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Posts Tagged ‘fungus’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She felt that as I had been a bit lacking of flying birds recently, she should help me out.  She visited RSPB West Sedgmoor on Saturday and saw a great many teal.

RSPB West Sedgemoor teal

My first picture of the day was taken very early in the morning indeed.  As I went to bed last night,  I was surprised to see that the moon was out and although it was lightly covered by a very thin cloud, I thought that I should celebrate being able to see it at all in the midst of our bad weather. This was six minutes after midnight.

full moon February

When I woke up this morning, the day was remarkably peaceful and dry.  After breakfast I got a call from fellow archivist Nancy to say that one of our microfiche readers wasn’t working and I was able to walk up to the Archive Centre without getting wet.

The Wauchope was unrecognisable from the river that we had seen on our way to church just a day ago and Mr Grumpy had found a quiet pool to stand in behind a bush.

calm after storm

After some head scratching and with a bit of a “let’s try that” technique, we got the reader to read again and I left Nancy to her work and walked home.  In spite of the improved weather conditions, the continuing brisk wind made me grateful for the warmth of my new coat.

In the garden I found the (small) host of daffodils had survived, a starling was doing some supervision…

in the garden after storm

…a first flower had appeared on the winter honeysuckle and Mary Jo’s rain gauge showed that quite a bit of rain had fallen.

The wind was no discouragement to the birds today though and enough goldfinches arrived to start a fight…

squabbling goldfinches

…though experience has led me to believe that sometimes two goldfinches are all you need to have a scrap.

Peace did break out and we got a collection of siskins and goldfinches that swapped places from time to time.

two triples on the feeder

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business and shopping  and I made some lentil soup for lunch.

Fortified by the soup, eaten with bread and cheese, we drove down to Canonbie to have a walk.  There were spots of rain as we drove down but luckily, the rain stopped when we got to the Byreburn Woods, and so we started our walk.

Our plan was to keep among the trees for as much of our walk as possible because the wind was very cold and the excellent path took us along in the shelter of some very tall conifers.

Byreburn Wood walk 1

Here is Mrs Tootlepedal giving a sense of scale.

Byreburn Wood walk 2

When we came out of the trees, some well constructed steps took us the steepest part of the hill….

Byreburn Wood walk 3

…and a handy bench provided us with a resting place at the top.

Byreburn Wood walk 4

The path is part of the Council’s Core Path Network and is well signposted and well maintained.

As we got to the most exposed part of the walk, there was a hint of sunshine…

Byreburn Wood walk 5

…which was fully realised as we came out of the wood and walked down the road…

Going down to Byre Burn

…to the modest bridge over the Byre Burn.

bridge at top of Byre Burn

We crossed the bridge and took the track which goes back down the hill alongside the Byre Burn itself.

fairy loup track

Here we spotted the only fungus we saw all walk…

fungus fairy loup track

…enjoyed the glowing moss on the bank above the track being picked out by the sun…

moss in sun fairy loup track

…and listened to the music of the burn…

cascade fairy loup track

…as it chattered over the little cascades on its way to the Fairy Loup and the River Esk.

cascade fairy loup track 2

We had to stop to take the obligatory picture of the Fairy Loup when we came to it, although the view would be greatly improved if someone would come along and trim the trees in front of it.

fairy loup february

When we got to the road at the bottom of the track,  we crossed this much more impressive bridge.  It carries the road which used to be the main Carlisle to Edinburgh trunk route.

Byreburn bridge A7

We had done two miles by the time that we got back to the car.  Although this was not a long walk, it had had a lot of variety on the way which had made it most rewarding.

When we got back to Langholm on our way home, it was obvious  that it had been raining in the town while we had been away.  This greatly added to the pleasure that we felt from our walk through the woods.

In the garden, there were signs of things to come.

crocus and hellebore promise

Mike Tinker’s tea radar was finely honed and he arrived just as the teapot was put on the table and we a good chat.  The Langholm Walks Group is planning to add a route from Canonbie to Langholm to its collection of waymarked walks and he told us that one section of this will go through the Byreburn Wood.

In the evening, my friend Luke came round with his flute and we had a go at a Quantz sonata.  We haven’t played it for some time and although we played a couple of movements, it was clear that we will need to practise a bit harder if it is to go smoothly.

Storm Ciara has treated us very lightly considering what happened not far from us.  There were damaging floods in Hawick and Appleby, Carlisle had floods again and the west coast main line railway was closed because of floods.  Meanwhile, I have been able to get out for a walk every day even if it has been too windy to cycle so I can’t complain.

This may change though, as the forecast for the week ahead is very uninviting and next weekend is due to bring us another very deep Atlantic depression.  The Norwegian forecast for our area is once again slightly better than the BBC’s so I think we will settle for the Norwegian arrangement and keep our fingers crossed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably looking for a fight.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my South African correspondent, Langholm exile Tom.  He was looking for something to send me from his archives and found this lofty view of Worcester in the Western Cape, taken from 6000 ft up.

view of Worcester SA

We had a calm day before the advertised arrival late tomorrow of storm Ciara, which the experts think might be the worst storm to hit the country since 2013.  We are not looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I had an enjoyable day today.  In the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do useful things around the town and I entertained Dropscone to coffee and ate two of his excellent treacle scones.  A Friday wouldn’t be the same without treacle scones.

When he left, I had a look to see if there were any birds at our feeder and found remarkably few.

A chaffinch was weighing up its options…

chaffinch on stalk

…and a sparrow was complaining about Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree..,.

sparrow shouting

…while a rook posed at the very top of the walnut.

rook on walnut tree top

Mrs Tootlepedal has put up the robin nest box and we are waiting to see if the robin also knows that it is a nest box.

new robin box

As there were no birds to watch, and it was still a bit cold for cycling (it had been freezing when we woke up), I went for a walk.

A little bit of  hair ice showed that it had been cold…

new hir ice

…and it certainly looked like winter as I walked along the beechy plains…

winter on the beechy plains

…but the sun was out and when I got into the open, it was very pleasant.

The battery had run out on my camera so I used my phone to take a few pictures as I went along.  I was delighted by how well it picked out these catkins.

sunny catkins murtholm

I took a view of Warbla just so that I would have something bright to remind me of better days when the storm comes.

view of warbla before storm

I crossed Skippers Bridge….

distillery on arthur's leaving day

…and walked home along the river.  The daisies on the bank still had something to show…

diasies by esk

…but there was not much else to look at today.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy seed potatoes and I went for a cycle ride.  All traces of the morning frost had gone and the wind wasn’t too unkind so I added a few more miles to my last outing and pedalled the twenty miles it takes to get round my familiar Canonbie circuit.

Two fine fungi beside the Wauchope road caught my eye…

fungus wauchope road

…and I liked the view of the lake District hills on the far side of the Solway Firth.

view of skiddaw

There were some clouds about…

cloudscape

…but they conveniently cleared away by the time that I got to Canonbie, where the church was looking at its best.

canonbie church

Beside the church, a row of pylons reminded me of how much work there will be to do before all our pylons are upgraded.  It is a major task as we live on a electricity highway from Carlisle to the north..

pylons at canonbie

Work is going full steam ahead on the new Canonbie sewage system.  There were people hard at work in the village, with another group digging a trench in the old road past the school, and then more workers at this site in the field below the Byreburn Wood.

The incontinent of Canonbie will be well catered for when all this is finished.

new sewage works canonbie

The low sun picked out the new balcony round the top of Hollows Tower.  I had a chance to go out on it when we visited the tower last year but it was too alarming for me.

hollows tower

My final picture was a peer through the branches at Irvine House, still standing empty after many years.

irvine house

I got home in good order, very pleased to find that I can bicycle normally again although I am still taking care and not going down the hills too fast.

Looking around the garden, I saw that we now have four daffodils.  When we get another one out, we will declare that the clump is an official host of golden daffodils and start writing poetry.

four daffodils

There hadn’t been quite enough warmth in the day to persuade the crocuses to open.

crocuses

Following a report of a male hen harrier sighting on the moor, Mrs Tootlepedal had driven up to have a look after her potato expedition, but she had not seen anything.  She consoled herself with a cup of tea and a bite of my chocolate eclair.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, and Alison and I played duets while the other two chatted.   We had a go at a sonata which we haven’t played for several years and came to the conclusion that some practice might be a good thing before we try it again.

If no post arrives tomorrow, you will know we have been blown away but in the meantime, two peacefully swimming ducks are the flying birds of the day.

two ducks

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  His walking group took him on an eight mile  hilly and windy walk near Ashbourne.  As an additional hazard, he had to cross this very narrow bridge.

A windy walk near Ashbourne

After a night when my sleep was often interrupted by the theatrical sighing and moaning of the wind round the house, we woke to another grey and windy day.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about early on, as she and her co-worker Margaret were (wo)manning a stall at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre as part of the public consultation on the proposed purchase of the Langholm Moor.

She and Margaret had a very good day, enrolling considerable support for the project and having interesting conversations with interested people.

I went along later to buy honey, venison, fish and lamb.  I got the fish and some lamb for the slow cooker but the honey man and venison lady were not at the market, one through the illness of his wife and the other because she was too busy selling venison elsewhere.

This was a disappointment as the local honey is very tasty and the venison goes very well in the slow cooker.

I was perked up by the sight of an apparently well stocked cheese stall from a new supplier but then was dashed to find that it was all basically one sort of cheese but with many different things stuck in it.  I am not a fan of ‘cheese with bits’, being of the opinion that nothing can improve good cheese.  I bought a portion of his cheese without bits but as I thought that it was a little dull, I could see why he thought that it might be a good idea to put things in it.

When I got home, I had a coffee and did the crossword.  It told me that there was a 95% chance of heavy rain all afternoon so I went out while it was still dry.

In the garden I saw an early harbinger of many crocuses to come, the sarcococca….

crocus, sarcoccoca, rhubarb and rain gauge

….an indication of why everything is so soggy and an exciting hint of many crumbles to come.

Then  I went for a walk.

There were very few birds in the garden but when I left the house, I saw a blackbird having a bath in the dam…

blackbird bathing

…and when I got to the park, I saw a jackdaw on the wall…

jackdaw on park wall

…and another on a bench.

jackdaw on park bench

I often take pictures of individual lichens on walls but I thought that this corner of the Kirk wall deserved a picture of its own as it would be hard to find a stone with more lichen on than this.

lichen on church wall

I have taken pictures of the park monsters before but I don’t think that I have shown how they are cleverly carved out of two branches of a fallen tree.

park monsters

Looking at the bank behind the monsters, it seems probable that it won’t belong before more trees fall down beside them.

dangerous bank at park

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like to walk along the riverside path here because of the instability of the banking.  There are always little landslips going on and some of the trees look quite alarming.

dangerous tree Eastons

I like the walk, in spite of the conditions, because there is always plenty to look at as you go along.

moss and lichen eastons

I could even see the tops of the hills today as I walked back along the top track.

view of castle Hill from stubholm

My short walk brought me back down to the park and the wall was as full of fun as it always is.

lichen, spleenwort, moss park wall

While I had been walking along the river, the peace of the day was disturbed by the raucous calls of a pair of oyster catchers, the first I have heard this year, so instead of going straight home, I walked along the river to see if I could catch them at rest.

They were nowhere to be seen, so I settled for catching a very fine birch polypore on a tall tree stump in Mary Street.

birch polypore

It wasn’t hard to find as the whole stump was covered in them.

fungus on birch stump Mary St

I decided to call in at the Buccleuch Centre to see how Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret were doing, and found them just ready to pack up  after a good morning’s work.  I was admiring some excellent woodwork on a stall when Mrs Tootlepedal turned up and bought a robin bird box.  Or to be more precise, she pointed it out and I bought it.  It will be interesting to see if our robin takes to it.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a lift home and I had some haggis for my lunch while she went for a pulled pork and chicken pie, both purchased from the market.

I took a picture of this very unusual house next to the Centre.  Langholm goes in for grey stone with the occasional white or grey rendered walls so this house really stands out.

BLUE HOUSE

Once home, I settled down, prepared for a very rainy afternoon alleviated by watching international rugby matches.

This was not a great decision as the Wales-Italy game was rather boring and the Ireland-Scotland match was the usual crushing disappointment.  To make matters worse, it didn’t rain heavily, if at all, and at one  point there was even blue sky.  I would have been better off going for another walk.

blue sky

Still, I fried a nice fillet of sea bass for my tea and no day with a lot of lichen in it is a wasted day.  And I didn’t have a dizzy spell.  One of the credit side of the great ledger of life in spite of any disappointments.

There were a lot of rooks applying to fill the post of flying bird of the day.

flying rooks

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Today’s guest picture comes from a Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He saw this fine tree in Ystradgynlais a day or two ago and thought that I might like it as I am fond of trees.

Ystradgynlais tree

It was a sunny day here today, but as it was also freezing when we got up, we were in no hurry to get the active part of the day going and sat and read the papers after breakfast until it was time for coffee.

The birds were not very active either, and the only birds that came near the feeder in the morning were a pair of chaffinches.

frosty chaffinch

Stimulated by our cup of coffee, we leapt gently into action and went for a walk.  We did think of a drive to a start point but we couldn’t think of one which we both fancied so we settled for the walk from the town up the River Esk to Potholm and back again.

We had done this walk three weeks ago an a very gloomy day so this time we decided to go round it in the opposite direction, starting by crossing the river by the Langholm Bridge.

There were plenty of gulls to be seen on the river when we looked from the bridge….

view from Langholm Bridge

…and I had my bird camera with me, so we stopped for a moment to enjoy the black headed gulls in flight and on the ground.

four gull panel

It was a grand day for a walk, and if you could get out of the chilly wind, there was even a hint of warmth from the sun.

Although we were walking a familiar route, it didn’t stop us enjoying the sights as we went along through the woods…

road to Holmhead

…over culverts….

bridge on Longfauld track

…and past tree plantations.

young spruce in winter

The views up the valley were delightful in the sunshine.

view of Milnholm

Rather to her surprise, Mrs Tootlepedal had read recently that beech tree leaf litter is slow to rot and does not contain much in the way of useful nutrients  and with that in mind, the clear ground under the beech trees which we passed was explained.

beech wood longfauld

I have always liked the openness of beech woods but I had never understood that the beech leaves themselves were probably suppressing the competition on the forest floor.

There was not a lot of fungus to be seen but I liked this colourful clump on a tree stump at Potholm..

tree stump fungus

…and this pale outbreak on a growing sapling near by.

fungus on sapling

As I had my bird camera with me, we kept an eye out for buzzards on the way.  The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted quite a few, but they were circling high in the sky and my 300mm lens could not get very close to them.

two high buzzards

At one time, we could see five at the same time, but all them out of range.

A robin in a tree at Potholm as we came down to the bridge was more co-operative and sang loudly to make sure that we didn’t miss it.

robin at Potholm

On the bank below the robin, snowdrops were talking about spring.

snowdrops at Potholm

We stopped at the bridge for a small snack…

potholm bridge

…and then we headed homewards along the road.  The fields were astonishingly green.

green fields milnholm

A  young cow regarded us with curiosity.

cow on potholm road

And the wall beside the road offered a feast of lichen.

six lichen on potholm road wall

At the end of the Potholm road, we joined the main road back into Langholm.  It is lined with concrete posts which hold the metal bars which stop errant cars falling down the steep slope into the river below.  Two of the posts caught my eye.

two concrete fence posts B709

We got home after 5.4 miles, quite ready for a cup of tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal had enough strength left to cycle down to the Co-op to do some shopping so that she could make a dahl for our evening meal and I had enough strength left to eat it.  It was very good and rounded off a peacefully pleasant day very well.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day,

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was impressed by Mary Sibande’s exhibition ‘I Came Apart at the Seams’ on a visit to Somerset House.  If this picture is anything to go by, I can see why she liked it.

Mary Sibande, Somerset House

We had another grey and drizzly morning here and I had to put my umbrella up as I walked to church.  Mrs Tootlepedal is more carefree than I, so she cycled as usual. I enjoyed singing in the choir as the hymns were provided with nice straightforward bass parts which I could sing without worrying.  We had 10 in the choir today and our organist is hoping to start practising from next week with a view to an anthem or two.

We had coffee when we got home and then I checked on the birds.  Once again, there was very little light but at least there quite a few birds about today, both waiting on the walnut tree….

goldfinches in walnut tree

…and feeding on the feeder. In fact there were enough birds on the feeder for queues to form…

full feeder goldfinches

…though I was often not quite quick enough with my shutter finger to catch them in the air.

goldfinchlanding

I have lent my tripod to a friend who has gone off in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights so I am hand holding the camera.  This means that every time I look up from the viewfinder to see if a bird is coming, I just miss the one that has sneaked in.

late landers

I had more luck with a dunnock on the ground.

dunnock on tray

It was still drizzling and I thought that this pair of slightly bedraggled goldfinches summed up the day well.

two gloomy goldfinches

As regular readers will know, I have got a new coat (with pockets) so I thought that this dreich day might the ideal time to take it for a walk and try it out.

It really was a miserable day with absolutely no gap at all between the clouds and the ground.

mist on the hill scotts knowe

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and noticed that there was still a lot of fruit on this tree…

fruit on tree january

…while the nearby apples had shed all theirs.

fruit on ground january

The apples must be very sour to have been left in peace by birds and animals.

People in towns and cities are often vexed by CCTV surveillance.  We have other methods of observation in the country.

sheep with horns becks

I was hoping to see fungi but these two small outbreaks on a pile of logs were all that I noticed.

siggy fungus becks

I crossed the Becks Burn by the bridge and took the road home.  In the hedgerow there was any amount of lichen…

mossy hedge

…and some haws as well.

wet hawthorn

As I got near to Pool Corner, the loud singing of a bird made me stop and look at the river.  As I thought, it was a dipper marking out its territory in song.

dipper inw auchope

A little further on, I found a patch of peltigera lichen on the wall looking very healthy.

peltigera lichen

My new coat kept the drizzle out very well and the pockets kept my camera and phone dry, so it passed the test.  In fact its only fault was that, if anything, it was too warm and I got gently cooked on my walk.  That is a fault on the right side, as they say.

After lunch, we set off for Carlisle where the Carlisle community Choir was having its first meeting of 2020.   During the last few months, the committee have been putting a lot of effort into encouraging more men to come and sing, and this paid off today in the shape of two new recruits to the tenor section.  We hope that they both enjoyed themselves enough to keep coming back.

We have a good range of music to sing in the forthcoming months and I am looking forward to learning new songs.

The forecast for the next two days is terrible so patient readers might have to wait a bit for some cheerful pictures.

The flying bird of the day is a  goldfinch battling through wind and rain to get to the feeder.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my nephew Dan who is in Tromsø in Norway.  It rained so much that he and his companion had to take refuge in the Tromsdalen Church, sometimes called the Arctic Cathedral.

Tromsø Tromsdalen Church or the Arctic Cathedral

The forecast, which had suggested a sunny day and a temperature of five degrees by lunchtime, was partially right.  We did have a beautifully sunny day but the temperature  was still below two degrees at lunchtime, and the lawn was still covered in frost.

frozen lawn

Any thoughts of cycling had had to be abandoned.

Circumstances have not been kind to my cycling ambitions in November and December and after doing sixteen hundred miles in the four months from July to October, I have barely done three hundred miles in the last two months of the year.  I am hoping for no injuries and better weather next year.  I started this year hoping to do 4000 miles and have had to settle for a little bit over 3000 instead, but I have done more walking recently so I am reasonably content.

The roads were a bit icy in the morning so I did the crossword, had coffee and watched the birds.

They were looking cheerful in the sun.

sunny chaffinch

A dunnock tried to look like a heron…

sunny dunnock

…and a siskin tried to find someone to argue with…

sunny siskin

…while the robin made a welcome re-appearance after a few days of being invisible.

sunny robin

The bird that I was most pleased to see was this lesser redpoll, the first one that I have seen this winter.

first redpoll of winter

After lunch, I set out to make some use of the sunshine.  I still had to tread carefully while I was in the town as there were icy spots here and there, but once I got onto the track up Warbla, the going was good.

It was easy to see where the fields had been in shadow during the morning.

sheep in sunshine

Looking across the Wauchope valley,  I could see a favourite little ridge, Naze Hill, which is pleasingly symmetrical.

naze hill

I had to pay some attention to where I was walking as well as looking at the view because there were icy puddles on the track.

ice on warbla

I tried to avoid taking too many pictures because I posted quite a few shots of this walk not long ago when I came the same hill with Mrs Tootlepedal, but it was such a lovely day that I had to take one or two when I got to the summit.

view up esk valley from warbla

Holmwood and the Esk Valley

langholm from warbla

Langholm and the Ewes Valley

On this occasion, I did not go back home by walking down the way that I had come up.  I headed on down the far side of the hill, roughly following the line of the electricity poles which would take me down to Skippers Bridge in the end.

view of way south from warbla

It was rough ground but the frost kept things firm and made the moss look very festive.

frozen moss

Towards the bottom of the hill, I was on the shady side of the ridge and there was a distinct chill about.

two warbla trees

As I walked down to the main road, I was surprised to see some hair ice beside the path, but as I went on, I could see that there was a lot of it about.

hair ice

Wikipedia tells me:

In the year 2015, German and Swiss scientists identified the fungus Exidiopsis effusa as key to the formation of hair ice. The fungus was found on every hair ice sample examined by the researchers, and disabling the fungus with fungicide or hot water prevented hair ice formation.  The fungus shapes the ice into fine hairs through an uncertain mechanism and likely stabilizes it by providing a recrystallization inhibitor similar to antifreeze proteins.

The fungus must be spreading round Langholm because I see more hair ice every year.

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back to the town along the river bank.  There is a fine tree beside the river at the Co-op store.  It has some good fungus and a mysterious tag which has been nailed on to it.

tree at Co-op

I have noticed several trees round the town with these little tags on them and would welcome help from any reader who can shed light on what they are for.

The sun was still high enough to shine on me when I got back to the town so instead of crossing the suspension  bridge, I continued on to the Kilngreen and had a word with the gulls.  They were also enjoying the sun.

gulls on grass

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the bottom of the Castleholm, where the castle was doing a little basking in the  sun too…

Langholm castle in sun

…and went home via the Jubilee Bridge and our corner shop.  Our neighbour Liz was doing a little shopping there too so we walked home together.

I had done five miles and that proved quite enough exercise for me for the day.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing some creative sofa slumping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the blog over the past year, and in particular those who have added the always polite and often informative comments that make writing the blog feel worthwhile for me.

I hope that 2020 brings readers all that they might wish and a little bit more.

I personally am keeping my fingers crossed that our National Health Service can weather the storms ahead.  Our church organist Henry, who drives a bus for a living, recently had to wait three minutes to get an emergency call answered when a passenger had an epileptic fit on his bus.  When his call was finally answered, the call handler told him that as his passenger wasn’t actually dying, no ambulance would be sent out.  This is not very satisfactory.  Voters will have to learn that there is a crucial link between paying taxes and having a good health service and politicians will need to learn that leaving sick people lying beside roads at night is a matter of great shame in a civilised country. (Henry took the patient home in his bus.)

On that cheerful note, I end by wishing all and sundry a very happy new year.  I hope to meet you all again next year.

The flying bird of the day is a gull, disturbed by an elderly walker and heading for a fence post.

gull landing on post

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He recently found himself on top of Bosley Cloud, a 1125ft eminence on the Staffordshire- Cheshire border with, according to to the Visit Cheshire website, stunning views over the surrounding countryside.  It lived up to its name when my brother was there though, and there was a marked absence of views, stunning or otherwise.

Bosley Cloud

We had plenty of clouds here today as well.  In fact it was so gloomy that when I threw open the curtains to welcome the day, the room actually got darker.

Still, we sang some cheerful Christmas carols when we got to church.  Our new minister takes the view that Christmas is too good to be wasted on just one Sunday in the year.   I agree.  We returned home for coffee and a mince pie and as I added a modicum of brandy butter to mine, all was well with the world in spite of the dark clouds.

After lunch, we considered our options.  It was dry and warm (7°C) so I considered a bike ride but checking on the wind, I found that gusts of up to 30 mph were expected. Mrs Tootlepedal fancied some exercise so she and I went off for another walk instead.

After yesterday’s tramp up hill and over rough terrain, Mrs Tootlepedal called for a flatter route on dry roads today so we drove down to the Hollows Bridge and walked the three mile Canonbie circle along to the village by the top road and back by the old main road beside the river.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to read an historical information board by the Hollows bridge and I checked to see if there were still stone statues in the wood there.

hollows sculptures

We crossed the bridge and stopped to talk to the owner of the Archimedes screw who was just setting off for a family walk and then we took the top road to Canonbie.

I was very impressed by the neat appearance of a hedge in a field beside the road.

hollows hedge

Purists may think that it is a bit too sparse to be effective as a hedge but as it has a wire fence right behind it, that doesn’t matter too much.

As is often the case, the weather had got much better once we had got south of Langholm and out of the hills.  Looking back as we went up the top road, we could see the impressive gloom over the town behind us.

looking back to langholm

Even without the dark clouds overhead, it wasn’t sunny and as we walked along a stretch of road between a conifer wood and a tall beech hedge, the camera was unimpressed by the amount of light available.

hollws road hedge

It was able to pick up a crop of catkins though, a reminder that we are on our way towards spring now.

catkins

We passed a lot of good trees along our route but this one was my choice for tree of the day.

hollws road tree

The road to the village took us along the top of a steep escarpment above the river and I could look down on Canonbie church, which almost seemed to be catching a hint of sunshine.

Canonbie Church

Mrs Tootlepedal called my attention to a dunnock.  As a dunnock is also called a hedge sparrow, it was good to see one living up to its name by posing on a hedge for me.

dunnokc on hedge Canonbie

(It turns out that a dunnock is not a sparrow at all but an accentor.)

Although we weren’t in sunshine, there was blue sky above our heads, we were sheltered from any wind and we had left the black Langholm cloud behind us so walking was very comfortable.

cloud front

We passed a fir tree in a garden before we got to the village.  It was covered in smallish upright cones and looked very like a Korean pine but with brown not blue cones.

pine tree canonbie

As we walked down the path to the village, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed this bracket fungus on the fence rail.  It is unusual to see them on treated wood like this.

bracket fungus on fence canonbie

Canonbie’s Public Hall has a fine clock which celebrates the centenary of the hall in 2012.

canonbie hall clock

We crossed the river Esk by the newly resurfaced Canonbie bridge and walked along the old main road back to the Hollows Bridge.  There was a moment when the sun actually shone on us and we could see our chadows…

shadows on old A7

…but it didn’t last and the sun was so low anyway that the trees on the far bank of the river were looking very sombre.

trees on Esk escarpment Canonbie

It wasn’t a day for sitting at the fine new bench at the lay-by and having a picnic.

Canonbie bench

Rather worryingly, the back cloud over Langholm seemed to be slipping south and was getting nearer and nearer to us.

cloud front canonbie

This lent a bit of urgency to the last half mile of our journey but I still had time to admire a monkey puzzle tree in a garden at Byreburnfoot.

I liked the way that its bottom branches pointed down, its top branches pointed up and the ones in the middle were absolutely pointing neither up nor down.

monkey puzzle byreburn

I was considering the habits of walls on our walk last Saturday and this wall at the Byreburnfoot Bridge was another example of the curious behaviour of nature. The wall is more or less totally black until it gets to the bridge itself when it suddenly becomes covered with pale lichen.

byreburn bridge with Mrs t

It’s another mystery.

It didn’t rain and we got back to the car after three miles of gentle exercise.  The weather looked very black as we drove back to Langholm but even there, it wasn’t raining.  The Met Office says that the humidity today has been around 95% so I have no idea why it hasn’t rained.  I am not complaining though.

It was too dark to get a satisfactory flying bird today so the best that I can do is to show one of our resident garden dunnocks standing in for the absent fliers.

dunnock in garden

 

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