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Posts Tagged ‘Solway Firth’

Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo’s trip to New Zealand.  It shows South Taranaki Bight, a fierce place, Mary Jo says.  She is back in Canada and having to spend a fortnight ‘self isolating’ on her return to the country.

South Taranaki Bight

We were promised a dry day and we got one so that was a bonus and then a woodpecker appeared on the plum tree after breakfast, a very rare occurrence indeed…

woodpecker on plum tree

… so that was another bonus.  It was altogether a very good start to the day.

On the down side, it was only 6°C and with a brisk wind blowing, it felt pretty chilly for mid March.  I was determined to go for a cycle ride, but I wasted some time on doing the crossword and looking at goldfinches and redpolls on the feeder….

feeder picture

…while vainly hoping that it would get warmer.

After I had had a cup of coffee and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any warmer, I finally set off on my cycle ride.

I was hoping to go a reasonable distance and my plan, in the face of the brisk west wind, was to go as far west into the wind as my legs would stand, and then to get blown home again.

This plan took me past the Chapelcross Nuclear Power station near Annan.  It is being decommissioned very slowly.

This was it in 2010….

chapelcross1

…and this was it today.

chapelcross

When I got to Annan itself, I was intending to take a moody shot of the high water running under the bridge over the River Annan but I got distracted by rabbits and shot them instead.

rabbits at annan bridge

I left Annan and followed the coast road to Powfoot where I hoped to see the sea.  However, following Mary Jo’s example, the sea was self isolating.  Indeed, it was so far out that it looked as though it might be quite possible to walk to America.

sea at powfoot

I looked across the Nith Estuary towards Criffel…

criffel from powfoot

…noted a daisy and some salt marshes…

daisy and marsh powfoot

…ate a honey sandwich and headed for home.

Battling into the wind, which was gusting at 25mph, had kept my outward speed to a measly 11.2 mph.  Floating home with the wind behind was a much more sprightly affair and I was happy to stop to record my first sighting of blackthorn blossom this year…

 

blackthorn

…and a generous clump of lesser celandine beside the road.

celandine

I was even more happy to stop to admire the church at Kirkpatrick Fleming as it is halfway up a steep hill.

 

kpf church

I had two more convenient stops, the first with the barrier of this motorway bridge to rest my bike against…

motorway brodge kpf

…and the second with these steps set into the churchyard wall at Half Morton to rest my bottom on while I had my second honey sandwich.

wall at half morton

After that, it was a case of pressing on, though I did make one last stop to record an outbreak of lambs at the Hollows.  You don’t often see lambs in jackets but it has been cold and wet so perhaps it is a wise move from the farmer.

lambs at Hollows

I was able to up my average speed thanks to the kindly wind and I managed 14.1 mph on the way home.  This meant that I just squeezed under four hours of cycling time for my 50 miles journey by a few seconds.

It was still only 6°C when I got back.  I had hoped for a little warming sunshine on my trip but it remained cold and grey and I was pleased to have been well wrapped up.

The sun did come out after I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was out too and she had left me a note to say that she was up on the moor looking for hen harriers.  She got back soon afterwards but with no sightings of harriers at all.  She had done some useful gardening while I had been off cycling though.

I watched some more reliable birds.

warring birds

It was a pleasant evening so after I had had a shower, I went for a little three bridges walk.

I expected blossom and there was blossom beside the river….

blossom beside esk

…and I hoped for interesting waterside birds but there were only ducks.

They are paired up at the moment and I saw a hopeful third party getting short shrift when he tried to muscle in on a spoken for lady.

two pairs of ducks

As I crossed the sawmill Brig, I noticed that it hadn’t taken very long for lichen to start to colonise the new parapet stones which were installed in 2016..

lichen on sawmill brig

I liked this moss which looked as though it was gently snoozing on a more established wall a few yards further on..

moss on wall

It was still cold but the evening sunshine made it feel more cheerful than it actually was.

sunny castleholm march

When I got home, we had venison stew for our evening meal and we both felt that we had earned it.

Reducing our social interactions drastically has not been so bad for me because I have always got Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to.  Of course it is not so satisfactory for her as she has got me to talk to.  I managed to irritate her  so much at one time yesterday that she looked at me witheringly and summoned up the worst insult she could think of. “You’re just like Boris Johnson!”

I was chastened.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

For those interested, details of the ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 march 2020

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Today’s guest picture comes from former Archive Group member Ken, who is now over in the north east.  He sent me this picture of a very special K4 kiosk, one of only 50 introduced in 1927.  They combined a telephone kiosk with a coin operated stamp vending machine and a post box.  This one is still in use in Whitley Bay, although the stamp machine no longer works.

K4 Kiosk

After the recent Christmas excitements, I had a quiet morning at home with nothing more testing than a crossword and a visit to our corner shop to help pass the time.

I did have a look at the birds who were out in force today.

We had siskins and goldfinches…

siskin and goldfinch incoming

…and lots of chaffinches…

chaffinches incoming

…and sometimes siskins, goldfinches and chaffinches at the same time.

busy feeder

A chaffinch landed with a single claw on the perch…

one footed chaffinch landing

…but once it was in situ, it was determined not to be shifted.

goldfinch and chaffinch determined

Unlike the chaffinch, Mrs Tootlepedal was set on being shifted and so, after an early lunch, we went out for a walk.

Encouraged by her five mile, relatively flat walk yesterday, she had bigger ambitions today.  I followed in her wake as we walked along the main road for a mile before turning up the Copshaw road to walk up to the White Yett.

We stopped to admire the beautifully trimmed beech hedges at Hillhead…

beech hedges Hillhead

…and I noted that the monument, which was on Mrs Tootlepedal’s planned route, looked quite far away and quite high up.

I stopped again to record an unusual grey sheep in a field with more standard models.  I have no clue as to what make it is.

grey and white sheep

As we got higher up the hill, I looked over a wall at a view up the valley, but it was a dull day so the wall was more interesting than the view.  I have no idea what the little brown globe on the lichen is.  I haven’t seen anything like it before.

lichen with brown ball

Another wall caught my eye.  It had a purpose built hole in it.

hole on the wall

Mrs Tootlepedal likes this bench near the parking place at the White Yett.  It reminds her of one like it in her childhood.

seat on White Yett road

We didn’t stop to sit on it though, but pressed on when we got to the MacDiarmid memorial and headed up the track to the Monument.

memorial and monument

It was warm for the time of year, and the hint of sunshine was encouraging as we climbed up to the monument on the summit of Whita at 355m (1164ft), passing some good looking lichen on the way…

kichen in stone whita

…and being passed by an enthusiastic mountain biker…

mountain cyclist whita

…who soon disappeared over the horizon.

cyclist at monument

It is very difficult to get a view to the west at this time of year because the low sun is in the way, but it did make the Solway Firth gleam as it came into sight.

solway gleaming from whita

Following Mrs Tootlepedal’s plan, we walked on past the monument at the top of the hill and came to the edge of the world.

Or at least we came to the end of the last Scottish hill and looked out over the expanse of the Solway plain stretched out below us.  It was misty in England.

solway plain from edge of whita

We kept going and walked down the ridge towards the Moorland Project bird hide.  This involved some hard walking through heather, over moss…

sphagnum moss

…and tussocky grass…

rough moorland whita

…following faint tracks across the moor until we finally got to the road just above Broomholmshiels.

Both of us fell into bogs on the way but we were very brave and soldiered on.

It was a relief to have solid ground under foot again.  We had a choice of road or a somewhat soggy track to take us back to Langholm and unsurprisingly, we chose the road.  After walking down the hill to the banks of the Esk, we took the direct route home and arrived in perfect time for a cup of tea after three and half hours of fairly strenuous walking.

A check on the map when we got back showed that Mrs Tootlepedal had taken me on a seven mile walk.  I was very grateful to her as this was the longest walk that I had managed all year.

Not unnaturally though, we were fairly tired after that so not much else of note happened before the end of the day.  To be be honest, nothing else happened before the end of the day.

We look as though we might be in for a spell of dry weather so I hope to add a little pedalling to the walking before the end of the year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was not the cleanest picture that I took today but I like the tiny siskins a lot, so it got the honour.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin who was in California recently seeing his son and grandchildren when he visited the Capitola Pier.

capitola pier

We had another grey morning here with the occasional threat of drizzle which didn’t come to much.  It was enough though to persuade me that coffee and a tricky  crossword and some light shopping at our corner shop could fill up the time satisfactorily.   The wind was light and I ought to have been out making the most of a reasonable cycling day but I didn’t feel guilty enough to do more than walk round the garden.

I was hoping to see blackbirds in the rowan tree again but they were too quick for me today and flew off as soon as they saw me coming.

I looked at a shy dahlia instead.

shy dahlia

The last of the poppies are far from shy.

deep red poppies

And once again, the red admirals were about.  This one was resting on a sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and this one on a buddleia was showing off its goggle eyes and its antennae.  The antennae look as though they have LEDs on them.

red admiral butterfly close up

At noon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and I finally got organised and took my bike out for a pedal.

We are being threatened with the arrival of the last gasp of Storm Dorian but the rain isn’t due until the evening and although the wind was expected to speed up during the afternoon, it was still going to be pretty reasonable.  I planned a route which would take advantage of the strengthening wind to blow me back home.

These things don’t often work out well but today everything went to plan.  I cycled westwards into a gentle breeze as the sun came out.  On one of my refreshment pauses, I looked up to see a hefty crop of beech nuts on the branches above me.

beech mast

My turning point came after 20 miles when I arrived at Browhouses on the Solway coast.  I took a few minutes to eat half a banana and enjoy the views.

The tide was well out and although there were some sea birds about, they were well out of range of my cycling camera.

seas birds at browhouses

A group of swans and some of a large group of gulls with some oyster catchers behind them.

Looking westward, I could see the English shore across the shining levels of the Solway…

shining solway

 

…and looking eastwards, I could see the estuary of the River Esk rather than any sea.

esk estuary browhouses

In the distance, I could see the wind turbines at Gretna…

gretna windmills

..and at Longtown and unlike my last ride, this time the direction of the blades showed me that I would get my wish of windy support on my ride home.

longtown windmills

I noticed that one of the few wild flowers to be seen was attracting attention…

yellow flower browhouses

…and then set off to do the twenty odd miles home.

I went back by a different route to my outward journey, missing out Gretna Green which I had passed through on my way out, but going through all the other places on this neatly painted signpost which is in England in the  county of Cumbria.

cubbyhill signpost

It still carries the name of a county council which was abolished in 1974, the year in which we came to live in Langholm….

cubbyhill signpost detail

…and it is good to see that no-one thought it necessary to go to the expense of making new signposts when the old ones were in such good shape.

In the hedge beside the post were some bright rose hips.

rose hips cubbyhill

At Englishtown, the farmer had been busy cutting grass and there were bales on every side as far as the eye could see.

filed near Englishtown

Thanks to the favouring breeze, which had strengthened noticeably after I had turned for home, I did the first 20 miles down to the seaside (net elevation loss 250ft) in 1 hr 33 mins and the slightly longer return 22 mile journey to Langholm (net elevation gain 250ft) in 1 hr 27 minutes.  This is the way that well planned bike rides for the elderly should always work out.  To complete the picture, I should add that I took 23 minutes of rest and refreshment stops along the way.
 A map and details of the ride can be found here by anyone interested.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a very busy day and was working hard at some business arrangements when I got home.  I left her to it and walked round the garden after I had had a cup of tea.

The ornamental strawberries are having a late burst and look very good at the moment.

tame strawberry

Crown Princess Margareta is trying her best but will need a couple of kind days if she is to come to anything.

margareta rose

And the blue clematis at the front door continues to produce small but quite elegant flowers.

front door clematis

I picked some more plums and stewed some of them and ate them as a dessert with some ice cream after our evening meal.  Garmin (which records my ride on a nifty bike computer) claims that I used 2289 calories on my ride so that should have put most of them back.

No flying bird of the day today but another of the many young blackbirds in the garden stands in for it.

young blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Taunton Flower show.  They really know how to enjoy a good time there.

Taunton flower show

Unfortunately, Sandy’s new bike did not arrive on schedule so with nothing better to do, I set out on a solo ride, hoping that the good weather that had greeted the day would last.

There was plenty of evidence of the wet weather of the weekend to be seen as I left the town.  Above the Auld Stane Bridge, trees were scattered casually around, high on the river bank…

washed up trees auld stane brig

…and a mile or two further along the road, I had to stop at a traffic light to get past this landslide.

landslip wauchope road

We seem to have had the worst of the flooding though because after that the roads were dry and clear.

At least they were dry until I got caught in a rain shower which started at ten miles and lasted for the next three miles.  I was fairly confident that it wouldn’t last long and was able to look back it from a sunny spot before I got too wet.

clouds behind me

I had a good rain jacket with me and since I was wearing shorts and my legs are pretty waterproof, I was able to take a little rain without crying.

This was lucky, because after passing the ex nuclear power station at Chaplecross where the demolition continues at a snails pace (unsurprisingly)…

chapelcross demolition

…I encountered another rain shower at twenty miles and this too lasted for three miles.

The rain had stopped by the time that I got to Powfoot, a little village on the shore of the Solway Firth, but another shower was hiding England from sight on the far shore.

solway with england obscured

The contrast couldn’t have been more clear; gloom in England and sunshine in Scotland.

white row powfoot

Looking further down the firth, I could see another shower on our side but I decided to pedal on anyway.

next rainstorm solway

There has been a lot of verge mowing so I didn’t see many wild flowers but I liked this one on the shore at Powfoot.

wild flower powfoot

Since I had encountered rain at ten and twenty miles, I was fully expecting to meet some more at thirty miles but although I passed some large puddles in fields…

large puddle near ruthwell

The verges here were thick with Himalayan balsam

…the sun was still shining as I got to my turning point at the Brow Well, famous as a place where Robert Burns came to drink the waters shortly before his death.

brow well

I didn’t drink the waters but I did stop on the handy bench and ate an egg roll.  I needed the sit down as I had been cycling into the noticeable wind for thirty miles by this time.

I had taken the back road out but took the inland road back.  This involved crossing under the Annan to Dumfries railway a couple of times.

railway bridge near powfoot

With the wind behind me and the sun shining, I whistled along the road through Annan pretty cheerfully.  I stopped for a banana near Eastriggs, and some of my good cheer evaporated when I turned my head to the left and looked across the fields.

rainstorm off eastriggs

Still, the rain was on my left and the wind was coming from the right and behind so I reckoned that the clouds would be blown away safely.

However, I must have cycled too fast and the road must have changed direction a bit because when I got to Longtown, the heavens opened and in seconds the road was awash.  As I was on the main road by this time, I wasn’t only getting rained on from above, but I was getting a good soaking from the passing traffic as well.  I therefore decided to turn off and take the slightly longer but much quieter route through Canonbie, and in spite of having to pedal through a large puddle on my way, this was a good choice.

large puddle north lodge canonbie

It became an even better choice when the next shower turned out to consist of hail stones which gave me such a good pinging that I was forced to take shelter under the trees at Byreburnfoot.  I would have been very exposed on the main road.

I got going again when the hail turned to rain and rode the five miles home in a series of fitful showers which rather annoyingly stopped as soon as I got to Langholm.

My jacket stood up to the weather very well and I arrived home relatively dry and quite cheerful.  Riding through the rain had been quite tiring though, so I was very glad of the cup of tea that Mrs Tootlepedal made for me.

I had a walk round the garden in the sunshine after my cuppa and enjoyed a fine sunflower in the back bed.

sunflower back bed

We both like the pure white flowers on this hosta.

white hosta flowers

There was quite racket of birds in the garden, most of it coming from starlings perched on our new electricity wires.

convocation of starlings

The loudest of them all though was a lone starling sitting on top of the holly tree. Perhaps it was complaining about the prickles.

starling on holly

I was standing on the lawn looking at the starlings when I was nudged out of the way by this blackbird hunting for worms.

close blackbird

I gave way gracefully and went in, passing a rare unnibbled dahlia on the way.

good dahlia

Because of the rain, my feet had got a bit cold and my legs had got a bit stiff so I retired for a hot bath before our evening meal.  This was a feast of vegetarian sausages accompanied by peas, runner beans, carrots, courgette and new potatoes all from the garden.

The temperatures have dropped a lot now and there was distinctly autumnal feel about the morning and the garden is beginning to lose its summer glow.

One of the starlings on the wire rose to the occasion and is the flying bird of the day.

flying starling

Curious readers may find out more about my very slow pedal by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 13 Aug 2019

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When I looked back at his pictures from Kirkcaldy’s Highland Games on the beach, I saw that as well as cyclists and runners, they had these curious characters too.

beach runners Kirkcaldy

It was the day of the wires in our garden and luckily, the wire hangers had a fine day for their work.  They got prepared and while one man disconnected the power from a neighbouring pole, using a handy bucket, a worker shinned up the new pole in our garden and got ready to remove the wires from the old pole.

new electricty supply 1

The picture on the right in the panel above was taken by Mrs Tootlepedal and as I had to leave the scene, she took all the others of the works too.

Once the wires had been taken off the old pole, it was carefully lowered down….

new electricty supply 2

…and turned out to fit exactly into the available space.

Our new pole stood alone.

new electricty supply 3

Then new wires were fitted from our neighbour Liz’s house to the new pole at the front gate….

new electricty supply 4

…and connected up by a team of two hanging on the vegetable garden pole which acts as a centre point for all the houses surrounding our garden.

new electricty supply 5

I see that I have put the two pictures in this panel in the wrong way round. 

Mrs Tootlepedal took a picture of a section of one of the old poles showing exactly why it was time for replacements.

new electricty supply rotten old pole

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to the Buccleuch Centre, where she was helping out at the coffee shop, and it wasn’t long after she got back that the power was restored and she was able to enjoy our new (and doubtless better) electricity as she made herself a cup of tea.

I had had to leave her to be photographer in chief as I wanted to make use of the good weather to get a cycle ride in.  After cycling thirteen miles on Sunday and walking two mile yesterday without any bad effects on my feet, I thought that the time had come to extend my range a little.

Long suffering readers will know that I harbour an ambition to cycle as many miles as I have had birthdays each year and for as many years into the future as possible.  As there was a rock solid guarantee of no rain today, I thought that this might be the day to accomplish the challenge for this year.

Unfortunately, in spite of the sunny conditions, there was still a pretty brisk wind blowing with gusts of up to 25 miles an hour, so I chose a very flat out-and-back route in the hope that the wind would blow me home.

I was not at all confident that I would be up to the task so I made to sure to stop for a minute or so every five miles to have a drink, eat a snack, stretch my legs and take a photo if the opportunity arose.

There were a lot of things to see on my way…

wild flowers on way to Bowness

…but my favourites were the banks of daises that lined the roads in many places.

daisies beside M6 service road

My route took me down to the southern shore of the Solway Firth and along some very flat roads beside the salty marsh there.

This cow crossed the road in front of me at one point and gave me a hard stare before going off to join her pals in the distance.

salt marsh cow

I would have enjoyed the flat road better if I had not been pedalling straight into the wind, working really hard to achieve a measly 10 mph.

I stopped to admire the fortified farmhouse at Drumburgh, built in the 12 century using stones taken from Hadrian’s Wall.

Drumburgh Bastle

For once, the tide was in and the sea was lapping at the shore as I pedalled along.

solway fiorst view

After 40 miles of head and cross winds, I was mighty pleased to find a small shop in a developing holiday complex in Bowness.  I bought an ice cream, a coffee and an alleged Bakewell tart bar and sat in the sun and had a rest while I enjoyed them. (The Bakewell Tart bar tasted surprisingly good but not much like a  Bakewell Tart.)

Bowness cafe

I pedalled along the shore a bit further after my snack and enjoyed the sight of the marsh cattle peacefully grazing.  Across the Firth, I could see Criffel on the Scottish side.

cattle grazing on salt march bowness

I turned for home after 43 miles, and my plan to be blown home by a friendly wind worked out well.  This was lucky as the 43 miles into the wind had been hard work.

I had stopped on the way out to record the Methodist church at Monkhill, and to even things out, I stopped to record the 12th Century Anglican church at Burgh by Sands (also built using stones from Hadrian’s Wall) on the way back.

chapel and church

I had nearly got back to Langholm when I spotted the biggest treat of the day.  The people who mow the verges of our roads had failed in their task of exterminating every possible wild flower on the  A7  and near the end of the Canonbie by-pass I came across a small clump of orchids which had survived the trimming.

orchid beside A7

After 81 miles at a very modest speed, I managed to get home just before Mrs Tootlepedal went out to an evening meeting and was very pleased to find that she had cooked a nourishing meal for me to eat after she had gone.

When I had eaten, I was recovered enough to go out and mow the middle lawn and take a turn round the garden.

The climbing hydrangea is covered with flowers and bees.

climbing hydrangea with bees

The day of sunshine had brought the coral…

coral peony out

…and the white peonies out…

white peony out

…and the lupins were a joy to look at in the evening light.

lupins

But of course, the highlight was the new pole.

new electricty supply final

At the time of writing,  my feet and ankles have survived the slightly longer cycle ride but only tomorrow morning will tell if I was ill advised to take on my age challenge.

I managed to capture a flying siskin of the day after I got home.

flying siskin

I have appended my route map below.  You can see that it was a very flat route.

Those interested can learn more by clicking on the map.

garmin route 18 June 2019

 

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Today’s guest picture is another look at the supersized crazy golf course in Nottingham.  My brother Andrew passed it on his way to classes at the university.

nottingham golf

I was hoping for a bright day today so that I could take some seaside picture when I went to visit my physio who lives on the Solway coast.  There has been a lot of loose talk lately about a ridge of high pressure with warm temperatures and sunny skies but wherever that was taking place, it wasn’t here.  We were stubbornly stuck in single figures, under very grey skies and blasted by stiff winds.

The opportunity to sit indoors in the morning and admire the birds at the feeder was scuppered by two fly throughs from the sparrowhawk with the result that birds were very few and far between…

chaffinch behind feeder

…and mostly hiding when they did arrive.

I walked round the garden but there was not a lot to see.  The winter aconites are trying to open out…

winter aconites

…and the new sarcococca is doing well.

sarcococca

But that was it.

In the absence of interesting birds or flowers, I went off and did some singing practice in disgust and then after an early lunch, we set out to combine the visit to the physio with some shopping.

I picked up a big bag of economically priced bird seed on the way to visit a garden centre near Carlisle.  Once we got there, Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some interesting seed potatoes and an azalea and I purchased a selection of cheeses.

Then we headed off to Annan where I had intended to do some more shopping and take a picture or two.  Unfortunately, the middle of the town was clogged up with road works so we gave up and drove out to Powfoot…

powfoot cotttages

…. to see the sea.  It was gloomy but a dog was having fun…

dog walkers powfoot

…which may have helped to account for the complete absence of any interesting sea birds…

solway on a grey day

…although the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal did spot a lone lapwing.

I missed the lapwing and took a picture of some seaside gorse instead.

gorse at powfoot

The visit to the physio was useful and interesting but did not in the short term do anything to ease my foot troubles.  She thinks the pain may well stem from injury to the tendons in my ankle as it is swollen.  She wiggled my foot in many directions and was unable to find any other cause so that may well be the right answer.  Unfortunately this means that I will have to wait for ‘time, the great healer’ to do his work but she did say that gentle but regular exercise is prescribed so that cheered me up.

She has put a tape down the back of my calf and along the bottom of my foot to give me some support so I shall try a little walk tomorrow and see how it goes.

I picked up a few walnuts in the garden today and found one or two ripe ones which Mrs Tootlepedal ate.  She said they were very sweet. It is a pity that I don’t like nuts with so many lying around.  This one seemed appropriate for St Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

walnut hearts

In the evening, I went off to the Langholm choir where we had an enjoyable evening of singing.  Our current set of songs are tuneful and not too hard which is just what I need at the moment.

While I have been idling about over the past weeks, Mrs Tootlepedal has been very busy.

She has got the first covering of undercoat onto the rocking horse….

rocking horse repairs paint

…and has been very busy with her crochet hook.

crochet blanket

The main body of the blanket is now complete and she is waiting to get the instructions for finishing it off with a border.

The winds are due to ease off over the next couple of days so I hope to get out on the bicycle again.  A little sunshine would help.

The supply of flying birds was very poor today and this was the only one that I captured on camera.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is my final offering from Venetia’s American trip and shows more wildlife from Yellowstone.  This time it is a mule deer.

deer in Yellowstone

The forecast was for a dry sunny day here today and I had hopes of a decent cycle ride but the good weather came with a frosty morning so I had to wait to get going.

The frost had frozen the first clump of frog spawn in the pond…

frozen frog spawn

…and I don’t know whether potential tadpoles can stand being frozen and unfrozen.

The sun soon brought the early crocuses to life…

fly on crocus

..with added insect.

There weren’t as many birds about today as there have been lately so I only put out one feeder but traffic was brisk for a while on it.

busy feeder

Luckily, the ever reliable Dropscone was on hand with some traditional Friday treacle scones to help to pass the time over a cup or two of coffee and when he left….

…there were more crocuses to look at….

crocuses

crocuses

…and there were enough frogs in the pond to ensure that there should be fresh supplies of spawn soon.

frogs in pond

It was interesting to me that I had been able to take much better frog pictures yesterday on a duller day than I could in the fairly bright sunshine today.  It just goes to show how important light is to a camera.

 

In the end, I waited so long for the temperature to rise to what I considered a safe level that I had to have some lunch before I set out and it was early afternoon when I finally got going.

The trouble with the heaps of snow beside the back roads is that as they melt, they cover the road with water and if this freezes, it is impossible to avoid.  Thanks to my delayed start,  by the time that I was on the road things were safe enough….

Near Cubbyhill

…though a driver thought that this rather narrow avenue was just the place to pass me.  I don’t like to rejoice in the misfortunes of others but I wasn’t as sympathetic as I might have been when she ran into quite a deep pothole just after she had almost squeezed me into the snow.

I headed down to the flat country round Gretna as I find it hard to get my legs really interested in hills when the temperatures are low.  The wind had shifted a bit to the north west and was colder than yesterday so it was lucky that the sun stayed out to warm my old bones.

There were good views to be had.

Penines

I stopped regularly to have a snack, a drink and a breather for a minute or two and on one bridge, I found some unusual looking moss when I leaned on the parapet for support.

moss on railway bridge

It was a railway bridge and a train whizzed past underneath me as I stood there.

virgin train

The trains look exactly the same from either end so you have to know that trains drive on the left to realise that this one was going away from me by the time that I had got my camera focussed.

As I crossed the border between England and Scotland no less than four times on my short journey and each time on different roads of different sizes, I reflected that the airy politicians who talk of the Irish border being no trouble to organise just using technology are very optimistic to the point of stupidity. (And of course, we don’t talk about Gibraltar.)  My mind often wanders while I pedal along.

It was such a nice day that I thought that a trip to the sea side was in order and so I went down to the Solway shore  at Brow Houses where I found someone else enjoying the sunshine on a handily placed bench.

Brow Houses

It is only really the sea side when the tide is in.  On a day like today when the tide was far out, it is more just the estuary of the River Esk….

Esk estuary

…as it runs between sandbanks.

Still, I could see the Lake District hills on the English side…

Solway and Lake District Hills

…and some interesting water fowl on our side…

waterfowl

…so I was pleased to be there as I munched a banana and some prunes.   I was a bit too far away from the ducks to get a good picture but I think that they may be shelducks.

I have been short of bridge pictures lately owing to doing so little cycling during the winter so I stopped to admire this neat railway bridge carrying the Gretna to Annan railway…

railway bridge near Rigg

…before taking a pretty direct and wind assisted route home through Gretna and Longtown.

This gave me the chance to book the fairly speedy bike in for its annual service at the bike shop in Longtown and to consider buying a new bike helmet as the one I was wearing today has a serious crack in it after the unfortunate incident last month.

I am not intending to fall off again but then I wasn’t intending to fall off last time so one can’t be too careful.  There was a big item on the news last night about the benefits to the health of elderly people that a few hours a week on a bike brings but it didn’t mention the possible side effects for the careless pedaller!

I went through Canonbie on my way back as the main road was fairly humming with traffic and this gave me the opportunity, as I stopped for my final snack and breather, to get a sideways look at my favourite three trees…

trees at Grainstonehead

…and to enjoy the late afternoon sun catching the church and manse as I went through the village.

Canonbie Church

When I got home, I found that the gardener had been making good use of the fine weather by working on the new arrangements of lawn and flower beds.  She was taking a moment to view the work in progress.  Note the neat line of transplanted snowdrops/

gardener in thought

The man who made our compost bins came this morning to consult Mrs Tootlepedal about renewing some of her raised vegetable beds and he is also going to make us a new bench to replace the one on the picture, which is well past its ‘best by’ date.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been counting the frogs in the pond and told me that she had seen eleven at one time.   There were still several about when I looked.

frogs

After only managing 140 miles in the whole of February, I have done 112 in the last four days so it is not too surprising that I am feeling a little tired tonight.  The forecast says that there is a good chance that it might rain all day tomorrow so I might get an enforced rest.

The flying bird of the day was one of the early morning visitors.

flying goldfinch

For those interested, here is the map of my ride and a click on the map will bring up the full details.

Garmin route 8 March 2018

If you bring up the route and look at the map, a click on the third button along on the top left of the box will give you the chance to choose the ‘satellite’ option.  This, if you zoom in, gives you a very dramatic view of the Solway Firth with the tide well out, just as it was today.

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