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Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Today’s guest picture is a lovely study of a heron in the pond at Myatt’s Fields in London.  It was taken by our daughter Annie.

annies' heron

We had another fine and sunny day, both here and when I got to Edinburgh.  It was a bit too chilly for cycling in the morning so I went for a quick walk round three bridges while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an interesting meeting which lasted all day.

You wouldn’t know that we have just had two weeks of storms.

peace after storm

An oyster catcher had taken over the fence post duty from the gulls.

oystercatcher on fence

I did see a grey wagtail at the Kilngreen but it was too quick for me and got away.  I had to make do with a tree on the Castleholm which stood quietly and echoed the hill behind it quite neatly.

tree and timpen

It was a lovely day for a walk (as long as you were well wrapped up as the wind was bitter).

lodge walks

I just had time for a coffee and a slice of toast after my walk and then it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was nearly on time.

There are some fine views to had as the train goes through the hills on its way to Edinburgh.

snowy view from train

When I got Edinburgh, I got off the train at Haymarket instead of going to Waverley as usual.  I had a couple of hours to spare before Matilda got out of school so I walked from the station to the start of the Union Canal, stopping for a snack on the way.

The area round the canal basin has been ‘poshed up’ a lot…

 

union canal

…but some more traditional buildings can be seen further along the towpath.

old church union canal

This was my favourite spot on the whole walk.  It was hard to believe that I was still in the centre of a city.

tree and union canal

two rowing boats union canal

clubhouse union canal

There were bridges to admire along the way, both metal…

 

metal bridge union canal

…and stone…

stone bridge union canal

…and mechanical.  This is a lifting bridge near the canal basin.

lifting bridge union canal

The towpath was sometimes wide…

wide towpath union canal

…and sometimes narrow…

narrow towpath union canal

..but mostly busy.  Cyclists do not seem to have discovered the purpose of bicycle bells so it was nervous work from time to time.

I liked this rather desperate attempt to make a dull building more interesting by adding a portico and a palm tree.  It didn’t convince.

buildings union canal

I took many, many pictures and I hope to visit again in the not too distant future and show you some more of this pleasant place.

On my way to the canal and back, I passed along this splendid crescent.  I lived in Edinburgh for five years but never went this way before.  It is called Gardner’s Crescent..

gardeners crescent

…and it has a garden called Gardner’s Crescent Garden but the planting is not very interesting to say the least.

gardeners garden

I got back to Haymarket and enjoyed a ride on the tram to the other end of Princes Street.

Edinburgh Tram

This was a great treat for me even though I had to buy a ticket because my bus pass doesn’t work on the tram.  Perhaps this was why there was no shortage of empty seats.

I arrived at Matilda’s in time to welcome her back from her school day.  She was in good form and told me that she had been learning the ‘banana hold’ at the judo club.   We had a good time and after some energetic action with a hula hoop, we settled down to do a quiet jigsaw puzzle.

matilda and puzzle

Alistair not only cooked a tasty lentil dahl for our tea but sorted out the coding problems on my Langholm Archive website.   This is just the sort of son you want when computer problems loom and you are peckish after a good walk.

The train home was late but not by much and although I had to scrape ice off the car, the drive home went without any hiccups.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that her meeting, which was to do with community land purchase in general not the Langholm buy out in particular, had been thoroughly worthwhile, so we had both had a good day.

I walked just under 20,000 steps according to my phone.  It tends to exaggerate a bit but it was still a good day of exercise.

The flying birds of the day were seen at the canal basin and were strangely immobile even when I said “Boo!” to them.

canal birds

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday on the Northumberland coast.  He saw a boat temporarily going nowhere.

dennis' boat

I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea which we ate with lemon and castor sugar.  They disappeared so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture of them.  This was why I forgot to mention them.  I have got so used to taking pictures these days that if I haven’t got a picture, then it probably didn’t happen.

What definitely did happen today was that the sun shone.  All day.  It was accompanied by a very chilly and quite strong wind but we didn’t care.

I started my active day off by walking up to Sandy’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. The route took me up the hill to Holmwood and I could look back over the sunlit town, take in a touch of spring…

town, spring holmwood yellow crocus

…wonder why such a fine house as Holmwood House is still derelict and admire an eye popping burst of yellow crocuses on Jimmy’s Brae.

Sandy was remarkably cheerful for a man confined to barracks for several weeks.  As he has a supply of ginger biscuits, I will certainly be back.

When I got home, there was no time to rest as Mrs Tootlepedal had agreed to a walk and chosen the Langholm Moor as the way to go.  We drove up the hill, and when we parked the car at the White Yett, we could see snowy hills across the Esk, the pylon helicopter parked at its base, (it was probably too windy for it too fly), and my favourite sunlit view up the Ewes Valley.

helicopter turbines ewes

I took a closer look at the snow capped hills.

snow up ewes

It was a good day to be up and about.

We crossed over the col between the Esk and the Little Tarras Valley and saw more snowy hills at the top of Tarras.

tarras valley snow

Our walk was a simple one, down this road for a bit…

road to harrier corner

…and then back up it again.

I enjoyed the winter colours…

tarras valley browns

…and Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for a sight of a hen harrier.  She was very happy when she spotted one through her binoculars, and even though it was far too far away to photograph, I could see it with the naked eye as it ranged across the moor looking for food.

On our way back up the road, we were struck by some very green moss beside the road.

It was Polytrichum Communale (I think) and it was positively glowing in the sunshine.  You can see it in the centre of the panel below.  Nearby, we saw a clump which had been pushed over.  You can see it on the left in the panel below and it shows just how long the stems of this moss are.  Somehow I don’t expect moss to have stems that long.  My moss book says that they can be 40 cm long.

mosses on whita

On the right of the moss panel, you can see some of the sphagnum moss which we expect to find all over our moorland.

When we got home, it was time for lunch and hot soup and bread and cheese was just what was required after experiencing the chilly wind on our way back to the car.

After lunch, I thought about cycling but carelessly managed to think about the very chilly wind too so I watched the birds for a bit.

I was happy to see a blue tit on the feeder…

blue tit

…and I had a good time watching birds enjoying the sunshine.  I especially liked the blackbird sunbathing on the hedge.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree continues to be popular.

birds in sun

There was plenty of action but my conscience got the better of me..

birds in shadow

…and I left the birds to it and got changed for cycling.

I went out into to the garden and wasted a bit more time being distracted by crocuses…

crocus panel

…which were enjoying the sunshine too.

open crocus

This is what a hellebore would look like if I was lying on the ground looking up at it…

hellebore from below

…but as I am too old and stout to creep under a hellebore, the shot above was taken by sticking my hand under the flower with a camera in it and hoping for the best.

I finally managed to get out on my bike. It was theoretically about five or six degrees celsius but the wind chill factor brought that down to zero or one degree and I made slow progress up the hill against the twenty mile a hour breeze.

It looked as though my sunny day might come to end as I went up Callister but the brisk wind at least had the merit of blowing these clouds away before they could rain on me.

clouds over callister

To add a couple of miles to my trip, I took a diversion up the Cleuchfoot road, both on my way up and my way back.  It is a gentle little valley with the Logan Water running down the middle of it.

cleuchfoot valley

I found my tree of the day there.

tree cleuchfoot road

I managed a slow but enjoyable twenty miles and this took me over 100 miles for the month.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to rest when I got home becuase I had arranged with Mrs Tootlepedal to combine some recycling at Longtown with a view of the starling murmuration there.  This was very time dependent and we got to Longtown to find the starlings in full flow over the High Street.

longtown starlings 26 feb 5

And i mean in full flow.  You had to be very careful when you looked up not to get an unwanted present in the eye.

There were times when the sky was full of starlings…

longtown starlings 26 feb 4

..making pretty patterns.

longtown starlings 26 feb 2

There were at least two separate flocks and I kept hoping that I would be able to record some of the twisting patterns which are characteristic of these murmurations but either I was too close or the starlings were not in the mood

longtown starlings 26 feb 3

The starlings are right over the centre of the town and the locals are probably quite fed up with having to wash their cars all the time and look carefully where they are stepping.

As it grew darker, the birds got lower in the sky…

black starlings

and soon they were diving down into the trees where they will spend the night.

longtown starlings 26 feb 1

It is quite a sight.  One moment the sky is alive with thousands of birds, and the next, they have all disappeared completely with a sudden whoosh.

I will have to wash the car tomorrow but it was worth it.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chafinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo on her visit to Australia.  She found that King Parrots are very partial to an offer of a snack.

IMG-2671

We had a bit of a contrast to Mary Jo’s sunny Queensland weather here, as the hills were covered in mist and the ground was white with sleety slush when we woke up.

Even the colours on the redpoll…

_20S7399

…and goldfinch seemed subdued.

_20S7404

It was raining in a persistent and mean minded way (when it wasn’t sleeting, that is) and going outside was not an attractive option.

So I stayed in and watched the birds.

Until I got bored and walked round to the shop to get milk.  I was protected from the worst of the wind and rain by a large umbrella.

After the delight of yesterday’s sunshine, it was not a colourful day….

P1030496

…but the route to the shop takes me along the waterside so there is always the chance of seeing something interesting.  Today it was a pair of oyster catchers keeping as snug as they could in the horrible conditions.

P1030498

Perhaps their posture is an example of keeping a weather eye open.

I took the milk home and then took myself off to visit Sandy, who is still housebound.

He was very cheerful and entertained me to coffee and excellent ginger cake.  On my way home, I stopped to look over the town to see if the prospects for the day had improved at all.

They hadn’t.

IMG_20200224_112622

When I got back, I put the bread maker to work and made some soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had another look at the birds.  There was no shortage of customers for seeds…

_20S7403

…and the redpolls got into some keen competition for perches.

_20S7411

The winner returned to the perch, although it didn’t look very happy about it…

_20S7413

…while the loser sat on a pole and pretended that it didn’t care.

_20S7419

Down below, a dunnock merged into the background.

_20S7420

The wind dropped and after lunch, it stopped raining for long enough for me to put on my cycling gear.  Then, of course,  it started again.  I wasn’t going to take my gear off though, after all the bother of putting on what seemed like several hundred layers of warm clothing so I got my bike out and went off with hope in my heart and rain on my cycling glasses.

I was worried that the morning sleet might still be lying on the road in slushy patches but it was well above freezing and the rain had done its work so the road was clear.  It was running with water in many places and I was very glad to have a stout pair of waterproof socks to keep my feet warm and dry.

I had an unusual experience when a lorry coming the other way met me at one of these puddly spots.  As it approached me, and absolutely on purpose, it slowed down and passed me without splashing me.  I was so shocked that I nearly fell off my bike.

After three and a half miles when I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse and began to feel the wind in my face as I left the shelter of the valley, I considered the way ahead…

P1190535

…and went back to Langholm.

A bull in the field opposite was not impressed by my lack of get up and go.

P1190536

I took this picture on the way back and despite what you may think, it is a full colour shot.

P1190537

When I put it into my photo editor in the evening, I changed it into greyscale mode. It summed up the day when as far as I could see, nothing changed in the picture at all.  Truly a grey day.

I got back to Langholm and since the rain had stopped, I went round the town and pedalled back up to Wauchope Schoolhouse again. In the end, I squeezed sixteen miles out of a miserable afternoon but as it was my first cycle ride for two weeks, I was grateful to get any miles in at all.  And I felt a lot better for the exercise.

I put my bike away and went in to watch the birds again.  I had put a second feeder out in the morning as there seemed to be quite a lot of birds about, and both feeders were getting well used before I left with a selection of goldfinches, siskins and redpolls in action.

_20S7422

By the time that I got back, a lot of the seed had disappeared.  The redpolls and goldfinches had disappeared too and the siskins had taken over completely.

_20S7423

They were everywhere, under the feeders, on top of the feeders…

_20S7424

…all over the walnut tree…

_20S7425

…and on the feeders themselves.

_20S7426

I counted over a hundred of them in the garden.  I just wish that the light had been better so that I could have done them justice.  As it was, the rain started again and I went off to have a shower, leaving the skins to it.

_20S7429

When I came downstairs, I found that Mike Tinker had dropped in for a cup of tea so I joined him and Mrs Tootlepedal for a chat and some serious biscuit consumption.

When Mike left, it was time for my flute playing friend Luke to come round for our weekly burst of duets.  He told me that is going for a job interview tomorrow so I wished him luck.  I would employ him as he is a very sound lad.

The active day ended with a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie, always a good way to end a day.

Looking at the forecast, there seems to be no end to our run of cold, wet weather for the next week with only a very occasional glimpse of sunshine promised, so I am more pleased than ever to have sneaked a few miles in today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who arrived before the siskin invasion.

_20S7397

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He had a moment to wander around in Borrowash this morning and was surprised to find a giraffe in the woods.  You can see it too if you look carefully.  It didn’t move a lot, he tells me.

giraffe at Borrowash

Last night I had wondered whether we would wake to a winter wonderland or sodden slush and when the curtains opened this morning, the reality was somewhere between the two.  There had been more snow overnight and the hills had a good covering but there was still plenty of green to be seen in the garden and the roads were slushy.

The sun was shining and I thought that I ought to visit the winter wonderland and ignore the slush, so I put my walking boots on and headed for the hills.

I carefully chose our smallest hill and stopped on the way to look back over the town.  It was a good day to be out and about.

langholm and whita snow

I got a short way up the Meikleholm  Hill track and stopped to catch my breath and look around.  Sunshine on snow, if it is not too deep, brings out details and I could see a fan shape near a pylon on the lower sloped of Whita across the the other side of the town.

pylon in snow

A glimpse of some snowy hills encouraged me to climb a bit higher…

view from Meikleholm Hill

…but I met the  owner of these footprints and he told me that it was very cold and windy on the top of the hill…

strange footsteps

…and as it was clouding over and the forecast had suggested a good chance of more snow, I chickened out and walked back down off the hill and onto the Becks track.  I settled for a walk across the Becks Burn and back home by the road.  I hoped that I would get back before the snow started again.

My friend Ada had sent me message a day or two ago to say that primroses were out along the track so I kept my eyes open and saw one for myself.  Shortly afterwards I passed a fine display of catkins.

primrose and catkins

I got down to the Auld Stane Brig and thought about heading home along the road.

But the clouds had moved away and the sun was out again, so I thought that I might have time to climb up the lower slopes of Warbla and come back down the track to the park to make my walk a little more interesting.

I wasn’t the only one to have used the track today…

warbla path

…and this was no surprise as dog walkers get everywhere.

This short track was quite steep and even a little snow makes walking harder work and I was happy to stop and look back across the Wauchope from time to time.

The light on Calfield Rig was interesting.

calfield rig

And I could have stood for a long time looking at the snowy slopes…

calfield

…but it was chilly so I walked up the path a bit and then had another look in a different direction.  The light and shade there were interesting too.

view over holmwood snow

I got to the point where my path met the main track from the top of Warbla and turned to go down to the town. Then I turned back and looked up the track to the summit.

warbla track snow

It was irresistible so I telephoned Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her of my whereabouts and then set off up the hill.

It was quite hard to make quick progress as I had to keep stopping to look around, both to enjoy the wider view as sunshine and clouds alternated in a brisk wind…

clouds and sun on snow

…and to use the zoom on the Lumix to focus in on small details that caught the eye on distant hills.  There was some deep snow on Bauchle Hill further up the Esk valley.

detail Bauchle Hill

I pressed on though, using the helpful footprints in the snow left by a pair of dog walkers who had gone up the track before me.  Without the help of the dog walkers, I don’t think that I could have continued as the wind had blown quite a bit of snow onto the track and it was well over six inches deep at times.  I would have skipped through that as a boy but it was a more serious consideration now.

Still, I got high enough to look back down over the town….

wide view from warbla snow

…and as I got to the flatter part of the track near the summit, the snow got thinner because much of it had been blown away by the strong winds and I was able to stride out with youthful exuberance (almost).

The views from the top were well worth any effort I had had to expend in getting up the hill.

ewes valley snow

Thanks to the rapid passing of the clouds, the light was different every time I looked and it would have been very tempting to spend quite a bit of time on the top of the hill taking pictures…

langholm sun and clouds snow

…but as you can see from the snow glued to the trig point, the wind was brisk and the windchill factor was enough to make standing around for too long unattractive…

trig point warbla

…quite apart from the possibility of being literally blown over while taking pictures of Whita.

whita from warbla snow

So I took one last picture….

Langholm and ewes valley snow

…looked at some looming clouds coming up behind me, and scuttled back down the hill as fast as my legs (and two stout walking poles) would carry me.

As it turned out, there was no need for a rush as the snow didn’t start again until well into the afternoon.  But I had had the best of the day’s sunshine while I was out on the hill so I was happy.

I was also happy to sit down for some lunch after a strenuous four and a half mile outing.

I had a quick look at the birds in a sunny moment after lunch.

The pigeon was back…

pigeon

…and when the snow started again, the siskins were queuing up to kick…

three siskins and a kicking

…and shout at each other.

three siskins and a dunk

I settled down to the computer and put in some useful time entering more of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and learning songs for a choir competition when we will have to do without books.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a dry spell to cycle about the town, combining some business with some shopping and when she go back, she made an excellent chicken stew for our tea.

We should be going to Edinburgh tomorrow to see Matilda but with more snow forecast, I think it most likely that we will stay at home.

The flying birds of the day are that flock of siskins which was back again.  They love to perch on the walnut tree, leap into the air, swirl about a bit and then settle back in the tree.  Perhaps, like me, they get a bit cold if they have to stand around too long.

siskin flock in walnut

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Today’s guest picture comes from my recorder playing friend Susan.  She works in Carlisle and had to take the bus to work today as access to her car parking space was impossible.  The lake on the right of the picture is in fact a riverside park and only a temporary lake.

susan's flood carlisle

They may have had too much water in Carlisle but we had snow in Langholm today and this was the view from an upstairs window when we got up.

garden snowy morning

As you can see, there wasn’t a lot of snow in the town but I could see quite a good covering on our hills when I went to the shop after breakfast.

timpen with snow

When I got back home, i discovered that the snow had brought an influx of birds to the feeder and there was a queue in the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Susan’s father, Dropscone dropped in on his way home from the gym, not to have coffee but to get some documents copied.  He needed them for a battle with the council which was trying to charge him for removing a water meter which didn’t exist.

As soon as he left, more snow arrived.

snowy day

It came down quite heavily but the temperature was just high enough that as soon as the snow hit the ground, it melted.  This continued through the day and although it really snowed quite a lot, there was less snow in the garden by tea time than there had been at breakfast time.

I spent time talking on the phone to insurance companies about our car insurance.  Two minutes on the phone to one company got £100 knocked off their renewal quotation.  Who knows what I might have got it down to if had stayed on the line longer.  I find this sort of thing rather depressing but it does give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘an old and valued customer’.  They are trying to take advantage of their old customers and extract extra value from them.

I cheered myself up by checking on the birds. The snow had encouraged birds to visit the feeder.

There were some siskins….

a few siskins

…and a lone pigeon.

pigeon

Because it was such a miserable day, Mrs Tootlepedal hit on the happy idea of asking some of our neighbours over for lunch.  I bought some rolls and pate from the shop, while Mrs Tootlepedal made leek and potato soup (the last leek of the year from the garden) and a sticky toffee pudding.

Our neighbours Liz and Margaret and Liz’s daughter, Jane joined us for lunch and we ignored the sleety snow while we tucked in to good food and enjoyed good conversation.  We all agreed that Mrs Tootlepedal had had  a very good idea.

As we ate, we noticed more and more birds arriving outside so I went to check on the feeder.  I was distracted on my way by the sight of two unusual jackdaws on the dam side of the house.

mottled jackdaw

They are a regular pair and we often see them in the garden and round about.

I was even more distracted when two more jackdaws started what looked a serious argument…

jackdaw fight 1

…and for a moment i feared that this might lead to a fatality…

jackdaw fight 2

…but the fight stopped as suddenly as it started and all the jackdaws flew off.

When I turned round and looked at the feeder, I found that it was indeed very busy with a mixture of chaffinch, goldfinch and siskin.

busy feeder chaffinch goldfinch siskin

Very busy indeed.

busy feeder chaffinch goldfinch siskin 2

As time went on and the snow came and went, gradually all the birds on the feeder turned into siskins…

siskin crowd

…and there were a lot of siskins.

many siskins

Far more than we have seen hitherto this year.

flight of soskins

At one time, we counted well over 50 siskins on and around the feeder, the plum tree and the walnut tree.

I put out a second feeder to cope with the rush and by the time that I had got back inside and looked out again, they were both very busy.

two feeders out with siskins

After our lunch visitors had gone, I mooched about for a bit and then decided that I would go out for a walk come what may.  The snow showers had been heavy but none had lasted long so I waited for a gap in the weather, put on waterproof boots and trousers, topped that off with my new warm coat and set out.

There was quite a lot of snow on Whita…

whita with snow

…and the monument on the top of the hill looked very artistic.

monument with snow

Although I was well wrapped up and ready for anything, I was still pleased when the sun came out just as I left the town.

 

wet day at pool corner

As you can see, it was still pretty damp and I was glad that I had wellies on.

haws with raindrops

We have had  light frost, strong winds, heavy rain and now snow over the past few days but the lichens have positively enjoyed the weather and were looking better than ever as I passed them on wall and fence post today.

lichens

The sun persisted as I walked along Gaskells…

gaskell's snowy day

…but when I extended my walk to take in Easton’s on my way back, the snow started again and I had to keep my head well down and my camera in my pocket for the rest of the way.

It must have got a little colder as night fell because as I write this in the evening, more snow is falling, and this time it is settling.  It is still just above freezing so it will be interesting to see if we are going to wake up to a winter wonderland tomorrow morning or just a heap of sodden slush.

We are in for a few cold days and then it is going to warm up a bit to herald the arrival of another storm (called Dennis this time) next weekend.    You can have too much of this sort of thing.  I have always thought that it was a bad idea to give storms names.  It gives them ideas above their station.  You used to get one or two a year in the good old days and now we are getting them once a week!

Still, it stops us getting bored.

The flying bird of the day is one of the fifty siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another Bermuda view from Joyce.  She tells me that this is the causeway to St George at dawn.

causeway to St George dawn 1

The forecast for today was  not promising but after a very heavy shower overnight with added hail, it was quite a decent day when we got up, and there were none of the threatened icy patches as I walked up to the town after breakfast to do some archiving business.

As I walked back, a buzzing in the sky made me look back towards Whita and I could that the helicopter, which Ada had seen on the ground yesterday, had taken to the air today.  I couldn’t work out what it was carrying though.

helicopter with loo

When I got home, I met Riley, suitably clad for possible rain, just about to take our neighbour Liz out for a walk.

riley

I went in and had coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and did an easy crossword.  An ice bun may well have mysteriously disappeared during this process.

Then I went for a walk myself.  The forecast offered a twenty percent chance of rain and I hadn’t gone far before I got 100% of a sharp fall of sleet followed by some quite fierce hail.  Luckily I had my new coat on and was well armoured against the slings and arrows of outrageous weather.

And fortunately, the shower exhausted itself quite quickly and I could soon see signs of sunshine.

sun after sleet

I crossed the Becks Burn and followed the road down to the Auld Stane Brig, which I crossed when I came to it…

auld stane brig

…and then walked up the track onto the hill on the other side of the Wauchope Water and enjoyed a tree as I went.

tree on warbla slope

Although our local hills were snow free, the higher hills further up the valley were showing a light covering.

snow up[ the valley

But if you picked the right direction to look, it was a very nice day by now (especially if you were wearing a warm coat).

looking over holmwood

Looking back at the track that I had followed below the fields on the opposite side of the valley, it was hard to believe that I had been in a hailstorm not long before.

looking over becks

I enjoyed a bit of lichen on a boulder…

warbla lichen

…and the view up the Esk Valley…

view from warbla

…and was just about to head down hill to the town when that buzzing was audible again.

The helicopter was back at work.

helicopter with load

It was carrying a big bucket but behind it on the ground, I could see that what it had been carrying when I saw it in the morning, the ubiquitous portable loo for the convenience of the pylon workers.

loo on whita

It delivered its bucket load and headed back.

helicopter going

I could see the pylon on which the work is being done.  It stands beside the sixth green on the golf course and Dropscone is forbidden to play while the helicopter is at work.

pylon on golf course

It returned remarkably soon with another load…

helicopter returning

…and I stood watching on the hillside while it made several trips.

When it was away getting a fresh load, I looked around.

windmills craig

I was using my Lumix which has a very good zoom lens to take the helicopter pictures and I pulled back to show you just how far away I was.

whita in sunshine

You can see the pylon on top corner of the golf course directly below the monument.  Considering that I was holding the camera in a rather cold hand with no support, it is evident that the Lumix is a wonderful camera for wandering photographer.

A look at the map tells me that I was about 0.8 of a mile away.  I walked down the hill a bit and rested the camera on a walks direction post to get as good a close up of the helicopter as I could.  This let me see that it very fairly calls itself a “Skyhook”.

helicopter close up

I had a late lunch when I got home and then, as the weather still seemed pretty good, I got out my bicycle and pedalled eleven miles at a slow pace with so many clothes on that I found it hard to move my legs at all as in spite of the sunshine, the windchill made the temperature a virtual one degree C.

The busy day continued when I got home with first a visit from Mike Tinker and his finely honed tea radar and then the arrival of my flute pupil, Luke with his flute.

After Luke had gone, there was just time for some brisket of beef with nourishing vegetables, expertly cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, for my tea and then it was time for the January Camera Club meeting.

We had a new member and enough old members to make for a good meeting with a fine selection of photographs from both home and abroad to entertain us until the tea break.  After that we settled down to watch a very well put together audio visual presentation of his holiday in Thailand which Sandy had prepared.  That rounded off an enjoyable meeting and a pretty full day.

It was so full indeed that I had no time for bird watching and so the snowdrops beside the dam are taking the place of any flying bird of the day.

snowdrops

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Liverpool.  He bumped into a bunch of lads on the street but they  gave him the cold shoulder.

beatles

Just as I was going to bed (rather late) last night, I was tempted to look out of the window and a bright and almost full moon made me go and get my camera.

moon nearly full

It is a pity that the skies are not clear tonight as not only is the moon full but there is a lunar eclipse which would have been fun to watch.

Still, you can’t have everything and I did start the day off with coffee and treacle scones as Dropscone arrived bearing gifts.  He also brought a very sad tale with him.

He told me that he had lost nine balls in one round while playing golf recently.  I was shocked and worried that he had forgotten how to play properly.  However, it turned out that it wasn’t incompetence but a thieving crow (or crows) that was responsible for the mayhem.  The Langholm Golf Club has been plagued by crows brazenly stealing golf balls from the middle of the fairway for the last couple of weeks.

Dropscone estimates that as many as 100 balls may have been pilfered.  Somewhere around the town, there must be a huge stash but no-one has been able to pinpoint its whereabouts yet.

I checked some of my informants.

This goldfinch claimed that it knows nothing.

goldfinch close up

And a green finch was insulted by even being asked about it.

greenfinch staring

And a dunnock ignored my questions entirely.

dunnock on kerb

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided on a walk.  It had been freezing in the early morning but the temperature had got up to 4 degrees C, too cold for worry free cycling but fine for a winter walk.  I had a stroll round the garden before we went, and liked the droplets on the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtium with droplets

Many of the hills round the town had low cloud down on them as we drove off in the car but when we parked near the top of Callister five miles away, there was sunshine to greet our walk along the forestry track.

westwater walk

We last walked along this track three months ago and this second visit was well worth while as the track is home to all sorts of interesting things, such as pixie cup lichen growing on flat ground, not a common sight…

pixie cup lichen on ground

…and self seeded Christmas trees along the verge…

self seeded xmas tree

….as well as some very bright red moss sporangia.

red moss sporanges

We had to look where we were going when we got to a shady section of the track higher up the hill as there was still some snow lying…

snow on westwater track

…but at least we were in the sunshine while neighbouring hills still had their heads in the clouds.

clouds on hills

We could see the Ewe Hill Wind farm on the horizon at our turning point…

ewes windfarm from westwater track

…where we paused for a moment and wondered whether we should go down a steep hill in the hope of finding a different way back to the road.

clouds and blue sky

As you can see from the picture above, there was plenty of blue sky about but you had to look straight up to see it.  We decided against going down the hill and retraced our steps.

There was a nippy wind blowing in our faces as we went back towards the car and I was pleased to have my new jacket with a capacious hood to protect me from the chill.   Mrs Tootlepedal kindly took a picture of the jacket in action in reply to request for a picture from a couple of readers.

new jacket

Although my ankles may look a bit exposed, they are well covered by water and windproof socks which do a good job of keeping my feet warm, and my shoes are waterproof too so I was very snug

Another wind farm at the Craig came into view on our way home and as the sun had down a good job of clearing snow from the track….

viw of craig windfarm from westwater track

…I was able to have a good look for lichen…

three sorts of lichen

…as we walked back into the sun towards the car.

Mrs Tootlepedal had her big coat on too.Mrs T westwater track

Although it wasn’t a long walk, it had felt very good to be out and about and we enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as the weather tomorrow looks as though it is going to be quite bad with rain and a gale, and not suitable for outdoor life at all.

After our long day yesterday, we were happy to have a quiet time once we got home and we let the rest of the day drift away peacefully.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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