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Posts Tagged ‘hellebore’

Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia,  She has gone to Morocco for a wild life holiday and is staying in this Ecolodge hotel, the Atlas Kasbah at Agadir.

Atlas Kasbah, Agadir

It was a grey day here with rain on and off in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal had to drive to Carlisle  to acquire clipboards, and as I thought that this might be a bit too exciting for me, I stayed at home and practised getting up very, very slowly.

Practice made perfect and I had just got fully up by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

I roused myself sufficiently to check the pond….

lone frog in pond

…look round the garden…

euphorbia march

…and cycle off to the shop to get some milk.

When I got back, I found that a second frog had appeared.

frog in pond with leg

Mrs Tootlepedal has called for some more peaceful bird pictures.  She has found the constant flurry of birds round the feeder can get a little exhausting for the viewer.

As a result, I kept an eye out for birds having a quiet moment like this dunnock…

dunnock on fake tree

…and I will try to intersperse today’s post with sitting bird images.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s project involves communication with the public at the moment, so there are envelopes to print, letters to be folded and brochures to be stuffed, all time consuming tasks.  I lent a hand at the envelope printing as our printer can only cope with ten envelopes at a time and Mrs Tootlepedal had already done several hundred.

A siskin in one of the rain showers.

siskin in rain

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do letter folding and I settled into to putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database,  I would have been happier about the progress that I was making at this task if I hadn’t discovered two more weeks waiting to be put in that I had somehow overlooked.

A chaffinch at rest.

chaffinch looking up

By the time that I had finished the archiving, the rain seemed to have stopped.  Although the forecast said it might rain some more, the percentage chance seemed low enough to risk a pedal.

The roads were swimming with water in places….

puddle at bessie bell's

…as we have had another  two inches of rain lately, but it was the wind that was the toughest thing to face.  Gusting up to 35 mph at times, there were moments when I thought that I might have just to give up and go home so slow did my progress become.

A redpoll.  (The camera finds it very hard to get a redpoll fully focussed for some reason.)

redpoll opn feeder

After three miles of battling into the wind, I turned off up the Cleuchfoot road just to get a crosswind instead of a straight buffeting.  As I came back down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I could that Bloch Farm on the opposite side of the valley was enjoying some sunshine.

boch farm from cleuchfoot

A chaffinch thinking of lunch.

chaffinch on fake tree

This seemed hopeful and sure enough, I was soon pedalling along in sunshine too.  It didn’t make the wind any less pushy though, and it took me an hour to do the eight miles that took me to the far end of Callister.

Turning for home was nice!

I whizzed back down the hill, stopping to enjoy the view down Wauchopedale.

wauchope view evening

Goldfinches tend to look as though they might have indigestion.

goldfinch on feeder

Despite the sunshine, a large puddle in a field showed how much rain there had been.

puddle blochburnfoot

A chaffinch, lightly ruffled by the breeze.

standing chaffinch

But by the time that I had got back to the shelter of the town, the day looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.

kirk bridge evening

Ooops, a flying goldfinch sneaked in unbeknownst to me.

hunched flying goldfinch

And there’s another!  Dreadful.

goldfinch near to feeder

Ah that’s better, a peaceful oyster catcher standing at the water’s edge in the evening shadows as I finished my ride.

oyster catcher two legs

I looked round the garden when I got home but no more frogs had arrived. I settled for some hellebore flowers.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal came back with some letters that still needed folding so while I got the evening meal ready, I lent a hand with that task too.  The community land group are doing a vast amount of work.

The temperature crept up to 50° today but the rain and the strong wind didn’t make it feel very springlike.  We are being offered warnings of snow and ice for tomorrow!

In spite of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plea for quiet birds, the flying bird of the day is a flying siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture once again arises from my brother Andrew taking his son on vigorous hill walks to help Nick prepare for a trek in Nepal.  Ignoring Storm Jorge’s strong winds, they battled up to the top of Bunster Hill and enjoyed this splendid view of the junction of the Rivers Dove and Manifold (and some traces of the recent flooding).

Manifold and Dove rivers

I did no hill climbing today, or indeed any exercise of note at all, apart from walking to church in the morning.  To be truthful, I walked back too, but that still didn’t amount to much.

I had felt so much better after my restful day yesterday that I decided that some more of the same would be a good idea.

I wasn’t entirely idle as I made a beef stew with carrots, turnip and parsnip for the slow cooker in the morning and a loaf of bread in the bread maker in the afternoon.

In between, I did some archive group work on the computer and watched the birds.

We have a small but select supply of redpolls at the moment…

redpoll looking round

…of which I approve, though I am not sure that this siskin is so keen on them.

redpoll and siskin

We had a good few chaffinches around and the siskins definitely didn’t approve of them…

siskin and chaffinch

…and any chaffinch approaching got a dusty welcome…

siskin blasting chaffinch

…and was quite likely to be blown away by the ferocity of the welcome.

siskin shouting at chaffinch

These goldfinches were more relaxed when a siskin approached them.

siskin threatening two goldfinches

I had a look round the garden before lunch but it was very cold in the brisk wind so I didn’t loiter and this encouraging azalea bud was the most exciting thing that I saw.

azalea bud 1 March

I was soon back inside, drinking coffee and watching the birds again.  A dunnock lurked among the flower stems…

dunnock among the plants

…and a pigeon arrived for some fallen seed…

pigeon head and shoulders

…while up above a goldfinch checked the feeder for aggressive siskins before venturing down.

quizzical goldfinch

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the community choir there.  We were early so I had time for another look round the garden with my phone camera in hand before we left.  This time some flowers caught my eye.

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some old dead stems from around the pink hellebores to give us a better view of them from the kitchen window.  They looked unusually cheerful about this, I thought.

hellebore

The first pulmonaria flowers have also appeared.

pulomonaria

When we got to the choir, we found that our usual conductor Ellen was not there and we were inclined to be a bit disappointed, but she had sent down a really excellent substitute, Andy.  He was in tremendously energetic form and passed on some very useful techniques for improving our singing at various points in our pieces as well as jollying us along to produce some really whole-hearted choral efforts.   We all left the practice feeling uplifted by the warmth of his personality on a cold day.

The drive home had two good points about it.  Firstly, it was still light the whole way home, and secondly, the starlings were in fine form overhead as we drove through Longtown.

The stew turned out well and it rounded off a day which was a great improvement on the one which dire forecasts of the malevolence of Storm Jorge had led us to expect. The forecast for next week suggests that we will have nothing more than a mild breeze until next weekend.  Some relief from strong winds will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: After my two quiet days, I am feeling pretty well, so I hope to be more active tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday on the Northumberland coast.  He saw a boat temporarily going nowhere.

dennis' boat

I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea which we ate with lemon and castor sugar.  They disappeared so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture of them.  This was why I forgot to mention them.  I have got so used to taking pictures these days that if I haven’t got a picture, then it probably didn’t happen.

What definitely did happen today was that the sun shone.  All day.  It was accompanied by a very chilly and quite strong wind but we didn’t care.

I started my active day off by walking up to Sandy’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. The route took me up the hill to Holmwood and I could look back over the sunlit town, take in a touch of spring…

town, spring holmwood yellow crocus

…wonder why such a fine house as Holmwood House is still derelict and admire an eye popping burst of yellow crocuses on Jimmy’s Brae.

Sandy was remarkably cheerful for a man confined to barracks for several weeks.  As he has a supply of ginger biscuits, I will certainly be back.

When I got home, there was no time to rest as Mrs Tootlepedal had agreed to a walk and chosen the Langholm Moor as the way to go.  We drove up the hill, and when we parked the car at the White Yett, we could see snowy hills across the Esk, the pylon helicopter parked at its base, (it was probably too windy for it too fly), and my favourite sunlit view up the Ewes Valley.

helicopter turbines ewes

I took a closer look at the snow capped hills.

snow up ewes

It was a good day to be up and about.

We crossed over the col between the Esk and the Little Tarras Valley and saw more snowy hills at the top of Tarras.

tarras valley snow

Our walk was a simple one, down this road for a bit…

road to harrier corner

…and then back up it again.

I enjoyed the winter colours…

tarras valley browns

…and Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for a sight of a hen harrier.  She was very happy when she spotted one through her binoculars, and even though it was far too far away to photograph, I could see it with the naked eye as it ranged across the moor looking for food.

On our way back up the road, we were struck by some very green moss beside the road.

It was Polytrichum Communale (I think) and it was positively glowing in the sunshine.  You can see it in the centre of the panel below.  Nearby, we saw a clump which had been pushed over.  You can see it on the left in the panel below and it shows just how long the stems of this moss are.  Somehow I don’t expect moss to have stems that long.  My moss book says that they can be 40 cm long.

mosses on whita

On the right of the moss panel, you can see some of the sphagnum moss which we expect to find all over our moorland.

When we got home, it was time for lunch and hot soup and bread and cheese was just what was required after experiencing the chilly wind on our way back to the car.

After lunch, I thought about cycling but carelessly managed to think about the very chilly wind too so I watched the birds for a bit.

I was happy to see a blue tit on the feeder…

blue tit

…and I had a good time watching birds enjoying the sunshine.  I especially liked the blackbird sunbathing on the hedge.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree continues to be popular.

birds in sun

There was plenty of action but my conscience got the better of me..

birds in shadow

…and I left the birds to it and got changed for cycling.

I went out into to the garden and wasted a bit more time being distracted by crocuses…

crocus panel

…which were enjoying the sunshine too.

open crocus

This is what a hellebore would look like if I was lying on the ground looking up at it…

hellebore from below

…but as I am too old and stout to creep under a hellebore, the shot above was taken by sticking my hand under the flower with a camera in it and hoping for the best.

I finally managed to get out on my bike. It was theoretically about five or six degrees celsius but the wind chill factor brought that down to zero or one degree and I made slow progress up the hill against the twenty mile a hour breeze.

It looked as though my sunny day might come to end as I went up Callister but the brisk wind at least had the merit of blowing these clouds away before they could rain on me.

clouds over callister

To add a couple of miles to my trip, I took a diversion up the Cleuchfoot road, both on my way up and my way back.  It is a gentle little valley with the Logan Water running down the middle of it.

cleuchfoot valley

I found my tree of the day there.

tree cleuchfoot road

I managed a slow but enjoyable twenty miles and this took me over 100 miles for the month.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to rest when I got home becuase I had arranged with Mrs Tootlepedal to combine some recycling at Longtown with a view of the starling murmuration there.  This was very time dependent and we got to Longtown to find the starlings in full flow over the High Street.

longtown starlings 26 feb 5

And i mean in full flow.  You had to be very careful when you looked up not to get an unwanted present in the eye.

There were times when the sky was full of starlings…

longtown starlings 26 feb 4

..making pretty patterns.

longtown starlings 26 feb 2

There were at least two separate flocks and I kept hoping that I would be able to record some of the twisting patterns which are characteristic of these murmurations but either I was too close or the starlings were not in the mood

longtown starlings 26 feb 3

The starlings are right over the centre of the town and the locals are probably quite fed up with having to wash their cars all the time and look carefully where they are stepping.

As it grew darker, the birds got lower in the sky…

black starlings

and soon they were diving down into the trees where they will spend the night.

longtown starlings 26 feb 1

It is quite a sight.  One moment the sky is alive with thousands of birds, and the next, they have all disappeared completely with a sudden whoosh.

I will have to wash the car tomorrow but it was worth it.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chafinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He took his son Nick on a ten mile walk up as many hills as he could find.  Nick is going on a Nepal trek soon and needed some practice.  Here is Nick on Ecton Hill at 1211ft.

Nick on Ecton Hill

My morning walk to the (corner) shop once again took me along the river.  The weather had improved enough for the oyster catcher to get its head in the air.

oyster catcher sideways look

The weather forecast was a lottery today and trying to find out what was going to happen depended entirely on when you looked at it, as it changed every hour or so.  This made planning a dry cycle ride tricky.  It was supposed to rain at eleven and be sunnier in the afternoon, but it didn’t rain at  eleven and the sun came out at twelve and lit up the siskins.

_20S7433

Sunshine is always welcome but does pose shadow problems for me.

_20S7438

There was plenty of action but not enough to call for two feeders, so I took one back in and washed it thoroughly.

_20S7440

The sunshine was a great motivator though, and I had a very early lunch and went off on my bike to add a few miles to my meagre monthly total.   February has been a rotten month for my cycling as it started with dizzy spells which kept me off the bike and just as I recovered from them, the rain and gales started and didn’t stop for two weeks.

It was a novel experience to be cycling in the sunshine.

I wanted to record that it was a  colourful day compared with yesterday’s monochrome ride so I took a picture of a tree.  Because it was not raining or snowing, I was able to look at the result on the camera and much to my surprise, I found that it wasn’t colourful at all.

dead tree bw

Behind my back and without my permission, the camera had gone into monochrome mode and that explained the extreme lack of colour in yesterday’s landscapes.  I apologise for misleading readers but I would say in my defence that it was a pretty monochrome day and curiously, my photo editor still insists that the picture above is in RGB colour so the camera must be withholding secrets even from Photoshop.  I like the monochrome tree anyway.

Still, I moved the dial on the camera back to its proper setting and took a picture of some more trees.

two trees chapelhill

The sunshine became rather variable as I pedalled round my customary Canonbie circuit..

tree beside Canonbie by pass

…but it was shining when I got to Hollows Bridge and found that there was still a fair amount of water flowing down the Esk.

esk at hollws brodge

On the other side of the bridge, a fragile tree looked as though it might plunge into the river at any time.

old tree hollws bridge

The roads were generally quite dry but there were still puddles about and shortly after I had passed this one…,

puddle auchenrivock road

…I was forced to stop at a traffic light.  This had been put up to cope with yet another roadside landslip.

I could see trees at dangerous angles…

landslip with trees irvine house

…and as the road is close to the bank of the river here,  trees had been pulled out of the soil as the bank collapsed.  The road was just intact but barriers were encouraging the traffic to keep away from the affected side of the road.

The wood on the other side of the road has recently been felled and these trees are not so sheltered from the blast as they were.  I don’t know how long these unaffected trees will last…

surviving trees at irvine house

…or the ones that perch in a lonely fashion on the steep bank on the other side of the road.

tree at irvine House

During the second half of my ride, it had started to rain once or twice but I scowled so furiously at the clouds that the rain apologised and went away.  I was enjoying myself so much that when I got back to Langholm, I was thinking if adding some extra miles but this time it started to rain seriously, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure, so I took the hint and went straight home.

Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and the rain was so local that it had hardly stopped her at all.   I had a look round the garden myself.

four spring shots

..and felt that the flower of the day was the single blossom on the winter honeysuckle.

winter honeusuckle

The sun came out again as I went in.

siskin on feeder arch

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the helicopter which is taking materials to the pylon on the golf course was back in the air again, so I went upstairs to have a look to see if I could see it.

It was very busy zipping to and fro.  They must have been pleased to be able to get back to work after the strong winds of the past two weeks.

pylon helicopter

As I watched, the rain started again so I shut the window after I had taken this final shot of the helicopter, like young Oliver, going back for more.

helicopter over monument

I was thinking of going for a late walk but the weather seemed too unreliable so I settled down to try to improve the security of the Langholm Archive Group website, a necessity these days when browsers may stop people viewing insecure sites.  This is above my pay grade but I ploughed on and succeeded with two of the three parts of the site but made the third part so bad that my browser had a fit when I tried to view it.

Fortunately, the web hosting company was able to provide a solution when I retailed my woes to them.

Unfortunately, the security certification process has upset the formatting of the sites and I have had to ask for help again.  This sort of thing makes my head hurt.  They have kindly replied but the suggested solution may need me to seek yet more help.

In the meantime, I did find a sunny flying chaffinch of the day. Hooray.

_20S7441

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Today’s guest picture is another from camera club member Simon.  He took a walk along the old railway line to Longtown and managed to find himself under three bridges at the same time, the main road, the old railway and a footbridge.

simon's bridges

The weather, which likes to have its little joke, decided that a day when there was no time for  walk and when Evie was due to go home would be just the day to put on a show of sunshine after a week of more or less continuous rain.

Now I like a joke as much as the next man, but even I thought that this was going a bit far and allowed a smidgeon of bitterness to enter my soul.

Leaving Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie to combine Evie care with talking to the project leader about the proposed community land purchase, I went to church where a diminished choir and a service with few hymns made for a thin singing experience.

As we were preparing for Annie and Evie’s departure after lunch and I had to some shopping, there wasn’t even a lot of time to look at birds when I got back.

Still, it was good to see them perching in the sun.

sunlit siskin

sunlit robin

sunlit chaffinch

When I went out into the garden for a moment, I turned my eyes to the hills and wished that I had had time to climb.

Castle hill with Cattle

In the garden, there were still no frogs to be seen but the first of the miniature daffodils has come out…

miniature daffodil

…the chives are looking promising…

chives early

…and the rhubarb is developing.

rhubarb developing

I used to think that hellebores were a bit dull but in recent years, I have changed my mind.

hellebore backlit

Back inside, there was another moment to watch the birds.  The sunshine hadn’t improved their manners at all…

two siskins vs chaffinch

…but at least one chaffinch made it safely to the feeder and enjoyed a seed.

sunlit chaffinch looking round

After lunch, I had a quick look to see if the sun had brought the crocuses out…

open crocuses

…and then it was time to pack Annie, Evie, the pushchair and an enormous case in to the car and pray that the Zoe would behave and take us to Carlisle.

The Zoe behaved impeccably and we arrived at the station in plenty of time and found that the train was more or less on time.  These days the railway experience wouldn’t be the same without some excitement, so a train from another railway company got stuck at the platform at which our train was due to arrive.  With a couple of minutes to go, there was a rush of pushchair, case and passengers over the footbridge to catch the down train from the up platform.  All was well  though and we got Annie, Evie, the case and the pushchair onto the train and it pulled out on time as we shed a tear and waved goodbye.

It really was a lovely day in Carlisle as they left…

citadel in sunshine

…but we ignored the lovely day and headed indoors to our Carlisle Community Choir practice.  Fortunately, it was a very good session and the tenors recovered some of their self esteem after last week’s travails.

And even better, it was still light as we drove home so we were able to watch a pretty spectacular starling murmuration over our heads as we went back through Longtown.  If we get a decent day, we will try to go down to see the starlings with camera in hand next week.  There seemed to be a lot more birds than when we watched them a month ago.

The house seems very quiet.

The flying bird of the day is a choice between this rather impressionistic study of a goldfinch…

impression of flying goldfinch

…and this neater but duller shot.

flying goldfinch

Take your pick.

I have time on my hands tomorrow: the forecast is for sleet and snow.  Ha ha.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our son Tony just to prove that as well as having almost perpetual sunshine, they get milk delivered in bottles in East Wemyss.

milk bottles east wemyss

We got more rain here, rain overnight and rain in the morning.  I walked round to the shop in the rain and then looked at some birds in the rain.

greenfinch siskins rain

In spite of the weather there were plenty of birds about…

greenfinch siskins rain 2

…and after a while, I put out a second feeder to meet demand.

second feeder goldfinches

The rain stopped in the late morning and I went for a walk while Annie and Evie caught up on a little sleep after a restless night.

In the garden, the hellebores are developing slowly…

hellebore

…but down at the river, the water was fairly rushing along again.

full river esk

I got blessed by a little sun as I crossed the Sawmill Brig and it made the moss on the wall sparkle cheerily.

moss glinting

When I got to the Lodge, I chose the upper road to Holmhead.  This was just as well as when I looked down, I saw that I might have needed water wings to navigate the lower road.

puddle on low road

The snowdrops at Holmhead have stood up to the rain well but like me, they would be a lot better off with a bit of sunshine.

snowdrops holmhead

Walking along the muddy path round the pheasant hatchery was a precarious business and I nearly slipped when I stopped to take this picture of tree bark and lichen.

tree bark

After that, photography took a back seat as the weather closed in rapidly and it began to rain quite heavily.

strom coming in

It didn’t rain all of the time though.  Sometimes it snowed.

After lunch, the weather improved a lot.  Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie went off to visit a friend and I went off to see a different friend.

Sandy has finally got back from hospital after a visit that was supposed to last only a day or two for an operation but eventually lasted for two weeks as other health matters intervened.

The sun had come out to celebrate his arrival…

sunny whita scotts knowe

…and as you can expect, he was pretty pleased to be back in his own home.

He wasn’t jumping for joy though, as jumping will be off the menu for six weeks until his plaster comes off.

sandy's foot

He can get about in the house and he has a team of friends who will visit him so he was far from downhearted.

As I walked home, I passed our neighbour’s flowering currant showing signs of growth.

hectors currant

The birds had eaten a lot of seed during while I had been out.

two feeders

Although it was too cold to tempt the crocuses to open in spite of the sunshine….

closed sunny crocuses

…there was another promising sign of spring to be seen in the pond.

frogspawn

I didn’t see any frogs though.

I went down the road and met Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie as they left their friend’s house.  Mrs Tootlepedal went home to cook, and Annie and I took Evie for a short walk in the (vain) hope that she might have a nap.

We looked one way to see the sun shining on Timpen…

late sun on Timpen

…and the other way to see first signs of blossom on the riverside trees.

blossom

We walked up Mary Street and looked across the river at the Noble Firs on the Castleholm.  Whatever strips the cones has been doing a good job and there is hardly a cone left to be seen.

noble fir cones

Annie was very impressed by the amount of polypores on the birch tree beside the road and thought that the fungi made an interesting accompaniment to the amount of man made kit on the electricity pole nearby.

polypores and electricty

Mrs Tootlepedal’s cooking skills brought us a good meal of brisket of beef for our tea and then we all collapsed into a quiet doze after a busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a double helping of siskin and chaffinch.

flying siskin and chaffinch

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