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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  These are just a few of a large flock of white storks which she saw flying over her in Morocco.

Venetia's Moroccan storks

As it was Friday, Dropscone came round for coffee but in a big turn up for the books, he brought no treacle scones with him.  Plain scones were the order of the day.  He claimed that problems with the Chinese supply chain had led to a lack of treacle in the town but I have my doubts about that.  The plain scones were very satisfactory so I had no complaints.

When he left, I battled with a tricky crossword rather than taking some much needed cycle exercise.  Then I wasted a little more time by looking round the garden.  There is  colour but another three inches of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge…

crocus, primula

…explains why most of the crocuses have given up the unequal struggle and are lying flat on the ground.

I made some lentil soup for lunch (Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work of course) and watched the birds before and after eating it.

Here is a perching siskin, just for Mrs Tootlepedal.

perching siskin

Two greenfinches cvisited the feeder…

two greenfinches

…and the rather battered blackbird foraged for seed below.

wounded backbird

I did catch some feeder action.

feeder activity

In the end, I couldn’t waste any more time and got my cycling gear on and went out for a pedal.  The wind had changed from the prevailing west winds of recent days to an easterly wind today, still chilly but not too strong.

I find it a bit hard to get motivated to cycle these days when the temperatures is in single figures and a chilly wind is blowing, so I chose a route with the wind behind me as I set out to give me early encouragement.

This proved a good idea and I enjoyed the ride a lot.

I stopped for a minute or two at every five mile mark and took a picture, ate some guava jelly and had a drink of water.

Here are the five mile pictures and some details of the ride to give you an idea of how much difference a hill or an adverse breeze makes.

5 Miles:  338ft of elevation gain but a following wind: 26 minutes.

Picture: Two buzzards flew round over my head.

buzzards

10 miles: 250 feet of elevation loss with the wind still behind:  20 minutes, my fastest 5 miles of the trip.

Picture: A hint of blue sky but not enough to make a French sailor a pair of trousers.

blue sky

15 miles:  An elevation loss of 91 ft and with the wind still behind, 21 minutes.

Picture: The rather odd looking mismatch between the porch and church in Eaglesfield.

Eaglesfield church

20 miles: A net elevation loss of 58 ft (pretty well flat) with the wind now across. 23 minutes.

Picture: An alder catkin looking good.

alder catking old A74

25 miles:  Another flat section, more or less dead straight with an elevation loss of 59 ft, wind still across. 23 minutes.

Picture: An old mill and forge converted to accommodation to take advantage of the Gretna wedding trade.

mill at gretna

30 miles: Turning for home.  Wind across but more helpful than not: 171 ft of elevation gain.  28 minutes.

Picture: The international border bridge between Scotland (this side) and England (over there)

sark border brodge

I looked over the bridge to see if Boris Johnson had managed to bring the nations of the UK closer together as is his stated wish, but the gap between the banks remained exactly the same as ever. Must try harder.

river sark

I had stuck to my plan of only taking pictures every five miles up to this point but I cracked when I saw the last tree in England just before I went back into Scotland…

last tree in England

…the first lambs of the year at Glenzier…

first lambs glenzier

…and this charming little hill at Ryehills Farm.

raehill trig point

I got back to business again.

35 miles:  A net gain of 156 ft (some of it steep!) and a reasonably helpful wind,  28 minutes.

Picture:  Curious bulls near Wauchope Schoolhouse.

bloch bull

40 miles:  Back down the hill into the town with a couple of miles through the town and back added to round off the distance.  Net height loss of 188ft, sheltered from the wind. 21 minutes

Picture:  The view of the bridge over the dam and the gate to Wauchope Cottage,  always a welcome sight.

 

dam bridge

I reached a heady average speed of 13.5 mph after 15 miles with the wind behind me, but the changes of direction and the hills on the way back home, took their toll and I ended with an  average of 12.5 mph.   Towards the end of the trip, the wind obligingly moved round a few points so it wasn’t against me as much as it might have been and this made the ride very enjoyable.  I still wouldn’t mind a warm day though.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and among some familiar pieces, Alison and I tried out a new sonata by Daniel Purcell.  It sounded promising.

After playing, the general conversation turned to the virus and its effects.  A lot of things have been cancelled; Mrs Tootlepedal’s embroidery group, the camera club meeting, the Carlisle Choir and the Langholm Choir, the forthcoming performance by our local operatic society, Mrs Tootlepedal’s and my proposed trip to London to visit Evie, and train trips to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

Life will be quiet.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Moroccan trip.  You might find it hard to believe that this delightfully shady restaurant garden is in Morocco but it is.

morocco tiout

The first picture in today’s post is a bit of a cheat as it was taken yesterday when I went to bed.  Looking out of the window, I saw a very nearly full moon and I couldn’t resist the temptation to go back downstairs to fetch my camera and take a shot of it.

nearly full moon

Any clear skies had disappeared by morning and we had another wet and windy day.

Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off after breakfast on business, this time to Canonbie, and my slow getting up technique was called into play.  I am getting good at it and was only just up and dressed by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

We had coffee and I kept an eye on the birds.  The indifferent weather had brought them to the feeder in good numbers and siskins and goldfinches took it in turn to fill the top layer of perches…

siskin and goldfinch trios

…while gangs of siskins monopolised the bottom layer.

siskin circle

There was a brighter moment and I popped out into the garden to see if there were any frogs about.  The weather didn’t suit the frogs though, and the pond was deserted.

I walked round the garden and was pleased to see the first signs of Forsythia flowers.

forsythia

Going back in, I had another look at the birds.  A redpoll was copying the siskins and wasting good food.

redpoll dropping seed

A goldfinch, ruffled by the brisk breeze, posed in the fake tree.

goldfinch fake tree

You are supposed to be able to tell a male from, a female goldfinch by how far behind the eye the red patch extends and various other subtle signs,  They are usually too subtle for me but I think that this is a male.  (I am happy to be corrected by any passing expert.)

goldfinch head

As it looked as though there might be a dry spell for a while, I went for a walk and indeed, it was almost sunny as I set out, passing a blackbird, looking a bit the worse for wear as I went.

blackbird in garden

It got gloomier as I walked along the river but there was a lot to look at.

There was wild garlic growing along the river bank, and potential bluebells lined the path up the hill…

garlic, bluebell, script lichen

…and while the writing was not on the wall, there was plenty of script lichen on birch trees.

I don’t know what causes this striking brown staining on a silver birch.

stained birch tree

A robin, sitting on a  fence at a stable, kindly let me add to the collection of peaceful birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal.

robin stubholm

There have not been a great number of catkins so far this year but they are beginning to appear, and while I was looking at a healthy crop, I noticed a tiny red spot in the background.  I knew then that they were hazel catkins and the red spot was a flower

hazel catkin and hazel flower

When I looked more closely, there were dozens of the flowers out and I had never found them so easy to see before.

I was hoping to extend my stroll but some very strong gusts of wind heralded the arrival of a rain shower.  I speeded up my steps and stopped looking for interesting things but my luck didn’t hold out.  I was still a few hundred yards from home when a heavy shower of rain and sleet got me thoroughly drenched in a very short time.

A toasted cheese sandwich restored my good humour.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a break from her work and came out for a walk with me.

We drove up the hill and parked near the Roman camp at Broomholmshiels.   It was windy and gloomy but the Romans had chosen the spot because it commanded a good view up the valley and even on a grey day, it is still a good view.

roman view

It was extremely wet underfoot and we splodged through the glaur, trying hard not to slip over.

Nothing could take away from the enjoyment of the fine trees in the wood alongside the camp…

roman tree

…and we think that this is probably the nicest wood in the area.

roamn wood

It is not every day that you can see a good looking tree alongside a Roman ditch.roman ditch

On the far side of the camp, we came to the old railway.  There is a fine bridge over a deep cutting…

railway roman camp

…but the line has been neglected at this point and is more of a river than a track, so we had to leave the bridge and walk along for a bit before we could join the trackbed just where an embankment gave way to a shallow cutting.

This was the best bit of walking of the outing and we could enjoy a view to the valley below as well as thistles making ornamental patterns in the grass…

railway broomholm

…and some bits of the old railway like these metal posts and a one of the clamps that used to hold the rails.

The line stops at a bridge over the road that we had driven up.   Here the walk became difficult.  The bridge has been demolished and although there is a signpost indicating a walking path, the way has become blocked by a fence and many fallen trees…

footpath broomholm

…but a dingly dell full of snowdrops was a consolation for the battle through the brushwood.

There were pine cones and moss along the track…

cone, moss, cress and celandine broomholm

…and wild water cress and early celandine as we walked back up the road to the car.

But the best thing for me was a good crop of scarlet elf cupsAs  just at the old bridge.

scarlet elf cap

This is a beautiful fungus and it was popping up all over the place when we looked.

Although it was only a walk of one and a half miles, it felt like an adventure and even on a soggy, windy day, it was full of enjoyment from start to finish.  And it didn’t rain.

We had a cup of tea and some toast and honey when we got home, and then Mrs Tootlepedal set to work folding hundreds of letters from the community buy out group ready for stuffing into envelopes tomorrow, and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

When I had finished, I joined in the letter folding, got our evening meal ready, did some more letter folding, and then left Mrs Tootlepedal still folding while I went away to write this post.

What I didn’t do was practise any songs for the choir competition tomorrow.  It has fallen victim to the coronavirus outbreak as the choir committee has decided that it would be wiser if we didn’t take part.  I completely agree with that decision.

It is a bit of a pity though, as this is the first time that I have truly felt that I have properly learned off by heart all the songs that we were going to sing in a competition….and moreover felt that I could actually sing them correctly.  Such is life.

Tomorrow there will be more strong winds and rain and possibly an early frost as well. Sometimes, it is quite hard to be cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Kedlestone Hall in Derbyshire on one of the better recent days.

kedlestone hall

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to yet another meeting after breakfast and inspired by her vigour, I managed to get myself into my cycling gear and out of the house before coffee time.  Admittedly, I was helped in this by the knowledge that the forecast for the afternoon was very poor and it was now or never as far as comfortable cycling went.

There are now some definite signs of spring as I go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route with daffodils out beside the road in several places.

daffs on cycle tour

Rather annoyingly, the brisk breeze was back again but one of the reasons that I like my Canonbie route so much is that it protects from the worst of a westerly wind and I get some help going home.  All the same, I had to keep my head down and pedal quite hard at times so I didn’t stop a lot.

When I did stop, the Canonbie cows were too busy to look up.

two canonbie cows

The sun came out as I was pedalling home, and with the wind behind me there were moments when it almost felt warm.

The sun picked out this dramatic tree near Irvine House.

tree a Irvine house

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got home so after a quick check on the pond…

frogs

…and an inventory of growth in the garden…

garden growth

…I went off to cadge a cup of coffee and a ginger biscuit or two from Sandy.

He is remaining remarkably cheerful in spite of the tedium of being housebound for several weeks.  He has some entertainment though, as a pair of blue tits have settled into the nest box on his shed.  I caught a glimpse of one them today.

sandy's blue tit

On my way home, I was struck by these dark shapes in a tree.  They turned out to be a pair of rooks considering  redecorating the sitting room in their nest in the rookery.

two rooks holmwood

I got home in time for lunch and was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her meeting had extended itself into taking important visitors up on to the moor, where they had seen two hen harriers and several goats and kids.  Everyone had enjoyed this a lot.

After lunch, I had a moment to watch the birds.

Unlike yesterday’s neat eater, today’s siskin shows much more typical behaviour.

siskin dropping food

Goldfinches flew in from every angle…

flying goldfinches

…and once ensconced on the feeder, they looked both this way and that.

goldfinch contrast

Having checked the forecast again, I discovered that I might just have enough time for a walk before the rain started so I set out for a short walk over three bridges.

I had had the best of the day on my cycle ride. The cold was now colder, the sky was greyer and the wind was stronger but there were still definite signs of spring along the waterside on both sides of the Langholm Bridge.

signs of spring by the river

And a good supply of birds posing for the camera.

riverside birds march

The ducks have paired off for spring and these two were getting their heads together over some tasty snack just under the surface as I went over the Sawmill Brig.

ducks getting heads together

I walked up past the Estate Offices and admired the wall beside the road.  It is the stone wall with everything: ivy, peltigera lichen, hart’s tongue fern and any amount of moss.

growths on wall above ewesbank

In fact, I was quite surprised to be able to see some stones at one point.

wall above ewesbank

You see a lot more colourful sheep in the fields these days than you did when white wool was a big source of the sheep farmer’s income.

grey sheep

I went along the top of the wood and then dropped down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are still looking good.

snwodrops holmhead

On my way back to the lodge, I passed a couple of sawn off tree stumps.  I imagine that recent rain and strong winds had made them unsafe so that they were cut off before they fell down completely.  The inside of the trunks didn’t look too healthy, I thought.

felled trees

The forecast had been right.  I didn’t have too much time before the rain came.  Unfortunately, because I had stopped to take so many pictures, my time ran out and the rain came on well before I got home.  I stopped taking pictures, put up the hood on my new coat which I had prudently worn, crossed the Duchess Bridge and hurried home….

…stopping only for this lovely burst of blossom beside the river behind the school.

blossom behind school

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out for another meeting so once again, I took the hint from her industriousness and settled down at the computer to tax our car (cost £0 thanks to it being electric) and catch up on some correspondence with two old friends who had  written to me out of the blue.  As I had promised to reply in a couple of days to the one who wrote to me in January , it was none too soon to get to work.  Still, as I hadn’t seen him for nearly fifty years, a few weeks probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

Mike Tinker dropped in for tea and Mrs Tootlepedal returned (soaked) from her business and joined us.

Then it was time for flute playing with Luke.  He is between jobs at the moment so he has had time to practise and this has had a very good result.  I will be taking lessons from him soon.

After tea, I put most of a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before turning to the production of this post.  It has been a full day.

The flying bird of the day is an angry goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our neighbour Liz’s walk with Riley,  As well as the waterfall, she saw some very early primroses, sheltering beside the stream.

liz's primroses

We saw the return of grey and windy weather today which was a disappointment after our dry week, but at least the forecast rain didn’t arrive until after dark.  This meant that I was able to walk to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre without getting wet.

Mrs Tootlepedal was already there when I arrived, as she and her fellow worker Margaret had set up a stall and were canvassing support of the community land buy out  They were being successful at enrolling more supporters and I purchased meat and fish so we were all quite happy.

When I left, they were still working hard and I thought that I should follow their example and do some work too when I got home, so I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

Then I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had time to watch the birds.

The feeder was quite busy…

busy feeder siskins

…although the strong winds were making life hard for this goldfinch on its stalk.

ruffled goldfinch

Heading straight into the wind, another goldfinch aimed for aerodynamic perfection.

determined goldfinch

The bright red breast on this redpoll was another sign that spring is definitely here in spite of the gloomy weather.

redpoll in mating colour

I took this picture to show that the redpoll is a tiny bird, the size of a siskin and much smaller than a goldfinch.

redpoll goldfinch siskin

There was the usual amount of siskin squabbling going on and I liked the pained expression on the face of this chaffinch as he had to put up with more gratuitous abuse…

shocked chaffinch

…though I suppose that bad manners and tweets are no novelty these days.

For lunch I enjoyed some haggis from the market with my soup and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed some somosas.  Then, as it had still not started to rain, we got into the car and drove up to the Laverock bird hide.  The larch glade at the hide has been threatened with felling because of larch disease, but it is still standing and while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the cloudy sky for raptors (in vain), I went in to look at smaller birds.

I could hardly hear myself think because of loud noises and when I checked, I could see that frogs were busy in the small pond beside the hide.

two frogs laverock

The peanut feeder had been freshly filled and I was entertained by a steady stream of great tits, blue tits and coal tits.

great tit, coal tit, blue tit laverock

A greater spotted woodpecker landed on a nearby pole and started giving it a good pecking.

woodpecker laverock hide

I could easily have sat there longer with so much to look at…

tits at laverock hide

…but I had promised Mrs Tootlepedal a walk, so we left the car at the hide and walked off along the road down to the river.road from laverock hide

Even at this time of year, there are subtle colours in the trees to enjoy…

tints on trees in winter

…and the road soon enters a wooded section with a fresh set of colours…

woods beside rashiel road

…and tantalising glimpses of old walls across the valley.

view across tarras

And where there are trees, banks and walls, there are interesting things to look at…

lichen, moss, fern rashiel road

…so even on a grey and windy day, it was not a dull stroll.

The Tarras water was very calm when we got to it.

Tarras wter near Rashiel

When the road got to the bridge across the river, we kept to the same bank and walked along the track towards Rashiel.

There is a curious mound near the house which might be an esker, left after the ice age…

mound at rashiel

…or might be a man made construction.  It is hard to tell.

It is in the middle of an otherwise flat area.

tree at Rashiel

We retraced our steps to the hide where I showed Mrs Tootlepdal the frogs.  The light on the ruffled water made it look as though the frog had been frozen in plastic and was struggling to get out.

frog in rough water

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the endless procession of small birds to the feeder…

laverock feeder

…but in the absence of any more obliging woodpeckers, we didn’t stay too long and got home in time for a nice cup of tea.

The recent windy weather has battered our little fruit cages quite a lot, so Mrs Tootlepedal, with some help from me, went out to stiffen their resolve with a screwdriver.

After that, there was nothing for me to do but practice hymns and songs for the choirs tomorrow and try not to get too upset while watching snatches of the rugby on the telly.

The wind is howling and the rain is hammering down as I write this, but it is supposed to stop before tomorrow morning so I am hoping that the forecast is right this time.

A chaffinch, keeping its head up in case of a rude siskins, is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of our neighbour Liz’s morning walks with her dog.  They visited a lovely little waterfall on the Becks Burn.  As this involves quite a bit of scrambling, she deserves great credit for getting the shot.

waterfall becks burn Liz

I started the active part of my day by cycling round to the shop to get some milk.  I took the slightly longer route along the water side in the hope of seeing something interesting.

I though that a one legged oyster catcher  counted as interesting…

oyster catcher one leg

…and the first riverside blossom of spring was actually exciting.

cherry blossom by river

When I got back home, it wasn’t long before Dropscone arrived for morning coffee bringing his trademark Friday treacle scones with him.

He has recovered from his recent holiday and is back in the golfing groove again.

After Drospcone left, I walked up the hill to visit Sandy who has three more weeks to go before he is mobile again after his foot operation.   He is suffering a bit from cabin fever but I think my visit must have done him good because he says he always feels more cheerful when I leave.

It was lunch time when I got back and I had a few moments after lunch to watch the birds.  The chaffinches were in a twisty mood today.

bendy flying chaffinches

It had been near zero first thing in the morning and in spite of some sunny weather, the temperature had only crept up to 6°C by this time.  All the same, new crocuses were out in the garden….

white crocuses

…the silver pear is getting ready to flower….

silver pear bud

…and a couple of frogs were relaxing in the pool…

frogs on pond

…so things felt quite spring like.  In spite of this, I had to wrap up warmly before I went out on my bike.  I chose a different route today as I felt that my legs might be up to a few more small hills than usual.

I embarked on a “four dale” outing by starting out along the Esk, stopping to show how calm the river was at Skippers after a dry week.

skippers bridge March

I then went up and over and back down into the Tarras Valley, where I followed the route of the old railway.

In a better organised world, I would have been cycling on a beautifully maintained cycle path from Langholm to Carlisle using the disused trackbed instead of trying to get a shot of the old railway bridge at Mumbie through a mess of fallen trees.

railway bridge at Mumbie 1

I got a better view of the bridge from above.

railway bridge at Mumbie

At Claygate, I headed over to Liddesdale on a very undulating road which made me grateful for excuses to stop and admire trees….

tree on claygate road (2)

…sunshine behind me over the hills round Langholm…

view of solway from Calygate road

…a tall bridge over the Archer Beck…

Archer beck bridge

…and a distant view of the Solway in sunshine behind the Gretna wind turbines.

view from claygate road

Happily, the sunshine caught up with me and picked out a final tree for me to photograph…

tree on Claygate road

…before I got to Harelaw and turned to follow the Liddle Water down Liddesdale to Canonbie and beyond.

After the Liddle had joined the Esk, I stopped to have a look at the railway bridge over the Glinger Burn.

railway bridge A7

I was standing on the main road bridge that Simon had been under when he took this guest picture that appeared in the blog two weeks ago.

simon's bridges

Like today’s guest picture, he must have done some good scrambling to get down there.

Having gone down stream in general on my ride, I turned off soon afterwards and headed back across country towards home.

I stopped for a snack and a drink at this bridge….

 

beck burn bridge

…which spans the Beck Burn.

beck burn

As a name for a stream, this lacks a little originality as it is like calling a stream, the Stream Stream as a beck and a burn are the same thing.

I had the light breeze behind me now and pedalling uphill towards Tarcoon was not as hard as it might have been with the wind against…

hill at Tarcoon

…and the clouds that had been there at the start of my ride had been blown away by the breeze so that the ride back to Langholm looked inviting.

view from Tarcoon

I was hoping to do 30 miles and my bike computer said that I had done 30.08 miles as I entered our drive.  I thought that my route planning had been pretty good.

I was glad to get inside as the temperature had dropped back to a chilly 3° in spite of the sunshine.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent a very busy day on community land purchase business but she still had the energy to cook a very tasty toad in the hole for our tea, and I was sufficiently invigorated by that to be able to play duets with Alison when she and Mike came round for their usual Friday evening visit.

As Alison says, it is always fun to play duets but I think it would be even more fun if I played better so I am resolved to try to make time for some serious flute practice next week.  The forecast is full of rain for the whole week, so it should be easier to find time than it has been in this past week of good weather.

I have made reasonable use of the good week and with a hundred miles of  cycling, I have done almost as much already in March as I did in the whole of February.

A sunny chaffinch makes a suitable flying bird of the day to sum up five days without serious rain.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon,  He too was in the hills yesterday, but in bigger hills than the ones that I visited.   He was skiing in France, the lucky chap.

IMG-20200305-WA0002

We had another beautiful morning here today and Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to a meeting so she couldn’t make the best of it.  I was able to go for a sort walk.

The crocuses beside the Ewes water are just beginning to make a show.  The sharp eyed reader will be able to see signs of frost on the grass in the shadow of some of the flowers,  It was sunny but it was cold.

kilngreen crocuses

I took a picture of a black headed gull on a fence post just to show the black head, a sure sign of spring.  I was interested when I looked at the photo to see that the gull has been ringed.

black headed gull with black head

The oyster catchers, who are quite fond of worms when they can’t catch an oyster, were trundling about in the field beside the river looking for helpful mole hills.

oyster catcher mole hill

A mallard took in some rays.

sunlit duck

Mr Grumpy was there too.  He was standing facing the sun and gently opening his wings to let the sun in.

heron spreading wings

Did I mention that it was quite chilly?  The fence post at the gate onto the Castleholm looked as though some paper shreddings had been sprinkled on it but a closer look showed that they were ice crystals.

ice on gatepost

I was able to lift my eyes to the hills where I had been walking yesterday and I wished that I had had time to walk there again today.

timen from castleholm

I enjoyed the sun and in spite of the ice crystals, it was a good to day to be out.

sunlit tree 1

The ground has dried out a bit after a few days without rain.

sunlit path castleholm

Birds were singing on every side but as usual when I looked up into the trees, I couldn’t see them

sunlit tree 2

Mrs Tootlepedal came home from her meeting soon after I got back and we had time for a quick cup of coffee before setting out to catch the Edinburgh train from Lockerbie.

The trains had been cancelled yesterday because a bird flew into the power lines and fused the system but they were running today and more or less on time.

The carriage windows hadn’t been washed recently but it was still possible to enjoy the view of the hills as we went north.

hills from train

We had a very good light lunch of poached eggs on muffins with a Hollandaise sauce when we got to Edinburgh .  Mrs Tootlepedal had extra smoked salmon with hers and I opted for the Ayshire bacon.

Because of the timetabled changes, we are having to catch an earlier train these days which cuts into the day, but the light lunch is a consolation and we also had time to visit Holyrood on our way down to Matilda’s.

We have been watching the renovation of this building near the palace with interest and we were rather disappointed to find that it has been turned into some upmarket B & B apartments rather than something more interesting.

b and b holyrood

We went next door and visited the Queen.  She wasn’t in her Gallery but many beautiful drawings by Leonard da Vinci were at home and we enjoyed looking at them a lot.

queens gallery

The gallery has an unusual set of door knobs.

queens gallery door handle

If the weather had been warmer we might have enjoyed a cup of tea at the palace.

palace tea room

As it was, we walked down to Matilda’s, stopping on the way so that Mrs Tootlepedal could visit a useful contact for her community land buy out group.  She never stops working.

We had a most enjoyable time at Matilda’s, chatting with her parents, watching her demonstrate her mastery of tap dancing, being shot at by bows and arrows and generally having fun.   Mrs Tootlepedal won the Pelmanism and Matilda won the Snap and I enjoyed my usual level of success.

The journey home went smoothly and as the temperature stayed just above freezing, there was no danger of ice on the road.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, threading through the reflections on our window.

flying chaffinch with reflections

 

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