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Good route choice

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Matilda’s father, shows the great lengths that he and Clare go to in order to keep Matilda entertained.

Matilda and washing machine

We were blessed with another dry day today with occasional sunshine and light winds. After the success of the gentle pedal and walk yesterday, I thought I might be able to venture on a longer ride today so I girded my loins and set out on the (fairly) speedy bike after breakfast.

garmin route 20 Aug 2014I was interested to see whether I was able to add a few hilly sections to my cycling and by chance, I had agreed to fill the Moorland feeders for Sandy as he is going on holiday.  To get to the feeders requires a stiff climb up the road to Claygate and then another climb when you turn off onto the little road to the feeders themselves.

I was pleased to have managed these two climbs without much difficulty but less pleased when I found that someone had been there before me and filled all the feeders up.  I went back to the Claygate road and continued my ride which took me up and down hill and then down and up again into England over the bridge at Penton.

From there my route was less hard work.  It took me down into Longtown where I visited the bike shop and was able to get a annoying problem sorted out in a couple of minutes as it came from a loose cassette which was soon tightened.  I continued home in a much happier frame of mind without any more worrying creaks and groans from the bike.

Although the first part of ride had been quite challenging, the start of the second part was largely flat as I was now down on the Solway plain.

near Longtown

The view towards the sea

near Longtown

An inviting cycling prospect with good surface and no traffic

The whole circle was just over thirty miles and I made sure that I took it at a sensible speed with the result that I was able to walk quite freely when I got off the bike…not with grace and dignity maybe but with discernible forward motion in a straight line.  This was very welcome.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands may see the route by clicking on the little map above.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home, cleaning out sections of borders and putting in manure and a top mulch to improve the soil condition.  I am looking forward to seeing the results of all this hard work next year.

While I was talking to her, I noticed a flash of colour on a phlox.

peacock butterfly

A peacock butterfly

I went in and made and ate some potato soup for lunch and then went off to the Health Centre for my annual asthma check.  Possibly owing to singing in two choirs and playing the flute, my breathing has been better recently and I have been able to reduce my use of preventive puffers.  The nurse checked my peak flow and gave me a very handy little leaflet with a set of actions in it.

It has four pages.  If my peak flow  stays within 75% of target, I keep doing what I am doing.  If it gets down to about 50%, I should arrange an appointment at the health centre.  If it gets down to 25%, I should go straight to the health centre without an appointment and if it goes to less than 25%, I can stop worrying about anything.

I asked her what I should do if my peak flow improved.  She checked my age and said I didn’t need to bother about that.

It was all very reassuring.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still slaving away over a hot spade so I suggested a drive in the car to give her a break and to take advantage of the pleasant weather.  She agreed and we set off to drive a short circular tour over the hills between the Ewes Valley and the Liddle Valley and back again.

This took us over Carewoodrigg which offers lovely views of rolling hills and sinuous valleys…

Carewoodrigg….down past Hermitage Castle….

hermitage castle….through Newcastleton and up onto the Langholm Moor.

Copshaw Road

Looking back into Liddesdale

We paused from time to time to do a little bird watching but there only the occasional distant bird to be watched though we did see a mother and one or two young partridges crossing the road as we came down into Tarras.

grouseWe stopped near the harrier nesting site but all the birds have long left the nest.  Some of the harriers are still about and we did catch a glimpse of one but again it was only fleeting so I took a picture of a fine pack of heather on the hillside instead.

Heather on the hill

The tracks relate to the hen harrier management as well as heather management

We stopped on the Kilngreen just before we got home.  Mr Grumpy was crouching again and I wondered whether he was poorly….

heronbut when he saw me, he got up and walked away.  Maybe his hips hurt too.

Among the usual black headed gulls there was a larger herring gull standing on the river bank.

herring gullThe gulls weren’t in a flying mood today and the ducks were all snoozing…

snoozing duck…so we didn’t stay long.

Back in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was soon at work again while I had a wander around, camera in hand.

clematis

Several clematis are going really well in spite of the relatively low temperatures.

rudbeckia and nicotiana

Rudbeckia and nicotiana

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

And one of the cheerful sunflowers.

sunflowers

We put out some seeds we saved from last year’s sunflowers and the birds ate them all up.

I saw a cute young blackbird in the plum tree and rushed to get a shot.  I was less enamoured of it when I found it was eating one of my plums.  Still, there are plenty to share.
blackbird eating plumsThen I cycled down to the Co-op to get some stuff for a bacon and chick pea casserole which Mrs Tootlepedal was making for our tea and by this time that I got back, the activity of the day had caught up with me and my hip was reminding me that it was there so I descended into a comatose state for the rest of the evening.

As a result of keeping busy, there was no time to catch a flying bird today.

 

 

 

 

Plum crazy

Today’s guest picture shows Devonport,  near Auckland in New Zealand. My brother travelled there last week.Devonport Aug 2014 - 4It was a good day today in many ways.  The sun shone, I got in a cycle ride and a walk, my hip was much improved and best of all, there were many ripe plums from our tree to be eaten.

This last was perhaps the most amazing because the thermometer could only manage a niggardly 11C as I set out for my cycle ride after breakfast.  In spite of the big drop in temperatures, the plums are ripening at a steady rate and not only did I get several to eat but Mrs Tootlepedal has cooked a batch for freezing as pulp for endless plum crumbles in the depth of winter.

In spite of the low temperature for the time of year, the sun was out for my cycle ride and conditions were very pleasant as the strong winds of recent days have calmed down.  I am still taking the cycling easily and limited myself to a gentle eighteen mile run with no steep hills to test my joints and no photographs to make me jump off and on the bike.

This careful approach paid off and I was able to walk freely when I got off the bike.  The extensive resting over the past few weeks mixed with some light exercise seems to be a good recipe and although I am not back to normal, I am certainly a lot cheerier than I have been lately.

I had a walk round the garden when I got back.

The Shirley poppies are just sensational and I took yet another picture to prove it.

Shirley poppiesLater in the day I took a picture of a pair of them which were parked in a bed in the veg garden when Mrs Tootlepedal discovered that she had grown more than she needed.

Shirley poppiesI like the contrast between their pretty heads and their hairy legs.

More rudbeckias are coming out every day.  I think that they may be the most disorganised flower I know.

rudbeckia

The petals sprout in every direction.

After a brief moment of staring out of the kitchen window….

sparrow…I made myself up a couple of tomato rolls using a tomato from the greenhouse and then went up to the golf club where Dropscone was organising the Langholm Seniors Open Golf Tournament.   It sounds a bit grander than it actually is, as it is a rather informal event with only 19 entrants this year. 

Dropscone had to take his wife to Dumfries during the day so he had asked me to go up and act as official starter for the afternoon draw.  I was happy to oblige. 

When I got there, I discovered that I hadn’t needed to  make up my rolls as Drospcone’s sister had volunteered to help with the catering and made a great pile of filled rolls, more than enough for everybody. 

The view from the first tee was as glorious as ever and one of the consolations of playing golf at Langholm is that no matter if your score is poor, the view will always be good.

Langholm Golf ClubThe course looked to be in fine condition…

Langholm Golf Club…and the players teed off in cheerful mood.   I didn’t stay to see their rounds come to a conclusion but I learned that it was a family affair this year and Dropscone’s brother-in-law carried off the trophy.

The reason that I didn’t stay at the golf club was that I had been asked by Cat Barlow, who is in charge of the moorland education project, to take some pictures to show the excellent condition of some of the heather on the hill.  In spite of the heather beetle, there are considerable patches of good growth which she wanted to be highlighted. 

Although I was by no means sure that walking over the hill would be possible, I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to the moorland bird feeder site and armed with two walking poles, started to walk along the quad bike track up Whita Hill.   Mrs Tootlepdal had walked this track last week so I was pleased to have her to show me the way to go.

Mrs Tootlepdal on the hillThe weather was glorious and the views splendid.

view from WhitaAlthough the sun was not in the best place for photography, there was plenty of heather to see.

heather on Whita heather on Whita heather on Whita

heather on WhitaAnd there were other points of interest along the way too.

bog asphodel

The red seed heads of bog asphodel

fungus in a bog

Tiny fungi in a moss filled bog.

fungi on whita

More fungi on the track

Mrs Tootlepedal kept her eye out for raptors…..

Mrs Tootlepedal on Whita…but we only saw a single hen harrier and it was too far away for me to catch on camera.

We were very pleased to see a patch of lucky white heather among the purple when we were on our way back to the car.

white heather on WhitaThe themed subject for next year’s Canonbie Show is clouds so I took the opportunity to get a few shots in the bag as early as possible.

clouds over WhitaApart from the beautiful day and the great views, the walk was especially pleasing for the fact that I could do it at all.  It wasn’t far but the going was rough underfoot and there was a fair bit of uphill work involved.  I felt well enough when I got home to give the front lawn a much needed mow but I was quite pleased to sit down after that.

Cat came round after tea and I gave her a memory stick with all the eighty moorland photos that I had taken and left her with the task of sorting out the most suitable shots for her purpose.   I hope that she can make a decision.  I would have found it very hard.

I didn’t have much time in a busy day to watch the bird feeder but I did catch one of the blue tits with its feet just off the perch as the (blurred) flying bird of the day.

blue tit

 

 

 

 

Flutlepedal

Today’s guest picture, forwarded to me by Grandpa Mike, shows the results of Maisie, New Zealand’s finest,  testing out the apples to see which tasted best.

applesThe sun obliged us with a rare visit today and everyone felt better for it.  It didn’t do much for the temperature which was at a miserly 13C when I set out for a gentle pedal after breakfast.  Dropscone was on the morning run under his own steam and by complete coincidence, we met when we had three and a bit miles to go and we cycled home together. 

I had a quick visit to the Archive Centre where a new archiving volunteer is settling in and then it was time for a cup of coffee (but not scones today) with Dropscone.

Mrs Tootlepedal  retuned from a choir practice and came in to tell me that her bed of Shirley poppies was being besieged by honey bees.  I took a camera out but by the time that I had got to them…..

Shirley poppies

The bed is looking very like the design that Mrs Tootlepedal had in mind when she planted it.

…the bees had made themselves scarce and the only buzzing was coming from a bumble bee on a nearby cosmos.

bee on cosmosPausing to snap a handsome marigold…

marigold…and an upstanding opium poppy…

opium poppy…I went inside and stared out of the window.

bird feederIt shows that you have to be more concerned about your friends behind you than your enemies whom you can see.

A bit of Monday morning housework was done and a plan for the afternoon matured and then I had time for another garden wander.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s expenditure of under £2 on a single packet of sunflower seeds in the spring (and a good deal of skilful work) has really provided  value for money as she got about 24 sunflower plants, many of which are still standing in various spots round the  garden in spite of the heavy winds.

sunflowersHer coloured phlox are also hanging on well.

phloxOn the vegetable garden fence, a clematis has put in a remarkable late burst.

clematis

Lots of flowers still to come.

And a honeysuckle is thriving too.

honeysuckleIn the sweet pea cage, a few flowers can still be seen.

sweet peaAmong the vegetables themselves, a large number of white butterflies were flitting restlessly around.  One rested for a moment.

white butterflyThe afternoon was given over to going to Carlisle and Brampton.  The trip to Carlisle was to buy small garments as gifts to our two new born great nieces, Lila and Rosa.   I left the choice of these in the hands of Mrs Tootlepedal while I stocked up on necessities like cheese, French butter and coffee.

We left Carlisle and headed for Brampton where a visit to a music shop provided me with a brand new flute.  Thanks to lack of stock, I was able to acquire a very nice flute for quite a bit less than the one I had in mind but which was still  more than good enough for my standard of playing.  Unlike my original flute, which I bought very cheaply second hand, all the keys go fully down on this one when you press them and the result is a much better tone and an easier blow. 

I shall have to practice a bit more seriously now.

Rather than going straight home from Brampton, we made a small diversion to Lanercost Priory.

LanercostAmong its beautifully restored buildings lies that pearl above price, a tea room.  We had tea and a cake.   Our enjoyment of the tea and cake was enhanced by the fact that a heavy but brief rain shower started just after we entered the tea room and finished shortly before we left.

We stopped on the way to the priory to admire a fine bridge over the River Irthing nearby.   It has been bypassed by a new road and bridge which is not surprising as it is very narrow and was built in the early 1700s by a group of four local masons.

It is quite fragile.

Irthing Bridge at lanercost

As opposed to pedal cycles pushed by foot of course.

The bridge comes in two parts, one over the River Irthing itself…

Irthing Bridge at lanercost…and one joined onto it on the left which crosses a small stream that joins the main river just below the bridge.

Irthing Bridge at lanercostIt is a mystery to me why they didn’t go a few yards downstream and build a single bridge after the river and stream had joined.

The stream had once provided power for a mill, now a residence.

Irthing Bridge at lanercostThe river looked very attractive upstream of the bridges.

River IrthingAfter our tea, we headed home, popping into a garden centre on the way.  Nothing fell off a shelf into Mrs Tootlepedal’s hands but she had a good look at a dwarf buddleia.  This was encouraging for someone hoping to have more butterflies in the garden next year.

We got home in time for me to prepare for my flute pupil Luke and he and I enjoyed some duets and learned the fingering for some high notes. 

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a tasty pudding of baked plums on toast for our tea and then I went to Carlisle with Susan where we had a fruitful practice of the material for our forthcoming concert appearance.  Concerts are hard work.  You all have to play at the same time and use the right notes. 

I did find time to catch a flying sparrow of the day in the sunshine.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s guest picture, sent from Canada by Langholm exile Joyce, shows that other people go to shows too.  This is a set of pulling horses from the Williamstown Fair (est 1812) waiting for their turn to shine.

Williamstown FairI had a very quiet day which strangely enough came about because for the first time for some weeks, my back and legs stopped hurting.  This was such a pleasure that I was careful not to do anything that set them off again. 

I did take a little exercise while Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church choir.  It was day of frequent rain showers and there was a dry spell when she had gone so I got changed and got the bike out.  I had just licked the door when it started to rain heavily.  I unlocked the door and went inside. 

It wasn’t just the rain but the fact that there was a very brisk wind blowing that made me chicken out.  Rain is tolerable, wind is tolerable but rain and strong wind together make for miserable cycling and you have to be feeling very strong to go out then.

As I say, I went back in and took my helmet and mitts off and glanced out of the window.  The rain had stopped.  I got the bike out again and set off.  I was going to do two six mile laps but it started to rain heavily again after five miles so I gave up and went in.  This was probably a good idea because pedalling hard into the breeze had made my legs start to get sore when I got off the bike and I think that I had stopped just in time.

I pursued a policy of gentle cooking and extensive sitting down for the rest of the day and I hope that the resultant relaxation will last me into tomorrow.

I did look out of the window once to see a chaffinch giving a visiting greenfinch a curious glance…

chaffinch and greenfinch …but the day was too gloomy to make standing around holding a heavy camera up a very useful way to spend time.

I did take one walk round the garden too.   Mrs Tootlepedal’s seed packet packet had promised her a variety of Shirley poppy colours and she has got several…

Shirley poppies…but sadly no white ones which the packet promised.  They would have been a good contrast to the pink, red and orange.

This one was my favourite of the day.

poppyFacing straight upwards, it had collected a lot of rain.

The Stargazer lily, which has been going well for some time, is down to its last flower.

lilyI shall miss it when it has gone.

The clematis in the back border, offended when I put a picture of one of its flowers in poor condition into a recent post, has produced a very fine flower to show me that I was wrong about it being past its best..

clematisOn the fruit front, we are getting very excited by the plums which are beginning to ripen.

plumsThere was one that was ripe enough to eat and I was going to take a picture of it but I absent mindedly ate it first.  It was very tasty.

Undeterred by the weather Mrs Tootlepedal went out for a late afternoon five mile walk.  It was lucky that he she had taken my golf umbrella with her since she met about five heavy rain showers while she went round.  As it was, she returned fairly dry and very cheerful.

And that was my day.  I am keeping my fingers crossed in the hope that my back might still be relaxed tomorrow.

I caught a flying greenfinch during my quick look out of the window.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

Show and tell

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Matilda’s mother Clare, shows the sort of thing that they may see when shopping near the harbour in Leith. She snapped this cruise ship on her phone earlier this week.

cruise ship in LeithThe brief spell of sunshine didn’t last and we were back to grey and windy weather again with the temperature barely making 15C.

I didn’t go cycling as the first order of the day was to get up early and go down to Canonbie with Sandy to put our entries up for the Canonbie Flower Show.   This took some time but the early start was worth it as we were able to get our pictures in reasonable positions on the boards.  I took a quick snap of Sandy looking at the boards when we had finished.

Canonbie Flower ShowThe light on the far side of the boards is not so good, especially on a gloomy day,  and I have every sympathy with the judge who has to stoop and peer at the photos.

On our way home, we stopped off at the Moorland feeders and filled them up as I was acting as a substitute for the normal volunteer who was off having a good time in Scarborough.  In this way, to use the most inappropriate metaphor of the year, we killed two birds with one stone.

I was ready for breakfast when I got home.  

Mrs Tootlepedal is very busy making improvements in the garden, in particular by clearing out crowded borders and improving the soil.  To this end she went off in the car to get a load of manure from the manure mine while I lay around groaning and doing the weekend prize crossword. 

When she came, I roused myslef from my torpor and cycled over to the Castleholm where a hound show was taking place.  If you wonder what a hound show is, it is just that.  People come and show their hounds. 

hound showThe hounds look interested in it all.

hound show

hound showOnce in the ring, curious practices take place.  Handlers work in pairs, with one holding the hounds and the other making strange small hand gestures to make the hounds look up…

hound show…but not always successfully.

hound showAfter a while the hounds are unleashed and dog biscuits or some similar treats are thrown to the corners of the ring and the hounds dash about…

hound show…sometimes singly….

hound show…and sometimes mob handed.

hound showIf they get there first, they pick them up.

hound showAll this was of interest to quite a good crowd but as I couldn’t tell what made one hound better than another and it was cold and windy, I soon retreated to the warmth of our kitchen and made some green lentil soup and semolina pudding for lunch.

While I was crouched over a hot stove, the sparrows had a meeting about where they should go on holiday.

sparrows

 

Somewhere warm.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went down to Canonbie to see whether the judge had given first prize to Mrs Tootlepedal’s photo of the world’s greatest baby.   Before we went into the hall to see the pictures, we took a turn round the playing field in a light drizzle to look at the vintage machinery and cars on show there. 

steam engine

A very smart static steam engine was spinning merrily away.

A less glamorous diesel fuelled engine was endlessly pumping a small bucket of water round in circles.

steam engineOn the other side of the field, an array of vehicles was drawn up.  There were both commercial….

Canonbie show…and posh passenger vehicles to be seen.

Canonbie show

For lovers of photo editor fiddling, I should say that I have removed the red cord which ran in front of the cars in this picture.

I took an individual photo of the Arrol-Johnston, as this vehicle was manufactured in Dumfries in a factory at Heathhall, said to be the first factory in Britain to use ferro-concrete (concrete reinforced with metal bars), designed by Albert Kahn, architect of the Ford factory at Highland Park, Michigan, where the Model T was produced.  It is rare.

Arrol-JohnstonIt is salutary to come across cars such as this Triumph Herald…

Canonbie show….in a vintage car display when you can clearly remember driving them as new when you were just a lad only a few years ago.

After a full circuit of the field and a visit to the vegetable tent, we went into the hall where we found that the judge. in a complete lapse of judgement. had overlooked Matilda’s charms. 

Matilda

How could this be overlooked?  Lack of sharpness of course.  Photo judges are picky.

In other classes the results were more satisfactory as I discovered that I had got several firsts and one of my flying gulls had won best picture in show. 

The secret of show success, as old hands will know, is to put several entries into each of the smaller classes and this strategy worked so well that I won a shield for most points in the coloured photographs section.

Sandy had put fewer photos in than me this year but still came away with a first and second ticket.  The shield that I won had already got his name on from a previous year so he was pleased to let me have a go at it this year.  As he has taught me most of what I know about photography, he should take some satisfaction from his pupil’s progress.

We collected our pictures and made our way home in persistent rain.

It may not have been a day of great activity in the way of bicycling but it was an interesting day all the same.  Now I have the challenge of finding some more pictures from the files for the Benty Show to try to keep my standards up.

In the gloomy weather the best flying bird of the day was a rather fuzzy chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her mother, shows the world’s greatest baby enjoying a very short nap the other day.

MatildaAs is customary on a Friday. Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit the world’s greatest baby and I was left to my own devices.  There was a little early morning rain and I waited until it had almost finished before setting out on the speedy bike for a short ride.

I had my rain jacket and peaked helmet on and the rain, seeing that I was well prepared, soon gave up and went off to annoy someone else.

The ride was along familiar roads and was photograph free because getting on and off the bike to take pictures is still a big pain and I am trying to keep going at as steady a pace as possible.  I managed 16 miles at a modest but respectable pace without making my hip feel worse and I hope to get back to doing some more substantial distances soon.

I had a walk/hobble round the garden when I got back and noticed a blackbird having a drink from the green house gutter.

blackbirdThe sedums are beginning to show a blush of red….

sedum…which is exciting as they are very good at attracting butterflies.  I looked carefully at the phlox to see if there were any butterflies hovering there…..

phlox….but was disappointed to find it looking pretty but devoid of butterflies. 

However, only a few feet away and eschewing colourful flowers for plain green foliage, I was pleased to see a red admiral butterfly enjoying a hint of sunshine..

red admiralThis was the only coloured butterfly that I could find but the garden was home to a great many white ones.  This one is a small white female (I think().

small white butterflyThe Icelandic poppies are still blooming and are still popular with the hoverfly community.  

Icelandic poppy with hoverfly

There are a great many different sorts of hoverflies. I think this one might be a syrphus but as always I am open to correction from anyone who knows.

I made myself some lunch (potato soup and sour dough bread), looked out of the window at a lone greenfinch on the feeder…

greenfinch….got some provisions together to help pass two lonely hours in the Tourist Information Point and cycled round to do my stint.

The council have really gone to town on begonias and the bank opposite my wind was a feast of colour.

begoniasI had a single visitor, a lady from Canada, but she was in chatty mood and together with a good crossword puzzle helped pass the time until I was ready to lock up and go down to the Kilngreen to buy an ice cream from the van and visit Mr Grumpy.

heron

He was trying to keep a low profile.

By now, it was a lovely afternoon and the  ducks were snoozing in the sunshine.

duck sleepingIn my way home, I called in at Mike and Alison’s.  They had told me that their buddleia was a butterfly magnet and I wanted to see if this was in fact true.

It was true and I spent some happy time trying to get some photos to prove it.  I would have taken more but I kept on being jostled by butterflies eager to get to the buddleia.

peacock butterfly

A peacock

tortoiseshell butterfly

A small tortoiseshell

red admiral

A red admiral

I am going to have to encourage Mrs Tootlepedal to grow a buddleia.  She is not very fond of them as flowers but they do attract butterflies.

As a bonus, I got offered a nice cup of tea and a look at Mike and Alison exhaustive book of British Insects.  As always, there is a lot to learn.

After a last look at the butterflies….

peacock butterfly

red admiral butterfly…I made my way home and cooked my tea, a nourishing pot of mince.

I could hear a strange buzzing noise outside and it turned out to be one of these new drones that you can buy.

droneIt was flying over a garden in the next street along.  I can foresee quite a bit of trouble with these things if they become common.  They are very noisy and they must seem intrusive if they are flying near your home.

While my mince was resting in the pan, Sandy appeared and we went down to Canonbie to put our entries in for tomorrow’s Canonbie Flower Show.  I have entered one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pictures of Matilda, the world’s greatest baby, which I think has got a better chance of winning a prize than any of mine.

The mince, which was enhanced by one of the last turnips from the garden,  tasted all the better for its rest when I got back and I was well sustained when Mike and Alison appeared.  Alison and I started work on an new sonata by Daniel Purcell and it went very well and will certainly be worth playing again.  Mrs Tootlepedal meanwhile returned from Edinburgh to join Mike in watching the European Athletic championships. 

There has been some very enjoyable sport to watch over the summer but the football season starts in earnest tomorrow and that means that things will go downhill.

In among all the butterflies, the flying chaffinch of the day looks positively dowdy.

flying chaffinch

 

Time passes

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by keen photographer Kevin, who was delighted to find a smooth or common newt on his garage steps, the first he has seen in Langholm.

newtThe wind had dropped this morning and I ventured out for another short bicycle ride after breakfast.  I passed Dropscone, who had made a very early start,  flying down the hill in the opposite direction soon after I set out.

At Barnglieshead, I stopped to chat with Jim, the semi retired farmer there.  He told me that he had tried a little golf and thought of a little cycling but in the end he was still mostly farming.  He added that he sometime reads this blog so if this post is one of the ones he reads, “Hi Jim, get the bike out and give it a go.”

Our friend Arthur joined Dropscone and me for our coffee and scones and it was just like old times when we were all golfers (before age and infirmity took its toll).

After they left, I took a walk round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some begonias and they are proving to be good value for money.

begonias

bee and poppy

The bees were more successful in finding the centre of the poppies today.

Lords and ladies

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Lords and Ladies.

Japanese Anemone

The Japanese Anemones are flourishing in the shade of the walnut tree.

The garden has been battered by the weather and this clematis rather sums up the state of the flowers.

Clematis

Past its best.

A quick walk into the vegetable garden confirmed that we will be eating beans for some time yet.

Runner beansThough we are not going to eat these tomato like fruits on the main crop potatoes….

Potatoes…as Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are poisonous.

As well as the bright red and yellow crocosmia, we have some very pretty orange ones…

crocosmia…though they too are getting to the end of their time.

After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the pony driving at Brydekirk and I took a walk up to the town to check on the sales of our Archive Group postcards, order some more coffee and bird food and top up my stocks of cheese.

In spite of some alarming rumbles of thunder, I managed all this in the dry and it didn’t start raining until I was safely back at home.  I was afraid that Mrs Tootlepedal might be having a damp time at Brydekirk but she returned in cheerful mood, having dodged the showers in a very satisfactory way.

I took another walk round the garden when the rain had stopped and made a little collection of rather bruised cosmos.

cosmosWhile we had been drinking coffee in the morning a brightly coloured robin had appeared but it refused to reappear when I had a camera in hand so I had to make do with a non scruffy blue tit.

blue titAfter Mrs Tootlepedal returned, there was a brief moment when the sun almost shone and this was reflected in half a rainbow over Henry Street.

half a rainbow over Henry StreetIt didn’t last.

In the evening, Sandy and I went to the Archive Centre, visiting our colleague Jean, who is still in hospital and getting very fed up with it, on our way.

We got some work done but had to waste twenty minutes while our computer did some of those mysterious updates which are sent to try us. We had a well deserved glass of wine when we finished

The flying bird of the day, you will be surprised to discover, is another chaffinch. I must get out more.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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