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Posts Tagged ‘crocuses’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Gavin.  Last week when we were enjoying wet and grey conditions here, he was over on the east coast basking in the sun on Tynemouth beach, a mere 80 miles away.   But it was chilly there too in the brisk wind in spite of the sun.

tynemouth beach

We enjoyed a pleasant day of warm spring weather here today.  The shock was so great that I nearly had to go back to bed for a lie down to recover.  In the end though, I pulled myself together, turned down an offer of treacle scones, nodded at the goldfinches on the feeder…

goldfinches

…and set off for a pedal.  I didn’t rush out as it was only 5°C after breakfast and I didn’t want to have to put on a lot of cold weather gear only to have to take it off again as the day warmed up.  I compromised and waited until it hit 8° and only had to shed a few garments as I went round.  (I have a handy pannier to store them in.)

As I was hoping for a longer ride than usual, I stopped from time to time to have a drink and a snack and make sure that my legs got a rest.

I enjoyed this bank of snowdrops near Gair at my first stop.

snopwdrops at gair

I didn’t enjoy having to take my front wheel off and clear a lot of mud from my front mudguard which I had picked up when I cycled past the new windfarm  site entrance on the top of Callister.  The potholes there have been mended but the mud is a continuing problem for cyclists.

The wind was not strong but it was in my face for most of the outward journey so I made slow progress down to the village of Rockcliffe, which sits on the bank of the River Eden.

I parked my bike just before I got to the village and walked down a short track to the riverside and enjoyed the peaceful scene.

rockcliffe and eden

I had just turned away from the river when a loud noise made me look back.

I was amazed to see a tidal bore rolling up the river towards me and struggled to get my phone out to record the scene as my camera was having one of those Lumix moments when the zoom won’t extend.

I have seen bores on the news before but I have never seen one in real life so this was a treat. It was surprisingly loud and although it was only about a foot high, it looked very powerful as it swept past me…

sdr

…with the front of the bore not being a straight line as I expected but an elegant curve.

sdr

My camera started working again at this point and I used it to record the contrast between the calm water ahead of the wave and the turbulent movement behind it.

bore on eden 3

Three canoeists were paddling along behind the bore.  Whether they had been riding it earlier and had got left behind, I don’t know.

canoeists follwoing bore

I reclaimed my bike and went on my way very cheerfully, having seen a sight that I had never expected to see.

As I got back on the road, I enjoyed a black and white view of horses.

rockcliffe horses

The direct route that I wanted to take from Rockcliffe was closed for resurfacing so I had to go round by the cycle lane along the new northern by-pass.  This led me past a newly constructed pond and I was pleased to see that what could just have been a utilitarian run off pool had been carefully sculpted and planted with reeds.

pond near asda

I turned for home and crossed the A7 at Blackdyke, and on my way, I passed this, the first dandelion of spring.

first dandelion of spring

From there I headed onto the Brampton Road, joining it opposite this  fine row of trees..

three trees brampton road

…and then I stopped for a sit on a bench below the Longtown bridge for a final snack and drink.

burst

I was hoping for some waterside bird life but there was none, so I took a shot through one of the arches…

longtown brodge arch

…and, with the wind now behind me,  I cycled home up the hill a good deal faster than I had come down.

The day was so well adjusted for cycling that I might well have gone further but my legs, which are a bit out of practice, objected so I settled for 53 miles at a modest pace and was very pleased to have had the opportunity to do that.

I said a day or two ago that the flowers in the garden were just waiting for a bit of sun to come out.  They got a bit of sun  today and they came out.

clump of blue crocus

single crocus

creamy crocus

I was interested to see a lot of insects about.

pale crocus

 

yellow crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had seen a bee early in the afternoon but it had left before I arrived.  We are going to refer to it as Bee A as it is the first that we have seen this year.

She did some gardening while I checked on the frogs….

two frogs in pond

They were not seeing eye to eye today

…and then I went in to make a cup of tea and watch the birds.  There were not many about.

chaffinch head down

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie round off a good day very well.  We had some marrow on the side.  We have had a big marrow on the go for several weeks and it has provided many side dishes for meals and shows no sign of going over at all.  It is the only one of our own vegetables left as the fish pie had used the last of our home grown potatoes. Still, we have been eating our own potatoes since August so we can’t complain. They kept very well thanks to the good summer.

Birds were very few and far between when I was watching today but I did find a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.
Garmin route 22 Feb 19

A final note: the traction on my back seems to have helped my foot problem a lot and it is much less painful than it has been.  I hope that this progress continues.

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Today’s guest picture, sent by Bruce, shows that however many oyster catchers we may have in Langholm, they have more on the Isle of Arran where Bruce is staying at the moment.

oyster catchers Brodick

It was another day when grey clouds and a brisk wind made a theoretically warm day here feel rather chilly.  I didn’t much mind though as I spent a lot of the day indoors singing.

The days are getting longer and there was enough light to say hello to the goldfinches…

two goldfinches sunday

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir. We had a busy time, with four hymns, an introit and an anthem as well as a practice after the service.

This didn’t leave time for a walk of a cycle ride afterwards so I had a stroll round the garden instead.  There is promise of new crocuses…

dark crocus

…and daffodils…

daffodil clump

…but it would help if we could get some consistent sunshine for a day or two.

I noticed a smart miniature daffodil in the chimney pot by the bird feeder…

garden centre daffodil

…and realised that it must have fallen into the shopping trolley when we visited the garden centre not long ago.

Time for nature watching was short because we had a ‘singing afternoon’ with our Carlisle choir stretching from half past one to half past five.  Observant readers might suppose that any visit to our Carlisle choir should involve singing, but these singing afternoons are a cut above our usual sessions.

Young and talented singing teachers come down with our conductor from Glasgow and give small group lessons to the various choir sections with technique instructions as well as specific tips for various tricky moments in the songs that we are practising for the competition in Manchester next month.

You can learn a lot from these teachers.  It is wonderful how much difference a small modulation to a vowel sound can make for comfort and quality in singing a specific word on a specific note.  It is less wonderful to remember that you might have been taught this before and forgotten it.  But that is life.

The teachers are very patient.

The process of humming into water through a straw which I have been pursuing daily on the instructions of the speech therapist must have been worthwhile as my voice survived the day much better than it would have done last year.

And it was still light when we left the practice to come home.  Roll on spring.

The flying bird of the day is an early morning chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is my final offering from Venetia’s American trip and shows more wildlife from Yellowstone.  This time it is a mule deer.

deer in Yellowstone

The forecast was for a dry sunny day here today and I had hopes of a decent cycle ride but the good weather came with a frosty morning so I had to wait to get going.

The frost had frozen the first clump of frog spawn in the pond…

frozen frog spawn

…and I don’t know whether potential tadpoles can stand being frozen and unfrozen.

The sun soon brought the early crocuses to life…

fly on crocus

..with added insect.

There weren’t as many birds about today as there have been lately so I only put out one feeder but traffic was brisk for a while on it.

busy feeder

Luckily, the ever reliable Dropscone was on hand with some traditional Friday treacle scones to help to pass the time over a cup or two of coffee and when he left….

…there were more crocuses to look at….

crocuses

crocuses

…and there were enough frogs in the pond to ensure that there should be fresh supplies of spawn soon.

frogs in pond

It was interesting to me that I had been able to take much better frog pictures yesterday on a duller day than I could in the fairly bright sunshine today.  It just goes to show how important light is to a camera.

 

In the end, I waited so long for the temperature to rise to what I considered a safe level that I had to have some lunch before I set out and it was early afternoon when I finally got going.

The trouble with the heaps of snow beside the back roads is that as they melt, they cover the road with water and if this freezes, it is impossible to avoid.  Thanks to my delayed start,  by the time that I was on the road things were safe enough….

Near Cubbyhill

…though a driver thought that this rather narrow avenue was just the place to pass me.  I don’t like to rejoice in the misfortunes of others but I wasn’t as sympathetic as I might have been when she ran into quite a deep pothole just after she had almost squeezed me into the snow.

I headed down to the flat country round Gretna as I find it hard to get my legs really interested in hills when the temperatures are low.  The wind had shifted a bit to the north west and was colder than yesterday so it was lucky that the sun stayed out to warm my old bones.

There were good views to be had.

Penines

I stopped regularly to have a snack, a drink and a breather for a minute or two and on one bridge, I found some unusual looking moss when I leaned on the parapet for support.

moss on railway bridge

It was a railway bridge and a train whizzed past underneath me as I stood there.

virgin train

The trains look exactly the same from either end so you have to know that trains drive on the left to realise that this one was going away from me by the time that I had got my camera focussed.

As I crossed the border between England and Scotland no less than four times on my short journey and each time on different roads of different sizes, I reflected that the airy politicians who talk of the Irish border being no trouble to organise just using technology are very optimistic to the point of stupidity. (And of course, we don’t talk about Gibraltar.)  My mind often wanders while I pedal along.

It was such a nice day that I thought that a trip to the sea side was in order and so I went down to the Solway shore  at Brow Houses where I found someone else enjoying the sunshine on a handily placed bench.

Brow Houses

It is only really the sea side when the tide is in.  On a day like today when the tide was far out, it is more just the estuary of the River Esk….

Esk estuary

…as it runs between sandbanks.

Still, I could see the Lake District hills on the English side…

Solway and Lake District Hills

…and some interesting water fowl on our side…

waterfowl

…so I was pleased to be there as I munched a banana and some prunes.   I was a bit too far away from the ducks to get a good picture but I think that they may be shelducks.

I have been short of bridge pictures lately owing to doing so little cycling during the winter so I stopped to admire this neat railway bridge carrying the Gretna to Annan railway…

railway bridge near Rigg

…before taking a pretty direct and wind assisted route home through Gretna and Longtown.

This gave me the chance to book the fairly speedy bike in for its annual service at the bike shop in Longtown and to consider buying a new bike helmet as the one I was wearing today has a serious crack in it after the unfortunate incident last month.

I am not intending to fall off again but then I wasn’t intending to fall off last time so one can’t be too careful.  There was a big item on the news last night about the benefits to the health of elderly people that a few hours a week on a bike brings but it didn’t mention the possible side effects for the careless pedaller!

I went through Canonbie on my way back as the main road was fairly humming with traffic and this gave me the opportunity, as I stopped for my final snack and breather, to get a sideways look at my favourite three trees…

trees at Grainstonehead

…and to enjoy the late afternoon sun catching the church and manse as I went through the village.

Canonbie Church

When I got home, I found that the gardener had been making good use of the fine weather by working on the new arrangements of lawn and flower beds.  She was taking a moment to view the work in progress.  Note the neat line of transplanted snowdrops/

gardener in thought

The man who made our compost bins came this morning to consult Mrs Tootlepedal about renewing some of her raised vegetable beds and he is also going to make us a new bench to replace the one on the picture, which is well past its ‘best by’ date.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been counting the frogs in the pond and told me that she had seen eleven at one time.   There were still several about when I looked.

frogs

After only managing 140 miles in the whole of February, I have done 112 in the last four days so it is not too surprising that I am feeling a little tired tonight.  The forecast says that there is a good chance that it might rain all day tomorrow so I might get an enforced rest.

The flying bird of the day was one of the early morning visitors.

flying goldfinch

For those interested, here is the map of my ride and a click on the map will bring up the full details.

Garmin route 8 March 2018

If you bring up the route and look at the map, a click on the third button along on the top left of the box will give you the chance to choose the ‘satellite’ option.  This, if you zoom in, gives you a very dramatic view of the Solway Firth with the tide well out, just as it was today.

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Today’s guest picture shows the charming Old Bell Hotel in Derby.  It was taken by my sister Mary during her recent visit there.

The Old Bell Hotel, Derby

We had a calm day today and as we are forecast to have several days in a row of high winds and heavy rain, it could be correctly described as the calm before the storm.  It was so calm that when Dropscone and I arrived at the top of Callister on our way to Waterbeck on our morning pedal, the hill was shrouded in low cloud and mist.

Callister in mist

Dropscone had not been feeling at his best and had lagged behind a bit as we climbed the hill into the clouds.  A short stop to take the picture and have an investigation revealed that it wasn’t old age or incapacity that was holding him back but a seized up brake.  We got it loosened off and went on our way.  It was a day for back lights, especially as the quarry lorries and been diverted by road works onto our route so the pedal was by no means as peaceful as it should have been.

All was made well on our return by the judicious application of scones and honey with our coffee.

I am currently 10 miles ahead of my schedule of 14 miles per day cycling and need another 116 miles before the end of February to keep to my target so I  am hoping that the bad weather to come doesn’t last for too long. I don’t enjoy pedalling in rain and strong winds.  I was talking about the schedule to a lady at our choir in the evening and she was saying that it seemed a long way each day but as it turned out that she walked her dog for three miles every day and we both take about an hour to do our daily ration, she changed her view.

It wasn’t sunny but it was pleasantly warm for the time of year so I walked round the garden to see what was there.

As well as the snowdrops and primroses…

snowdrops and primroses

…there are crocuses coming along well….

crocuses

…and some croaking in the pond revealed that the frogs are back and ready to go.

frog

While I was crouching down to snap a crocus, a shadow fell across the lens.  It turned out to be a blackbird about three feet away from me.

blackbird

The garden is full of blackbirds at the moment and you can hear more as you cycle along the roads round the town.  In fact, it wasn’t only the quarry lorries that had cut up our peace when we were pedalling earlier on, there was a steady chorus of birds as well.

I kept an eye on the chaffinches too.  I like it when they come in towards the feeder in neat lines.

chaffinches

It wasn’t always so well organised.  Which way is the bottom chaffinch flying?

chaffinches

The most welcome flower was this winter aconite.

winter aconite

It is all by itself at the moment but Mrs Tootlepedal planted 100 of them last year and is hoping that it finds a friend pretty soon.  They are hard to get established here.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the morning but returned for lunch in the mood for a pedal so after another look at the feeder….

greenfinch

A greenfinch looks round to see who is standing on his back.

…and a shot of a military transport plane passing exceedingly low over the town…

low flying

…and a quick look round the garden, we set off to go round Potholm.  This is road and track 5 mile circle which goes past the snowdrops, through the woods and comes back along the road.  It was too dark to take pictures in the woods but we stopped when we got to the open farmland.

Potholm Bridge

We crossed Potholm Bridge

Longfauld

And admired the woods on the far bank of the Esk

We were keeping an eye for lichen and fungus as we went.  There was lichen on the bridge….

lichen

..and a feast of fungus on a fallen beech tree at Milnholm.

 

fungus on beech tree

It was so striking that I took another view of it.

fungus on beech tree

There was some coral spot along the trunk of the tree so it was very good value.

The walls along the fields as we went towards the Breconwrae offered up a wide selection of lichens in many colours.

lichens on wall near Breconwrae

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardenkeeping in the garden while I went off for a short walk to see if I could find some riverside fungus.  Nothing caught my eye except for a flourishing lichen on a tree near the church.

tree lichen

In the evening, we went to a practice for our local choir, Langholm Sings.  We are preparing for a joint concert with the local orchestra doing Gilbert and Sullivan numbers and as is often the way with joint ventures, things weren’t quite as well organised as they might have been with some uncertainty about what we are actually going to sing.  The songs require many soloists as well as chorus work and in the absence of other volunteers, I have offered to do one of the easiest ones myself.  Mrs Tootlepedal is astonished at my self confidence since I have had little experience of singing but not being able to do things has never put me off trying.  For those with a knowledge of G&S it is Sir Joseph Porter’s song from HMS Pinafore.  It is a ‘patter’ song and doesn’t require the highest vocal technique.  This is lucky.

I was surprised, given the warmer weather today, that the birds ate twice as much food from the feeder as they have been doing.  Perhaps they are getting their energy up for the mating season or maybe they know something about the coming weather that we don’t. Maybe though, it is a cost benefit analysis thing and it is simply that the birds don’t need to use so much energy flying when it is warmer so more came to the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

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