Delayed gratification

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin. He noticed this strange stuff on a recent walk with Mike Tinker who identified it as white jelly fungus.

The delayed gratification of the title of today’s post is a misuse of the phrase. What was gratifying was that forecast rain was considerably delayed and this allowed us to enjoy much more of the day than we expected.

It had rained overnight and it was a grey day so everything was rather soggy, but we were able to enjoy our coffee with Margaret in the garden, and Mrs Tootlepedal was able to do a little gardening, including taking down most of the sunflowers in the front bed as well.

This is all that is left now.

How are the mighty fallen!

After coffee, I left Mrs Tootlepdal to continue some preparation work on the next slab move and went for a walk while it was still dry.

It was not a day for distant views but I snapped away as I crossed the suspension bridge and looked back at the church. It was looking very autumnal.

I saw a goosander in the river below the town bridge and as I saw a dipper later in the walk below the Jubilee bridge and I have killed two birds with one stone hit two targets with one arrow and put them together in a panel.

The truth is that in the grey light, the individual pictures weren’t good enough to stand alone.

Someone was feeding the ducks at the Meeting of the Waters…

…and there was an interested spectator standing near by.

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and caught a glimpse of the ruins of Langholm Castle….

…before walking up the hill and taking the top path to the North Lodge.

It was a treat to be out. The path was slippery with leaves so I had to watch my step, but there was little wind, the temperature was kinder than it has been recently, and the immediate surroundings were beautiful.

When I got to the North Lodge, the view up the valley was dull…

…so I was very happy to turn round and walk home beside the river round the pheasant hatchery and along the Castleholm, immersing myself in the autumn colour as I went along.

Some was delicate….

…and some was rather more full on.

There were contrasts between deciduous and conifer…

…which got quite pointed at times.

As I walked along the path down to the Lodge…

…I saw two grey squirrels which escaped my lens and several patches of fungus which couldn’t run away.

I enjoyed a wide variety of tones and tints….

…before I got to the Jubilee bridge where I saw that dipper on a rock under this tree.

In spite of the grey conditions, the walk was well worth the effort of watching my steps and I got home in perfect time for lunch. This made the walk even more satisfactory.

I noticed when I got back that we obviously haven’t closed the front gate for some time.

We had additional interest during the day, as new electricity poles were being put up at the end of our street, and men in yellow jackets were to be seen above the rooftops.

Having a traffic light at Eskdaill Street and seeing the scaffie cart back up the road to empty our bin was undoubtedly the biggest excitement in Wauchope Street of the whole year. We have been living very quietly lately.

After lunch we had a cheery Zoom meeting with our granddaughter Matilda and her parents Al and Clare. Matilda is on holiday and intends to spend part of her week off saving the world from evil with the help of her mother. This turns out to involve a console and not real life, but I hope that they are successful anyway.

I still hadn’t started to rain after the Zoom meeting, so I looked at flowers while Mrs T did some more preparatory work on the next slab. It was tricky becuase the ground was still pretty wet.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted some pansies in the chimney in the hope of some off season colour and I thought that the back of a calendula was probably more interesting than the front..

The Special Grandma is trying its very hardest to come out and is almost there, while the Weigela just keeps on blooming.

While the preparation work continued, I went in and made a date, raisin and walnut teacake and came out just in time to lend a hand in raising the next slab. It is now in place…

…and the great work progresses steadily. You can get the ground under the slabs flat and level by using large thumping machines or by careful work with a teaspoon. Mrs Tootlepedal relies on careful work.

I had a look for birds at the feeder but the combination of poor light, works in the drive and an unsuccessful fly through by a sparrow hawk left me with slim pickings. Even when it did arrive, a chaffinch turned its back on the camera.

The tea cake was a learning experience for me and didn’t look quite as good as I had hoped, so no photograph, but it tasted delicious. As it has a good splodge of Demerara sugar in it as well as the dates and raisins, it is not surprising that it turned out to be quite more-ish. It will have to be locked away to avoid total diet catastrophe.

We had our second Zoom meeting of the day with my siblings in the early evening, and this was a lively affair with reports of ordering and paying for a meal out with a mobile phone, a great triumph for my two older sisters, and a lively political disagreement with my younger brother. My sister Caroline pointed out that everyone in East Africa pays for everything on the phone so it is no big deal really.

We had trout again for tea.

I only got half a flying bird today, but half a bird is better than none they say, so here it is.

Two flocks

Today’s guest picture comes from Langholm exile Tom in South Africa. He tells me that this is the South African national flower, the Protea.

We had notice of a change in the weather today as the north wind died down to a whisper. By the end of the day, it was coming from the south, and if the forecast is to be believed, it will bring quite a bit of rain with it over the next few days.

Under the circumstances, I thought that I had better get out on another cycle ride while the going was good and set off before coffee time, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to have coffee with Liz and Margaret by herself. They managed quite well without me.

The light wind hadn’t made it any warmer and once again, I was well wrapped up as I headed south down the main road over Skippers Bridge.

The main road is good for cycling but not so interesting for photography. I had got my average up to 15 mph when I arrived at my turn off after ten miles but I hadn’t taken another picture.

I had hoped to find some autumn colour once I was on the back roads but it was disappointing, and I didn’t get my camera out until I saw a small and distant flock of geese in the fields at Englishtown.

They look like greylag geese to me but I am happy to be corrected.

While I was stopped, I looked behind me to see the Lake District hills looking much closer than they really are…

I pedalled on and met a flock of starlings near Glenzier. These were much more flighty…

…and flew up in a tizzy when I stopped to take their picture.

I looked back again here and this time I could see wispy cloud floating among the northern English fells.

It wasn’t warm and it wasn’t sunny but it was a very clear day.

It was a grey and the colours didn’t sing at all so my hope of taking a stunning autumn colour picture remained unfulfilled. I made a token gesture…

…and I did see one ray of sunshine as I came back down the hill to the Wauchope valley….

…but it only lasted for two minutes.

I have had a good spell of consecutive days of cycling and as a result my legs were feeling a bit tired today and after hurtling (by my standards) down the hill to Longtown, I crept back up the hill to Langholm. Even dashing down the last three miles back home as fast as I could only got my speed up to twelve and a half miles an hour. I refreshed my body and spirit with a corned beef and tomato sandwich with lettuce from the greenhouse for my lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal had not only had coffee without me but she had laid two more of her paving slabs. She has now got six done with twenty one more to go.

After lunch I mixed watching the last part of another exciting stage in the Giro with occasionally looking at birds.

It was a goldfinch day today…

…with visits from dunnocks (I saw two at the same time today)…

…and a hard staring sparrow.

There were several failed attempts to catch an exciting flying bird of the day…

…and even the one that I did catch was hiding.

The stage of the Giro finished in perfect time for me to join the Carlisle Community Choir virtual practice. The chief lesson that I learned today was that if you don’t sing regularly, your voice really goes to pot. I will have to try to organise myself to practise singing even if there is no choir to sing with. If I don’t, I won’t be fit to join a choir when the singing finally starts again.

When I came back from my bike ride, I took a quick walk round the garden to admire the slabs and take some pictures. A little blast of sunshine appeared which made things better.

Poppies of all nations looked well…

While some things are looking a bit worse for wear…

…others look good enough to eat.

There was good colour to enjoy…

…and I finished my tour with a selection of yellows.

The forecast for the week ahead, which was predicting frost by the end of the week, is now suggesting that it will stay well above freezing so there may still be time for more flowers to appear.

As you may have guessed from the lack of moaning, my back is much better. Dr Velo has worked his magic once again.

I did get a slightly fuzzy flying chaffinch who was not hiding so it is the flying bird of the day.

Dashing blades

Today’s guest picture is a second from Bruce’s walk yesterday. As well as donkeys, he saw the disused railway viaduct that links Scotland and England.

The north wind persisted and we had another day of cool, dry weather, Mrs Tootlepedal was not discouraged and was out shifting concrete slabs soon after breakfast.

She has moved three already but still has well over twenty more to move. As our friend and coffee companion Margaret observed, it is a good lockdown activity.

I am happy to report that my back was well enough for me to be able to offer some actual lifting assistance today, as well as my usual supply of helpful advice.

She took a break while we had coffee in the garden with Margaret, wearing coats and gloves as we ate shortbread and biscuits and drank our coffee.

After coffee, I wandered round the garden in between helping to lift the occasional slab. Roses are doing their very best to brighten these rather gloomy days.

Lillian Austin produces what seems like a new flower every day.

The little red rose has still got a lot of flowers…

…while the rambler rose, which flowers in July, has come with a few late blossoms too…

…and Special Grandma is trying hard for a third flowering but may not beat the cold weather forecast for the end of next week.

As well as helping Mrs Tootlepedal, I mowed the middle lawn, and got a surprising amount of grass in the box. It looked quite good when I finished….

…but the moss is already making a determined come back. As Mrs Tootlepedal says though, “That’s Scotland for you.”

As you can see from the lawn picture, shrubs are providing us with some home grown autumn tints. I have picked out three azaleas round the front lawn, and three spireas round the middle lawn as examples.

On the front of the house, more leaves…

…and berries add to the colour.

As we have blackbirds in the garden, I am surprised that the berries are still there.

Just to prove that the Lumix can sometimes agree with me about what subject it should focus on, here is a foreground fuchsia.

I like fungus but I am not so happy to see it growing boldly in our flowerbeds…

…but Mrs Tootlepedal took it very calmly.

We went in for lunch and I took a moment to check on the birds. A chaffinch arrived and looked carefully around to see if the drive work had finished.

Then a busy robin popped up and down to the feeder for a while…

…before pushing off when moire chaffinches arrived,.

A coal tit checked for seat availability…

…before finding space among the chaffinches.

We had some fresh lettuce leaves with our rolls for lunch. Mrs Tootlepedal has been growing the lettuce in the greenhouse and the result was very satisfactory.

I wasted some time after lunch watching the time trial in the Giro. Fortunately, time trials are interesting in theory but quite dull to watch in practice, as every cyclist goes along the same course one after the other. As a result, I was able to tear myself away and go out for another back stretching cycle ride.

Greatly to my amazement, some of the new turbines at the Solwaybank windfarm were actually going round today. I didn’t expect to see any whirling activity until all the turbines were up. I forgot to take my camera with me so the photos on my ride were taken by my phone which doesn’t like poor light very much.

It took a five second video to prove that the blades were going round.

I didn’t go round that windfarm today but went on and visited the other new windfarm to the north at Crossdykes to see what was going on there.

I added to my selection of ruined cottages as I passed the Grange Quarry…

…and enjoyed a tiny glimpse of autumn colour a little further on.

It was a battle up the hill and into the wind from Paddockhole to Crossdykes, but it is not far and I got there in the end. To my disappointment, there were no completed turbines to be seen (the ones in the background are from a different site)…

…but if you fancy looking at bits of wind turbines lying around, this is the place for you.

I had rather hoped that the north east wind would be northerly enough to blow me home and once I had turned the corner at Enzieholm Bridge, this proved to be the case, and I enjoyed a smooth pedal back to Langholm. The light was not conducive to taking scenic or autumn colour pictures so I stopped only once to admire this striking hedge.

I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been out doing more slab shifting while I had been pedalling. Once she has got a project going, she likes to get on with it.

The nights are drawing in now so the 26 miles concluded my activity for the day, a shower and the final appearance of the slow cooked brisket bringing proceedings to a close.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

A route revised

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce. He was out on a walk when he met three donkeys who were perhaps hoping for a snack

The north wind was still blowing, though only gently, so we had another cool day. There was an occasional glimpse of sunshine, but there was also a rather surprising fall of very gentle rain from a clear sky at one point.

My back is definitely improving but I still thought it best to have a relaxing morning doing nothing. Mrs Tootlepedal on the other hand was full of energy and embarked on some serious work on improving our drive. This means lifting and laying heavy concrete slabs so I confined myself to constructive supervision.

And wandering round the garden taking flower pictures after coffee, which we had indoors by ourselves today.

The Icelandic poppy dead heading regime is still paying off and there were small but grateful visitors today…

…even when the poppies were not of the first quality.

There were a satisfying number of bees and hoverflies still about. and the big Michaelmas daisy was a draw…

…as was a nasturtium.

There are quite a few out of season shows going on and I found a bright primula…

…and a very out of season sweet rocket….

…and the single white rose, blooming months after its ‘use by’ date.

Nasturtiums are thriving against the wall of the house without the aid of much sun….

..but a little bit of sunshine lit up the Japanese anemones, which have done well without any dead heading…

…and the sunshine brought out the best in the star of the garden today, the big Michalemas daisy.

Mrs Tootlepedal points out that she planted another one of these plants a few yards away and it hasn’t done any good at all. The gardener has a lot of mysteries to cope with.

After lunch, I had a look for birds. Once again, there were very few about, perhaps because of the drive activity in the morning. I spotted a male chaffinch in the plum tree…

…and a female chaffinch on the feeder.

I had intended to go for a leisurely cycle ride in pursuit of some autumn colour but the weather got rather gloomy so I got a bit discouraged. Then I made the fatal mistake of just glancing at the Giro unfolding on Mrs Tootlepedal’s tablet. The glance lasted for an hour and a half of an enthralling stage.

By the time that the stage ended, I only had time for a short ride and I set off with the intention of dashing round my undemanding Canonbie circuit. Luckily, just before I came to the crucial turn off, I remembered that the Canonbie bridge was shut this week, so I headed on over Callister and went round the Solwaybank windfarm loop, the same length but a little more hilly.

Once again the windfarmers had been working behind my back and the new tower had a top and two blades on as I passed.

I checked to see if the third blade was hanging from the crane…

…but once again they had seen me coming and knocked off work and gone for a cup of tea

I completed the loop without stopping again as the light was poor and I saw nothing to make me get my camera out. The policy of rest in the morning and a gentle cycle in the afternoon is paying off and my back feels a lot better. With the weather’s permission, I will do it again tomorrow.

I had a look in the greenhouse when I got back and found that our tiny crop of tomatoes are staying stubbornly green.

Note: it is one of the mysteries of the Lumix that it thinks that I am more interested in getting the leaves in the background into focus than I am in the great big green tomato taking up all the foreground. This is the downside of cameras that try to be really helpful. (Mostly they succeed though, it has to be said.)

The day was rounded off with a sibling Zoom with shared pictures, and a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent slow cooked brisket of beef, with parsnips on the side.

Today’s ride took me over 250 miles for October so far. It has been a cool month but I can’t really complain about the cycling weather, especially as there have been no frosty mornings yet. I am just over 3500 miles for the year so far, and with luck, I may make my target of 4000 miles. That is still very weather dependent. In November of 2017 and 2018 I managed a grand total of 85 miles over the two years because of bad weather.

I didn’t manage to catch a flying bird of the day today, so a sitting chaffinch in the fake tree is standing in.

Mrs Tootlepedal is for the birds

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, It shows busy Kentish Town Stationin London a week or so ago, and demonstrates why Mary is not too alarmed at the prospect of taking public transport. Hardly anyone else is taking it at the moment.

Our wind is still coming from the north so when the sun is not out, it feels a bit chilly. Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some light gardening after breakfast while I was happy to practise back resting indoors. Luckily the sun came out bang on coffee time, and we had a sunny half hour chatting to Margaret, drinking coffee and eating ginger biscuits.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to light gardening and I idled around out of doors instead of indoors. I had a camera in my hand of course.

More flowers are coming to the end of their natural life every day but the white potentilla hasn’t got the news yet and is flourishing (in part at least).

I have been trying to get a decent picture of some white viburnum flowers but they are very tiny and I have had many failures. Today was my best effort so far…

When flowers are hard to take, I can always turn to leaves…

…which can look quite cheerful in their own right.

Lillian Austin is not discouraged at all and has a stunning array of blooms on the go.

And calendulas are not far behind when it comes to rich colour on a sunny day.

Other less spectacular flowers were available….

…and of course, there are the nerines…

…which are still producing new flowers.

The lure of a bacon and tomato roll for lunch drew me back inside and once there, I had a look to see if any birds were visiting the feeder.

For some reason, perhaps a sparrow hawk was lurking nearby, there were very few birds to be seen at any time today. I only saw two when I had my camera ready.

After lunch, I resisted the charms of a hilly stage of the Giro and went off for a very unhilly cycle ride of my own. As far as I can tell, cycling is helping rather than hurting my back, although I have to be careful not to push too hard when I am out.

I was happy to stop therefore as I went up the hill at Callister to have a look at the latest tower. When I checked on my computer later, I could see that the crane was ready to haul the housing that sits on top of the tower into position…

…but once again, nothing happened while I watched so I soon pedalled on up the hill.

I crossed the bridge over the Kirtle Water at Linnbridgeford and the sun came out which let me enjoy the many colours in front of me as I cycled along the quiet road past Conhess.

As I went up the hill towards Snab, I got a fine view of a group of pines with the northern English hills in the background.

Once over the top of the hill, I was above the Solway plain and I could see Burnswark Hill behind me, Criffel on the Nith Estuary to the west and the Lake District hills to the south.

It is a surprisingly airy spot considering that I was only about 400 feet above sea level.

Still, those 400 feet came in handy as I dropped down the hill towards Chapelknowe at 180 feet.

I was on a single track road on the way down and I had to stop by a ruined cottage to let a farmer with a trailer go by, so I took a picture while I was paused.

I went through Chapelknowe and I was headed to Corries Mill along another quiet single track road…

…when a racket in a field made me stop and look. There had been some muck spreading going on and it had attracted a crowd.

Something, not me, disturbed the gulls and they rose like a fine mist

I pedalled on, enjoying the sunshine, the flat road and the politeness of trees carefully leaning out of my way.

I had chosen this route in the hope of seeing some migratory geese in the fields at Englishtown, a bit further on, but there were none there today. I headed homeward gooseless, and made up for it with a couple of autumn shots taken on the old road two miles from Langholm.

I added a little extra on when I got to the town and ended up with exactly 30 miles. Because of my back, I had gone at a gentle pace but the scenery and sunshine had made for a pleasant ride so I wasn’t complaining at all.

While I had been out, Mrs Tootlepedal had been getting a tutorial on using Twitter as there are discussions about community land buy outs on the platform. She had actually tweeted herself but as far as I can tell, she had avoided creating a twitterstorm. I feel though that it can only be matter of time before she is tweeting extravagant claims to be the greatest, probably in the middle of the night. We shall see.

She had prepared a brisket of beef with carrots, turnips and parsnips in the slow cooker in the morning and it made for a nourishing and tasty evening meal. It was a big brisket and will keep us going until the end of the week.

As I said, there were very few birds at the feeder today so I would have been pushed to find a flying bird of the day today if I hadn’t seen a thousand on my bike ride.

One step back

Today’s guest picture, forwarded to me by Mike Tinker and taken by his daughter Liz, shows a delightful scene with cormorants at Linlithgow.

I was a bit taken aback last night. After feeling that my back was definitely on the mend through the day, I got a bit of shock when I tried to lie on the floor to do my stretching exercises before going to bed. I could neither lie down nor get up again without severe twinges. I began to envisage a night spent in a sort of agonised suspension. However, I finally managed to wriggle my way out of the impasse. I spent today very carefully indeed until things eased off again.

I am much better again as I write this but I am going to go to bed cautiously to say the least.

After a very leisurely start to the day, Sandy came down for coffee and we enjoyed a cup or two and some ginger biscuits in sunny conditions.

When Sandy left, I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal, and we even did some light gardening, very light gardening in my case. I took some pictures to celebrate the sun on the flowers.

And then I took some more. Ominously, the centre top flower in the panel below is a winter jasmine..

I went in and out of the house so that I could sit down from time to time, and while I was inside, I enjoyed the two flowers that live on the windowsill where I watch the birds.

I tried to watch birds while I was there but the only sparrow that I saw, turned its back on me…

…so I went out again and took a picture of insects on a late dandelion.

I came back in for lunch and had an opportunity to have another look out for birds. This time, there were plenty about.

A coal tit was busy going to and fro at the feeder, happy enough with a goldfinch but more suspicious of a greenfinch.

It soon turned into a chaffinch day….

…with chaffinches taking over the shouting duties from the siskins….

…with enthusiasm.

Within four minutes, the chaffinches had gone and were replaced by goldfinch and greenfinch, who in turn were replaced by a pair of siskins.

Up above, a siskin was surprised by the stretching exercises of a coal tit.

The thought of a bacon butty for lunch took me away from the birds and then, having checked the forecast, I thought that I would test out my back with a gentle twenty mile bike tour of the new windfarm.

I was helped on my way by a friendly wind and I was able to see that the eleventh turbine now had all its blades in place sooner than I expected.

The big crane had moved on to a new tower and the parts for yet another tower were lying ready on the ground.

Work goes on at the windfarm but I never see them actually doing anything. I am beginning to get a complex about this and wonder if they stop work when they see me coming. You would think that by the law of averages that I should have seen a blade or a tower section being hoisted into place on at least one occasion when I have been passing.

The tunnel of trees offered me some shelter from the crosswind on my way back…

…and I stopped to note some fungus on a fallen tree beside the road…

…but occasional spells of drizzle and the threat of more serious rain kept me going and I only stopped once more when I noticed that the larch trees beside the Wauchope are beginning to change colour.

I hope that we get good colour from the larches as they had a golden tinge to the end of autumn in a good year.

I checked with Sandy later and found that he had done the same ride as me on his electric bike. He had started a bit earlier than me and had got quite wet from a heavy shower on his way round. I had been lucky.

I got home too late to see the end of the Giro stage live but thanks to technology, Mrs Tootlepedal was able to replay that final 25 kilometres for me and I enjoyed the sprint finish.

In between a cup of tea and a shower, I saw a robin under the feeder…

…and before the evening sibling zoom meeting, I went for a last look round the garden where I saw that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy making a ‘bug hotel’ out of old sunflower stalks…

…and that there were late flowers on the rosemary and a single ripe raspberry on the autumn fruiting canes.

The raspberry wasn’t there for long.

In spite of the rapidly rising number of covid cases in all the areas where our family lives, thanks to Zoom my sister Mary was able to play us pictures from Trafalgar Square in the heart of London showing it to be almost deserted today.

There were so many flying chaffinches about in the few minutes that I was watching them that there are two flying birds of the day today. Take your pick. They are two different birds, taken two minutes apart.

Getting a bit above myself

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia. She has been visiting The Newt again.

Although my back is a lot better today and I got a good walk in, I am rather tired as a result of not sleeping very well over the past few nights, so this blog will be a bit more concise than my usual ramblings.

It was cold and windy when we got up and since Mrs Tootlepedal had slept even worse than me, she went back for a snooze after breakfast while I did nothing. After coffee, I went to the shop and got some of the things that I had intended to get. Then it was lunch time.

While my cheese and tomato sandwich was toasting, I spent a few minutes watching the birds. I had chosen a busy a time.

A blackbird was singing…

It was a greenfinch day today…

….but a hopeful siskin, looking a bit like young Oliver asking for more, turned up at the feeder…

…and a chaffinch looked for room at the table too.

In the spirit of the times, one chaffinch just got fed up with the situation and took matters into its own feet.

A coal tit and another greenfinch kept out of the way while, this was going on.

After a rest day for the riders, the Giro was back in action today and we happily sat down to watch a couple of hours of a very exciting stage indeed. Two teams had had to leave the race before it started today because of members contracting the virus, so it is getting to look rather unlikely that the race will last the whole three weeks. We are keeping our fingers crossed though as the racing has been good and the scenery very lovely too.

It had been raining on and off but things looked a little brighter when the stage ended, and as my back was feeling better, I went for a walk.

With my walking in poles in hand, I started with a circuit of the garden…

…headed up the Kirk Wynd…

…and made a detour on to the golf course in search of fungi. There were plenty about but they were not at their best for the most part.

The view down the valley from the course was not at its best either…

…and it was pretty gloomy as I passed some more fungus (and a bit of lichen) when I got on to the open hill.

I did wonder whether I should abandon my walk and go home….

…but on the whole the rain seemed to be passing just below me and the track ahead looked clear enough….

…even though it was a bit soggy underfoot from time to time. I walked on.

I was lucky and the rain stayed below me, apart from a very occasional sprinkle, and I had time to look around as I crossed the stile and pottered back down the hill to Skippers Bridge. The sun shone from time time but usually a few hundred yards away from where I was.

I got down to the river, managed not to add to the many pictures of Skippers Bridge as I crossed it, and took the Murtholm track home.

It was a walk of just under four miles, so I was very pleased to have done it without making my back any worse. It may explain why I am a little tired now.

I cooked trout for tea. Mrs Tootlepedal had hers microwaved and I pan fried mine. In the old days I would have just fried it but you have to pan fry things these days, presumably to distinguish them from things that have been fried in a biscuit tin or an old sock.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Rain assisted rest

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie. She got dizzy just looking up at this crane.

It rained in the night and it was still raining when we got up. As a result, it was quite easy for me to have a quiet morning in. What was not so satisfactory was that I chose to put a week or two of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and sitting at the computer did not do my back much good at all.

From time to time, I got up and looked out of the window. It was not a cheerful sight.

The morning passed slowly and a goldfinch and a sparrow…

…shared their thoughts on the political situation in the country today.

There were too many flying birds for comfort….

…but a blue tit waited for a chance and sneaked up on to the feeder.

I had a cheese and tomato toastie for my lunch, courtesy of the wonderful George Foreman grill, a boon to lovers of the toasted sandwich, and afterwards I took another look at the birds.

A greenfinch was taking a relaxed view of life.

The weather improved a bit and I took a walk round the garden in a light drizzle….

…and enjoyed a little autumn colour on our climbing hydrangea.

I went back in and looked out again.

The birds on the feeder were looking the wrong way. “It’s behind you!”, I felt like shouting.

A dunnock posed…

…and I saw the oddest flying bird of the month. It is in the top left hand corner of the picture below.

I had got so bored by now and my back was so tedious that I went for a walk. Luckily the rain had got bored too and given up so at least I had a dry outing.

I opted for an undemanding flat three bridges and tottered round mumbling crossly to myself. I had really thought yesterday that my back was improving and it was annoying to find that it wasn’t. (The walk did some good though and as I write this in the evening, things have got better again.)

I saw some birds at the water’s edge, both swimming and standing.

As I crossed the Sawmill Brig, I noticed some fine lichen on the parapet.

There was autumn colour to be seen in the trees as I walked up the Lodge Walks….

…but there were a lot of leaves on the ground too, and at one moment, a burst of wind caused the trees to rain leaves on my head.

I walked past the Lodge and looked back as I walked back down towards the Jubilee bridge.

The river was grey and sullen when I looked down at the water but it was more inviting when I looked at the bigger picture.

I was almost home when some loud chattering made me look up to the top of the practice tower at the fire station.

There was a crowd there with no thought of social distancing..

I had made a batch of ginger biscuits earlier in the day (I said that I was bored) and I had a couple of them with a cup of tea when I got home.

Between the ginger biscuits, a cheerful zoom with Mrs Tootlepedal and my siblings, and some excellent mince and tatties for tea, I felt much better by the end of the day than I had in the middle.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

Not quite all there

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She was very impressed by this cheerful stall which she encountered on an outing. She didn’t tell me whether she had sampled its wares.

We were greeted by a sunny morning with cloudless blue skies here today, and a crisp coolness to go with it. Once again, it had stayed above freezing though, so there was little to complain about.

Thanks to my niggling back, I was in no rush to get up and sample the early morning chill, and the temperature had crept up into double figures (10°C, 50F) by time that I had had a quick cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret in the garden. I left them to their conversation and set out to see what Dr Velo could do for my back.

I chose to cycle round the new windfarm route as this would mean setting off with the wind helping me on my way. I stopped to look back as I went up the hill at Callister….

…and it was evident that our world has changed from mainly green to largely brown.

More work has been done on the turbines, but the latest addition to the plantation has only got two blades on it at the moment.

I crossed the little bridge at Linnbridgeford…

…and pedalled on until I got on to the Solwaybank road.

The lady I met a few days ago who assured me that they were only going to erect nine turbines had clearly got wrong information. I could count ten and two thirds already up (as can you, if you look at today’s header picture) as I cycled past the site and there are two more half built towers waiting for completion.

There were glimpses of some autumn colour as I cycled on….

…and once again a grey squirrel crossed the road in front of me (once again too quickly for me to take a picture).

Looking down to my right, I could see why the wind farm has been built where it has, as there is nothing to get in the way of a helpful breeze between it and the northern English hills, 25 miles away.

Mind you, the chilly wind was coming from the north today and a buzzard, taking off as I approached, hovered into the wind for long enough for me to get my camera out.

Our oldest local windfarm in the background showed me that I would have a spell of cycling straight into the wind coming up soon.

Just before I turned into the wind, I passed a new road being driven into a plantation. They have used material from a nearby quarry to make the road and I suppose that these spindly trees, left exposed after the last bout of felling, will be next in line for the chop.

There are plenty more trees left to fell, as I could see when I looked over towards Cleuchfoot.

Luckily, the wind wasn’t too strong as I came over the hill and I was soon cycling home in the shelter of the Wauchope valley, passing this increasingly dilapidated cottage on my way.

I took nearly two hours, including photographic stops, to cycle the twenty mile loop, and the gentle exercise seemed to have loosened my back up a little, though the many bumps in the road on the way hadn’t done much to reduce the pain.

Having taken twelve flower pictures yesterday, I looked round the garden when I got back to see if I could find twelve other flowers to take today.

I was spoiled for choice….

…and was able to throw in two potentillas….

…and an Icelandic poppy as a free gift.

I took a closer look at the poppy. It had a good selection of varied visitors.

I was back in time for a bowl of soup and some bread and cheese for my lunch and then I settled down to watch today’s stage of the Giro with Mrs Tootlepedal. The weather in Italy was appalling. The racing was excellent.

From time to time, I looked out of the window.

A lone siskin was at a loss with no one to shout at and soon left.

A blue tit arrived…

…and goldfinches approached and landed with care…

…while two sparrows waited for their turn at the table.

When the stage ended, it was time for a shower and a shave and the weekly virtual choir practice with my Carlisle Community Choir. There was no mention of our virtual performance so I fear that it might never see the light of day. This might not be an entirely bad thing.

After the choir, we went off to combine some recycling with shopping and this neatly filled up the time until our evening meal. I impressed myself by using the Co-op phone app to take up an in store offer.

As well as stretching my legs on my bicycle, I have also been working on some stretching exercises while lying down. The combination is showing some promising improvement. It is too early to say yet, but I may have hit upon the road back to leaping about freely. Tomorrow will tell.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

A bridge too far

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony’s Highland holiday. One of his dogs answered the question posed by a bench.

We had another dry day here, cool when the sun was in, but pleasant enough for us to have coffee in the garden with Liz and Margaret, and actually warm when the sun came out.

After coffee, I walked round the garden while Mrs Tootlepedal did some useful work. Every day, we get a little closer to the end of the flower garden season but we are not there yet…

…by any means.

A blackbird kept an eye on me as I wandered around.

My back was still niggling away so I didn’t do anything strenuous and soon went back inside for a sit down, lunch and then a quiet spell watching a suitably quiet stage of the Giro.

Outside the window, there were chaffinches flying about and other birds posing.

We had a very active coal tit….

…which got a bit of a shock when a greenfinch snarled at its approach to the feeder.

It did get its share of the seed though at another visit.

I went back out into the garden and enjoyed the nerines. Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared away the plants in front of them, and they are on full view now.

It was a reasonable afternoon, warm enough to walk without gloves, so I thought that I might stretch my legs and try to ease off my back with a gentle perambulation of the Becks track and Gaskell’s Walk.

Cows were having a quiet day too as I passed.

There were some quite dramatic cloudscapes about…

…but far less autumn colour than I had hoped for. Looking across the valley to the slopes of Warbla, I could see a row of almost leafless trees….

…and when I looked lower down, the only vivid colour came from an evergreen.

I came down to the Auld Stane Brig across the Wauchope, looking a touch nervously at more clouds gathering over the Wauchope Cemetery….

…but it seemed fine enough to take in Gaskell’s Walk on my way home instead of the quick route down the road.

I kept my eye out for fungi but this gloomy specimen was the only one that I saw.

Like the photographer, it was a little past its best.

As I got up to the Stubholm, I could see one half of a rainbow so I scuttled up to the top of the hill and looking round the trees, I could now see the other half….

…and I had to walk halfway across a field before I got far enough away from the trees so that I could use the panorama function on my camera to get almost the whole bow in. Of course it had faded a bit by this time.

Not unnaturally, I reckoned that the presence of the rainbow might indicate some forthcoming rain, so I didn’t hang about, and I made my way down to the park without delay. Curiously, by the time that I had got to the park bridge, it was a fine and sunny day again…

…and the clouds were taking their business elsewhere.

As I was crossing the park bridge, I realised that with the bridge over the Becks Burn and the Auld Stane bridge, once again I had done a three bridges walk. Encouraged by this and the sunny weather, I decided to add three more bridges to my walk and cross the Suspension Bridge, the Sawmill Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge on my way home.

I kept an eye out for waterside birds and spotted an old friend at the Meeting of the Waters.

The sawmill Brig was looking very autumnal in a marked contrast to the trees on the open hillsides…

I saw a rather meagre collection of flowers and other small things of interest as I went round my walk…

…but it must be said that I was more concerned about watching where my feet were going than looking around. Stumbles tended to be a bit sore on my back.

I made it home safely but I was more than ready for a sit down when I got back. On reflection, it would almost certainly have been better to have left the walk at three bridges rather than clock up the whole six. The trouble is that you only find out this sort of thing after you have gone a bridge too far.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made an apple crumble with apples given to us by our neighbour Liz and I cooked some custard to go with it and we had crumble and custard as a pudding after some mince and tatties for our evening meal. Even this feast failed to stop me grumbling about a sore back for the rest of the evening. I am hoping to try the bicycling cure tomorrow so we shall see if that is any better.

The flying bird of the day is a great tit. It flew so neatly in two directions that I have put them both in.

The Tiny Potager

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