Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her mother, shows Matilda settling down at home after having sampled all the excitements of Langholm Common Riding.


We had another lovely sunny day today and with a drop in the temperature from roasting to merely hot, it was just about perfect.   We were up quite early and Mrs Tootlepedal, who had taken a handy trowel with her, made the most of the good weather by combining a short cycle ride with the collection of as much manure from her manure mine as she could fit in her back carrier  (inside a plastic bag).

Meanwhile I got through a little of the backlog of the newspaper archiving and put a week and a half of the index  into the database.

While I was waiting for Mrs Tootlepedal to get home, I took a couple of pictures in the garden.

Each day brings a new show of Shirley poppies…

shirley poppies

…and a  new opium poppy has appeared with a very rich colour.


I was looking to see how the yellow crocosmia are coming on when I noticed this little bug eyed monster.


And I was lucky to get this final shot of the ligularia in the front bed….


…because by the end of the day, Attila the gardener had been round with her secateurs and disappeared the whole lot.

The sparrows provided me with excellent entertainment while Iwas waiting for coffee time and Dropscone…


…as there are several new families about and the feeder was always busy.


Dropscone had gone round the morning run by himself at a good speed and he must have got up early too as he had changed and cooked some scones before he arrived for coffee and we enjoyed the scones still hot from the cooker.

After Dropscone had left, we were visited by Mike Tinker who brought two of his grandchildren round on a frog hunt.  William and Sara were delighted to find that a frog or two were still to be found by diligent searching in our little pond.

Mike was telling us that their mother, his daughter Liz, had been alert enough to have plunged into the river on Common Riding morning to rescue a little boy who had drifted out of his depth and was disappearing under the water while everyone else was watching the Cornet and the other riders crossing the river a hundred yards away.  It was lucky for the boy that Liz had been sitting with her own children on the stones on the opposite shore of the river and that his sister screamed loudly enough amid all the other noise to attract Liz’s attention.

Taking things very carefully, I mowed the front lawn which needed a clip badly and then retired for a tasty lunch of sardines on toast.

I had time in all this to look at some other flowers.


And vegetables.


Main crop potatoes. We are sharing our potatoes with quite a lot of slugs sad to say.

And flying visitors.


There are a lot of these white butterflies about

After lunch, I got the speedy bike out and went off for a very gentle fourteen mile ride.  I was greeted after three miles by an old friend.


This bull has stood and watched phlegmatically on many occasions as I have pedalled by

It was a perfect day for pedalling and my route gave me some splendid views…


Looking across the Solway to the English side

…and I was sorry that I couldn’t make better use of it.  Nevertheless, I was pleased to be sensible enough to take it easy and to discover when I got back that I hadn’t made anything worse.  A little further each day when the weather is suitable is my plan.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made the most of the good weather by getting stuck into some serious gardening for most of the day.  I caught her in a sunflower jungle which she has planted, looking up at the tallest sunflower in the group.  It is so tall that we may never know if it has actually flowered up there.


You can just make her out if you look carefully.

She is excited by a striking new lily which has appeared in the back border.


I am more excited than her by a new clematis nearby.  I like its complexity but she thinks that the colour is dull.


The ligularias may be almost over but this leaf is attractive in its own right.

ligularia leaf

The colour is probably caused by a mineral deficiency.

When I went in to cook the tea, the sparrows were still busy outside and I noticed this attentive parent doing its duty.


Unlike yesterday I was spoiled for flying birds today and among them were some busy blue tits….

blue tits

…but unsurprisingly it is a sparrow that has made it as official flying bird of the day.



A little adventure

Today’s guest picture shows Barrington Court in Somerset, recently visited by my sister Mary who kindly sent me the photograph.

Barrington Court tudor mansion, Somerset

We came to the end of our endlessly sunny weather today and to my relief at least, it was quite a bit cooler outside.  It was still a pleasant day when we got up and after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing in the church choir, I ventured out for a few test miles on my speedy bike to see how the hip felt.

It was still abit sore when I got on the bike but as is so often the case, cycling was no problem once I got going.  I  intended to do an undemanding nine miles but I might have been tempted to go a little further if a few drops of rain hadn’t made me stick to my original plan.

There was a profusion of wild raspberries by the roadside …

wild raspberries

…but they proved to be  a bit past their best when I stopped to sample some of them.

It was just as well that I had not gone any further because once I had got off the bike, my hip was still quite sore.  I abandoned any hope of doing some useful mowing and wandered round the garden instead.

The Shirley poppies that looked so good in Mrs Tootlepedal’a new border yesterday morning had all gone by yesterday evening.  Fortunately they had been replaced as if by magic by a new set today.

Shirley poppies

There are a hopeful signs that the yellow crocosmia which are supposed to go with them will be on the go very soon.

yellow crocosmia

The cosmos are looking better by the day…


…and are attractive to more than just my camera.

cosmos and butterfly

We were visited by Dropscone who came round for a late coffee after he had done a thirty mile ride.  He was pleased with both his cycling distance and his recent golf round where he nearly scored a hole in one. I have decided that it would be too early to start pedalling with him yet so we are going to go out separately tomorrow morning and meet for coffee afterwards (if all goes to plan).  Dropscone also brought round a couple of heavy rain showers but they soon passed.

It occurred to me while I was cycling this morning that the present bout of hip pain may have been brought on by lifting a couple of bags of compost a few days ago rather than by any cycling efforts.  I know perfectly well that I shouldn’t lift anything remotely heavy but it is difficult to remember not to do something which you can in fact do quite easily and with no immediate ill effects.  It is only a few days later that you realise that you shouldn’t have been so stupid.

The rest of the day was spent alternately resting and wandering round the garden to ease the discomfort that sitting brings on.

A new clematis had come out….


…and the honeysuckle on the fence is going full blast…


…and the variegated phlox has produced flowers.


The ligularia is coming to the end of its run and the red crocosmia is going to be over soon.

ligularia crocosmia

The current favourites of Mrs Tootlepedal and myself looked good today.

fuchsia and japanese anemone

Fuchsia and Japanese anemone

When the sun came out in the afternoon, it made a red Astilbe fairly sparkle.


The garden seems to be getting ever fuller of sparrow families.


Sparrows on the sweet pea fortress

Sometimes when I go out, twenty or thirty sparrows will rise up at the same time.

A series of rather dull posts recently have reflected some rather dull sitting down days so I certainly hope to be able to get about more next week.

Just at the moment, I am not very good at standing stock still with the camera in position and the zoom lens full out so unless I am lucky and a flying bird comes along as soon as I am in position, they are hard to catch.  The flying bird of the day today therefore is not flying.  It was flying before I took the picture and it started flying after I took the picture but I admit it wasn’t flying when I took the picture.





Home alone

Today’s guest picture, sent on to me by the kind offices of my sister Susan, appears as a reminder from my sister Caroline, another special grandma, that there is more than one world’s greatest baby about.  This is her grandson Jamie with his yet to be named brand new sister,  daughter of Jem and Lotti.  The baby is my great niece and of course the greatest baby on the world.

Baby with her Brother Jamie_2_22072014

The day was another hot and sunny day at the start but by evening time the weather had broken and a light and welcome rain is falling as I write this.  We are promised cooler weather for the next few days which will be a relief for those of us who don’t do too well above 25C.

When we got up, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to the excellent display of Shirley poppies in the border beside the front lawn.

Shirley poppies

This is a new scheme and the poppies are designed to be set off by some yellow crocosmia.   It is not easy to get everything to come out exactly at the right time and we are still waiting for the crocosmia to join in.  They are nearly out though.

The picture above shows the difference between looking and shooting.  When I looked out of the upstairs window, all I saw was eleven lovely poppies but when the camera looked, all it saw was a mass of green stuff with a few red spots.  You’ll have to take my word for the fact that the poppies looked outstanding.

There were two significant points in the day.  One was the moment when Mrs Tootlepedal went off with Al, Clare and Matilda to put them on the train home to Edinburgh (sad) and the other when I felt that my hip was well enough for me to mow the middle lawn (happy).

As a result of my programme of unusually sensible behaviour, I spent the day doing nothing much and continued to see improvement in my ability to walk around without crying.   I accomplished the lawn mowing by doing one or two strips at a time and having a sit down in between.

I was thinking about a short and gentle cycle ride to see if that would be therapeutic but by the time that the the opportunity had arisen so had the wind so discretion was the better part of valour and I watched the Tour de France instead and got my pedalling in vicariously.

During the day I had plenty of  time to stroll round the garden.


An unusual sunflower from Mrs Tootlepedal’s packet of assorted sunflower seeds.


A new colour of cosmos has turned up


The ones that have been out for a bit are looking well.

perennial nasturtium

The berries on the perennial nasturtium come in surprisingly different colours

shirley poppy

Currently my favourite shade of Shirley poppy

The recent spell of hot weather reminded me that I had a small ice cream making machine in the house so after Matilda had gone, I set about making an ice cream custard and then put it into the mixer to get chilled and beaten.  The result was extremely tasty.  It’s just a pity that I hadn’t thought about the machine a few days earlier when we really needed cooling down.

The side effect of making the ice cream is that you get left with a lot of egg whites so I made some meringues too.  Someone is going to have to eat all this stuff over the next few days but I expect that I will be up to the task.

There is an old saying that plenty of berries on the rowan trees mean a hard winter is coming.

rowan tree

I think that it is more likely to mean that we have just had a mild winter and a good summer.

Among the flowers, I was pleased to note a tortoiseshell butterfly.


I had time to look out of the window today too and the birds were a bit more active than they have been lately.


A chaffinch looking a bit the worse for wear


Another chaffinch looking rather debonair


And a third chaffinch arriving for a feed.

Sparrows and siskins are always around at the moment.

sparrow and siskin

And always squabbling.

sparrow and siskin

I am keeping and eye out for diseased birds and washing and changing my feeder regularly.  The birds seem healthy enough at the moment.

I am hoping to get out for a short cycle ride tomorrow to test how things are going.

The flying bird of the day was yet another chaffinch.

flying chaffinch


Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my neighbour Gavin, shows his granddaughter Ellie, who is visiting from California, with the crown which is carried in the Common Riding procession.  Some of our roses are in there.


It was the Common Riding, Langholm’s Great Day, today and the sun shone on the crowded streets as the procession made its way round the town.


The town’s standard is carried by a mounted cornet who is accompanied by his right and left hand men, the ex-cornets from the previous two years.


Cornet Dale Irving

In the town, the procession is led by the emblem bearers and the Town Band and the cornet has a large train of mounted followers…

mounted followers

…who spend quite a lot of time shuffling about the streets….

mounted followers

…in front of large crowds of cheering supporters.

After going from one end of the town to the other, which involves a good deal of work in getting the horses organised at the turning points, the cornet arrives in the Market Place….

Market Place

…where a large crowd gather to hear the first crying of the fair.  I took my time and while the procession was going through the town, I walked up the Kirk Wynd and waited.

After the fair has been cried, the cornet gallops up the Kirk Wynd and leads his followers onto the hill…

The Kirk Wynd

The Kirk Wynd

Where they visit the boundaries of the common land to make sure that they have not been encroached on. (As it happens, the boundaries do seem to have been encroached on but no one seems to mind very much.)

It was a great spot to watch the horses pass by….

The Kirk Wynd

…with a great range of riders from the mature…

The Kirk Wynd

…to the young.

The Kirk Wynd

Thanks to the dry weather, they literally disappeared into a cloud of dust as the final riders passed me by.

The Kirk Wynd

While the horses are on the hill, most of the spectators retire to the town and  spend the time while they are waiting for them to return in convivial social activities.

There is much more to the day after the riders return from the hill (more fair crying, more processions, horse racing, athletic games, wrestling, dancing and a final procession when the flag is handed back)  but this was as far as my interest went this year and it was back to a comfortable chair in the house for the rest of the day.   Even the magic of the Common Riding couldn’t clear my hip pain up, though it has improved a lot thanks to resting.

I would like to thank all those who offered me sympathy either in person or through the medium of the comments on this blog.  I haven’t replied to the kind comments today as sitting at the computer does not help matters and I am trying to get through this post as quickly as possible but I appreciate the sympathy very much.

Not being out and about gave me plenty of opportunity to enjoy the presence of our granddaughter Matilda, the world’s greatest baby.



She went for a walk in her father’s old perambulator.

Mother and Granny

Mother and Granny checking that all is well before the off.

Al and Clare and pram

And father making sure that the blazing sun is not a problem as she returned.

We were visited during the afternoon by Gavin’s son Fraser, father of the rose clutching Ellie and an old friend of Alistair, who now lives in California.  He was saying that although the temperature today was much the same as he would expect in California, it felt much hotter here due to the higher humidity. We asked if it was a lot drier in California and he told us that he had seen one day of light rain this year.  It is a lot drier there.

Our dry spell has meant that Mrs Tootlepedal has had do quite a bit of watering in the garden but she has kept things looking very well.  The flowers were celebrating Langholm’s Great Day even if I wasn’t out watching events.



poppy and insect

A reader asked if I could put a picture of the gooseberry bush onto a post as she had never seen one so here is ours.  It doesn’t look great but it had produced a lot of fruit this year.

gooseberry bush

I have picked several pounds of berries already but there are lots left.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that my hip continues to improve and once again I thank all those who offered me their kind thoughts.

A sparrow is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow




Little progress

There is no guest picture today and a very short post because the pain in my hip is stubbornly reluctant to ease off and I spent almost all day sitting in the only chair that was at all comfortable, hoping that things would get better.

Having had long term back problems, I have many exercises which work well when I mistreat my back and it complains and I am usually back to normal quite quickly.  This present trouble arises from  a trapped nerve in my pelvis I am told and I can’t find an exercise to shift it at all so I am trying complete rest as far as my naturally restless nature will let me.

Tomorrow is our Common Riding Day, a big moment in the town’s year and with a bit of luck, a good night’s rest will let me get out and about a bit to enjoy the festivities.  I am not overly optimistic though.

Mrs Tootlepedal has added her little bit to the celebrations as yesterday Alan came round to pick some of our rambler roses to help make up the Crown, one of the emblems carried in procession tomorrow.

Crown rose

I did take a picture or two in the garden today as I got up and stretched my legs from time to time through the day.


A very white bunch of Phlox.


With temperatures at 25C again, the sunflower was appropriate.

perennial nasturtium

The perennial nasturtium has produced some very pretty berries.

hovering insect and marigold

A marigold and visitor

The insect hovered above the marigold in such a still way that I thought that my camera might catch it in the air but it was wobbling more than it seemed.  I liked the picture anyway.

hovering insect

Matilda arrived with her parents in the evening after a long and hot day in two trains.  Under the circumstances, she was very equable but I don’t like to bother her to pose for pictures.  Mrs Tootlepedal took her out for a calming walk in the pram to visit some of the neighbours.   They were suitably honoured to meet the world’s finest baby.

Later in the evening, the streets resounded to the beat of the drum and the shrill cry of flutes as the flute band marched through the town having gone to meet returning exiles from the nine o’clock train.  The fact that this train last ran in the 1960s doesn’t stop the flute band from going to greet it.

Flute band

The front row.

I hobbled along the street to catch them as they went past…..and past….and past….

Flute band

…as there were more than forty flautists, not to mention the drummers and a host of triangle players following in their wake.  Some, but by no means all of them, will be up at five o’clock tomorrow morning to march round the town again to wake the burghers up in time for the great day.

A blue tit obliged in one of my brief looks out of the kitchen window and appears as flying bird of the day.

flying blue tit


A step too far

Today’s guest pictures comes from Bruce who lives near the fire station.  He is certainly not going in theeere.

fire station

I started off on the morning run with Dropscone but had to stop almost before we had started because of an ominous grating sound coming from my back wheel.  When a preliminary investigation failed to locate the source, Dropscone went on his way solo as he was under time pressure being due on the golf course at eleven o’clock.

I took the back wheel off and found that the clamp for my broken (and removed) mudguard was the source of the squeak.  A quick squeeze sorted that out and the wheel went back on.  Then it was off up the road in pursuit of Dropscone.  I wasn’t expecting to catch him up although I knew that he was taking it easy but a glimpse of his red top half a mile ahead as I started to climb the hill at Callister drove me on.  Foolishly I let my competitive instinct overcome what little sense I have and I had nearly got up with him by the time he turned for home at Waterbeck.

Although we cycled back at a sensible speed, the outward effort proved too much and when I got off the bike in the garden, I could hardly walk.

My trapped nerve in my hip was the culprit.

Sandy arrived on his bike and after a cup of coffee, I pedalled gently up to the bird feeders with him in the hope that I could ease off the joint.  As long as I was on my bike, all was well but sitting down watching the birds was literally a pain so we didn’t stop long.  I had a look at some wild flowers…


Some sharp and some sweet


Some with added insects

…before Sandy continued on the ten mile trip round Whita and I free-wheeled down the hill to Skippers Bridge….


River esk at Skippers

…which was looking very peaceful in the sunshine.

Once home, I spent the rest of the day trying to find a way of sitting down that didn’t hurt.  I wasn’t very successful so this post will be quite brief.

In general, walking around very slowly and groaning theatrically was the most satisfying thing to do so I did have some opportunity to look at the flowers, which always refreshes the spirits.

shirley poppies

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mixed packet of Shirley poppies are turning out to be all red so far.


The Fuchsia on the back wall is dripping with flowers.

The mixed packet of nasturtiums are more mixed

The mixed packet of nasturtiums are more mixed than the poppies

By managing to fidget from position to position, I stayed seated for long enough to watch the second half of another interesting stage of the Tour de France and we were joined by Mike Tinker for the last few kilometres.  Mrs Tootlepedal had managed to banjax our strimmer by accidentally including some hidden wire in the strimmings and Mike kindly offered us his old strimmer as a substitute.

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to get this, I made a feeble but successful effort at picking some of our gooseberries and stewed and puréed them later in the evening.

Although we had several visits actually into the sitting room of coloured butterflies, I could only find white ones in the garden when I went out butterfly hunting.

white butterfly

As the sun sank downwards, it didn’t seem to get any cooler and the thermometer was still showing 25°C when I had a last look at the flowers for the day.

Japanese anemone

The first Japanese anemone


A cosmos enjoying the sun

Our granddaughter Matilda is coming to visit us tomorrow so I thought that this was a good time to show the last rose on the Special Grandma bush.

_DSC1040 (2)

I am hoping that somewhere before tomorrow morning, I can find that magic position which will relax the muscles that are giving me the trouble and I will be pain free again.  It doesn’t usually take long to shift even if it is really annoying when it is there.

In the evening, my cello playing friend Mike came round to look at some photos of paintings which he had asked me to take.  After examining them, he decided that the ones he had taken with his own camera were better than mine and went away again.  He was quite right but as his were taken outside in good light and he had asked me to take mine in his front room in the evening under a rather dim light bulb, this didn’t come as a big surprise to me.

I did stay long enough at the bird feeders this morning to catch a flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch


Today’s guest picture is of a guest, not by a guest.  It was actually taken by me and shows Anne, who took yesterday’s guest picture of the hummingbird hawkmoth, chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal over the garden hedge about the excitement of the sighting.


After the energetic activity of the last two days, I rose late today and was ready to greet Dropscone for coffee when he arrived, looking a bit pickled by the already warm temperatures,  having completed the morning run by himself.

He brought scones with him and we ate these while we sipped our coffee. He had had a busy day yesterday but had managed to slip a golf lesson into his schedule and is expecting to play wonderfully well in the Wednesday Medal tomorrow.   One of the good things about having had to retire from golfing is that I don’t have my hopes dashed on a regular basis any more like I almost always used to have them founder on the rocks of reality and a dodgy swing.

When  he left, I took our car to the garage in the hope that they could fix an annoying rattle, walked home and soon afterwards walked back up to the garage to collect the car with the annoying rattle fixed.  I wish all life worked so well.

I started off a sour dough loaf and this seemed to fill up most of the morning but I found a moment somewhere to wander round the garden.  New flowers have arrived.

sunflower and purple phlox

The first sign of a sunflower and some purple phlox

Old flowers are hanging on.

lupin and delphinium

A very late lupin and an unbowed delphinium

And some are growing and dying at the same time.


Ligularia, standing up very tall.

After a pause,  blackbirds have reappeared in the garden.



Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in the garden in the morning as the spell of unusually hot and dry weather has meant that plants need watering but after lunch, we retired to the cool of the house and watched the heroes of the Tour de France suffering up the hills of the Pyrenees.

We ventured out when they had finished and it was even hotter than it had been earlier on.  Mrs Tootlepedal returned to gardening and  I took Pocketcam in hand and went for a very gentle stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  I wanted to see if the Rosebay Willowherb or Fireweed was making a good show.

Climbing the steps out of the park….

park steps

…I soon found the plants that I was looking for.  They were very pretty both severally….


…and individually.


I was pleased though when the path took me into the shade.  The path goes round a little gully at this point and I liked the sensation of being among the branches of the trees growing below the path.

Gaskells Walk

There were delicious wild raspberries to be picked and eaten as I went along…


…far sweeter than anything that you can grow yourself.

My route home took me over the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…past harebells and convolvulus in the hedges….



…trees laden with fruit….

trees and nuts

… and reflective water….

Pool Corner

Pool Corner

…until I came to Eskdaill Street.

Eskdaill Street

The bunting is out ready for the Common Riding on Friday

For once, I turned my nose up at the advice to bend my feet to the sunny side of the street and gratefully walked along in the shade.  We are not used to temperatures of 25° in Langholm.

In the hope that it might be a little cooler, Mrs Tootlepedal had waited until six o’clock to go for a cycle ride to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back but it was still very warm indeed and she too stopped and refreshed herself with the tasty wild raspberries.

In the evening, Susan arrived to take me to Carlisle for our recorder group.  We are working on pieces for a concert in September and we continued to be amazed by how much you have to practise for a relatively brief guest appearance.   Still, we have got a set of pieces organised and six weeks to practise them so we should be just about all right.  Mrs Tootlepedal finished off the baking of the sourdough loaf when I was out.

I did catch a perching blue tit during the day….

blue tit

…but I couldn’t time my visits to the kitchen window to coincide with a flying bird so two squalling siskins will have to do instead.





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