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Posts Tagged ‘Korean Pine’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to The Newt.  They have made good use of an old tree trunk there, though I don’t think that anyone has cycled far on the bike in the picture.

the newt bike rack

Owing to being a bit dozy when I wrote last night’s post, I didn’t notice that my camera had recorded some garden pictures on its second card, so just to show that there is a bit of life in the garden even in January, here are the pictures that I took before going to Edinburgh yesterday.

garden yesterday

There may have been no birds at the feeder, but once again there were pairs of jackdaws in the walnut tree….

jackdaws in walnut

…whereas today saw the return of a small flock of goldfinches.

goldfinches in walnut

There was not much feeder activity though, partly because there was a good deal of coming and going from the house and partly because of the arrival of the sparrowhawk.

It sat in the plum tree for a moment before flying off empty handed.

sparrowhawk in plum tree

I had spotted the hawk through the kitchen window while I was sipping coffee with Dropscone, one of those responsible for the coming and going.

He arrived bringing not the traditional Friday treacle scones but a large pile of drop scones instead.  We managed to survive the shock.  He had had some eggs which needed using up, he told me.  I would have taken a picture of the large pile of scones but before I could get my camera out, some person or persons unknown had eaten them all.

Dropscone reported that the crows were still stealing golf balls on the golf course..

When he left, I tried to catch a bird at the feeder, but even when one or two did appear, they were so nervous that they flew off as soon as I approached the window.

It was a relatively calm day with a hint of blue sky and when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the shops with some bananas, I took two of them, put them in my back pocket with some guava jelly cubes and went out for a cycle ride.

I wasn’t feeling particularly bright when I set off but the great Dr Velo soon put me to rights and I decided on a slightly more adventurous route than usual, heading onwards due west when I had got  over Callister, adding a bit more climbing than customary to my journey.

This is the view as I set out into the wide blue yonder on the far side of Callister.

tree at Falford

I stopped after ten miles and ate half a banana and a small cube of guava jelly and reflected on the subsidy regime which led to the planting of many small clumps of commercial conifers in the middle of pastureland.

view at Grange

My ride today was a story of rivers and streams, large and small.  Once I had climbed out of Wauchopedale by going over Callister, I dropped down into the valley of the Water of Milk…

Water of Milk

…home to two wind farms.  This is the Ewe Hill farm….

Ewe hill wind farm

…and some rolling countryside.

water of mile curves

I love the way the river curves along the valley floor but I am slightly less enamoured by the way that the road goes up and down as it winds along the hillside above.

I reached the top of the last little hill and stopped to note the pretty little church at Tundergarth.

Tundergarth church

I was following the hilly road to Lockerbie, home of the most unreliable station in Scotland, but I didn’t go as far as the town but turned off three miles earlier and followed the Water of Milk down this quiet back road.

road to castlemilk

I liked this back lit tree on the way.

tree near old A74

I was getting near to the major road and rail routes between Carlisle and Glasgow by this time.

This is the railway going over the Water of Milk on a modest viaduct…

railway viaduct water of milk

and this is my back road going under the motorway.

motorway bridge old A74

I followed the old main road to the south as it runs alongside the motorway and railway and saw the railway crossing another viaduct, this time over the Mein Water, which like the Water of Milk, joins the River Annan a few miles to the west.

railway viaduct near eaglesfiled

After a run down the old road, I came to Kirkpatrick Fleming and took the the road back towards Langholm.  It is a gently undulating road and I crossed the Logan Burn, the Cadgill Burn, the River Sark and the Glenzier Burn before dropping into Eskdale and following the course of the Esk for the last five miles north to Langholm

I couldn’t stop to take many more pictures on this section as I was running short of time to get home before it became too dark to cycle safely without lights, but I did have a pause with ten miles to go for a last half banana at Half Morton church.  There is a Korean Pine in the churchyard there.  The cones do not fall off the tree and the seeds are spread by birds or animals which feed on them.  This crop had been well eaten but there were still some cones relatively untouched.

korean pine in winter

I was helped by the wind to get home and the road was much less hilly than the first half of my trip.  This was reflected by the fact that the twenty miles out, over the hills and into the wind, took me 1 hour 47 minutes and the second twenty miles back only needed 1 hour 26 minutes.  That’s what I call a well chosen route.

The house was empty when I got home because Mrs Tootlepedal was at the Buccleuch Centre enjoying a tip top tip toe experience at a screening of the Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet.  With the accompanying chat and two long intervals, this screening took her longer to sit through than it had taken me to cycle 40 miles.  We both considered that our time was well spent.

As I was splattered with grit from a passing gritting lorry as I cycled up the A7 back into Langholm, I expect that it will be a frosty morning tomorrow, so it will be touch and go whether I get another cycle ride or have to go for a walk instead.

I completely failed again and two collared doves looking down at the feeder from the electricity wires are acting as flying birds of the day today.

two collared doves

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She is visiting the Netherlands for singing purposes, and saw this fine selection of bridges crossing the river Waal at Nijmegen through the tinted windows of her coach.  The Waal is a distributary* of the Rhine.

Nijmegan bridges

We had a fine day here today.  Indeed, we are promised a week of fine weather.  This will be very welcome after our recent very changeable conditions.  The temperature is due to rise steadily until Sunday when it will start to rain again.

A bit of warmth will be very welcome as it was definitely felt autumnal as I cycled about the town on various errands after breakfast.   I almost felt as though I should have been wearing gloves. However, it soon warmed up and Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough from her cold to have a wander round the garden and do some light work.

I did some dead heading and clearing up of fallen plums and, of course, looked around as I did so.

After a very slow start, the fuchsias in the garden are beginning to make a better effort…

garden fuchsia

…and together with the second flowering of the red astrantia….

red astrantia

…they are bringing some late colour to the garden.

An Icelandic poppy and a cosmos were doing a grand job of providing for insects.

insects on flowers

The most striking thing about the garden though was not the flowers, but the butterflies on them.  There were red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

on buddleia and sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and peacocks on both blue…

peacock butterfly

…and red buddleia.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

They were joined by the usual collection of white butterflies too.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a very curious white butterfly with odd yellow wings fluttering about.  It was so unusual that we tracked it carefully as it flitted from plant to plant.  Finally, it rested long enough to be caught on camera and it turned out to be not one butterfly but two butterflies engaged in the business of producing more butterflies.

white butterflies mating

We politely left them to it and went off to a admire a lone small tortoiseshell completing our butterfly collection for the day.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I went back indoors and spent some time getting things ready for the first camera club meeting of the season, testing the projector and making sure that the laptop that we use wasn’t suddenly going to demand an update at an inconvenient time.

After lunch,  I was finally ready to go for a cycle ride.  The wind was supposed to be quite light but turned out to be quite brisk and gusty at times so I had a battle over the first eleven miles to get to the top of a hill on this little used road at Kennedy’s Corner.

Kennedy's Corner

From then on though, it was almost all downhill with good views over the Solway to the Lake District Hills 25 miles to the south

view of solway from Kennedy's corner road

…and looking back I could see Burnswark Hill just behind me where forts have guarded the route north from iron age and then Roman  times.

view of Burnswark from Kennedy's corner road

To the west, I could just make out Criffel on the far bank of the Nith Estuary, 20 miles away.

view of vriffel from Kennedy's corner road

It is an airy spot and I enjoyed the swoop down the hill to Chapelknowe, with the now helpful wind giving me an extra push.

Some time ago, I had been sent a guest picture of some Korean pine cones at Half Morton church and I remembered to have a look for them as I passed the churchyard today.  There are none so blind as those who will not see and I was quite impressed that I had managed to cycle within a few yards of these wonderful trees…

korean pine tree Half Morton

… many, many times without ever noticing them especially or the astonishing crop of cones right under my nose.

korean pine cones

The fact that the church lies at the top of a small hill and I am always slightly puffed when I get there might explain it.

While I was there today, I also noted the the stone steps laid into the wall which enabled people to approach the church without opening the gate and letting the minister’s sheep, which grazed the grave yard,  out onto the road.

half morton church wall

I stopped for a drink of water just before the final little hill on my route and can tell you that there is a stone wall under this jungle of ferns.

ferny wall

I got home after 27 miles in time to have a cup of tea and a slice of bead with plum jam followed by a shower, before my flute pupil Luke arrived.   Our hard work on improving our breathing is beginning to pay off and we are progressing steadily.

When Luke left, I enjoyed an excellent evening meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to set up for the camera club meeting.

We had rather a thin attendance and I would have been disappointed except for the fact that the members who came produced such an interesting selection of images that the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile.

The meeting was short though and we didn’t need a half time break for tea and biscuits.  This left me with an unopened packet of bourbon biscuits and a temptation….into which I have happily fallen while writing this post.  I don’t know how many calories my cycle ride used up but I am perfectly sure that they have all been replaced now.

The flying bird(s) of the day are a small bunch of swallows.  They were sitting on a wire as I passed on my bicycle and I stopped, meaning to take picture showing swallows getting ready to depart when they suddenly departed.

swallows disturbed

* A distributary is a river which, instead of joining like a tributary, has split from the main river as it enters the delta at an estuary.

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