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Posts Tagged ‘fungus’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and it features another Dale Chihuly glass artwork which she saw on her recent visit to Kew Gardens.

glass sculpture chihuly

We had some very heavy rain showers today but when they stopped, it was a pleasantly warm if rather muggy day.  It was too wet to do any gardening and too unreliable to plan for a bike ride, so I was very happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee in the morning.

We had other visitors too as Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a thrush on the lawn and I saw another one on the top of our new electricity pole.

two thrushes

There are a lot of blackbirds about at the moment and some of them have been rather badly painted.

four blackbirds

I didn’t go out into the garden much as it was soggy underfoot, but whenever I did go out, there were sparrows on every available perch…

sparrows in a row

…and at one time we counted eighteen of them pecking away on the lawn.

One blackbird sat in the rowan tree looking rather dishevelled,

ruffled blackbird

The only garden flower picture that I took all day was this crocosmia.

crocosmia

I am eager to take a bit of exercise before I go and see the physio next week to make sure that I have got a good idea of what is working and what is not, so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we should go for a walk after lunch.  There seemed to be a gap in the rain showers.

She agreed on condition that we drove a little out of town first to find a fresh walking route.  This seemed like a good idea, so we drove a few miles up the road towards Bentpath and walked up the track beside the Boyken Burn.

There were plenty of hazel nuts on the trees beside the track…

hazel nuts

…and plenty of water coming down the burn after the heavy rain showers over night and in the morning.

Boyken burn

The track winds gently uphill and we could soon look back to get some fine views.

Boyken burn track

The side streams coming off the hill to join the Boyken Burn were naturally full of water too and I was glad that we didn’t have to cross this one on the old bridge.

Boyken burn waterfall

There was a lot of stone walling to be seen round the lower fields on the hill sides and we wondered what had driven the dry stane dykers of old to add this little kink to their wall building.

Boyken burn crooked wall

Tucked away beside the river, an old barn was collapsing under the weight of time.

Boyken burn ruin

The weather brightened up as we made our way along the track…

Boyken burn view

…and some weak sunshine picked out the lichen on an old telephone pole…

Boyken burn telephone pole

…and lit up the house at Calkin.  We stopped to chat to the farmer on the road and he told us that this house is now in such a state of disrepair that it it is going to be demolished.

Boyken burn Calkin

We thought that this little stream rushing down the hill to join the Boyken Burn near Calkin was picture perfect…

Boyken burn side issue

…and the lichen on the rocks beside the track looked like works of art too.

Boyken burn lichen

There were plenty of little cascades to enjoy as we climbed further up the valley….

Boyken burn in spate

…but the best of them always seemed to be hidden behind trees.

We followed the track until we came to a point where the forest took over from open hill…

Boyken burn planting

…and as the clouds had come in and a light drizzle threatened, we took the hint and turned for home.

We watched buzzards circling over our heads and listened to their plaintive calls as we walked along.

There was plenty to look as well as the birds and the views, with quite a lot of fungus…

Boyken burn fungi

…a very old and twisted tree…

Boyken burn tree

…and lots of wild flowers.  There was yarrow, harebells, hawkweed and tormentil and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a cluster of insects on some  knapweed…

Boyken burn wild flowers

…and she also noted this tiny white flower ( I would be grateful if anyone can suggest what it is) while I couldn’t miss a large thistle.

We got back to the car just in time because as we shut the door to drive home, the light drizzle turned into some pretty heavy rain, and this continued on and off for the rest of the day.

When we looked at the map, we found that we had walked about 5 km or 3 miles and as I haven’t done much walking at all recently, I was pleased that we had turned back when we did.  It was a lovely walk though, and I hope that we will go back again and be able to walk further up the track to the head of the valley next time.

We were both quite happy to sit down and rest our feet when we got home.

The flying bird of the day was having a pause, refuelling and resting its wings, when I caught up with it.

sparrow on fence

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jim and Sandra who are used to their bird feeder being visited by woodpeckers and nuthatches but got quite a surprise when this fellow turned. up.

whitaside pheasant

Owing to the impending return home of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a busy morning of tidying up, hoovering  and floor sweeping.  The weather was much better outside than it has been but the housework and my sore foot kept me firmly anchored at home.

The birds were also pretty busy and I had to fill the feeders as there was a steady stream of chaffinches…

chaffinch shouting

…followed by a flurry of siskins and goldfinches.

sisikins overwhelm a chaffinch

After a cup of coffee, I stretched my legs to the extent of walking round the garden.  The crocuses have not really enjoyed the very variable weather this spring , coming out early and then being battered by rain and wind, but here and there one can be found looking quite cheerful.

open crocus

And the rosemary is busy  flowering.  It is a tricky plant to photograph so I was pleased to find a still moment with enough (but not too much) light to take a picture of it.

rosemary flower

When I got back inside and looked out, a chaffinch and a siskin obligingly posed for me above the feeder…

chaffinch on feeder pole

…while they were waiting for a free perch…

siskin on feeder pole

…and a collared dove looked for fallen seed below.

collared dove under feeder

I made some potato soup for lunch and after getting things sorted out for the evening’s camera club meeting, I tested my foot out on a very short three bridges walk.

I was hoping for some waterside bird life and spotted two oyster catchers on the gull’s usual posts.  They were very vocal as I got near and flew off before I could get close.

two oyster catchers on posts

Just below the sawmill brig, I saw a pair of goosanders and managed to get a fuzzy shot with the zoom well extended before they too…

two goosanders

…scooted off before I could get a good shot.

gosander going off

In the absence of co-operative birds, I had to be content with more static subjects like this script lichen on a tree…

script lichen

…and these handsome bracket fungi on a fallen tree.  They have withstood frost, snow, rain and wind without looking any the worse for wear.

polypore fungus

The hazels were in full flower….

hazel flowers omn twig

…and the willows at the Jubilee Bridge  are breaking out too.

willow flowers

The wild strawberries which are growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field are doing very well.

wild strawberry

Just before I got back to our garden, I had to stop to record the flourishing flowering currant of our neighbours.

flowering currant

I had a final look round and then set off to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.  I was very surprised and pleased in equal measure to find that the station can now boast some very smart new seats for those waiting for trains to arrive.  They are padded and very comfortable.  I hope that they get treated with the respect that they deserve.

dav

I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfortable seating as Mrs Tootlepedal’s train arrived bang on time and we were soon heading home.

When we got back, she pointed out this new daffodil whihc has just come out.  It is called Rip van Winkle.  I hope that we can get some nicer weather for it to show off its charms more fully.

Rip van Winkle daffodil

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  There was a good attendance with the welcome addition of a new member and as usual, we got an interesting selection of images to enjoy, with nine members contributing.  One good idea which was demonstrated was the use of a mirror to enable the photographer to take pictures of snowdrop flowers without having to lie on the ground.  I shall definitely try that next year.

It was decided that we should make an effort to have a summer club outing this year and we shall have to think of where to go.  We have a promising suggestion already and I hope that it actually comes off.

A female chaffinch makes for a neat flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should add that all is well with the world in spite of bad news in every continent and continuing sore feet because any day is greatly improved by the addition of a Mrs Tootlepedal.

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Derby shopping centre insect infestation.  My brother tells me that you can talk to the insects but I wouldn’t know what to say to a stag beetle.

stag beetle derby

I didn’t have much confidence in a weather forecast that said that it wasn’t going to rain today but I was proved wrong and the weather stayed fair until  well into the evening.

It was only just above freezing when I set off on my slow bike to see our local vampire at the Health Centre and give a little blood.  This was a check to see if my anaemia is under control.  The process was prompt and painless as usual but the health centre computer server was on the blink so I wasn’t able to make a follow up appointment.  The poor staff were absolutely flummoxed as hardly anything is written down these days and they had no idea who was coming in for appointments.  Fortunately it was soon fixed and I made my appointment later in the day without trouble.

After coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, and with the thermometer showing 4°C, I plucked up my courage, donned as many layers of clothing as I could and set off on my new bike to see how my legs were feeling.

I hadn’t been out on my bike this month so it was a bit of a shock to the system but the sun was out….

cleuchfoot valley

…my legs were very cheerful and the snow had retreated to distant hills so it wasn’t too bad to be out and about.

The wind was strong enough to make life hard when pedalling into it but the forecast gales hadn’t arrived.  I stopped to take a picture of one of those little corners that make cycling round here so visually interesting.

three cleuchfoot trees

And then I cycled to the top of Callister to see if there was any sign of the turbines arriving at the new wind farm.  There wasn’t and as the road was very muddy from quarry lorry traffic, I turned back and pedalled down to Langholm, through the town and out of the other side.  The snow was on distant hills there too.

ewes valley with diostant snow

On my way back through the town, I checked to see if the big gull was standing on its favourite rock.

It was.

gull on rock

I was pleased to manage 20 miles at a modest pace and after a walk round the garden when I got back…

three spring garden flowera

…where the forsythia is just coming out…

forsythia

…and some of the frogs spawn seems to have survived the frosty mornings…

frogs spawn

…I went in to find Mrs Tootlepedal making a nourishing pan of bean and vegetable soup for lunch.

It went down well.

After lunch I watched the birds for a while.  Goldfinches had got in early today under the watchful eye of a chaffinch…

goldfinches on feeder

…and there was no visit from the sparrow hawk to disturb them or this chaffinch’s moment of reflection beside a puddle in our drive.

reflective chaffinch

Against my expectations, the weather stayed fine in the afternoon so I went for a walk.  The wind was still nagging but otherwise it was a good day for sauntering about looking for signs of spring…

view from scotts knowe

…which weren’t hard to find.

dandelion march

There were signs of life on the larches…

larch

…and fresh flowers on the banks beside the track…

P1170432

…and best of all, many clumps of primroses on every side once I got near the Becks Burn.

primroses

I walked through the felled wood, across the burn and up onto the road on the other side of the little valley, where I found incipient honeysuckle…

honeysuckle leaf

…curious sheep looking down on me…

curious sheep

…and any amount of lichen on different stones on the same one metre  length of wall.

lichen on wall becks road

I visited the old curling pond and wished that it could be developed into a wild life area like the one near Lockerbie which we have visited before. It needs a real enthusiast with time and knowledge to a job like that though.

curling pond

I didn’t linger for long as my foot was starting to feel sore and I soon headed down the road back to the town.

I passed this fungus on a fallen tree trunk…..

fungus becks road

…and got right out of the way as this huge lorry passed me.  It had been delivering sheep to the farm at the end of the road.

big lorry becks road

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden and together we put in the new blackcurrant bush and, having exhausted my gardening skills, I gave her moral support while she planted out a new lupin and pruned a rose.

Then it seemed like a good time to have a cup of tea and a slice of toast so we did.

The day was rounded off by a visit from my flute pupil, Luke and we had a productive half hour showing that practice makes you, if not quite perfect, then certainly a lot better.  This is most satisfactory.

I don’t often watch Master Chef on the TV but this season, a young lady from Langholm is one of the contestants and it was very pleasing to see her do well and get through to the next round.  We will follow her progress with interest.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for 50 mph winds so it was a good thing that we got as much out of today as we did.  There are some sunny intervals promised so it might not be a total write off.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with a determined air about it.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows that she was in the right place at the right time to catch the sun illuminating a dogwood in Regents Park.

burning bush

December ended as it has been going on recently with a dry, mostly grey and reasonably warm day.  I was taking a break from cycling so I enjoyed the final coffee and scones of 2018 with Dropscone.  He had not lost any of his scone making skill over the holiday period so this was a good way to end the social year.

Along with Dropscone, we were visited by more birds than we have been seeing lately which was also welcome.

Goldfinches were queuing up to get a seat at the table…

many flying goldfinches

…and competing fiercely for the privilege.

flying goldfinches

Sometimes they let their good manners slip in their anxiety to snatch a sunflower heart from the feeder.

stamping goldfinch

And all too frequently, seeds went flying in the midst of all the excitement.

flying bird seed

Although it was pretty grey, it was a pleasant day so after Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk in the woods.  To give ourselves a good start, we drove a mile or so out of the town and parked next to a large fallen tree that had been sawn up and left beside the road.

Where the trunk had split, it was covered  in white fungus.

rotten tree

We walked up the track past the Longwood fields and passed many trees, some that stood proudly…

Longwood tree

…and some that were curiously knotted and twisted.

twisted tree

When we got to the woods, there was fungus, both big and small to be seen…

fungus in woods

…a dingly dell to cross…

dingly dell

…and a track through the old oak wood to follow.

oak wood

We were only out for a short walk so as soon as we got to the top of the oak wood, we headed back past a river of moss….

river of moss

…and made our return journey downhill through a birch wood that has grown up beside the oaks.

birch wood

We were going to take a diversion on our route back to the car by going along the old railway line, but fallen trees provided an obstacle….

old railway

….that was too low to crawl under and too high to jump over so we retraced our steps and went back by the path along the field.

This gave us the chance to enjoy the sight of a chestnut tree standing in a very neat pool of its own leaves.

chestnut with leaves

When we got back to the road, I took a moment to check out a favourite mossy wall…

mossy wall

…which was rich in interest…

lichen and moss on wall

…for those who like this sort of thing, among whom is numbered yours truly.

We had a walk round our garden when we got home and I was pleased to find that the sweet rocket had managed another flower or two, a single snowdrop was showing a touch of colour and a groundsel was growing in the drive.  The groundsel pleased me for its little patch of colour…

three late flowers

…but Mrs Tootlepedal was not so happy about it and it soon suffered from being comprehensively weeded.

After lunch, the last of the duck soup, a weak sun appeared for a while and illuminated a dove and a pigeon in the plum tree.

dove and pigeon

It also lit up the holly in our neighbour’s garden.

bright holly in garden

I did think of going for another walk to take advantage of the sun but I dithered a bit and by the time that I came to make a decision, the sun had gone and the clouds were grey again.

This was the moment that a robin came out.

robin on chair

I spent so much time thinking of things that I might do in the afternoon and so little time in actually doing anything useful that it was time for the evening meal before I knew it. Still ending the year on a restful note was no bad thing and I should be full of pep when 2019 arrives tomorrow.  Here’s hoping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the patient and forbearing readers of these posts over the past year for their company which makes writing and taking pictures very rewarding.  I would like also to express special gratitude for those who add their many kind, amusing and useful comments.

The honour of being the final flying bird of the year has fallen to this goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually end with a quote but I think think Robert Burns speaks for many when he wrote to the wee. sleekit, timorous mouse words which apply just as well to the politics of 2018 and 2019:

“But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

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Today’s guest picture is another from Joe and shows our daughter Annie crossing a bridge in the highlands when she came to it.

highland bridge

I was anxious to make up for the defect in my spreadsheet calculations by having a 30 mile plus cycle ride today so I was pleased when I got up to find that the temperature had stayed at a very temperate 9°C, the wind wasn’t whistling and the rain was staying firmly in the clouds.  Under the circumstances, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to represent the family in the church choir and set off to visit a well known bench in Newtown, twenty miles away.

I reached the bench without any undue excitement….

Newtown bench

…had a drink and a few raisins and set off back home again as it wasn’t a day to linger about taking in some rays.

I stopped at the bridge over the Esk in Longtown..

Esk at Longtown

….out of respect for my legs which were muttering under their breath at this point.

And got home in good order after finally (and definitively) reaching 4000 miles for the year.  My secret target had been 4200 but the pulled leg muscle in November put paid to that and 4012 miles will just have to do.

It was made up of 153 rides with 320 hours in the saddle, meaning an average distance per ride of 26.2 miles at an average speed of 12.5 mph.  As 827 of the miles were done on my slow bike while I was waiting for my new bike to arrive, the average speed for the new bike will be a bit higher than that but not a great deal.

It was still warm and dry when I got home so after a nourishing plate of duck soup and some bread and cheese, I went out for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We chose a modest two bridge walk up one side of the river and down the other. Mrs Tootlepedal strode out bravely, ignoring the trees leaning over the path….

Riverside path with Mrs T

…and the ones that had leaned finally and fatally in the woods along side.

fallen trees beside the river

This bank of the river spends a lot of its life in shade and the trees are very mossy to say the least.

mossy tree

But they are very much alive and the catkins and buds on a birch beside the Duchess Bridge were looking very healthy.

birch catkins

We crossed the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge

…passed a fine show of ferns…

ferns

…and walked onto the Castleholm track through a gate with a garden of moss on the gatepost.

moss on gate close up

Looked at more closely, the moss seems rich and lush.

moss on gate

Further on, the trunk of a Scots pine showed evidence of wear and tear…

pine tree trunk

…and a fallen birch was playing host to a splendid set of birch polypores.

birch polypore

To my eye, this tree on the bank of the river had the look of a samba dancer with a skimpy backless costume of fern.

tree with ferns

We crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the track behind the school where we came across what looked at first sight to be a shrub in full flower…

pernettya bush

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eye noticed that the colour came from berries and not from flowers….

pernettya berries

…and she correctly identified it as a pernettya, presumably a garden escape.

Although it was still quite early when we got home, the gathering gloom made taking pictures of birds on the feeder impossible so I didn’t even check to see if there were any about and it wasn’t long before the curtains were drawn and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked gammon and egg for tea and it was very satisfying to have a serving of home grown marrow on the side.  The marrows were picked a long time ago and have survived very well in a cool place with no special care required.

In the absence of a garden bird, the non flying bird of the day is one from the Castleholm.  It sang very loudly and continuously as we walked down the path but it was too far away for a good identification.  We wondered if it might be a blackbird or a thrush.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

singing bird in tree

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my Highland correspondent.  We have been having some good sunrises here and may be there is something in the air at the moment because she had a spectacular one too.

Highland Sunrise

It was another cold day with the thermometer hanging about the 5 degree mark at best but a nipping and an eager air made the wind chill factor a neat zero.

Under the circumstances, I was pleased to get out on my bicycle, if not early, then at least before I had sat down to waste time over coffee and a biscuit, my usual delaying tactic.

I took a simple out and back route to avoid any long effort cycling straight into the chilly wind though I did take a short diversion up to Cleuchfoot…

Cleuchfoot glen

…where I stopped to take a picture of a tiny valley that runs down to the road.  It looks as though it might lead somewhere exciting but in fact it only leads out onto a boggy and featureless moor.  Once I was back on the Lockerbie road, I was very pleased to see men and machines hard at work at the site of the recent landslip.

mending the Lockerbie road 2

No one had expected work to start so promptly.

I passed them and cycled on to the top of the hill at Callister where I was passed by half a dozen quarry lorries who were busy at the site of the new wind farm there.  There is no sign of the turbine towers yet so they are either improving the access road or building the bases.

I stopped at the road works on my way back and was very impressed by how well they have sorted the problem.

mending the Lockerbie road 1

I was curious about the black plastic pipes sunk into the surface of the works and one of the men told me that they are going to be holders for the new fence posts. He said that he thought that the repair was sound and would last well and as he turned out to be one of my ex-pupils, I have every confidence that he will be right.

On my return to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out of the other side and since the sun was now fully out, I stopped to record my favourite view up the Ewes valley….

Ewes Valley

…and the neighbouring farmhouse.

Terrona

I clocked up twenty miles and was quite happy to stop before I got chilled.

I had a quick look at the birds and was shocked to see a male chaffinch being beastly to a female…

cahffinch misogyny

…but pleased to see that our lone siskin was back again.

siskin

I made some soup for my lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

Fuelled by the soup and a couple of tomato rolls, I went out for a walk.

I started off along the riverside path and then headed uphill through the Kernigal wood.  There has been a lot of wind blow lately and it was good to see that someone had been out with a saw and done some tidying up.

kernigal wood tidying

Perhaps this is because I was walking along the track you can see on the right of the picture below which is much used by local mountain bikers.

kernigal wood

It is very welcome for walkers as it provides a good path through a tangly bit of forest.

I came out at the top of the wood and walked back down the track towards Skippers Bridge.  I didn’t have my thinking head on when I chose my route and I was rather upset to realise that if I had been walking on the other side of the valley, I would have been enjoying a sunny day.

winter sunshine on whita

In fact when I looked around, I found that almost everywhere was bathed in sunlight except where I was walking.

winter sunshine on Castle Hill

When I got down to the main road, I found that winter had cleared enough foliage away to give me a view of the large bridge for a small stream which almost all motorists probably pass over without noticing as they leave the town for the south.

Culvert at Skippers

I didn’t dilly dally on my way home as it wasn’t getting any warmer but I did stop to check out the black smudge on the fence at Land’s End which turns out to be this very attractive lichen, still in excellent condition…

fungus on fence at lands end

…and to see if the fungus on the tree at the Co-op had survived the cold weather.  It had and was even bigger than when I saw it last…

fungus at Co-op

…and it too looked to be in good condition.

fungus gill

As I walked back along the river bank, a glimpse of brightness among the gloom on the far bank caught my eye.  It was an old friend disguised as a twig.

heron in shadows

Back in the garden, I found a little remaining colour on the leycestaria…

leycesteria

…but there was nothing else of note so I went inside and did the crossword.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had taken our car away and my friend and customary chauffeur Susan was on holiday in Glasgow, I had no way of getting to Carlisle and back for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.  They are kind people though and on the Mohammed and the mountain principle, since I could not get to them, they came out to me and we had a most enjoyable evening of music making.

We were just having our post-playing cup of tea and biscuit when Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh and that rounded off a cold day very warmly.

I didn’t find a moment with both good light and a flying bird in it so that is the reason for a very scrappy flying bird of the day picture.

flying chffainch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s recent encounter with the terrifying invaders of Derby.

derby militia

We had a really good sunny day today and with nothing on our calendar, I tried to make good use of it.

The down side of a bright and sunny morning at this time of year is that it tends to be pretty chilly and that was the case today.  Although it wasn’t freezing, it was only just above zero so I decided that a morning walk was a better bet than a cycle ride.  Having hit the deck last winter after meeting unexpected ice on a ride on a cold but sunny day, I am going to be more cautious this time round.

The moss on the wall at the park was gently sighing as I went past on my way to the top of Warbla.

breathing moss

The Stubholm track had delights of various kinds.

fungus and robin stubholm track

When I got out on to the open hill, I could look across the Wauchope valley towards the recently felled Becks wood.  The plastic tubes show that they are planting deciduous trees there rather than replanting the conifers.   I shall be interested to see what sprouts out of the tubes in the course of time.

new planting in becks wood

You don’t have to go far up the track to the modest summit of Warbla (275m) before you are rewarded with splendid views. (A ‘click on the pic’ should bring up a larger version)

panorama from Warbla

I cut up hill off the track and was taking the direct route to the summit when I was halted by this obstruction.

warbla web

I carefully made my way round it and was soon beside the mast looking down towards England where the mist was rolling along one of the river valleys.

mist in Engalnd

It was altogether more cheerful to look towards Whita and the town and I tested out my new phone on the bigger picture.

dav

Looking down at the New Town with the Lumix in hand again, I could see the Kirk Wynd heading uphill from the centre of the town.  This was the route that I had taken on our last sunny day.

View of kirk wynd from Warbla

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her, “I made it,  top of the world, Ma” but it was no good waving as our house is in the part of town that is tucked under the hill out of view.

View of town from Warbla

I took the track on my way back down…

track down warbla

…and was surprised to find that it was still reasonably firm under foot in spite of the rain.  It was slippery in places though and once again, I was glad that I had taken my walking poles with me.   They are helpful going up hill but indispensable when going down wet grass.

track down warbla with tree

Once again, I looked across the valley to the Becks Wood and could see a major operation in progress as a digger was lifting up great chunks of cleared brashings and dropping them into a large chipper from which they were being taken up a conveyor belt and fed into a lorry.  It was a noisy business.

jenkinson timber lorry

I decided to come home  by a different route and left the track and dropped down onto the Wauchope road where I was hailed by a passing cyclist who stopped for a chat.  It turned out to be my old friend and ex colleague Nigel, who was also enjoying the good weather.  He was on an electric bike and told me that it was going to let him go up hilly routes which he couldn’t have managed under his own steam as he has not been in the best of health lately.

He thought that I might rather scoff at an e-bike but I am totally in favour of them as they extend people’s cycling life and range.  Which is better: getting a little help or sitting at home wishing that you were out on a bike?   It is as they say, a no brainer.  I wished him well and he went off to climb the steepest hill that he could find.

Nigel

I walked home past Pool Corner where an elegant set of catkins caught my eye.

catkins pool cornee

Nigel and I were not the only ones enjoying the sunshine.

two sunny goldfinches

greenfinch in plum tree

The temperature was not exactly climbing to the heights as it was still a meagre 4°C when I got back from my walk but as there had been no sign of ice anywhere, i decided to have lunch and go for a bicycle ride in the afternoon.

It took a bit of time for my legs to throw off the morning walk (going downhill really tests them) and to get used to the chill but after a few miles I began to enjoy myself and cycled happily round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I had already taken 50 pictures while on my walk so I didn’t stop too often to add to the total as I pedalled along but these two belted Galloways were irresistible.

belted galloways

Shortly after I passed the cows, I encountered Nigel on his way home from his hilly ride,  Considering that he had been out for well over two hours, he looked very cheerful.

I was so pleased to be out on  a familiar route that I took a picture of my old friends at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the Hollows Tower was tempting too.

Hollows tower

The sun gets low really early now so I couldn’t hang around and pressed on home, feeling the chill when I entered the shaded road along the banks of the river Esk as I headed back into town.

A cup of tea and a slice of toast were just the thing to revive me and after a shower, I sat down at my computer and checked out a set of pictures which I am showing at a lunch in the Buccleuch Centre tomorrow.

I finished that just in time to welcome Luke for our weekly flute session.  Once again, we had an entertaining time playing duets and we worked at getting a little more speed into our playing.  I don’t know if it is helping Luke but all this work is certainly helping me.

The usual Monday evening trio playing was on hold this week and while I always enjoying playing with Mike and Isabel, I was quite pleased to have a quiet evening in as after having had the whole of November off, I am finding that walking and cycling are harder work than they used to be.

I tried to find a flying gold or green finch of the day but I couldn’t get anything nearly as satisfactory as this chaffinch so once again a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

It is going to freeze hard tonight they say so I am glad that I got a tootle and a pedal in today.

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