Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our daughter Annie who has been visiting her granny.  It shows Mrs Tootlepedal’s mother Mauri, who is 99 and 51/52ths years old.  We are going to her birthday party next week.


It was a grey day and I had meant get up and get out early as there was a threat of rain later but it was one of those days when spring and footsteps were not related to each other so it wasn’t until after coffee that I finally got on the road.

Feeling that I had been over the same roads rather too often lately, I chose to head south out of the town to visit a different area of England.

This entailed a hilly route…

garmin route elevation26 July 2016

…which got hillier as I went on and didn’t have much in the way of flat bits on which to recover.  Also, as you can see from the elevation above, the downhills tended to be rather steep and as I am of a cautious disposition (especially on roads that I don’t know well), this entailed going very slowly down some of the hills as well as up them.

All this meant that I was never going to break any speed records and since this was so, I stopped quite a lot to take pictures as I went.

flowers by the road

There were plenty of wild flowers beside the road

I crossed into England over this fine bridge over the Liddle Water at Penton.

Penton Bridge

The ramp on the right of the bridge is a natural rock formation

I crossed back into Scotland by a much less impressive bridge over the Kershope Burn about 18 miles later.

Kershope Bridge

Riparian owners should be prevented by law from letting scrubby trees spoil photographers’ views of bridges.

In between, there was never a dull moment.

Tunnel of trees

I like this tunnel of trees near Catlowdy

I was often up on a ridge with good views.

Lyne valley

Just before I got to Roadhead, I turned left and took a road that was new to me back towards Newcastleton and Scotland.  I was surprised to find a little church in the middle of nowhere.

Bewcastle Reform church

It turned out to be the Bewcastle United Reform Church and has services once a month.

Past the church, I got into some high moorland…

Bewcastle fells

…but it wasn’t long before I was back among flowery verges.

Bewcastle fells

I had met one sharp shower a few miles after I had left Langholm but I had a rain jacket with me and it hadn’t lasted long so I wasn’t discouraged.   As I got near Newcastleton though, I could see a heavy rainstorm over the Langholm Moor, my route home.

As the wind would be against me, this was rather discouraging but I stopped and put my rain jacket back on in Newcastleton and plucked up some resolve and started to pedal up the steep hill out of the town in a steady drizzle.

I was rewarded by the rain stopping almost immediately and the only difficultly that I had in getting up the hill was having to stop and look at orchids all the time.  Mike Tinker had told me that there would be orchids and he was right. There were orchids lining the road the whole way past the golf course.


The hilly golf course itself can best be described as ‘sporting’ ….

Newcastleton Golf Course

..and it really pays to keep your ball on the fairway there.  I never played well on it.

I was having one last look at the roadside flowers…

orchid and pipit

…when I was distracted by the cheeping of a meadow pipit on a fence post.  It may have been hopping mad.

I toiled up the long and straight road to the county boundary….

Hill road

Looking back

…but the wind wasn’t as bad as I had feared and I finally reached the summit.  The ground there was liberally sprinkled with yellow flowers.

yellow flowers on Langholm Moor

I would welcome a suggestion as to what they might be.

Coming back down to Langholm from the county boundary is not the breeze that it should be as you have to cross the Tarras Valley on your way…

Tarras valley

The valley is marked by the line of trees.


..and this involves yet another down and up but at least the monument is in sight and you are not far from home.

Looking down the valley from the far side, I could see Cronksbank, a childhhood memory for one of the blog’s regular readers.


Although I had only done 35 miles by the time that I got home, I had climbed about 3000ft so it was no surprise that I had struggled to keep my average speed above 10mph.  This was 4 miles an hour slower than I had managed for the whole 100 miles on Saturday and only increases my respect for the Tour de France professionals who fly up hills faster than I can go along the flat.

It had been rather chilly on the cloudy ride with a nip in the wind and temperatures only in the high fifties so it was a bit annoying that the sun came out just as I turned into the drive.

Still, it gave me the motivation to have a walk round the garden.


The phlox is really beginning to cut loose

dahlia and knapweed

Mrs Tootlepedal had been visiting Gretna in the pursuit of shopping bargains while I was out and after she came back, I went off in the car in search of wild raspberries.  I found enough bushes to pick a pound and while I was doing this, I saw a striking caterpillar on a ragwort plant.  When I looked closer, every ragwort plant seemed to have its own caterpillar (or two).

ragwort with cinnabar moth caterpillar

A little research when I got home told me that these are cinnabar moth caterpillars.

In the evening, I turned the wild raspberries into two jars of raspberry jam while my tea was cooking.  Raspberry jam is brilliant as it only takes about ten minutes to make it.  The downside is that using this ‘quick’ method means that it has to be eaten quite soon. Mrs Tootlepedal thinks she may be able to bear up under the strain.

There is no flying bird of the day but I think that the crocosmia, the flower of the day, looks remarkably bird like so that should make up for it.


Those interested may click on the map below for details of the ride.  It is a lovely route.

garmin route 26 July 2016



Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens.

The Round Pond from Kensington Palace

I spent the morning preparing posters and taking pictures up to the Information Hub in the High Street.  There I met with Corrie and Sandy from the Camera Club who brought yet more pictures and together we hung just over forty photographs to make up the annual summer exhibition of the Langholm Camera Club.

We were pleased with the end result and when the others left, I stayed on as it was my week for purveying information to any visitors who might come into the hub.  I was not rushed off my feet.

It was one of those days when the combination of a poor weather forecast and unreliable weather made it hard to plan ahead so when I got home I took advantage of a dry spell to mow the front and middle lawns and help Mrs Tootlepedal with some gardening tasks.

I found time to admire the flowers too.

I can’t stop looking at the roses.


After being late in arriving, the pink poppies are now falling over themselves to impress us.

pink poppies

The second wave of clematis is in full swing.


I am sure that there is one with five petals about somewhere.

And in the back border, I could see the first flowers on a buddleia and a fine knapweed.

buddleia and knapweed

And nearby, the picture is white.

yarrow and astilbe

Yarrow and astilbe

All this led to a rather late lunch.

We went out into the garden again after lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal showed me some very curious fungus growing under the variegated elderberry.


It was like rough black hair.

She also pointed out that the annual nasturtium has tripartite seeds just like the perennial one even though they look quite different.

nasturtium seeds

Annual on left, perennial on right.

The were very few birds and only two white butterflies about in the garden but once again there were plenty of bees.

bees on astrantia

After looking at the weather rather dubiously for a while, I made the bold decision that the forecast rain must have past us by so I picked up a camera or two and went for a walk.

I stopped as I turned out of the garden to record the richness of the floral borders of the dam behind the house.


The clouds were of the looming variety so I settled for my favourite short walk and soon saw a couple of oyster catchers tip toeing along, pretending that they weren’t really there.

oyster catchers

A passing duck laughed at their naivety.


Mr Grumpy was standing on a rock in the middle of the river.


I walked on to the Kilngreen and after admiring the many gulls in flight…


…I went up to the van in the car park there and bought an ice cream.  I was just chatting to the vendor when he remarked that it looked as though some heavy rain was on its way.  As I had no coat on, I finished the last of my cornet and walked briskly on.  It didn’t take me long to wish that I had got a coat on as heavy rain began to fall.

I wasn’t feeling very tough so I sheltered under a convenient tree and  called the MTRS* and she kindly drove round and picked me up.  Needless to say, the sun came out as soon we got home a few minutes later.  Still, it didn’t take long before it started to rain again.  It was that sort of day.

By the time that I had gone to our corner shop to pay my bill, I hadn’t got long to wait before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We hadn’t played for a few weeks so it was good to get back to work.  We played a Loeillet trio sonata with the computer providing the accompaniment and considering that the computer is very unforgiving  in the matter of tempo, we did well to play all four movements with only a very few stops and starts.

The forecast looks a little better for tomorrow so I hope to get back on my bike again.

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull from my truncated walk.

black headed gull

*MTRS:  The Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service, vital for distressed cyclists and walkers.

Taking it easy

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent.  She tells me that her husband Mario met these attractive creatures at at Weetslade country park, another of the North East’s redeveloped former pit sites.

Mario's snails

I felt remarkably well when I got up but was quite pleased to find it was a grey and drizzly day which gave me an excuse for not doing too much in the way of outdoor activity.

I put the time to good use by putting a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have been very idle about this and I am still putting in some weeks of 1893 while Sandy is busy entering data for 1894.

I did do a bit of gardening in a dry spell when Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church and I took the opportunity to admire the poppies.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s packet of mixed seeds is beginning to show a bit of variety.

mixed poppies

My favourite poppy gets a solo portrait and it shows that there are plenty more poppies to come.


On the down side, one of the disappointing peony poppies added to its lack of attraction by causing a mess on the lawn.

poppy mess

I cheered myself up with a look at one of the cornflower patches.  They seem to last for ever.


With the bird feeder not in action, the garden is quite quiet as far as feathered friends go but there are still a few blackbirds to be seen every day.


When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Church, we went off to do some shopping and returned in good time to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and the ladies’ race which preceded it.

As the real action doesn’t get going until the last few kilometres of the main event, I went out for a walk between the end of the ladies’ race and the end of the men’s stage.

It was still drizzling on and off and the light was poor but there was enough to see a good selection of birds.  On the Esk there were the usual oyster catchers and pied wagtails but today I saw a grey wagtail as well.

wagtails and oyster catcher

Lurking under an arch of the Town Bridge a few yards away was the familiar figure of Mr Grumpy in a reflective mood.


I walked over the bridge and through the Clinthead garden, where I saw a thrush hiding under a bush…


…and was entertained by many flying birds on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull and mallard

There were black headed gulls in the sky and mallards over the river but the most obvious flying bird was almost right under my nose.


I got quite a start when Mr Grumpy flew past me.  He had come to pose in better light for a portrait.


I walked over the Sawmill Bridge and onto the Castleholm, keeping an eye out for fungi.  I didn’t have to look very hard.

fungi on castleholm
Other creatures had obviously seen them first.

fungi on castleholm

On the other side of the Castleholm, a large patch of colour beside the race course stood out.


It was lesser knapweed.


It started drizzling again so I took the shortest route home over the Jubilee Bridge, stopping to look at a tree as I crossed.

Helicopter seeds

I used to love playing helicopters with seeds like this when I was a boy

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home so I peered over our hedge and saw the view of the garden that casual passers by get.

Garden from the road

Even on a very grey day, there is a colourful corner somewhere in the garden.

Ligularia, phlox and Bobbie james

Mostly Ligularia, phlox and Bobbie James

I got home on good time for the finale of the tour and wondered to myself what I will use as an excuse to be idle now that the three week race is over.  Perhaps I will have to lead a useful life.

Yesterday’s sausage stew provided us with another meal and that ended the entertainment for the day.

The shot for the flying bird of the day reveals the complicated arrangements that Mr Grumpy has to make when he comes into land.

heron landing




Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who found some gorgeous heather when he was walking on the Cleveland Way.  Langholmites looking for heather for their heather besoms will be very jealous.


It was a cool, grey morning with light winds so perfect for an early start and some long distance cycling.  Encouraged by some loud cries from Mrs Tootlepedal, I actually got up quite early, kept any footering about to the minimum and was out of the house by half past eight.  No one was more surprised than me.

I got home eight hours later having spent seven of those hours on my bicycle.

In order to keep weight down, I didn’t take any cameras with me so my phone was conscripted into use to take a few pictures as I went round.

I tried to keep stops to the minimum but I had to stop at that level crossing yet again…

level crossing

…and to make matters worse, I was stuck behind a very smelly muck spreading tractor.

I stopped again at Bowness for a jam sandwich after forty miles.  I was seated on a recycled plastic bench and looking out over the Solway from the English shore towards Scotland.

Solway shore Bowness

Unfortunately, the tide was so far out that the view consisted almost entirely of mud flats.

From Bowness, I cycled right round the coast, making a circuit of a very large radio station…


As you can see, the poles are well braced against the winds which on many days will howl off the Solway and through the site.  It was quite calm today but there was still enough breeze to make me glad when I rounded the point and finally had the wind behind me after fifty miles.

Although the radio station looks rather bleak it is an interesting place.

My route took me across the bridge over the River Whampool…

whampool bridge

…but the view from the bridge wasn’t up to much because the tide was so far out.

river whampool

I turned after 53 miles and headed back to a pub at Port Carlisle where they served me a half pint of excellent beer and a plate of egg and chips with far too many chips.  I must have looked hungry.

The ride home was made very bearable by the wind behind me.  I stopped for one more picture…

motorway banking

…because I like the way that the powers that be have planted this new motorway banking with such a good range of wild flowers.

I was hoping to complete my 100 miles in under seven hours but rather annoyingly, I was two minutes over time.  Details of the route can be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 23 July 2016

There was a large crowd out on the street when I cycled back into Langholm but they weren’t waiting to cheer me home.  The cornet had led his mounted followers over the hill to the Castle Craigs and Cronksbank earlier in the afternoon and they crowd was waiting to welcome the cavalcade on its return.  The mounted procession rides through the town preceded by the pipe band and I was able to park the bike and catch them as they came along Thomas Telford Road.

Castle Craigs ride out

Castle Craigs ride out

Cornet Simon Tweddle and left hand man Dale Irving gave me a friendly wave as he passed the school where I used to teach.

Cornet Simon Tweddle

And last year’s cornet, Jamie Fletcher, the right hand man to Simon this year, followed with a cheerful smile.


They riders go up to Holmwood and then come back down the brae onto Eskdaill Street where I saw them again.

Castle Craigs ride out

The pipe band struck up and they marched off into the evening while I went home and cooked a sausage stew for my tea.

I sneaked a moment while the stew was cooking to walk round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of mixed dahlia seeds continue to produce delights.


Small but perfectly formed.

The yew bush is getting covered with little nasturtium berries.


And the peony poppies, which should be a sensation, continue to disappoint.  They are flowering well but mostly just look grubby.

peony poppy

There was no time to hang about as Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to a screening of a concert at the Buccleuch Centre straight after tea.

The event was a screening of André Rieu’s annual  Maastricht concert.  It is not perhaps an occasion for the musical purist but it was a riot of fun from start to finish and included cheerful music, tuneful singing and an excellent Brexit joke which went down very well.

No flying bird but a welcome appearance of the sun is the flower of the day.


Today’s guest picture is another from my brother and sister’s visit to the north east.  Once again it is transport picture but instead of bridges it shows Lindisfarne monks carrying St Cuthbert’s remains.  Apparently his remains travelled quite a lot

Lindisfarne monks carrying St Cuthbert's remains

We had a warm but rather grey day today, with occasional drizzle discouraging any great thoughts of being out and about.  I spent the morning disposing of coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone and mowing almost every blade of grass that I could see in the garden.  There was also a lot of dead heading heading to do and of course, time needed to be spent in solving today’s crossword.

There were moments of floral photography.

rosa wren

And a welcome butterfly arrival.

white butterfly

This is probably a small white

But generally things were rather wet and droopy.


It was warm enough to make me feel like having a pedal after lunch but once again I was too easily tempted into indolence by the prospect of a really exciting stage of the Tour de France.  This fully lived up to its billing though it was painful to see several high speed crashes as the rain poured down in France.

Because so many every day cyclists have at one time or another fallen off themselves, it makes watching other cyclists hitting the deck a very painful experience for the viewer so I certainly hope that they have better weather for the last mountain stage of the tour tomorrow.

I was just getting up to go for a pedal after the stage had finished when I looked out of the window to see quite heavy rain descending.  I didn’t feel very keen to go out on wet roads under the circumstances so I waited for the rain to stop and went for a short walk.

The rain held off while I went round Gaskell’s Walk and I stopped from time to time to peer at my surroundings.

Plants grow freely from a wall near Pool Corner.

A colourful wall at Meikleholm

Wild geraniums and a pretty purple plant that looks like a nettle have provided colour in the verges for a long time this year.

nettle and geranium

The chief colourist of the day was rosebay willowherb…

rosebay willowherb

…which could be seen on all sides.

rosebay willowherb

I saw some kind of  burr near Stubholm and was surprised to see that one head was quite colourful.


I was hoping to see some fungi and I was not disappointed.  I couldn’t miss these two writhing heaps of fungi right beside the path.


And when I got near the park, I saw a flash of white among what looked like fallen leaves.  Closer examination showed that the ‘fallen leaves’ were a lot of mostly very low lying brown fungus and the white splash was the same fungus with mould on top of it.


Nearby an old tree stump is host to a few large and ancient fungi.

fungi on tree stump

High above my head, the noble fir was carrying some large cones….

noble fir

…and it is lucky that these cones don’t normally fall from the tree as they might well brain a passer by if they did.

Secretly I had hoped to feast on wild raspberries as I went along the track but a demon raspberry picker had been along before me and there were scant pickings left for me. I saw an example of the riches that I had missed…

wild raspberries

…but sadly the reason that these had been left was that they were well out of reach of even my long arms.

I took a moment to admire a flourishing hosta in our front garden when I got home…


…and the even more flourishing rambler rose on our back fence…

rambler rose

…before I went in to cook my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I put some hard work into a set of nine short pieces by Jean-Philip Rameau.  They are very promising but quite a lot more work will be needed before we can play them well.

It was too grey a day to spend time trying to catch a flying bird* so a near perfect Jacobite rose will have to stand by itself as flower of the day.

white rose

*Our bird feeder is still out of action as Mrs Tootlepedal quite fairly got fed up with the large flock of sparrows which it encouraged into the garden and which ate her vegetables as fast as she could grow them.  It will return, I hope, after the growing season is over.

Nothing much doing

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother.  He has got back from Belgium and us visiting Hartlepool with my oldest sister.  They went to see the transporter bridge at Middlesborough and for the price of 60p each way, they crossed over and back.

Transporter Bridge, Middlesborough

We had a nearly perfect summer day today, with sensible temperatures even in the sunshine.  This enabled me to do some useful gardening in the morning (when I wasn’t drinking coffee with Sandy) which included some dead heading, a bit of propping up a flagging rose, some clipping of box balls and a first dose of compost sieving for Bin D.

A reader recently complained that there have not been enough exciting compost bin pictures lately so here is Bin A being instantly refilled by the ever busy gardener and Bin B, shut up for a while before the next compost convulsion.

Compost bins

From time to time, I wandered around with my camera.

A pink poppy

A pink poppy makes a welcome addition to the many red ones.

Lilian Austin rose

Two stages of the Lilian Austin rose side by side

Not all the flowers are outside.  Mrs Tootlepedal cuts the sweet peas.

sweet peas

I spent quite a bit of time sorting through my pictures to find six for our forthcoming camera club exhibition.  They printed out very well which was a relief as often pictures seem magically to print out very differently from how they appear on screen.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh and had a good time there and I allowed myself the luxury of snoozing in front of the telly while cycling heroes completed the mountain time trial in the Tour de France.

I was so tired watching them by the time that they finished that I decided to limit my own cycling to a single mile first along the river, then over three bridges and quickly back home.

I saw my  oyster catchers at the usual spot where the dam from behind our house eventually enters the River Esk.  I suspect that it must carry some extra nourishment down with it as the oyster catchers seem very busy pecking away there.

Oyster catcher

A few yards away there was a disturbance.  Looking around I saw that it was being caused by a young wagtail demanding food from its parent.

Wagtail and young

I pedalled on and looked over the Town Bridge to see Mr Grumpy standing on a rock.

Mr Grumpy

He must have been behaving as he wasn’t being harassed by gulls today.

When I got back, I mowed the middle lawn and then had another look round for some interesting flowers.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out dahlias all over the garden and this one was at the end of the lawn which I was mowing.


Nearby a crocosmia has reared its head.


And we are getting flocks of phlox.


The Rosa Wren has not been flowering profusely to say the least, but when the flowers do come, they are worth waiting for.

Rosa Wren

On the other hand, there are a large number of knapweed flowers.


Wheels within wheels

In the evening, Susan picked me up and we went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  There were only four of us instead of our usual five and as a result we played a lot of music that we don’t play very often which was a treat.

As a sign of the turning of the year, Susan had to put the car lights on as we drove home.  Tempus fugit.

No flying bird of the day today I am afraid but that pink poppy makes a reappearance as floating flower of the day.

pink poppy


Today’s guest picture comes from Edward Winter, a blog reader from Sheffield who came to visit us not long ago.  He thinks that his version of Mr Grumpy is quite the equal of ours.  It is called Crazy Crane.  I don’t think it is getting enough to eat.


After our hot and humid day yesterday, it was to be expected that a little rain might fall and we were woken up by furious drumming on the roof accompanied by thunder rolling round the hills.

I did the sensible thing and rolled over and shut my eyes again.  By the time that I got in touch with the real world, the rain had stopped and we were able to go out into the garden to assess the damage.  Some things had stood up to the heavy rain pretty well.

dahlia and fuchsia

Some were not too bad….


…and some had thrown in the towel.


I am a bit disappointed that Mrs Tootlepedal’s eryngium (Miss Willmott’s ghost) is grey and not blue but on close examination, I can see that it does have a bit of blue in there.


It was still pretty soggy outside so I went back in, got my hair cut by my resident barber and then hid until after lunch when the prospects were much better.  The clouds cleared away and with light winds, it looked like a good afternoon for a pedal so I got my cycling gear on and…..

…foolishly stopped for a moment to see how the Tour de France was getting on….

…and two hours later, I finally got on my way.  By this time the wind had got up quite a lot so it served me right for dilly dallying.

My joints were feeling the effects of clambering about on the hillside yesterday so I settled for a short, slow ride with plenty of stops for shots.

The Wauchope was showing where all the rain had gone…

Wauchope cascade

…but the roads were dry and the sun poked through the clouds from time to time. As I went on my way down to Canonbie across the hill, I could look back to see the Monument on the top of Whita where I was walking yesterday.

View of Whita

The tower to the right is a communications mast and quite ugly but we pretend that it isn’t there.

The first part of the route is through sheep and cattle farming country often with rough pasture…

Rough pasture

…and frequent vistas.


The second part of the route follows the River Esk from Canonbie back to Langholm.

I cross several bridges and I was looking at the lichen on one (as one does) and took a picture out of habit.  When I put it on the computer, I saw that there was an almost invisible fly on the lichen.  Can you spot it in the  left hand frame?  It’s there.

lichen with fly

I passed Gilnockie Tower too.

Gilnockie tower

It is a sixteenth century tower but it was fully restored in 1978 which is why it looks so neat today.

I parked my bike by a fence on the bike path and walked down to the River Esk a mile or two south of the town.

River Esk at Broomholm Island

The two arms of the river coming together after passing round  Broomholm Island

A bright flower beside the river caught my eye.


And there was something even more delightful nearby.

Wild raspberry

The wild raspberries tasted as good as they looked.

Nearer the town, I stopped on Skippers Bridge for the obligatory view of the old distillery.

Langholm Distillery

And since I was in bridge mode, I stopped on the Town Bridge too.

Meeting of the waters

You can see that the Esk on the left has much more water coming down it than the Ewes which shows how local the rain storm over night was.   We were lucky as there are  reports that “gobstopper-sized” hailstones dented cars at Eastriggs which is less than 20 miles away from us.

All in all, apart from the brisk wind, it was a surprisingly mellow day for a gentle pedal after the early thunderstorms.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I took a moment to admire the rambler roses on the fence beside the vegetable garden.

rambling roses

The vegetable garden itself is doing very well and provided runner beans for our lunch and then turnips, potatoes and broad beans for our tea.  Perhaps thanks to a lot of sunshine in June, the vegetables seem to be full of flavour this year.

The flower of the day is a moody shot of a clematis, taken just after the storm abated this morning.


And in the absence of a flying bird, last night’s full moon, taken before the rain came, will have to do.

full Moon July 2016


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