Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘moss’

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.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew, but was taken by his son, my nephew Dan.  It shows the trail along the disused Nottingham Canal.

nottingham canal bridge Dan

We woke to another dry and sunny morning and I got up early enough to have a wander round the garden before coffee time.

The daffodils are all but over but a single fine specimen is still holding its head up high.

last daffodil

The sunshine made the flowers glow.  The trout lilies are on their way out but a few good specimens remain.

berberis, rhody, trout lily and tulips

Among the newcomers is the brilliant blue of the lithodora.  The camera cannot do this flower justice for its absolute blueness.

lithodora

The cool mornings mean that we are still waiting for the red rhododendrons to come out and other less showy flowers are waiting in the wings too.

garden promis

What there is in the garden is a profusion of sparrows.  They are everywhere.

four sparrow panel

I didn’t have any time after coffee for garden wandering as Mrs Tootlepedal was keen to take a walk to see if we could see a hen harrier up on the moor.

When we walked along the moor road a few days ago, we had not had any sight of the birds at all so we were not over optimistic but after we had driven the two miles up to the White Yett car park, we still walked along the road in hope.

Like yesterday, the Ewes valley was a place of sunshine and shadows…

 

sunshine and shadow ewes 2

…but when we crossed the cattle grid and looked into the Tarras valley, there were a good many more clouds about, and it looked as though it was raining not far away.

rain up tarras

We were not discouraged though and walked on down the hill.  We were rewarded when a female hen harrier put on a spectacular flying demonstration, more or less straight over our heads…

flying hen harrier female panel

I only had a 300mm lens with me so I couldn’t get a close shot but the light was kind and these cropped pictures give an idea of how good it was to watch the exhibition.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had her binoculars with her, had a very good view and was extremely happy.

We hadn’t gone very far when we stopped to watch the bird, and the rain clouds were now looking more and more threatening so we nearly turned back to the car.

When we examined to sky carefully though, it appeared that in spite of the wind blowing towards us, the clouds were actually blowing away from us.  Curious.

We walked on, and after a while the sun came out…

tinnis in early may

…and we saw a male hen harrier flying past us in the opposite direction to the female.  He was not so obliging as the female and stayed well up the hill from us.

male hen harrier

When I took my eyes from the skies and stared at the ground, there was plenty to see there too.

moss and blaeberry

Little spruce trees, seeded by chance, had new growth on the end of their twigs that made them look like decorated Christmas trees.

things beside Tarras road

The fluffy headed grass looked like bog cotton to me  but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is Hare’s Tail and the bog cotton will come later in the year.

We walked down the hill for a while and then walked back up again.

It was a good deal warmer with the wind behind us and the sun out.  The rain clouds  had disappeared and it was a fine day on the moor.

sunshine up Tarras

As we walked back up the hill, we were treated to the sight of the male hen harrier quartering the ground on the other side of the Little Tarras Water.  Although he was clearly visible to the naked eye, he was too far away from my camera.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a good time tracking him with her binoculars.

We were both in a very good mood by the time we had got back to the MacDiarmid Memorial and the car park.

macdiarmid memorial may

The Ewes valley was still a place of sunshine and shadow.

sunshine and shadow ewes 1

We got home in time for a late lunch.

After lunch, I attempted to make a cake, a thing that I have hardly ever done before.  I was following a recipe for a farmhouse sultana cake and I came across one of those mysterious phrases that torment the novice cook: “add milk to the mixture until it has a dropping consistency”.   I find that these days almost anything I touch has a dropping tendency so that wasn’t very helpful.  In the end, I think I erred on the side of stiffness and the cake has come out tasty but rather crumbly.  Practice makes perfect though and I will try again.

While the cake was cooking, it rather unexpectedly started to rain outside.  For a while, it looked as though it even be useful ran and a greenfinch looked a bit disgruntled by it.

reflective greenfinch

It didn’t discourage birds from coming to the feeder though…

busy feeder

…nor did it dampen this male chaffinch’s need to explain to a female just where she was going wrong.

chaffinches talking

But it didn’t last and after getting lighter and lighter, it fizzled out without getting the soil really wet at all.

Grey skies are forecast for tomorrow so with a bit of luck we might get another drop of rain.

On a normal day, this chaffinch might easily have been the flying bird of the day…

flying chaffinch in light rain

…but not today.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight takes pride of place.

flying hen harrier female

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon.  He was walking along the Esk near Canonbie when he saw these people having fun.

canoeists

It was a better day here today with outbreaks of sunshine and no rain until the evening.  Unfortunately, the persistent strong wind was on the go again and it made things feel very chilly unless you could find a sheltered spot in the sunshine and out of the wind.

I had a busy morning, starting with a visit to the shop to panic buy a bottle of milk.  Fortunately, there were quite a lot of bottles to choose from as the people of Langholm are keeping very calm.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on envelope business as more addresses appear which need deliveries.  I went off to visit Sandy and take him some newspaper index sheets to put into the Archive Group database.  He has two weeks to go before the plaster comes off his leg so he was quite pleased to get something to occupy his time.  I was quite pleased to get an excellent cup of Brazilian coffee and a ginger biscuit or two (or three).

I couldn’t stay long as the final business of the morning was to go with Mrs Tootlepedal to the funeral of a man with whom I used to play in the Town Band and who was the father of one of our daughter’s first friends when we came to Langholm.

When we got home from church, we set about copying more inserts and stuffing them into yet more envelopes.  Luckily another member of the team arrived to take a load to deliver to Canonbie.

While this was going on, I had a moment to watch the birds.  There were plenty about.

busy feeder

Including quite a lot of chaffinches….

flying chafinches

….one of whom made a very stylish approach to the feeder.

flying chaffinch with style

I tried to take a few posing birds for Mrs Tootlepedal’s pleasure but the strong wind was making perching on the fake tree a tricky business.  This greenfinch was hanging on to a wildly swaying twig for dear life, its feathers thoroughly flattened.

greenfinch hanging on

A siskin enjoyed a lull in the wind.

siskin posing

While a greenfinch…

greenfinch on stalk

…and a redpoll found more stable perches.

I think that this one may be a female…

quizzical redpoll

…and this one is a male with its courting court on.

red redpoll

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off in the car to deliver some brochures to far flung houses and I went for a walk.  I had hoped for a cycle ride but it was far too windy for cycling to be fun.

I walked down the Esk and was pleased to see a male goosander, even if it was too far away for a good picture.

male goosander

As I walked up Hallpath, I saw a bird of a different feather, or rather no feathers at all, as it is another of the fine wood carvings that grace the town.

wooden peacock

I was walking out to the Laverock bird hide to see if the planned felling of the diseased larch plantation there had begun.

It is a frequent walk but I never tire of it.  I noticed this tree which in its ample girth was strangely reminiscent of the photographer.

P1030989

The path was muddy in places but not nearly as wet as I had expected after another four inches of rain last week.

jenny noble track

The oak wood looked as inviting as ever…

oak wood

..but I plugged on past this fine gorse bush…

gorse on broonholmshiels track

..pausing to look back at the view up the valley…

view from Broom holm

…before getting to the hide.

The plantation was still there and although the bird feeders have been taken down, there were still a lot of birds about, particularly a large flock of chaffinches.    It will probably take them a bit of time to realise that the feeders are not going to magically reappear.  I hope that they find a new source of food soon.

On my way back to Langholm (down the road) I noticed something odd in a pylon.  A closer look showed that it was a man with a good head for heights.  Considering that the wind was blowing briskly, I was very glad that it was him and not me up there.

man up pylon

On my way back down the hill, I passed my favourite wall covered with moss which comes in many styles…

A small forest.

moss forest

A waving meadow.

moss meadow

And a mini mountain.

moss mountain

I crossed over Skippers Bridge and walked home along the west bank of the Esk.  The hazel catkins are flourishing at last and I was able to see both catkins and flowers close together today.

hazel flower and catkin

Mrs Tootlepedal had just got back before me and we enjoyed a well earned cup of tea and a slice of fruity malt loaf after our endeavours.

My flute playing friend Luke arrived on cue and we had a very successful play.  We are trying to develop a bit more style in our playing so a contrasting set of pieces, an arrangement of Easy Winners by Joplin, a slow movement form a trio sonata by J J Quantz, and a couple of fiddle hornpipes certainly gave us something to work on.

I made a simple evening meal of baked potatoes and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat down to try to make some sense out of the news.  It was hard work.

I thought that I had detected the hand of the prime minister’s special adviser in last week’s bold plan to let a lot of old people die in order to provide acquired immunity for the young and fit.  Today, I sensed that the sudden dawning on the prime minister that the age of the average Tory voter might not make this an election winning plan could have caused this week’s volte face, and the sudden concern for the health of the elderly.   We wash our hands.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  As long as there is seed, they are content.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: I took my cycling computer in my pocket for today’s walk and it tells me that I did 5.7 miles at just over 4 miles an hour, though I did spend an additional  half an hour taking pictures along the way.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is the final one from Venetia’s Moroccan trip.  It shows a gecko basking in the sun.

gecko

It was another grey day here but slightly warmer and not actually raining as I walked to church in the morning.  Our bus driving organist had been called to do an an extra shift owing to shortage of staff in Edinburgh but a late replacement appeared so we had accompanied hymns even if they were not the ones that we expected.

I went out into the garden when I got home to check on frogs.  Once again there were none to be seen so I had to make do with a pulmonaria and a bit of colour on a viburnum…

pulmonaria and buds

…and some lawn talk with my neighbour over the garden hedge.  Another sign of spring.

Things in the garden are developing very slowly in the continuing damp, grey and cool weather.

I went back in and watched the birds for a while.  There has been a brisk demand for seed over the past few days and I have been kept busy refilling the feeder.

A siskin watched a queue of chaffinches filing past…

siskin watchinmg chaffinches

…and although this siskin has got its head stuck into the seed, its tail and wing position show that it is fully aware of the incoming chaffinch.

chaffinch and siskin

A bird needs to be alert as there is no knowing when a passing chaffinch might decide to give you a hefty kick.

all action siskins

Quieter scenes were also available.

chaffinch on pole

In both directions.

siskin on pole

We had a second helping of tomato soup for lunch and I printed out 200 more envelopes and covering letters for Mrs Tootlepedal.  These are going to go down to Canonbie where other people will deliver them.

When I looked, I saw that the seeds had dropped below the top perch level and a helpful chaffinch had to explain to a pal that the seed was down here now.

chaffinch too high

Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come to church as she was busy again delivering brochures in the town for the proposed community buy out.  She is not alone in this work and one of the team came round to collect more envelopes.  While she and Mrs Tootlepedal mulled over the work in hand, a heavy shower of rain swept through the garden and by the time that they had finished talking, it had gone.  Good timing.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off in the car to deliver envelopes to some of the outlying houses in the area and I didn’t go with her to help as I wanted to go cycling.  There was alarming talk on the news websites of old people in the UK being made to remain in their homes for a long period in the not too distant future so I wanted to get some exercise while I still could.

I got my cycling gear on and just as I was going to go out, it started to rain. In normal circumstances, I might have got fed up and stayed a home but having told Mrs Tootlepedal that I couldn’t help her, I thought that I ought to actually go for a bike ride, so I set off.

I chose a route up the Ewes valley as this meant that I would start with the wind and rain at my back and not get discouraged too soon!

The rain persisted but never came to much so I quite enjoyed my wind assisted cycle up the hill to Mossspaul.

I wasn’t intending to stop for pictures in the rain but this unusual little waterfall in the middle of a field caught my eye.

unexpected oxbow waterfall ewes

When I looked at the scene more closely, I could see that I was watching a geography lesson in action.  All the makings of the formation of an oxbow lake were before me.

oxbow lake ewes

It is not often that you see that.

There was plenty of water running off the hillside and every little stream was busy.

stream at mosspaul

When I stopped at Mosspaul  after ten miles, I took a moment to enjoy this pine tree…

pine at Mosspaul

…before setting off back down the hill to Langholm.  I had feared that it might be an unpleasant battle with wind and rain but the rain had eased off and the wind came round a point or two and was often more across than in my face.

All in all, it was a much more enjoyable ride than I had expected when I started out, and as I managed to average just over 14 mph for an outing for the first time this year, I was a happy man when I greeted Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her post outing and was busily folding the letters which I had printed earlier.

She didn’t need any help so I went for a short  walk.  The day had dried up and there was even a hint of sunshine.

monument in late sun

Waterside birds are paired up.

three bird pairs

And other signs of spring are to be seen.

three sings f spring

The birds still look as though they are finding life…

oyster catcher in esk

…a little chilly…

heron

…but the crocuses on the Kilngreen are certainly brightening things up.

kilngreen crocus panel

The sun didn’t come out so I didn’t dilly dally but willow and moss made me pause for a moment or two…

willow and moss

…and I went to check on the hazel catkins beside the Esk on the Castleholm.  When I last looked, there were several female flowers but very few catkins.  Today, there were a lot more catkins but I had to look very hard to find a flower and in the end, I only saw one and it was nowhere near the catkins.

The weather seems to have confused the hazels.

hazel catkin and flower

I made some corned beef hash for tea and we settled down for a quiet night in.  It had been strange to have no Carlisle Choir to go to but at least we had got the delivery work and a cycle ride done between us so we hadn’t wasted the day.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, approaching the feeder with the confidential manner of a head waiter at a posh restaurant.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  The Coronavirus news is everywhere. 

Yesterday I read a headline that said “Borders Shut” so I thought that we had been closed down without us knowing about it.  It turned out to be about the closure of international borders in Europe not the border counties of Scotland.  Phew.

Today it said “UK over 70s to be confined to home for a long period”.  That was most unwelcome.  Closer reading showed that in Scotland, us old folk will be allowed some freedom to toddle about outside if we are prepared to ca canny, which we definitely will do.  Phew again.

Don’t think that we aren’t taking this seriously, because we are. 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »