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Posts Tagged ‘cycle outings’

Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit to Liverpool by my brother Andrew.  He found it in a colourful mood.

liverpool

After some very grey days, we had a much more colourful day here today.  The sun shone and the wind dropped and it looked liked a good day to go outside.

As usual, I found a number of things to do indoors before getting organised, and of course, the birds needed watching.

I hadn’t had to fill the feeder for a couple of days, and although it was getting near the bottom today, it was still of interest to the chaffinches.

chaffinch panel

Seeing these two pecking at the last of the seed made me go out and change the feeders over.

two chaffinch little seed

The new feeder, well filled, proved attractive to chaffinches too.

chaffinches at full feeder

I finally ran out of excuses and got my bike out and set off up the Wauchope road.  I passed a man with a tractor with a flail attached, and found out that he had been doing quite a lot of violence to anything that he could reach beside the road.  It was lucky that he was on one side of the road and I was on the other as I might have had some difficulty getting past the debris that he left behind.

flailings on road

I decided to turn off at the first opportunity and I was soon heading uphill, away from the carnage and with my favourite view behind me.

Blocxh view january

Although the 40 mph winds of yesterday had subsided, there was still a brisk breeze left behind and I had to battle my way down the hill to Gretna Green where I was happy to take a rest and look at the clasped hands sculpture at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop tourist centre.

gretna handshake

There wasn’t a tourist to be seen today as I took a picture of the art work.  I can see what it is supposed to symbolise and newly married couples often have their picture taken under its arch, but it always looks rather creepy to me as though someone has been buried under ground and is praying to be let out.

But there are some very decorative berries in the hedge at the entrance.

gretna berries

Ignoring the cross winds, I pedalled down the new road beside the motorway into England and when I reached the outskirts of Carlisle, I turned and headed back towards Greta, going through Rockliffe.

The wind was still across but now it was marginally behind me so I made good progress.

This tree in a field at Rockcliffe looks as though it has had some battles with strong winds itself.

rockliffe tree

The wind was certainly ruffling the waters of the Esk as it flowed under the railway bridge before it meets the Solway.

troubled esk at metal bridge

Once I had reached Gretna, the way home was plain sailing as I cycled up the main roads to Canonbie with the very helpful wind pushing me along.

I turned off onto the old main road to Canonbie which has triple delights, like these three trees at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the three shaggy cows in the field, two of whom were more interested in eating than having their picture taken…

two cows at canonbie

..but one was in a more accommodating mood.

one cow at canonbie

I took one last stop for a drink and snack before getting back to Langholm and noticed some healthy peltigera lichen on the wall against which I had propped my bike.

peltigera lichen irvine house

I saw that I had done 43 miles by the time that I got back to the town and was pedalling on up the main road, thinking happily that 50 was a nice round number when we had a vote and my legs voted for stopping.  I am a democrat so I turned back and ended up with a satisfactory 45 miles for the outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also made good use of the better weather by going for a good walk and getting some light gardening done while I was out.  She was very cheered by seeing an actual bud forming on a daffodil in the garden.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, we needed to replace a little of the energy expended and very fortunately she had bought some cream which, when whipped up, went perfectly with meringues.

A goldfinch arrived at the new feeder.

goldfinch at full feeder

I had a shower and then went out to investigate a claim from a blog reader that there is a small murmuration of starlings in Langholm.  The claim turned out to be quite true.

starlings over esk

By some murmuration standards, it is a small flock but it still had about a couple of hundred birds in it at its busiest.

starlings over esk 2

The starlings circled round above the Esk at the Town Bridge and from time to time, other things caught me eye.

Ducks and gulls took to the air, Mr Grumpy supervised more ducks on the river and the moon shone in the background.

duck, gull, heron and moon

In order to capture the moon, I had to make the sky dark but as you can see in the picture below, it wasn’t really as dark as that.

After they had finished murmuring, the starlings fell out of the sky in dramatic fashion and disappeared into a remarkably small bush in front of Greenbank.

starlings landing

I got home in perfect time to have a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  Our friend Mike dropped in for a cup and helped us out by eating one of the remaining meringues.

There is talk of snow on the hills tomorrow morning but I will only believe that when I see it.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile in Canada, Joyce. She was greeted by this scene on New Year’s Eve. There will be shovelling.

canada new year

The new year here came in with clouds but no rain and no frost, so all was well set for the ‘Whisky Run’, a long standing Ne’erday event in Langholm, organised by our friends Mike and Alison with the help of their friend Charlie. It is an informal event for runners and walkers where what is important is not when you start, but when you finish. You can start whenever you like but you must try to finish at the Market Place as near to 11am as possible.

Leaving her decision to the very last minute, Mrs Tootlepedal decided that she would walk the eight mile long route and left the house at 8.25 just as it became light enough to walk safely on public roads.

I gave her a quarter of an hour start and followed.

It was as good a day for walking as you could reasonably expect on the first of January, with a light wind and generally ice free roads, but it wasn’t a great day for taking photographs early in the morning.

I also didn’t want to waste too much time stopping for snapping as I thought I might need all my time to get to the end punctually. I did stop once or twice though.

The walk starts with a stiff climb so I was probably happy to have an excuse for a breather when I had got over the first hill.

gill near craigcleuch

It was misty in the valley below me as I walked down towards the Burnfoot Bridge over the Esk.

esk at craig

I noticed a couple of horses in a field beside the road near…

ponies at craig

…the racehorse training establishment.

racetrack at craig

Passing the training track, I came to the Burnfoot Bridge, and having crossed it…

burnfoot bridge

…I plodded up the second long hill of the walk, looking back down the misty valley which had been my outward route.

mist on langholm road

At the top of the hill, I noted the cottage at Henwell which always strikes me as being a perfect example of a borders hill farm cottage.

cottage at henwell

The road took me past a small quarry which was full of cows, and I wondered if they had been stashed there by Border reivers.

cattle at henwell
I approached the Gates of Eden, which I have often photographed on more sunny days from across the valley..

gates of eden spetember

The Gates in September earlier in 2019

…though they didn’t look quite so inviting today.

gates of eden henwell

I wasn’t going to go through the gates anyway as our route took us to the right at the spot where you can see a white van in the picture above.

From there, it was straight back to Langholm with a slight kink at Potholm farm to make a detour round a bridge which got washed away some years ago.

I passed Mrs Tootlepedal at Potholm. She was making good progress and listening to the radio on her phone as she went along.

I had been walking without passing or being passed up to this point but from then on in, I caught up with other walkers…

langfauld walkers

…and was passed by eager runners. I arrived at the Market Place at five to eleven and Mrs Tootlepedal followed me in at five past, so we were both pretty happy with the timing of our efforts. The eight miles was our longest walking outing for a couple of years.

The runners and walkers gathered in the square for New Year greetings, tots of whisky, the prize presentation and a group photo. This was the last year that Mike, Alison and Charlie were going to organise the event so it is to be hoped that some others will take on the task next year as it makes a cheerful start to the year…

…especially as the Town Band always arrives to play in the Market Place while the runners are there.

town band new year

Mrs Tootlepedal and I made our way home, and on the way, we met our neighbours Liz and Ken who came in with us to enjoy a cup of coffee with a tot of whisky added and a seasonal piece of shortbread.

Ken has had many medical troubles this year but between visits to the doctor, he has somehow managed to squeeze in over 6000 cycling miles this year. Memo to self: must try harder.

When they left, I watched the birds for a bit.

I was happy to see a redpoll chatting to a siskin on the plum tree….

redpoll and siskin

…and took the fuzzy picture because it is an unusual sight. It does show how similar on size and build redpolls and siskins are.

At the feeder, one chaffinch leaned round the corner and gave another chaffinch a really nasty shock when it approached.

astonished flying chaffinch

A collared dove looked down from above.

collared dove

And Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the walnut tree was dripping with big black birds.

jackdaws in walnut

Over coffee, Ken had told me that he had cycled thirty miles yesterday in very low temperatures while I had been walking up my hill, so I thought that I ought to at least make an effort in slightly milder conditions today and went for a 16 mile ride up and back down the main road after lunch.

I didn’t stop to take photographs as it was still very grey and I wanted to get home before the light faded. The only picture I took was the old toll house at Fiddleton. I had stopped there anyway as that was where I turned to come home.

Thanks to a kindly wind which helped me up the hill and didn’t make too much of a nuisance of itself on the way back down, I averaged just under 14 mph. This was a promising start to my 2020 cycling year.

fiddleton toll

Strangely, neither Mrs Tootlepedal or I was fit for a great deal in the late afternoon and evening so it was lucky that the Magnificent Seven was available on the telly to remind us of the days of our youth. It stands up remarkably well to the test of time and still has some of the coolest film moments that I can recall.

I would practise that gunfighter’s walk if my knees didn’t creak so much.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, doubtless the first of many in 2020.
flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another East Wemyss view from our son Tony.  They don’t don’t just do golden sunshine and handsome canines there, they do purple skies too.

east wemms purple

We were intending to catch one of the super duper 5 coach new trains from Lockerbie to Edinburgh today but having checked the early services and found them either late, starting from the wrong station, having only three coaches or cancelled  (or any combination of these), we cracked and decided to stay at home instead.

We might have considered driving the 80 miles to Tweedbank to get a more reliable service from there but the thought of driving home in the dark through the forecast heavy rain didn’t appeal either.

A generally slightly gloomy mood in the Tootlepedal household was not lightened by seeing a cat prowling around the garden chasing our birds so I was pleased to see that a dunnock had survived.  They are often to be found at ground level and are targets for feline predators.

dunnock

The light wasn’t very good after some heavy overnight rain but a good quantity of siskins found their way to the feeder today.

siskin coming to feeder

At times they monopolised the perches.

siskin looking down

A blackbird with a bright yellow beak turned up as well.

balckbird

Rather surprisingly, the skies lightened up a lot and instead of sitting around and having coffee and whingeing, I put a loaf in the bread maker and went for a bicycle ride.  I had given my knee a good twist and bump yesterday while getting up too quickly to answer the phone, so I was anxious to keep it moving today to stop it stiffening up.

It was a bit sore at first but it soon settled down, and it got no worse as I pedalled along.  It did mean that I had to adopt a very low gear for going up hills though and this resulted in a very slow pace.

For once, the wind was reasonably light and while the sun was out, it was a treat to be dawdling through the countryside.

I took this small tribute to the wind turbines and the pylons that make and deliver the electricity to our house that lets me write these posts.

Minsca wind farm

The turbines in the picture above are quite noticeable but they are nothing to a couple of proposed wind farms which are wanting to put 600ft high turbines on top of our small hills.  They may be more efficient but they will overpower our surroundings and we are hoping that they will not get permission.

Turning a little bit to the right after taking the wind farm picture, I managed to get a view of hills with no turbines on them.  If I had gone another degree or two to the right, more turbines would have come into view.

view towards ewe hill

Although my ride started brightly, there were lots of clouds looming up behind the trees…

gair road tree

…and most of my ride was in their shadow, though annoyingly it was one of those days when there always seemed to be a of blue sky where I wasn’t.

When we drove to Lockerbie Station last week, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that she could see two tower houses within a few hundred yards of each other from the old main road and wondered why they had been built so close to each other.

The two houses only become visible from the same spot when the leaves are off the trees.  I could see them both today.

tower house old A74 1

Robgill Tower: 15 century

tower house old A74 2

Bonshaw Tower: 16th century

Both of the original towers now have more modern houses beside them.

In spite of the light winds, I was far from my cycling peak today and pottered along.  After I had done the first fifteen miles, I spent most of the rest of the ride trying to ride above a continual rumble of complaints from my legs by conducting coruscating imaginary interviews in my head with prominent politicians, after which they all said that they were very sorry and promised to mend their ways.

I stopped from time to time to stretch and have a snack and tried to find something to photograph when I did so.

gaunt tree

An open gate and a track down from the road gave me an opportunity to get a good picture of the first bridge across the River Sark.  A few miles to the south, this mighty stream forms the border between England and Scotland.

sark bridge at Milltown

As I got near Langholm, mist was beginning to form in the fields beside the river…

mist on fileds at Auchenrivock

…and by the time that I got to Skippers Bridge, it had begun to thicken up both to the north…

Langholm Distillery mist

…and the south.

mist from Skippers Bridge

I managed 33 very slow miles but as they had kept my knee exercised and added a few more miles to my very poor annual total, I was tired but happy when I sank into a chair and had a cup of tea and some parsnip and sweet potato soup for a late lunch.

As Mrs Tootlepedal also made a delicious venison stew for our tea, I ended the day in a much better mood than I started it.  I wasn’t surprised to read in a newspaper this morning that Lockerbie has the worst record of any station in Scotland and the third worst in the whole UK for punctuality and reliability.  I wasn’t surprised either to find that the railway company are accordingly raising the fare to Edinburgh by 5%.

I didn’t have time to watch the birds a lot this morning and it was too dark when I got back so this siskin group will have to do as flying bird of the day.

three shocked siskins

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She felt that the size and quality of bridges on the blog needed moving up a notch or two.  She was boating on the Thames recently and thought that this one would do the trick.

Tower Bridge

Having said in a recent post that there were few blackbirds in the garden, the blackbird community set out to prove me wrong.  There were several blackbirds in the garden today and this one made sure that I didn’t overlook the fact.

blackbird close up

It was dry and cool and exceedingly gloomy when we got up so that it almost felt as though it was still night time as we ate our breakfast.

In an attempt to lighten the gloom, I checked to see if Sandy was up for a cup of coffee in spite of his bad back.  He was and although he was, like the weather, a bit gloomy when he arrived, which anyone who has suffered from a bad back can well understand, coffee and conversation with the Tootlepedals perked him up a lot and he was smiling cheerfully as he left.

We then addressed ourselves to Christmas matters by addressing a good number of Christmas cards and while Mrs Tootlepedal was finishing the job, I made some leek and potato soup for lunch.

While the soup was cooking, I checked on the birds.  The light had improved enough for me to be able to a picture or two.

A siskin and a goldfinch had spotted something interesting over there.

siskin and goldfinch looking

A male and female chaffinch exercised their wings.

greenfinch and chaffinch wings

Flying chaffinches were to be seen coming from above….

high flying chaffinch

…the middle…

middle flying chaffinch

…and below.

low flying chaffinch

An unsuccessful fly through by a sparrowhawk put paid to any more bird watching and I went and had the soup.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I discussed a walk but I felt that my legs were in need of a cycle ride and in the end, we both went out on our bikes but individually and separately.

I settled for some boring miles up and down to Callister and Mrs Tootlepedal chose a more interesting five mile route round Potholm.

The sun was out as I started the ride and things looked quite good as I passed a favourite tree near Bigholms.

bigholms tree

When I looked at the wall beside the road, there was even a touch of spring about.

sring in the air

However, by the time that I got to the top of Callister, the blue sky was retreating and clouds were coming up from the south…

callister as evening falls

…and the light was fading again.

callister tree

I wanted to get twenty miles in before the light faded entirely so I scurried back down the hill to Langholm and then came back up the road for a couple of miles to make up the distance.

The sun was almost gone as I turned…

blochburn sky

…and a light sprinkling of rain added wings to my heels for the last two miles home.

We had a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie for our tea and then, having had my pedal, it was time for a tootle as the other members of the recorder group arrived for the last play of 2019.  Mrs Tootlepedal left us to it and went off to watch a screening of the Nutcracker Suite at the Buccleuch Centre.

We had a most enjoyable tootle and we are already looking forward to the fist tootle of 2020.  Jenny and Sue who have a 20 mile drive to get home may not be enjoying that so much as it was quite foggy on their way here tonight.  During the day I was on the phone to my brother and he told me that the temperature in Derby hadn’t got above two degrees all day because of winter fog, so we were lucky here.

In spite of the layers of flying chaffinches, a goldfinch is the flying bird of the day because I like its ‘Look mum, no hands!’ attitude.

flying goldfinch no arms

 

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Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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I have run out of current guest pictures so I looked in my files and I am using one from last month again.  I  was so impressed by my sister Susan’s guerrilla gardener’s work that I am showing his/her earlier effort to brighten the neighbourhood.  Everyone should be doing this.

20191004_142951 (1)

We had a brighter morning.  Hooray.  We could even see quite bit of blue sky as we ate our breakfast.  It wasn’t quite as good as it might have been because the blue sky was on one side of the house and sun was on the other side where the clouds were, so we didn’t actually get any sunshine in the garden.

All the same it looked like a day for a bike ride.  There is a gap between looking and being and that gap was filled by coffee, toast and the crossword.  I am still finding it quite hard to discover where I have put my get up and go in the mornings.

I killed a little time by looking at a greenfinch.

_DSC5928

And then I cleaned the feeder and refilled it.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Hawick on embroidery business before I finally managed to get the wheels turning and hit the road.  The temperature was still in single figures and with a north easterly wind, the ‘feels like’ factor was strong enough to make me grateful for every one of the many layers  in which I was encased.

This picture, taken three miles after my start, summed up the day quite well, I thought.

P1190346

But it wasn’t raining and the chilly wind was behind me so I pedalled along cheerfully, stopping from time to time to take pictures.

This is an old mission or outreach church at Kirtleton, now converted to a private dwelling.P1190347

I like the potential oxbow lake near Waterbeck.  The tree on  the left of the recent landslip must be considering its position nervously.

P1190348

Considering their size and the enormous weight of wire that they carry, pylons have very dainty feet.

P1190350

It is a curiosity that beech hedges retain their leaves long after beech trees have shed theirs. I am told that this is because by routinely cutting hedges below 2 metres the plants are kept in their juvenile state, so retaining their dead leaves which get pushed off the tree with emerging new growth in the spring. 

It cheers up the roadside on a dreary day.

 

P1190351

Any hint of blue sky disappeared as I pedalled along, but the rain stayed away so I could stop to indulge my liking for bare trees without getting the camera wet.

This one was leaning politely to one side to make room for passing traffic (only me today).

P1190353

And this one was retaining a little foliage in spit of its exposed position.

P1190354

The hedges here are hawthorn and have lost their leaves.

The wind had helped me on the way out and for the first twenty five miles of my outing, I was able to average a respectable 13.3 mph.  Coming home into the wind and up the gentle hill was a different matter and for the last 15 miles, 12 mph was all that I could muster.  I was happy to stop and admire the well appointed village centre at Glenzier, with its refurbished hall, bus stop, post box and telephone kiosk.

P1190355

The bus service is infrequent however, and in general, cycling to Langholm is the quickest way to go.

I have done very little cycling in November so my legs were more than happy to suggest ending the journey after forty miles when I got back to Langholm.  As it was getting gloomy again by this time, I was quite happy to fall in with my legs.

I had a cup of tea and checked on the birds.

Our resident robin was hopping about under the feeder.

_DSC5931

…and a lone siskin was testing out the peanuts.  I expect to see a lot more of these before the winter is over.

_DSC5938

On the feeder, resident birds were keeping an eye out…

_DSC5940

…for incoming traffic.

_DSC5941

I had a shower and spent some time going over songs for the Carlisle choir Christmas concert.  With ten days to go, any spare moment can be usefully spent doing more of this as we are slightly under rehearsed and there are quite a few tricky  corners to be negotiated.

On consulting my spreadsheet, I see that today’s bike ride took my total distance for the year to over 3000 miles.  As I was hoping for 4000 miles when the year started, this is well below target but trouble with my feet in the early part of the year kept my cycling miles well down for three months, so I am quite pleased to have hit this B target.  I have done 2000 miles in the last six months and that has been very satisfactory.

If the weather is kind in December, I may be able to add a few more miles before the years end.

I didn’t get a chance to catch a good flying bird at the feeder so I have sneaked in a few low flying gulls in a field near Glenzier to act as flying birds of the day.

P1190352

 

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Looking through my files. I found that I had overlooked this guest picture sent to me by my sister Susan last month.  It shows the good work of a guerrilla gardener who is brightening up her neighbourhood.

guerilla gardener

After spending some time devoted to the essentials of life, reading the papers and doing the crossword, I felt the need for some novelty and went off to visit our corner shop to buy milk.

“Where is the novelty in that?” I hear the attentive reader cry.

Well, in a deeply unsettling event, our corner shop, which has been on a corner about 100 yards from our door for decades, has suddenly upped and moved 150 yards further away, round a corner and down the road.  It is now a quarter of a mile away and not on a corner any more.  The world has shaken on its foundation.

I managed to find it without too much of a problem.

When I got back though, I needed a coffee to settle my nerves.

After coffee and a few ginger biscuits, I felt that the lack of actual rain outside on a very grey day justified the putting on of cycling gear and getting out my bike.

As I was going out of the door, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal coming in.  “It’s just starting to rain,” she said.

Was I discouraged?  Well, I was a little discouraged but the rain was light and the day was reasonably warm so I pedalled off in good spirits, helped by having a friendly wind pushing me along.

I managed to last for twenty miles, pedalling up the top of Callister and back down to the town, and then up as far as  Wauchope Schoolhouse and back so that I was never too far from home in case the day turned nasty.  It rained pretty well all the time, but generally so lightly that it wasn’t a drawback to enjoyment.  It was wet enough for me to keep my camera in my pocket until just outside Langholm, I came across a small river of fungus flowing down a bank beside the road.

river of fungus

I had never seen fungus there before so I stopped for a look.

Springhill fungus

When I got home, I was just about to have some soup which Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out, when I thought that I saw two robins in the plum tree.

I took two pictures with my cycling camera.  Whether they were of two different birds or the same one on two different branches, I cannot say for sure.  This one looks familiar…

robin in plum tree

…but this one has been ringed and is certainly not our usual friend.

ringed robin

The day got greyer and greyer, if that was possible, so photographing birds through the window was a bit of a thankless task, made harder by a distinct lack of birds. (I blame encroaching cats among other things.)

I did see some birds enjoying our sunflower hearts, among them this chaffinch, who like me had been getting a little wet…

chaffinch eating seed

…and this goldfinch who apparently wasn’t enjoying the meal as much as it might.

goldfinch eating seed

I did catch another glimpse of a robin, this time lurking under a hedge.

shy robin

I put a grey afternoon to good use by practising some of our Carlisle choir songs and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were singing away when Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.

When he left, I lit a fire in the front room and got ready for the arrival of my flute pupil Luke.  He has been practising a bit in a most satisfactory way and I will definitely have to work hard to keep up with him.

I thought that today might be as grey as it could get but it looks as though it is going to be even greyer tomorrow.  Flying birds might be in short supply.  This ‘just landed’ flying bird was the best that I could do today.

nearly flying chaffinch

 

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