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Posts Tagged ‘Ewes Water’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my highland correspondent, and shows a flock of long tailed tits enjoying her peanuts.  They are beautiful little birds and we are very envious as we would like to see them in our garden.

longtailed tits

We had a generally sunny and cheerful day here today; cheerful that was as long as you weren’t exposed to the very strong wind which made it feel decidedly chilly.

After going to church to sing in the choir, there was a moment when I had time for either a short cycle ride or a walk before the trip to our Carlisle choir in the afternoon.  The wind, gusting up to 40 mph made the decision for me and I went for a walk.

I didn’t have to waste any time watching birds in our garden because there were no birds to be seen, the wind proving too strong for them too perhaps.

If you could keep out of the worst of the wind though, it was a beautiful day for a stroll…

ewes at kilngreen

…and although all the gulls flew off as soon as I got near the Kilngreen, I did find two or three ducks lurking in the shelter of the river bank on the Ewes Water.

female mallard drinking

male mallard

I crossed the sawmill bridge and walked up the hill past the Estate Offices.  The road verge and walls here are home to a considerable number of hart’s-tongue ferns…

harts tongue fern ewesbank

…and a grand display of dog tooth peltigera lichen.  This crop was about two feet in width.

dog tooth peltigera pathead track

Three trees further up the hill have been artistically arranged by nature to make a pleasing combination.

three trees pathead

And there was plenty of shelter as I walked along the track above the trees to let me enjoy the view of Whita without getting blown away.

vierw of whita

A lot of trees have been felled along the track, leaving the pines still standing.

pines on track

I followed the track until I came to the north lodge…

north lodge

…and there I enjoyed a view up the Esk valley which has only been recently been made available to walkers by the felling of yet more trees.

view up esk valley from north lodge

Time was pressing a bit so I had to hurry home, stopping only for a view of an as yet unfelled wood…

bw woods

…and making it just in time to have a slice of bread and honey before setting off to Carlisle.

The choir practice was well attended and we set about learning another of the songs that we will take to the choir competition in Manchester in March.  We  also went through one of the songs which I have been trying to get off by heart….more work required!

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal tried out a new recipe involving leeks, feta cheese and puy lentils.  It made for an enjoyable meal.

We have been watching the television adaptation of Les Miserables and it has been an interesting but chastening experience for me.  I read the book a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I thought that I would remember it well and be able to compare the book with the TV programme but it turns out that although I do recall a lot of the scenes and places from the story, many of which don’t figure in the musical version, I have also forgotten much more than I thought. As a result, I have confidently said to Mrs Tootlepedal on  more than one occasion, “Well, that didn’t happen in the book,” only to find that it did.

No flying bird today but I did get the briefest glimpse of a robin.  It was flying a second or two later.

fleeting robin

 

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Today’s guest picture shows our son Tony’s dogs visiting the castle near his home in Fife.  I may have used this picture before (I can’t remember) but I have put it in regardless to remind myself that Mrs Tootlepedal and I stood in that exact spot last weekend.

dogs at wemyss castle

It was a day of mixed weather but it was dry when I took this shot of a visiting collared dove during coffee and treacle scone time in the company of Dropscone.

collared dove

These may well have been the last treacle scones of 2018 but I hope that there will be many more in 2019.

It had started to drizzle while we were sipping and it was still drizzling when I set off after coffee to put in twenty miles on my bicycle.  By the time that I had gone half a mile, it was raining steadily and I was pleased that I was wearing a peaked cap under my helmet to keep the rain of my glasses.  I persevered though and was rewarded when the rain stopped after twenty minutes.

I had gone out along the Lockerbie road to see if the second of the two repairs to the failing banking had been completed and was happy to find that it had…

second lockerbie road repair

…even if the road patching was a bit rough and ready.   Should we keep on getting inches of rain every week, it will be a tribute to the engineers’ skill if the fence stills looks so regular in the spring.

I went to the top of Callister and then turned back and went through Langholm and out of the other side.  Although the rain had stopped, it was still damp, with wisps of mist rising from little valleys…

misty valley terrona

….and on top of Whita, the monument was swathed in low cloud.

monument in mist

Mrs Tootlepedal was out at a festive lunch with ex work colleagues when I got back so I had a lonely lunch and checked on the bird feeder.

The seed had gone down and there were some lively goldfinches about….

busy goldfinches at feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and set about cooking a plum pudding for our Christmas meal. I saw that the weather had brightened up a bit so I went for a short three bridges walk.

The clouds had lifted from the top of Whita…

whita late december

There are two bridges in this picture, neither of which I crossed.

…and I found a goosander swimming up the fairly turbulent waters of the Esk.

goosander swimming in esk

I love the goosanders’ jagged hair style.

gossander by bank

A gentle sunlight appeared as I walked up to the Town Bridge but I was concerned to see so much debris caught against one of the arches.

trees against langholm Bridge

Once I was on the town bridge, I was able to look up the Ewes Water towards the Sawmill Brig, my next target.  It was hard to remember how gloomy and damp the start of my cycle ride had been, only three hours previously.

Ewes and sawmill brig december

You can see a row of gulls on the posts in the picture above and I was hoping that one would take flight as I walked past them along the Kilngreen so that I could capture a flying bird of the day but they stuck resolutely to their posts.

black headed gull on post

It was really quite a nice day by the time that I had crossed the Sawmill Brig and started walking up the Lodge Walks, admiring this tree on the Castleholm as I went.

Castleholm tree

The little ‘tin church’ was looking very demure behind its picket fence…

Episcopalian church

…and it is just a pity that no use can be found for this charming building.

I continued up the Lodge Walks for a bit..

Lodge walks late december

…and enjoyed the sun picking out some fresh moss…

moss on lodge walks

…and I looked for little splashes of colour on lichen on a gate post.  The spots of red are so tiny that they are hardly visible to the naked eye.

lichen on gate Lodge walks

As I crossed the Castleholm on my way to the Jubilee Bridge, I looked up at my favourite lichen clad tree and wondered once again at the fact that a more or less complete coating of lichen doesn’t seem to affect its ability to produce seeds and new buds.

licheny tree

I didn’t linger too long though as the sun was getting low….

castleholm trees catch late sun

…and the clouds were re-assembling on the top of Whita.

monument in cloud later

Still, considering it is the shortest day of the year, I can’t complain as I had had scones, a cycle ride and a walk.

The only thing missing was a tootle in the evening but Mike Tinker came round to tell us that his wife Alison, my Friday night orchestra, has not sufficiently recovered from dislocating her shoulder to be able to play sonatas yet.  I hope that it will not be too far into 2019 before we can start playing again.

We had a test morsel of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plum pudding in the evening and it was delicious, light, fruity and very tasty.  I am really looking forward to Christmas day.

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

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is the last from Venetia’s trip to Madeira and shows a local flower.  It is an echium known as ‘The Pride of Madeira’.  As you can see, it is popular with the locals.

Madeira flower

The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning is pretty gloomy with strong winds and rain predicted.  As I write this, I can hear the wind sighing round the house and the rain pattering on the windows and I can only hope that the forecasters are being excessively pessimistic as they often are and we will avoid any storm damage.

The last day of our good spell of weather was grey but still warm and with gentle winds in the morning.  We couldn’t make the best of it though as I had an early appointment at the new hospital in Dumfries to see a surgeon about my low iron count.

The drive was smooth and uneventful,  the newly planted meadows round the hospital were as interesting as before…

DGRI meadow

…and since I was seen promptly and sent home with no need for further investigations, the trip was very satisfactory.  The advice was to keep taking the tablets and eat more greens.  I shall do both.

While we were in the vicinity, we went to have coffee at the very good garden centre we visited last week and while we were there, three plants, some more lawn feed and a new garden hose reel insinuated themselves unobtrusively into our shopping trolley and we had to pay for them before we could get out.  Since we had just gone for coffee, this was very odd.

When we got home, there was a lot to do in the garden before the rain came.  During the afternoon, I mowed the drying green and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal to use in her planting out work.

Because it is a great deal easier to shift compost when it is dry, I also took the opportunity to shift the contents of Bin B into Bin C and I know that discerning readers will never forgive me if I don’t record this event.

compost bin c and d

The warm dry weather has speeded up the composting process a lot and made sieving and shifting an easy task.

I also wound on the front garden hose on to the new reel…

new hose reel

…though of course, the weather will now be so bad for the rest of the summer that we will never have to use it.

In  between times, I wandered round the garden to take as many pictures as I could to record the end of our good spell.   (I apologise for the number of pictures in today’s post.)

The vegetable garden is looking very well organised….

vegetable garden

…and I was able to have a good helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cut and come again salad leaves with my lunch.

Of particular interest to me was this…

strawberry fruit

…as I haven’t  netted the strawberries this year and I am hoping to pick as many as I can before….

blackbird

…the blackbirds notice them.

There are new flowers about.

day lilly, loosestrife and goldfinch rose

Day lily, loosestrife and the first Rosa Goldfinch

…and old friends are doing well.

astrantias

I tend to show close ups of astrantias so I thought I ought to show you the two colours on a broader scale.

At the top of the front lawn, the two box balls are in full colour…

golden box

…and all round the garden, the Sweet Williams that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out are bringing some zing to the flower beds.

sweet william

On the house wall, the climbing hydrangea is looking healthy…

hydrangea

…and there is a constant buzz as you walk past it.

hydrangea with bee

The ‘ooh la la’ clematis is thriving….

ooh la la clematis

…and as it is in a very sheltered spot, I hope it survives the wind and the rain.

When I went in for lunch, I took the opportunity to watch the birds.

We have had daily visits from pigeons and collared doves recently….

pigeon

…and the supply of siskins and goldfinches seems endless.

goldfinch and siksin

I got the composting and mowing done before the rain started and then after a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy on a task in the town, I decided to go for a walk as it was too windy for enjoyable cycling.

There was some occasional drizzle but not enough to discourage me.  We could certainly do with some rain as the ground is very dry and the rivers are extremely low.

River Esk low

Somewhere along the gravel at the left hand side of the river in the picture above are five oyster catchers but I had to walk along the grass to see them.

The five were two parents….

oyster catcher parents

…clucking away and watching anxiously over three youngsters.

oyster catcher young

I know that there are four pictures but there are only three birds.

On the other side of the town bridge, I caught up with a pied wagtail…

pied wagtail

…standing unusually still for such a fidgety bird.

I looked back from the Sawmill Brig…

Ewes Water Island

…and wondered if there would be enough rain to turn the green mound that you can see back into an island again.  It is covered with roses, knapweed and umbellifers.

The light wasn’t very good and the threat of rain ever present so I didn’t dilly dally though I stopped for long enough to look at some docks…

dock

…admire the treescape on the Castleholm…

Castleholm tree view

…and check on the wild flowers along the Scholars’ Field wall…

nettle and umbellifer

……before calling in on my fern expert Mike to talk about going on a fern walk soon…

…and then going home to cook the tea.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to practise with the church organist’s summer choir and I rested my voice again.

I only went to the doctor in the first place because I was having trouble with a little hoarseness and after being thoroughly checked and cleared of any other problems, the hoarseness is still there.  I have another week of rest and then I will go back to the doctor again to see what is what if things haven’t improved.  I am missing singing more than I expected.

The flower of the day is the butter and sugar iris.  I am not sure that it will survive the night’s weather.

butter and sugar iris

I may possibly have run out of guest pictures.  Just mentioning it.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has been on holiday for a few days beside the sea in Lincolnshire.  He sent me this picture of definite cheating in the children’s sandcastle building competition.

Dropscone's digger

We were the victim of a meteorological prank today.  The weather got warmer as forecast but as it was blowing a gale and raining heavily, we weren’t able to enjoy the warmth very much….and it didn’t get a lot warmer anyway.

I had to spend time indoors as it happened because it took a lot of time and some  intemperate language to get my computer up and running.  Yesterday’s problem was caused by one of the uninvited upgrades that Windows puts onto a computer behind your back and the solution was to activate a ‘system restore’.

This is hard to manage when you can’t get access to the computer settings but somewhat mysteriously a QR code appeared on my screen while I was struggling without success and I quickly snapped it with my phone.   Then, without any more prompting, the phone issued me with a set of useful instructions.  A miracle of technology.

It is always a nervous matter to embark on a system restore but this one went like clockwork and you can see the result.

Still, it was Friday and my morning was brightened by the arrival of Dropscone, back from his brief break and bearing treacle scones.

When he left, the rain stopped and I had time for a quick look round the garden.

hellebore

I can photograph some of the hellebores without lying on my back and looking up but others need a helping hand to keep me off the wet grass.

P1080352

In the pond, some frogs maintained an air of mystery in the dark under the bridge…

frog

…while others let it all hang out.

frog and spawn

The hawk made a couple of appearances without catching anything and in between times, the feeder was in demand, with chaffinches approaching…

chaffinch

…and landing (with a bit of difficulty in the strong breeze)…

chaffinch

…and sometimes having to put up with a torrent of abuse from passing siskins.

busy feeder

The main business of the day was a trip with Mrs Tootlepedal to a garden centre near Carlisle to buy this and that and to have lunch.  Unfortunately two coachloads of shoppers arrived just before us so we had to do quite a bit of window shopping before there was a spare table to have our lunch.

However, the meal was worth waiting for and Mrs Tootlepedal found all the things that she wanted so the trip was very satisfactory.

Amusingly, the weather gods had not finished their joke at our expense and  having driven through pleasant sunshine on our way home, it started to rain a mile or so outside Langholm.  How we laughed.

I had hoped for a late afternoon cycle ride but even when the rain stopped, it was still cold and gloomy so I went for a short walk instead.

The rain had put a bit of pep into the Esk…

raging river

..and a couple of oyster catchers were looking a bit disgruntled at the Meeting of the Waters.

oyster catchers

The very local nature of our weather was well shown by the literal meeting of the waters…

meeting of the waters

…with the Ewes in the foreground and the Esk in the background looking as different as they could possibly be.  In spite of appearances, it was the Esk that was carrying by far the more water.  It had obviously rained a lot more up the Esk valley than it had up the Ewes valley.

It was too dark to take good bird pictures but I was pleased to see that Mr Grumpy had survived the snow…

heron

…and I did spot a dipper but as you can see….

dipper

…it was too far away and had its back turned to me so I didn’t bother to take a picture of it.

I looked at a bit of moss instead…

moss

…probably the only thing round here actually to welcome the rain.

I passed by this elegant gate…

gate

…and made my way home in the gathering gloom without finding anything else interesting to look at.

Among other bits of business today, I put down the deposit on my new bike, having finally made my mind up.  It will take four weeks to arrive so there will be a lot of huffing and puffing on the slow bike in the meantime (if the weather is suitable for cycling).

Why will the bike take four weeks to arrive?  Because it is being hand made in Holland.

We are promised a bit of warm sunshine tomorrow.  I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be another joke.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch who sneaked in among the chaffinches and siskins.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually put pictures in a post which I didn’t take on the posting day but the computer failure meant that I couldn’t use this little lamb…

first lamb

…and as it was the first of the year, I have popped it in today.

 

 

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My sister Mary may have been walking in the Lake District but my brother Andrew has been drinking coffee in Bridlington.  Here is his view as he sipped.

Bridlington

We woke up to another morning of glum weather, cold and windy and with as much rain as we could possibly want….

puddle

…if not a little more.

This let me put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and since it was the last week of 1895, it was a good moment as it is always cheering to start on a new year.

The rain continued until, like yesterday, it eased off in the afternoon for long enough to let me get out for a little walk again

I started by walking round the garden.

candelabra primula

The candelabra primula seemed unaffected by the two days of rain

sweet william

The sweet william looked a little more downcast

aquilegia

And the aquilegia looked washed out

I left the garden and headed down to the river to see where all the rain had gone.

Langholm Bridge

It was water under the bridge.

Suspension Bridge

The river was well up but far from full.  It is very brown with the peat that is washed out from the land.

I walked on past the Kilngreen where a small group were keen to point that even ducks didn’t think that this was good weather.

mallards

The ice cream van was at it station in the middle of an empty car park with a faint drizzle in the air, the epitome of optimism.  Naturally I bought myself a small cone and enjoyed it as I walked over the Sawmill Brig…

Ewes

A touch of colour on the bank of the Ewes Water

…and onto the Lodge Walks.

Passing one of the recently felled tree stumps, I thought that I saw a curious fungus or lichen but closer inspection revealed that it was  a small crowd of snails.

snails

One posed for me.

snail

I know nothing about snails (there’s a surprise) and some research shows me that this might be Cepaea sylvatica but as always, I am prepared to be enlightened by knowledgeable readers.

There are some fine rhododendrons along the Lodge walks and they brought a bit more brightness to a grey day.

rhododendrons

As well as being pretty damp, it was also quite windy and I had a hard time taking plant life pictures but there was a lot to tempt me into trying.

Some above my head….

tree seeds

…some beside my feet…

grasses

…and some half way in between.

nettles

I stood on the Duchess Bridge and looked downstream.  At this time of year, the river here runs through a canyon of green.

River Esk

The nuthatches have left the nest at the bridge so there was nothing to detain me there and I walked on home, happy to have found a dry moment in the day.

The honeysuckle in the hedge facing the road gave me a warm welcome…

honeysuckle

…and after a quick look at a knapweed…

knapweed

…I went in for a cup of tea and a Jaffa cake.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent a busy couple of hours helping in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar while I was out enjoying my walk and in the evening, I went back there in the rain for a very well attended meeting about our local newspaper, The Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser.  This is the same newspaper which the Archive Group members have been indexing since its first publication in 1848.  It has recently been threatened with closure by its latest owners, a Carlisle newspaper group.

In response, a group of concerned local people, with the financial support of local charitable trusts and some individuals have raised enough money to achieve a community buyout and the paper is now owned by a community company based in Langholm.    It has a business plan and a lot of local support so we all hope that the new venture is successful and that the E&L, as it is always known, will continue for many years to come.

The first issue of the new ownership was published today and I am happy to say that it has a picture of Skippers Bridge in it which I took a week or so ago so I really feel part of this grand venture.

This was the picture.

Skippers Bridge

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our younger son, Al.  He came across this intriguing fungus outburst while on safari in darkest Leith.

Leith fungus

We had another dry and occasionally sunny morning but once again it was freezing at the start of the day.  As a result, the morning was spent killing time while waiting for the thermometer to rise to cycling temperature.  Time was killed by making and drinking coffee, trying to complete the crossword, shopping for porridge and occasional checking on the robin scene.

It was an exciting day robinwise.

robins

Finally, two for the price of one.

They took turns to go to the feeder so I really do think that these two are more than just good friends.

But the burning question is:  are there actually three robins in the garden?

robins

The two on the left look like the ones from the bench but is the one on the right one of them or a different one?

This next bird is definitely a blue tit.

blue tit

 Otherwise our visitors were the usual suspects, goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches on the feeder and blackbirds and dunnocks on the ground.

chaffinch flying

The temperature climbed to 5° before midday so I had an early lunch, wrapped up well and headed off.  There was a chilly west wind blowing which made my first eleven miles heading straight into it quite hard work but the day was bright enough to illuminate an interesting tree…

Falford tree

…so I cycled on in good heart with the intention of taking a panoramic view of the new windfarm from the hill above Paddockhole at 11 miles.  I then planned to return home by a circuitous route to make up a gentle 30 miles.  You can imagine then that I was pretty miffed when my plan, which had been going well, was completely thrown into disarray as clouds came suddenly down wiping out any chance of a photo and it started raining just as I caught a glimpse of the windmills.

I turned for home, hoping to outrun the advancing rain and with the wind now behind me, I soon got into clear weather.  Things looked so good that I added a four mile diversion into my homeward route and was just congratulating myself on my excellent route planning when I started to notice a few stray hailstones floating past me.

As I was on top of the highest hill on my route at the time, with not a tree to shelter under and six miles still to go, there was nothing for it but to grit my teeth and pedal for home.  Within  minutes I was being painfully pelted by a thorough going hailstorm and I began to get worried that the road might get covered and become too slippery to ride.  I needn’t have worried about that though as the hail bounced off the road and melted when it settled back down.

What made all this even more annoying was the fact that I could see blue sky to both sides and in front of me while I was being subjected to the meteorological assault.

Blue sky and hail

A patch of blue sky over Langholm as I headed home.

It was not quite the enjoyable ride that I had hoped for but I got home safely and found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden!

Even more surprising to me was the fact the the crocuses had decided that this was the day to fling wide their petals.

crocuses

There is no understanding the mentality of plants.

Single flowers stood out.

crocus and scilla

A stout crocus and the very first sign of a scilla

I changed out of my soggy cycling gear, had a shower and re-emerged to find a dry and pleasant afternoon in progress.

Since I hadn’t taken any pictures on my bike ride, I went for a walk by the river.  It is the time of the year to see pairs of birds.

There were oyster catchers….

oystercatchers

And ducks.

ducks

The sun came out and as I looked at a tree across the river…

Castleholm tree

…and admired the views…..

Ewes water

…it was hard to believe that I had been in the midst of a hailstorm only 90 minutes ago.

Erskine Church

There was an article in our local paper this morning saying that someone has plans to develop the Erskine Church for accommodation so perhaps we will finally  see the end of the very ugly scaffolding round its spire which mars the view of the town bridge.   There have been previous plans which have come to nothing so we are not holding our breath.

I walked home over the Sawmill Brig and across the Castleholm, passing blue green algae on a wall and a conifer pretending to be a palm tree in the sun.

algae and conifer

It was good to see sunshine on the hills which surround out town as I walked along Eskdaill Street.

Warbla and eskdaill Street

As darkness fell, I made some cauliflower cheese for my tea and then went off to sing with our local choir.  Illness and church services had reduced our numbers a bit but we had enough members to have an enjoyable practice.  The choir is planning two concerts in May and June so we are working on some pieces for these events.

In  spite of the hailstorm, I was very pleased to have started the new month off with a few miles and I hope to get many more in as the days get longer.

The flower of the day is a very decorative crocus on the Kilngreen…

crocus

…and the flying bird of the day is the pair of oyster catchers.

flying oyster catchers

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