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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was told by our brother Andrew that she might find an interesting house in Chiswick.  This was it.

London House

As we are going to have a very long day in a bus going to Manchester to sing in our choir competition tomorrow, I had a very easy day today to try to get myself in good condition.  My face has got a lot better over the week so I won’t look quite such a fright when I am standing on stage.  This is a relief.

I had a lie in after breakfast and finally got round to topping up the bird feeder after coffee.  This stimulated a lot of action.

chaffinch and goldfinch

But the nearest that a robin got to it was peeping out from behind a leaf some distance away.

robin

After a rainy start to the day, the weather cleared and there was even a little sunshine to encourage the birds.

busy feeder

I rather think that the chaffinch approaching the feeder is more concerned about getting his photo taken than shifting the siskin.  He certainly seems to be checking on where the cameraman is.

The bridge repairers turned up early and poured some concrete in the rain.  I don’t know much about concrete  (I don’t know anything about concrete to be more truthful) so I hope that getting wet doesn’t bother it.

Dam bridge repairs

You can see the ‘in’ and ‘out’ pipes on the pump in the picture and how close the bridge is to our house.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting of her Embroiders’ Guild branch and I went for a short walk which included getting some snacks for tomorrow.

There was not much in the way of views as the sun had gone in and it was rather grey so I kept my eyes down today.

There were plenty of opportunities to look at mosses….

mosses

…and for once, the light seemed to be just right for looking at catkins and tree buds.

catkin and bud

The alder catkins are colouring up well.

alder catkins

I liked this oak branch near the old distillery.  There is some wood under all that lichen.

branch with lichen

The retaining wall on the far bank of the river looks as though it might need a little work.

Wall damage

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back on the town side of the river.  There is a fence on the way which had some good lichen on it last time that I passed and it was still looking good today.

The yellow lichen is absolutely tiny and needed a really close look look.

lichen on fence

I did my shopping and continued home.  When I was walking up Caroline Street, I noticed a quartet of ducks all having a siesta.

headless ducks

And on my side of the river, a little patch of jewelled moss caught my eye.

wet moss

Just down the road from our bridge, there is a pile of concrete beams and I presume that these are going to make up the new bridge once the concrete has set.

dam bridge repairs

I walked along the dam and crossed it by stepping stone and went through the gate into our garden.  As I went past the drying green a lone crocus stood out among the grass….

crocus

…though when I looked at the picture later, I saw that it was actually standing out in the middle of a lot of moss with hardly a blade of grass to be seen.  Did I mention that it has been a very wet year?

Looking up at the walnut tree before I went into the house, I could see a good number of starlings perched on the highest branches….

starlings

…and knowing that they like pink pellets, I put some out.  In less than ten minutes, they had scoffed the lot.

starlings

Three collared doves also visited us and I was quick enough to catch one today.

collared dove

Once inside, I settled down to catch up on the Winter Olympics and the rugby and in this way, the rest of the day slipped by.  I did take time out to practise the songs for tomorrow and make some bread for sandwiches to eat during the day.

We have got to get up not long after six in the morning tomorrow so it will be an early night for us tonight.  I am not expecting to have the opportunity to post anything as we won’t get back until late.

Not one but two flying birds today, both of them goldfinches, neither of them very good pictures.  I couldn’t choose between them.

flying goldfinch

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the public library in Derby.  My brother, who took the picture, tells me that it was built on the profits from beer.  I hope my youthful indulgences were put to such good use.

Library Derby

The forecast had got it right, the weather gods had relented and we were given a perfect day.  At just above zero, it was too cold for a morning pedal so it seemed like a perfect day for an outing.

We polished off a little housework and then Sandy came down for coffee and we all piled into our car and set off intent on having fun.  Two miles later, we were back at home with warning lights flashing all over the dashboard.

Luckily Sandy stepped up to the plate and we set off again in his car, this time quite successfully.

Our target was the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie where we hoping to see all sorts of wildlife.   Eskrigg  is a fairly small area of mostly pine woodland with an old curling pond with two bird hides beside it but it is beautifully looked after and full of life.

Mrs Tootlepedal decided to do a circular walk while Sandy and I settled down with  our cameras in one of the hides.

Among other things, I was hoping to see were woodpeckers and squirrels. I looked right….

greater spotted woodpecker

…and left.

Eskrigg squirrel

There was almost too much to see and if I looked in one direction, I worried that I might be missing something more interesting in the other direction.

There were ducks on the pond in flighty mood.

Eskrigg ducks

There were a lot of squirrels….

Eskrigg squirrels

…on every side.

Eskrigg squirrels

After a while, we walked along to the other hide, which is set in a clearing in the woods a little further round the pond.

A convenient branch there offered a perch to a great number of great, blue and coal tits.

great tit blue tit coal tit

A picturesque tree stump, carefully seeded with peanuts by a photographer who was lurking nearby behind a convenient tree, provided a perch for both squirrels….

squirrel and nuthatch

…and nuthatches.

This tree stump must have starred in thousands of photographs.

The animals are very used to the heavy breathing of nature lovers struggling under the weight of huge lenses so if you missed a good shot, it wasn’t a matter of great concern as another opportunity always came along soon.

The nuthatch left the stump and flew up into a neighbouring tree where it tried a number of poses….

Eskrigg nuthatch

…before settling for this one.

Eskrigg nuthatch

Mrs Tootlepedal completed her walk and joined us at the hide.  There was enough to keep her sitting there quite happily.

There were squirrels on very side, scampering up trees and down again.

Eskrigg squirrel

Some were easy to spot….

Eskrigg squirrel

…and some a little harder.

Eskrigg squirrel

But wherever you looked, you could see another one….

Eskrigg squirrel

…or two.

Eskrigg squirrel

There were distractions of course…

robin

…and the most common birds to be seen were our old friends, the chaffinches.

chaffinch

They made every effort to get star billing as flying bird of the day.

chaffinch

Once again, you hardly dared to look at one thing in case of missing out on something else.

There was no doubt though that the chief attraction for me of the visit was the large number of squirrels darting about all over the trees in the clearing.

Eskrigg squirrel

Eskrigg squirrel

I took all the pictures shown so far with my Nikon with a 70-200mm zoom, occasionally putting the teleconverter on (though I didn’t really need it).  I had my little Lumix in my pocket and took it out to see what it could do.

Eskrigg squirrel

It is a very good little camera.

Only the insistent message from within about the need for a bite to eat made us stop snapping away like mad (I took well over 200 pictures while I was there) and we reluctantly packed up and set off through the woods back to the car.

There was an interesting fungus beside the hide.

Eskrigg fungus

We walked back along the well maintained woodland paths…

Eskrigg

…which have all sorts of interesting information about the trees and plants in the reserve on boards to read as you wander along.  So much thought and care has gone into this little reserve that it is a pleasure just to be there.

Unsurprisingly given the rare beautiful day, Eskrigg was very busy today.  At times, the click of shutters drowned out the birdsong.   If we can find some good weather and a quieter moment, we might be lucky enough to see a kingfisher by the pond.  We will certainly come again.

Sandy took a lot of pictures too so I hope that he will post some on his blog.  If he does, I will provide a link to it.

The need for lunch took us into Lockerbie town centre, where we enjoyed some quality traditional fare (pie and chips, sausage, egg and chips etc) to give us strength for the drive home.

When we got back, we all agreed that this had been a really good day out and it made up for a quite a few of the wet, windy and rainy days that had gone before it.

As a bonus, I did some research into the warning light in our car and it turned out that it was nothing serious and only needed a quick reset by the garage to get rid of it.

In the evening, we went to the first meeting in 2016 of our Langholm Choir.  I enjoyed it but I found it jolly hard work.  More practice needed.

The flying bird of the day is a little out of the ordinary.

flying squirrel

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Today’s guest picture comes from my restless friend Bruce, who is currently sampling café life in Tallinn in Estonia.

Tallinn

As is customary on a Friday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit the world’s greatest baby and as she takes the car for the first part of the journey, I was left to cycle up to the Moorland bird feeders where I am acting a a relief feeder filler on Fridays.   After yesterday’s pedal, the two miles up to Broomholmshiels seemed quite like hard work.

I filled the feeders and was disappointed to see nothing better than a few hungry chaffinches.  I turned to go home and my eye was caught by some movement on the hillside behind me.   A pair of birds soared into the sky.

_DSC1527

It was two hen harriers hunting over the ground.

hen harriers

Unusually, one even came near enough to get a reasonable picture.

hen harrier

This was an unexpected treat and I would have stayed a bit longer but I had arranged to eat treacle scones with Dropscone so I had to leave.

Dropscone had pedalled round the morning run before he arrived bearing the scones and was pleased to have very nearly reached 100 miles for the week.

After he left, I had a walk round the garden.  The Shirley poppies were a magnet for insects.  Every one had a visitor…

Shirley poppy

…or two.

Shirley poppy

The Icelandic poppies were also in demand.

poppy and insect

After a period when they seemed to have gone elsewhere, blackbirds are back.

blackbird

Sadly, the cycling of yesterday had been too much for my hip and I was back to feeling pretty sore so I spent some restful time making sour dough bread and checking out the sparrows auditioning for flying bird of the day….

flying sparrow

flying sparrow

…before having lunch and going off to do my stint at the Tourist Information Point.

The forecast said that the weather would be dry at two o’clock, very wet at three o’clock and dry again at four o’clock so I risked going by bicycle.  I had a visitor at two o’clock and another at four o’clock and none in between.  This was probably because the forecast was exactly right and there was a tremendous rainstorm with accompanying thunder for the intervening period.

I went down to the Kilngreen when I had locked up to see how the birds felt about the rain.   Mr Grumpy was grumpy.

heron

But it was fine weather for the family of ducklings which are growing apace.

ducklings

Just a bit further upstream, a dipper was energetically living up to its name but it paused long enough for me to get a picture.

dipper

Even further up, a grey wagtail was perched on a rock but it was too far away for a good shot so I didn’t take one.

grey wagtail

Once home, I turned my hand to making rice pudding as a treat for Mrs Tootlepedal when she got back from Edinburgh and then made macaroni cheese for my tea.  This used up some of the surplus milk that we had collected in the fridge as the result of being out cycling yesterday instead of being at home drinking tea and coffee.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I caused some more rumbling by making several composers turn in their graves as we murdered their music.  We have had more successful nights of playing but it was very enjoyable all the same.

Just after I had posted the blog last night, we were able to watch the International Space Station trundle over Langholm as the clouds parted at exactly the right moment.  We had hoped to see it again tonight but the clouds did not co-operate.

In spite of the best efforts of the sparrows, the flying of the day is a black headed gull on the Kilngreen.

gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent and shows her son Leo who was anxious to stop having his picture taken and to get on with getting on to the train at the Tanfield Railway.  Who can blame him.

photo(6)

It was the world turned upside down this morning as Dropscone arrived with drop scones before I had gone cycling.  He had yet another of those things to do which have bedevilled his last few days and felt that I might not survive without scones for any longer so he came shortly after breakfast and we enjoyed coffee and scones.

It suited me very well as it was too cold (1°C when I got up) to go cycling but by the time he left, the temperature had reached a safe 3° and I was able to get the speedy bike out and, fortified with coffee and scones,  enjoy a gentle circuit with no hint of rain and a wind that had forgotten how to gust.

garmin route feb 10 2014We are certainly enjoying the best of the available weather at the moment and with the lighter wind, I had no hesitation in heading out into the country, especially as the wind promised to blow me home.  It was strong enough to make the first ten miles quite hard work, especially the long slog to the top of Callister.  This was the only climb of the day though and after that, a serious of gentle undulations took me through the farmland on the edge of the hills above the Solway plain.

I stopped to take a couple of pictures.  This is one of three morose bullocks which give me a hard stare every time I pass them.

bullock

A more cheerful gorse bush caught my eye near Gair.

gorse

I was very happy to have found some good weather in which to do just under 28 miles and even happier when I scrambled home in just under two hours, helped by a good push from the wind down the last four miles.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing some gardening when I was out and the day was even nice enough to get some washing hung out.  It wasn’t actually dry when I took it in later but it was drier.

After lunch, I watched some birds for a moment or two…

dunnock

A dunnock down below…

robin

…and a robin up above

 

goldfinch

I admired the ability of this goldfinch to change course when it found that there was no parking free.

siskin

A siskin showed me the characteristic black head marking which shows that it is a male.

…before heading up to the High Street to sell two sets of the Archive Group postcards to two shops which have sold some of the previous delivery already.  The idea of making the postcards for sale to raise funds was suggested by a member of our group and I was a bit worried about whether it would work out well but these early signs are encouraging and the retailers are very enthusiastic.

I was hoping to buy some cheese but the cheese emporium was closed while they fitted new heating so I cycled along to the Kilngreen to see what was going on there.  Ducks were going on there.

On the bank…

ducks on Kilngreen

…in the water….

ducks on Kilngreen

…and conducting the duck choir.

ducks on Kilngreen

I had a quick look at some lichens on a nearby wall…

lichens

You get a lot of lichens for your money on each stone on this wall (with added moss).

…before heading home to prepare some pictures for the camera club’s next competition.

Before I started on the pictures, I had a quick walk round the garden to get the washing in and search for new signs of spring.

crocus

rose

I turned round as I went inside and saw these two chaffinches.

chaffinches

While I was working at the pictures, I got a phone call from a reader who had inadvertently purchased some Seville oranges and who wondered if I might like to make some marmalade from them.  I was delighted and a few minutes later she appeared at my door looking for all the world like Nell Gwynne (but too shy to have her photo taken).

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we got down to the the serious business of playing minor scales properly.

After tea, Sandy arrived to give me a lift to Newcastleton to a camera club meeting.  There was no work to be judged this week and we got a demonstration from a  visiting expert of how to put together photo sequences with accompanying music.  This was not a new skill to me but the little series of sequences he showed at the end of his talk had some lovely pictures in them.

The difficulty of putting music to pictures is that if the music is interesting, you listen to it rather than look at the pictures and if the music is dull, then it detracts from the interest of looking at the pictures.  This may be an insuperable problem.  My preferred solution is to play dull music very quietly.

The flying bird of the day is Mr Grumpy who kindly gave me a flypast at the Kilngreen.

flying heron

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture comes from my brother’s archive and shows the Chesterfield Canal which he visited in August.

Chesterfield canal

It was brilliantly sunny when we woke up and Mrs Tootlepedal was feeling a bit better than yesterday so all looked set for a good day, starting with a morning pedal with Dropscone.   I got up into some warm cycling gear and went downstairs full of enthusiasm.   A quick look at the thermometer when I got downstairs soon put paid to that, as it was registering a frosty 0°C.   Bicycling on icy roads is fine if you have the right tyres, an insouciant attitude to falling off and  a good chest.  As I have none of these three assets, I rang up Dropscone and suggested a slight delay in our departure time.

He came round at the agreed time anyway, armed with an enormous bag of girdle and drop scones and we sat around drinking coffee and scoffing scones in our cycling gear until it became apparent that the thermometer was not going to get above 1° any time soon and Dropscone went off home, talking of visiting the gym.

After checking on Mrs Tootlepedal’s health (still improving but not yet perfect), I put the camera in the car and set off for the Kilngreen to get a picture or two in the lovely sunshine.

There were flying ducks…

Flying duck

This one has a strange face painted on its rear.

…ducks waterskiing….

flying duck (2)

…gulls bickering….

Gulls

…and canoeists canoeing.

canoeists

Considering the best way to leave the Ewes where they had launched and join the Esk

They soon bumped their way over the stones and paddled off into the distance.

Canoeists (2)

It was a sensational day looking across Ewes Water….

Ewes

…and up the Esk too…

Esk and timpen

…but looking south after the canoeists, there seemed to be some mist in the air.

Langholm Bridge (2)

This suggested that it might be worth while to be on the top of Whita so I drove up to the White Yett and walked up the track to the top of the hill.  I thought the walk was very worth while and took a lot of pictures.  The mist was rolling in from the south.

mist on Whita 13

Sweeping up the Tarras valley

mist on Whita 13 (2)

Washing round Warbla, where I stood yesterday,  and up the Esk Valley

The whole of the Solway seemed to be covered as far as Criffel.

The whole of the Solway seemed to be covered as far as Criffel.

mist on Whita 13 (3)

It was rolling up the slopes of Whita towards me.

Soon the valley behind was full of mist….

mist on Whita 13 (5)

…and the town in front of me, which I had left bathed in sunshine a short time before,  was hidden too.

mist on Whita 13 (6)

I had hoped that the tide would come right in and leave me marooned on an island of sunshine but it slowed down and left the countryside on my right almost untouched.

mist on Whita 13 (7)

The Ewes Valley

I walked back down to the car and noticed that the river of mist was following the course of the Esk….

mist on Whita 13 (8)

…and leaving the rest of the country alone.

As I got to the car, my eye was caught by the shape of the wood straddling the A7 below.  It looked like a giant crocodile crawling along the road looking for motorists to devour.  I have been on this spot many times and never noticed it before.

Ewes valley

I drove down the road until I was  below the top of the mist….

Mist on whita

…and finally got home to find the garden shrouded and sunless.

I made Mrs Tootlepdal a slice of toast and marmite and a cup of tea for her lunch while I had another bowl of the chicken soup.  I had seen from the top of Whita that the Wauchope road was mist free and as the the thermometer had reached a heady 4 degrees, I thought that it was safe to venture out on the bike for a short pedal after lunch.  There was rather unearthly light in the garden as I set off, with the sun trying to pierce the mist and warm up these chaffinches in the plum tree….

perching chaffinches (3)

…but I only had to go a few hundred yards out of the town to be bathed in sunshine again.  The wind was very light and I enjoyed a spin up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times.   I was pleased to get out on the bike but the air was chilly enough, even in the sunshine, to make me wary of pedalling too hard and hurting my chest.

Each time that I came back to the circuit of the New Town before heading out into the country, I met the mist again.

Caroline Street mist

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and I think that he has made enough progress for us to be thinking about booking a date for his grade examination quite soon.  He has certainly inspired me to do a bit of regular practise myself.  Long may this last.

After tea, I went off to play some Mozart and Handel with Mike and Isabel and enjoyed it as much as usual.  All in all, after an unpromisingly chilly start, it has turned out to be an excellent day all round, not least because by the late afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about again and I had had a tootle and a pedal.  Mrs Tootlepedal  would like me to thank all those who kindly sent her good wishes.

A flying bird of the day was found at the Kilngreen in the morning sunshine.

blackheaded gull

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Today’s picture is just to prove that there is a tiny bit of colour in the garden even it is rather biassed towards blue.

garden flowers

There was not much colour as Dropscone and I cycled round the morning run but it is slowly getting a bit warmer and today the wind was in a kinder direction so we didn’t mind too much.  Dropscone had noticed a good show of daffodils near Canonbie which had cheered him up.  I was feeling a lot better than in recent days and with the favourable wind, we zipped round the circular ride much faster than I have managed for ages.  We munched on our scones in mellow mood.

The garden bird scene has not altered yet and the feeder is as busy as ever.  The waiting room in the plum tree was busy too.

chaffinches

And the siskins were still in fighting mood.

chaffinch and siskin

I had to go to our corner shop for some bacon and on the way back, I checked up on our local ducks.

duck

Duck pilates

A siskin was on the feeder when I came back into the garden and wasn’t going to let me interrupt his seed eating.

siskin

A blackbird equally stood its ground.

blackbird

Siskins and blackbirds are the least likely of our garden birds to move off when I come near them.

I made myself a nourishing pot of lentil soup for my lunch and then I went and picked up Sandy and we set off on another circular tour, this time by car.  As usual, we were hoping to catch a photo opportunity or two as we went.  In spite of the fact that we drove through scenic countryside on quiet back roads for the most part, the weather was hazy, the sun remained behind the clouds and the country was washed out as far as colour goes so good shots were hard to find.

We took a picture or two of one of the prehistoric stone circles that we passed on our way to Eskdalemuir.

The Loupin Stanes

The Loupin Stanes, so called because brave young people leapt between the two biggest of them in more modern times.

This was the view of Eskdale vanishing into the haze from the same spot.

Upper Eskdale

We stopped the other side of Eskdalemuir to marvel at the striking juxtaposition of Scottish scenery and Tibetan religious architecture at the Samye Ling monastery.

Stupa

This is a stupa I am told.

Front gate

This is the ornate front gate

And this is Buddha meditating under the protection of Mucalinda.

buddha

There is a very highly decorated temple on the site but we didn’t visit it today.  We drove on up into the hills and crossed the county boundary at 1000ft before descending to Ettrick.

Although the scenery is beautiful, the washed out colour didn’t tempt us to stop and we turned off at Tushielaw and continued on the road to Hawick before a small bridge caught our eye.

Bridge on B711

Now we were climbing again and this was the road behind us.

B711

I love these unfenced hill roads.

Our main target was the Alemoor reservoir, where we were hoping for a good selection of bird life to watch.  Our first sight of the water was encouraging with a heron flying lazily off as we approached…

Alemoor

…but further inspection only provided us with a pair of coots and two swans…

swan

One of the swans

…and two mallards which immediately flew off.

mallards

…and that was it.

The road crosses a bridge through the middle of the reservoir so we pressed on to see of the other half would be more productive…

looking south from the bridge

Looking south from the bridge.  Not a bird in sight.

Looking north from the bridge

Looking north from the bridge. Still nothing doing.

The weather was grey and the day wasn’t quite warm enough to tempt us to stay very long so we drove on down towards Hawick until we were stopped by a traffic lights at the bridge over the River Teviot just before we joined the main road back to Langholm.  A vast construction greeted us.

Bridge tunnel

They have built a tunnel over the bridge.  They are going to work on the bridge and the road that we were on will be closed for a time.  This will be massively inconvenient for the residents along the road so they are obviously ensuring that the work on the bridge won’t be interrupted by bad weather.

Once across the bridge, we headed for home having enjoyed our tour but rather disappointed that it hadn’t yielded better photographs.

In the evening, I went to the church where Mrs Tootlepedal and her choir were rehearsing for their concert tomorrow.  I was there to check that there would be room for our recorder group to play.  This was satisfactorily resolved and I went off to join Sandy in the Archive Centre.  Here we went round in circles again as we had the greatest difficulty in getting both computers connected to the internet and thus a good deal less work was done than should have been.  We went to console ourselves with a drink in the Eskdale only to find that our beer of choice was not available.  This rounded off a day that had started very well but which had gone gently downhill since then.

A chaffinch duly takes it place as flying bird of the day.

chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows the Regent’s Canal which runs through the heart of London.  It was sent to me by my sister Mary who met it on one of her walks.

regent's canal

The sky was blue, the sun was shining, it was very, very cold.  Dropscone was busy so I was able to let the temperature rise a degree or so before I set out but it was still only 8°C which was nippy enough or me to have winter gloves on.  I was on another of those ‘let’s see how it goes rides’  and I was intending to go over Callister and see how I felt but by the time that I got to the bott0om of the hill, the wind was so strong and so keen that I turned tail.

Not wanting to waste the day entirely,  I turned right at Wauchope School and headed towards Canonbie.  I stopped on my way past the Bloch farm to take a couple of pictures to see if my little Olympus camera had dried out.  It’s had a blur in it and it has been sitting on a warm shelf for a couple of days to see if that would help.

Bloch Farm

Bloch Farm

It looked OK to me but I took another just to check.

 

Looking down the valley

Looking down the valley

I think it may be cured.  I set off again up the hill.

Bloch road

This is the typical width of the back roads which we use for the morning run.  I was going round the morning run in the ‘wrong’ direction but I cut off to Canonbie before I got to Glenzier and then headed up the A7 back to Langholm , ignoring the cycle path.  I was interested in one of the culverts on the new section of road which had poured so many stones onto the road during the recent heavy rain that that was closed for a while.  It doesn’t look very much…

Auchenrivock diversion

The little culvert on the left and just some of the mass of stuff that came down it on the right.

This time I was able to pedal off down the hill after my stop.

Auchenrivock diversion

Wheee!

I had a cup of coffee (no scones) with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home.   She had been busy painting a windowsill in the kitchen and we had planned to go for a cycle when she had finished.  I took a moment to look out of the window while she got changed.

Chaffinches

The sunshine made taking flying pictures easy.

coal tit

The sun had gone in by the time this coal tit appeared.

Not only had the sun gone in but a shower of rain arrived just as we were ready to go and as I was pressed for time, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself when the rain stopped and had a good ten mile ride past Broomholm to Claygate and Hollows and back by the cycle route.  In spite of not having done a great deal of cycling this year, she reported that she was in good form up the hills.

I walked round the garden and spotted a second set of flowers on a clematis in the back border.

late clematis

An unexpected bonus

Then, just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned, I had to go out to do my turn in the tourist office at the Kilngreen.  I had the grand total of one visitor. By a coincidence, I had been in the office when he visited it at the same time last year.  He asked me the same question he had asked me last year and with great restraint, I politely gave him the same answer and he left.  As he went. Sandy dropped in to help me pass the time.  He has just got back home after spending a little time with his son and family.  He is kindly going to put my photos into the Langholm Show which is on while we are away and so I invited him for tea and he accepted.

I spent a little time on the Kilngreen in bright sunshine after I had locked up.  I was not surprised to see a heron.

Heron

The Ewes Water looked very inviting in the sun with just the right amount of water flowing down.

Ewes Water

The local ducks obviously thought so too because as I stood there, a procession of them made their way to the bank and jumped in.

Duck dive

Some went straight at it.

duck flight

Some were a bit more dainty

duck plunge

Some hid their eyes as they neared the water

duck splashdown

But they all landed safely.

When I got home, the weather was good enough for me to get the mower out and mow the middle and front lawns.  The pounding rain has encouraged a lot of worms to poke their heads up and the look of the lawn is slightly spoiled by many squashed worm casts.  In an ideal world, I would have got a cane out and swept the lawns before mowing them but life is too short.  I then gave the drying green a quick trim and went in to get my photos ready for Sandy.

He arrived and we enjoyed a plate of my mince, craftily transmogrified by Mrs Tootlepedal into a Spaghetti Bolognese.  She followed this up with a bramble and apple crumble with custard so we were dining like kings (with the added advantage of no one photographing us with a long lens).

In the evening, we went to our local choir which has brilliantly found itself a new conductor and a new accompanist.  The conductor is a great singer who really has sung with Pavarotti and Sutherland in a career in opera so we are very blessed.

Today’s flying bird, caught when the sunshine had gone, is a chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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