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Posts Tagged ‘River Esk’

Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda.  She is off school but obviously getting good art lessons at home.

matilda's wolf

Here, we had another dry day with a lot of thin cloud again.  It did get slightly warmer in the afternoon and may well have got into double figures at last.

We are limited in what we can do and where we can go so my first activity was to walk round the garden and admire the primroses.

primorses garden

We are allowed a shopping trip so I cycled round to the corner shop and passed the oyster catchers on my way home.  This one likes standing on one leg a lot.

oyster catcher one leg

Then I did a little compost sieving and followed that by making some potato soup for lunch, using chives from the garden for added flavour.

After lunch, it was time for garden action again.  Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing out the old strawberry bed.  We have decided that it makes more sense to buy the excellent strawberries produced by a local grower than use up a lot of space for a not very bountiful or tasty crop of our own.

I finished sieving the compost in Bin C and started turning out the contents of Bin B into Bin C.  I am taking this in gentle stages and did about a third of the pile before hanging up my fork and going for a walk,

Apart from shopping, we are allowed one excursion for exercise each day, and as it was far too windy for comfortable cycling, a walk was the choice for today.

In decided to visit the top of Warbla and as I walked up the track from the park to the Stubholm, a ray of sunshine brightened the day…

sun on trees stubholm track

…but it didn’t cut through the haze and the rest of the walk was pleasant enough but didn’t offer anything in the way of sunny views.

I saw horses…

two horses stubholm

…and the bench that my neighbour Liz likes to sit on when she takes her dog for a walk in the morning.

bench on warbla

As I got near the top of Warbla, a gap in the cloud let the sun pick out this blasted tree…

tree on warbla

…and when I got to the summit, I was able to take a quick shot over the town before the clouds  began to close again.

town and ewes cloudy day from warbla

I couldn’t stop on the summit as the wind threatened to blow me over the edge so I began to walk down the other side of the hill towards the cattle sheds which you can see below.

view down from warbla summit

This was an adventurous route for an old man with dodgy knees, crossing rough ground and finding gaps in old walls…

warbla wall

…but fortunately there was a reassuring sign telling me that I was going in the right direction.

walks sign warbla

Just as I was getting towards the bottom of the hill, I saw a cloud of sheep ready to head upwards…

sheep gathering below warbla

…so I had to make a diversion and was able to watch them heading uphill as I passed below them.sheep at skipperscleuch

I came to Skippers Bridge and the water was low enough to let me take a picture from the upstream side….

skippers March

…where I could enjoy the clear water splashing over the rocks…

esk at skipeprs

…and get a good view of the old distillery building.

distillery March

I walked home along the Murtholm.  There are not a great many hazel catkins this year but one bush is doing very well and when I looked more closely, I could see that it also had a lot of female flowers on it.  I have never seen three flowers together like this before.

three hazel flowers

The sheep were safely grazing…

sheep eating

…and I rounded off my walk by seeing a garden escape adding a little colour to the river bank above the Park Bridge.

colour at the park bridge

When I got home, I saw the familiar pair of piebald jackdaws on the path beside the dam. It  seems amazing that that prominent white feather has not fallen off.

piebald jackdaws

I passed a family party of four on the hill and a lone dog walker on the flat during my walk so I reckon that it was isolated enough to be fine.  If the weather stays good, I hope to have a cycle ride for my permitted excursion tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal is crocheting a blanket to keep herself occupied during the shut in and I am waging a losing battle against my computer security suppliers which may well take me the rest of my life.  We are both keeping busy.

The flying bird of the day is not flying.  It is a jackdaw perching on the park wall.

jackdaw on park wall

For some not very clear reason, no birds are coming to the feeder at all at the moment so flying birds will be at a premium.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He took his son Nick on a ten mile walk up as many hills as he could find.  Nick is going on a Nepal trek soon and needed some practice.  Here is Nick on Ecton Hill at 1211ft.

Nick on Ecton Hill

My morning walk to the (corner) shop once again took me along the river.  The weather had improved enough for the oyster catcher to get its head in the air.

oyster catcher sideways look

The weather forecast was a lottery today and trying to find out what was going to happen depended entirely on when you looked at it, as it changed every hour or so.  This made planning a dry cycle ride tricky.  It was supposed to rain at eleven and be sunnier in the afternoon, but it didn’t rain at  eleven and the sun came out at twelve and lit up the siskins.

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Sunshine is always welcome but does pose shadow problems for me.

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There was plenty of action but not enough to call for two feeders, so I took one back in and washed it thoroughly.

_20S7440

The sunshine was a great motivator though, and I had a very early lunch and went off on my bike to add a few miles to my meagre monthly total.   February has been a rotten month for my cycling as it started with dizzy spells which kept me off the bike and just as I recovered from them, the rain and gales started and didn’t stop for two weeks.

It was a novel experience to be cycling in the sunshine.

I wanted to record that it was a  colourful day compared with yesterday’s monochrome ride so I took a picture of a tree.  Because it was not raining or snowing, I was able to look at the result on the camera and much to my surprise, I found that it wasn’t colourful at all.

dead tree bw

Behind my back and without my permission, the camera had gone into monochrome mode and that explained the extreme lack of colour in yesterday’s landscapes.  I apologise for misleading readers but I would say in my defence that it was a pretty monochrome day and curiously, my photo editor still insists that the picture above is in RGB colour so the camera must be withholding secrets even from Photoshop.  I like the monochrome tree anyway.

Still, I moved the dial on the camera back to its proper setting and took a picture of some more trees.

two trees chapelhill

The sunshine became rather variable as I pedalled round my customary Canonbie circuit..

tree beside Canonbie by pass

…but it was shining when I got to Hollows Bridge and found that there was still a fair amount of water flowing down the Esk.

esk at hollws brodge

On the other side of the bridge, a fragile tree looked as though it might plunge into the river at any time.

old tree hollws bridge

The roads were generally quite dry but there were still puddles about and shortly after I had passed this one…,

puddle auchenrivock road

…I was forced to stop at a traffic light.  This had been put up to cope with yet another roadside landslip.

I could see trees at dangerous angles…

landslip with trees irvine house

…and as the road is close to the bank of the river here,  trees had been pulled out of the soil as the bank collapsed.  The road was just intact but barriers were encouraging the traffic to keep away from the affected side of the road.

The wood on the other side of the road has recently been felled and these trees are not so sheltered from the blast as they were.  I don’t know how long these unaffected trees will last…

surviving trees at irvine house

…or the ones that perch in a lonely fashion on the steep bank on the other side of the road.

tree at irvine House

During the second half of my ride, it had started to rain once or twice but I scowled so furiously at the clouds that the rain apologised and went away.  I was enjoying myself so much that when I got back to Langholm, I was thinking if adding some extra miles but this time it started to rain seriously, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure, so I took the hint and went straight home.

Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and the rain was so local that it had hardly stopped her at all.   I had a look round the garden myself.

four spring shots

..and felt that the flower of the day was the single blossom on the winter honeysuckle.

winter honeusuckle

The sun came out again as I went in.

siskin on feeder arch

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the helicopter which is taking materials to the pylon on the golf course was back in the air again, so I went upstairs to have a look to see if I could see it.

It was very busy zipping to and fro.  They must have been pleased to be able to get back to work after the strong winds of the past two weeks.

pylon helicopter

As I watched, the rain started again so I shut the window after I had taken this final shot of the helicopter, like young Oliver, going back for more.

helicopter over monument

I was thinking of going for a late walk but the weather seemed too unreliable so I settled down to try to improve the security of the Langholm Archive Group website, a necessity these days when browsers may stop people viewing insecure sites.  This is above my pay grade but I ploughed on and succeeded with two of the three parts of the site but made the third part so bad that my browser had a fit when I tried to view it.

Fortunately, the web hosting company was able to provide a solution when I retailed my woes to them.

Unfortunately, the security certification process has upset the formatting of the sites and I have had to ask for help again.  This sort of thing makes my head hurt.  They have kindly replied but the suggested solution may need me to seek yet more help.

In the meantime, I did find a sunny flying chaffinch of the day. Hooray.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She is not in Manitoba at the moment, having left her -15 degree temperatures there for the roasting air of Queensland, Australia where she met these Boer cross doeling goats.

Boer cross doeling

It was so gloomy here, after another night of wind and rain, that we had to have the light on in the morning and that made looking at birds through the window a bit tricky.

light in window

When I did get a sight of them, I could see that it was still raining and the wind was blowing hard enough to making staying on the feeder quite a task.

goldfinch hanging on

The birds came and went in busy patches and disappeared to other feeders for long spells.

siskin arriving

Just like the school playground, there is always one person with no mates.

siskin no mates

Others could only stand and stare.

siskin on pole

I put on my coat and boots and walked along to the shop and back, and then, after coffee, I put them on again and walked along to the Buccleuch Centre where there was a well timed public display regarding the proposed flood defences for Langholm.

As usual with these affairs, everyone in the town knows exactly what should or not be done and the only people with no clue are the experts.  I had a very nice conversation with one of the experts, an Irish lady who seemed to know quite a lot, and learned a bit myself.  The proposed protection mostly consists of high mounds and walls which may protect the town from flooding but will certainly make the riverside less attractive so no one will be able to get everything they want.  The experts have a bold scheme to divert the course of the Wauchope so it will join the Esk on the other side of the church.   I would need quite a lot of persuading before I thought that this was a good way to spend money but I am open to persuasion.

When I came out of the meeting, I went to check on the river behind the hall just to see if the exhibition was in danger of being flooded itself.

esk at flood prevention meeting

There was a bit to go before that happened.

I went home and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie.  The rain and wind were still going full steam ahead and for some curious reason none of the ladies wanted to join me in a walk, so like that lonely siskin, I went out by myself.

I was well wrapped up and it was reasonably warm so it wasn’t too bad.  The rain wasn’t very heavy but the strong wind made even light rain feel serious so I kept my head down and didn’t take too many pictures.

Most of my pictures featured water since there was a lot of it about.

becks bridge wauchope road

The Becks Burn goes under the road.

auld stane brodge

The Auld Stane Brig straddles the Wauchope Water.

flooding over road

The roads were running with water coming off fields and out of woods.

I didn’t take the opportunity to sit on this bench in the rain and contemplate the churchyard over the water.  I felt the day was grey enough already.

wet bench

I was standing on a new bridge at the end of Gaskell’s walk, taking a picture of this little cascade…

waterfall at Stubholm

…when I noticed some movement and saw the the bank was slipping into the water as I was watching.

landslip at stubholm waterfall

I thought it prudent not to linger on the bridge too long and walked along the track to the Murtholm.  The river Esk was rising.

trees in river

I got to Skippers Bridge and was impressed by this waterfall running down onto the road.

waterfall at Skippers

I was intending to go down to the water’s edge to take a picture of the foaming current swirling through the arches…

skippers on a rough day

…but a look at the situation made me decide to walk back to the other side of the bridge and take my picture from the safety of the main road.

skipeprs from upstream

As I walked back to the town, I reflected that there were probably some snowdrops down there.

no snowdrops

If the flood prevention scheme goes ahead, this path will be widened and have a 2m barrier between it and the river.  It will be safe but the river view will be limited.

path that will be walled

The river was full but not flooding when I got back to the suspension bridge.  There would be barriers along both sides of the river here.

esk in flood again

We had more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty brisket of beef for our tea and then after Evie had retired for the night, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday night visit.   It showed how miserable the weather was that they used their car to cover the 200 or so yards to our door and still got wet before they got into the house.

Alison and I enjoyed some good music making and when she and Mike had left, I walked down to the river to see if it was still rising.  The rain had stopped after a full day and the river was no higher than it had been at five o’clock.  The Esk is working overtime carrying all our rain away.

I emptied Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge today.  It had collected five inches of rain during the week.  Some places got that amount of rain in a day last weekend so it is no wonder that there has been heavy flooding.  Once again, we have been wet but lucky,

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our son Tony just to prove that as well as having almost perpetual sunshine, they get milk delivered in bottles in East Wemyss.

milk bottles east wemyss

We got more rain here, rain overnight and rain in the morning.  I walked round to the shop in the rain and then looked at some birds in the rain.

greenfinch siskins rain

In spite of the weather there were plenty of birds about…

greenfinch siskins rain 2

…and after a while, I put out a second feeder to meet demand.

second feeder goldfinches

The rain stopped in the late morning and I went for a walk while Annie and Evie caught up on a little sleep after a restless night.

In the garden, the hellebores are developing slowly…

hellebore

…but down at the river, the water was fairly rushing along again.

full river esk

I got blessed by a little sun as I crossed the Sawmill Brig and it made the moss on the wall sparkle cheerily.

moss glinting

When I got to the Lodge, I chose the upper road to Holmhead.  This was just as well as when I looked down, I saw that I might have needed water wings to navigate the lower road.

puddle on low road

The snowdrops at Holmhead have stood up to the rain well but like me, they would be a lot better off with a bit of sunshine.

snowdrops holmhead

Walking along the muddy path round the pheasant hatchery was a precarious business and I nearly slipped when I stopped to take this picture of tree bark and lichen.

tree bark

After that, photography took a back seat as the weather closed in rapidly and it began to rain quite heavily.

strom coming in

It didn’t rain all of the time though.  Sometimes it snowed.

After lunch, the weather improved a lot.  Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie went off to visit a friend and I went off to see a different friend.

Sandy has finally got back from hospital after a visit that was supposed to last only a day or two for an operation but eventually lasted for two weeks as other health matters intervened.

The sun had come out to celebrate his arrival…

sunny whita scotts knowe

…and as you can expect, he was pretty pleased to be back in his own home.

He wasn’t jumping for joy though, as jumping will be off the menu for six weeks until his plaster comes off.

sandy's foot

He can get about in the house and he has a team of friends who will visit him so he was far from downhearted.

As I walked home, I passed our neighbour’s flowering currant showing signs of growth.

hectors currant

The birds had eaten a lot of seed during while I had been out.

two feeders

Although it was too cold to tempt the crocuses to open in spite of the sunshine….

closed sunny crocuses

…there was another promising sign of spring to be seen in the pond.

frogspawn

I didn’t see any frogs though.

I went down the road and met Mrs Tootlepedal, Annie and Evie as they left their friend’s house.  Mrs Tootlepedal went home to cook, and Annie and I took Evie for a short walk in the (vain) hope that she might have a nap.

We looked one way to see the sun shining on Timpen…

late sun on Timpen

…and the other way to see first signs of blossom on the riverside trees.

blossom

We walked up Mary Street and looked across the river at the Noble Firs on the Castleholm.  Whatever strips the cones has been doing a good job and there is hardly a cone left to be seen.

noble fir cones

Annie was very impressed by the amount of polypores on the birch tree beside the road and thought that the fungi made an interesting accompaniment to the amount of man made kit on the electricity pole nearby.

polypores and electricty

Mrs Tootlepedal’s cooking skills brought us a good meal of brisket of beef for our tea and then we all collapsed into a quiet doze after a busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a double helping of siskin and chaffinch.

flying siskin and chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from camera club member Simon’s recent walk in our hills.  It was so grey today that I thought we needed at least one bit of sunshine to brighten up the day.

simon's walk

Storm Dennis arrived softly but it was raining by coffee time and the wind got up as the day went on.  Luckily we seemed to have been spared the worst once again but it was still a gloomy and miserable day.

Like the rain, the birds arrived slowly and a lone siskin started things off…

lone siskin in rain

…although when it looked left, it saw a bird arriving…

siskin nand chaffunch

…and when it looked right, it saw that another had arrived.

siskin and siskin

In the end it stopped looking around and concentrated on eating seed.

busy feeder

Once the siskins had taken over the whole feeder, new comers got a dusty welcome whether they came from on high…

siskin coming from on high

…or on the level.

siskin coming in from below

The rain occasionally eased off and the gusty wind dropped too…

placid chaffinch

…but it soon started to blow again.

goldfinches in the wind

I took advantage of a moment when the rain had dropped to a drizzle to walk to the shops and purchase some necessities.  There was cheese involved.  I was pleased to have the ample hood on my new coat to protect me from the rough wind.

When I got home, I checked to see what was going on in the garden.  It is quite warm today at 10 degrees C and the early daffodils seemed quite perky…

daffodil in Dennis

..while some crocuses…

yellow crocus in Dennis

…had even defied the elements and opened their petals.

pale blue crocus in Dennis

The rhubarb is still sulking.  Following a conversation with our friend Mike, Mrs Tootlepedal is going to put a bucket over one shoot and try a little forcing.

rhubarb not doing much

After a quiet afternoon in front of the telly, I took a walk down to the Wauchope to see if the rain had caused it to rise.  It was still pretty calm.

wauchope storm Dennis PM

This was more than I was as I went home, because a tremendous gust of wind accompanied by a mini deluge of rain filled my wellies with water and got my socks wet.

I went out again at seven o’clock in the evening when the rain had stopped to see what was what.

The Wauchope was full but not alarming but the Esk was raging.

Esk storm dennis 1

…and dangerously close to its banks.

Esk storm dennis 2

Quite a few others were out doing some river watching too and this lady showed my some pictures of severe flooding in our neighbouring village Newcastleton, which is just over the hill from us.

spectators storm Dennis

We have more than enough water in our river so here’s hoping that we don’t get more.  It was still rising even though the rain had stopped.

Esk storm dennis 3

An orange street light at the suspension bridge showed how high the water is.

Esk storm dennis 4

More strong winds and rain are forecast for tomorrow so we will just have to wait and see what happens.

A siskin is the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She was unimpressed by my flimsy  footwear in a recent picture on the blog and sent me this shot of real boot quality in her latest pair.

Mary Jo's socks

The ‘wet day’ marmalade which I made yesterday has set well, and this morning I put the caps on the jars and used some rather fancy labels.

2020 marmalade

(My handwriting was never good and has got steadily worse with the advent of keyboards and computers.)

The day was remarkably calm after yesterday’s strong winds and I was able to stroll down to sing with the church choir wearing a light jacket and a cheerful smile.  The hymns were a mixed bunch with an African tune, a Jewish melody and some old faithfuls and we had an enjoyable sing.  After a quiet time, we are going to start singing introits and anthems again so we had a practice after the service.  We were ready for coffee when we got home.

The birds were in no hurry to come to the feeder today but the walnut was playing host to jackdaws.  Jackdaws pair for life and we often see pairs of them sitting and chatting amiably among the branches of the tree.

jackdaw pair

As the welcome sun came round to the feeder, some dunnocks appeared on the ground..

dunnock

…and a pigeon landed on the electricity wire above…

pigeon on wire

…and finally a redpoll actually came and ate some seed.

redpoll on feeder

A siskin arrived too….

sisking on feeder

…but it was a very quiet morning for bird activity.  A small heap of feathers on the lawn showed that a sparrowhawk had visited earlier in the day so that possibly explained the lack of visitors.

I was pleased to see that our robin had not been the victim.

robin on wire

After our coffee, we took a quick walk round the garden.  We were delighted to see the first signs of snowdrops.

first snowdrop

We have occasionally seen them fully out by this time, so I hope it will not be long before a flower appears.

We left the garden and headed out for a visit to the river.  The rivers had fallen a lot since Gavin took his picture yesterday…

new course of wauchope

…and the Esk looked very calm…

Esk after flood

…but the lines of leaves on the bank showed just how near the road the river had been at its height.

tide mark esk after flood

It had brought down a good load of sand and gravel with it and this has blocked off the flow of the Wauchope through the second arch as it comes under the Kirk Bridge.

sandbank at mouth of wauchope

We crossed the suspension bridge and walked down the river towards Skippers Bridge.

Because we go to Carlisle for our other choir on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t have a lot of time to spare.  Mrs Tootlepedal kept up a brisk pace and I only took a  few pictures as we went along.

The heavy rain had left fungus on a bench and lichen on a fence untouched….

fungus and lichen waterside

…but the river was high enough and the rocks slippery enough to make me think that a glimpse of Skippers Bridge through the trees was probably as close as it was sensible to get today.

skippers through trees

Although it was now a lovely day and it wasn’t much after midday, the long shadows across the field at the Murtholm reminded us that there is still a lot of winter to go.

murtholm winter shadows

And the reflective fence posts recalled yesterday’s rain.

fence post relections

It is curious that the left and right fence posts are reflected straight up and down but the centre post is at a marked angle.

The forecast for the next couple of days is appalling, with a named storm coming our way but today really was the calm before the storm.  It was a lovely day for a walk.

view of timpen january

As we walked along the Stubholm track, we passed some fine trees.  Mrs Tootlepedal gives a sense of scale to this one.

big tree at stubholm

The walk finished with a quick look at fungus and lichen on trees and walls round the park.

four lichens park wall

After a light lunch we added a useful visit to the recycling facilities in Longtown on the way to the Carlisle choir.

As we drove down, we were able to listen to the edition of Gardener’s Question Time on BBC Radio 4 which had been recorded last month in the Buccleuch Centre.  Among others, they used my question on the show so now I am famous.

The question asked for suggestions for flowers which the panel thought might make good photographic subjects.  Mrs Tootlepedal has taken up one of the recommendations and if all goes well, you will be able to see the results in the blog in the course of time.  I am not going to say what it is.  It will be a surprise.

At the choir, we found that yet another tenor had come to sing with us. That made three new members in two weeks.  The hard work of the committee in trying to attract new men to the choir seems to have paid off.

We had a very hard working practice, with three new songs to learn.  Fortunately our choir director was in fine form and she drove us along at a good pace so we got a lot done.

The weather stayed good for our drive home and as we weren’t in the mood for heavy cooking, we had boiled eggs with soldiers for our tea.  As good as a feast any day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit to Liverpool by my brother Andrew.  He found it in a colourful mood.

liverpool

After some very grey days, we had a much more colourful day here today.  The sun shone and the wind dropped and it looked liked a good day to go outside.

As usual, I found a number of things to do indoors before getting organised, and of course, the birds needed watching.

I hadn’t had to fill the feeder for a couple of days, and although it was getting near the bottom today, it was still of interest to the chaffinches.

chaffinch panel

Seeing these two pecking at the last of the seed made me go out and change the feeders over.

two chaffinch little seed

The new feeder, well filled, proved attractive to chaffinches too.

chaffinches at full feeder

I finally ran out of excuses and got my bike out and set off up the Wauchope road.  I passed a man with a tractor with a flail attached, and found out that he had been doing quite a lot of violence to anything that he could reach beside the road.  It was lucky that he was on one side of the road and I was on the other as I might have had some difficulty getting past the debris that he left behind.

flailings on road

I decided to turn off at the first opportunity and I was soon heading uphill, away from the carnage and with my favourite view behind me.

Blocxh view january

Although the 40 mph winds of yesterday had subsided, there was still a brisk breeze left behind and I had to battle my way down the hill to Gretna Green where I was happy to take a rest and look at the clasped hands sculpture at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop tourist centre.

gretna handshake

There wasn’t a tourist to be seen today as I took a picture of the art work.  I can see what it is supposed to symbolise and newly married couples often have their picture taken under its arch, but it always looks rather creepy to me as though someone has been buried under ground and is praying to be let out.

But there are some very decorative berries in the hedge at the entrance.

gretna berries

Ignoring the cross winds, I pedalled down the new road beside the motorway into England and when I reached the outskirts of Carlisle, I turned and headed back towards Greta, going through Rockliffe.

The wind was still across but now it was marginally behind me so I made good progress.

This tree in a field at Rockcliffe looks as though it has had some battles with strong winds itself.

rockliffe tree

The wind was certainly ruffling the waters of the Esk as it flowed under the railway bridge before it meets the Solway.

troubled esk at metal bridge

Once I had reached Gretna, the way home was plain sailing as I cycled up the main roads to Canonbie with the very helpful wind pushing me along.

I turned off onto the old main road to Canonbie which has triple delights, like these three trees at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the three shaggy cows in the field, two of whom were more interested in eating than having their picture taken…

two cows at canonbie

..but one was in a more accommodating mood.

one cow at canonbie

I took one last stop for a drink and snack before getting back to Langholm and noticed some healthy peltigera lichen on the wall against which I had propped my bike.

peltigera lichen irvine house

I saw that I had done 43 miles by the time that I got back to the town and was pedalling on up the main road, thinking happily that 50 was a nice round number when we had a vote and my legs voted for stopping.  I am a democrat so I turned back and ended up with a satisfactory 45 miles for the outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also made good use of the better weather by going for a good walk and getting some light gardening done while I was out.  She was very cheered by seeing an actual bud forming on a daffodil in the garden.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, we needed to replace a little of the energy expended and very fortunately she had bought some cream which, when whipped up, went perfectly with meringues.

A goldfinch arrived at the new feeder.

goldfinch at full feeder

I had a shower and then went out to investigate a claim from a blog reader that there is a small murmuration of starlings in Langholm.  The claim turned out to be quite true.

starlings over esk

By some murmuration standards, it is a small flock but it still had about a couple of hundred birds in it at its busiest.

starlings over esk 2

The starlings circled round above the Esk at the Town Bridge and from time to time, other things caught me eye.

Ducks and gulls took to the air, Mr Grumpy supervised more ducks on the river and the moon shone in the background.

duck, gull, heron and moon

In order to capture the moon, I had to make the sky dark but as you can see in the picture below, it wasn’t really as dark as that.

After they had finished murmuring, the starlings fell out of the sky in dramatic fashion and disappeared into a remarkably small bush in front of Greenbank.

starlings landing

I got home in perfect time to have a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  Our friend Mike dropped in for a cup and helped us out by eating one of the remaining meringues.

There is talk of snow on the hills tomorrow morning but I will only believe that when I see it.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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