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Posts Tagged ‘rocking horse’

Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who took a trip to the country at the weekend and came upon this delightful scene.

amersham

We had a thoroughly soggy day here today with rain almost uninterrupted from dawn until dusk.

Under the circumstances, a visit from Dropscone for coffee was more than usually welcome.  He has been to the physiotherapist whom I have recently visited in an attempt to get one of his legs working less painfully.  He has exercises to do and I will be interested to see how he goes.

In view of the rain, I spent an idle day indoors, sometimes looking out of the window to check on the birds..

awkward landing for chaffinch

…who came in a steady stream.

two chaffinches approaching

It was mostly a day for chaffinches…

four chaffinches appraching

…with the occasional siskin and the even more occasional goldfinch, one of whom was most indignant to see a chaffinch encroaching on his personal perch space.

goldfinch views chaffinch with suspicion

I did go out in the late afternoon to check on the height of the rivers after several hours of rain but it was not remarkable enough to warrant an illustration.  I will look again tomorrow.

Otherwise I had a desultory sort of day, reading the papers, putting new songs to learn into the computer, practising my flute and singing, and mooching around with the air of a man who would be doing something useful if only he could think what it was.

In the end, I remembered what it was, and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database.

While I had been idle, Mrs Tootlepedal had been hard at work.  She helped out with a very busy lunch service at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop for two hours and spent a lot of time at home working on a patchwork horse rug for you know who.

rocking horse blanket

We are still waiting for the saddle and bridle to arrive from the rocking horse shop.

Unsurprisingly, a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

horizonal flying chaffinch

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I have delved into my archives to find today’s guest picture sent by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia last October.  It shows a footpath that is not totally welcoming.

cows in the way

We woke to an altered view from our upstairs window.

whita fron befroom window

The snow hadn’t got down as far as the town though and I was able to walk to our corner shop on surprisingly ice free roads.

Sandy, who had missed the camera club last night, came down for a cup of coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal combined having coffee with us with putting more coats of gesso on the rocking horse.  The horse has been brought in from the cold and is enjoying life in our spare room.  More importantly the gesso is going on a lot better and by the end of the day, the horse was looking a lot smarter…

rocking horse gesso progress

…although there are several more coats to go on before it will be ready for painting.

When Sandy left, I did the crossword and kept an eye for action outside the kitchen window.

I got an unexpected chance to catch a regular visitor…

sparrowhawk on feeder

…which doesn’t usually sit quietly for long enough for me to take a picture.

In spite of the snow, it was a reasonably pleasant day with occasional bursts of sunshine and although the temperature was only 3°C and it had rained overnight in the town, we were mysteriously free from ice so I went for a walk half way up a hill.

I went up the Kirk Wynd and onto Whita, stopping before I came to any serious snow. The sun had been out when I started but sadly clouds had intervened and it was a pretty grey day.

trees on whita snow

Even on a  grey day though, there is usually something to cheer a walker up and there was a good show of lichen on a wall….

lichen on mossy wall

…and the view up the Ewes valley always lifts the heart whatever the weather.

snowy view up ewes

I was on the very edge of the snow line as I walked along the contour of the hill towards the Newcastleton road but the going was very good and I had sensibly taken my walking poles with me so I enjoyed myself.

whita track snow

And when I got to the road, I was rewarded with a sparkling display of moss among the snow on a wall…

moss on snowy wall

…and a wintry view through the pines.

pines in snow

Looking back up the hill, I was glad that I hadn’t been tempted to climb up to the monument as it looked decidedly chilly up there.

monument with frosting

I followed the road down to the A7 and walked along to the Kilngreen past this fine display of holly berries.

holly berries whitshiels

On the Kilngreen, the light seemed perfect for capturing the sinuous patterns of this picnic bench…

kilngreen bench

…and I was very happy to see Mr Grumpy on the bank of the Ewes Water.  I haven’t seen him for some time and was getting worried about his health.

heron

There was more agreement about the way to go among the mallards today.

mallards on esk

Looking back towards the Sawmill Brig and Castle Hill, it was hard to imagine that I had been walking in snow not long before.

kilngreen no snow

I got home and sat down to a nourishing plate of soup.  Mrs Tootlepedal returned from helping out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and I watched the birds for a while…

january greenfinch

…being pleased to see a greenfinch and by accident I took a picture which shows how small our garden bird visitors are in the great scheme of things.

bird among the bushes

Whatever it is that is causing me to have discomfort when walking at the moment hadn’t been made worse by my walk so I decided that the roads were probably ice free enough to risk a few miles on the slow bike to see if that sort of exercise would help.

The sun came out…

snowy whita from wauchope road

…which was a bonus and I pedalled very gently for seven miles without meeting any icy patches or making my leg worse so I was very happy.  I will try a longer ride next time when the weather permits.

In the evening, the ever busy Mrs Tootlepedal laid down her crochet hook and went off to act as front of house for a screening of the Queen of Spades at the Buccleuch Centre and stayed to see the opera.  As Tchaikovsky is not my favourite composer, I stayed at home and did a little more work on learning the Carlisle Choir songs.  Like putting gesso on a rocking horse, this is a slow business.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day as the visit of the sparrow hawk didn’t keep the birds away from the feeder for long.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony’s series of perfect weather in East Wemyss.

wemyss view

We were promised good weather by noon and as it was still a bit chilly in the morning, I was more than usually happy to see Dropscone arrive (with traditional Friday treacle scones) for a cup of coffee or two.  I treated him with more than my customary respect as he has had an article printed in our local newspaper this week.  It concerned the great number of shops that there used to be in the town in the days when almost all the money earned in Langholm was spent in Langholm.

After he left, I looked for some bird action on the feeder and although I did catch a robin…

robin on feeder january

…and a coal tit…

coal tit on feeder january

..it was a very quiet day birdwise with only the odd bickering chaffinch to show.

squabbling chaffinches

The temperature crept up to 7°C but sadly the sun did not make its forecast appearance so I had to wrap up well again for my cycle ride.  On the plus side, the wind was very light so I was able to do 33 easy miles, but on the minus side, both the weather and my route were pretty dull so the camera stayed in my back pocket except to take notice of this handsomely decorated concrete bus shelter in Eaglesfield.

bust stop at eaglesfield

The bus shelter is utilitarian and perfectly serviceable without its decoration and Plato may have taken the view that utility is beauty but then he was probably sitting having an ouzo beside the beach in Greece when he thought that and not standing in the cold on a gloomy day in Scotland.  I like the decoration.

The only other picture I took was a colourless view up the River Esk at Irvine House just to show how grey the day was….

esk at irving house

…and I had to wait until I got home to get a glimpse of something more encouraging in the shape of the first daffodil bud of the year.

daffodil showing

Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden when I got back and she tells me that she has potted on our Christmas tree into a bigger pot.  It is still getting conditioned to life outside by sitting in the greenhouse for the moment.

There are snowdrops about but to save me crawling about on my hands and knees, I took a picture of two that the gardener has brought into the house.

two snowdrops indoors

It didn’t take long for darkness to fall outside and I settled down to looking at the hymns for church on Sunday while Mrs Tootlepedal made further progress on her crochet blanket.

crochet blanket part two

She has two winter projects ongoing, the blanket for the hours of darkness and refurbishing her childhood rocking horse for the short daylight hours.

She has taken the whole assembly to bits and cleaned, sanded, repaired and varnished the base.  She has fashioned an ingenious method for holding it all tightly together as the glue dries during re-assembly.

rocking horse repairs

You can see the cleaned and sanded horse waiting patiently in the background for its turn to come,  This will involve gesso I am told.

During the day, I did my vocal exercises with the straw and a glass of water a couple of times and I think that they are already having a beneficial effect.  I will persevere.

There was no Friday evening music as my accompanist is still getting treatment for her damaged shoulder which is taking longer to heal than expected.  Still, as I have had five pedals, two tootles and a choir this week, I can’t complain.

I didn’t get a very satisfactory flying bird of the day as what chaffinches there were insisted on approaching the feeder from the wrong direction.  Some birds have no gratitude.

flying chaffinch

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