is a suitable role for me as it doesn’t involve doing anything else but walking around and saying, “That looks good.”

In the evening, I went to sing with our local choir and enjoyed myself not least because I am sitting next to my cello playing friend Mike who is an excellent singer and keeps me right.

He remarked that he and his wife have been enjoying the frog pictures on the blog so here is one from today, especially for them.

frog

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull which  flew by while I was tracking the oyster catchers.  It has almost got its spring black head.

black headed gull

END NOTE

Oh and the title of the blog refers to a telephone call which I received from the bike shop this evening to tell me that the fairly speedy bike has got a two inch crack in the frame so it is time to say farewell to an old friend. Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that it is just as well to discover a crack like that when it is in the bike shop and not when you are going down hill at 30mph.

I don’t remember exactly when I bought the fairly speedy bike, a Giant SCR, but I must have had it for over ten years so it will have done about 40,000 miles at least.  It has been a good servant, comfortable and reliable and I will be very happy if my new bike turns out to be as good.

I am going to look at getting a replacement suitable for a elderly gentleman with no great bike handling skills but who enjoys getting a few miles in over a year. Like Two Ton Tessie O’Shea used to say about herself, it will be built for comfort more than for speed.  I know my limits now.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She had got up early to watch the starlings taking off from her local nature reserve but found that a swan had got up even earlier.

swan at dawn

I got up rather later than I meant to and found that Mrs Tootlepedal was already downstairs.  As it was her birthday, I took the opportunity to give her a present.  With characteristic skill and sensitivity, I had bought exactly the right gift for her, a book of woodcuts that have illustrated the Guardian newspaper’s nature notes over the years.

It is only fair to note that my ability to hit on exactly the present that she wanted may have been assisted by her telling me both the title and the author of the book.  It is the best way.

After breakfast, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and then Tony and Marianne, our visitors, kindly gave me a lift up to Whitshiels so that I could start a walk from there while they tried to find an old school friend of Tony’s.

I had to keep my eyes down more than I would have liked on my walk as it was quite icy and slippery underfoot in places but I was able to stop and look about.

I saw some old friends on my way round…

British soldier lichen and tree

A few lonely British soldier lichens on a  gate and a favourite tree.

ewes view

The view up the Ewes valley, topped off by some wispy clouds

Craig windfarm view

The view up the Esk valley showing how low the sun is at this time of year, with dark shadows a permanent feature.

ice art

There was not as much opportunity for arty ice shots as I had hoped.

Ewes view

And the cloud was still sitting on the Ewes Valley hills when I had a second look later on the walk.

Whita tree

The last time that I passed these trees, it was late afternoon.  They looked more cheerful but less dramatic this morning.

Esk and Ewes panorama

The views from the lower slopes of Whita are extensive. (Click to enlarge if you like.)

hawthorn

It may not have been a good year for cycling but it has been a great year for hawthorns.

frozen gate

The gate at the top of the golf course.

frozen puddle

A shot which summarises our recent weather very neatly.  A large puddle, frozen over.

third tee golfers

Hardy golfers peering anxiously into the sun to see where a drive up the third fairway had gone.

View from 1st tee

This was the view they would have had when they started their round on the 1st tee.

Caroline Street in sunshine

And this was the view that I had as I got to the end of my walk.

It was just a short walk as we had visitors but it was most enjoyable.  Cold and sunny but not too windy and firm under foot. Ideal.

When I got home, I made some coffee and then set up the camera at the kitchen window.  Tony tried his hand at catching a flying bird or two with success.

chaffinch and greenfinch Tony

I got too ambitious with a greenfinch close-up and missed the action…

busy feeder

…but when I pulled back a bit, I saw a goldfinch literally bending over backwards to be unwelcoming.

goldffinches

I settled for the quieter shot….

blackbird

…and found a robin keeping a weather eye out.

robin

After a snack, Tony and Marianne headed back to Edinburgh, aiming to get there while the light was still good as the road conditions might be tricky in places.  It was very kind of them to come down for a double birthday celebration.

And after a light lunch and some hard song practice (both hard practice of songs and practice of hard songs, since you ask), Mrs Tootlepedal and I headed off to Carlisle to have a sing with our Carlisle Community Choir.

The practice paid off but some of the songs are slightly beyond my level of competence and much more practice will be still be needed.

On our way home, as it was a birthday, we stopped and brought some chips from the chip shop to go with the venison stew.  This was an inspired choice as they turned out to be a perfect accompaniment for an excellent stew.  (I had bought a more expensive than usual cut of venison at our producers’ market, another good choice).

Our short spell of chilly dry weather has ended for the time being and rain is pattering on the windows again as I write this in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the treasure trove of lovely pictures that my sister Mary took on her Lake District holiday.  This one was taken while she was having elevenses in Grange.

Having elevenses sitting outside a cafe in Grange

I have gone well over my self imposed picture limit today for which I apologise as I realise that readers are busy people with lives to lead but on this occasion I was overtaken by sunshine and couldn’t help it.

The morning was cool and breezy so I was happy to get up quite early (for me) and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before breakfast.  After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to weed the Kirk bridge with our friend Nancy.

I had a look round the garden after she had gone and spent quite a bit of time trying to get pictures of a bee on the comfrey.

bees

Although it was a rather subdued morning, some plants still managed to produce a bit of  zing.

japanese azalea and rhododendron

candelabra primula

Others were more refined.

lupin

Looking deep into a lupin.

But my favourite shot was this droplet bespangled web between two plants.

raindrops on web

I went down to watch the weeders at work and wielded a hoe myself for a while.  Then it was time to cycle home via the corner shop and make a cup of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal who soon went off to Hawick for an Embroiderers’ Guild committee meeting.  She knows how to have fun.

After she had gone, I had another look round the garden.

New flowers are arriving and these two show that Mrs Tootlepedal likes flowers that others might keep out of their gardens as weeds.

hawkweed and foxglove

I had my lunch and settled down to some serious music practice.  I must say that trying to get everything sorted for two concerts at the end of the week is making my head hurt a bit but I am sticking in and hope to be reasonably ready when the time comes.

As a break from singing and tootling, I went back into the garden and did some therapeutic mowing, getting the drying green, the greenhouse grass and the front lawn done in one go.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Hawick, it was time for a cup of tea and a biscuit and as we drank and nibbled, we were very entertained by family life outside the kitchen window.

A blackbird was having a really hard time trying to feed a worm to a very large youngster.

blackbird feeding young

The youngster kept dropping the worm and after several fruitless attempts, the mother got fed up and flew off, leaving the youngster looking very disgruntled.

young blackbird

There were families of starlings about too.  Some posing prettily in the elder….

starlings

…and others making a mess of my lawn again.

starlings

I liked the sight of the youngster in the middle getting sound pecking advice from its mother.

After a grey day with occasional rain, things had now brightened up to such an extent that I was compelled to go out for a walk up a hill and as you can’t go for a walk up a hill without taking pictures, this accounts for today’s glut of photos.

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly drove along the road to Whitshiels and from there I walked three and a bit miles to the top of Whita Hill and back down to the town.  The first part of the route took me up a track and across fields with a lot to see as I went….

lichen, bugle, tormentil and an a pretty pick flower

The hillside was speckled with tormentil.

I would have stopped and taken some views at this point had it not been for the looming presence of a herd of cows…..

cows

…who looked curiously at me as I skulked round the edge of their pasture but decided that I was not worth a closer look. Phew.

I got much closer to another local resident.

sheep

Once up the track and across the fields, I joined the road and decided not to take advantage of this bench….

Copshaw road bench

…but pressed on to the White Yett and then up the track to the monument.

Monument

From the top of the hill, I phoned Mrs Tootlepedal to let her know that I had reached that point safely and although she was a mile away in the middle of the town….

Langholm

…I jumped about so vigorously that she could pick me out with the naked eye.

It was a good clear day by now and the view from the top is one of my favourites.

Ewes valley

Looking in the other direction, the view down to the Solway is now interrupted by the new windmills at Gretna.

Gretna Windmills

They were earning their keep in the brisk breeze today.

I had my walking poles with me and they were certainly very helpful in pushing me up the hill but they were even more helpful in stopping me falling down the hill. The track down the front of the hill is quite steep in places.

By the time that I had got down  to the golf course, I was back in hawthorn country…

hawthorns

hawthorns

…and they lined the track back to the town.

Kirk Wynd

A little patch of rhododendrons near the second green on the golf course provided a colourful contrast to the hawthorns.

Golf course rhododendrons

I took a picture of the weed free Kirk Bridge as I passed….

Kirk Bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal and Nancy had done good work this morning.

…and arrived home feeling less tired and a lot more cheerful than I had been when i set out.

I did think about going out again after tea because the evening was so lovely….

Walnut tree

The walnut tree in the garden catching the evening sun

…but the call of music and photo editing kept me at home.

The forecast for tomorrow is for a fine, calm day.  I hope that it is right because it is the last day of the month and I would like to add a few miles to my monthly total for May.

 

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I have raided my brother’s visit to Exeter for another guest picture today.  He had rather gloomy weather for the trip but managed to get out for long enough to photograph a new bike and pedestrian bridge over the river.

The river and a handy new foot/bike bridge

Today was the last of my visits, for a while  at least, to the Moorland Feeders to act as a fill in feeder filler as the regular workers are returning from their long  weekend in New Zealand shortly.

I went up with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She kindly acted as assistant filler but it was a rather chilly and wet morning so we didn’t stay long.

I sat in the hide for a moment or two and very much surprised a woodpecker when my camera flash went off unexpectedly….

woodpecker

…which was a pity as it was right in front of me at the time.  It left in short order.

I watched a succession of tits visiting the nuts…

coal, blue and great tits

…and admired the delicate gradations of colour on the backs of  the blue and great tits.

tit colours

On our way home, we stopped to look at the work on the damaged cutwater of Skippers Bridge and were very surprised to see that it had been finished…

skippers Bridge repair

…and very neatly too.

skippers Bridge repair

It may get tested as we have heavy rain forecast for tonight.

After a cup of coffee, I went out into the garden and picked a couple of leeks and then made some leek and potato soup for lunch.

By this time, the rain had stopped and there was even a little sunshine so while I was cooking, I was entertained by the birds.

siskin and chaffinches

Very entertained.

chaffinches flying

I did think of cycling after lunch as the better weather continued but it was quite windy and as I haven’t done much walking lately, I decided that a walk might be better value.

Before I left, I was drawn to the pond by the mellifluous croaking of the frogs.  They were in affectionate mood…

frogs

…and one in particular tried to catch my eye with some elegant throat puffing.

frog

I tore myself away and walked down to the river to see if I could spot an oyster catcher or a dipper.  An oyster catcher on a rock in the Esk was most co-operative….

oyster catcher

…but although I saw two dippers as I walked up the road beside the Ewes Water, they were both obscured by branches and I couldn’t get a good shot.

I walked up the track from Whitshiels,  hoping to find a British Soldier lichen or two on a gatepost where they usually live and was pleased to see that they were still there.

British Soldier lichen

The red spots are tiny so I was even more pleased to find some helpful light when I got close.

British Soldier lichen

I walked on up the hill in a very cheerful mood and thanks to the sun lasting well, I took far more pictures than I should have with the result that this post has gone a bit over budget as far as images go.   Still, it was a good day for taking pictures so it would have been a pity not to take a lot.

The views were good….

Ewes Valley

…and I played around with the camera settings to give a bare tree a slightly mysterious feel….

tree at Whitshiels

…and thinking of my black and white flower challenge tried the same settings on a gorse flower.

gorse

I am getting a few ideas.

On my way back to the town, I watched buzzards and hunted in vain for frogs in the quarry puddles as well as checking out the moss on a stone wall….

moss on wall

As I came down past the golf course, I saw a very colourful shed which I have never noticed before.  I don’t know whether it is new or whether I have just been unobservant hitherto.

shed beside Kirk Wynd

No camera tricks there.  It really is that colour.

The colours on the shed made me think of the camera colour picker though and I took this shot of the ninth green on the golf course….

ninth green

…before dropping down into the Market Place.  For once, there were no cars parked in front of the  new tourist information centre where I often volunteer in the summer so I took a picture to show it in all its glory.

Welcome to Langholm

It’s quite hard to miss.

By the time that I got home, the sun had gone and after taking a picture of a hellebore in the back bed…

hellebore

I cheated by holding its head up.

…I set about the first compost sieving of the new season with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We were dealing with a bin of substantially aged kitchen compost and it was so well rotted and friable already that it hardly needed sieving. It was a gentle start to the composting year.

Some drizzle tried to discourage us as we worked but we looked it sternly in the eye and it went away.  As it went, Mike Tinker arrived.  He came just as we were stopping for a cup of tea and so he joined us and we enjoyed some good conversation with our biscuits.

After he left, I went through the pictures while simultaneously practising the choir songs for Sunday.  It worked surprisingly well and I think that I might well have got them off before the big day.

In the evening, I went out to sing with our Langholm choir and had an enjoyable warble but I took care not  to sing too loudly.  My voice is feeling the strain of the constant practice a bit and it would be very annoying to arrive in Manchester with the songs learned but with no voice to sing them.

The two flowers of the day speak of spring; the daffodil is from the garden and the crocus from the bank of the Ewes at the Kilngreen.

crocus and daffodil

The sunshine today was really lovely and it looks as though we might escape the worst of the winds during Doris Day tomorrow, although it is due to rain a lot.  We are keeping fingers firmly crossed.

Meanwhile, the flying bird of the day is a gloriously sunny, fully streamlined goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is a reminder of summer.  It shows two shots of a dragonfly spotted by Mike Tinker on holiday in Wales.

dragonfly

Although some of the snow had melted away from yesterday, there was enough about to make some icy spots on our local roads and to keep our hills still looking pretty white.

I was in no hurry to rush out and fall over so I checked to see if Dropscone was in treacle scone making mode.  He was and arrived for coffee bearing scones so freshly baked that the butter melted on them.

When he left, I had time to stare out of the window.  One good thing about the snow is that it improves the light…

chaffinch

…and another is that it brings in siskins.

siskin

I was pleased to catch the robin at work….

robin

…because I was beginning to worry that a cat might have caught it napping.

We had been promised a bright and chilly sunny day but we had a rather cloudy day instead but I thought that it was still worth a walk and rang up Sandy.  After a very light lunch, we met at the Langholm Bridge and walked along the A7 towards Whitshiels.

You can’t pass the Kilngreen without looking around.

There was a flotilla of ducks on the river….

mallards

…and a single black headed gull among some light snowflakes in the air.

black headed gull

Fortunately, the snowflakes didn’t come to anything and we got round our walk in pleasant conditions.

From the Whitshiels, we walked up the track, keeping an eye out for interesting things.

There is a tree stump under the trees covered in something white and today for once the light let me get a good picture of it.

tree stump with white growth

I can’t make up my mind whether the white stuff is lichen or fungus or something else entirely.

I am quite sure that the the tiny red dots that you can see in this picture of a gatepost if you look very carefully towards the bottom on the left…

gate post with lichen

…are British Soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella) as a closer look reveals.

British Soldier lichen Cladonia cristatella

I will have to take my macro lens up the track one of these days to try to get a better picture of it.  It is tiny and my Lumix finds it very hard to pick it out from the background. There was a remarkable amount of soldiers at their post.

There was ice on one side of the track and hints of spring on the other.

ice and bud

Further up the track, the view opens out and bare trees appear…

Bare Tree Whitshiels track

We walked out onto the open hill where we were the first people to have trodden since the snow fell…but not the first creatures. There were a number of tracks about but we liked this one a lot…

p1080576

There was a nice set of these neat four holed footsteps which were on the path that we followed  and a little research when I got back tells me that they were probably made by a hare.  The fact that we saw a hare running across the hill in front of us was a help in suggesting what to look up.

The weather had brightened up a bit by this time and there were plenty of good views to be had  looking up the Ewes valley to the north…

Ewes Velley

…even if the hills were showing through the snow a bit more than they were yesterday.

To the west, there were some big skies available.

Looking south west from Whita

We got onto the hill road to Newcastleton and were very pleased that we weren’t driving on it as it looked very icy.  We were staggered to see a cheery cyclist free wheeling very gently down it.  He told us that he had hoped to cycle on the hill but big snowdrifts had scuppered his plan.   He was a much braver man than me.

Cyclist coming down White Yett road

We crossed the road and continued our walk along the side of Whita Hill towards the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.  The hill sheep were coping well with the snow, finding things to eat here and there.

hill sheep

Although the sun had occasionally been shining, it was low in the sky and haunted by thin cloud.  It made for interesting light.

Sandy

We were in dog walking country by this time

bare trees on Whita

The sun was still picking out the hills to our north.

Ewes Valley

And I kept looking back and we went along.

Kirkton

We got onto the Kirk Wynd and came down the hill into the town where Sandy stopped to catch the town bus back to Holmwood and I walked down to the river in the hope of seeing a dipper.

I saw another strange bird instead.

John Hills

This is my friend John, a great nature lover, who is always telling me where I might see interesting things if only I had the patience that he has.  I caught him relaxing in a very natural pose as you can see.

I didn’t see a dipper today, although John told me that I had just missed one, but I did see a blue tit when I got home…

blue tit

…which made for a very good finish for an enjoyable outing.

As it turned out, Dropscone, who was unable to play golf for obvious reasons, had gone for a walk on Whita this afternoon as well but we didn’t see him.  He has sent me a picture which he took and which should appear as guest picture tomorrow.  He was higher up the hill than we were.

I lent a hand to Mrs Tootlepedal who was busy taking wallpaper off the ceiling in the hall when I got back.  I may not be a very competent decorator (I am not a very competent decorator) but there are times when simply being tall is good enough.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and we shared a bottle of wine which was given to me as a Christmas present and Alison and I played Rameau, Corelli and Hook.

Treacle scones in the morning, a walk in the middle of the day, corned beef hash for tea and a glass of wine, good conversation and some music in the evening may not be exactly setting the world alight but it was quite good enough for me.  A day firmly on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch at the feeder.

flying goldfinch

An addendum to today’s post is a shot of the moon which I took when I went to bed last night.

January moon

It sneaks into today’s post because it was after midnight when I took the shot.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s highland holiday.  The weather wasn’t always what he would have wished but you can’t fault the views.

Sutherland

We had a fine and sunny day here today so October was very welcome.  The temperature is autumnal and the garden was quite soggy when we got up but it dried up nicely during the day.

I had a leisurely morning with the high spot being a visit to the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre to stock up on the necessities of life.  Fresh fish and vegetables, good cheese, properly looked after meat and local honey all disappeared into my shopping bag and I pedalled home on the slow bike (solid tyre, no punctures!) in a cheery mood.

There was any amount of dead heading to do as we try and keep the flowers going as long as possible.  Lillian Austin is flourishing with no help from me at all.

Lilian Austin

…and the poppies in front of the pond are standing up very well too.

poppies

I dead headed a hundred stems and then Mrs Tootlepedal went round and did all the ones that I had missed and then I went round and did the ones that she had missed.  What fun we had.

She is busy doing gardening at the moment and the morning’s project was replanting an azalea in a new place as part of a border redesign.  She digs these hefty shrubs up, carries them to their new home and puts them in with no help from me at all.  I just stand and marvel at the results.

The morning involved coffee and a crossword too and a moment to enjoy the sparrows at the feeder.

sparrow

After lunch, I had another look out of the window….

dunnock and chaffinch

Neither the dunnocks or the chaffinches fly up to the feeder at the moment, just scavenging for scraps below.

chaffinch and blue tit

A chaffinch spent some time in the plum tree considering its options but a blue tit got stuck in straight away.

After a good deal of dithering, I finally got out the fairly speedy bike, cleaned the chain and set off for a ride.

Yesterday I had gone up the Wauchope road, turned left and and circled round to approach the town from the south.  Today I went up the Wauchope road, turned right, circled round and approached the town from the north.  As usual, my route choice was determined by wind direction as I always like to have a friendly wind on my way home.   It is good to have a choice of two rides of almost the same distance.

I had noticed patches of bright green lichens on one particular short stretch of wall on recent rides so I stopped today to record one of them.

Green lichen

This colour is not common round here where the walls are usually covered in grey or brown lichens.  Maybe different stone was used on this section of the wall.

A calf on the other side of the road had nothing to say on the matter.

calf

The hills may be turning a bit brown but the cultivated grass fields are still as green as ever…

Paddockhole

Looking back on the Wauchope road just after my right turn

Water of Milk

My road ahead following the valley of the Water of Milk

This road winds steadily uphill for most of its four miles and as it was into the wind today, I was pleased to arrive at Bailliehill….

Bailliehill

…at the top of the hill where I turned right and followed the River Esk back to Langholm.

At Bailliehill there is a slightly mysterious pond and summerhouse.

Bailliehill pond

Both pond and structure were made quite recently but I have never seen any sign of life there.

My route home wasn’t helped quite as much by the wind as I had hoped that it would be but it wasn’t hindered by it at all so I rolled along the road home at a good speed for me.

When I got back, I found that not content with shifting the azalea, Mrs Tootlepedal had continued her work of garden improvement by levelling out the path from the drive to the front lawn.

garden path

As this involved shifting and re-laying several large and heavy concrete slabs, I was distinctly impressed.  The dahlias in the picture were among the plants dead headed this morning.  They were all grown from seed this year but some of them are making really good looking tubers and Mrs Tootlepedal is contemplating taking some of them up and keeping them over winter.

Before I had my after-ride cup of tea, I put the speedy bike away and then got the slow bike out and pedalled down to the riverside to see what I could see there.

headless flying bird

A headless flying bird….

herring gull

…turned out to be a herring gull

A very late family of ducks was swimming close to the river bank.

ducklings

There were some fine clouds on the horizon…

clouds

…but nothing else came within range of my lens so I pedalled home past two fierce lions….

square pump

Water providers on a public pump in Buccleuch Square in times gone by

…and had my cup of tea.

A meal of fish and courgette fritters rounded off a good day very well.

The flowers of the day are two nasturtium caught in the damp morning….

nasturtiums

…and the flying bird is a determined sparrow.

sparrow

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Today’s picture comes from sunny Morocco where my friend Sue was recently on holiday.  It shows her on a camel.  She is the one looking cool on the right.

Camel in Morroco with SueOnce again, it is lucky that the guest picture comes from sunny climes as we had another very overcast and gloomy day here.

It wasn’t a day for taking pictures so of course I took a few.

frog

The frenetic activity in the pond has calmed down for the moment but there are still frogs about.

jackdaw

A jackdaw looks rather disappointed at the quality of the suet balls that I had scattered on the lawn.  I apologised.

The main business of the morning did little to alleviate the gloom as we went to our friend Arthur’s memorial service.  Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church choir and they made a very nice job of singing Abide with Me in the middle of the service.

A distinguished professor gave the encomium.  He was very good and cheered us all up by working the word ‘desuetude’ into his text.  He didn’t apply it to Arthur though but merely to an old library which Arthur had helped to restore.  The encomium was interesting, informative and both commendably brief and to the point, qualities which Arthur himself would have admired so we felt that he had been well sent off.

All the while, progress was being made on the new chimney.

chimneyAfter lunch, I peered through the kitchen window for a while.

busy feeder

A mixed bag on the feeder

dancing chaffinches

There were dancing chaffinches here today.

Then I went up to the town to do some banking business and extended the trip into a walk.  It was still too gloomy to take any photographs but once again that didn’t stop me.

I walked up the Kirk Wynd to the golf course, stopping to admire some promise on the way…

spring  bud…and then turned on to Tibbie Lugs Walk.

Tibbie LugsBeside the path, an old tree stump covered with fungus caught my eye.

fungusI walked along until I met the Copshaw road and turned up the hill.  I passed this fine clipped beech gateway…

beech hedgeThen I cut across a field, plunged into a wood, leapt across the stream at the bottom of the little valley…

stream at Hillhead…climbed through the wood on the far side….

wood at Hillhead…and came out at the far side of the wood.

Terrona fieldOnce I had climbed the path, I had a fine view up the Ewes Valley….

Ewes…which would have been better for a little sunshine.

(When I said that I leapt across the stream, I was lying.)

I walked back down the track to Whitshiels, admiring the fresh colour of the spiky gorse blossoms…

gorse…and  stopping at a favourite spot for seeing British Soldier lichens (Cladonia cristatella).

soldier lichensOnce I had got down to the main road, I followed it back into the town.  A hazel dripping catkins on the river bank made me pause for a moment.

hazel catkinsWhen I got home,  I just had enough time to look out of the window again…

siskin violence

The siskins were competing fiercely for places at the feast.

…before putting on several layers of warm cycling clothes and going off on my slow bike for a circular tour with Mrs Tootlepedal.

garmin 13 March 15As you can see, we weren’t in a great rush.  It was pretty chilly and we wearing lots of layers and there was a very keen north easterly wind discouraging us whenever it could.  Garmin doesn’t always get the weather right so I should say that it wasn’t raining and the wind was stronger than it suggests.

We plugged away cheerfully enough until near the very end, when the chill and the wind got to us a bit.  All the same, I was pleased to have taken my knee for its first circular ride and Mrs Tootlepedal was pleased to have swapped the bike to nowhere for an actual moving experience.

This time it really was too dark to take pictures as we pedalled along and I didn’t even take Pocketcam with me.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I played some duets with some more than usually exciting variations from the composers’ original intentions.  Nevertheless, as Alison remarked, playing duets is always good value even when there are a few wrong notes.

The flying bird of the day is an excitable siskin.

flying siskin

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