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Posts Tagged ‘celandine’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He had a lovely day for a pedal along the towpath.

Keiron's canal

It was cold and grey here when we got up and my original plan (Plan A) for the day was to go back to bed after breakfast, pull the covers over my head and hope that everything would go away.

That plan dissipated into nothingness when I managed to pull myself together and walk up to Sandy’s to deliver some archive work for him to do to while away the hours.  He has been badly hit by the lockdown as he has just spent six weeks confined to his house with a foot in plaster after an operation.  Then, as soon as the plaster came off, he was confined to his house again by the lockdown.  He is remarkably cheerful all things considered. I would liked to have stayed for coffee and a chat but that is not on the menu at the moment.

I did a little footling about in the garden when I got back while Mrs Tootlepedal continued her spring tidy up and general preparations.

Because of the chilly conditions, there were no new flowers or exciting developments to photograph so I took a picture of the resident blackbird…

resident blackbird

…and the rare sight of a couple of chaffinches near the feeder…

chaffinch in garden

…had a slice of toast and honey for an early lunch and went off on my bicycle

I am fully recovered from arguing with the other short plank, but I took things pretty easily.  I had planned an exciting route (Plan B of the day) deep into England but just as I was about to turn off over the hill, I met a cyclist coming the other way.  He stopped to warn me of an angry farmer up the road.

When he explained that the farmer was angry becuase he, the cyclist, had chased two stray sheep down the road in front of him,  I rather felt for the farmer and decided that I would not risk causing any further agitation so went straight on instead of turning off.

This was Plan C

My new route let me enjoy the sight of a pair of muddy beaked oyster catchers in a field on one side of the road and a plaintive curlew calling in the distance on the other side.

oyster catcher and curlew bigholms

As usual, there was a wind, not a strong wind but strong enough to make pedalling hard work for an old man as I went over Callister so I was pleased to stop when I had gone down the other side of the hill to admire some colour by the road side.

You could have any colour today as long as it was yellow.

gorse and celandine gair road

When I had passed through Eaglesfield, I had to stop again to admire this very neatly rolled field.

rolled field

Everywhere I went today, farmers were busy.  If they weren’t rolling their fields they were spreading muck, much of it on the road.  Sometimes I am pleased that my sense of smell is not very acute.

Plan C had led me to going round a rather tried and tested route, short of good views on a dull day, so I took a small diversion instead of going straight down the old main road to Gretna.

My diversion took me under the main line railway by a venerable railway bridge…

railway bridge robgill

…and over the Kirtle water by another old bridge…

kirtle water bridge robgill

…and past the even old Robgill Tower.

robgill tower

When I had puffed up the hill from the river, I got a splendid view over the Solway to the Lake District hills.

I must say that the chap who goes round putting telegraph poles up in front of good views in our area is a very conscientious worker.

view of skiddaw from near hollee

Further along my diversion, I could look across the Kirtle Water to the Kirkpatrick Fleming church on the far bank.

KPF church from Hollee

I stopped just before the last stone bridge over the river when another wild flower caught my eye.  I did say that the only colour available today was yellow.

dandelion

This is the bridge.

kirtle water bridge rigg

I crossed the Kirtle water for a second time by a small undistinguished bridge on the back road to Gretna from Rigg.  I had hardly seen a soul, either in a vehicle or on foot so far on my trip, but this quiet back road was obviously the permitted walk of the day route of choice for the locals.  I had to keep a sharp eye out to manage my social distancing as I went along.

Once at Gretna, I choose the quick route home, up main roads to Canonbie, but I did take another very small diversion to add to my churches and towers of the day with a visit to Kirkandrews on Esk.

It has a fine tower…

kirkandrews tower

…and an elegant little church.kirkandrews church

I rounded off the church collection with the Kirk at Canonbie.

canonbie church

It had got rather cold by this time, so I didn’t dilly dally for the final six miles home but I couldn’t resist these lambs trip trapping over a bridge…

lambs going trip trap

…perhaps on their way to join this relaxed sextet who were mulling over life very peacefully.

six lambs

I got home with 41 miles on my computer and discovered when I looked at my spreadsheet later in the evening that this ride had taken me up to 34 hours of cycling for the month, producing 441 miles at the very modest average speed of 12.74mph.  One of the sad facts of ageing legs is that in the not so distant past, I would have got a good many more miles for same amount of time and effort.  Still, March has been a generous month for dry days for cycling so I shouldn’t complain.

When I got home and was having my post ride cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal called out to say that the jackdaws were pecking the lawn again.  We point the finger at the guilty parties.

jackdaws on lawn

Earlier in the day, Mrs Tootlepedal had been to the shops and come back with a brisket of beef which she cooked for our tea.  It will last us for three days and as it tasted very good, this is very satisfactory.  I made some semolina for pudding and so, all in all, in spite of the clouds and the chill and the you-know-what, it was a day to add to the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings who like to collect on our electricity wire and chatter away.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo’s trip to New Zealand.  It shows South Taranaki Bight, a fierce place, Mary Jo says.  She is back in Canada and having to spend a fortnight ‘self isolating’ on her return to the country.

South Taranaki Bight

We were promised a dry day and we got one so that was a bonus and then a woodpecker appeared on the plum tree after breakfast, a very rare occurrence indeed…

woodpecker on plum tree

… so that was another bonus.  It was altogether a very good start to the day.

On the down side, it was only 6°C and with a brisk wind blowing, it felt pretty chilly for mid March.  I was determined to go for a cycle ride, but I wasted some time on doing the crossword and looking at goldfinches and redpolls on the feeder….

feeder picture

…while vainly hoping that it would get warmer.

After I had had a cup of coffee and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any warmer, I finally set off on my cycle ride.

I was hoping to go a reasonable distance and my plan, in the face of the brisk west wind, was to go as far west into the wind as my legs would stand, and then to get blown home again.

This plan took me past the Chapelcross Nuclear Power station near Annan.  It is being decommissioned very slowly.

This was it in 2010….

chapelcross1

…and this was it today.

chapelcross

When I got to Annan itself, I was intending to take a moody shot of the high water running under the bridge over the River Annan but I got distracted by rabbits and shot them instead.

rabbits at annan bridge

I left Annan and followed the coast road to Powfoot where I hoped to see the sea.  However, following Mary Jo’s example, the sea was self isolating.  Indeed, it was so far out that it looked as though it might be quite possible to walk to America.

sea at powfoot

I looked across the Nith Estuary towards Criffel…

criffel from powfoot

…noted a daisy and some salt marshes…

daisy and marsh powfoot

…ate a honey sandwich and headed for home.

Battling into the wind, which was gusting at 25mph, had kept my outward speed to a measly 11.2 mph.  Floating home with the wind behind was a much more sprightly affair and I was happy to stop to record my first sighting of blackthorn blossom this year…

 

blackthorn

…and a generous clump of lesser celandine beside the road.

celandine

I was even more happy to stop to admire the church at Kirkpatrick Fleming as it is halfway up a steep hill.

 

kpf church

I had two more convenient stops, the first with the barrier of this motorway bridge to rest my bike against…

motorway brodge kpf

…and the second with these steps set into the churchyard wall at Half Morton to rest my bottom on while I had my second honey sandwich.

wall at half morton

After that, it was a case of pressing on, though I did make one last stop to record an outbreak of lambs at the Hollows.  You don’t often see lambs in jackets but it has been cold and wet so perhaps it is a wise move from the farmer.

lambs at Hollows

I was able to up my average speed thanks to the kindly wind and I managed 14.1 mph on the way home.  This meant that I just squeezed under four hours of cycling time for my 50 miles journey by a few seconds.

It was still only 6°C when I got back.  I had hoped for a little warming sunshine on my trip but it remained cold and grey and I was pleased to have been well wrapped up.

The sun did come out after I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was out too and she had left me a note to say that she was up on the moor looking for hen harriers.  She got back soon afterwards but with no sightings of harriers at all.  She had done some useful gardening while I had been off cycling though.

I watched some more reliable birds.

warring birds

It was a pleasant evening so after I had had a shower, I went for a little three bridges walk.

I expected blossom and there was blossom beside the river….

blossom beside esk

…and I hoped for interesting waterside birds but there were only ducks.

They are paired up at the moment and I saw a hopeful third party getting short shrift when he tried to muscle in on a spoken for lady.

two pairs of ducks

As I crossed the sawmill Brig, I noticed that it hadn’t taken very long for lichen to start to colonise the new parapet stones which were installed in 2016..

lichen on sawmill brig

I liked this moss which looked as though it was gently snoozing on a more established wall a few yards further on..

moss on wall

It was still cold but the evening sunshine made it feel more cheerful than it actually was.

sunny castleholm march

When I got home, we had venison stew for our evening meal and we both felt that we had earned it.

Reducing our social interactions drastically has not been so bad for me because I have always got Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to.  Of course it is not so satisfactory for her as she has got me to talk to.  I managed to irritate her  so much at one time yesterday that she looked at me witheringly and summoned up the worst insult she could think of. “You’re just like Boris Johnson!”

I was chastened.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

For those interested, details of the ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 march 2020

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin’s Spanish holiday where he came across this chap.  Hard to know what he is thinking.

IMG_5854

We had a lovely day here, warm with light winds.  I will say that again: We had a lovely day here, warm with light winds.

There was an article in my newspaper this morning pointing out that this has been the coldest spring for 30 years and that it is likely to continue to be cold until June.   You can see why everyone thought that today was so special.

It was a bit unfortunate then that I had to spend quite a bit of time making sure that everything would be ready for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal.  This involved brushing, sweeping, hoovering, dusting, cooking and ironing so I was kept quite busy.

Mike Tinker popped in to say that he had seen a pair of goosanders at the Langholm Bridge so as soon as I had finished ironing a couple of shirts, I went out to see if I could see them.  Unfortunately but predictably, they had moved on.  (It takes me quite a time to iron a couple of shirts.)  I snapped a pair of oyster catchers instead….

oyster catchers

..and came home.

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The tadpoles were showing definite signs of life….

frog and tadpoles

…and once again, I found a frog in the pond.

I am going to try to take a picture of a daffodil of the day for a while.  Here is today’s effort.

daffodil

There are peonies growing so fast that that they blurred the shot.

peonies

And there was a good number of bees buzzing about.  Unfortunately they were mostly interested in the hellebores and as the hellebores’ heads hang down, it was hard to get a picture of the bees visiting.

bee on hellebore

Spot the bee.  There is one in each frame.

I am very happy to see that the redpolls are still coming and there were more than two today.

edpoll

The feeders were busy….

chaffinch approaching feeder

…but so was I so I didn’t get many shots.

I had time for a short cycle ride after an early lunch and I was able to discard a layer or two in the sunshine and wear mitts instead of gloves.  This was very welcome but it didn’t make me pedal any faster.

I made a short diversion to look at the alder catkins….

alder catkiner

An interesting shape but still no females flowers to be seen.

…and enjoy the rippling of the little burn beside the tree.

arrisgill  water

I had a much better view from the top of Callister than I had had on my last ride and I have no doubt that readers will be as surprised as I was to see that the turbines at Minsca were not turning, a very rare situation.

minsca windfarm

It was even odder than usual because the wind turbines on the Langholm side of the hill had been going round.  Some freak of land shape must have directed the wind in one way and not the other because there was no breath of wind on my cheek when I took the picture above but after noting a fine lichen on a nearby wall…

lichen on wall

…and being mightily impressed by the clouds behind Langholm…

clouds over callister

…I found a light but distinctly helpful wind behind me as I cycled down Callister and back home…

celandine

…passing turbines that were turning and this lesser celandine on my way.

I had time for a shower and a final look around before I went to Carlisle to pick up Mrs Tootlepedal from the station.  She had come up from London in the company of my stepmother, Patricia who is visiting us for a few days.  The weather had been horrible in London so they were very pleased to find the sun shining in Carlisle.

We hadn’t been in the house for long before it started to rain rather unexpectedly.  However, it was very nice to see that the weather gods were only using the rain to provide a high quality welcome home for Mrs Tootlepedal.

rainbow

Mutter, mutter mutter, “Those telephone wires always spoiling a picture,” mutter, mutter, mutter.

rainbow

Ah, that’s better.

The rain didn’t last long and I took a moment to check the feeders before we had our tea.

greenfinch

After our evening meal, Patricia, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a gentle and pleasant walk along the river in the gloaming.  Rather annoyingly,  two goosanders swam past us, safe in the knowledge that the light was far too poor now for photography.

The flying bird of the day, in the nick of time, was that greenfinch I saw before tea.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows that Langholm has two experienced hole inspectors.  Here the results of recent heavy rain were under examination.

hole inspector

The wind had finally exhausted itself and we woke to a picture perfect day.  Well, nearly picture perfect as there were signs of frost in the garden but things warmed up slowly and I waited for the thermometer to reach 5°C  before setting out on a bike ride.

I had time for a glance out of the window.  Some birds tucked into the seed…

chaffinch and siskin

…and some birds wasted time quarrelling.

chaffinch and siskin

The thermometer came up to the required point exactly at the time that I might have been eating the treacle scones that Dropscone had offered to bring round but there are some days that are just so made for cycling that even a treacle scone has to give way and in the end, in spite of pangs, I didn’t regret my decision.

It is my plan (for as long as possible) to do at least one ride each year that contains as many miles as I have years.  My birthday is in November when the days are too short for long rides at the pace which I can sustain so I have to wait for a good day in spring.  This was that day and I set out with 75 miles as my target.  To help me reach this target, I chose an easy route that ran through the flat lands along the Solway shore…

Flat lands

…although, as the elevation for the route shows…

garmin route 24 March 2017 elevation

….you always have to climb a little to leave the town if you don’t go down the main road south and if you go down to the sea, you always have to climb a little to get home again.

Generally speaking though, my ride was undemanding and delightfully windless.

Although the verges are not full of wild flowers yet, the celandines are doing their best and in places they are quite spectacular.

celandines

I did put in a little climb before I got to Annan to avoid having to go right through the town and this took me up past the nuclear power station at Chapelcross, which is being very slowly dismantled.

Chapelcross

In considering the mental gymnastics that politicians must go through when they wonder if their policies are at all consistent, I think that saying that we must have financial austerity because we don’t want to leave debts for our children to repay and being enthusiastic supporters of nuclear energy, which will require several generations of our children to keep on and on paying for decommissioning of reactors and storage of toxic waste for an energy source from which they will not have had any energy is a bit confusing.

I put this thought out of my mind and enjoyed the hill back down into Annan.

After Annan, I was cycling along the shores of the Solway for all but the last 14 miles of my journey and although the country through which I was pedalling is not very exciting, the view across the Solway was very rewarding.

Lake District snowy hills

I was more intent on cycling than taking pictures today but I did stop from time to time for a breather and tried to choose an interesting spot.

This is the bridge over the Lochar Water at Bankend….

Lochar Water

…and this is the ruined tower a little upstream.

Lochar Water

A mile or two further on, I came upon Caerlaverock Castle, an altogether better class of ruin.

Caerlaverock castle

I didn’t visit it, although it has a tearoom, because there is a cheaper tearoom with better food (in my experience) at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust nearby so I went to that for my lunch.

Fortified by a very well cooked baked potato and an apple slice, I set off home.

Once again my plan was to stop at regular intervals for a breather and my first stop this time was at the Brow Well

Brow Well

…which used to be used as a source of allegedly therapeutic drinks for invalids.  It is a chalybeate spring, meaning that the water that dribbles from the spout low on one side contains significant concentrations of iron salts.  It is chiefly famous for helping to finish off the poet Robert Burns who was sent there just before his death.   They wisely don’t let the water accumulate in it now.  I like the little bridge beside the well.

The poet was also made to bathe in the Solway so I went to have a look but the Solway was out and nowhere to be seen and I contented myself with snapping an unusually creamy brown lichen and a thriving gorse bush…

brow well lichen and gorse

…before pedalling on.

My route took me past a field with a nice comparison of horse sizes…

powfoot horses

…and a small flock of what I take to be alpacas…

powfoot alpacas

….and then down to the shore at Powfoot.

The sea was still out but there was some very nice shining mud.

Solway mud

…and the Lake District on the far shore was still looking wonderful.

Lake District

I pressed on through Annan and got to Gretna just as the cafe in which I was hoping to get a cup of tea and a fancy cake, closed for the day.

I ate half a banana and some dates and sulked.

My next stop was to admire the church at Canonbie, which was looking at its best in the evening sun.

Canonbie Church

Although, I was quite perky, my bike was a bit tired so I gave it a last rest near Irving House and while it snoozed, I offered up some suitable thanks for a brilliant cycling day at the small sacred grove nearby.

Irvine House

When I got back to the town, I looked down at my bike computer and was suddenly overcome by decimal fever so I did a gratuitous tour of the New Town to bring my mileage exactly up to eighty miles.  This was more than satisfactory.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the day painting the bathroom door and doing a lot of gardening so we were both tired but happy.

More good weather is forecast for tomorrow.

I caught a flying bird before I left.

goldfinch and siksin

For those interested in these things, details of my ride can be found by clicking on the map below.   Thanks to the benign conditions, I did the eighty miles at a better average speed than I did the twenty miles in the wind yesterday.

garmin route 24 March 2017

It was cold at the start but much warmer by the end.

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I have recently been sent a good selection of guest pictures and will work through them.  Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile, Irving and shows a visitor to his garden.

squirrel

It was only a degree or two above freezing when we got up this morning and the wind was blowing more fiercely than yesterday so in spite of some cheerful sunshine, I was more than happy to stretch breakfast into coffee by way of a crossword and some bird watching.

As the birds that I watched today were exactly the same as the birds that I had watched yesterday, I thought that I might have a bird free blog today for a change.

After coffee, I took a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is very pleased with these hellebores this year…

hellebores

…and you can see why.

To make up for the lack of pictures of birds, I went out for a walk, hoping to find interesting things to look at and choosing a route that was well protected by hedges and woods.  If you could get out of the wind and into the sunshine, it was a grand day for an expedition.

I went along the track to the Becks wood, passing fresh growth on the larches…

larch

…new lambs in the fields…

larch

…and a dove from above.

white pigeon

…or possibly a pigeon.

I kept an eye for scarlet elf caps in the wood and saw that there were still one or two about.

P1100335

(I put an editing suggestion from last night’s meeting into action with this image.  I need a bit more work at it but it was fun to play about in the photo editor.)

I thought that the light might be right for a visit to the little waterfall on the Becks Burn…

Becks waterfall

..but I still didn’t manage to capture just what a delightful corner this spot is.  I’ll try again in summer.

When I had crossed the burn and got through the woods, I walked up the road for a bit.  I noted a well built stone culvert…

culvert

…which no doubt these days would be a concrete or metal pipe.  The labour involved in creating the roads round us must have been enormous as they are crossed by endless little streams….

…and I saw my first celandine of the spring…

celandine

…which was more welcome to me by the roadside than it will be to Mrs Tootlepedal if any appear in the garden.

The views were well decorated with clouds again…

Becks view

…but they were kinder today and I got round my walk without encountering any hail or rain.

I went to visit the old curling pond but it is sadly overgrown now.  The visit wasn’t wasted though as  a’dogs tooth’ peltigera lichen caught my eye as I was jumping over a ditch in the wood.

peltigera

I walked back down the road….

Becks road

..with yet more views on the way…

View from hallcrofts

…until I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Becks Burn as it passes under the  Wauchope road .

Becks Burn

There is a good show of daffodils waiting to greet visitors to the town as they approach from the west…

Meikleholm daffodils

…but I liked this lone dandelion as well.

dandelion

I put some vegetable soup on to cook when I got home and while it was simmering, I had another look round the garden.

In spite of the chilly weather, spring is definitely springing.

drumstick primula

A drumstick primula with a rich colour

Euphorbia

A Euphorbia shows its claws

Pulmonaria

 Pulmonaria showing its colours

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from helping at the Buccleuch Centre and joined me in a bowl of soup (which is a phrase that conjures up an image that  bends the mind slightly).

I went out into the garden again and sieved a bucket or two of compost from the contents of Bin D and the results looked pretty good.  I am hoping to rebuild Bins A and B which are falling to bits so I will have to get Bin D empty as soon as possible.

On my walk, I had noticed that the farmer who owns the manure mine from which he kindly lets Mrs Tootlepedal get her supplies, had completely cleared the manure from the site.  There will be no  manure mining for Mrs Tootlepedal there thus year.

Bearing this in mind, we set off to a garden centre after I had finished my compost sieving and purchased a selection of compost, manure and soil improver in bags as well as paying a visit to a pet food supplier nearby where I topped up my stock of sunflower seeds for the birds.

It was still sunny when we got home but the wind was just as strong and it was getting pretty chilly so we went inside where Mrs Tootlepedal got on with some interior decorating and I played about with my photo editor.

The flying bird of the day is an eager chaffinch in the morning sunshine.

flying chaffinch

Endnote:  On my walk this morning, I passed the house of a cycling friend and he invited me into his garage to look at his indoor winter cycling set up which uses an app called Zwift.  With this app, he can get on his bike on a standard turbo trainer and cycle against other cyclists from all over the world in real time while his route unwinds in front of him, projected onto a screen from his laptop.  I might never come out into the open again if i had a set up like that.  No wind!

 

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This is the second and last post  covering our trip to the Isle of May.  The opportunity to see 90,000 puffins was a once in a lifetime affair so I make no apology for going on about a bit.  If you don’t like puffins, skip this post.

puffin

The Island is a very green place, even on a gloomy day.

Isle of May

You can see one of the paths that visitors have to keep to in the middle of the picture.  One side of the island is made up of steep cliffs and the other has a slightly more gentle run down to the sea below.

Isle of may

But it does not have a hospitable shoreline…

Isle of may

Isle of may

…and there are only two places for a boat to land.  Because of the strong winds, we had had to use a sheltered one that was being used for the first time this season.

There are some permanent features on the island but we saw only one little group of houses…

Lower light house

..tucked in below the lower lighthouse.

As well as puffins on every rock…

puffin

…did I mention that there were puffins?

puffin

…there were plenty of other birds to see as well.  Gulls in the grass…

gulls

…and perched on ledges and rocks there were Kittiwakes…

kittiwake

kittiwakes

…and Shags…

shags

…I liked this one struggling to keep its balance in the breeze…

shags

…Razorbills….

razorbills

…Oyster catchers…

oyster catcherand Guillemots

guillemots

Lots of guillemots.

guillemots

There were banks of celandine…

celandine

and sea campion (I think)…

campion

…and the odd clump of thrift.

thrift

It would have been easily possible to spend all day on the island…

Mrs Tootlepedal isle of may

Mrs Tootlepedal doing a little bird watching

…but we were only allowed two hours.  Even so, it was a wonderful opportunity that made the terrible crossing a price well worth paying (after I had recovered from the shock).  We had to  make our way back to the end of the island all too soon.

Isle of May

On the island, the puffins were the stars of the show…

puffin

…but once we got back on the boat, they took us for an excursion along under the cliffs which provided very good shelter from the wind.

Here, the guillemots were the stars.

guillemots

The cliffs themselves were very impressive.

Isle of may cliffs

The sky was full of birds

Isle of may cliffs

Isle of may cliffs

The free standing stack in the centre of the picture is known as The Bishop

The birds of the island are very thoroughly researched.  Indeed the island was described as a science laboratory and bird spotting students come and stay for weeks at a time to count the birds.  We saw one of their hides from our boat…

bird hide

..it is perched right on top of the cliff and you can just make it out in the centre of the frame on the right.  I don’t think I would care to work in it.

I wasn’t looking forward to the trip back but the crew said it would be better than the trip out and they were quite right.  I sat in the back of the boat looking back at the Isle of May as it grew smaller….

Isle of may

…and smaller until it disappeared behind the large waves which were looming over the stern of the boat.

Isle of may

Miraculously they always seemed to slip underneath us as they caught us up and I really quite enjoyed the ride back though I must say that Anstruther…

Anstruther

…had never been a more welcome sight.

All things considered though and in spite of the very uncomfortable trip outward, this must have been one of our very best days out if not the actual best ever.  Did I mention that we saw 96,000 puffins?

flying puffin

Note: By sheer coincidence, the nesting eider duck by the path which appeared in yesterday’s post also made an appearance in the nature notes in The Guardian newspaper today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my elder son and shows one of his dogs having a grand postprandial snooze.

snoozing dogThe forecast was very good and the wind was light so it was a perfect day for a pedal and for once I had the time to take advantage of this.  Dropscone and I have been inveigled by the minister into entering a 50 mile sportive in Cumbria quite soon and the course there is very hilly so we thought that a 40 mile hilly ride of our own would be good preparation.

garmin 21 Apr 15This was by far the hilliest ride that my new knee had encountered so I persuaded Dropscone to take it very easily.  As this was a longer run than he is used to, he was quite pleased to comply.

In the event, we got round quite well, though a couple of stiff climbs in the middle of the ride caused my legs to complain a bit.

We definitely felt that we had been working hard by the time that we got back but the alarming thing is that the sportive has an extra 1000ft of climb in only an extra 10 miles and two of the climbs are steeper than anything we met today so more work is probably needed.  Hm.

I did take one picture on the way round but it turned out to be so dull that I didn’t have the heart to use it.  Fortunately there was plenty to look at in the garden when I got home.  It was really quite warm and pleasant today and the tulips spread their arms out to welcome the sun.

tulipstulipsAnd the dog’s tooth violets had come on well.

dog's tooth violetAfter lunch, I drove down to Longtown to collect two pairs of new glasses from the optician in the town.  It was such a lovely day that I took a walk round the Longtown ponds while I was there to test  my new pair of long distance spectacles.

I could see the ponds looking very green.

longtown pondsI could see flying ducks coming in to land on the river.

flying ducksAnd gorse bushes glowing in the sun.

gorseThere were quite a few butterflies about but as usual they were hard to pin down.  One peacock butterfly did a little sunbathing on the track in front of me.

butterflyIn the course of my walk, I saw three herons, one flying, one fishing and one doing some rather odd disco moves.

heronsThere were quite a lot of swallows about and several waterfowl too.  The swallows were too quick for me and the waterfowl stuck to the middle of the ponds so photo opportunities were hard to come by.  Here are a couple of shots which are representative of my efforts.

duck and swallowThe new glasses were certainly letting me see quite a lot of birds but they also seemed to alarm them too as they either swam or flew off as soon as I approached.  I saw goosanders, oyster catchers, tufted ducks, coots, herons, mallards, curlews and even a lone lapwing but in the end I had to settle for snapping first some slower moving fauna….

cattle…and finally some actually static flora.

wild flowers

Probably ladies’ smock

wild flowers

With added insect

celandine

This is definitely celandine

Spring was really springing.

spring at LongtownSpring at LongtownlichenI was pleased with my new glasses.  But even with my old gasses I wouldn’t have been able to miss the bridge over the Esk.  This is one of my favourite views.

Esk bridge at LongtownWhen I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from making the final preparations for a group presentation at a WRI competition this coming Saturday and was back filling and painting the floor in the front room.  I am looking forward to seeing her design very much.

I had time to look at some pretty flowers on the edge of the dam round the back of the house…

aubretia…before having my tea and going off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group.  We were just a quartet this week and enjoyed the music that our librarian Roy got out of his apparently inexhaustible big cupboard.  My second pair of glasses is set up to help me read music and look at computer screens.  They worked very well for the music but they are not so useful for a laptop as I am too close to the screen.  Perhaps I need longer arms.

This was the first really warm day of the year in our area and I felt that I had made good use of it.

The flying bird of the day is an oyster catcher from Longtown.  One of the many birds that flew off as I approached.

oyster catcher

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