Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ewes Valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is a railway enthusiast and was present at the unveiling of a plaque by Captain Chris Smith at the spot where the Hawick railway station would be if it was still here, which it isn’t.

The Jellicoe Express ran between Euston and Thurso.  Hawick on the old Waverley Line.  Hawick was a station where the Express called in one direction for coal and water and now is the only location that no longer has trains. The Express was the longest rail journey in Britain and ran during both world wars transporting mail and navy personnel

Many local people cherish the hope that the station will reopen in the not too distant future.

Jellicoe Express

The weather here was a lot better today as I could judge for myself when I crossed the Esk by the suspension bridge…

dav

…on my way to meet Dropscone at the now ex-archive centre where we read the electricity meter and I passed over the door key.  On my way home, I popped into the garage to pay my bill and then went into the Welcome to Langholm office where our local art club was holding an exhibition and bought a painting.

When I crossed the suspension bridge on my return home, I enjoyed the view  downstream.

sdr

I didn’t have long to wait once I had got in before I was re-joined by Dropscone who had been cooking some of his traditional Friday treacle scones while I had been busy.  They were excellent as usual and added to the general cheerfulness of the day.

When the scone eating ceremony was completed,  Dropscone cycled home and I walked back up to the town to collect my art purchase.  Coming out of the Welcome to Langholm office, I couldn’t help noticing that workmen were well up to the job of putting the decorations on the enormous Christmas tree outside the Town Hall.  Rather them than me.

dig

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been out having coffee with friends, came home just after I got back and I was able to present her with the painting.  I had bought it as a secondary birthday present for her to go with the light bulb.

The painting is by a local artist, Margaret Walty who does the most beautiful and detailed work.  The panel below shows the whole painting and a section of it enlarged.

Margaret Walty

To give an idea of the scale at which Margaret works, the breast of the robin is less than 1 cm across….and she works in acrylics without using a magnifying glass.

I turned from art to nature and watched the birds for a while.  Two goldfinches were enjoying the seed today without being battered by the rain.

bookend goldfinches

A dunnock hopped about on a chair beside the feeders.

dunnock on chair

I made some vegetable soup for lunch.  We still have plenty of potatoes left from the garden but after I used one of our onions, there are now only two left.  Still to get to December with our own onions is not too bad.

It was pretty windy in spite of the sunshine so I decided to go for a walk after lunch instead of a cycle ride and this turned out to be a good decision as I had a most satisfying stroll.  I have declared my leg officially cured so I ventured up the Kirk Wynd and on to the open hill.

I had a look round the garden before I left.

strawberry and sweet rocket November

Ornamental strawberry and sweet rocket.

As I passed the golf club, I couldn’t help noticing these very bright yellowy orange flowers on a shrub beside the track.   It might be a pyracantha or cotoneaster but whatever it is, I was surprised to see it flowering.

november flowers kirk wynd

As I got further up the track beside the golf course, the hills came into view.

View from Kirk Wynd

As the brisk and chilly wind was coming from behind me, there was just enough heat from the sun to keep me comfortable and I could enjoy the play of light on Castle Hill with the dark clouds behind.

castle hill November

Luckily the clouds were being driven up the valley and although the sun was low in the sky, the views were delightful.

sunshine and shadow ewes

I had taken Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice and had my walking poles with me.  They are a great help when going up hill and I soon got to the top of the golf course where a good crop of British Soldier lichens can be found…

soldier lichen

…and headed out onto the open hillside.

I didn’t go any higher up the hill but walked along the contour….

two trees abive Hillhead

…until I came to the road to Newcastleton.

Up ewes

There has been a lot of tree felling on the far side of the road and I could now see the sheep pens and buildings which have been hidden by the trees for many years.

sheep pens

The sun dropped below some low clouds behind Warbla at this point…

warbla late november

….but the road down the hill is well sheltered…

 

copshaw road

…and my walk back to the town was no problem.

I took the little path along the Lamb Hill and was greeted by some gorse in flower.

november gorse

I reached home after just under two and a half miles in harmony with nature and enjoyed a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from a visit to the hairdresser.  Everything was good.

Mike and Alison are busy babysitting their daughter’s dogs at the moment so there was no Friday night tootling but I employed the time in practising singing for Sunday’s choirs so it wasn’t time wasted.

The flying bird of the day is roughly the 120th chaffinch to have had that honour this year.  I will have to try to get out more.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  It was taken by the friend who took her on a tour of Germany recently.  They were quite surprised to find this plaque.

trump icon

It was a day of frequent showers with bright spells in between so the trick was to get the timing right if you wanted to get anything done outside.

I was able to get about and do some dead heading and picture taking after breakfast.

The were poppies to dead head and photograph.

poppies

And yellow flowers to enjoy in the sunshine.

yellow flowers

And then Dropscone came for coffee bearing treacle scones and with the scone radar in the manse on full alert, we were soon joined by Scott, the minister.  He will have to get a fuller strength radar now as he is leaving us and going to minister in a church in Glasgow soon.

We will miss him.

Dropscone went off to play golf and Mrs Tootlepedal and the minister set the world to rights while I took the opportunity of another sunny spell to mow the lawns.

Lawn and white cosmos

The white cosmos is coming on well.

Then I sieved a bit of compost and seeing that Bin D was getting low, I shifted almost all of Bin B into the empty Bin C between showers.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been trying to keep the soil in good condition so she has been using up the compost as fast as I can produce it.

I also took a look round.  The peacock butterflies were judging the weather too and as soon as the sun appeared, they appeared as well.

Two peacock butterflies

I went in to have lunch and set the camera up in the kitchen.

The feeders were very busy, especially with sparrows but they didn’t have it all their own way…

flying sparrow

…and a greenfinch stood its ground against a host of them.

The jackdaws have us on their feeding list and appear from time to time and then fly off again.

jackdaw flapping

And I am very happy that we seem to have a whole family of blue tits as regulars.  I saw five at a time today (but only captured two of them together).

two blue tits

The composting and dead heading went on after lunch as did the showers but in the end, things looked stable enough, in spite of an impressive cloud…

fungus cloud

…to make a walk seem like a good idea.

I set off along the path beside the park wall, where the recent rain has encouraged all sorts of growth.

park wall

The red spots on the cladonia lichen were so small that I couldn’t see them with the naked eye and had to rely on my camera to show them to me.

At the  end of the wall, a flash of yellow caught my eye.  It was a small group of most uncommon flowers…

touch me not balsam

…hanging down from the leafs above them.  I had to get Mike Tinker to identify them for me and he tells me that they are ‘Touch-me-not balsam’  or  Impatiens noli-tangere.

It is a very odd flower, looking for all the world like a flying goldfish.

As I walked up the track from the Stubholm towards Warbla, there was more to see both in the verge beside the track….

seed heads, vetch and fungus

…and on a wall a bit further up.

lichen, scabious lichen

The rain has livened things up a lot for  a walker with time to look about.

Once on the hill, I left the track after a while and headed across the grass towards the summit.

The sheep hoover up most things but there were one or two growing things left among the grass.

hillside life

They had to lie pretty low though.

And of course, there are the views as you get higher up the hill.

A click on this panorama will bring up the bigger picture.

panorama warbla

The weather gods had a little joke and laid on a heavy shower just as I got near the top of the hill so I retreated and they promptly whisked the shower away and turned on the sun again.

cluds over warbla

I wasn’t going to go back up to the top though partly because of the additional climb and partly because I had spotted some cattle on the open ground behind the mast and I prefer to leave cattle to themselves when I am walking.

I took a picture of the town on my way down….

view of ewes

…and pointed the camera past the town and towards my favourite view of the Ewes valley beyond.

view of Langholm

I took a picture of the cows on the top of the hill in the rain and of two more standing in a field beside the road when I came down the hill and as always, I was an object of interest to the many sheep that I passed.

cattle and sheep

The sun lasted for the rest of my walk and as I came along the road, peltigera lichen, rose hips in the hedge and slow worms at Pool Corner all kept me busy clicking away with the camera.

peltigera, hip and slow worms

During the day, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I picked plums whenever we passed the tree but there are plenty still ripening and when I had got back from my walk, I spotted a jackdaw helping out with the plum eating.

jackdaw eating plums

It rained again in the early evening but it had cleared up by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit.  Both Alison and I had been practising and and although we found out that practice doesn’t necessarily lead straightaway to perfection, we had a most enjoyable session.

They went away with plums….

…and a marrow.

That is what friends are for.

I promised a picture of the new garage doors open and here it is.

garage doors open

I can’t tell you what a good idea it is to have doors that open easily.  I wheeled my slow bike in and out several times today just for fun.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle-on-Tyne correspondent and shows her children posing beside Stephenson’s Rocket.

rocket with mengers

It rained several times today but disappointingly not enough to register any amount on Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge.  Still, the lightness of the occasional drizzle and the sunny spells in between allowed me to spend a productive and enjoyable day.

We were both surprised (and pleased) to find that yesterday’s furniture removal work had not had any bad effects and Mrs Tootlepedal was out working in the garden at every opportunity.

I had a wander round while dead heading after breakfast.

I was impressed by the very straight back of the big white lily…

big lily two

…and the fact that its flowers don’t talk to each other at all.

They are big flowers.  By comparison,  a new white poppy looked very modest.

white poppy

The arrival of Dropscone bringing the traditional Friday treacle scones brightened one of the gloomier weather moments of the morning.  It was good to catch up on his news after a gap of two weeks.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal decided to stop gardening and go off to buy some more plants and other necessities like fertilizer and bamboos sticks.

While she was gone, I sieved all the compost that was left in Bin D and then turned the contents of Bin C into the empty Bin D.  To save my back a bit, I employed a nifty raking and kicking process which left me with minimum lifting to do.  I haven’t taken any pictures of this as I felt that too much excitement might not be good for some of my more elderly readers.

I went in and had another round in my fight against the whimsicalities of my printer.  I did a lot.  I updated the printer operating system, I muttered imprecations both loudly and under my breath, I turned things off and on.  I worked hard.  The score so far?  Printer 3 Tom 0.

I had lunch (courgette soup) and then set the camera up to look at the birds.  Goldfinches have been scarce lately so I was pleased to see one today.

goldfinch

A rather ragged jackdaw dropped in too.

jackdaw molting

There were plenty of greenfinches again and the contest for available perches was continuous.

flying goldfinch triptych

Mostly the sitting tenants won today.

Birds keep producing young and I saw a chaffinch feeding a youngster in the plum tree.

chaffinch and young

Mrs Tootlepedal eventually returned after visiting two garden centres in order to find what she wanted.  As this meant that she had been able to buy some good cheese for me from the one that has a food hall, I was very happy.

I had a walk round the garden with her and we saw some peacock butterflies on the buddleia but I couldn’t get a good picture.  The weather looked to be set fair for a while so I took a picture of the colourphul phlox…

phine phlox

…and then put my camera away and got out my bicycle.

It was one of those days when the shelter of the garden gives a false impression of how strong the breeze is.  When I got out of town, I found that there was a decidedly brisk breeze in my face.  Not wanting to overtax my legs, I settled for an up and down the road twenty miles so that I didn’t have to face into the wind for too long at a time.

As I cycled towards the bottom of Callister, a buzzard took off and flew lazily up the road ahead of me.  It turned and flew over my head a couple of times and then hovered in the wind above the banking beside the road.  I stopped, got my camera out and pointed it at the spot where the buzzard had been until two seconds before I pressed the shutter button.

wauchope road no buzzard

A buzzard fee zone

Apart from the breeze, it was a perfect day for a pedal, warm but not too hot and with a little shade provided by white fluffy clouds from time to time.

My route took me through the town and out on the north side before I turned back and rounded off the trip with another six miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, keeping in the shelter of the valley bottom.

The countryside is looking a lot fresher after our recent rain.

wauchope view

Looking down the Bigholms Burn

Ewes valley

Looking up towards Ewes

wauchope white bull

The white bull looked just about as happy as can be.

When I got back, I noticed a flurry of movement on the buddleia.  We had been invaded by a small army of butterflies.  There were our usual white butterflies but there were also several peacocks…

peacock butterfly on buddleia

…two small tortoiseshells which I spotted…

small tortoiseshell butterfly

..and a single painted lady which caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

It makes the heart sing to see such beauty.

I had time to enjoy the flower of another of the big lilies among the rose mallows….

big lily

…and to reflect on the clematis on the fence which apparently produces flowers with different numbers of petals.

clematis 6 petalsclematis 4 petals

…until you look more closely, before I went in for my shower and a catch up on my correspondence.

Mrs Tootlepedal used some of our courgette mountain to make courgette fritters for tea and then Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit.  Before we played, Alison told me that their buddleia too had been covered on butterflies this afternoon.  This is good news as there were worries that the butterfly population might have been hit by the cold late spring this year.

The music was as enjoyable as ever and sometimes we both played the right notes at the right time and this created a very pleasing effect and rounded off a good day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

You may think that I have been going on too much about the lack of rain but today’s guest picture of one of our town bowling greens is worth a thousand words.  It was taken by our friend Bruce.

New town bowling green drought

It was pleasantly cool at breakfast time but even with the sky covered in high clouds, there was no sign of any rain so I pottered about watering, weeding and dead heading.

I even went as far as mowing the drying green and the greenhouse grass to make things look a little tidier.  I am trying my best to keep the garden in a state where Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t actually burst into tears when she comes homes and sees it.

There is plenty to enjoy at the moment.  The bees were very busy today.

bees

The roses are still the pick of the crop but I focussed on blue.

cornflower

geranium

delphiniums

The delphiniums have never looked better and I had a closer peer at them.

delphinium closer

It almost looked as though they were peering back at me from under their eyelashes.

It was cool enough in the house for me to spend an hour putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have slipped behind schedule and all the time the data miners are piling up more work.  Must try harder.

After lunch, I gave up the chance to lounge about watching the Tour de France and went for a bike ride instead.

I varied my route and took the main road out of the town to the north.  I hoped that the traffic would not be too bad and it turned out that my hope was justified and I had a very peaceful ride considering that the A7 is a trunk road.  The benefit of riding up a main road is that the maintenance is carried out by a national government agency and not our local council.  As it is government policy to starve local councils of money and keep it all for themselves, this means that main roads tend not to have any potholes.  The road contractors have been hard at work recently doing some resurfacing so for much of the ride, the going was extremely good.

The views aren’t bad either.

Ewes valley

The skies were cloudy but the wind was light and at 20°C, conditions were near perfect for pedalling.

The hills ought to be at their greenest just now but they too are feeling the drought.The dark green patches are bracken.

top of ewes valley

There is a lot of meadowsweet around and I liked this pool of plants nearly smothering a wall at Mosspaul.

meadowsweet at Mosspaul

I left the main road for a very small diversion to Carlenrig where Johnnie Armstrong met his end.  He was either a great local hero or a notorious gangster, depending on your point of view.  A rather gloomy notice board is to be found…

johnnie armstrong

…where a stone marks the spot.

johnnie armstrong grave
Nearby is a little church…

Carlenrig church

I took another little side road for about a mile and came to an attractive ford…

ford

…with an alternative bridge if the ford is running too high.

ford footbridge

I didn’t cross the ford or bridge and turned for home down the main road back along the flat bottomed Ewes valley…

looking down ewes valley

…and by this time, the skies had cleared a little and it was another beautiful day.

I took the picture above while I was beside an interestingly named farmhouse.

Unthank

Unlike the farm, I was very thankful for the good weather and the light breeze that blew me home.

It was a most enjoyable 30 mile outing.

I got back in time to do a little more watering and gooseberry picking before it was the moment for tea.

I watched the birds as I prepared my meal.

siskin, greenfinch and chaffinch

The scruffy blue tit was back again.

blue tit and siskin

And I noticed that one of the siskin visitors had been ringed.

ringed siskin

If no birds arrived at the feeder, I looked at poppies instead.

poppies

After tea, I managed to get the best of both worlds by watching the end of the Tour stage on the evening highlights programme and then wasted an hour watching the second half of the France/Belgium semi final in the world cup.   There was plenty of skill on show but not as much excitement as I would have liked.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who contemplated Nottingham Arboretum’s war memorial (Crimean War), sometimes called “the Chinese Bell Tower”.

chinese bell tower

Our fine weather continued though it was pretty windy and a good deal cooler than the recent very unseasonably hot days.  Still, it was warm enough to wander round the garden in just a T shirt (and trousers) after I had gone up to the town to do a bit of embarrassing business.  I had lost the Archive Group chequebook and had to eat humble pie and ask for a new one to be issued.

The garden somewhat made up for my bumbling.

The very last of the tulips are fading away gracefully…

late tulips

…and are being replaced by white blossom…

parsley, dogwood and rowan

Cow parsley, dogwood and rowan

There are signs that we might get at least a few strawberries in the not too distant future…

strawberry

…but a lot of the plants look as though the hot weather has been too much for them.

The alliums are at their best….

allium

…and one my favourite flowers, the astrantia, is also thriving.

astrantia

For sheer impact, the Icelandic poppies are hard to beat, particularly in a sunny moment…

icelandic poppy

..but the geraniums are well worth a second look even if they are not so zingy.

geranium

After coffee, I went out again to check on the bird activity.

There were sparrows everywhere; trying to get at Mrs Tootlepedal’s peas, eating aphids on the gooseberry bush, flying into compost bin C and taking a little seed from the feeder.

sparrows

They can eat all the aphids they can with my blessing but Mrs Tootlepedal hopes that her defences will keep them out of the peas.

The baby thrush and an inquisitive blackbird were about too.

thrush and balckbird

I checked on the chives while I was out.

chives

I really should have gone out for a bike ride in the sunshine but the brisk wind and a slightly weary feeling put paid to any energetic ideas so I booked some railway tickets for a future jaunt to London instead.

All through the day, there were incessant and noisy demands from a young sparrow for food…

sparrow feeding

…and the mother responded with superb patience.

After lunch, I went down to Longtown to pick up my slow bike from the bike shop where it has been serviced and the briefest of test rides on it showed just how good my new bike is in comparison.  My new bike has to go back to the bike shop soon for a post sale checkup and the mechanic suggested that they might have to keep it for some time so that they all could get a ride on it.  Hmmm.

Then I had to go off to see a doctor about my persistently malfunctioning voice.  I went in the hope of a miracle cure so I would be in good order for two concerts in the coming weekend but no miracle cure was forthcoming, only a blood test appointment and a re-visit in two weeks.  I can’t complain about a doctor being thorough though and I will just have to wait to see what happens next.

The day had got rather cloudy and grey by this time so I instead of going for a bike ride when I got back, I did a little gardening in the shape of sieving some compost and doing a bit of shredding for Mrs Tootlepedal who was improving one of her flower beds by clearing things out.

A visitor came round to check on the health of some plants that she had given Mrs Tootlepedal and was relieved to see them doing well as hers were looking a bit peaky.  She looked along Ally’s allium alley before she left.

Ally's allium alley

We had a cup of tea and I noticed a great tit coming to the feeder for the first time for ages.

great tit

Later on,  since the skies had cleared and a beautiful evening was developing, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip up to the Langholm Moor in the hope of seeing something interesting.

Sadly, we saw no wildlife of any sort though we heard a distant cuckoo.  Nevertheless, the general beauty of the scene, both on the drive up…

Ewes valley

…and when we got to the moor…

On Langholm Moor

…made it a very enjoyable if brief outing.

On our way home we stopped to look at the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…and take in the view of Warbla across the Castleholm.

Warbla view

We had a salad for our tea, with radishes and a variety of cut leaves from the vegetable garden.  I hope that this will be the first of many meals enhanced by home grown produce.

The flying bird of the day is a curiosity.  I noticed a jackdaw on the front lawn and followed it as it took off.  I don’t try this often as it needs a quicker hand and eye than I possess but I thought that the result was worth a look even if just to notice how the bright light made a black bird look pale grey.

flying jackdaw

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

P1090558

And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is making friends with a cactus out in Spain while we shiver here.

cactus

We had some equivalent sunshine at the start of the day….

chaffinch and goldfinch

…but it couldn’t disguise the fact that it was jolly chilly again and I had to put a coat on as I cycled to church to sing in the choir.   As the other two choirs that I sing with are on holiday this week, it was doubly enjoyable to get the chance of a good sing today.

The sun was still out when I got home and I had a wander round the garden to see if there were any developments.

A scilla or two had come out to join the chionodoxa in the very small blue flower department…

chionodoxa and scilla

…and a resilient primrose is producing more flowers…

primrose

…not far from where a fancy daffodil that Mrs Tootlepedal recently purchased is doing its best to defy the cold.

daffodil

But on the whole, we are still waiting for spring, although there are signs.

potential flowers

I went in to make some soup, using some parsnip which Mrs Tootlepedal recently dug up from the vegetable garden.  It has got through the winter well and with the addition of WETILA*, it made for a tasty soup.

I noticed a few greenfinch about as I cooked.

greenfinch

After lunch, I considered my options.  It was still cold, with a sharp but fairly light north easterly wind and the sun had gone in.  It seemed to be dry enough for a cycle ride so I wrapped up well, got the  slow bike and a banana out and went off heading north into the wind and up the main road.

The holiday traffic was light, with very few lorries and a glimpse of sunshine ahead up the Ewes Valley…

Ewes valley

…made the trip look well chosen.

However, although there were fine trees to admire on my way up the valley…

Ewes valley tree

…the combination of the sun going in quite quickly and the arrival of a short but crisp hail shower made me look at things in a different light.

It was a fairly gloomy light, with a covering of snow on the higher hills…

Ewes valley

…and patches still left beside the road.

Mosspaul road

So when I got to the top of the hill at Mosspaul, I didn’t go down the other side as I had vaguely planned to do but instead, turned when I got to this little cottage tucked into a sheltered spot…

P1080565

…and headed back down the road to Langholm and warmth.

Mosspaul road

The eleven miles home, downhill and with the wind behind me, were a pleasure.

Because my ride had been shorter than planned, I still had time for a walk but the afternoon got greyer as it went on and I decided to watch the birds for a bit before deciding what to do.

A chaffinch rudely turned its back on me but at least it gave me a good shot of its colourful wing feathers.

chaffinch

I noticed a small group of jackdaws poking around in a flower bed at the top of the lawn.

jackdaw

Obviously, in spite of the cold weather, nest building was on their minds.

One of them broke away to visit the fat ball feeder and warned the others off with an imperious gesture of the wing…

jackdaw

But it was only a gesture and it was soon seen off by a fiercer bird with a piercing eye.

jackdaw

The jackdaws didn’t stop for long and I gave up the idea of a walk and went out to do some preliminary work on the second of the four new raised beds.

20180401_171148

It is now more or less in position and the new, wider path between the beds is beginning to become obvious.

While I was out in the garden, I was visited by some young friends who were hoping to see frogs in our pond.  Alas, the frogs are gone to wherever it is that our frogs go to.  They had just come back from a holiday in Portugal and their father told me that the whole family was feeling the cold back in Scotland.  That’s the trouble with sunshine holidays in winter.  You have to come home again.

We are forecast a very cold day tomorrow with the possibility of snow but after that things should warm up a little at least.  It can’t come soon enough.

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

chaffinch

*WETILA:  Whatever Else There Is Lying About,  a very common ingredient in soups.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »