Posts Tagged ‘horsetail’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  On one of his permitted walks, he found a friend.

deniis rabbit

As far as light for taking photographs went, it was a day of two halves with some good sunshine to start off.  This brought the best out of the tulips…

tulips and azaleas

…and got us quite excited about the coming of the age of azaleas.

In a break with tradition, the street coffee morning never got going as our neighbour Liz was out on a longer walk than she had intended and Mrs Tootlepedal was on a conference call regarding the proposed moorland buy out.  (There will be no living with her now that she has been on a conference call.)   I chatted with Margaret, the other participant for a while, and then we gave up.

As well as colour in the garden there are promising green shoots too.  The hostas are coming, the ferns are chatting and the alliums are getting ready to burst out.

three green garden things

I sieved some more compost.  I am reaping the benefit of trying to cut things up well before putting them in Bin A last year and doing my best to layer green and brown materials.  The present material in Bin C and D is the easiest to sieve that I have ever achieved.  (The dry spell helps too.)

I then scarified the front lawn and managed to take some pictures to record the results.

A run over the lawn with the electric scarifier left a lot of loose moss on the surface.  I raked it up into two heaps of a good size and Mrs Tootle[pedal took the moss away and made use of of it….

scarifying the front lawn

…leaving the lawn still looking rough.  I ran over it with the mower and collected another wheelbarrow load of moss which went in a bin.  The process left the lawn looking like this.

scarified lawn

(I mowed round in ever decreasing squares until I met myself coming back in the middle.)

There is still plenty of moss left in the lawn….to say the least.

I had time to appreciate the apple blossom…

apple blossom

…before going in for lunch and a chance to watch the birds at the feeder.

A rook was a surprise.

rook on bird feeder

…and two argumentative goldfinches were a delight.

super goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal persuaded me to accompany her on a circular walk round Whita Hill.

This is Walk 10 of the Langholm Walks Project and the website says: It is on road and good tracks. Boots not needed in dry weather.  It adds: A long circular walk round Whita Hill. It is pleasant walking with a good variety of environments as you go round. At the far corner of the walk there is a real feeling of remoteness.

This is all true.

The only potential fly in the ointment was the appearance of some dark clouds in sky as we set off.

blossom and clouds esk

They held off as we walked up the track to Broomholmshiels and as I have walked this way a couple of time recently and put a lot of pictures in posts, I held off taking any pictures on this part of the walk….

…except this one.  The light was right.

yellow nettle

…oh, and this one too.


When we got to Broomholmshiels the clouds were covering more and more of the sky…

clouds over whita

…and by the time that we got to the bird hide, a few hundred yards up the road, the sun had gone for the day and it turned rather gloomy.

The larch trees at the bird hide have been felled and the hide looks rather lonely now with a forestry track where the glade used to be.

bird hide trees felled

However, the road down to the Tarras Water from the hide looks as inviting as ever and we continued our walk.

road from bird hide

We walked through a delightful wood on our way to the bridge over the river and having crossed over, we passed a small forest of horsetail and a boulder well covered with lichen…

birch horsetail lichen

…on our way up to Cronksbank.

As we went up the hill, we looked left over the Tarras Water to Rashiel and Whita…

view of rashiel and whita

…and straight ahead up the Little Tarras Water Valley…

little tarras valley from bottom

…before coming to the well sheltered farmhouse at Cronksbank itself.


We followed the track to Peterburn where we had a choice between crossing the Tarras Water again by a bridge or using the ford.

We chose the bridge…

perterburn bridge

…which was just as well, as the ford would have entailed us getting very wet shoes or taking  our shoes and socks off and paddling.  The water has not warmed up yet!

perterburn ford

Once across the water, we got to that remote corner of the walk….

view of the moor from middlemoss road

…and had to walk up this steady hill track to get to the road back to Langholm.


road from Middlemoss

We had an excuse to stop for a breather when we met the local farmer on his quad bike on his way to check on the lambs.  He was in a very cheerful mood as the recent spell of good weather has been perfect for his lambing season.

We were able to look back down the Little Tarras Water Valley towards Cronksbank as we walked along the road to the White Yett …

little tarras valley from top

…but the light was very poor by now and I couldn’t do the landscape justice.  Mrs Tootlepedal was hoping to see hen harriers in the sky on this section of our walk but although we saw several grouse and two curlews, we didn’t see any harriers.

We walked back down the hill enjoying trees, lambs and tiny bridges…

trees lambs and mini birdge

…and then turned across the hill to get to the top of the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.

A burst of white blossom among the gorse just before the gate was a pleasant surprise..

gorse and blossom

…but the Wynd itself has been so savagely cleared of growth of all sorts, that it is rather dull to walk down.

The steep slopes back into the town slowed us down as we find going down more troublesome than going up these days, but we finally made it to the suspension bridge where we were greeted by the welcome sight of swallows, both perching on the electric wires…swallows

..and flashing to and fro under the bridge as we crossed it.  I will have to come back with my bird camera to try to get a picture of them in better light.

This was a nine mile walk with a fair bit of up and down in it, the furthest we have walked for many years, so we were more than pleased to sit down to a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two when we got in.  We had a feeling of a job well done.

Between us, we had enough strength left to cook and eat an evening meal but we may well be a bit creaky tomorrow.  As it is due to rain at last, this may not matter too much.

The flying birds of the day are two goldfinches going this way and that.

two flying goldfinches

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who found this very unexpected thistle pie while out on a walk.  He may have had a hand in its creation.  The things that people do during lockdown.

(He says that the recipe for the pie can be found at http://www.thistlehurtyour hand.com.)

thistle cake

The weather changed this morning and the hills were misty when we got up.  Jackets were required for the morning coffee as the temperature had dropped to more normal April levels.  Luckily I had made a batch of ginger biscuits after breakfast so the gathering was not entirely without warmth.

Following the advice of our son Alistair and his wife Clare, I visited out local shop and asked the owner if he felt that I was old and frail enough to warrant getting deliveries rather than shopping in person.  “Undoubtedly,” he said, looking me straight in the eye.  He is an old friend and he is under pressure from his children too so he understood.  I was very grateful.

After coffee, we went into the garden.  There were still many daffodils to dead head, there was compost to sieve, and things to water so I was quite busy.

I checked on the fruit.  Apples, blackcurrants and gooseberries are all looking quite potential…

blackcurrant, apple, pear and gooseberry

…and the silver pear is looking lovely but sadly it does not produce eatable fruit.

In spite of the cool, cloudy weather, flowers still looked pretty as a picture…

trillium, daffoidl tulip, brunnera

…and there were riotous scenes all over the garden.

tulips, honesty, doronicum, cowslips

A trout lily is the flower of the day.

trout lily

In the pond, pond skaters were busy.  I like the way that they slightly dent the surface of the water.

pond sakets

I cooked some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal made bacon butties to go with it so we were well fed when we set out on an afternoon walk together.

Our primary target was to see if the bluebells were fully out yet.  They were almost but not quite at their best and it was a treat to walk along among them.

bluebells april panel

It is difficult to stop taking pictures of bluebells because you always think that your next effort is going to be the best yet…

bluebells april 1

…and I had two cameras with me and used them both freely.  In the end, I think that once again, this path down the hill is my favourite.

bluebells april 2

I will be back again in a few days time to take the same pictures all over again!

We walked on down the hill and on to the Murtholm Track towards Skippers Bridge.

There was plenty to see besides bluebells including English plantains, uncurling ferns, brilliant dandelions and incipient geums.

fern dandelion geum english plantain

And having seen a lesser stitchwort…


…we saw these too.  They all look different.  There must be a greater stitchwort in there but is there a marsh stitchwort too?  I am sure knowledgeable and helpful readers will tell me.

three stitchworts

I can recognise a horsetail.  There were a lot at one spot beside the path.


Even without the sun, it was a lovely walk.


murtholm view

We came to Skippers Bridge and instead of crossing it, we walked along the same side of the river using the path in the woods between the river and the main road.

We had come to see a heronry which a friend had told Mrs Tootlepedal about. We hadn’t walked along the path for many years and never before in this direction, so it was a novelty to us.

The dry weather meant that it was in good condition for elderly walkers and we enjoyed a fine blackthorn bush…


…and when the sun unexpectedly came out, the walk through the trees was a real pleasure.

path between esk and A7

We saw several herons’ nests and one or two herons as well.

heronry beside A7

The bank of the river is rather steep at this point  but we found a place where we could scramble down onto the river bed.  There is so little water at the moment that we could get well out into the river and look back to get an unusual view of Skippers Bridge at a distance….

Esk very low water

…and, thanks to the zoom on the Lumix, from close up too.

skippers bridge from A7 side

I can’t tell you how life enhancing it was to be able to sit for a moment in such a beautiful spot.

Mrs T in middle of river esk

We were completely sheltered from any wind, and the light was gorgeous now that the sun had come out.  As we walked further down the river, it was hard not to stop every few yards…

esk from riverside path

…to watch ducks on a rocky promontory and some thick and luscious sedge.


Not to mention flotillas of ducklings….

ducklings esk bromholm

…and the fine metal bridge that crosses to Broomholm Island from the far bank.

broomholm island bridge

It was a peaceful scene.

esk at Broomholm

Everything was so fresh and green that it was hard to tear ourselves away from the river bank but in the end, we followed this path up to the main road…

path up to road from broomholm island

…and walked along the road back to Skippers Bridge.

I looked at one of my cameras at this point and saw that I had already taken 100 pictures with it since breakfast so I thought that it was now time to stop. We walked home back along the river bank to the park without pausing for more photo ops on the way.

In the end, we walked just under four miles but because of the many stops to admire our surroundings, it had taken us a long time and we were more than ready for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit (or two) when we got home.

After the cold and cloudy start to the day, the warmth and the sunshine of the afternoon were even more welcome than they would have been if the recent good weather had continued unabated.  The morning made us realise just how lucky we have been with our weather.

We are promised 1°C for early tomorrow morning so the winter wear may have to be dug out again.

I didn’t have time to look for a flying bird of the day today and a curl of poplar leaves in the park, my final shot of the day, is standing in.

poplar leaves park

Sorry about all the pictures but what with bluebells and river scenes, it just couldn’t be helped.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon.   He came across a tree beside the river at Canonbie, about which it can be truly said that the bottom has fallen out of its world.

Jock's Pool tree

We had a frosty start to the day here but thanks to my policy of rising slowly and late, it had got quite a bit warmer before I was out and about.

Mrs Tootlepedal had enjoyed her socially distanced coffee morning with the neighbours and I had been to the shop by the time that I took this arty picture of plum and magnolia combined.

arty magnolia

We were serenaded in the garden by one of our dunnocks…

dunnock singing

…though to be truthful, it wasn’t singing for us at all.

I pruned a dying bough of our privet tree and then kept an eye out for pollinators visiting the plum tree.  I was happy to see several big bees flying in to do some work.

flying bee and blossom

Other bees visited the dicentra and after hanging around underneath the flower…

bee on dicentra bottom

…this one actually bore out what we had seen on a nature programme on the telly a couple of nights ago and drilled a hole through the side of the flower to get at the nectar.

bee piercing dicentra

The riddle of the scars on the side of the flower in yesterday’s post is solved.

As well as bees, birds visited the plum tree too.

chaffinch plum blossom

I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the garden and noted a few of the things that I saw.

The pulsatilla (we only have one) didn’t seem to mind the chilly morning.

pulsatilla flower

The blackbird kept an eye on me and Mrs Tootlepedal.  It was stable enough on the hedge but looked a little shaky when it hit the heights.

balckbird low and high

Some red tulips were eye popping and two lots of yellow tulips started to come out as the day went on.

tulips panel

Mrs Tootlepedal put some crumbs from the bread tray out on the lawn and this quickly drew a mixed bag of rooks and jackdaws to peck them up.

rook and jackdaws

After lunch, I went for a walk.  Looking for somewhere new to stroll, I chose to direct my feet up the Wauchope road, the route of many a cycle ride but a rare choice for pedestrian activity.

I wondered if I would see more than when I cycled and of course, I did.

I noticed dogs mercury which is growing in abundance in damp and shady spots and a lot of horsetail just coming up along the road verges…

dogs mercury, horsetail, mallard, fern

…and there were ferns with spore clusters growing on walls and mallards swimming in the river.

I stopped to look at my favourite little cascade at Bessie Bell’s.  In  spite of very low water, it was still a pleasure to watch the water spilling down between the rocks.

bessie bell wauchope cascade

…and it is always interesting to contemplate the forces that bent the rocks beside the river almost double.

bent rock bessie bell

I was able to see new growth on larch and spruce as I walked on (and a lot more horsetail)…

larch, spruce and horsetail;

…and there was a lamb too.

lamb at bull mountain

I stopped at the spot where Mrs Tootlepedal used to go to collect manure and walked down to the woods along the river there.

I had been keeping an eye out for larch flowers and to my delight, I saw some here.

larch flower april

I went down to the river bank and took a look at a noted local boulder called the Big Dowie.  It is a large mass of white granite deposited among the sedimentary rocks in the River Wauchope during the Ice Age.

big dowie

I walked for a few hundred yards along the river bank through the woods, stopped to listen the river gurgling over the rocks….

wood walk, wauchope, gate, larch flowers

…and then came back through this gate into the field, and on my way along the edge of the wood, I saw more larch flowers.

It was quite a pleasant day, with some spells of weak sunshine so I walked further up the road, enjoying the sunlit green woodland floor, interesting lichen on another wall….

trees, lichen, meadow pipit, slow worms

…and then on my way back, a small flock of meadow pipits and the slow worms at Pool Corner.

My walk had taken me as far as the progressively more ruined cottage at Blochburnfoot…

cottage blochburnfoot

…and by the time that I had got home, I had covered about five miles with an added half mile for the walk through the little wood (and having to go back to get a new battery for camera just after I had started).

I didn’t get in without one more stop though, as I bumped into Mike Tinker at the new bridge over the dam behind out house.  When I say that I bumped into him, I am speaking figuratively because naturally we observed social distancing.  We chatted for a while, and he admired the fine clump of marsh marigolds in the water and then a family with two small children arrived to admire the ducks that have taken up residence in the dam.

ducks marsh marigolds dam

As the area was now quite crowded, we went on our separate ways and I was glad to get the weight off my feet and enjoy a Zoom chat with my brother and sisters.  I also enjoyed several ginger biscuits and a cup of tea kindly provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I am going to take a diversion into the weather now.  After weeks of endless rain in February, the wettest on record, we have had no significant rain, as far as I can see from the blog, for exactly a month.  Looking at the forecast for the next ten days, there is no rain coming either.  One of the features of our weather, as far as I can recall, used to be its changeability.   Now, we seem to get one thing or another for long periods.  I believe that this may be due to a strengthening of the jet stream thanks to climate change so that it is more difficult to shift than it was before.  The extended lack of rain is adding to the unreality of the current situation.

However, I did get a genuine flying bird of the day as a goldfinch did its torpedo impression.

flying goldfinch torpedo

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and makes the point that we are not the only ones with buddleias and butterflies.  The painted ladies did not stop at Langholm and have continued north.

ant's butterflies

As she went off to sing in the church choir this morning, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that when seen from an upstairs window, the front lawn looked good.  I checked.

front lawn diamonds

I like to mow in a different direction every time.

We had another lovely day today and the butterflies were about bright and early.

three butterfly panel

We had a walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church and I liked the delicate colours of a hosta flower and the salvias.
hosta and salvia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rose has settled in very well.  It is a pretty flower and the only thing wrong with it is its name, Rosy Cheeks.

rosy cheeks rose

Although I did not go to church, I did have a religious moment during the morning (religion – definition: a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion) when I mowed the middle lawn for the first time after giving it a dose of the fertiliser with alleged magic moss eating properties.  The fertiliser part certainly works well and I feel that the moss eating has worked too but we will see whether it has done lasting good when the winter comes.

middle lawn after buck up

I then edged the lawn to complete the effect.

We were having a cup of coffee after our walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal surprised me by asking if I felt like a ten mile cycle ride on hilly roads with some rough tracks to negotiate on the way.   This is not her usual choice of parcours.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon but we had time to get round before it was due to arrive so I agreed, and we got our bikes out and set off, having fortified ourselves with a cheese toastie before we left.

It was warm and sunny and we went up the hill to the Moorland Feeders at the Laverock Hide in good order.  We didn’t stop at the hide, even though Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a woodpecker as we cycled past, but continued on along the narrow but well surfaced road that took us down to the bridge across Tarras water.

road to Tarras

There were things to see as we went along, including some of the first heather in flower, insects on ragwort and wild mint.

wildflowers broomholm road

Once we had crossed the bridge (which we did when we came to it), we cycled along the flat beside the river for a bit and I kept an eye out for a patch of horsetail which I knew grew somewhere beside the road.  When we got to it, it was hard to miss.

horsetail clumb

It was in very fine form.

horsetail detail

When we got to the end of the short flat, we had a steep hill to climb to get up to Cronksbank but we were rewarded with good views of the Tarras Valley…

view near Cronksbank

…and we could soon look down at the little farmhouse on the other side of the river.


Passing through Cronksbank and then Perterburn, we descended very carefully down a bumpy track to the Tarras Water.  This time there was no bridge for us to cross and Mrs Tootlepedal fearlessly led the way across the ford.

perterburn ford

Local readers may well realise that the picture above is slightly unsatisfactory as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearly cycling back towards Perterburn.  This is true and the picture is staged as I missed the first crossing and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to cycle back and re-enact the crossing.

The road up from the ford has some fine pine trees beside it.

pines at Middlemoss

The track from Middlemoss up to the tarmac road across the moor was in much better condition than we expected, and we were able to cycle most of the way up it.

Middlemoss road

It is steep in places though, and I was happy to stop to take a picture of bee hives, probably put out in anticipation of the heather flowering soon.

bee hives on moor

The heather is looking quite healthy at the moment but when we stopped to talk to a local naturalist and his wife who were walking on the hill road, he showed me a clump of heather that had been affected by the dreaded heather beetle…and he showed me the larva of the beetle which he shook from a dying plant.

heather beetle larva

It was interesting to see something about which I had read a lot but which I had never seen before.

It looked as though the forecast rain might be on its way, so we didn’t stay chatting for long but pedalled on towards the White Yett…

wall at white yett

…and the welcome sight of the road down the hill back home.

road down hill to langholm

In fact, the forecast rain didn’t arrive until later on in the day and our ride was a great pleasure.

We were not on mountain bikes (Mrs Tootlepedal was on her shopping bike and I was on my road bike) so progress on the bumpy tracks was slow and cautious and the narrow roads on the downhill sections called for a careful approach too, so we took some time to make the circuit but we were still pleased with our progress and thought that we had certainly earned our cup of tea when we got home.

Luckily we were able to watch the Ride London pro cycling event on the telly when we had had our cup of tea and that gave us a good excuse to do very little for the rest of the day.  They went a lot faster than we did.

A panorama of the Ewes Valley, taken from the White Yett is the metaphorical flying bird of the day.


ewes valley panorama

Click on the pic for a wider view if you want.


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She came across this very colourful boundary to a restaurant’s outside seating area and knowing that I like fuchsias, sent me the picture.

susans meal planting

It was another very sunny day here but not quite as warm as the last two days, presaging a slight change in the weather but probably not enough to bring some much needed rain in any quantity.

Our two resident blackbirds are busy morning, noon and night pecking at the lawn for food for their young.

blackbird family

The garage clematis is showing more flowers every day but is still not near its full glory…

garage clematis

…unlike the Japanese azalea which is opening flowers at a great rate…

japanese azalea

…and contributing to a colourful display along the back path.

back path with colour

I sat down for a moment or two on our new bench and enjoyed a purple patch with a perennial wallflower on one side…

perennial wallflower

…and many alliums on the other.

alliums in arow

Sandy is away on holiday at the moment so I got the chance to act as fill in feeder filler at the Moorland Project hide.  I went up on my slow bike, stopping as is compulsory on a sunny day, to admire Skippers Bridge yet again..

skippers in May

…and noting wild flowers on my way, including Pyrenean valerian, ajuga and another outbreak of wild garlic.

wildflowers on way to hide

The back roads are delightful at the moment and the grass roof on the hide is growing very well.

tarras road and hide

As I filled the feeders, two pheasants were squaring off with a good deal of feather flapping and barking…

pheasants squaring up

…and this was the champion of the day.

pheasant triumphant

I sat in the hide for a while with a fellow bird watcher but there was not a lot of birds to watch apart from siskins.

I did notice a coal tit…

coal tit

…and was pleased to have a brief visit from a greater spotted woodpecker.


When I left the hide, I cycled down the hill to see how the road repairs are coming on.  The repaired road has been completed and and surfaced so it won’t be long now until the traffic can start to flow again.  After several years of being closed, it will not be too soon.

new tarras road

On my way home, I passed a patch of what I think must be horsetail.  It had a fine contrast between its spear like head and a rather frilly tutu further down the stem.


When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden.  We are going on a short holiday next week and she has a lot to do to get everything in order before we go.  I watered the strawberries as the vegetable garden is very dry and also gave the compost in Bin A a good soaking to help the decomposition.

The sunshine is bringing the flowers on well.

trree peony and sweet rocket

…and a rook popped in to enjoy the colour.

rook in plum tree

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business in the town and I was sitting doing the crossword when a neighbour knocked on the door to say that we had a visitor.

The partridge was back on our windowsill.

partridge on windowsill

It stayed there for most of the afternoon, moving off at one time, only to return to another sill later in the day.

I was somewhat jiggered by sore feet and asthma after I got back from cycling up to the hide and spent the rest of the day very quietly, wasting immense amounts of time at the computer which wouldn’t behave properly so I couldn’t even get useful things done.

In the end I cheered myself up by taking up Mrs Tootlepedal’s suggestion to make some ginger biscuits.  They came out well.

She continued to work in the garden and at one stage disturbed an ant colony which was hiding under some black polythene covering a potential seed bed.  The ants got to work straight away in moving some large capsules, which I presume are eggs.  Before too long they had cleared the site and found a new home.

ants and eggs

As I sat at my computer trying to work, the partridge kept an eye on me.

partridge outside window

Mrs Tootlepedal took it some seed and water.

The day drifted to a close but I felt a lot better by the evening than I had in the morning and afternoon which was a relief.

The flying birds of the day are two swallows.  I saw them heading for holes in the bank of the Esk as I came back from my morning cycle ride.


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went with my sister Susan to visit the refurbished temperate glass house at Kew Gardens.  It was worth the trip.

Kew glass house

The big question, after a night listening to the wind howling round the house and rain battering at the windows, was would there be anything left?

We got off lightly with no structural damage and the electricity still working but the plants were not quite so lucky.  Tall thin plants did the worst….

foxglove collapsewindblow in gardenlupin collapse

…while flowers sheltered behind stout hedges did the best.

peonyLilian Austinrose

It all depended on your point of view.  I felt that we had done well with plenty left still standing for me to photograph while Mrs Tootlepedal, who of course had done all the work to get the flowers to grow in the first place, mourned those that were gone.

The wind was still blowing rather alarmingly in the morning even though the rain had stopped.  Indeed, it didn’t seem to have rained as much as the noise in the night would have indicated and the garden soon dried up.  By the afternoon, the sun had come out and if you could get out of the persistent wind, it was quite a nice day.  I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping.

I also took a look at the birds.  I saw this young blackbird sitting on a fence when I glanced out of the back window while passing through the sitting room.

young blackbird

Out of the usual window I could see that here were plenty of sparrows at the feeder today….

sparrows at feeder

…and Mrs Tootlepedal had put out a suet ball on the kitchen windowsill in the hope of attracting sparrows there too.  It worked.

sparrows on windowsill

I had used the gloomy morning weather as a motivation to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database but the afternoon looked good enough for an expedition so I got my new bike out and tested the wind.

It really is an excellent bicycle.  It turns out to be extremely stable in strong and gusty crosswinds and for some reason which is hard to explain, it is also almost a pleasure to cycle into the wind when riding it.  Whether it is the frame design and riding position, or the aerodynamics of the bike or the very user friendly gear system, or a combination of all three, riding into a strong breeze is not at all a discouraging experience.

This was lucky as the wind was certainly strong today, gusting to well over 30mph as I went along.

I stopped to see how much water was going over the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse after the overnight rain.

wauchope cascade

The answer was not a great deal.

I noticed a pretty yellow wild flower in the grass beside the river.  It is probably a meadow vetchling.


A bit of the roadside verge had become waterlogged through poor drainage during the wet winter. Now it is home to a small forest of horsetail.


Because of the strong wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom and did two laps of the seven mile trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.   I cycled  through the town and down to the river when I got home and checked to see if the young oyster catchers were still at the water’s edge.

young oyster catcher

They were there with their fluffy feathers getting ruffled by the wind.

The parents were there too, rather indignant at my presumption in  taking pictures of their children.

oyster catcher

I surprised myself by really enjoying my 14 mile windy ride and I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. As we drove down there was a little rain but some sunshine too and this provided us with a splendid rainbow which we took as a sign that the stormy weather was over.

As always, some of the pieces we played went better than others but there were enough of the sound performances to make the evening good fun and the biscuits with the after-playing cup of tea  were very tasty too.

A flying bird of the day today, one of the sparrows at the feeder.

flying sparrow





Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has visited Chatsworth.  I am going to live in a place like that when I grow up.


We had another fine and sunny day today but once again my stubborn cold refused to give up its grip on me so instead of cycling, I settled for the very agreeable substitute of a cup of coffee with Sandy followed by a walk.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked out of the kitchen window.  The early morning sun is not at all helpful for taking pictures of birds at the feeder is in the shadow of the house and you end up with lots of shots like this.


The rather blue background indicates that we had another frosty morning and the fluffed up robin below the feeder confirmed that it was chilly.


By the time that Sandy and I had had a cup of coffee and arrived at the Moorland bird hide, all trace of the frost had gone and we walked down to the bridge over the Tarras in glorious conditions.

There was not a cloud in the sky.

Cronksbank road

We were able to watch a hen harrier hunting and a heron flying past as we walked along the open part of the walk but soon we were plunging downhill through the woods…

Cronksbank road

…until we reached the river bank.

Tarras at rashiel

It is a peaceful spot….

Tarras Water

…and it still looked very welcoming although the trees on the river bank have shed all their leaves.

We walked over the bridge and checked out the horsetails which grow along the river in abundance there.


Although the ones round this tree were still green, most of them were dry and brown.


We didn’t see much else of interest…

fungus and fern

…but the walk through the woods was delightful.

Tarras woods

Taken on the way down

Tarras woods

Taken on the way back up

When we got back to the hide, we spent a few minutes inside, in the hope of seeing something interesting but just about the only birds on view were coal tits…

coal tits

…and chaffinches so we didn’t stay for long.

I got home just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and choir practice and I set up the camera at the kitchen window in the hope of some more friendly light.

The birds deliberately flew into any shadow they could find just to annoy me…

shadowy flying birds

…although as usual, the camera was recording more information than it was letting on.

_DSC8508 lighter

These are exactly the same pictures lightened up a bit.

Still, it wasn’t very satisfactory so I pointed the camera at the plum tree with better results.

goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

Goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

The sunflower seeds were drawing most of the business again today…


…but there were occasional visits to the new mixed seeds by coal tits and this blue tit who preferred to remain anonymous.

blue tit

We had quite a good crowd but the attendance is not helped by predatory cats roaming the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted one of the invaders making off with one of our birds.  Our cat scarer is not 100% efficient it would seem.  In fact, as kind readers pointed out when I said that we had got one, they may well be 100% inefficient.

In the afternoon we went to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Once again I was only able to croak my way through the songs and as my breathing was not in peak condition, my brain was subject to a bit of fading and I made several rather glaring mistakes.  In spite of it all, it was worthwhile and I hope to be in  a better place  next week.

The flying bird of the day is the sole chaffinch who wasn’t quick enough to find some shade to hide in.

flying chaffinch

Looking at the picture, I see that I will have to clean the kitchen window.

The moon was out when we got back from choir.  Not quite full.





Read Full Post »

Older Posts »