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Posts Tagged ‘hawthorn’

Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s father, Alan.  He has been forced to go to Dubrovnik on work related business and this is the view from his hotel window.  Poor chap.

Dubrovnik

I realised that I had inexcusably omitted a great moment from yesterday’s activities in my daily account so here it is now – a new world record of fourteen castles being stamped upon being established by Matilda, mighty in battle, the castle stamper extraordinaire.

Contemplating the task…

dav

…and leaving the field in triumph.

Today was another sunny and windy day and while Al and Clare took the train back to Edinburgh to vote in the European elections and Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda to the Seabird Centre to ;earn abut birds amd have fun, I hired a bike again and rode a gentle fifteen miles through the East Lothian countryside, avoiding the wind as much as I could.

I passed the impressive doocot at Dirleton castle…

Doocot Dirleton

…and noted the flowers along the wall beside the castle grounds.

flowwers Dirleton

Unlike our pastoral countryside, the agricultural business here is growing things.  I stopped to record a colourful field of rape (canola)….

rape NB

…while across the road, a potato field stretched into the distance…

potato field NB

…though I did come across one paddock with horses in it.

horses NB

There were solid gateposts to be seen…

stone gate posts NB

…and hawthorn bushes were in flower all along my route.

hawthorn NB

I got home safely and Al and Clare arrived from Edinburgh almost at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda got back from the Seabird Centre so we are able to have a family lunch together.

After lunch, we drove a few miles up the road to visit Archerfield House….

Archerfield House and the Law

…..with its walled garden, its geese and goslings…

goslings Archerfield

…its wild flowers…

wild flowers Archerfield

…its wood full of fairy houses…

fairy houses Archerfield

…and cleverly made animals…

animals Archerfield

…and some real animals too.

deer Archerfield

The fairy wood walk  in dappled sunshine and sheltered from the wind was a treat for old and young alike….

Walking in the wood Archerfield

…and I particularly liked the glimpses of mature pines on the neighbouring golf course.

gold fcourse Archerfield

There were works of art in the woods….

Mrs T at Archerfield

…and artists at work too…

artist at Archerfield

…working with elegant models.

fairy at Archerfield

It was too breezy to build sand castles in the beach when we got home so Mrs Tootlepedal and I left the others in the cottage and got well and truly sand blasted as we walked along the shore.

sand blowing

After another excellent evening meal cooked by Alistair, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to sit on the harbour wall in a sheltered spot and watch the gannets soaring and swooping in their hundreds over the sea.

The birds were too far out to photograph satisfactorily but we couldn’t miss their home, positively glowing in the evening sun.

Bass Rock gleaming

The gannets may have stayed out of range but as usual a gull was happy to oblige as flying bird of the day.

flying gull

Note: As far as the election went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged for proxy votes to be cast on our behalf so we have done our democratic duty.  We had been too late to get a postal vote.

Another note:  I haven’t had time to do the usual reading and commenting on other people’s blogs so I apologise if if have missed any gems which would have enhanced my life.  I will try to catch up when I get home.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who like Dr Foster went to Gloucester but, unlike him,  found that the weather was fine.  She enjoyed a singing day in this lovely building.

gloucester

Our fine weather continued and with the breeze still coming from the south, we had an even warmer day than yesterday.  The watering seems to have encouraged the azaleas (though it may just have been another sunny day that did the trick) and there was a lot more colour about when I went out for a walk round the garden after breakfast.

azaleas coming out

Every flower had turned its face to the welcome sun.

poppy and peony

There were colourful corners about.

colourful corner

…and the clematis by the front door has finally plucked up the courage to open its buds and see what life is like outside.

front ddor clematis

Among the flowers, I found a siskin having a rest on the pond bridge.

siskin on pond bridge

I went in to make coffee in preparation for the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) and I got so excited when he came in that I knocked over the full coffee pot which was standing om the counter top, covering the counter top, my hand and the floor with a rich stream of coffee and grounds. I said a bad word and put my hand under a cold tap.

On the advice of Dropscone, I got old newspapers out and laid them over as much of the mess as I could before keeping Dropscone happy with a cup from yesterday’s coffee pot while I got everything as clean and dry.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in, took one look at the carnage and went out again.

Thanks to the good work of the much reviled mainstream media in soaking up the excess liquid, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might to get tidied up and I was soon able to sit and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a scone while Dropscone told me of his recent golfing triumphs.

After Dropscone left, I decided to test out some shoe advice I had received from our daughter Annie and go for a walk.  It proved to be good advice and I managed to walk a mile without too much trouble.

I went round Easton’s Walk and as I strolled through the park, I saw that a wood carver had been busy on a fallen tree.

carving in park

My main object was to see if the wild garlic was out and it didn’t take long to see and smell the pretty white flowers…

wild garlic may

…which lined my walk on all sides.

wild garlic panel

The were still some bluebells out so it was a walk to exercise the nose as well as the eye.

late bluebells

Although garlic and bluebells were by far the most numerous flowers to be seen, other plants were available…

wildflowers eastons walk

…and the first sighting of vigorous grasses…

grass seed

…were a hint of more pollen to come.

The hawthorns which are in a  position to catch the sun are coming out and it will not be long until there is blossom everywhere.

hawthorn stubholm

It was a glorious day to be out for a walk even with slightly sore feet…

stubholm track

…and my mellow mood was enhanced by azaleas and rhododendrons in the park.

azalea and rhododendron in park

We have so little rain lately that our rivers are reduced to a trickle and I could see a reflection of the suspension bridge in the Wauchope above the Kirk Bridge.

suspension bridge reflection

When I got back home, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short course on how not to set the customers on fire at the Buccleuch Centre where she is a volunteer.

She had spent the morning slaving over her Embroiderers’ Guild branch accounts as she is the treasurer and had finished up with that most annoying of all accounting errors, a difference of £1 in the balances.  I trained as an accountant for a few years after leaving school so while she was out, I went over the books and pinned the error down to a slight mistreatment in the recording of the petty cash and when this was regularised, the books balanced and all was well.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and before I could even show her the books, she whisked me out of the house to record an emperor moth which she noticed sunning itself on the side of a building on Henry Street.  It was worth looking at…

emperor moth

…but annoyingly, it wouldn’t spread its wings for me, so we left it to bask and went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her accounts ready to print and then we went out into the garden and finished off netting the fruit cages.  It was still very warm but the sky had clouded over and it felt for a while as though we might get a thunderstorm.  Happily, the rain stayed away and we completed the task and went in for a cup of tea and a moment to watch the birds.

Two goldfinches were in hot competition for the same feeder…

goldfinch competing

…and when I looked, I saw that some bad bird had made off with the perch from the opposite side of the feeder which might account for the pushing and shoving.

I just had time to go for a nine mile bike ride on the slow bike before tea and when I started out, I was very pleased to see our friendly partridge trying to work out a reason for crossing the road in Henry Street  (you can see the loss of feathers on its neck)…

Partridge and oyster catcher

…and I came across an oyster catcher nesting in the middle of the bus park at the Rugby Club near the end of my ride.  It got up when I stopped and stamped off in a huff so I took a quick shot and pedalled off apologetically.

In the evening, I went to the last practice of Langholm Sings under the direction of Mary my singing teacher, who has been our conductor for the past few years.  I will miss her when she has gone and rather annoyingly, I will also miss her final concert with the choir as we will be on holiday next week.  We had a very good sing though.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch heading towards the missing perch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba who is not in Manitoba at all at the moment.  She is in London and visited Kew Gardens where she took this picture.  You might think that as it was taken in a famous garden it shows a wonderful plant but in fact it is an even more wonderful glass sculpture by glass blower Dale Chihuly.

glass blower Dale Chihuly’s career KEW

We had another very fine day here today and with the wind coming up from the south, it was warm as well as sunny.

I pottered around the garden in the morning when I wasn’t drinking coffee or doing the crossword.

There was colour galore…

red flowers

…with old and new plants enjoying the weather.

purple flowers

There were more bees and other insects about today and I found two of them visiting a Welsh poppy…

welsh poppy with flies

…but they hadn’t discovered the first of the Icelandic poppies yet.

icelnadic poppy

When I walked over the pond bridge, there was a lot of tension on every side…

surface tension with frog

…but viewed from another angle, the frog seemed quite relaxed.

frog may

Nearby I saw this puzzle picture.  Was it a version of Jonah and the Whale?….

tadpole om lily leaf

….or was it just a water lily leaf half out of the water with a tadpole resting at its heart?

I walked along the dam at the back of the house to see if birds were bathing in the water there.

A sparrow had obviously just taken a dip when I arrived.

wet saprrow on barbed wire

When I came through the back gate, I passed one of the less cultivated areas of the garden.  Against all her ingrained gardening instincts, Mrs Tootlepedal is going a little wilder each year.

dandelions in garden

Blackbirds are nesting in the climbing hydrangea on the front wall of the house and this one took a moment to rest on the feeder pole before going off to collect more worms from the lawn.

blackbird

It had a wisp of nest stuck on its head which made me think how lucky we are to have hands and arms.  It twisted its head this way and that, so I imagined that it knew something was stuck up there, but it had no way of getting it off.

Although the crossword was quite tricky and took some time, I managed to have several wanders among the flowers.

This is Mrs Tootlepedal’s current favourite….

rhododendron in bloom

…and this is mine.

late tulip

I had a close look at the cow parsley and found, as so often is the case, that there is more to some flowers than you think.

cow parsley blossom

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and when she came back she sat on a garden bench and had a snack while I scarified the front lawn and collected the moss with the mower.

It has been very dry over the past weeks and as there is no rain in the immediate forecast, Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing a lot of watering in the vegetable garden before breakfast.  I thought that I ought to do my bit, so I watered the azaleas round the front lawn and one of the hedges which we have been cutting back.  Most of the azaleas have been refusing to progress from buds to flowers and I wondered if the dry spell was the cause.

The next task was putting the netting onto the metal frames for the two small fruit cages in the vegetable garden.  This involved measuring and cutting, and a good deal of bending and stretching.  By this time, the afternoon had got decidedly hot and we had to stop before we had quite finished the job.  Although a trick of the light makes it look as though we have only done the sides, we have done the front and back of the two cages as well.  Just the front section of the top of the left hand cage remains to be done.

fruit cages netting

After a short collapse and a cup of tea to recover from the heat, Mrs Tootlepedal made a fish pie for our tea.  When we had eaten our meal, she went back to the Buccleuch Centre where she was acting as a front of house volunteer, and stayed on to watch a screening of All My Sons by Arthur Miller.

I got my natty cycling shorts on and went out for a suitably short evening ride.  I am still trying to take care of my feet by mixing rest and gentle exercise (with frozen peas applied from time to time) but at least I can cycle without pain so I enjoyed my ten mile outing.

I looked up to see a tree at one point and was surprised to see the moon high in the sky behind it.

tree and moon

It was a grand evening to be out on very quiet roads and it was good to be able to cycle far enough to get a view.

wauchope road evening

I was keeping an eye out for hawthorn blossom but I only saw two bushes in flower and they were in a sheltered but sunny spot near the town.

first hawthorn

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the Buccleuch Centre with her withers thoroughly wring by the Miller drama and this made me quite glad that I hadn’t gone too.  I generally need cheering up not wringing out just now.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrow which appeared earlier in the post.  It came back down off the fence and took a bath.  The water was certainly flying even if the bird was not.

sparrow splashing

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She went down to the Thames a week or so ago to catch a boat and spent so much time taking its picture that she almost missed it.

South Bank 002

We had another warm, grey, damp morning today but it wasn’t raining and I was able to take a look around.

The ginger syllabub rose has produced two or three late blooms and the mint is flowering.  I looked closely at the mint and admired the jewel like moisture on the tips of its flowers but I needed to hold the drooping head of the rose up for a ‘hand held’ shot.

mint and ginger syllabub

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the picture presented by the bed at the end of the drive and even on a gloomy morning, it has its charms.

end of the drive bed

There was no time to hang around in the garden though as we had been invited to lunch in England by our friend Sue.

She lives in Cumbria near the town of Brampton about 25 miles away from us and is most notable for having turned a shipping container into a garden room.

We drove south, enjoying the recently improved surfaces of the roads as we went.  We were likely to arrive a bit early so we stopped to look back down on Talkin Tarn, a man made lake near Sue’s house.

Talkin Tarn

Sue lets her container room out through Airbnb and has no shortage of takers.  Many of them have remarked on their enjoyment of the birds visiting the feeders outside the windows….

bird's eye view

This is a bird’s eye view of the feeders with the container room in the background

…and so she asked me if I would take a picture or two of birds at the feeders for her website entry.

The light wasn’t great but there was no shortage of birds to shoot, especially blue tits but with several coal tits and great tits too.

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

A strange rustling in the leaves heralded the arrival of a featherless visitor to the feeder.

A squirrel appeared, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth…

another squirrel

…but it didn’t take long before it was tucking into the bird food.

squirrel

I had caught several glimpses of a nuthatch but it saw me and kept its distance.  In the end, I had to go into the container and shut the door before it would come forward.

nuthatch

Sue provided us with a delicious lunch and then took us for a walk round the neighbouring lanes.  There was plenty to see as the verges hadn’t been so cruelly cropped as ours and as I was accompanied by two wild flower enthusiasts…

Sue T and Mrs T

The experts getting down to business!

…I am able to name much of what I saw.

scabious, tansy, fungus, beech nut

From the top left clockwise: scabious, tansy, beech nut and unidentified fungus

bee, butterfly and rose gall

Co-operative nectar hunting and a twisted rose gall

fungi

The fungi are beyond me to name

umbellifer, deadly nightshade, honesty, corydalis

An umbellifer with at least six insects on it, deadly nightshade, a thriving corydalis (they like walls) and some honesty.

Mrs Tootlepedal thought that it was the best policy to collect a few of the honesty seeds so that she can try to grow some in our garden.

As well as the detail, the broader picture was delightful too.  The countryside there is full of little hills and hollows…

Talkin view 1

…but has wider views of the fells as well.

Talkin view 2

We walked down into the valley of the Gelt river and under this very tall viaduct, built between 1832 and 1835 for the Carlisle and Newcastle railway.

Gelt railway viaduct

We passed under the railway and over the river and walked up the other side of the valley, eating many deliciously ripe blackberries from the hedgerow as we went.

The amount that we climbed can be measured by this modest looking bridge…

railway bridge Gelt

…from which we were now able to look down on the railway.

Newcastle railway

We followed a path through a field, passing some really well stocked hawthorn trees…

hawthorn

…and admiring yet more wooded views…

Talkin view 3

…before finding ourselves back down by the Gelt River again.

We crossed it by a new footbridge…

Gelt footbridge

…and walked through a pasture in the welcome sunshine which had appeared…

Talkin view 4

…and then followed the lanes back to Sue’s house.

The walk was about three and a half miles in length by a rough calculation but had such variety of surroundings that it was thoroughly satisfying….as were the cup of tea and home made ginger biscuits when we got in.

It is always a pleasure to visit Sue and she is very clever at finding a good walk for us and if the sun comes out as it did today, it is hard to think of a better place to spend some time.

The drive home was smooth and uneventful and we settled down to our evening meal with the feeling of a day very well spent.

I even got a nearly flying bird of the day in Sue’s garden.

flying blue tit

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who appears to be spending May Day in Madrid.  He visited El Parque de Buen Retiro where he admired the colossal statue of Alfonse XIII, best viewed from across the boating lake.

8 of 96 El Parque de Buen Retiro

After putting on a good show for the visit of Mary Jo yesterday, the local weather gods fell back exhausted today and we reverted to mostly grey skies, a very cold wind and rain later. It didn’t matter all that much to me but Mrs Tootlepedal has got very fed with gardening in the cold.

She had woken up early and done quite a bit of good work in the garden before breakfast and then after breakfast, she decided to drive to the council dump, 18 miles away to get rid of the old vegetable bed boards, the old bench and sundry other items.

I had woken up with a very tender and arthritic thumb with a considerably swollen right hand so my plan was to let Mrs Tootlepedal do any work that was going and to try to rest the hand as much as possible.  While she went off to the dump, I took a  very gentle walk with my pocket camera clasped in my left hand.  Even with the light camera, taking pictures was not easy.

I had hoped that the bluebells might be out so I walked along the river past great banks of wild garlic, just about to burst into flower….

wild garlic

…and a lot of golden saxifrage and the occasional bluebell…

golden saxifrage and bluebell

…but it has been too cold and not sunny enough so when I got to my preferred bluebell spot, only a few were showing and the path up through the woods was still waiting for the blue carpet to be rolled out.

early bluebells

I walked up the path all the same and enjoyed what there was to be seen along the top.

hawthorn

Views over the town are disappearing behind fresh leaves.

leaves on Stubholm

leaves on Stubholm

When I got to the Stubholm, I continued along Gaskell’s Walk with just a hint in the blue sky above Meikleholm Hill to cheer the day up.

Meikleholm hill in spring

The path through the young birches was at its most magical.

gaskells in spring

There were a lot of grasses coming into flower along the path.

grass

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I stopped to look at the permanent little lichen forest that grows on the fence post beside the bridge.  At only a little over an inch high, it stubbornly resists rain, snow, hail, wind and the road of passing traffic.

lichen at auld stane brig

Further along the road some of the hedge was full of different lichens.

lichenA lone butterbur was in flower beside the Wauchope Water…

butterbur

…and on the wall at Pool Corner there was enough heat under the shelter for the slow worms to have come out.

slow worm

They like to snooze in a heap.

slow worm

When I got back to the garden, i was welcomed by the magnolia at the gate and Mrs Tootlepedal who had got back from her visit to the dump…

magnolia garden from gate

…and she, with a little help from me, gave the car a good clean up, even going as far as getting the vacuum cleaner on to the job.

The nearby tulips caught my eye…

P1090503

..and I went off to look at some more.

P1090505

I couldn’t hold the big camera up or get the tripod into position so there are no bird feeder pictures today.  I did take a picture of the chimney pot underneath the feeder though….

P1090508

…before going indoors.

That concluded my activity for the day and I spent the rest of the day sitting down reading the papers or working at the computer, typing carefully with gentle fingers and holding the mouse in the loosest possible grip.

As it started to rain heavily, this was no great hardship.

I did take one more picture of some flowers in a vase on the kitchen table with Mrs Tootlepedal kindly holding up one of her scarves to make a background.

P1090509

The quiet day certainly did my swollen hand no harm and I may need to look after it again tomorrow as I have learned that my new bike might be ready for collection on Friday and I shall want to be in as good condition as possible for a test ride.

There being no flying bird of the day, I have put in standing still and swimming ducks of the day instead, shot in a sunny moment on my walk.

mallards

Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture of an old man she saw at the blogging computer in our front room yesterday.   I don’t know who he is.  He looks much older than me.

blogger

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is on holiday with his family in Spain.  His picture shows his grandson Elliot surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum.

Elliot Graham surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum

We got the promised sunshine today.  The whole country has been gloomy over the past few days so there were amusing remarks on the breakfast radio show that I listen to about a strange light in the sky.  The show comes from London where they had added warmth while we had ice and the remains of the snow.

ice and snow in April

Still blue sky is blue sky and always welcome.  Sandy is always welcome too and he arrived after breakfast and drove us up to the Moorland bird feeders were it was his day to refill the feeders.  I gave him a hand and we sat in the hide for a while to see what was about.

The answer was not much but the bit of sunlight gave me a chance to take a picture or two.

great tit, blue tit and siskin

Great tit, blue tit and siskin

chaffinch and blackbird

Chaffinch and blackbird

coal tit

Flighty coal tit

As you can see from some of the pictures, it was quite windy and cold and a pheasant looked thoroughly fed up.

pheasant

It was chilly, even in the shelter of the hide and interesting birds were conspicuous by their absence so we didn’t stay too long and went back to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

After Sandy left, I did the crossword and looked at our own garden birds.  The usual suspects were there….

redpoll, goldfinch, siskin

…but in was very pleased to see a couple of redpolls back at the feeder.

redpoll

The siskins, as well as being very messy feeders, were as belligerent as ever.

siskins

I had decided not to go to visit Matilda today as the weather demanded a cycle ride of reasonable length and thanks to the early frostiness, I wasn’t able to get out soon enough to be able to catch the afternoon train to Edinburgh.

Matilda did very well without me and swam nearly a whole width of the swimming pool on her back with no help.  She will doubtless be aimed at the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

I had a nourishing lunch and got the slow bike out.  In spite of the sun, the thermometer was only just touching 6°C (about 40°F) so once again, I was well wrapped up.  Although it was coming from the south west and should have been warm, the wind was once again both brisk and nippy so pedalling into it at the start of my journey was hard work.

This bit of road, near Eaglesfield may not look very important…..

road near eaglesfield

…but it was the first bit of road that I had cycled on for fourteen and a bit miles which was not heading into the wind.    To give an idea of the meanness of the wind, it took me one hour and forty six minutes to do the first 15 miles of the route and only seventeen minutes longer to do the next 25, which were either across or downwind.

As my average at the end of the ride was only 10 mph, the whole thing was painfully slow.  Partly this was caused by the wind and partly it was because the road I chose for the main downhill ten mile section of the trip was full of potholes and floods…

puddles and daffs

… though it did have some fine daffodils, and few celandines…

celandine and sheep

…an interesting sheep and a fine view across the Solway Firth…

skiddaw from Rigg

…as consolations.

My asthma has not been helped by the constantly wet and chilly weather over winter so I found that I needed quite a lot of concentration just to keep going and since I had to keep a keen eye out for potholes on unfamiliar roads, I didn’t find many interesting things to photograph on my route but I did stop to note the delightful blue of the Longtown gravel pit pond….

Longtown pond and windfarm

….and the new windfarm behind it.

It is good to see that as well as annoying me, our never ending supply of wind is being put to good use.

It  was still a lovely day when I got home so I had a walk round the garden….

garden flowers early april

I was pleased to see the first of the ‘main crop’ daffodils out.

…and then I had a mile and a half  walk round Gaskells to make the most of the rare good day.

I adopted a very modest pace and this let me see quite a lot as I pottered along.

I was very interested to see buds on the hawthorn…

hawthorn buds

…as this is real sign of better things to come.

I heard some loud engine noises and was surprised to see how literally the pilots of a couple of planes were taking the phrase ‘low flying’.

low flying plane

I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she found that they had moss on the undercarriage when they got home.

I saw tiny lichen and big fungus…

lichen and fungus

…and the first rabbit that I have noticed this year.

rabbit

I like the way that rabbits equate ‘standing very still’ with ‘hiding’.

Two more tried the same stratagem a little further on.

rabbits

The main purpose of my walk was to check out the red tipped lichen on the park wall to see if it had survived the frost, rain and snow.

There was a rather scraggy patch along with a promising wild flower…

lichen and wild flower

…just to prove that our park wall is a rich habitat and not just for moss and lichens.

Finally, almost as I had given up hope, I found a healthy looking clump.

lichen

My discovery of photography in my later years has provided me with a lot of pleasure but I don’t think anything is better than the ability of a camera to let you see wonders of nature that you just can’t see with the naked eye.  These lichens are tiny, the red dots like pin heads.

Mrs Tootlepedal told me in a phone call this evening that she had enjoyed both sunshine and very pleasant warmth in the deep south but I wasn’t envious.  Honestly.  They don’t have traffic free cycling routes on public roads like us.  I hardly saw a car for 34 of my 40 miles today.  Mind you, a little warmth wouldn’t go amiss.

I am really looking forward to the coming of my new bike.  I have pedalled three hundred miles on my slow bike over the past twenty two days but in the same amount of time and probably with less effort, I might have done sixty to eighty more miles on a quicker bike.

The low flying ‘bird’ of the day is the second of the air force planes that passed me on my walk.  Credit goes to the nerve and instrument reading skills of the pilots.

P1080619

Those interested can see details of the bike ride here

And you can see Sandy’s day here.

 

 

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