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Posts Tagged ‘lichen’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and it features another Dale Chihuly glass artwork which she saw on her recent visit to Kew Gardens.

glass sculpture chihuly

We had some very heavy rain showers today but when they stopped, it was a pleasantly warm if rather muggy day.  It was too wet to do any gardening and too unreliable to plan for a bike ride, so I was very happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee in the morning.

We had other visitors too as Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a thrush on the lawn and I saw another one on the top of our new electricity pole.

two thrushes

There are a lot of blackbirds about at the moment and some of them have been rather badly painted.

four blackbirds

I didn’t go out into the garden much as it was soggy underfoot, but whenever I did go out, there were sparrows on every available perch…

sparrows in a row

…and at one time we counted eighteen of them pecking away on the lawn.

One blackbird sat in the rowan tree looking rather dishevelled,

ruffled blackbird

The only garden flower picture that I took all day was this crocosmia.

crocosmia

I am eager to take a bit of exercise before I go and see the physio next week to make sure that I have got a good idea of what is working and what is not, so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we should go for a walk after lunch.  There seemed to be a gap in the rain showers.

She agreed on condition that we drove a little out of town first to find a fresh walking route.  This seemed like a good idea, so we drove a few miles up the road towards Bentpath and walked up the track beside the Boyken Burn.

There were plenty of hazel nuts on the trees beside the track…

hazel nuts

…and plenty of water coming down the burn after the heavy rain showers over night and in the morning.

Boyken burn

The track winds gently uphill and we could soon look back to get some fine views.

Boyken burn track

The side streams coming off the hill to join the Boyken Burn were naturally full of water too and I was glad that we didn’t have to cross this one on the old bridge.

Boyken burn waterfall

There was a lot of stone walling to be seen round the lower fields on the hill sides and we wondered what had driven the dry stane dykers of old to add this little kink to their wall building.

Boyken burn crooked wall

Tucked away beside the river, an old barn was collapsing under the weight of time.

Boyken burn ruin

The weather brightened up as we made our way along the track…

Boyken burn view

…and some weak sunshine picked out the lichen on an old telephone pole…

Boyken burn telephone pole

…and lit up the house at Calkin.  We stopped to chat to the farmer on the road and he told us that this house is now in such a state of disrepair that it it is going to be demolished.

Boyken burn Calkin

We thought that this little stream rushing down the hill to join the Boyken Burn near Calkin was picture perfect…

Boyken burn side issue

…and the lichen on the rocks beside the track looked like works of art too.

Boyken burn lichen

There were plenty of little cascades to enjoy as we climbed further up the valley….

Boyken burn in spate

…but the best of them always seemed to be hidden behind trees.

We followed the track until we came to a point where the forest took over from open hill…

Boyken burn planting

…and as the clouds had come in and a light drizzle threatened, we took the hint and turned for home.

We watched buzzards circling over our heads and listened to their plaintive calls as we walked along.

There was plenty to look as well as the birds and the views, with quite a lot of fungus…

Boyken burn fungi

…a very old and twisted tree…

Boyken burn tree

…and lots of wild flowers.  There was yarrow, harebells, hawkweed and tormentil and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a cluster of insects on some  knapweed…

Boyken burn wild flowers

…and she also noted this tiny white flower ( I would be grateful if anyone can suggest what it is) while I couldn’t miss a large thistle.

We got back to the car just in time because as we shut the door to drive home, the light drizzle turned into some pretty heavy rain, and this continued on and off for the rest of the day.

When we looked at the map, we found that we had walked about 5 km or 3 miles and as I haven’t done much walking at all recently, I was pleased that we had turned back when we did.  It was a lovely walk though, and I hope that we will go back again and be able to walk further up the track to the head of the valley next time.

We were both quite happy to sit down and rest our feet when we got home.

The flying bird of the day was having a pause, refuelling and resting its wings, when I caught up with it.

sparrow on fence

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who met Aethelflaed, (daughter of Alfred the Cakes Burner), Queen of the Mercians standing in front of Tamworth Castle. He tells me that she led the successful military assault on Derby in 917, which was so decisive, that it resulted in Mercia being fully recovered from the Vikings.

Aethelflaeda

It was generally a rather grey, drizzly and miserable morning here which wasn’t made any better by the departure after breakfast of Mrs Tootlepedal on a two day visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I was cheered up by some bright flowers in the garden…

three raindropped flowers

…and the arrival of Sandy for coffee.  We exchanged news, sympathised with each other’s foot problems (his are worse than mine) and talked Archive Group business.

When he left I was motivated by our archive talk to go and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This took some time because the edition was unusually full of content.

Before I sat down at the computer, I had a look at the birds.  The rain came and went every few minutes as I watched the sparrows.

sparrow on nuts

There are several sparrow families on the go at the moment.

sparrow feeding on feeder

This sparrow, using a sunflower as an umbrella, hadn’t noticed that the rain had stopped again.

sparrow with umbrella

I made myself some scrambled eggs for lunch and after listening to the news (nothing about Langholm on it today), I went out into the garden to check on the weather.

It was raining sparrows.

They rose from the ground in a cloud when I went into the veg garden and settled on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.

sparrows on Betty's roof

This was just a fraction of the flock.

The weather looked set fair for a bit and the forecast was good so I decided on a cycle ride.  The was a blustery wind coming from ENE and as my usual route starts by going west, this would have meant cycling home into the wind.  I therefore decided to head north today, hoping that getting a crosswind in both directions wouldn’t be as bad as pedalling straight into the wind for half my trip.

This proved to be a sound decision as the bends and twists in the roads gave me a nicely varied diet of cross, behind and ahead breezes and added variety to the journey.

I still went very slowly though as it is quite a hilly route…

Road to benty

…but going slowly can be a good thing if you want to look at the view and keep an eye on the verges,

harebells

Harebells

The ride is not short of views…

meeting of the Esks

The junction of the Black and White Esks

…and includes my favourite bridge, not so much for the bridge itself, which is neat but modest, as for its setting in the surrounding countryside.black esk bridge

Once over the bridge, I cycled along one of my favourite roads.  It has a reasonable surface, no traffic, gentle gradients, fine trees…

road to castle O'er

…and verges rich in flowers and with snacks available every so often.

Castle oe'r verges

The route is part of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I passed three hill forts as I went along, Bailiehill, Castle O’er and Bessie’s Hill, which are all worth a visit if any local blog reader has not visited them before.

I didn’t have time to stop and visit today and I pressed on through the village of Eskdalemuir until I came to our little bit of Tibet in Dumfriesshire.

It comes as something of a surprise when you first see the statue of the god Nagarjuna in the garden of the Kagyu Samye Ling Centre but you soon get used to it.

statue at Samye Ling

There were some lovely water lilies in the pond surrounding the god.

lily at Samye Ling

And the stupa was as impressive as ever.

Stupa at Samye Ling

I had a close look at one of the flags beside the path.  Research on the internet tells me that the flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.

tibetan flag at Samye Ling

There was plenty of wind today so perhaps we should put out more flags.  We need a lot of goodwill and compassion at the moment.

On my way up to Eskdalemuir, I had followed the west bank of the Esk so on my way home, I decided to cross the bridge at Eskdalemuir….

bridge at Eskdalemuir

…and follow the east bank back to Bentpath.

I was a little tired by this point on my journey as it was quite a hilly route, but I was nothing like as weary as this lot, flat out in a field beside the bridge.

tired sheep

I had a last look north along the Upper Esk valley…

views upper esk valley

…and headed south.

I stopped near Georgefield for this view of the river…

esk near Westerhall

…and had a final stop for some guava jelly and a drink at Bentpath.  I was very impressed by the lichen on the wall…

lichen at benty

…and this use of an old wheelbarrow.

barrow at Benty

I was aiming to do thirty miles to bring me up to four hundred miles for the month and ended up doing thirty two miles so I was very pleased with my ride.  Even a little shower of rain in the last mile or so did not dampen my spirits.

The rain didn’t last and I was able to mow the front lawn when I got home and pick yet more sweet peas.  A reader asked for evidence about the great number of sweet peas I claim to have been picking, so here is the current collection.

sweet peas

Many bunches have been given to neighbours and many vases have been emptied and the dead flowers thrown away so this represents only a fraction of this year’s crop.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I am having a very quiet night in.

The flying bird of the day is being shouted at in a very rude manner.

flying sparrow (with siskin)

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s partner Marianne.  She shared her enjoyment of a view over the river Tay at Perth with some jackdaws.

birds on Tay

I realised when I came to put this post together that I had included far too many pictures in it by accident so I apologise in advance and recommend that busy people give today’s effort a miss.

I spent the morning down at the community cafe at Canonbie Church with fellow camera club members Stan and Sandy helping to put up our camera club exhibition there.  It takes longer than you might think to hang thirty photographs so that they look inviting and well balanced even with the expert help of Archie and Beverley from the cafe.  The finished set up looked good and it is ironic that I should have forgotten to take a picture to show the exhibition in place.  I hope to cycle down to Canonbie soon and take a picture when I am there.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal sitting on a garden bench looking intently at one of the flower borders.  She was watching our local pair of partridges and they kindly waited long enough for me to get out a camera before they marched off over the lawn, down the drive and away.

the partridge

While I had the camera in my hand, I noted some daisies…

daisy

…the first open tulip of the year…

open tulip

…and the unnamed little white flower which Mike Tinker told us last night is a cardamine, so it is no longer unnamed.

cardamine

The feeder was empty so I filled it up and in no time at all, the birds were back in business.

busy feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was down in Canonbie and had discovered that the brick foundation which she had excavated yesterday ran the whole length of the bed that we were cultivating.

It would be too hard to remove it so the trench will be filled in and potatoes planted and then next year, it may all go down to grass.

trench in potato bed

Speaking of grass, I pushed my light mower over the drying green but grass was in very short supply and most of the area is covered in spongy moss with the occasional blade of grass sticking through.

moss on drying green

After lunch, I suggested a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal thought that that would be a good idea.  There was a light drizzle in the garden so we decided to go down to Canonibie in the hope that it might be drier down there.  It had been sunny there while we were putting up the exhibition in the morning.

It was rather grey when we got there but we parted the car at the bottom of the Byreburn wood and went for a walk anyway.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a fine display of wood anemones not many yards away from the car so that was a good start.

wood anemone

Our walk took us through the oldest part of the wood where there are many fine old conifers, including one of the earliest Douglas firs to come to Britain.

big trees byreburn

Although there are not many larches in this part of the wood, this one stood out with its fresh green growth.

latch buds

As we went along, the wood got younger…

byreburn wood trail

…and we finally emerged into an area that has been felled.  Here the path took a turn up a steep but short climb….

path through uphill byreburn wood

…which gave us a look back over the sawmill below.

canonbie sawmill

Luckily, the path makers had thoughtfully provided a place of rest for the elderly walker at the top of the hill.

bench in byreburn wood

We now walked along the edge of the wood beside green fields as we headed up the Byreburn valley…

Windy Hill

…passing this interesting tree on the way.conifer at Windy Hill

We got to the spot where a great railway viaduct spanned the valley in days gone by…

Untitled-1

Photo from the Langholm Archive collection

…but it was demolished in 1986 and there is no sign of it all now.

view of burebrun from old viaduct spot

We continued on until we came to the road and then walked down to the Byreburn itself.  The willows have been outstanding this year and we thought that this showed how well they are doing.

fat willow

We crossed the Byreburn by the road bridge and walked down the track on the far side of the stream, stopping at the Fairy Loup to record a clump of ladybirds on a fence post…

clump of ladybirds

…and noting the very gentle trickle of water over the waterfall after a good few days without any rain.

fairy loup trickle

This was a coal mining area once and an old engine house can still be seen.  It pumped water out of the workings beside the burn.

old pumping house

We were out of the woods now and walked back along the old A7 towards our car.

Just past the engine house was a patch of grass which was full of lichen.  It makes a change from moss.

lichen at byrebrunfoot

We were on the flat beside the river Esk and the farmer had been out rolling his pasture which gave the fields a very well tended air.

 

 

fields at Canonbie

Then there were just a few celandines…

celandine beside old A7

…a patch of blackthorn hedge…

balckthorn at Byreburn wood

…and a horse chestnut bud to record….

chestnut bud

…before we got into the car and drove home, having enjoyed a walk, some of which Mrs Tootlepedal thought was entirely new to her.  It certainly had a great variety of surroundings and interest for its modest two and a half mile distance.

Not surprisingly, we were quite happy to sit down and have a quiet cup of tea and a rest when we got home.  It had been a strenuous day for Mrs Tootlepedal in particular with a lot of digging and delving in the morning.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Stephen, a friend of my sister Susan.  He took this picture of  a fabulous Sydney Harbour sunset. The occasion was the opening night of the annual Opera on the Harbour.  I hope he will forgive me for only using part of his shot.

sydney harbour

We had a wonderfully spring like day today, with lots of sunshine, no rain and a moderate wind.  It was a perfect day for cycling but good sense suggested that I should give that a miss.  Instead, I rang up Sandy who came round for a cup of coffee over which we decided that a leisurely walk round a nature reserve would be the best way to use the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough to seriously consider coming with us but in the end, good sense overtook her as well, and she decided on a quiet day at home to continue her recuperation from her cold.

Watchtree, the reserve whihc we chose, is on the other side of Carlisle, between the Solway Firth and the Lake district hills.

lake hills from watchtree

It is not your run of the mill reserve as it is on an old airfield which now is the site of half of a wind farm.  In addition over half a million sheep carcasses were buried on the site during the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.  All this might make for an unattractive place to visit in many ways but a lot of work has been done to make it worth a visit.

And they serve very tasty bacon butties in their little cafe.

Fortified by the bacon butties we set off to walk round the old airfield among the wind turbines.

watchtree wind turbines

Our first stop was at a bird hide on a pond.  The walk down the side of the pond was fringed by hedge plants covered alternately in lichen or blossom.

watchree bird pond lichen and blossom

There was not a great deal of activity on the water but I was happy to see a tufted duck emerge from diving under the water for long enough for me to get a shot.

watchree bird pond tufted duck

A coot also emerged from under the water with a little weed in its beak.

watchree bird pond coot

The pond was looking very charming with reeds..

watchree bird pond reeds

…and the reflections of the turbines to add variety.

watchree bird pond

Some bird feeders had been placed behind the bird hide and we saw two tree sparrows enjoying a snack.

tree sparrowsd watchtree

We moved on to a second pond, passing a gorgeous clump of gorse with a strong smell of coconut on the way.

rampant gorse

There were quite a few waterfowl about on this pond but as usual, they hung around at the very far end so I could only get some rather blurry pictures of a goose literally trying to blow itself up.

goose inflating

Having failed, it paddled off very calmly.

goose serene

My binoculars were more use than my camera.

pond with waterfowl

We left the hide and walked round the pond to the edge of the site where we came across this slightly macabre reminder of a local air crash.

crashed jet engine

We then followed a half mile circular path through a young wood on the edge of the site.

Half the route was lined with trees in leaf….

watchree wood track green

…with the other half still bare.

watchree wood track

Leaving that wood, we crossed a runway and went into an older wood where the sharp eyed Sandy spotted a deer lurking among the trees.

hidden deer

There were willows on all sides but my favourite of the day was this back lit one in the wood.

sunlit willow

Bird feeders had been set up in this wood but although we could hear any amount of twittering in the trees around us, the feeders were unused so we walked onto to the pond in the centre of the wood.  It too was very quiet and nothing could be seen swimming around in its clear water.

watchtree pond

It was very pleasant strolling through the woods in the sunshine so we continued our walk in good spirits, eventually coming to the site of the old control tower from the airfield where the was a handy aerial photograph of the site on an information board.

orton aerodrome

Our roughly two mile walk took us round the triangle you can see in the picture, starting at the bottom right corner and going round anti clockwise past the first three wind turbines,  You can see the two ponds and the two woods which we visited.

The control tower itself has seen better days.

control tower watchtree

Although my feet were not very comfortable, the fine weather, the ponds, the woods, the wildlife and the good company made the outing thoroughly enjoyable and we were tired but happy when we got home.

While I was in active mode, I made an effort at giving the middle lawn a mow and even though there is a lot of moss on it, I was able to add a good heap of grass cuttings to my compost bin.

Then I went in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.

And watched our local birds for a moment.

chaffinches at feeder

Later on, I was just waiting for my flute pupil Luke to come when I noticed movement outside the kitchen window.

The pair of partridges were visiting.

red legged partridge close up

They are undoubtedly our most handsome visitors.

red legged partridge

Luke has been practising again with very beneficial results and we enjoyed playing through our Loeillet sonata a lot.

As we are going to get to work on our Quantz sonata next, I will have to copy Luke and do some serious practice myself.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with its wings firmly shut.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jim and Sandra who are used to their bird feeder being visited by woodpeckers and nuthatches but got quite a surprise when this fellow turned. up.

whitaside pheasant

Owing to the impending return home of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a busy morning of tidying up, hoovering  and floor sweeping.  The weather was much better outside than it has been but the housework and my sore foot kept me firmly anchored at home.

The birds were also pretty busy and I had to fill the feeders as there was a steady stream of chaffinches…

chaffinch shouting

…followed by a flurry of siskins and goldfinches.

sisikins overwhelm a chaffinch

After a cup of coffee, I stretched my legs to the extent of walking round the garden.  The crocuses have not really enjoyed the very variable weather this spring , coming out early and then being battered by rain and wind, but here and there one can be found looking quite cheerful.

open crocus

And the rosemary is busy  flowering.  It is a tricky plant to photograph so I was pleased to find a still moment with enough (but not too much) light to take a picture of it.

rosemary flower

When I got back inside and looked out, a chaffinch and a siskin obligingly posed for me above the feeder…

chaffinch on feeder pole

…while they were waiting for a free perch…

siskin on feeder pole

…and a collared dove looked for fallen seed below.

collared dove under feeder

I made some potato soup for lunch and after getting things sorted out for the evening’s camera club meeting, I tested my foot out on a very short three bridges walk.

I was hoping for some waterside bird life and spotted two oyster catchers on the gull’s usual posts.  They were very vocal as I got near and flew off before I could get close.

two oyster catchers on posts

Just below the sawmill brig, I saw a pair of goosanders and managed to get a fuzzy shot with the zoom well extended before they too…

two goosanders

…scooted off before I could get a good shot.

gosander going off

In the absence of co-operative birds, I had to be content with more static subjects like this script lichen on a tree…

script lichen

…and these handsome bracket fungi on a fallen tree.  They have withstood frost, snow, rain and wind without looking any the worse for wear.

polypore fungus

The hazels were in full flower….

hazel flowers omn twig

…and the willows at the Jubilee Bridge  are breaking out too.

willow flowers

The wild strawberries which are growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field are doing very well.

wild strawberry

Just before I got back to our garden, I had to stop to record the flourishing flowering currant of our neighbours.

flowering currant

I had a final look round and then set off to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.  I was very surprised and pleased in equal measure to find that the station can now boast some very smart new seats for those waiting for trains to arrive.  They are padded and very comfortable.  I hope that they get treated with the respect that they deserve.

dav

I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfortable seating as Mrs Tootlepedal’s train arrived bang on time and we were soon heading home.

When we got back, she pointed out this new daffodil whihc has just come out.  It is called Rip van Winkle.  I hope that we can get some nicer weather for it to show off its charms more fully.

Rip van Winkle daffodil

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  There was a good attendance with the welcome addition of a new member and as usual, we got an interesting selection of images to enjoy, with nine members contributing.  One good idea which was demonstrated was the use of a mirror to enable the photographer to take pictures of snowdrop flowers without having to lie on the ground.  I shall definitely try that next year.

It was decided that we should make an effort to have a summer club outing this year and we shall have to think of where to go.  We have a promising suggestion already and I hope that it actually comes off.

A female chaffinch makes for a neat flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should add that all is well with the world in spite of bad news in every continent and continuing sore feet because any day is greatly improved by the addition of a Mrs Tootlepedal.

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Today’s guest picture is another of my brother’s Derby insects which I found when I looked again.  This is a water boatman and he thinks that it may have capsized.

20190307_133206

The temperature was a little higher than yesterday but thanks to an increasingly brisk wind, it actually felt colder and more inhospitable outside today.

Mrs Tootlepedal has used some packing wool as a mulch in the garden and a small flock of jackdaws appeared after breakfast and made away with as much of it as they could carry.

_DSC0460

I read the papers, drank coffee and did the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do useful things around the town and then I went out too.

The river was dealing with the overnight heavy rain as I crossed the suspension bridge…

P1170458

…on my way to the health centre for the second day running.  This time they were kindly topping up my system with some vitamins to fill the hole left by taking the blood out yesterday.

When I got home, I had a wander round the garden and got quite excited by potential on every side.

P1170461

A couple of warm days would work wonders but even with our present dull weather, new things are poking their heads up every day now.

There were the usual suspects at the bird feeder but I was pleased to see a couple of greenfinches today…

_DSC0480

…and a pigeon took the scenic route through the flowers around the feeder.

_DSC0483

The green machine in the background is the cat deterrent which sometimes seems to work.

After lunch, the forecast said it might hail and then there would be light rain, but a check with the human eye saw no rain, so I went out in the car to take a little walk in the woods outside the town.

Of course it started to rain almost as soon as I left the house, but as the rain was very light by the time that I had driven to my starting point and I was going to walk in the woods, I decided to ignore it and walk anyway.

It was gloomy when I started out and I had to use my flash to pick out the moss sprouting on top of a tree stump…

P1170468

…but I was rewarded for my initiative as the rain stopped and although it was still rather grey as I walked up through the birch wood…

P1170472

…by the time that I had gone through the wood and leapt* across this busy stream…

P1170478

…things had brightened up a lot and there was even a hint of blue sky about.

I walked along a track beside a field, looking at mossy branches, gorse and willow….

P1170480

….until the track turned into a small river and then, as I didn’t have boots on, I turned round and headed back down hill.

I came to a parting of the ways…

P1170484

…and took the left hand path and went back down the hill through the oak wood…

P1170485

…crossing the stream again when I came to the old railway track.

P1170488

I noticed as I went down the final slope that there were very different mosses within a yard of each other on opposites sides of the path.

P1170489

And it wouldn’t have taken me long to find other mosses not far away.

When I got to the old railway track, I walked along it.  When I had walked along this track with Mrs Tootlepedal at the very end of last year, it had been blocked by fallen trees so I wasn’t expecting to go far.  However, some good person had been along and tidied everything up neatly…

railway track to Broomholm

…so I was able to walk right along to where the track meets the road.

Just before I got to the road, I passed this very handsome scarlet elf cap, probably the largest one that I have seen.

P1170495

I walked down the road back to the car and this gave me the pleasure of passing the finest moss wall in the civilised world.

P1170497

There was a huge selection of mosses to choose from…

P1170499

…but the wall also plays host to many lichens and a fine crop of polypody ferns.

P1170501

I joined Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal for a cup of tea and a biscuit when I got home and then I made a gentle curry for our evening meal and watched our politicians reach the end of the road when it comes to trying to put a square peg into a round hole.  It would be richly comical if it wasn’t so important and annoying. I imagine some time will now be spent trying to fit an oversized round peg into a tiny square hole.

The wind and rain are very audible outside our windows as I write this but we are hoping to escape the worst of Storm Gareth.  Time will tell.  Mrs Tootlepedal is supposed to be going to London tomorrow.  It may be an eventful journey.

Because the windy and gloomy weather made taking pictures of daffodils in the garden rather tricky, I persuaded one of them to come indoors to pose for me  in peace and quiet.

P1170465

A chaffinch battling into the wind is the flying bird of the day.

_DSC0470

*Note: I didn’t really leap the stream.  I found a very narrow bit and tottered over it using my walking poles.  I am not mad.

**Extra note:  If anyone has a guest picture or two, I would be very grateful to receive them.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Derby shopping centre insect infestation.  My brother tells me that you can talk to the insects but I wouldn’t know what to say to a stag beetle.

stag beetle derby

I didn’t have much confidence in a weather forecast that said that it wasn’t going to rain today but I was proved wrong and the weather stayed fair until  well into the evening.

It was only just above freezing when I set off on my slow bike to see our local vampire at the Health Centre and give a little blood.  This was a check to see if my anaemia is under control.  The process was prompt and painless as usual but the health centre computer server was on the blink so I wasn’t able to make a follow up appointment.  The poor staff were absolutely flummoxed as hardly anything is written down these days and they had no idea who was coming in for appointments.  Fortunately it was soon fixed and I made my appointment later in the day without trouble.

After coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, and with the thermometer showing 4°C, I plucked up my courage, donned as many layers of clothing as I could and set off on my new bike to see how my legs were feeling.

I hadn’t been out on my bike this month so it was a bit of a shock to the system but the sun was out….

cleuchfoot valley

…my legs were very cheerful and the snow had retreated to distant hills so it wasn’t too bad to be out and about.

The wind was strong enough to make life hard when pedalling into it but the forecast gales hadn’t arrived.  I stopped to take a picture of one of those little corners that make cycling round here so visually interesting.

three cleuchfoot trees

And then I cycled to the top of Callister to see if there was any sign of the turbines arriving at the new wind farm.  There wasn’t and as the road was very muddy from quarry lorry traffic, I turned back and pedalled down to Langholm, through the town and out of the other side.  The snow was on distant hills there too.

ewes valley with diostant snow

On my way back through the town, I checked to see if the big gull was standing on its favourite rock.

It was.

gull on rock

I was pleased to manage 20 miles at a modest pace and after a walk round the garden when I got back…

three spring garden flowera

…where the forsythia is just coming out…

forsythia

…and some of the frogs spawn seems to have survived the frosty mornings…

frogs spawn

…I went in to find Mrs Tootlepedal making a nourishing pan of bean and vegetable soup for lunch.

It went down well.

After lunch I watched the birds for a while.  Goldfinches had got in early today under the watchful eye of a chaffinch…

goldfinches on feeder

…and there was no visit from the sparrow hawk to disturb them or this chaffinch’s moment of reflection beside a puddle in our drive.

reflective chaffinch

Against my expectations, the weather stayed fine in the afternoon so I went for a walk.  The wind was still nagging but otherwise it was a good day for sauntering about looking for signs of spring…

view from scotts knowe

…which weren’t hard to find.

dandelion march

There were signs of life on the larches…

larch

…and fresh flowers on the banks beside the track…

P1170432

…and best of all, many clumps of primroses on every side once I got near the Becks Burn.

primroses

I walked through the felled wood, across the burn and up onto the road on the other side of the little valley, where I found incipient honeysuckle…

honeysuckle leaf

…curious sheep looking down on me…

curious sheep

…and any amount of lichen on different stones on the same one metre  length of wall.

lichen on wall becks road

I visited the old curling pond and wished that it could be developed into a wild life area like the one near Lockerbie which we have visited before. It needs a real enthusiast with time and knowledge to a job like that though.

curling pond

I didn’t linger for long as my foot was starting to feel sore and I soon headed down the road back to the town.

I passed this fungus on a fallen tree trunk…..

fungus becks road

…and got right out of the way as this huge lorry passed me.  It had been delivering sheep to the farm at the end of the road.

big lorry becks road

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden and together we put in the new blackcurrant bush and, having exhausted my gardening skills, I gave her moral support while she planted out a new lupin and pruned a rose.

Then it seemed like a good time to have a cup of tea and a slice of toast so we did.

The day was rounded off by a visit from my flute pupil, Luke and we had a productive half hour showing that practice makes you, if not quite perfect, then certainly a lot better.  This is most satisfactory.

I don’t often watch Master Chef on the TV but this season, a young lady from Langholm is one of the contestants and it was very pleasing to see her do well and get through to the next round.  We will follow her progress with interest.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for 50 mph winds so it was a good thing that we got as much out of today as we did.  There are some sunny intervals promised so it might not be a total write off.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with a determined air about it.

flying chaffinch

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