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A pleasant surprise

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was walking along the Thames last week when she came to Tower Bridge at low tide.

Tower Bridge at low tide

We had another day of sunshine and showers here today but in an improvement on yesterday, there was more sunshine and less rain and when the rain came, it came less ferociously.

The day started early as I picked up Sandy and we took our photograph down to Canonbie to put them on the boards in the village hall, ready to be judged at the Canonbie Flower Show.

On our way home, it rained heavily and we feared for the worst as the flower show has many outdoor activities on the playing field beside the hall.  In the end though, that was the worst rain of the day and things went ahead as planned.

I had a late breakfast when I got home and and after a leisurely time sitting and doing not much, I finally went out for a short walk before lunch.

The sun was shining when I started….

Saw Mill Brig

…but it was too good to last and I had to put up with occasional drizzle as I went round.

Still, there was a lot to look at.  There were sparrows, headless ducks and a sitting bird as I went along the Kilngreen.

sparrows, duck and heron

I wonder if Mr Grumpy is feeling his age a bit.  He seems to have created quite a worn patch on the bank where he has been sitting the last two times that I have seen him.

On the wall beside the Sawmill Brig, I saw spleenwort and turned a frond over to look at the back.

spleenwort

Elegant whichever way you look at it.

On the Lodge Walks I saw fungus.

fungus

The patches of fungus by the felled tree stumps are getting bigger and bigger .

As I walked back along the path by the river, I saw oak leafs with galls and on another oak nearby, a pristine acorn.

oak leaves and acorn

There may be two different galls on that leaf

I met a very handsome husky taking its owner for a walk.

husky

Other things appealed to me.

nettle and nut

Although it looked as though the heavens might open, the clouds passed by with the merest sprinkling of rain, and I got home quite dry.

After lunch, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in a walk round the garden.

The honeysuckle is going over but Lilian Austin is producing a few late flowers.

honeysuckle rose

This is therefore a honeysuckle rose combination. Cue for song.

Two butterflies were defying the rain showers and a stiff breeze.

red admiral and peacock butterflies

The perennial nasturtium which lives among a yew tree has spread across a flower bed and appeared in the hedge behind the yew as well…

perennial nasturtium

…and rather cleverly, it has found a bamboo stick in the middle of the bed and grown up that too.  You can see it in the centre of the picture above.

After a while, I drove back down to Canonbie to see how the flower show was going on.

On the playing field, a chainsaw carver was demonstrating his art….

chainsaw carving and static engine

…while a patient static engine whirred endlessly nearby.

Equally patient donkeys were doing good business offering rides.

donkeys

A brief moment of repose.

Around the field, vintage tractors and old cars were drawn up for inspection.

Canonbie show cars and tractors

You know that you are old when you realise that you drove the classic cars which you see at a show when they were first brand new.  That Triumph Herald is very familiar.

I left a demonstration of dog agility and obedience to look after itself in some light rain and went in to see whether my pictures had attracted the attention of the judges.  I was delighted to find that a Lake District view and a garden blackbird had won their classes and one of our garden poppies had got a third.  I did get another first and a second place too in another class but as mine were the only pictures in that class, this was a not entirely unexpected.

The photos at the Canonbie show are always given plenty of room among the flowers…

Photos and flowers

I took this after some of the pictures and flowers had already been removed at the end of the show.

…so it a pleasure to exhibit there.

There was splendid fruit and veg to admire and many beautiful flowers too and I had an enjoyable time looking round.  When I had had a good look, I went back to the field and had a cup of tea and a fancy cake with Sandy, who was at the show with a friend and his wife and then I went off for a walk along the river before it was time to collect the pictures and go home.

I was lucky with my walk and dodged the rain completely.  I walked down towards the river bank at the bridge and came across a large clump of these tall yellow flowers.

yellow flowers

They were hard to photograph because they were waving about in the brisk wind but they are handsome plants.  I have no idea what they are.

Once I had got the water’s edge, I looked up at the Canonbie Bridge itself.

Canonbie Bridge

I drove over that bridge to work for thirteen years.  The bridge is narrow and the overhanging footpath is a fairly recent addition to allow schoolchildren to get back to the village in greater safety.

I crossed the bridge, passed the church and made my way down to the other bank of the river.

The Esk runs past some red sandstone cliffs at the village…

Dead Neuk

…but it soon opens out into a broad stretch that will take it down to Longtown and the Solway Firth.

Esk at Canonbie

The powers that be have put power lines over every nice view in Eskdale.

The church was looking at its best, picked out by the sun against the rain clouds behind it.

Canonbie Church

I watched a patient fisherman casting on one bank of the river while goosanders, great fishers themselves, snoozed on the opposite bank while they waited for their chance.

Canonbie fisher goosander

After  glance at a sign of autumn…

elderberries

…I returned to the hall, enthusiastically applauded the many trophy winners (not me), collected the pictures for myself and Sandy and drove home.

The final business of the day was a quick shopping trip with Mrs Tootlepedal and then I was happy cook my evening meal and to sit down and eat it.

It had seemed like a long day.

The flying bird of the day was still waiting to take off when I saw it in the morning after breakfast.

blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

Down in the dumps

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited the south coast of England  yesterday and saw the not quite so famous white cliffs of Brighton.

The white cliffs of Brighton

After the excitements and activity of yesterday, today was very restrained.

The only noticeable activity of the morning was eating some iced buns which Dropscone kindly bought with him when he arrived for coffee.  Dropscone had plenty to relate as he has had a busy time lately, playing golf, refereeing a golf tournament, organising a golf tournament of his own  and visiting the science museum in Glasgow.  He had survived all this very well but I was quite exhausted just listening to his adventures.  He certainly gets about.

It rained heavily while we sipped and chatted but it stopped when it was time for him to go home.

I went out to look at flowers just once in one of the sunny spells.

dahliasdahliaspoppies

The only activity in the afternoon was a drive to the council dump at Annan to get rid of our old dishwasher.  This was made even more exciting than a normal visit to the dump by the fact that we had to pass through several torrential downpours with added thunder and lightning on our way there.

It was fortunate that the downpours were reasonably brief, as in the space of a minute on each occasion, the roads turned into rivers and driving became quite dangerous.  Happily on each occasion, we soon found ourselves back in bright sunshine…although we could see the next shower coming towards us at speed quite clearly.

With heavy showers and bright sunshine alternating rapidly, it wasn’t a day for cycling, walking or gardening so I took the opportunity to give my back a really good rest.

The ironic sunflower is progressing well in spite of the rain…

sunflower

…but the theme of the day was summed up by this large puddle outside the back door.

puddle

It was our younger son’s birthday today and Clare, his wife, sent me this picture of him being terrified by his birthday cakes.  It is acting as the flying bird of the day.

Al birthday cakes

It is the Canonbie Flower Show tomorrow and we are hoping for some better weather.

That’s more like it

Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother.  They were having a family day out in Durham before the start of the new school term and found the cathedral looking at its best in the sunshine.

durham cathedral

I had a Utopian plan for the day which involved getting up early and being out on my bike by about seven o’clock.  I would be back in plenty of time to allow Mrs Tootlepedal to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda while I waited for the plumber to come. He would finish his work in plenty of time for me to get out for a walk before having my tea and going off to Carlisle with Susan to enjoy an evening of recorder quintets….and the sun would shine all day.

And it all came true.

Almost.

I did get up early and get out on the bike.

misty morning

The mist was just lifting as I cycled across the town bridge.

Esk with mist

The river was still shrouded with mist as I cycled south

Esk at Longtown

But by the time that I had got to Longtown, the mist had cleared. It had been raining heavily overnight as you can see.

I headed a bit further south and then turned west to Rockcliffe before heading back up to Langholm.

Trees in Cumbria

It was beautiful day and I passed many trees…

arch and bridge

…and arches both natural and man made…

Kirtle Water house

…and a fine house too.

But the most interesting thing that I saw was a flock of starlings on a farm silo near Rigg.

starlings

I pedalled 48 miles at a steady speed and got home in plenty of time to have a walk round the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a flock of butterflies on the buddleia.

peacock and red admiral butterfly

There were peacock and red admiral butterflies….

white and peacock butterflies

…and I saw a white butterfly on a Michaelmas daisy and took a close look at one of the peacocks.

I admired the poppies as usual and had a first look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new pink Japanese anemone.

pink Japanese anemone.

The sun continued to shine.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was away, I cut down the orange hawkweed which had finished flowering  but some new flowers have appeared as if by magic….

orange hawkweed

What looks like shadows are buds waiting to open

…and once again I was thwarted in an attempt to take a picture of a cornflower, this time by a positive crowd of visitors.

orange hawkweed

Bumble bee, honey bee and a fly

Mrs Tootlepedal went and the plumber came, finished his task and went off as well.

I went for a walk.

I was trying to take yet another picture of the Auld Stane Bridge but a procession of cars kept driving across it…

auld stane bridge

…and when I looked, it turned out to be a rally of convertible beetles.

vw at the auld stane bridge

They had a good day for it.

I walked past the Hallcrofts, down through the woods and back along the track to Holmwood.

The forest floor was carpeted with these.

wood sorrel

I saw fruits…..

Rose hip, crab apple and blackberry

Rose hip, crab apple and blackberry… the blackberry was delicious

…a snail….

snail

…and a brand new bridge taking the path across a dangerous bit of banking that is being undermined by the Becks Burn.

new bridge by Becks Burn

It is good to see that our popular paths are being looked after.

There were of course many views to enjoy on such a good day.

view of Whita from Hallcrofts

I ended my walk by visiting Sandy in his new house and enjoying a cup of tea as I sat on his new suite.  He has been very busy tiling.

Sandy's tiles

Very neat work.

I got home in time to look over my photos for the day and have my tea and at this stage, the only part of my Utopian that didn’t fully work out came into play.  It started to pour with rain. It lashed down as Susan fearlessly drove through the storm and happily, by the time that we got to Carlisle, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable and as always the tea and biscuits afterwards were of the highest quality.  The rain stayed away as we drove home and that rounded off a day that could hardly have gone better….

….except that I had no time for a flying bird of any sort so I will put in the map of my cycle ride instead.  Click on the map for details of the ride.  Note the light wind.

garmin route 17 Aug 2017

 

Good timetabling

Today’s guest picture, from my ex-colleague Ada, shows a passing traveller whom she ran into (but not over)  on the road.

frog

The forecast said that it would start to rain at 3pm today and it was absolutely spot on which made it lucky that I had managed to get my day organised on that basis.

I am still struggling to persuade my back muscles to relax on a full time basis so I went for a gentle 20 mile circuit of Canonbie on my bike after a leisurely breakfast.  I had time while I was getting mentally and spiritually prepared to pedal to walk round the garden admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of poppy seeds in action.

shirley poppies

Although she had to re-sow because of the poor weather and thus had to buy a second set of packets of seed, it still looks like good value for £15 (and quite a bit of gardening time) to me.

This was one of the few days when Dr Velo didn’t have a cure for feeling a bit old and tired so I let the wind and the hill discourage me for the first five miles but once I had first gravity and then the breeze helping me, I perked up a bit and got home safely.

I stopped three times, all on the first section of the ride, to take pictures.  The flowers on the rosebay willowherb beside the Wauchope road are going over but its red stems still give it a lot of colour.

rosebay willowherb

I stopped half way up the hill past the Bloch to admire the view….

Wauchope valley

…and the picture reflects the alternating sunshine and clouds that accompanied me on the rest of the trip.

I stopped again at the top of the hill when a mixture of heather and young trees in a replanted wood caught my eye.

heather and young trees

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed that it might be worthwhile to take the car up on to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see birds or goats.

I had a shower and a light lunch and off we went.

We saw lots of birds but no goats.  I had my new lens with me and although the light was quite poor by this time, I made an effort to record a bird we saw hunting near the road.

hen harrier

It was too quick for my trembling hand and the autofocus

hen harrier

I did a bit better when it hovered.

We are not very knowledgeable bird watchers but we think this is a female hen harrier.

After watching the bird for some time, we  drove on up to the county boundary….

County boundary

…which is marked by a fence at this point, in the hope of seeing some goats but there were none to be seen so we turned for home.

We stopped here  and there on the way back for me to enjoy the views and Mrs Tootlepedal to watch raptors through binoculars.

I like the bubbling little burn that runs down the hill beside the road.

Langholm Moor burn

Even though it was a bit gloomy, I could see the Lake District mountains, which I had visited not so long ago, across the other side of the Solway plain.

Skiddaw

Nearer to hand, there was plenty of heather in bloom.

heather

And it is always a pleasure to up on the moor.

Whita

Especially when there is a nice bridge to be seen on the way.

Tarras Bridge

We stopped to look at gulls on the Kilngreen when we got back to the town…

black headed gull

…and got home shortly before the forecast rain started.

I had time for a quick garden wander.

rambler roses

The very last of the rambler roses on top of the arch

sweet pea

A sweet pea in the cage that is necessary to keep it safe from the sparrows when it is young

two cosmos

The only cosmos in flower yet

I tried to take a picture of one of the cornflowers among the poppies but I got distracted…

Heliophilus pendulas

…by a Heliophilus pendulus, one of the many hoverflies.  It really enjoyed the flower.

Heliophilus pendulus

For once I am fairly sure about the identification (so I am probably wrong).

It didn’t rain very hard and occasionally even gave up in a half hearted sort of way but the afternoon remained dark and gloomy enough to persuade us to find things to do indoors.

Sandy dropped in and kindly collected my entry form and fees to take down to the Canonbie Flower Show secretary.  He has been tiling in his new house and will be pleased when he has finished the job.

The flower of the day is a dahlia with its own internal illumination….

dahlia

…and the official flying bird of the day is one of the three black headed gulls that we saw on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull

 

 

On and off

There are two guest pictures from Clare today which show why Matilda was so cheerful yesterday.  She went on a boat trip round the Bass Rock with her aunt and cousin……

Bass Rock Matilda

…and saw lots of gannets. (This one was taken by Clare with her phone while holding Matilda in a rocking boat.  That takes great skill.) …..

gannet

…which is quite enough to make anyone feel cheerful.  I am very envious.

We had one of those days today.  If it was raining, the sun was about to come out and if it was sunny, it was about to rain.

I should have got up earlier because the best sunny spell was before and during breakfast.  The lawn was busy with thrushes and blackbirds.

thrush and blackbird

There were  two thrushes and lots of blackbirds.

blackbirds

I don’t think that we have ever had so many blackbirds in the garden in summer.  I wouldn’t mind but they are eating all my raspberries.

I got up into my cycling gear but wasted a lot of time in sitting and thinking before I finally got going.  There had been a lot of overnight rain and the river was quite full as I cycled over the Hollows Bridge…

River Esk

…but it had obviously been quite local as I passed from dry roads to roads awash with enormous puddles several times.

I was taking things easy again as my back is not quite at 100% yet but managed a few more gentle hills than on my last excursion.  I didn’t take many pictures as it kept on raining and I spent a lot of time putting my rain jacket on and taking it off again.

I did take a picture of the old church at Half Morton, now a family home…

Half Morton church

…and although it was in the sun, you can see the next shower looming up behind it.

On one of the occasions that I stopped for my rain jacket, I saw a fungus by the roadside. ..

fungus

…and I am surprised that I haven’t seen more considering the wet weather.

The rain showers didn’t last long and it was reasonably warm so I enjoyed my ride well enough.  I was rather clammy when I got home though.

I had a late lunch and a shower and then I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden.  She was planting out her three new purchases and I hope that they will flower soon so that I can take a picture or two of them.

In the meantime, I sieved a couple of barrows of compost and mowed first the middle lawn and then the front lawn.  Although they were both very soggy at one stage of the day, a brisk wind and a warm sun dried them out just enough to be worth cutting.

I also looked at a flower or two.

sunflower

We may get more sunshine in the garden soon

battered poppy

The weather was too much for the poppies today

Rudbeckia

I had to stand on tiptoe to take this shot of a Rudbeckia. Mrs Tootlepedal has just bought a shorter one.

clematis

The clematis on the fence is battered but (mainly) unbowed. It has its back to the prevailing wind.

With the poppies keeping their heads well down today, dahlias and nasturtiums were the most colourful things on display…

nasturtiumdahlia

…with the exception of the phlox which has been brightening up our dull weather a great deal.

phlox

I even saw a red admiral butterfly on the phlox today but it fluttered off before I could fetch a camera.

More rain showers drove us indoors and we rounded off the day with a meal of lamb garnished with courgettes, spring onions and potatoes from the garden.

It is very difficult to make a good plan when the weather is so changeable but sadly, the forecast for the next few days shows that the cool showery spell is going to continue.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grey cow from my bike ride, not a colour that you often see.

grey cow

 

 

The inside story

Today’s guest picture, from our daughter-in-law Clare, provided the only ray of sunshine we saw all day.  You can see what made Matilda so happy tomorrow.

Matilda

It was a foul day here as far as the weather went, the authorities having decided that one sunny day at a time was more than enough for us.

I sneaked out in the rain whenever it wasn’t too bad and I will insert a soggy flower from time to time in this post.

poppy

Luckily I had plenty to do so time didn’t weight too heavily on my hands.

In the morning, I went up to the Welcome to Langholm office and settled down to put a week or two of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I couldn’t get as much work done as I hoped because I was frequently interrupted by the need to welcome people seeking  information.  I suppose that I shouldn’t complain about that.

One of the visitors was looking for a book of graveyard inscriptions and she remarked in passing how useful the Archive Group website had been in her family history research.  I pointed to the computer and told her that I was adding to the site at this very moment and she was suitably impressed though not quite so impressed as to offer us a voluntary donation for our funds.

dahlia

Another visitor was a descendant of a chemist in the town and I pointed out to him that both the chemist and his shop could be found on our picture archive page.

It stopped raining very politely for long enough for me to walk home after my stint was over.  It started again quite soon afterwards.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy some flowers to fill in a few gaps in the beds that her recent tidying up activity had created and I set about a mixture of practising songs for our Carlisle choir and printing out photographs for the forthcoming Canonbie Flower Show.

My main concern while printing out the pictures was to try to get the printed results to look a bit brighter than the printer wants them to look.  This takes a bit of learning and the results were variable though the frog in the box ball came out well.

Fuschia

Mike Tinker came round for a cup of tea and a biscuit and we were just finishing when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her shopping trip.    I was amazed to find that she had actually bought three plants as she usually looks for a long time and then decides that things are not quite what she wanted or they are a bit too expensive or the whole matter needs more thought.  A sound way of going on but one which I find a bit testing on my patience.

She explained her purchasing activity by claiming that she was haunted by the sound of my voice behind her saying, “For goodness sake, buy something.”  So she did.

stargazer lilies

The evening was filled with music as first my flute pupil Luke came and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  It was the first time that we had played for a month and there was a certain amount of rust evident but as always, it was a very enjoyable evening.

The rain is pouring down again as I write this.  I have ordered an ark just in case.

virginia creeper

Back on the bike

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was visiting the Derby Silk Mill when he found that it was an absolutely windless day.

Derby Silk Mill

It was a pretty good day here today too and after I had made a lamb stew for the slow cooker, I went out to see the poppies.

poppies

Not a drop of rain to be seen on them!  Mrs Tootlepedal has got a very good variety of specimens from her packet of mixed seeds.

The bees were exceedingly happy…

poppy with bees

…and were lining up to visit this well stocked larder.

poppy with bees

This poppy was just as beautiful but was less popular, having less to offer.

Poppy with insect

A late Fuchsia is waiting to deliver.

fuchsiaIt was difficult to walk round the garden without being buffeted by white butterflies.  They were everywhere.

white butterflies

As were sparrows.

sparrow

I went upsatirs to get my cycling gear on and when I looked out of the window, blackbirds were taking in the rays down below…

blackbirds

…in a rather anguished way.

I got on my bike fairly gingerly as I didn’t know how things would go but in spite of the odd twinge, I was able to pedal at a gentle pace without any great trouble.

John, the purveyor of all things useful from his corner shop, had suggested that I should look at an arboreal dog near Hagg-on-Esk so I did.

dog tree

I have cycled past this spot many times without seeing the poodle in the trees before.

I chose a very flat route (650 ft of elevation in 27 miles) so I was able to turn my legs over gently without putting any pressure on my back and thanks to a gentle wind, I managed a reasonable speed.

I didn’t want to get off and on the bike more than necessary but it was such a nice day that I stopped for a few photo ops.

Woodhouselees

I lied the sheep marching along below the ha-ha at Woodhouselees.

Penton road

The trees near Longtown definitely seem to be getting an autumn tinge

Monkey Puzzle

A monkey puzzle tree commands the view over the Knottyholm

Hollows Tower

The roof of Hollows Tower rising above the trees

I took another look at the ‘poodle tree’ on my way back.

prancing horse

More like a prancing horse with rider perhaps from this angle

I got home in time for a late lunch.  I looked at a poppy before I went in.

poppy with crocosmia

The crocosmia is trying its hardest join in.

I had made some more baps yesterday with the help of the breadmaker and they were just as good as the first lot.  I had one with lettuce and marmite for my meal.

After that, it was back out into the garden for an afternoon of useful, gently paced work.

I strimmed the clippings of the rambler rose which Attila the Gardener was attacking with her new secateurs, I mowed the green house grass, I sieved a couple of buckets of compost, I mowed the green house grass and I emptied the strimming receptacle into compost bin A twice.   In all, this was about half to three quarters of an hour’s work spread over three hours so it wasn’t quite the hard labour that it might seem.

Then I had a last walk round with a camera.

Michaelmas daisies

Michaelmas daisies arriving well before Michaelmas

The evening sun was catching the poppies…

poppies in the sun

…but it caught this one the best, I thought.

poppies in the sun

The lamb stew turned out very well after Mrs Tootlepedal had worked a little magic on some last minute flavouring.

The breadmaker makes dough for more baps than we can eat at one go so I had saved half the dough from yesterday and kept it in the fridge  over night.   I knocked it back and made another set today and we were pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out.  They went very well with the stew in place of potatoes.

Sadly, the very good weather of the day had clouded over by the time that I wrote this so our chance to watch the meteor shower had gone.  I did wake up at three o’clock last night when there was a clear sky but I couldn’t make myself get up and go out and just rolled over and went back to sleep.  I am sorry about that now.

Tomorrow, it says, it is going to rain all day so I am glad that I made good use of today.

No flying bird but I did catch a flying butterfly as it passed a nasturtium.

flying butterfly