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Posts Tagged ‘lichen’

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

keiron's tree

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

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

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

garden after rain

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

hellebore

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

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

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

duchess bridge walk

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

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

milnholm road

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

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

hawthorn flowers

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

milnholm hedge and field

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

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

oyster catcher potholm

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

climb past potholm

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

potholm wild flowerrs

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

forest track longfauld wood

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

wild flowers longfauld wood

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

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

liverwort

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

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

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

huge fungus holmhead

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

holmhead road

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

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

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

red campion

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

deserted playground

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

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

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

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

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

thrush in plum

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

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

flying chaffinch

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

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Alistair. He found a welcome visitor in his garden and took this splendid picture of it.

alistair's bee

We had two unusual things to contend with when we got up. It had rained overnight and there was a greenfinch and a goldfinch on the feeder.

greenfinch and goldfinch

I was able to cope quite well though, as it had hardly rained at all, just enough to wet the ground, and the birds didn’t stay long on the feeder either.

It was cool and very windy so although a tulip looked as though it wanted to open up…

nearly tulip

…it looked exactly the same at the end of the day.

We had occasional little bursts of sunshine and the hellebores looked up expectantly to get the benefit of the warmth while they could.

hellebore looking up

The little primroses liked the sun too…

cheery primroses

…but living near to the soil as they do, they find things that like them, and they tend to get a bit chewed up.

two eaten primroses

A potential pulsatilla had retained a drop or two of rain among its furry foliage.

early pulsatilla

The main gardening business of the morning was more work on the tidying up of the paving stones around the woodshed.

cleared paving stones

It will be interesting to see how long we can keep the grass at bay once life gets back to normal. But it looks neat just now.

Contact with our distant families is virtual so I downloaded a handy app called Zoom on to my phone and we had a chat with Annie, Joe and and our granddaughter Evie through this medium during the morning. This stuff is very clever.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a WhatsApp conversation with our son Tony too.

It should have been a bicycling day but at 30 to 35 mph the wind was too strong for me to enjoy a pedal so I went for a walk after lunch.

In site of the chilly wind, a little sunshine at the start of the walk made things seem quite springlike….

first leaves

…and I enjoyed the views and the fresh larch trees as I walked along the track towards the Becks Burn.

becks track panel

I had a look at the little waterfall above the bridge when I got there, but the lack of recent rain has reduced it to a trickle.

becks burn cascade trickle

As a consolation, a very pretty primrose was growing in a crack between moss covered rocks beside the stream.

primroses becks burn

I crossed the bridge over the Becks Burn and as I walked down the road on the other side, I looked across the valley and decided it was nice enough to walk up to the track that climbs the lower slopes of Warbla.

track up wabla from hallcrofts

I don’t take the road from the bottom but go down to the left, cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk up the grassy slope beside that line of trees and join the road half way up.

One of the trees had some colourful fungus on a branch.

warbla fungus

The sky had clouded over by the time that I had got to the track and the sun was wasting its bounty on hills three miles away.

veiw from warbla far sun

As I walked down the track towards the town, the wind got up, the temperature dropped and a few drops of rain made me fear the worst so I dived into the Kernigal woods for some cover. I kept my head down and enjoyed a lichen covered tree stump and a mossy bank…

kernigal moss and lichen

…but when I lifted my head, I found that the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

kernigal wood view

One benefit of a brisk wind is that it brings quick changes to the weather.

I had met my friend Ada at the start of yesterday’s walk and she told me that if I looked very carefully when I came down the path from the wood, I might just see the first bluebell of the year.

I looked very carefully and, hey presto, there it was.

first bluebell

It is miles ahead of any other bluebell as the other plants are not even showing flower stalks yet. Some knowledgeable person will probably tell me that it is not a bluebell at all but if it is, it is remarkably early.

I had a look at the park wall when I got there, and a casual glance might make you believe that there was nothing very interesting there….

park wall

…but put your nose closer and peer hard and there, right in the middle of the picture above, are delights to be found.

soldier lichen

After I got home, I used Zoom to chat with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan. It is very smart to be able to see all three of us on the screen of my phone at the same time but it is tricky to get used to the fact that only one person can speak at the one time.

Later on we enjoyed a WhatsApp chat with Alistair, Clare and our other granddaughter Matilda. They were in good form. By the end of the day we had done a lot of family catching up. It will still be better when we can see our grandchildren in person though.

In the evening, we were able to watch a streaming of a very amusing play from the National Theatre archives for free, a kind gesture to help people put up with the boredom of having to stay in fro night after night. It was definitely preferable to watching never ending news bulletins of the spread of the pandemic.

The non-flying bird of the day is a jackdaw. Fed up with pecking the lawn, it was pecking the plum tree instead.

jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  Photo opportunities are scarce in lockdown London but she captured this squirrel with her phone on her short local walk today.

mary's squirrel

It was another chilly and mostly grey day here but once again it was dry and the rain gauge has been stubbornly recording no inches of rain for what seems like weeks now.

I went to the shop to top up on essential supplies and on the way out, I admired the fine show of daffodils along the dam at the back of the house…

daffs by dam

…and on the way back, I saluted the waterside birds standing loyally at their posts.

osyter catchers and gull esk

When I got in, I had a second go at making ginger biscuits, and thanks to taking a great deal of care with the weighing and measuring, they came out pretty well this time.

genuine ginger biscuits

The moral seems to be, don’t bang yourself on the nose with a short plank when you are going to cook biscuits.  Wise words indeed.

The continuing cool weather has left the garden in a state of suspension and the appearance of a tiny Brunnera flower was the only novelty today.

brunnera

Mrs Tootlepedal is continuing to tidy things up, and with some help from me paving stones were revealed that probably haven’t seen the light of day since Mary Queen of Scots was on the throne.

paving revealed

Actually that last comment may have been a pardonable literary exaggeration because in real life, the grass grows so quickly that the paving stones get covered up in a remarkably small number of years.

We had a meat and lentil soup for lunch, made with the gravy from last night’s brisket dish, and it made a tasty change from our usual vegetable soups.

Fortified by the soup, I went out for my permitted walk.

With the permission of the minor deities in charge of old people having fun, I set out to do the walk that hail and strong winds had persuaded me not to do the other day.

On my way, I passed a sparrow singing strongly on a bush beside the Kirk Brig….

house sparrow kirk birg

…and I was lucky to spot a pied wagtail standing uncharacteristically still on a rock at the Kilngreen.

pied wagtail

I followed the old road north.  It is shown on the map of 1864 so many people must have walked along this track before me.

baggra

Now there is a handy gate at the end of it to let ramblers like me into the field that leads back down to the Ewes Water.

walk eight gate

I crossed the High Mill Bridge and followed the east bank of the Ewes Water.  It hasn’t been a good year for catkins yet, but there were plenty on this particular tree as I passed.

catkins by ewes water

I got as far as the old bridge at the Target Burn.  I didn’t cross the bridge when I came to it….

ewes water bridge

…but turned away from the river and headed up through the wood, leaping across the raging burn when the path came to it, and heading on to the open hill across a stile.

walk eight taget burn

I was very happy to see fresh shoots on the larch trees as I went through the wood.

new larch

Once out on the hill, I could enjoy the views.

view from walk eight

There was a slight dip as I went along a well used track before I followed the wall which you can see going up the hill in the background of the picture.

walk eight dip

The walk along the wall is across rough ground, with no clear track and plenty of moss…

moss on walk eight

…and even on a dry day before the grass and bracken have started growing, I was happy to pause when I got near the top to draw breath and feel some modest pride in getting up the steep climb.

walk eight wall

The wall is exceedingly straight and must have been built by a man with a good eye for a straight line or perhaps the owner of a very large ball of string.

As well as keeping me on the right line, the wall was playing host to some handsome but tiny lichen.

lichen on walk 8 walkk

I was following the route of Walk 8 in the Langholm Walks booklet and to complete the route when I got to the road at the top of the wall, I should have continued upwards to the monument.  I could have got to the monument but the direct route down the face of the hill is too taxing for my knees these days so I headed back down by the road.

Taking time out to admire the view up the valley.

view up ewes from whita

I didn’t go right down the road but followed the line of pylons across the lower slopes of Whita Hill until I came to Whita Well.

Here I could look down over the town across a sea of gorse bushes in bloom.

gorst whta well

I walked down to the town across the golf course and was taken aback by the colour of the fifth green. golf green treatment

Dropscone tells me that although the course is closed to players, the greenkeeper is allowed to work to keep the course in good order for when play is resumed.  He must be very happy about this because nothing annoys a greenkeeper more than golfers walking all over his course and hacking great lumps out of it with their golf clubs.  I hope his drastic treatment on the greens works out well.

It was only a four and a half mile walk but we are very fortunate in having country round us that offers so much variety of hill and valley on a relatively short outing.

I passed two families out for a stroll on my walk and otherwise I enjoyed glorious solitude.  The town was pretty well deserted when I got back to it.  We are living in very quiet times indeed.

The evenings are even quieter than the days.

The non flying bird of the day is our resident blackbird.  It was interested to see what I was doing behind its back.

resident blackbird hedge

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has discovered a fresh treacle mine.  Unfortunately, the discovery comes right at the time that Friday coffee and treacle scones might have to be put on hold, but that is life as it is just now.

treacle mine

We woke to some very welcome sunshine.  Apart from the usual brisk wind, it was definitely a day when you could think that it might be spring.

All the same, it took me a bit of time to get going.  I certainly didn’t spring into action after breakfast, so I didn’t make the best use of the sunshine.

I did pop round to the shop to do more some panic buying (another bottle of milk and some bananas) and then I watched the birds.

A dunnock was trying out the fake tree….

dunnock in fake tree

…and a redpoll was sampling the seed.

redpoll staring

For once the feeder wasn’t full of siskins and the chaffinches were making the most of their day in the sun…

chaffinches busy

…though concentration was still needed to make a safe landing on a feeder which was rocking in the wind.

chaffinch landing

After coffee, I went out into the garden and was pleased to find the ‘maincrop’ daffodils had come out…

three daffodils garden

…and the first of the chionodoxas was looking very fresh and cheerful.

chionodoxa

The tree peony is developing…

tree peony developing

…and the crocuses had stopped lying down and crying, and had opened their arms to the warmth.

crocuses open

Altogether, it was a pleasure to be in the garden amid the smiling faces.

daffodil garden

I did think of a bike ride but it was too windy for my taste.  Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy with her work so I went out for a walk while she went off to deliver the very last of the brochures in the town.

I checked on the daffodils at Pool Corner and was surprised but delighted to see the first bee of the year in action.

bumble bee

There seemed to be enough pollen about to make waking up worthwhile for it.   I think that this is a tree bumble bee.

Although the forecast had promised rain in the afternoon,  there were enough clouds about at midday to make me think that a brisk walk might be a good idea.  I was right.  As I went on, the sky clouded over and it was raining lightly by the time that I got home.

I took a picture or two on my way.  The moss on the wall at Pool Corner was looking very perky, and the lichen continues to enjoy the weather.  There was not much to see in the way of fungus but a fallen branch offered a little taste.

moss, lichen, fungus

I was looking for signs of spring, but I had to look pretty hard to see any.  The tree trunk pattern has nothing to do with spring but I liked it, so I have put it in regardless.

four things on Gaskells

As you can see, any flower, leaf or bud has to poke through moss or lichen to be seen

When I got back home, I checked on the pond.  There were no frogs to be seen but in spite of some chilly mornings, some potential tadpoles were about.  I will keep an eye on them.

tadpole potential

With a final glance at these encouraging flowers…

primroses garden

..I went in and combined watching some rather depressing news conferences and parliamentary committees with occasional looks at the birds before the serious rain started.

There are different ways of approaching the feeder.  A goldfinch took the high road….

high flying goldfinch

…while a chaffinch zoomed in low from behind.

stylish chaffinch

The kung fu siskin was back again…

kung fu siskin

…but the light got very bad so I stopped looking out of the window.

The day was punctuated by calls and texts cancelling our social life in the weeks ahead and now, like everyone else, I daresay, we have a calendar with nothing on it for the foreseeable future.  I should have been playing recorders with our group this evening but that was cancelled too.

On the plus side, the weather forecast is looking decidedly more cheerful over the next few days so I may be able to get a few cycling miles in, and that might take my mind off the rather gloomy prospects that stretch ahead.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote:  I would like to take this opportunity to express the hope that all the readers of the blog come through the days, weeks or months of the life of this virus without taking any hurt.  It is a worrying time but I am going to try not to dwell on the negatives too much in future posts.  There is enough gloom about without me adding to it.

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Today’s guest picture comes from East Wemyss where our son Tony tells us that his dogs found the sea a bit too rough for their liking.

wemyss waves

It was another windy here again, and once again it was very grey too.  The threatened frost didn’t arrive but it wasn’t far above zero at breakfast time.

I cycled round to the shop and checked on the oyster catchers on my way back.

two oyster catchers

Then I walked up to see Sandy.  Trapped in his house for six weeks after his operation, he doesn’t see what all the fuss about a tiny bit of self isolation for the virus is about.  His main worry is that the hospital may be too busy to take his plaster off when his six weeks is up.  That would be hard to bear.

I was very sympathetic and even more so when he plied me with chocolate ginger biscuits to go with good coffee.

When I left him, the rain was holding off so I went home via the track to the Becks Burn.  If you chose your view carefully, the day didn’t look too bad….

view over field topwards warbla

…and there were signs of spring to be seen…

bud becks track

…along the way…

early primroses

…but in general, it was still a pretty miserable day with grey views to match the grey weather.

wintery view becks burn

Still, a nice show of lichen on a gate cheered me up…

lichen on gate

…and when I got to the road, instead of going straight home, I went along Gaskell’s Walk, enjoying the long stemmed moss which carpets the banks in places.

moss

When I got to the Stubholm, I rather felt that the moles had been working so hard that they had made mountains out of their molehills.

molehills

Encouraged by the continuing absence of any persistent rain (there had been one or two opportunist little showers), I extended my stroll to take in Easton’s Walk and was rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a dipper in a little stream at the far end if the Beechy Plains….

dipper murtholm

…and seeing no less than two grey squirrels as I walked back along the river.  If you look with the eye of faith, you may just see one of them scampering up a tree in the picture below.

grey squirrel eastons

They are trying to keep grey squirrels out of the  area to protect the resident red squirrels but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle.

It started to rain seriously as I walked through the park and the sight of blossom dangling from a tree seemed very incongruous as by this time it didn’t feel like a spring day at all.

early blossom park

When I got home, it was lunch time and Mrs Tootlepedal called on all her haute cuisine skills and prepared a dish of baked beans on toast for our delectation.  It went down well.

After lunch, the weather remained very depressing and I gave up thoughts of the great outdoors and settled down to watch Cheltenham races on the telly.  Views on whether the meeting should have taken place at all are divided but the racing was excellent and the sun even shone.

Although the light was too poor for good pictures, I watched the birds when the rain eased off.

A goldfinch and a greenfinch had joined the siskins on the lower level of the feeder.  This was because….

mixed birds on feeder

…there was no seed available at the top level, thanks to dereliction of duty on the part of the feeder filler.

siskin checking on seed

A dereliction of which the greenfinch took a dim view.  He didn’t care to be mixing with impertinent siskins.

greenfinch on feeder

In a quiet moment, a chaffinch sneaked in.

flying goldfinch

I had to look twice to see what sort of bird this was, perched on the feeder.  It turned out to be  greenfinch, probably a juvenile.

young greenfinch

I made a sausage stew for our evening meal and when we had eaten it,  I joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was organising an envelope stuffing event at the Day Centre for the community buy out group.  This is for a mass posting to give everyone in the town a chance to see the prospectus for the proposal and add their support to the group if they wish.

Seven stuffers were in action but as there were 1400 envelopes to stuff with five separate pieces of paper and a brochure for each one, it was not the work of a moment.  We got finished though and the envelopes are sitting in our front room as I write this, ready for distribution over the weekend.

envelope stuffing

If any local reader would like to help with the big task of distribution of the brochures in their street or area, Mrs Tootlepedal would be very happy to hear from them tomorrow.

Flying birds were hard to spot in the gloom so this goldfinch was the best that I could do.

_20S7837

Footnote: I just manged 10,000 steps for the day.  If I can’t get a cycle ride in, I am at least trying to get a good walk if I can.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Kedlestone Hall in Derbyshire on one of the better recent days.

kedlestone hall

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to yet another meeting after breakfast and inspired by her vigour, I managed to get myself into my cycling gear and out of the house before coffee time.  Admittedly, I was helped in this by the knowledge that the forecast for the afternoon was very poor and it was now or never as far as comfortable cycling went.

There are now some definite signs of spring as I go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route with daffodils out beside the road in several places.

daffs on cycle tour

Rather annoyingly, the brisk breeze was back again but one of the reasons that I like my Canonbie route so much is that it protects from the worst of a westerly wind and I get some help going home.  All the same, I had to keep my head down and pedal quite hard at times so I didn’t stop a lot.

When I did stop, the Canonbie cows were too busy to look up.

two canonbie cows

The sun came out as I was pedalling home, and with the wind behind me there were moments when it almost felt warm.

The sun picked out this dramatic tree near Irvine House.

tree a Irvine house

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got home so after a quick check on the pond…

frogs

…and an inventory of growth in the garden…

garden growth

…I went off to cadge a cup of coffee and a ginger biscuit or two from Sandy.

He is remaining remarkably cheerful in spite of the tedium of being housebound for several weeks.  He has some entertainment though, as a pair of blue tits have settled into the nest box on his shed.  I caught a glimpse of one them today.

sandy's blue tit

On my way home, I was struck by these dark shapes in a tree.  They turned out to be a pair of rooks considering  redecorating the sitting room in their nest in the rookery.

two rooks holmwood

I got home in time for lunch and was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her meeting had extended itself into taking important visitors up on to the moor, where they had seen two hen harriers and several goats and kids.  Everyone had enjoyed this a lot.

After lunch, I had a moment to watch the birds.

Unlike yesterday’s neat eater, today’s siskin shows much more typical behaviour.

siskin dropping food

Goldfinches flew in from every angle…

flying goldfinches

…and once ensconced on the feeder, they looked both this way and that.

goldfinch contrast

Having checked the forecast again, I discovered that I might just have enough time for a walk before the rain started so I set out for a short walk over three bridges.

I had had the best of the day on my cycle ride. The cold was now colder, the sky was greyer and the wind was stronger but there were still definite signs of spring along the waterside on both sides of the Langholm Bridge.

signs of spring by the river

And a good supply of birds posing for the camera.

riverside birds march

The ducks have paired off for spring and these two were getting their heads together over some tasty snack just under the surface as I went over the Sawmill Brig.

ducks getting heads together

I walked up past the Estate Offices and admired the wall beside the road.  It is the stone wall with everything: ivy, peltigera lichen, hart’s tongue fern and any amount of moss.

growths on wall above ewesbank

In fact, I was quite surprised to be able to see some stones at one point.

wall above ewesbank

You see a lot more colourful sheep in the fields these days than you did when white wool was a big source of the sheep farmer’s income.

grey sheep

I went along the top of the wood and then dropped down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are still looking good.

snwodrops holmhead

On my way back to the lodge, I passed a couple of sawn off tree stumps.  I imagine that recent rain and strong winds had made them unsafe so that they were cut off before they fell down completely.  The inside of the trunks didn’t look too healthy, I thought.

felled trees

The forecast had been right.  I didn’t have too much time before the rain came.  Unfortunately, because I had stopped to take so many pictures, my time ran out and the rain came on well before I got home.  I stopped taking pictures, put up the hood on my new coat which I had prudently worn, crossed the Duchess Bridge and hurried home….

…stopping only for this lovely burst of blossom beside the river behind the school.

blossom behind school

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out for another meeting so once again, I took the hint from her industriousness and settled down at the computer to tax our car (cost £0 thanks to it being electric) and catch up on some correspondence with two old friends who had  written to me out of the blue.  As I had promised to reply in a couple of days to the one who wrote to me in January , it was none too soon to get to work.  Still, as I hadn’t seen him for nearly fifty years, a few weeks probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

Mike Tinker dropped in for tea and Mrs Tootlepedal returned (soaked) from her business and joined us.

Then it was time for flute playing with Luke.  He is between jobs at the moment so he has had time to practise and this has had a very good result.  I will be taking lessons from him soon.

After tea, I put most of a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before turning to the production of this post.  It has been a full day.

The flying bird of the day is an angry goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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