Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia and shows a green woodpecker visiting a hornbeam in her garden.  DShe says that it made a tremendous amount of noise.

green woodpeckerMrs Tootlepedal spent the day visiting Matilda in Edinburgh while I made the most of a second sunny day at home.  To make the day even better, there were no threatening clouds or passing showers.

I was very good though and spent the first hour after breakfast putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This post finished off 1890 and it is always a great moment when another year is tucked away.

Luckily Dropscone was on hand with freshly made scones to go with a cup of coffee (or two) when I had finished.  Fortified by this, I went out on the fairly speedy bike to test my creaky knee.

I did walk round the garden first though.


The sun had brought on the two new dahlias


A nasturtium’s mouth looked like rather a dangerous place.

apple and rose

There was promise of further delights to come

nicotiana and lupin

The first nicotiana and the last lupin

Polemonium and musk

Two lasting old friends, polemonium and musk. I like the way that little footprints lead into the heart of the musk.

I put the camera away and got started.  It was a wonderful day for cycling….

Kerr…with light winds which were behind me on the exposed parts of the route and against me when I was in the sheltered sections.

Sensibly I slowed down a bit as I got onto the gently uphill section back to Langholm and this gave me a moment to enjoy the wild flowers in the verges.

Old A7

There is still plenty of colour left on the old A7

Old A7

A closer look

I got home in very good order and after a light lunch, set about some garden tasks.  I mowed lawns and I sieved compost and felt very virtuous.  So virtuous in fact that I had to sit down in an easy chair to recover.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Edinburgh, having had an enjoyable visit to Matilda.

It was Summer Fair today in Langholm, the eve of our annual Common Riding and it is celebrated with music so after tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to the High Street and joined the crowd in the Market Place who were listening to the Langholm Town Band playing a programme.

Langholm Town band

It was a glorious evening

After the band finished, we walked back home but I was soon out again to watch the Flute Band march round the town.  The flute band meets the last train of the day into Langholm,  greets returning emigrants and then leads them through the streets.  The fact that the last train arrived in Langholm nearly half a century ago doesn’t make any difference.  They still go to meet it.

Flute band

There seemed to be about 50 flautists in the band tonight

…and even more people following along behind it.

Shortly after the Flute band had passed by, the Langholm Pipe Band also marched through the streets of the New Town.

Langholm Pipe bandThey too have their followers….

band followers

Pipe band enthusiasts on the left and flute band fans on the right

It is one of the best things about the Common Riding and its proceedings that the streets of the town, for  short time at least, are reclaimed by its inhabitants from the grip of the motor car.

Although my camera makes it look as though it was still quite light, a full moon was looking down benignly from the sky above the town as the bands went by.

full moonThe end of a very good day.  It looks touch and go as to whether the weather will be as kind to us tomorrow.

I did look at the birds in the garden from time to time and the sparrows were as hungry as ever…

sparrows…even to the extent of sharing a perch.

sparrowsIt will come as no surprise that the flying bird of the day is another sparrow (though I should have been able to get a better picture on such a sunny day).

flying sparrow

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Liz, Mike Tinker’s daughter, who is on holiday with her family in the West Highlands.  The picture shows the view from their holiday home window.  Close examination of the large red boat shows that it is loaded with cut timber and is the Highland equivalent of our log lorries, taking trees from local forests as they are felled.

log boatWe got up to a sunny morning and although it was still on the cool side for July, just having the sun out made it feel warmer than it has been lately.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a large part of the day in the garden and I spent some time there too.  During the day, I turned compost Bin A into Bin B and before I had turned my back, Mrs Tootlepedal was already busy filling up Bin A again.  At least the bins are in the right order now with the newest compost in Bin A and the oldest in Bin D.   I shall have to get busy sieving the contents of Bin D but I need a little dry weather before I can do that properly.

The feeder was busy again….


The siskins never stop making their opinions known


This one showed a nifty ability to stand on a non existent perch

The chaffinches are more modest in their approach and often look a bit apologetic about barging in.

chaffinchesIt was very agreeable to have some good light to look at the flowers.  Although things were still damp as you can see from the day lily, at least the poppies could hold up their heads.

day lily and poppyThe stachys lanata or lamb’s ear was positively glowing with delight at seeing some sunshine.

stachys lanataI made some lentil soup for lunch and as I was cooking it, we were visited by Scott, the minister.  He is taking part in a hundred mile cycle sportive in London at the weekend.  He had brought his bike round to see if I  thought that there was anything that needed doing to it. This is mass entry event with thousands taking part and he is looking forward to it.  He has done lots of training for the event but his one worry is mechanical failure or punctures during the run as he has no knowledge of bike mechanics and can’t change an tube.   I offered to show him how to do it but he felt it was too late to master the skill so close to the event.  I pumped up his tyres for him, patted his bike and wished him well.  He will rely on a Good Samaritan helping him if disaster strikes on the way round.

The soup turned out well and I thought that I would go out for a short pedal myself after lunch.  Rather annoyingly, as soon as I had got my bike kit on, it started raining out of a clear blue sky.    It was only a passing shower though and I was soon on my way.  My knee is still not fully back to normal and as I had done thirteen miles last time that I went out, I thought that I might do fifteen to eighteen miles today.  However, when I got to the top of Callister, the sight of these clouds in front of me….

clouds on Callister…and this heavy rain shower in the valley behind me….

clouds on Callister…persuaded me that twelve miles might be quite enough and I turned for home.  I got there safely, quite dry and with my knee in good order but looking back from the garden, I could see that the clouds had been following me down the road.

cloudsMike Tinker, who was discussing a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got in, has done some research and tells us that the white thistle we saw yesterday was a marsh thistle which very occasionally produces white flowers.  As always, he is a mine of information.

Amazingly, the rain stayed away from the garden and let Mrs Tootlepedal finish trimming the internal hedges….

hedge trimming…and me mow the middle lawn.

When I finished that, I picked a couple of pounds of blackcurrants and looked round the garden to see what I could see.


Lilian Austin and Special Grandma perked up in the sun.


The fancy dahlia has been joined by two more restrained friends

There are now four clematis blooming on the fence along the vegetable garden.


Two showy….


…and two plain

As always, I enjoyed peering closely at flowers….

astrantia and lily..and the Goldfinch rose once again surprised me by how much it changes as it grows older even side by side on the same stem.

goldfinch roseMy favourite rose of the day though was one of the moss roses.

moss roseWe had potatoes, broad beans and turnip from the garden for our tea and there is no doubt that home grown food always tastes better than the shop bought stuff  (and even when it doesn’t taste better, it feels as though it does).

I am hoping to get a few more miles in tomorrow as the forecasters are speaking of another dry day.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin looking for someone to argue with.

flying siskin

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent who has deserted our cool damp weather for the blazing sun in California while she visits her brother who lives there.  She sent me this picture of her children suffering from the heat there and being comforted by their cousin.

Hannah, Elinor and LeoWe had another day of continuous rain here, the only variety being in the amount coming out of the sky at any one time.

I had an appointment in Carlisle to get  two watercolour paintings which have been entrusted to the Archive Group valued and Mrs Tootlepedal came with me to make sure that I didn’t run off if they turned out to be worth millions.

The valuer was a very charming man who was pleased to see the paintings which are by W H Nutter, a  Victorian artist, well know and admired in Cumbria.  He said that he had never seen paintings of Langholm by this artist before and added that this would oddly make them less valuable as it is the Cumbrian pictures that are most sought after.   You can tell by the fact that I am still here, that they were valued at less than millions (or indeed thousands) but they are valuable enough to make sure that we look after them well.  I have had them framed and the next thing will be to see if some restoration can be done at a reasonable price.

nutter distilleryWe made good use of the trip to Carlisle by adding a little necessary shopping to the morning. Because I have been asked to provide two copies of one of my local photographic views to a friend, frames and mounts were on the list and we added some French, Italian and English cheese to these so the morning was well spent.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back, as it was one of the moments when the rain was quite light.  Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought and planted a buddleia for me which I hope will attract butterflies.  It is growing well but has only got as far as attracting bees at the moment.

buddleiaThe poppies are suffering badly in the wet…

poppies…but nasturtiums and hostas are not such wimps.

hosta nasturtiumAt the bird feeder, queues were forming.

bird feederAbout three o’clock, another lull in the rain gave me a bit of hope and, clutching an umbrella to protect my cameras, I went on a short walk up the Wauchope road to see an unusual thistle.  I had passed it while cycling and I had taken Mrs Tootlepedal to visit it in the car when we came back from Carlisle because she hadn’t quite believed what I had actually seen it but when she saw it herself, she was convinced.

It was a white thistle.

white thistleThere were quite a few of them about among a field of more conventionally coloured thistles.

thistlesThey are definitely white flowers and not just washed out old pink ones because you can see white buds waiting to come out.  We have never seen these before.

I was distracted by lichens on walls and fence posts as I walked.

lichensWhile I was up the road, I walked a few hundred yards further and took a look at my favourite cascade…..

Wauchope cascade…and found a bit more water going over the rocks than on my last visit.

I turned for home and took the path along Gaskell’s Walk as a change from the road.  Considering that it looked like this four years ago…..gaskells…it has recovered well…

Gaskells walk…and the bank is covered in growth.  Rosebay Willow Herb is in fashion at the moment.

There were fungi to be seen…

fungi…both small and big and plenty of wild flowers too.

wild flowersI came back down through the park and stopped to look at the fruit on a cypress tree beside the war memorial.

cypress treeIn spite of the rain, there was colour both at the back of the house when I got back….


Crocosmia hanging over the dam.

…and in the garden.

Rambler roses

Rambler roses hanging over the fence

During my walk, I was conscious of agents keeping an eye on my movements.


A cow at Wauchope Castle checks me out

cow in thistle

Another keeps a low profile among the thistles

Sheep on Stubholm

Sheep on Stubholm give me a hard stare. The one on the left apparently has no eyes and the other apparently has four.

The rain got heavier after I returned home and that was the end of that.

In the evening, our neighbour Margaret took us to a pre Common Riding evening at the Masonic Lodge where the chief speaker was her grandson.  He did an excellent job and as he was joined by a competent and varied lot of local singers as well as other good speakers, we had an enjoyable evening.  It had the added advantage of not going on too long which was very welcome.

I don’t want to get too excited but the forecasters say we might get a glimpse of the sun tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s visit to Llangollen.  Since some readers enjoyed his picture of the train arriving yesterday, I thought that I would add this one of the train departing today.

llangollenIt was raining gently but persistently when we got up and it will be raining gently but persistently when we go to bed.  In between, it rained gently but persistently, the only variations being between sometimes very gently and occasionally quite hard.

The temperature was autumnal and the outlook is equally gloomy and wet.

It was not, in itself, a very cheerful day.

I put a week of the newspaper index into the archive database.  I have almost reached the end of 1890 but a cheerful data miner told me that the mining team are up to March 1891 already.  I know how that chap Sisyphus felt.

After coffee, the rain entered one of its gentle moments and  I spent some time staring at birds getting in the way of the raindrops.  Once again a positive blizzard of sparrows, with some siskins and a few chaffinches kept me busy refilling the feeder.

The rush led to some regrettable behaviour.

sparrow kicking

Sparrow showing no mercy


And a siskin in the same mode

You might think the next picture charming….

sparrows sharing perch…if you didn’t see the subsequent shoulder charge.

sparrows sharing perchThere was no shortage of flying birds this morning.

sparrow and chaffinchNote that the sparrows approach boldly while chaffinch is keeping a good look out for bullying sparrows.

siskinsThe siskins aren’t afraid of anyone (except other siskins).

The mature male sparrows are very colourful when their back feathers are to be seen…

male sparrows…but the others looked a bit pale and wan today.

sparrowsparrowAnd hungry.

The rain hit a moment when it looked tolerable enough for a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were just going out when I remembered in the nick of time that I was supposed to be on duty in the tourist office.  I left Mrs Tootlepedal to enjoy the rain and scooted up to the High Street and arrived only a few minutes late.

I then spent the next two hours dealing with a single tourist who wasn’t needing any information.  I did have non-tourist visitors though; first Sandy for a chat, then the data miner to keep me up to the mark and finally the Cornet with his right and left hand men so I was honoured.

When I got home, I spent some time practising my singing and flute playing.  As I am not very methodical, I don’t know whether footling about can strictly be classified as practising but I am adept at fooling myself so I imagine in the face of the evidence that it must be doing me good.

My only venture into the garden into the rain didn’t encourage me to take pictures but I did find one jewel while I was there.

nasturtium with raindropMy flute pupil Luke came and we spent the time working on his fife playing as he he is intending to turn out with the Langholm Flute band on Thursday evening.  The Flute Band is a marching band which usually meets only twice a year, on the Thursday night before and the Friday morning of the Common Riding day and it would be fair to say that it is noted more for its enthusiasm than its musical polish.  It’s characteristic sound is always greeted very warmly by the townsfolk.

The flying bird of the day is unsurprisingly one of the sparrows.

flying sparrow

Beating the rain

Today’s guest picture shows live steam at Llangollen.  It was taken by my friend Bruce on a recent visit.  I would have liked to have been there too.

LlangollenI woke up at six o’clock to see glorious sunshine peeping through the bedroom blind.  What an opportunity to get up early, take some photographs and go for a cycle ride and all before breakfast, I thought.

And went back to sleep again.

It was still reasonably fine, although the sun had gone in by the time I eventually got the fairly speedy bike out of the garage at ten o’clock.  My plan was to test out the defective knee on a ten mile trip (or a little longer if everything felt good) and then see whether there were any after effects.

In the event, I managed thirteen miles, including the gentle climb up Callister, and only felt a little stiffness while on the last mile.  I stopped just once to celebrate the fondness of a bright orange lichen (Xanthoria parietina, the golden shield lichen) for battered concrete fence posts.

lichen on concrete

All the posts on this stretch of road host this lichen.

lichen on concretelichen on concreteMrs Tootlepedal was still singing in church when I got back so I invited Dropscone round for a cup of coffee and Mike Tinker, exhibiting finely honed coffee scenting skills, dropped in to join us.

As far as golf goes, Dropscone is still affected by shanking in his short game so listening to the story of his round on Saturday was a very traumatic experience for me as I suffered badly from the same ailment in the last couple of years before I wisely gave up the game.

After Mike and Dropscone had gone, I clipped the last two box balls on the front lawn and then trimmed the hedges beside them.

box ballsI needed a rest after that so Mrs Tootlepedal, who had returned from church, took up the hedge trimmers and continued the work.  I had used garden shears for the box balls but an electric trimmer for the hedges and as it soon started to drizzle, Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t get much done before she had to give up.  I hardly need to add that as soon as she had got everything safely indoors, it stopped raining.

I took a few flowers pictures before the rain started.

phlox and geranium

Phlox and geranium make a colourful corner


The poppies last about a day each but new ones keep arriving.


The perennial nasturtium buds have turned to flowers


There are geraniums all over the garden.  This one is in the back border.

rambler rose

The rambler roses are beginning to come out at last

runner beans

The runner beans are looking more promising by the day.

As the weather looked gloomy, Mrs Tootlepedal settled for what she had done and retired inside to watch the ladies Tour de France cycle race up and down the High Street in Paris in heavy rain.  We were reminded of how dangerous cycling in the wet can be by the unnervingly frequent sight of these expert bike handlers crashing to the ground while negotiating the corners.

During the afternoon it started to rain in Langholm too and I was glad that I had got my little pedal in while it was still dry.

As well as watching the bike racing, I spent some time looking out of the kitchen window.  For some reason, the feeder was very busy today and I had to fill it three times.

Sparrows were the ones who were doing the most to eat me out of house and home.



Though there were a few siskins too.


And later on they were joined by a greenfinch

Though it was mostly sparrows.




…and going….


…in all directions at once.

We then watched the last stage of the tour and realised that this was the final act of a good set of summer sporting dramas (Wimbledon, The Open Golf, The Tour) which had given us an excuse to sit idly in front of the television set  in the afternoons lately and have helped to lessen the gloom that we would otherwise have felt at a miserable spell of weather.  We will have to be up and doing from now on.

My knee survived the cycling and gardening without getting any worse but it is still sore enough to stop me thinking of a long cycle ride any time soon.  My mileage target for the year will have to be severely pruned after a disastrous July.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre and retrieved the malfunctioning computer which had spoiled my Thursday night’s work and brought it home,  I was able to reinstall the defective Firefox browser from a memory stick and I hope that all will be well now.

The flying bird of the day was one of the sparrows and the poor light has resulted in a rather arty representation for which I apologise….but I quite like it myself.

flying sparrow

Uphill work

Today’s guest picture was taken by Venetia on our recent tour with her.  It shows a fine set of foxgloves near Hopsrig.

foxglovesRather to our surprise, we had a very pleasant morning today and Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it by working hard in the garden.  I clipped three more of the box balls….

box balls…leaving just two more to go.

The recent wind and rains have battered the delphiniums so severely that Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of not growing them again but there are still quite a few standing…..

delphiniums…and I would be sorry to see them go.

The first dahlia of the year has appeared in all its gaudy glory.


Not a shy retiring flower.

Our lone gooseberry bush is doing well and both our neighbour Liz  and  Scott, the minister, dropped by during the day to collect a little of its bounty.  There is still plenty left for me so well has it cropped this year.

In the early afternoon, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to keep an eye on the Tour de France for me and went off to the White Yett in the car.  Today was the day of the Castle Craigs ride out and my plan was to take a picture or two to celebrate this event.

I left the car and walked up the track towards the monument.  There was plenty to see on the way.


Every boulders was lavishly supplied with lichens

And the side of the track was lined with thistles.

thistleThere is no sign of proper heather (calluna vulgaris) yet but there were a few bursts of bell heather (Erica cinerea) beside the path.

bell heather thistle

There was pink all around.  The thistles were busy with bees.

I got to a spot on the hillside where I could look down to the town in the valley below…

Langholm…and protected my camera from some unwelcome rain.  Walkers coming up the track in front of the riders were better dressed for the weather than I was…

walkers castle craigs…but luckily for me, standing there coatless in my short sleeves, the rain soon stopped.

The Castle Craigs ride starts in the Market Square and the riders gallop up the Kirk Wynd before assembling on the hill….

Castle Craigs…and then starting the climb up to where I was standing.

Castle CraigsThe cornet and his retinue will ride up this track again next Friday, our Common Riding Day, but then he will be carrying the town’s standard.

Castle CraigsHis mounted followers passed me by in single file on the narrow track…

Andrew Jeffrey…some, like Andrew, obligingly pausing for the camera….

Castle Craigs…before disappearing round the shoulder of the hill.

They collect at the Castle Craigs (hence the name of the ride)….

Castle Craigs…where they wait for a boys fell race from the Tarras valley below….


You can see cars parked at Cronksbank where the ride stops for refreshment on its way round the hill.

…before setting off back along the track….

Castle Craigs….and then down the track that I had walked along….

Castle Craigs…until they get to the road.

Castle CraigsI let them go and walked slowly back to the car stopping to admire a small green frog which Keith Davidson pointed out to me….

green frog

It was about the size of my thumb, much smaller than the frogs in our pond.

…and a last piece of bog cotton…

bog cotton…and the two handsome cairns which mark the track.

castle craigs cairnsAs the cavalcade continued on its way, I drove home in time to see another exciting stage of the tour come to its conclusion.

It soon started to rain so I was glad that I had not followed the riders any further.

I had thought of another short cycle ride but the combination of walking over some very rough ground following the horses and the intermittent rain persuaded me that this was not a particularly good idea so I didn’t go out.

My knee is steadily improving and I hope to give it a good test soon.

Later, I dug up three more early potatoes and was pleased to find no slug damage on them at all.  Long may this happy state of affairs continue.  I picked a few broad beans and had them and some of the potatoes with a lamb stew for my tea.

If it doesn’t rain too much tomorrow, I am going to start picking the blackcurrants as I notice that the birds have got ahead of me there and there may not be many left if I delay any longer.

I found a flying chaffinch in the rain.

flying chaffinch

One step at a time

Today’s guest picture shows a bridge over the Trent and Mersey Canal crossed by my brother Andrew on a recent visit to Stoke-on-Trent on a rainy day.


We had a better day today as far as the weather went.  The sun was not in evidence but neither was the wind, with the result that it felt warmer.  If my knee had been in better condition, this would have been an ideal day for a long pedal but as it was, I was happy to wait around in the garden….

turk's cap and foxglove…and round the back of the house….

back wall…for the arrival of the Langholm Scone Transporter service.

DropsconeDropscone was especially welcome as he has been off officiating at the Scottish Boys Golf Championships and there has been a scone drought at Wauchope Cottage as a result.  On the down side, he had run out of treacle so, although it was Friday, treacle scone day, we had to make do with his plain scones.  We bore it bravely.

We were joined for coffee by our neighbour Liz, who was over on a gooseberry picking visit.  Luckily we had some Glastonbury cake for her, courtesy of Venetia, so Dropscone and I didn’t have to limit our normal scone consumption.

After coffee, I mowed the drying green and the front lawn and did a little helping in the garden.  Not wanting to do too much and set my knee back, I left Mrs Tootlepedal slaving away and went inside to do the crossword.

But not before is had taken a picture or two.


The intricate pattern on a willow.

bee on poppy

And a bee deep in a poppy

After lunch I was determined to test the knee on a short cycle ride but was delayed for two hours by the necessity of watching the Tour de France, which is at an exciting stage. However, I did manage to tear myself away and set off up the Wauchope road with Pockertcam at the ready.

Unfortunately, the council had been up there before me….

Wauchope Road…which made things better for the motorists as far as visibility went but was a bit of a blow for someone looking for wild flowers.  Still, there was a lot to be seen.

crosswort and mallow

Crosswort and mallow

vetch and mallow

The delicate and the robust

Wauchope cascade

A passing cascade

I finally arrived at Wauchope School where I was able to enjoy the roses in the hedge….

Wauchope school roses…and walls and streams.

Wauchope viewsI turned round for home here as I thought that six miles was quite enough for a first trial, especially with a good deal of hopping on and off the bike involved.

I stopped on the way back to look at an alder.  It seemed strangely coloured…

alder…and a  closer examination showed that almost every leaf had been affected by these colourful galls.

I got home in time to see the finish of the stage and all seems set for an exciting day tomorrow.

I looked out of the back door…

bending flowers

Contrasting curves

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do a little more gardening and I took out my camera.


Two new clematis are out

poppy and astrantia

Two old favourites. The astrantia has added some coloured tips to its repertoire.

bee in clover

A bee in clover

Then I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a drive up to the Moorland feeders might be interesting.  In the event, she saw not a single bird on the moor while I had a very quiet time in the hide, seeing only an odd chaffinch or two coming near and a lonely woodpecker which kept its distance.

chaffinch and woodpeckerThere were flying things buzzing about in the sky above the feeder but they were not what I was really looking for.

helicopter and aeroplane

They were not as close together as this in real life.

On my way back to the car, a quick look at the wild flowers near the hide revealed a very busy plant indeed.

plant with insectsIt was a show stopper.

We had a last wander round the garden when we got home and then it was time for tea.  I had pulled up a couple of good looking turnips from the veg patch before we had gone up to the feeder and put them in a casserole with some lamb from our local producers market.  With some of our own broad beans and new potatoes on the side, it made for a very tasty meal.

A full day was rounded off by a visit from Mike and Alison.  Alison and I played a selection of sonatas and divisions with great enjoyment and even some moments when the composers might have recognised their works.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow


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