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Posts Tagged ‘Hollows Tower’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  It shows that when it comes to Scottish sparrows, a sparrow’s home is its castle.

bruce's sparrow

I am starting this post with a cheat, as it is a picture that I took a couple of day ago but forgot to include in that day’s post.   Mrs Tootlepedal saw a most unusual visitor on the plum and I got there in time  to take its picture.  It is a meadow pipit.  You would expect to see it up on the moor not on the plum tree in our garden, so I thought that it ought to appear on the blog, even if a bit belatedly.

meadow pipit on plum tree

Back to today.

It wasn’t as warm as yesterday by a long chalk and there was no sun about, but it wasn’t raining and we are still happy to count any dry day as a good day, even if it is a bit cold and grey.

Oddly enough, the light outside suited my pocket camera very well, and when I walked round the garden, it picked out some good detail, like the rosemary flower with its tongue out….

rosemary flower

…the emerging leaves on a raspberry cane…

raspberry shoot

…and the tiny fruits on the silver pear.

sliver pear nlossom

I am endlessly fascinated by the lengths that euophorbias go to make themselves interesting.

euphorbias

The recent compost bin reorganisation left Mrs Tootlepedal with some rough mulch on her hands, and she has bestowed it on one of the front hedges which is now well mulched.

mulched hedge

The continuing cool weather is making flowers hesitant to emerge but every day shows a little more progress…

four garden flowers

…and the magnolia is gradually shedding its winter fur coat.

magnolia peeping

Mrs Tootlepedal filled up the third log library shelf and then made a fourth while I sawed up some logs to help fill it up.

The result was very satisfactory and some sweeping up made sure that the flags on the floor of the log shed saw the light of day for the first time for many years.

completed log library

There is a little more sorting and tidying still to be done but it looks as though we will have plenty of time on our hands to do it.

We sat on a bench in front of the espalier apples to rest after our labours, and I was pleased to see the first shoots appearing on one of the apple trees.

firs apple shoot

Across the vegetable garden, the rose shoots on the fence were standing up very straight.

upright rose leaves

I went to the corner shop to collect a jar of honey which the shopkeeper had kindly procured for me and was a bit puzzled when I saw a line of people standing several yards apart from each other in front of the Buccleuch Centre which is currently closed.  The puzzle was resolved when I remembered that a butcher’s van visits the town and parks beside the Centre on a Friday.  I realised that the queue was would be shoppers correctly socially distancing themselves as they waited to buy their pound of mince.

People are taking these things seriously and I had to queue outside the ex-corner shop until it was safe for me to go in.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a well earned siesta and I went out for my permitted exercise.  After yesterday’s walk, it was time for a cycle ride today.  The cooler weather and a brisk wind made sure that I was back to being very well wrapped up.  Although the wind helped to get me across the hill and down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass in good time, it also meant that the trip back up to Langholm on the old A7 was a bit of a battle.

Talking of battles, I noticed as I passed that Hollows Tower had lost the fight against the virus and was closed to visitors.

hollows tower shut

And as it was a grey day, I took a picture of a grey bridge.  It carries the new A7 and is much wider than the camera angle makes it seem

grey bridge auchenrivock

Whether on the cross country roads, the new A7, or the old A7, there was very little traffic about and I enjoyed a peaceful ride.

When I got home, I had another walk round the garden and found the daffodils in a mathematical mood.  They came in squares…

square of daffodils

…straight lines…

line of daffodils

..and triangles.

triangle of daffodils

As I came through to the middle lawn, I saw a jackdaw trying to creep off unobserved…

jackdaw leaving after lawn pecking

…but it was no good, I could see the evidence of savage lawn pecking which it had left behind.

lawn pecking

Checking the news on my phone when I got in, I found that in the midst of the virus mayhem, the government had released a statement saying that they are intending to reduce private motor car travel and increase cycling and the use of public transport.   This is a jaw dropping change of tack for a government and the Ministry of Transport whose only plan for many decades has been to increase roads and road congestion at any cost.  I don’t suppose that it will actually happen, but to have the government even thinking about it must be a good thing.

The non-flying bird of the day is a ‘shopping trip’ goosander having a nap beside the river this morning.

goosander

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

view of Worcester SA

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

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

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

A chaffinch was weighing up its options…

chaffinch on stalk

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

sparrow shouting

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

rook on walnut tree top

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

new robin box

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

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

new hir ice

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

winter on the beechy plains

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

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

sunny catkins murtholm

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

view of warbla before storm

I crossed Skippers Bridge….

distillery on arthur's leaving day

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

diasies by esk

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

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

Two fine fungi beside the Wauchope road caught my eye…

fungus wauchope road

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

view of skiddaw

There were some clouds about…

cloudscape

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

canonbie church

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

pylons at canonbie

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

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

new sewage works canonbie

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

hollows tower

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

irvine house

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

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

four daffodils

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

crocuses

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

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

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

two ducks

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Today’s guest picture is a lupin in the wild taken by our son Tony on one of his walks….

Tony's lupin

…and as a change from my usual practice, I have put another guest picture in the post today to show Tony’s lupin in context.

tony's lupins

I had hoped to go on a longer and slower bike ride today because when I looked at it yesterday, the forecast was quite promising.  However, when I looked at the forecast today, it was only promising rain and on this occasion it was right and it started to rain quite heavily during the morning.  I was glad not to be some miles from home getting soaked.

I passed the morning in traditional fashion, doing the crossword, reading the papers, going to our corner shop before the rain started, drinking coffee and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

From time to time I glanced out of the window at the re-positioned feeder and was encouraged.  A dunnock may have sat on the hedge…

nf dunnock on hedge

…but sparrows were not backward in coming forward….

nf sparrow landing

…and siskins arrived with the determination…

nf siskin approaching

…to shout at anyone and everyone.

nf siskin and sparrow

As the time got near to three o’clock in the afternoon, the rain stopped and I put my cycling clothes on and peered out of the back door.  I prayed that the black clouds that I could see were going rather than coming…

gloomy outlook

…and set off up the road.

It was dull but there is a lot of clover about which brightens up the verges.

clover by road

It was still pretty grey by the time that I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse so I considered skulking about in the valley bottom, ready to dash for home if it started to rain heavily again but in the end, I plucked up my courage and headed over the hill and down to Canonbie.

The many thousands of tubes which appear when old commercial woods are felled and replanted contain deciduous trees as part of the conditions for replanting.  I don’t know what the overall success rate for them is, but this batch at the Kerr wood, seem to be pretty fruitful.

trees coming out of tubes

The grass is growing strongly now that we have had a bit of rain and this belted Galloway was enjoying a good graze, too busy to look up as I went past.

belted galloway grazing

As the clouds continued to look threatening and the light got worse as I went along, I didn’t stop for many pictures but I thought that I would show that the rain has put a bit of life back into the Esk with this shot from Hollows Bridge…

water in river hollows

..and while I was on the bridge, I couldn’t miss this fruitful twig just beside the parapet.

beech tree

I was brought up short when I went through Hollows village to see the Tower wrapped up like a Christmas present.

hollows tower gift wrapped

It looks as though some serious repairs are contemplated.

My final stop was forced on me as I had to wait for the traffic on the main road to clear when I left the bike path so I took a look across the road while i was standing there.

rododendron and dasies by A7

Although the ride was shorter than I had hoped, I was still pleased to have got twenty miles in without getting rained on.  There were a few spots of rain just when I got back to Langholm but they came to nothing and I could have gone a bit further.

Instead I had a cup of tea and some toast, put a new loaf to cook in the bread maker and walked round the garden before having my shower.

The bees were as busy as ever on the cotoneaster horizontalis.

bee on cotoneaster again

The new lupins are developing well even if there aren’t as many as them as in the crop that Tony saw.

new lupins june

The roses would like to come out but they would like more sun and less rain….

wet rose june

…as would we all. After several weeks with no rain, we have now had four inches in a week and a half and we think that this is quite enough to be going on with.

The philadelphus bushes are enjoying the weather more than we are.

thriving philadelphus

Following a recipe suggestion, Mrs Tootlepedal made chicken breasts stuffed with soft cheese and spinach for our tea and unusually, the result looked exactly like, the illustration that went with the recipe.  It tasted jolly good too.

Since I had two guest pictures to start the post, I am going to have two flying birds of the day to finish it.

nf flying siskin

I think that the new feeder position is very promising for flying bird opportunities.

nf flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On a recent tour, he stopped at Tewkesbury and took a picture of the bridge there.

bridge

Yesterday’s heavy work on the lawn was an experiment in ‘kill or cure’ and when I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the balance had tipped firmly down on the ‘cure’ side of things.  For the first time for ages, my feet weren’t painfully sore.  I didn’t let my feet go to my head though and took things pretty gently through the day.

I did go out into the garden and look at the flowers.  I liked a vetch which has come up of its own accord.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to leave it where it is as it is popular with bees.

vetch

New white flowers have appeared: Mrs Tootlepedal describes the one on the left as an educated onion and the one on the right is the first of the philadelphus.

four flowers

The Dutchman’s breeks and the Welsh poppies are adding an international air of gaiety to the garden…

…and the light was just right to take a picture of the yellow ranunculus.

yellow ranunculus

I noticed that the plain fuchsia by the back gate is producing flowers but it doesn’t look very well so there may not be the usual waterfall of blossom this year.

old fuchsia

As my back was in such good order, I did some shifting and sifting of compost.  I started to turn Bin C into Bin D but the material had rotted down so well that I was able to sieve a lot of it and just put the remains in Bin D.   I have been trying to layer the compost in Bin A more carefully lately, green and woody in turn, so perhaps this is a reward down the line for good behaviour.

I went in for coffee and watched the birds.  Sparrows were the flavour of the day but redpolls are frequent visitors too.  The goldfinches have almost entirely found a better place to feed.

sparrows and redpoll

The old sunflower stalk continues to provide a useful perch…

sparrow on stalk

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is growing a new sunflower nearby for next year.

We had other visitors.  There were quite a few jackdaws on the peanuts during the day and Mrs Tootlepedal witnessed some angry scenes among them.  I saw this one daring anyone to come and have a go if they are tough enough.

jackdaw going nuts

There are starlings nesting in a neighbour’s tree and one came to the seed feeder today.

starling feeling seedy

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I went for a cycle ride.  I had intended to try for some long, slow distance today but the forecast was very uncertain and there had been spots of rain on and off through the morning so I settled for some short, slow distance instead and went round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

It wasn’t hard to notice that the hawthorn had come out while we were on holiday.

 

hawthord on hill

And there were wild flowers all the way round.

verhe wild flowers

I took a closer look at the bird’s foot trefoil, a flower that I like a lot, and discovered a tiny creature among the petals.

birdsfoot trefoil

The back roads were lined with cow parsley and on this section it had a hem of buttercups as well.

cow parsley and buttercups

There was a lot of wild geranium to be seen.

wild geranium

I stopped to get a picture of the hawthorns beside the Hollows Tower and found that the managers have erected two flag poles beside the tower.

hollws tower and hawthorn

I was pleased that I had decided on a short ride because there were some very threatening showers further down the road and it rained a bit when I got back.

Back in the garden I found that a Rozeraie de L’hay had managed to survive yesterday’s rain showers.

rose in garden

I was struck by this single aquilegia which had grown through one of the golden box balls.  It looked odd.

aquilegia on box ball

When I had walked round the garden, I went in for  a cup of tea and a shower and then settled down to practice some of the songs for our Carlisle choir concert.

In the evening, our recorder group met for a play and for a change the group assembled at Wauchope Cottage which was very convenient for me.  Because the sun had come out again by the time that they arrived, we had a walk round the garden before we started playing.  We played Handel, Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Purcell, Morley and Scheidt so we had good material to work with.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was heading back towards the feeders but as it already had a mouthful of seed, I am not sure why it was bothering.

flying siskin

Footnote:  I was speaking to our daughter Annie on the phone today and she put in a  request for some more general pictures of the garden to put my flower pictures in context.  I am always anxious to please so I found a sunny moment late in the afternoon and took a random set of pictures of various borders.  In spite of the many colourful flower pictures which appear on the blog, the predominant colour in the garden is green.

 

garden bed 1garden bed 2garden bed 3garden bed 4garden bed 5garden bed 6garden bed 7garden bed 8garden bed 9garden bed 10

And of all the views, this one, taken from our new bench as the sun goes behind the walnut tree, is my favourite.

.garden bed 11

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has gone to Wales for a jaunt and on his way, he stopped at the ancient city of Chester.

chester

I started the day by selling some postcards to the paper shop to help Archive Group funds and then visited the data miners in the new Archive Centre.  They were working hard in cramped conditions as an art exhibition had taken some of their space.

We were promised some sunshine today but it was rather grey and windy when I set off south to visit Mary, my singing teacher for another lesson.  After concentrating on basic technique and breathing in previous lessons, we moved towards singing a song today. This was exciting but it only went to prove how difficult it is to put lessons into actual practice as faced with having to think of notes and words at the same time, I relapsed into many of the bad habits that we had worked on eliminating.  However, there were moments when things went well and I had plenty to think about as I drove home.

As I neared home, I met better and better weather and by time that I got there, it was a lovely day.

I had a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch and then went out into the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  The drumstick primula is nearly spherical and a cheery daisy winked at me from  the lawn but the recent frosty mornings have turned the tips of the magnolia petals brown…

white garden flwoers

There was some colour about too.

pink garden flowers

I helped Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been working hard all morning,  to get the first of the new vegetable beds level and then left her to sort out the soil while I went for a pedal.

I aimed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s distance and that was enough to let me go for a circular trip of fourteen miles up the Wauchope valley, over the hill, and back down into the Esk valley.

It was quite windy so I was easily tempted into stopping for some pictures along the way.  I thought that I should note a bare tree as it will not be long until the trees are covered in leaves again.

bare tree wauchope school

I looked back down the Wauchope valley as I climbed up the hill.  It was a pastoral scene indeed…

pastoral scene wauchope

…with added calf.

calf

I was accompanied by the bleating of lambs as I went round.

new lambs

I liked this combination of blackthorn and pine tree at the Hollows…

blacthorn and pine Hollows

…but I liked this newly surfaced patch of road there even better.

repaired road Hollows

There had been some savage potholes the last time that I cycled through the hamlet.

Hollows Tower was open for business but the lack of cars in the car park showed that it probably wasn’t doing a lot.  It is still early in the year to expect tourists.

Gilnockie Tower

I didn’t see much in the way of wild flowers but there were celandines and dandelions here and there…

wild flowers in verge

…and I saw the wood anemone when I left my bike for a moment and walked down a fisherman’s path…

path down to river

…to the river at Broomholm.

Esk at Broomholm

As the leaves are not out yet, I could see the bridge to Broomholm Island through the branches.

Broomholm briodge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had finished the veg bed and had added some compost at the far end to help the soil.  She has also dug in her winter beans which were grown as green manure.

new veg bed

Nearby, she has a planting of tulips.  They are Mystic Van Eijk, a pale pink variant….

mystic Van Eijk tulip

…of the ordinary Van Eijk tulips….

Van Eijk tulips

…which look very lovely when some low evening sunlight shines through them

Van Eijk tulip in evening

We sat on our new bench, enjoying the welcome warmth of the sun.  We were sheltered from the wind and thinking that life wasn’t too bad at all.

Then we went on for a cup of tea and the last of the home made ginger biscuits.

I had a look at the birds.  They had not eaten much seed at all during the day as not only had Mrs Tootlepedal been busy in the garden, but we had had builders in working on our roof as well.

It hadn’t improved the birds’ tempers at all.

goldfinch shouting at chaffinch

Then  Luke came round to play the flute and we rediscovered something that we already both knew very well, practice makes perfect.  Well, we weren’t quite perfect but we were both a lot better than we were last week and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

Sunday’s slow cooked lamb stew made another appearance for our evening meal and Mrs Tootlepedal made a tasty broad bean hummus to go with it.

The better weather means that we are due to have some chilly mornings, but the days should be fine for some time ahead so I hope to be able to get a few more cycling miles under my belt.  This will be a very good thing, as thanks to being off the bike for a month, I have a great deal more of me under my belt at the moment than is good for my health.

A chaffinch once again is the flying bird of the day.  They are very reliable.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tony.  He was impressed by the power of some ivy which he found eating a castle turret.

ivy covered turret

I had a day neatly divided into three parts with a wide variety of weather to experience.

My day started when I crossed the suspension bridge in grey, slightly misty conditions.

suspension bridge

I had a bit of business to do in the town but it didn’t take long and I was soon on my way for a three  bridges walk.

When I got to the Kilngreen, the gulls were have a bath…

gulls in water

…and the rooks were looking for food in the grass.

rook kilngreen

At 4°C it was cool but there was little wind so it was a good day for a walk.

After seeing some very interesting moss on my walk yesterday, I had another look at moss on a wall today but found nothing unusual.

moss ewesbank

I did find an interesting lichen though.

lichen lodge walks

It was my intention to walk round the pheasant hatchery and I made good progress along the road beside the field, noticing this device for tightening fence wire…

fence gadget

…and wondering whether a black and white setting would give a truer picture of the day than colour as my camera always tries its best to make the colour look as colourful as possible.

bandw phesant hatchery road

I had just got to the top of the pheasant hatchery and was considering this old tree surrounded by potential youngsters in tubes…

old tree and new trees

…when a cacophony of whistles and banging made me aware of the presence of a group of people who had arrived to reverse the production of pheasants by shooting them.

This is not the sort of shooting that I am comfortable with so I took myself and my camera back the way that I had come, crossed the Duchess Bridge out of range of the guns and waited until I had got home before doing some of my own shooting of birds in the garden.

plum chaffinch crop

A stout sparrow took the chair…

sparrow taking the chair

…while stupid chaffinches wasted time and effort arguing when there were free perches available for all.

quarrelling chaffinches

I made some lentil soup for lunch and and ate it.  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I went for a bicycle ride.

The temperature was still only 5°C but the sun had come out and the day was transformed from dull grey to full colour as this view over the Bloch shows.

sunny view from bloch

Sadly, it only took about another two miles for the weather to revert to grey as the sun slipped behind a bank of cloud and mist rose up from the valley.

misty clouds

I was going round my Canonbie circuit and coming up the Esk through the village, I began to wonder if the mist would get so thick that cycling might be dangerous.  However,  as I left the village and began the gentle climb up to Langholm, the mist thinned out and I could see Hollows Tower clearly, although the trees behind were still rather vague.

hollows tower

Looking up the road, the low mist was still lying but there was plenty of blue sky up above…

misty hollows road

…and by the time that I got back to Langholm, I was in full sunshine again.  I pedalled on through the town and up the A7, hoping to get a sunny view up the Ewes valley but that bank of cloud got in the way again and only the hills at the top of the valley were clear with mist rising from the fields again.

misty ewes valley from a7

I turned and cycled home in the gathering gloom….

misty warbla

…and got there not a moment too soon as within half and hour, the mist was so thick that I couldn’t see past the end of our road.

I made myself a sausage, onion and leek stew for my tea and then my friend Susan kindly appeared to give me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle.  I was worried that thick mist might make the journey uncomfortable but it had thinned out and we drove down without too much difficulty.

We enjoyed a good tootle (and excellent biscuits) with the group and found that the mist had cleared away before our return to Langholm, where I found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her trip to Edinburgh.

In between all this, I had a go at the ‘blowing down a straw into water’ recommended by my speech therapist.  It was noisy and splashy and fun so it won’t be hard to remember to do it twice daily for the next seven weeks.  After that, I hope to be able to sing like a bird…

…though I probably still won’t qualify as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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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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