Getting a hiding

Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother on his recent skiing trip.  It was sent to me by my sister Susan because it shows Mt Taranki in NZ under whose imposing slopes she lived for several years.

Mt TaranakiOur unusual spell of dry September weather (the driest for fifty years they say) continued today and Dropscone and I set out on the morning pedal to Gair in good heart.  This serene sentiment lasted for seven miles until Dropscone drew to a halt with his second puncture in three days.  The MTRS was called out and he turned to trudge back up the hill while I continued for the rest the ride.

When we met for coffee and scones, he revealed that the day between the two punctures had been spent playing golf as badly as he has ever played so it has not been a good start to the week for him.  The punctures are a bit of a puzzle as he recently bought some supposedly puncture proof tyres.  Still, things can only get better.

I am currently the Wednesday volunteer for refilling the Moorland Project bird feeders so after a shower, I drove up to Broomholmshiels, accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal who was hoping to do some constructive raptor watching while we were there.

We filled the feeders but there was a marked absence of interesting birds of any sort to watch.  I snapped a great tit just for the sake of it…

great tit…and we came home.

The garden was more rewarding.


My favourite Fuchsia is going great guns.

The garden is full of insects

The garden is full of insects.  Every flower seems to have a friend.


The good weather is getting the butterflies to settle a bit instead of endlessly flitting about.

peacock butterfly

This peacock butterfly has lost a chunk of its lower right wing.

peacock butterfly

And this one has lost the tip of its left wing.

While I was getting my lunch ready, I got a phone call from fellow camera club member Mel  inviting me to come up and see her new hide which she has set up to photographs birds at her feeders.  She lives just out of town and promised me a steady supply of nuthatches.

This sounded exciting so I had my lunch, cycled up to her house, greeted Maggie….

Maggie…and settled down on a stool in her shelter.  This was an economically priced shell shaped wind breaker with a modest camouflage netting draped over the front.  Mel assured me that the birds would not be put off by it and she was quite right.  There was a steady stream of visitors to her feeders.

blue tits

Blue tits

coal tits

Coal tits

And yes…..



I was using my 200mm zoom lens which shows how close the hide is to the feeders.

blue titMel has a bird table with bread and coconuts as well as the seed feeder and this attracted a passing robin.

robinI put my 2x teleconverter onto the 200mm zoom to try to get a more intimate portrait of a nuthatch.

nuthatchThey are beautiful birds.

Being in the country and surrounded by fields, Mel has more to see than just birds….

black rabbit

I hope it is lucky to have my path crossed by a black rabbit

…though not everything that passed by was peaceful.


A tree hopping Hercules military transport plane.

I spent a happy couple of hours watching birds, roaming around the grounds and being entertained to cups of tea and slices of two sorts of cake.  Mel has extended an invitation to me to go up again and I will certainly take this up.  It is surprising to find how different the visitors to feeders are in the middle of the town and in the country only a mile or so away.

When I got home, the bee and butterfly population in the garden again attracted my camera lens.

peacock butterfly

A peacock butterfly with a full set of wings.

Red admiral butterfly

A red admiral butterfly with an attendant bee

astrantia with insect

A bug eyed monster enjoying a feed on an astrantia

After tea, we went off to a practice for Langholm Sings, our community choir.  We are singing three songs in the middle of a concert in the church on Friday and we have not had enough time to practice new material so we polished up two old friends and are doing our best with the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco for the third item.

It is the date of the referendum for Scottish independence tomorrow so depending on the result, this chorus may have special resonance when we sing it on Friday.

The result seems finely balanced according to the pollsters and considering that every national UK newspaper and all their Scottish editions have been campaigning for a no vote and only one Scottish newspaper, a Sunday heavy, has come out for the Yes side, it is a remarkable tribute to the Yes campaign that things are so exciting.  I personally will be voting yes as I think this might be a real opportunity to escape from a moribund political system for something better.

One of Mel’s nuthatches doing a ‘Look Ma, no hands’ routine is flying bird of the day.

flying nuthatch

Back to normal

Today’s guest picture shows my brother Andrew skiing on Mt Ruahepu in New Zealand.  He gets about.

Skiing at Mt RuapehuAfter the excitement of yesterday’s grand day out, we were back to normal today, dead heading poppies, wandering about the garden, watching birds, cooking, cleaning and ironing.  (You can guess which of those things I took most part in.)

We started the day by clearing a large backlog of ‘stuff that needed to be looked at sometime’ that had been lying on the kitchen table.  Some was thrown away, some dealt with by writing cheques and delivering envelopes and some was filed in the proper place.  This made us feel very virtuous.

I went out for a celebratory walk round the garden.

The poppies hadn’t got any less lovely while we had been away and the buzz of interested insects around them was distractingly loud.  Almost every flower seemed to have a friend.

Shirley poppyI did find three that hadn’t attracted any company.

Shirley poppy

Some were still showing the results of last night’s rain.

A bee on the sedum looked as though it had got a bit wet too.

bee on sedumMy new lens makes it more easy than using the zoom lens to take shots of several flowers at a time.

Shirley poppyI used the 300mm zoom to take this picture of some berberis berries though as it does better in blanking out the background.

berberisIt’s horses for courses however and the macro lens came out again for a shot of the white clematis.

white clematis…and two bonus roses which have just come out.

rosesI was very pleased to see a robin posing in front of the kitchen window.

robinA goldfinch looked rather unsure of whether visiting the feeder was a good idea.

goldfinch I made some lentil soup for my lunch and then I ate some lentil soup for my lunch.

After lunch we went shopping to replenish the store cupboard and then, as it was a pleasantly sunny day, we went for a fourteen mile cycle ride round the Barnglieshead triangle.

I had Pocketcam with me.


The rough pasture has gone brown.


Some of the trees are just starting to turn too.


We weren’t surrounded by mountains but our way was still beautiful.


Looking homeward as we passed Bloch Farm

As you can see, this was the second day running that we have enjoyed perfect conditions for cycling.

When we got home, I spent some time chasing butterflies.

peacock butterfly

The purple phlox is very popular with this peacock butterfly

There was an unusually furry yellowish bee on a nearby plant.

yellow beeI also went stalking bees on the sedum.  This wasn’t too hard as there must have been twenty or thirty tucking in.

bee on sedum

Very hairy knees.

bee on sedum

Stained glass window wings

Owing to differing commitments, there was no recorder group tonight and I was both disappointed to miss playing  and pleased as I was happy to have a quiet night in.

As a change from the eternal chaffinches, the flying bird of the day is a rather blurred robin.

flying robin

Steamed up

Today’s guest picture was not taken by a guest but shows a guest elephant hawk moth caterpillar which was brought round by Isla, one of our neighbours.  I have never seen one before.

elephant hawk moth caterpillarFirst I would like to apologise for the absence of a post yesterday without warning.  This came about because the promised Wi-Fi in our bed and breakfast accommodation was so feeble and intermittent as to be unusable. I pointed this out to the landlord and he he said that he knew.  Ah well.

We had gone to Carlisle as usual on a Sunday afternoon for our choir practice but on this occasion, instead of going home, we drove another 50 miles south down the Cumbrian coast until we arrived at the old Roman port of Ravenglass just as the sun began to set.

RavenglassAlthough a very quiet village now that the Romans have left, Ravenglass was still busy enough that we had to try three pubs before we found one with a vacant table for an evening meal.  The fact that it had a spare table or two might have been related to price but we had a very good meal and the helping was so big that a single course sufficed and the bill was very reasonable.

Our B&B was excellent and after a very light breakfast, we went out for a short cycle ride to visit a Roman Bath house nearby.

Roman bath house RavenglassIt may not look much but apparently it is the tallest Roman ruin  in Britain.

Roman bath house RavenglassIt has added lichen.

lichen at ravenglassAfter we visited the bath house, we went down to the shore only to find that the sea had disappeared.

RavenglassWe cycled back past the bath house and arrived at Ravenglass Station where the main part of our adventure would start.

The world’s greatest older son, i.e our son Tony,  had given us a token for our Christmas present which entitled us to a ride to Dalegarth and back to Ravenglass on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, a 15 inch gauge light railway, mostly steam operated.

As well as the train trip, we were given a breakfast before and a lunch at the top of the line and a bottle of wine to consume in our private coach en route.

Everything about this generous gift went well.  The meals were good, the train journey delightful, the cycle ride into the hills at the top of the line outstanding and the weather most co-operative throughout, sunny but not too hot.

As a result of all this I took far too many photos and have put double my usual ration in this post. Those readers with better things to do should scroll straight down to the bottom of the post, add a comment on the lines of, “What a pleasure it must be to you to have such a generous and thoughtful son”, click the like button and pass on, taking the trains, the scenery and our enjoyment on trust.

Hardier souls should read on:

Ravenglass station is a delight.

Ravenglass railway

Even the benches are classy.

We were shown to our private coach.

Ravenglass railway

Ravenglass railway

With a bottle of fizzy and a bowl of strawberries to pass the time on the trip.

The station has plenty for the railway enthusiast to admire.

The oldest 12 inch gauge  locomotive  and a much more modern diesel.

The oldest 15 inch gauge locomotive and a much more modern diesel.

Ravenglass railway

Our train getting ready to set out.

After a second light breakfast of the day and once we were on board and our bikes safely in the bike coach, the train set off up the line.

Ravenglass railway

It starts beside a tidal river.  You can see the Lake District hills in the background.

Ravenglass railway

We were soon climbing steadily through woods

Ravenglass railway

We stopped to let a down train pass on one of the loops.

And we arrived at Dalegarth Station, the head of the line.  The Ravenglass and Eskdale railway is only seven miles long, but it is a wonderfully varied journey and seems much longer thanks to the modest speed of the locomotives.

Once at Dalegath, we got the bikes  out and headed up Eskdale.

Note:Those readers who actually read the words and don’t just skip through the pictures will know that Mrs Tootlepedal and I live in Eskdale but this was a different Eskdale.  As the word Esk means river and thus the River Esk means the River  River, it is not surprising to find that there are several River Esks scattered around Great Britain.

Eskdale in the mid September sunshine was glorious.

The road was quiet and gently undulating.

EskdaleThe views on every side were rewarding.

EskdaleEskdaleEskdaleWe were in cycling heaven.

But it didn’t last.  The quiet road along the river takes a turn to the right, leaves the river and strikes up a hill.  And what a hill it is.

Hardknott PassYes, that sign really does say 1 in 3.  We had a go  but it was too much for us.  I was on the slow bike with only seven gears and Mrs Tootlepedal kept finding her front wheel lifting off the road, a very alarming experience, so we only managed a few hundred yards but even that was enough to give us some great views.

Hardknott pass viewHardknott pass viewThis is what defeated us.

Hardknott passBut no picture can give a true impression of just how steep it is.  I would really like to come back with my lowest gear on my speedy bike and see if I could do it but it would mean several stops for a breather on the way at the best.

We sensibly turned downhill again.

Hardknott passAnd were soon back beside the river.

EskdaleThe sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine selection of fungi beside the road.

eskdale fungiAs we had plenty of time before our afternoon meal (courtesy of the greatest older son in the world), we cycled down the valley past Dalegarth until we came to the first little station down the line.

Ravenglass railway stationYou have to look closely to see the platform.   It serves it a hotel.

Hotel Ravenglass railway stationWe waited until the diesel hauled down train passed through…

Ravenglass railway…and then pedalled along the road beside the line a bit further, under the supervision of a local Herdwick sheep.

sheepWe heard a distant hoot and hoped to see the next up train come past but nothing appeared so we cycled back to Dalegarth for our meal.

The reason for the non appearance of the up train became clear when it was reported that this locomotive….

Northern Rock…seen earlier on the turntable at Dalegarth, had broken down causing a blockage on the line.  (For UK readers the breakdown will not be a surprise when they learn that the locomotive is called Northern Rock.)

However, as we ate our meal, things were sorted out and the next train, pulled by the mighty ‘Hercules’…

Hercules Ravenglass railway…came and went leaving our train to arrive and depart on time.

We had time after our meal to look at an art exhibition in the station and I popped up to the little village of Boot on my bike to look at a very old working water mill…

Boot mill…which looked as though it would be well worth a visit another time.

The bikes were packed aboard and we were ensconced in our private coach again and the ‘River Irt’, our locomotive, pulled us out of the station bang on time.

These little locos can pull a big load without grumbling.

River Irt Ravenglass railway

Our train on the way down the line.

I took a lot of shots while we were moving but none worked very well although I liked the reflection in this one.

River Irt Ravenglass railwayWe stopped at a few of the little stations on the way down to decant passengers.

Ravenglass railway…but we were all too soon back at the estuary…

River Mite

This is the River Mite

…and pulling into Ravenglass Station.

RavenglassWe got our bikes out, thanked the excellent staff of the railway company for our treat, packed the bikes in the car, headed down to the shore for a last look at the sea…

Ravenglass…and drove home, admiring the evening sunshine on the Lake District fells and calling blessings on the head of the world’s greatest elder son for his inspired Christmas present.  We felt a bit of self satisfaction too for having chosen such an ideal day to have the treat on.  As our daughter had kindly offered to pay for our B&B, the whole thing was perfect.  This day out has been our only holiday this year but it was a good one.

I may not have had a post yesterday but I did catch a flying bird on Sunday morning before we left for our outing.

flying chaffinch

Poetry and motion

Today’ guest picture comes from another stroll along the Regent’s Canal in London by my sister Mary.

Canalside walk to Little Venice 12.09.14 003Langholm was the birthplace of the Scottish poet Hugh McDiarmid and some enterprising local people had organised a walk today with stops at appropriate spots around the town where readings of his poetry took place.  It started at his memorial on the hill at the White Yett and descended into the streets of the town thereafter.  It had many stops and I was very surprised when I went to check its progress in Henry Street  to find it bang on schedule.

This was important to me because although my knee wasn’t up to joining the walk, I had been asked to read one of the poems outside the Langholm Library.  I cycled up in plenty of time and had a few minutes to enjoy an exhibition in the Town Hall gallery of fashion hats, pottery and textile art.  I read my allotted poem to a small gathering of walkers and as they went on their way….

walkers and talkers….I went round to the front of the Town Hall where a group of enthusiastic campaigners were trying to whip up support for the Yes side in the forthcoming referendum.

Yes campaignersWhile I was doing this, Mrs Tootlepedal was getting organised for a meeting of her embroiderers’ group in the afternoon which was getting a talk from one of the organisers of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.  She told me later that this was one of the best talks the group had ever had. They are going to visit the Tapestry later in the year.

Sandy had told me that he had seen some fine toadstools when he had been out cycling yesterday so I resolved to go and see them for myself while Mrs Tootlepedal was at her talk.  I had to wait for a while to get my phone charged up and this gave me time to mow the front lawn and take a picture or two.

A Japanese anemone in the shade and a Shirley poppy  in the weak sunshine.

A Japanese anemone in the shade and a Shirley poppy in the weak sunshine.

I was very pleased to see a flower on a fuchsia bush which I feared had given up the ghost and I thought it went well with nerine.

fuchsia and nerineWith the phone partly charged, I set off on a toadstool hunt.  As this involved a 25 mile fairly hilly, circular ride, I was hoping that my legs and breathing would be in a co-operative mood.

garmin 13 Sept 14As it turned out, they were both in excellent form and I thoroughly enjoyed my pedal in perfect conditions, warm and with a light wind in the best possible direction.

Sandy had told me that I would find the toadstools after about nine miles of pedalling, halfway up a hill and just past a quarry.   This seemed pretty specific to me and I hoped that I would be able to find them.

I passed the quarry and kept a beady eye out for fungi and was just getting the feeling that they might have grown and disappeared in a day when a flash of colour in the grass beside the road brought me to a halt.  I was rather disappointed.

fungi at BailliehillIt was a toadstool but no one could honestly describe it as fine and I was wondering as I pedalled on whether Sandy had been hallucinating from the effort of pedalling up the long hill.  Round the next corner though, it was clear that he had been perfectly sane.

fungi at Bailliehill (4)I couldn’t miss these.

fungi at Bailliehill (2)fungi at Bailliehill (3)There must have been about thirty or forty of them in a flat, open part of the grassy verge.  Why they should grow there and nowhere else along the road is a mystery to me.

fungi at Bailliehill (5)It looked as though they were a source of food to some animal or other.

I pedalled on even more cheerfully than before.  Once over the hill, I stopped to take a picture or two of my favourite little valley where the Water of Milk starts its journey to the sea by passing Craighousteads Farm.

Craighousteads Farm

Craighousteads Farm

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

Looking downstream

Looking downstream

It was another hazy day and in spite of a hint of blue sky straight above, it wasn’t a good day for taking pictures of views.

When I reached Paddockhole, with eleven miles to go, I found that I had cycled along very comfortably so far because the light breeze had been at my back.  From this point on, I had to make a rather more determined effort to keep my speed up but the wind was so light that the Minsca windmills were only just turning and I got home in very good order.

In the garden, it was a day of compost interest.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy sieving last autumn’s compost and putting the result onto the flower beds.  She has been so busy that she has emptied a bay in the compost area.  As a result, we have started turning the next batch of compost into the empty bay.  It is amazing how just one or two turnings can speed up the composting process.  She has also been pruning a large philadelphus and we have been shredding the cuttings from that so there will be no shortage of compost next year.

For once, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a quiet night in and we were able to enjoy highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain after tea.

All this pedalling and poetry left me with little time to watch the bird feeder and a flying chaffinch looking at me with suspicion from under its wing was the best that I could do for flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch (10)

Goodbye to Jean

The guest picture of the day is some splendid fungus in the garden of Zyriacus, my German correspondent.  He tells me that various pressures are turning his lovingly tended garden into a nature reserve.

fungiThe main business of the day was attending our friend Jean’s funeral.  The service was held in the garden of her house on the banks of the Esk, with friends and family present and an audience of three goosanders, birds which Jean always enjoyed watching,  looking on from the river.

The service was simple and touching and we went to the cemetery afterwards where Jean was buried beside her husband.  The day was still and warm and as the minister spoke, birds sang an accompaniment from the trees round about.  With views over the hills and valley that Jean loved so much, this was as good a way as possible to say goodbye to a friend.

We joined the family for refreshments in the Buccleuch Centre but could not stay long as I had my usual Friday spell in the tourist office to go to.

I had taken advantage of the good weather to pop out for an early ride before the funeral to see if putting my bike seat back down the centimetre that I had foolishly raised it would cure my back problems.  It worked like magic and I was able to potter along for eighteen miles in a pain free and leisurely manner.  I was passed by a human bullet going in the opposite direction at one pint.  This was Dropscone whizzing round the morning run in fine style.

I had time before I went to the tourist office to admire two poppies in the garden, a red opium poppy and a pale Shirley poppy.

two poppiesThe orange hawkweed is having a second burst of colour.

orange hawkweedAnd the astrantias remain a source of wonder to me.

astrantiaThere was some animate life to record as well.  The sedum is home to a very large selection of bees and hoverflies.

beeAnd blue tits are regular visitors to the feeder nearby.

blue titWhile I had the zoom lens out to follow the blue tit, I saw a peacock butterfly and rushed out to catch it but it was gone before I got there so I zoomed in in yet another poppy instead.

white poppy

Although the majority are red and orange, Mrs Tootlepedal did get some variety from her mixed packet of poppy seeds.

After a very slow start at the tourist office, I was visited by Mrs Tootlepedal on her bike and her arrival heralded a positive late rush of people.  First, five tourists arrived simultaneously and then Jean’s son and his wife, who were talking a walk round the Castleholm, came in and they were soon joined by Mike Tinker, who was also walking past.  In this way my two hour spell ended very merrily and I locked up and went on a heron search.

Mr Grumpy was not at home and although there was a chirpy wagtail at the river, it evaded my lens and I had to make do with a passing gull.

gullI took a picture of the Langholm Bridge to show just how little rain we have had recently.

Langholm Bridge

You can see that it was another very hazy day.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were invited to Mike and Alison’s for a cup of tea and I took round my macro lens to show Mike who is a keen photographer.  I shot two of his dahlias while I was there…..

dahlias….noticed a butterfly on one of them….

butterfly…and was impressed by his show of roses.

rosesWe didn’t have long when we got home before it was time to have our evening meal and go back to the Buccleuch Centre for our second concert in two days.

Tonight we watched an American trio called the Stray Birds.  I append an extract from their website:

The band – multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven, and Charlie Muench – hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All three are classically trained musicians who’ve been making music of all kinds since childhood (before they reconnected through the local music scene, de Vitry and Muench first met in middle school orchestra); however, they were also all raised with a steady diet of music ranging from pioneers like The Carter Family and Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys to the joyous invention of The Beatles and The Band, to the groundbreaking artistry of Jimi Hendrix.

They played and sang jolly well, although they were unnecessarily amplified for the modest size of the audience.  Oddly for such a rhythmic ensemble, none of the trio tapped their feet as they played which might be down to their classical training.  They sang and played a good selection of material but mostly on subjects of murder and loss and with such relentless intensity and feeling of suppressed violence that I longed for at least one relaxed and laid back number.  I finally thought that that moment had arrived when they announced that they were going to sing Make me a Pallet on the Floor…but even this gentle number was turned into up tempo angst.  Putting that to one side, it is always a pleasure to meet a band of accomplished musicians who are entirely new to you and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed the evening.

I spent what time I had in the garden today looking for coloured butterflies but in the end, this white was the only one there when I had a camera to hand.

white butterflyThe flying bird of the day is another of the Kilngreen gulls.


Peering about

Today’s guest picture was given by Wattie to Gavin and then Gavin forwarded it to me.  It shows Wattie’s big tattie.  There will be quite a few chips made out of that when it’s cooked.

potatoThe day started rather disappointingly for me although it looked very promising.  It was another fine, dry day with light winds and Dropscone and I set out for the morning pedal to Gair and back at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal set off to Edinburgh to visit the world’s greatest baby.  She got to Edinburgh and Dropscone got to Gair and back but I only managed three miles before having to turn for home.

I had raised my saddle a bit yesterday as it seemed to me that I might be putting too much pressure on my knee by having the saddle a bit too low.  This turned out to a misjudgement and raising the saddle straightened my knee too much and I was getting bad back pains soon after starting out.  Being sensible for once, I gave up before doing any damage and retired for a rest and a shower before Dropscone returned for coffee

While I was waiting for Dropscone to appear, I took my new macro lens out into the garden and pointed it at some flowers.

poppy and rubbeckiaThe sharpness and depth of focus are very encouraging.

Shirley poppy

This came straight put of the camera and is untouched by the photo editor.

Two sorts of nasturtium

It even coped with two sorts of nasturtium quite well

Michaelmas daisyAll these were shot hand held with the vibration reduction switched on.  Considering how wobbly my hands are, I was encouraged.  I will try it on a tripod soon.

I can fit the new lens onto Pocketcam if I wish and although it isn’t easy to use as it has a screen viewer and not a viewfinder, it made a fairly interesting job of a sedum.

sedumDropscone arrived  flushed with his speedy efforts when not held up by me.  We were joined later by Sandy, who had been on a fifteen mile cycle ride, just after we had eaten all the scones but luckily I had a large iced bun on hand to give to him to go with his cup of coffee.

When Dropscone and Sandy had left, I set about doing some business.  I made up some folded cards with local views on them which I hope will raise money for the Archive Group  and  took them with some of our Archive Group postcards up to the High Street.  The folded cards got a very good reaction and I sold two and got an order for ten more.  I also sold twenty of the postcards so that was very satisfactory.  What was slight less satisfactory was that I had forgotten to bring up an article and advertisement about our camera club meeting  to give to the newspaper office and so I had to bicycle back home and up to the High Street again.  Still, it was a lovely day so it was no great hardship.

After lunch, Sandy reappeared and we took the car round to the Castleholm and went for a short circular walk along a track on top of a wooded bank and back by the road.  I had hoped that the new macro lens might be useful for other things as well as close-ups and gave it a good work out.  You can judge for yourselves whether it might help me in my landscape photography.

across the fieldIt was a very hazy day and long shots were not possible so I tried some medium and short range efforts.

CastleholmCastleholmCastleholmCastleholmThe sharpness and good depth of field look promising to me and I think that these shots are better than I could have taken before.

I tried some black and white.

new lens black and whitenew lens black and whiteI am quite excited.

I couldn’t resist one close up with the macro lens as we went round.

prickly thingI had Pocketcam with me too and tried a black and white with it while I was in the mood.

pocketcam black and whiteSandy was clicking away as we went round and we both voted it a thoroughly good outing.  Although it was quite hazy, it was a perfect temperature for walking in shirt sleeves and we were certainly ready for a refreshing cup of tea when we got home.

After we had drunk our tea, Sandy kindly stayed for a while and helped me put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive database.  I have been doing too much cycling and tootling and I am well behind with this work.

When Sandy left, I had a last walk round the garden…

poppy….ate a few raspberries and then cycled up to the Archive Centre to do some housekeeping and put another week into the database.

Although I was concentrating on flowers, I did notice a couple of low flying creatures during the day.  A bee in the morning…

bee…and a butterfly in the afternoon.

peacock butterflyI am glad that I got a good day to try out the new lens.  It would have been frustrating to sit staring out of the window on if it had been a rainy day.

I made some semolina pudding as a welcome home treat for Mrs Tootlepedal and I rounded off an interesting day with a visit to the Buccleuch Centre to hear the Blues Band in a concert.  This is a group of veterans of about my age who have been playing together since the seventies and have pretty well mastered it.  They are very relaxed and unpretentious and we were reliably told that one member had used his senior railcard and free bus pass to travel to the gig.  Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from Edinburgh in time to join me for the second half of the concert and apart from the whole thing being far too loud for comfort, we enjoyed ourselves.  It is one of life’s great pleasures that I can go to a concert of unaccompanied madrigals and masses one week and a raucous celebration of blues music the next and enjoy them both.   I appreciate my good fortune in having venues for both near at hand.

I did catch a flying bird (just) with the zoom lens before I put the new lens on.

flying chaffinch

Short sighted

Today’s guest picture is a view of the financial heart of London seen from the verdant pastures of Greenwich Park by my sister Mary.

View of the City and Canary WharfWe had yet another fine and generally sunny day today and it was pleasant but a little chilly when I rose much earlier than usual and went off to fill the Moorland bird feeders.  Sandy has changed his work routine and this has left a gap on Wednesdays for a volunteer filler.  I am filling that gap for the time being.

It was no hardship being up on the moor on such a good morning.

Tarras Valley

Tarras valley filled with morning mist

I had been expecting to see some fungi at this time of year but I wasn’t expecting to see quite as big a crop as these under the bird feeders

Broomholmshiels mushroomsI didn’t stay long as I was busy and anyway I didn’t have my zoom lens with me to photogrpah any birds but if I had had time to dawdle, I would have taken it as it was a grand spot to be on such a lovely morning.  I was soon on the road home though.

broomholmshielsWhen I got back to town, I dropped the car off at the garage and walked back across the Esk and arrived home just in time for breakfast.  This short walk reminded me of what a good idea a new knee would be.

After breakfast, Dropscone arrived for an outing to Gair for our morning pedal.  After a summer with no problems from my asthma at all, it has annoyingly turned up again from time to time for some unknown reason and this meant a slow start and gentle effort on the hills for our ride.   Dropscone is very agreeable in moderating his early pace to my needs and once I got warmed up, we completed the trip in good order and at a reasonable but not extravagant pace.

While we were sipping our coffee, I noticed a nuthatch on the feeder.  This is a very rare appearance but it had flown off long before I had got a camera organised.  After coffee and scones, Dropscone left (to play golf of course) and I wandered round the garden. 

Shirley poppies

The Shirley poppies continue to thrive…and to need dead heading


The late astrantias are glorious

I did quite a bit of unsuccessful butterfly chasing and in the end, went inside to watch the birds through the kitchen window.

great tit

We had several visits from a great tit today

great and blue tits

It shared the feeder with a blue tit

We were hoping that the car would be fixed today as Mrs Tootlepedal needs it tomorrow so we were very pleased when the garage rang soon after lunch to say that it was ready.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to collect it and as it was still a lovely day, we made a diversion over the Langholm Moor on our way home.

We went down into the Upper Tarras valley…

Tarras valley….where Mrs Tootlepedal sat on one of the rather severe looking picnic benches…..

Tarras picnic benches

More comfortable than they look

…and watched a raptor, probably a buzzard, soaring over the distant skyline.  I looked a little closer to home.


The whole frame is filled by the legs of this creature

seasonal thistledown

Seasonal thistledown

Once again I was unable to linger as I was expecting a parcel delivery which I didn’t want to miss so we headed home, stopping on our way to look at some bog asphodel making a pretty sight among the last of the heather.

bog asphodelWe weren’t long home before my parcel arrived.  I took some experimental pictures with its contents.

insect on sedumpeacock butterflyinsect on cosmosI think that it will turn out to have been a good buy.  I certainly hope to have fun with it.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to a practice with Langholm Sings, our local community choir, where we had another go at the three songs which we are going to sing in a concert on Friday week.  We have plenty of scope for improvement and one more practice to go.   Ah well.

In the absence of a picture of the visiting nuthatch, a tried and tested chaffinch is the flying bird if the day.

flying chaffinch








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