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Posts Tagged ‘sheep’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who felt that he could prove that East Wemyss has fine trees as well as seemingly eternal sunshine.

East wemyss

For a change, we had some sunshine here too today, but as it came hand in hand with a very gusty and nippy east wind and a drop in the temperature, it was not quite as welcome as it might have been.

I had intended to go cycling, but it wasn’t appetising, and I had  coffee and a ginger biscuit with Sandy instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning of meetings so when Sandy had left, I had a quiet time.  I did go to visit our translated corner shop though.

two shops

The new shop (on the left in the panel) is bigger, brighter and has a nifty new sign but the old shop was on a proper corner so I shall miss it.  Still, my cycle route to the new shop takes me along the river and I hope to be able to catch a few waterside bird pictures from time to time when I go to get my groceries.

The better weather brought more birds to the feeder….

busy feeder

…and the better light let me capture a pair of greenfinches coming and going.

flying greenfinches

Even occasional light showers didn’t put the birds off…

chaffinchlanding rain

..and flying chaffinches were ten a penny, rain or shine.

flying chaffinch panel

I made some leek and potato soup for lunch (leeks and onions from the garden but we have had to start buying potatoes again after 5 months of eating home grown).

After lunch, I went out for a walk, touring the garden before I went.

There is still a little colour, fresh from the jasmine, medium from the wallflower and faded from Rosy Cheeks…

jasmine, wallflower, rosy cheeks

…and some interesting greens too, the perennial nasturtium in the yew, unseasonable leaves still on a clematis and promise of flowers from a sarcococca by the back door.

yew, clematis sarcococca

I started out on my walk just after two o’clock and the sun was already setting behind the hill, so one side of the river was already in shade.

esk in November

I directed my feet to the sunny side of the street and went up a bit of a hill too in an effort to keep in the sun.

The wall, as I went up Hallpath had a good deal of interest with hart’s tongue fern, spleenwort and ample supplies of moss on some sections.

three wall hall path

I looked up from the wall and admired a lofty tree.  A man gardening nearby told me that it is a Wellingtonia.

wellingtonia

As I walked on, the sun was getting lower all the time and I had to walk tall to get my head warm as I passed between a wall and a beech hedge.

beech hedge hallpath

I took the track along to the round house and passed a tree which has been gradually eating a ‘neighbourhood watch’ plaque.  It looked like this in 2016…

tree eating notice…and it looked like this today.

tree eating sign

I wonder how long it will be before the plaque disappears entirely.

The sun had all but disappeared by the time that I passed the round house…

round house…and headed on down through the little oak wood….

oak branch mossy

…to the old railway and took the path back towards town.  There was a lot to see on the short stretch of old railway.  The green lichen was surprisingly bright and the script lichen on the tree was comprehensive if not comprehensible…

four thing son old railway fungus

…and the leaves came from a very young sapling but I don’t know whether the growth on the fallen branch was another lichen or a fungus.  I would happy if a knowledgeable reader could shed some light for me.

I passed Skippers Bridge by without stopping to take yet another picture….or maybe I didn’t and succumbed to temptation…

 

skippers bridge end of november

…and a sheep looked at me as I walked along the Murtholm track with a hint of censoriousness in its gaze as a result.

sheep murtholm

Perhaps I shouldn’t have dallied at the bridge because although I could see sunlight on Meikleholm Hill…

meikleholm evening sun

…it started to rain on me as I walked along.

It was patchy rain.  I could still see sunlight picking out a house on the hill to my right…

sun on house

…but I was in the patch where it was  definitely raining so I hurried home without taking any more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in the garden when I arrived back so we had a walk round (the rain had stopped) before going in.

We discovered a Lilian Austin flower and there were a lot of buds still forming on the bush.  A cowslip was also flowering….

lilian austin and cowslip november

…but as we are due to have quite  sharp frost tonight, maybe that will be that for both of them.

Regular readers will perhaps be asking why we were not in Edinburgh visiting Matilda as it is a Thursday today and they would be right to ask.  We should have been in Edinburgh but half the children at Matilda’s school have fallen victim to the winter virus and Matilda is in the unlucky half.

As we neither wanted to catch the virus nor bring it back to Langholm, we wisely stayed at home.  An evening phone call revealed that Matilda, after an unhappy morning, was making good progress so we have our fingers crossed that neither she nor her parents will be too badly affected.

There was no hint of sun left by the time we had had a cup of tea so the rest of the day was spent indoors doing little tasks.

The sunnier weather did let me catch a much improved flying bird of the day even though it was raining when it flew past me..

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo.  This one is from Manitoba and shows a tree that took to autumn in stages.

Mary Jo's tree

We were greeted by frosty weather when we got up today, but once again it was dry so we weren’t complaining too much.  It was too cold for cycling and I was very happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee and scones.  He had been away for a golfing weekend having received a bargain offer from a hotel chain that was too good to resist.

When he left, I spent a little time watching the birds.  Once again,there were plenty to watch, especially goldfinches.

busy feeder goldfinches

In fact the number of goldfinches led to some slight altercations.

goldfinches action

I managed to while away the rest of the morning until midday without doing anything of note but then I thought that in spite of still being pretty chilly, it might be the time to take my new camera out for a walk.  It was rather grey but the camera was able to recognise one old friend on the near side of the river…

gull with new camera

…though the gloomy conditions were almost too much for it when it came to a goosander on the far side of the Esk.

goosander out of range

It had no trouble at all with another old friend once I had crossed the river by the Town Bridge.

heron

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the upper track to the North Lodge.

The leaves are in three minds about autumn.  These ones on a beech hedge are only just turning…

leaf turning

…while a hundred yards or so further along my walk, there were only a few left on the trees.

Pathhead tarck

I interrupted a sheep having its lunch while I was on this section of track.

sheep having lunch

I noticed that the light seemed to be getting better and as I walked on, the sun came out. The effect was quite magical.

Holmhead wood

It wasn’t just the leaves that were affected by the sun.  When I got to the North Lodge, where  had intended to turn and head for home, the splendid view up the valley and a bit of warmth on my back persuaded me to give my feet a good test and I continued up the Longfauld track.

voew from north lodge

Not long ago, this track was lined with tall conifers on both sides and there were no views.  Now the felling of the woods has transformed the walk and there are fine views to be had…

golf and bauchle hill

…and the track is light and airy.

longfauld tarck

The track follows the east bank of the Esk and I could look across the river and see the road that I would take on my way home on the other side.

 

 

 

At the end of the track, kindly people, foreseeing the needs of elderly walkers, have placed a handy bench upon which I paused for a while…

seat above potholm

…before following the road downhill…

track down to potholm

…to the river which I crossed by Potholm Bridge.

potholm brodge

There was very little wind and it felt pleasantly warm in the sunshine as I ambled along the road, admiring trees as I went.

The trees came in small and neat…

tree above milnholm road

…and bigger and untidy.

tree at breconwrae

I liked both.

By the time that I had got to the end of the road, the sun had sunk behind the hill even though it was still early afternoon, so I kept my camera in my pocket for the most part of the last mile of my walk.

I did take it out for the door in a wall.  Time has passed this door by…

gate at breckonwrae

…and so did I.

There is now a convenient gap in the wall a few yards further on and I used this to gain access to the woodland path that took me back to Langholm.

My last picture is of one of the many little culverts which help to keep the paths round here in good condition for walkers.

culvert near duchess bridge

I got home in a very contented frame of mind.  Both the camera and my feet had behaved well.  I had walked about five and a half miles, my longest distance for some months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with a business meeting over lunch followed by a visit to the hairdresser.  She got home again in time to welcome our friends Mike and Alison for a cup to tea to celebrate their return from several weeks visiting family in New Zealand.

They were still recovering from jet lag but we had a good conversation about their travels.

I hope to be able to recommence playing Friday evening sonatas with Alison soon.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  I enjoyed that too so all in all, it has been  a very good day.

The flying bird of the day is a horizontal goldfinch emerging from behind a plant.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  Her hostas have been frozen but still offer some golden colour to brighten up her garden.

Mary Jo's hosta

It was another mercifully dry day here, but it was grey and chilly with the temperature well in single figures at breakfast.

I was in no hurry to get up and rush about as I was expecting Sandy for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.  He arrived on cue and we considered the camera club meeting and electric cycling.  It turns out that strong cross winds are as unwelcome to an e-biker as they are to an old fashioned pedal pushing pensioner.

We walked out into the garden and picked up a good number of walnuts for him to take with him when he went on his way.

When he had gone, I polished off the crossword and went out for a pedal.  If I had gone out earlier instead of socialising, it would have been colder but stiller.  As it was, the temperature was creeping up but so was the wind and I had a familiar battle up hill and into the wind to start my ride.

I didn’t rush things and went steadily round my usual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, safe in the knowledge that I would get a good push home from the wind.

I was pleased to see the Canonbie coos back in the field,  They come in black…

canonbie cow 1

…brown…

canonbie cow 3

…and reddish.

canonbie cow 2

It felt rather cold in the wind and as it was too grey for cheerful views, I didn’t stop until I came across this telephone pole.  Mrs Tootlepedal is a great telephone pole enthusiast so I thought that she would like the significant runes on this one, not to mention the curious attachment to the side of the pole.

telephone pole

In the field nearby, there was littler sign of autumn leaves drifting anywhere.trees at irvine House

When I got back, I added another rose to the late October in the Garden collection…

small red rose

…ate the last of the celery and Stilton soup for a late lunch, had a shower and then took the car down to the garage to obey a helpful injunction from the dashboard to do something about my tyre pressures.

Mrs Tootlepedal came in the car too and having inflated, we drove eight miles down the road to the old coal mining village at Rowanburn.  Here we parked the car beside this tribute to the village’s past…

Rowanburn monument

…and walked off down the old railway line towards the border with England.

railway at rowanburn

The was the first time that Mrs Tootlepedal had been on this walk for some time.  It used to be heavily wooded so she was surprised when we came out of the first section of the walk….

out of the woods rowanburn

…and she found that the trees had been cleared.  It is a transformation….

 

valley rowanburn railway

…and a lot of broom has taken advantage of the light to spring up beside the track.

broom

We walked along until we came to the last farmhouse in Scotland and we could see the far bank of the Liddle Water which marks the border at this point.  Those are English trees that we were looking at.

last house in Scotland

We could have walked across the old railway viaduct to England…

Liddle viaduct 1

…if it hadn’t been for the stout fence barring our way.

Liddle viaduct 2

The little notice on the fence tells those interested that in accordance with the Highways Act of 1980, The British Railways Board hereby gives notice that this way is not dedicated to the public.

As I have a rotten head for heights and the viaduct is quite high…

Riddings Viaduct

Picture taken on a visit in 2013

…I was grateful to the Board.

There are a great many piles of timber beside the track at one point and on the way back, I stopped to note the fungi on the ends of some of the logs.

fungus rowanburn railway

There was a good deal less than I had expected.

I had hoped for some fine autumn colour but there was very little, apart from occasional patches….

autumn leaves

…and one good beech hedge near the village.

beech hedge roawnburn

A sheep found us very interesting.

roanburn sheep

There was more colour to be seen near the road where the car was parked.

rowanburn plants

We got back to the car after a very enjoyable two mile stroll along a flat and generally dry path, Mrs Tootlepedal’s idea of a perfect walk these days.  It was chilly though and a little sun would have been welcome.

Our newly inflated tyres carried us home safely but such was the general gloom of the weather, I was too late to catch a flying bird of the day.  There were still a lot of birds about but they had finished flying and were sitting in the holly tree, chattering loudly to each other.

While they were chattering away, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put in some practice on some of the songs that we are going to sing at a concert in Glasgow on Saturday.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and scores high points as it has two of my favourite things in it, a canal and a bridge.  It is at Butterley.

Butterly Canal

It was a beautiful day with a hint of genuine warmth about it but still with enough bite in the light wind to keep you from shedding garments recklessly.

I had a walk round the garden and was very impressed by the force of this tulip.

flash tulip

The chief business of the morning was a trip to England to visit our friend Sue for lunch and an outing.

We got there safely and took a walk round her garden where there was a lot to see….

sue's garden

…and then we enjoyed an excellent lunch before setting off in the little white zingy thingy to see how it got on in narrow lanes with many steep ups and downs.

It went well and in no time at at all we found ourselves on the other side of the valley at Hadrian’s Wall and parked beside Banks East Turret, one of the mile castles that were built into the wall.  You can see the remains of the wall itself in the centre of the picture below….

hardian's wall

…and there is a fair bit left of the mile castle too…

milecastle 56

…though it would have been more impressive when it was originally built.

poster of milecastle 56

This is the view looking south from the wall.

view from milecastle 56

Sue then took us into the back country on the north side of the wall and we finally parked on open moorland next to a secretive RAF facility at Spadeadam.  Curiously, we could see an old aeroplane resting among the heather near to the car park.  It may be a used as a marker for virtual target practice.

plane at spadeadam

We sensibly went in the opposite direction towards the River Irthing and after a short plod across some flat and boggy ground, found ourselves on the edge of a deep gorge where the River Irthing flows over the Crammel Linn waterfall.

Crammel Linn waterfall

It looked so smooth and regular at first sight that I almost took it for a sluice but a closer look shows that it is flowing over an impressive 10m rocky ledge.

Crammel Linn waterfall close

Sue told us that it a popular bathing spot in summer and enterprising young people dive or jump off the central buttress into the pool below.  The gorge was too steep to allow me to clamber down to river level so we admired the falls from a distance and headed back to the car.

The gorge narrows downstream from the waterfall and it is hidden from sight by this impressive river of birch trees.

trees at Spadeadam

The little white car took us back down into the valley and then up the other side to Sue’s house with no difficulty.  Steep hills do not seem to pose the electric motor any problem and the simple controls make driving on narrow winding roads stress free.

After a cup of tea, we thanked Sue for taking us on such an interesting excursion and set off home.

We ended up having driven 80 miles but using less than half of the battery charge so it would seem that it would not be unreasonable in the summer months to expect to be able to drive 140 miles without having to worry about recharging.  Of course this is achieved by driving steadily and without hurrying, but that is my preferred mode anyway these days so it is no hardship.

Once we got home, I cut a little mount for Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest embroidery, using the mount cutter which I share with Sandy, then conferred with my sister Mary about a very obscure clue in the day’s prize crossword and finally went off to stretch my tendon by cycling a gentle five miles.

I got distracted by carpets of bluebells on the open hillside beside the road.

bessie bell's bluebells 4

This is quite an unusual sight as bluebells are woodland flowers and it doesn’t happen every year as vividly as this.

Unfortunately, the sun had slipped off down the valley by the time that I had climbed up the hillside…

View from bessie bells

…but I enjoyed the colour all the same.

bessie bell's bluebells 3

There were bluebells on every side and I can only think that sheep don’t like the taste otherwise there would be none left.

bessie bell's bluebells with sheep

These open hill bluebells were much shorter than the ones that I recently photographed among the trees.

bessie bell's bluebells 2

I hoped that the sun might come out again but when it stayed behind the clouds, I went back to my bike and pedalled off up the road…

bessie bell's bluebells 1

…closely supervised by the sheep.

sheep spectating

Although the day’s two short walks were a bit uncomfortable, the cycling was pain free and if the good weather continues, I might try a longer ride next week.

In all this excitement, I didn’t have time to look for a flying bird and the crouching bird of the day is a partridge.  It arrived very early in the morning and spent three hours perched on our outside windowsill.

partridge on window sill

You can’t see it in the picture but it has sustained some damage to the other side of its neck.  It might have been attacked by a cat or caught its head in netting, I suppose.  We wondered whether it would need help, but by the time we left to go to Sue, it had moved round the house to another windowsill in the sunshine, and by the time that we came home, it had disappeared.  We hope it is OK.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent walk along the canals of Birmingham.

birmingham canal

We kept our dry weather today but there was no sign of sunshine so the temperature was at a more natural level for the first of March.

Following on the experience of the garden playing host to a partridge (though not in a pear tree), we saw the arrival today of two doves (though collared and not turtle).

two doves

Now we are expecting three foreign hens (though probably not from France).

In the absence of three French hens, I was happy to welcome Dropscone with some of his very best treacle scones at coffee time.  After coffee and conversation, he left to discuss the problems of installing a water meter in premises with no water supply with a man from the water company who wanted to install a water meter in the old Archive premises which don’t have a water supply.   I wished him luck.

Meanwhile, the siskins had got busy back in our garden.

A chaffinch sensibly kept its head done while two siskins squabbled…

siskin and siskin cinfrontation

…and a goldfinch did its best to ignore some challenging behaviour.

siskin and goldfinch confrontation

There were enough birds about to make putting out a second feeder seem like a good idea but in no time at all, both were being monopolised by more siskins.

siskins at both feeders

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with two of our neighbours and I made some ginger biscuits to give to a friend of ours as a birthday gift.

Once the biscuits were cooked, I went out and  sieved some compost.  The gentle back exercise involved had a very beneficial effect on my feet.  They had been rather sore after pounding the streets of Edinburgh yesterday.  As a result, when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her lunch and gave the biscuits the thumbs up, I went out for a short walk.

The pale hellebores in the garden had taken note of my complaints about them hanging their heads down and had made an effort to look up a bit.

pale hellebores

I walked down to the river and was happy to see that the trees along the bank between the bridges were bursting into flower…

riverside blossom

…and below them, the daffodils are starting to make a show.

riverside daffodils

It is beginning to feel like spring.

There were no gulls or oyster catchers about at all but I did see a dipper standing on a rock below the town bridge.

dipper below bridge

And along the Kilngree, a female mallard was doing the same.

duck on a rock

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and was impressed by the fruitful mosses on the wall.

four mosses

Instead of walking along the Lodge Walks, I headed up the hill and walked along the top of the woods, passing this gate on the way….

pathhead gate

…and seeing two unusual sheep in the field behind the gate.

varied sheep

As I walked along the top track, there was a hint of blue sky…

blue sky

…but it was not enough to bring the sun out as the blue sky was over there =>  and the sun was over there <=. along with a lot of clouds.

Although the individual snowdrops are going over fast, there are still enough about at Holmhead to make a delightful scene.

snowdrops Holmhead

There was not a lot of peace and quiet on the walk as the birds are getting the spring spirit and I was serenaded all along my route.

black bird

The many hazels along the river bank as I walked back to the town were dripping with catkins and covered in the tiny red flowers but I resisted the temptation to take yet another hazel flower picture and settled for this white flower growing on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

wild flower

As I passed my old school, I was saddened to see that the windows are not being maintained.  Although it is unoccupied and unused, it is still sad to see a building going to seed.

school window

I dropped in on Mike and Alison on my way home to enquire about their health and was offered a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit, which I accepted.  When I left, Mike came out into the garden to show me his dog’s tooth violets which are looking very pretty.

dog tooth violet

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off in the car with some of our home cooked ginger biscuits, tastefully wrapped in a special bag which Mrs Tootlepedal had sewn while I was out walking.  They were to be a gift for our recorder playing and choir friend Sue who was having a birthday meal with her daughter.  Her daughter had secretly organised an after meal invasion by Sue’s friends and Sue took it very well when more and more people kept appearing through her daughter’s front door.

We had a very enjoyable and social time talking to Sue and her friends and eating the snacks provided by her daughter.

In a break from the endless line of flying chaffinches, the (only just) flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

just flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has been suffering from a bad cold but has recovered enough to walk up to Kenwood House to have a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe.  She found a very fine day for her excursion.

kenwood house in sun

We had another calm and sunny day here today but we paid the price for a clear night by having a frosty morning.

frosty chaffinches

The chill encouraged a few birds to come to the feeder and it persuaded me to go for a walk rather than a cycle ride after coffee as the the thermometer was still showing a meagre 1°C at 11 o’clock.  This may have been too cold for pedalling but it was ideal for walking as the ground was nicely firm under foot when I got on to the hill.

I walked up the track to Whita from the town.

I was surprised to find a dandelion out as well as a garden escape on my way up the Kirk Wynd but the blooming gorse on the hill was no surprise as it is out all over the place.

dandelion, shrub and gorse january

There was no lichen looking cheerful on the wall at the top of the track but the moss was remarkable.  I don’t think that I have ever noticed it looking quite like this before.

moss heads

The view up the Ewes Valley did not disappoint and the weather seemed set fair for a stroll.

ewes valley from kirk wynd

When I got to the open hill, I didn’t continue straight up to the monument but turned right along the face of the hill following the old quarry track along the contours.

Looking across the town, I could see the Craig Wind Farm turbines rotating very lazily in the light breeze.  It was a pleasure to be out on such a day.

craig wind farm

I had a look at the trig points on the top of Warbla and Timpen.  In these days of digital mapping, they serve no useful purpose but I am glad that they haven’t been taken away as they provide a punctuation mark at the summits.  Both of them were dwarfed, the one on Warbla by the communications mast beside it, and the one on Timpen by a blade of a turbine nearly a mile away behind it.

two trig points

Three sheep pondered on my activities.

three sheep

When I reached the wall at the end of the track, I paused to look over the town.

town from quarry track

Below me, a field lined with tall trees vividly showed the difference between sunshine and shade.  I was glad to be in the sun.

shadowy frost

There are many photo opportunities round Langholm and this stile over the wall at the quarry is one of the most popular and I hardly ever cross it without stopping to take a picture.

quarry track stile

Today, this turned out to be slightly embarrassing for a gentlemen who was having a pee behind the gorse bush and hadn’t seen me coming.  He soon drifted out of shot though, muttering as he went.

I went diagonally down the hill towards the oak wood and followed the track through the wood down to the road…

oak wood round house

…passing an elegantly decaying tree trunk….

tree trunk

…and some fine hair ice on my way…

hair ice skippers

…to Skippers Bridge.  It was far too good a day to miss the photo opportunity there.

skippers bridge reflection

I walked back along the river without seeing anything exciting enough to make me stop again and got home after four miles just in time for lunch.

I was reflecting as I got back to town that I had just crossed moor and mountain and passed field and fountain and as it is Epiphany, I thought that  perhaps I ought to bring Mrs Tootlepedal some rich gifts.  I stopped at our corner shop and purchased milk and honey.  These would have been a pleasant surprise for her if I hadn’t met her cycling home from an errand just outside the shop.  She came in with me.  Still, she appreciated the thought.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows.

sparrow eating seed

The males have rich colours on their backs which show up well in sunshine.

sparrow in sun

Once again, there were not many birds about so I let my lens stray towards the sedums round the feeder.

sedum

After lunch, I had an appointment with the speech therapist in Dumfries, 35 miles away but once again, thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to see and speak to her online which saved me a lengthy drive and a lot of time.  It is a very efficient system which has worked perfectly both times we have used it.  As a result of this week’s consultation, I will be humming down a straw into a glass of water for the next seven weeks.  She assures me that it will work wonders.

Later in the afternoon, I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and finished putting the choir songs onto the computer.

This took longer than I expected and when I finally finished, it was time to cook some corned beef hash for my tea.

I have decided this year to keep a record of my walks as well as my cycle rides, partly to stop feeling that I should be cycling even when the conditions are not suitable and partly out of interest to see how far I walk.  I am only counting actual expeditions like today’s, not the ordinary pottering about house and garden.

As a result, I find that I have walked or cycled every day in 2019 so far, cycling 77 miles and walking 20.  That seems like quite a good balance.

I did find a flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch, some sunshine and a camera in hand all appeared at the same time for once.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a reminder of a sunny day just past and shows an unusual view of the Benty bridge and church.  It was taken by my friend Bruce and stars his wife, Lesley as ‘The Lady on the Bridge’.

benty bridge

The sun made infrequent appearances today and in between the sunny spells, there were frequent showers of light rain.  It made planning a day difficult.  However, it was reasonably warm and the wind was light so cycling and gardening were on the menu.

The minister dropped in for coffee, his coffee radar being perfectly attuned.  As he brought a couple of eggs from his large flock of chickens with him as a gift, he was even more welcome than usual.  He is a keen cyclist and naturally our conversation turned to cycling.  When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal was so inspired by his cycling efforts that she got her speedy bike out.  I pumped up the tyres and we pedalled off to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, her first bike ride since New Year’s day.

Needless to say although it was fine as we set out, it rained quite heavily when we were two miles up the road.  Luckily, it soon stopped and we had a gentle and pleasant ride.  Since the weather was good when we got home and I needed the miles, while Mrs Tootlepedal turned to gardening,  I set off again to do the journey again.

It soon started to rain again.

Once again it stopped and I pedalled on.  I passed a small landslip, a common occurrence on our steep banks….

landslip

…and which once again shows how shallow the soil is on our hills.

Thanks to quite a bit of rain lately, there was a good amount of water coming down the Wauchope.

wauchope cascade

Yesterday I had seen seated cows and today it was the turn of the sheep to sit down.

sitting sheep

I didn’t stop for too many pictures as I didn’t want to get wet again if I could help it.

I ended up doing six and a half miles with Mrs Tootlepedal and seven and half miles by myself which, while not a great distance, at least got a few miles in on a damp day.

I set the camera up at the kitchen window while I was having lunch and had a look at the birds.  We had a good variety.

Sometimes there were siskins…

siskins

…and there was a good number of goldfinches…

goldfinches

…and of course there were chaffinches…

chaffinches

…but our most interesting visitors today were a pair of lesser redpolls.  Here is one showing why they got their name.

redpoll

At this time of year, they have very red breasts too to show themselves off.

redpoll

They are very small birds, much the same size as the siskins and make the chaffinches look big by comparison.

redpoll and chaffimnch

I had a walk round the garden after lunch.

I was most impressed by how much moss there is on our azaleas.

moss on azaleas

Each plant seemed to have a little clump of moss at its branch junctions.

I liked the range of colours of the moss on our old pile of stones.

moss in garden

We wouldn’t mind though if it stopped raining for long enough this summer for a lot of the moss to get discouraged and die away.

There were more signs of spring to be seen.

lilac buds

It is not too long before it will be lilac blossom time.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal got really stuck into the business of making a new seated area next to the middle lawn.  I went for a walk.

I have seen two very impressive displays of British Solidier lichen in America recently on blogs from Gunta and the New Hampshire Gardener  so I went along beside the park wall to see if I could find any there.

There were some to be seen but they were very tiny…

cladonia

As you can see, they hardly poked their heads above the surrounding moss.

I couldn’t find an army of them but there was enough for a small troop.

cladonia

Our friend Mike Tinker, who is a fern enthusiast, has promised to take me out on a walk to try to teach me to distinguish between varieties.  I look forward to it as there are a lot of ferns out there.  I passed some today.

ferns

Did I mention that it started to rain almost as soon as I set off on my walk?

Still, it was only light rain and I was pleased to see signs of wild garlic emerging….

garlic

…as this is a marker for the start of the wild flower season.

It wasn’t a day for views and I was happy to get some shelter from the trees along the Beechy Plains.  I was looking for birch trees in particular to see if I could spot any script lichens.  It turned out to be quite easy as almost every birch I passed seemed to have a patch…

script lichen

…or two.

script lichen

Mrs Tootlepedal was still working hard on her seating area when I got back but she came in for a cup of tea and a biscuit to get out of a heavier shower of rain before going out again.  There is a difference in height between the main lawn and the seating area and she has been swithering between a step, a slope or a dugout area, all of which have good and bad points about the construction required but after some experimentation today, she has settled on a step.

I look forward to seeing the results.

While I was out cycling yesterday, the man who made our new compost bins arrived with some new raised beds for Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetable garden….

new veg beds

…and they are waiting to be installed.  You can see that the old beds are past their best.  It will take a lot of labour to get the new beds set up but Mrs Tootlepedal is not afraid of hard work and I am always available to do a bit of supervising.

I did some lawn spiking today in the hope of encouraging a blade or two of grass to grow among the moss.

I ate the minister’s eggs as part of a mushroom omelette for my tea.  They were very good.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches.  I couldn’t choose between them.

flying chaffinches

 

 

 

 

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