The end

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. It shows a member of his walking group wondering if there is a possible chance of a lift home.

We had another chilly, grey morning here, with the temperature at three degrees when I got up for breakfast. Once again we were in no hurry to get out, though Mrs Tootlepedal and I both made short shopping excursions. We waited until after we had had coffee with our neighbour Margaret before venturing into the garden.

I was in optimistic mood and when I saw one or two surviving dahlias . . .

I hoped for the best. Mrs Tootlepedal is more realistic though, and she saw all the dead and dying dahlias, and very soon a lot of them were in the wheelbarrow.

It was very sad to see the dahlias and other flowers going over after they have given us such good value, but even I realise that there comes a time when things are definitely over..

Still, there are other flowers that have survived the cold . . .

. . . and when I looked carefully, I could find quite a few more.

It was hard to miss the big Michaelmas daisies . . .

. . . and the Lemon Queen . . .

. . . and as the weather is set to warm up a bit, they should be with us for a bit yet. In fact, our cold spell only lasted for two days, and as I write this in the evening, it is warmer now than it has been at any time today.

When we went back in, I had another go at making a tarte tatin.

While the tarte tatin was cooking, I spent a moment looking at the birds. I noticed there was a tendency for the birds to stand up straighter as time went on.

A goldfinch was looking so severe that a chaffinch was in two minds as to whether to venture any closer to the feeder.

Then I got the tarte out of the oven. I left Mrs Tootlepedal to get it out of the tatin pan when it had cooled, while I went out for a cycle ride down to Canonbie and back. It was still pretty cool, so I had to wrap up well.

It was calm, but it was very gloomy, so I pedalled along without stopping to take any pictures until I got to my half way point approaching the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass.

I had hoped that the two cold nights might have brought about a change in colour in the trees, but in truth, it was not much different from the last time I was out on my bike.

I did see one or two hints on my way back up to Langholm from Canonbie . . .

. . . but they were only hints.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal in full Attila the Gardener mode, and where there had been dazzling dahlias, there were now only bare beds.

I shed a tear.

The dahlias may have gone but the slime mold is popping up all over the vegetable garden.

I took pictures of two more floral survivors. . .

. . . and went in to see how the tarte tatin had turned out.

It turned out that Mrs Tootlepedal had turned it out very neatly.

It went down well with some cream for afters at our evening meal.

According to the forecast, we are in for a few days of warmer wetter weather, so I may get to try out some new gaiters which I bought after getting very wet socks on the guided Tour of the Moor last weekend.

The flying bird of the gloomy day is a blue tit.

A double whammy

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She came across this Antony Gormley figure in Winchester Cathedral on her recent visit.

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning here. The price to pay for this was a temperature of 1°C when I got up. After a quick peek showed me that there was ice in the car windscreen, I was in no hurry to get out and about. I was quite happy to read the newspapers and do the crossword until Dropscone came round for coffee.

As well as some of his excellent scones, he brought news. He had had a letter telling him that his winter fuel allowance, which the government hands out to old people, had gone up £100. I had had no such letter, and he explained, rather gleefully I thought, that this was because I was two months too young to qualify for the extra payment. He then went on to point out that as I had missed my flu vaccination because I was a year too old, I had managed simultaneously to be too young and too old at the same time. How we laughed.

When he went home, I ventured out into the garden. The ice on the car windscreen had melted by this time, and when I looked around, I found that the dahlias had survived the chilly night with aplomb.

And, as you can see if you look carefully at two of the pictures in the panel below, there were even some bees about.

The nerines were totally unaffected.

I had a look at the clover in the vegetable garden.

Along with the long grass around it, it is due to head for the compost bin soon, as Mrs Tootlepedal gets ready to dig the bed over and plant potatoes in it next spring.

I passed a hosta, which I thought was ageing gracefully, on my way to the front garden.

Although it was only 6 degrees, the sunshine was enough to bring out both red admiral butterflies and various bees.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy writing up the minutes of a Langholm Initiative meeting, so I was happy to go back indoors and do nothing much until lunchtime. At this time of year, the sun takes a long time to get round to the bird feeder in front of the house, so I couldn’t even watch the birds profitably.

The sun stayed out and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, so after lunch I put on several layers of my cycle gear and went for a ride. At 7° it was still quite chilly, so I chose a route that would keep me in open sunshine for the most part.

It was not the most scenic route but it did have its moments.

And even when I stopped for a snack at junction with the motorway near Kirkpatrick Fleming, there was an interesting pattern in the gravel to keep me visually entertained.

There was just enough wind to slightly annoy me on the way out, but not to help me noticeably on the way back, so I had to concentrate on pedalling.

At this time of the year, the sun is already beginning to sit fairly low in the sky all day, and by the time that I got near Canonbie, the shadows were starting to lengthen.

After cycling along the newly surfaced and now wonderfully smooth section of the Canonbie by-pass, I stopped to take in the view . . .

. . . and then made a little diversion down to the bridge over the Esk at the Hollows . . .

I have been using tinted wrap round cycling glasses for some time now, but there is no doubt that they make winter cycling a bit gloomy, even on sunny days. It occurred to me that non-tinted glasses might make my cycling life a bit more cheerful, so I have purchased a pair with interchangeable lenses ranging from dark to light. I wore them for the first time today, and it was wonderful how much brighter both the scenery and my mood were.

The bird feeder was in sunshine when I got home . . .

. . . but a great tit perched on the shady side . . .

. . . and a small cloud came over when a coal tit perched on the sunny side . . .

. . . and on top of that, my timing was seriously off when it came to trying to capture a flying bird . . .

. . . so I gave up, and went and had a shower before our regular Zoom meeting with my siblings. My brother was in very good form, because yesterday he had been to his first live concert since the lockdowns started, and he had heard a Brahms piano trio played very well.

Because of my failure to catch a flying bird of the day when the sun was on the feeder, today’s candidate is a shadowy figure from the morning.

Walking, cooking and tootling

Today’s guest picture comes from my Lancashire correspondent Paul. He crossed the border to Yorkshire to see this nice scene at Linton.

We had another grey but mostly dry day here, after another night where the temperature didn’t drop very much at all.

My legs have been quite busy over the past few days, so they put in a request for a quiet morning which I graciously granted. We had coffee with Margaret and then went shopping at the Co-op. When we got home, I made some brown lentil soup for lunch, and while it was cooking, I made three pots of raspberry jam with some raspberries which had fallen into my shopping basket. The great thing about raspberry jam is that it is very easy to cook, and pretty easy to eat too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen to get some bracken to cover her bare vegetable beds over the winter, and after lunch we drove a mile or two up the Wauchope road so that she could collect some. I left her clipping away and went on a fungus hunt in the nearby wood.

I found plenty of fungus growing in the field before I even got to the wood.

And when I walked through the wood . . .

. . . I found a lot more.

It was a gloomy afternoon, with the threat of rain about, but the bracken brightened things up as I left the wood and made my way back to the road.

Mrs Tootlepedal drove home with a car load of bracken, while I walked back down the road, enjoying the contrasting leaves on a bramble stem . . .

. . . and noting the fall in the river at Bessie Bell’s since my last walk on a very wet day ten days ago.

Then:

Now:

Rather than follow the road the whole way home, I turned off onto Gaskell’s Walk . . .

. . . where I found more fungus.

It was rather dark to be taking photographs but at least the leaves have fallen enough to give me a chance to see the river dashing down the valley below the path. There are lots of leaves still firmly fixed to the trees though.

I picked a few sloes as I went along to the end of the wood . . .

. . . and then went down through the park and along to the suspension bridge over the Esk. The water has fallen enough to allow for work on repairing the pier footing to recommence.

I walked along the river for a bit . . .

. . . before heading home.

Mrs Tootlepedal had laid her bracken on a couple of the beds . . .

. . . where it will stop the winter weather from compacting the soil.

She had noticed another quite separate outbreak of the slime mold . . .

. . . and I found prettier things to look at.

There were no bees or butterflies today.

It wasn’t a day for hanging about in the garden, so we went in and I made a batch of date rolls.

In the evening, the other three members of our recorder group arrived, and we had an hour and a half of most enjoyable music making. We feel that we are getting back into the groove after our long lay off.

It was raining heavily when we finished, but two of the group stayed on for a cup of tea and a fig roll, and luckily the rain had stopped by the time that they left.

Although it is going to get quite chilly in the early hours of tomorrow morning, we are promised a good spell of sunshine, so I hope to persuade my legs that a bike ride would be a good idea.

I didn’t get a chance to see a flying bird today but I did see a standing and a swimming bird when I was down by the river.

Remembering a recipe

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone. He found this fine toadstool on the golf course while he was playing recently.

The brisker winds forecast for today did not make an appearance, and it was cool, grey but calm and dry when I went for a walk round the garden in the morning.

I looked for plants that have not appeared in recent posts, and found quite a few.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mini orange hawkweed meadow has come up with some late flowers.

The thornless blackberry on the fence has produced a few bonus berries in its first year, but they are ripening rather slowly and even the black ones are not very sweet. We hope for better things as it matures next year.

In the back bed in the vegetable garden, some vandal has been attacking our autumn colour . . .

. . . but the dogwood with white berries next to it, is in prime condition.

In the same bed a ‘volunteer’ verbascum is standing up straight.

When I walked from the vegetable garden into the middle garden, I passed under fresh set of honeysuckle flowers.

On my way to the front garden, I passed a the red potentilla which has had a second flush of flowers . . .

. . . and a lonely Welsh poppy.

There was more yellow in the shape of a crocosmia when I got to the front garden, almost the last one of this year’s show . . .

. . . and the deep red of a Sweet William in the front bed almost challenged my camera.

I didn’t hear or see any bees until I got to the sedum outside the back door, but when I did see one, it was big.

After coffee, we went down to Canonbie for the second day in a row. This was a sad occasion though, as we were going to the funeral of the husband of an old friend, the father of one of our son Alastair’s close friends at primary school.

Archie, who had been the factor for the Duke of Buccleuch in our area, was a widely known figure and the funeral was well attended. The service was well conducted and very touching. Mrs Tootlepedal was feeling the effects of her double vaccination yesterday so we didn’t stay for the reception afterwards, but headed home for a late lunch.

As it was still fairly calm after lunch, I went for a short cycle ride. I had intended it to be a bit longer but just when I got within touching distance of England, it started to rain. Since the cars coming towards me had their headlights on, it seemed sensible to stay in Scotland and take a shorter route home. Some very light drizzle encouraged me to press on up the road and not stop for pictures.

I had noted a bit of colour on my way down the main road before the rain came . . .

. . . and I was hoping for some good tree shots. However, my revised route took me mainly through open country after that, but it did finally bring a glimpse of blue sky.

This was reassuring. I had been passed by a former teaching colleague who stopped his car for a chat. As it was right at the top of a steep hill, I was more than happy to take a moment to talk to him.

After that, I slowed down a bit and looked around . . .

. . . and, as usual, animals looked back at me.

The sun didn’t actually shine on me, but the view were I was . . .

. . . was a lot better than the massed clouds over where I would have been if I had stuck to my original plan

There were often little patches of sunlight ahead or to the side . . .

. . . but they had always gone before I got there.

All the same, I got home dry and in time for a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker who was visiting. He reported that his boots had almost dried out after our very wet walk last Saturday.

We checked on the fuligo septica slime mold before he left . . .

. . . and we found that although the original patch had diminished a lot, a new and yellower patch had formed a few feet away. We await further developments with interest.

In the evening, I made a tarte tatin. As I hadn’t made one for about a year, this was a re-learning experience, and the result could have been better. However, it was no trouble to eat, and as I have puff pastry in hand I will have another go soon, and hope to have learned from experience.

In the course of quite a busy day, I didn’t have time to look at the birds, let alone take any pictures of them, so there is no flying bird of the day at all today. A pair of cheery lilies is standing in.

In fluenza and out fluenza

Today’s guest picture comes from my Lancashire correspondent Paul. The shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers must be hitting home if beer from Blackburn needs to be delivered to Burnsall, 38 miles away, like this.

We had another dry, cool, grey morning here today. However, there was a welcome burst of sunshine in the afternoon.

I accidentally slept in this morning, but managed to rouse myself in time for a late breakfast. I applied myself to a little Archive Group activity on the computer after breakfast, correcting some mistakes in the database, and then adding a few more newspaper index entries, noting a cricket match against Hawick in 1902 with no less than three peers of the realm playing for Langholm.

I went out into the garden to find out what the gardener was up to.

She was watching a skein of geese flying over the garden . . .

. . . but it was nearly coffee time so we went back in. I checked on our more normal garden birds.

They were keeping an eye out in both directions today.

A goldfinch had a go at kicking a greenfinch off its perch . . .

. . . which led to some confusion . . .

. . . though the greenfinch and the goldfinch on the lower perches weren’t bothered at all.

Margaret joined us for coffee, and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove down to Canonbie Public Hall. Mrs Tootlepedal had received a letter with an appointment for both a booster Covid jab and an influenza jab. Although I am older than Mrs Tootlepedal, I had not got a letter, but we hoped that they might be able to squeeze me in. It was not to be, so while Mrs Tootlepedal had her jabs and sat for the required fifteen minutes recovery time, I took a short walk down the River Esk, starting at the bridge (river levels have dropped again after our recent rain) . . .

. . . and going down river . . .

. . . as far as the Dead Neuk, with its fine red sandstone cliff.

The sharp eyed may spot a heron beside the river. I didn’t see it at the time.

On my way back to the public hall, I enjoyed this well framed view across the rover.

As we were driving home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had discovered in conversation with other patients in the hall that the powers that be haven’t been vaccinating the oldest people in the town. It is slightly depressing to find that I may now be numbered among these people.

Still, it is good to know that Mrs Tootlepedal is now well protected and I enjoyed my little walk.

After lunch, the sun came out, and while I cycled round to the shop, Mrs Tootlepedal set about transplanting one of the tall Michaelmas daisies, I lent a hand and took pictures of other flowers while I was doing it.

The bees hadn’t needed much encouragement and the sun brought them back onto the dahlias in force.

I had taken some other flower pictures earlier in the day and I have added the transplanted Michaelmas daisy to the panel. Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased to see the Ginger Syllabub rose, which she transplanted earlier in the year has survived very well.

I got changed to go for a cycle ride and just as I was leaving, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that the sunshine had brought out butterflies as well as bees.

There were three red admirals about and I have made up the panel with an interesting fungus which is growing out of a crack in the old bench.

My cycle ride took me up the road to Bentpath, passing the Gates of Eden on my way.

Bentpath was looking at its best in the sunshine . . .

. . . and I thought that Westerkirk Church deserved a close up.

In fact, while I cycled cheerfully along, everywhere looked good as long as the sun shone.

As I went up the hill towards Bailliehill and the Crossdykes wind farm, I stopped to catch my breath at an old quarry, one of the dozens of little quarries that are scattered round our area.

When I got to the Crossdykes wind farm, I found that a plaque had been fixed to the cairn at the entrance.

Unfortunately for all concerned, there wasn’t enough wind today to turn the turbines so Mr Matheson, MSP, wasn’t getting the contribution to net zero that he was hoping for. I was happy though, and cycled down the valley of the Water of Milk . . .

. . . with a song in my heart.

Although there wasn’t enough wind to to turn the turbines, there was just enough to make cycling back to Langholm a whisker slower than I would have liked, and I missed my target of doing the 25.8 mile trip in under two hours by a minute.

There should be plenty of wind to turn the turbines over the next two days so I am pleased to have got a sunny and calm ride in while the going was good.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, trying to sneak up on the feeder behind the feeder pole.

Socialising and cycling

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She took this picture of the River Itchen in Winchester, where she is on a short visit with my two other sisters.

We had a grey but dry day here today. Being slightly chilly and not very windy, it was not a good drying day and the washing was still faintly damp when it was taken in late in the afternoon. Still, it was not windy and wet, so we were duly grateful.

After breakfast, I pruned back the Charles Ross espalier apple. Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that the three espaliers are getting a bit too big for their boots, and they will need more serious cutting back, but that is above my pay grade so I will leave it to her.

I took a walk round the garden to see what was going on. As we haven’t had a frost yet, we still have a good selection of flowers in bloom . . .

. . . and I will keep on taking dahlia pictures as long as they last.

It was 10°C and it seemed to be a bit too chilly for the bees. There were very few about.

Two flowers stood out for me today, the resolute Lilian Austin . . .

. . . and the superabundant big Michaelmas daisies.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a curious thing in the garden and I took a picture of it.

It was very difficult to decide what it was. Was it something deposited by an animal? Was it a fungus of some sort? Google thought that it might be the unfortunately named ‘dog’s vomit’ slime mould. I would welcome suggestions from knowledgeable readers.

I went back in and looked back out at the bird feeder. I found that the birds were keeping a good eye out themselves, both this way and that.

There was a good deal of traffic with birds flying in . . .

. . . and sometimes coming and going in a rush at the same time.

There were moments of peace too. A dunnock tested the slabs in the drive to see if they were wobbly . . .

. . . and a blue tit was very colour co-ordinated with its background.

I had double coffee gatherings today, as first Sandy arrived, and as he left, our neighbour Margaret came round. Luckily I had made a pot of Monsoon Malabar so it was no hardship to drink several cups.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning and combined coffee with Sandy and Margaret with two visits on business to the town (and a little shopping on her way back).

When she got back, she became even busier and took the hedge trimmer to the end of our hedge along the street. This produced a good deal of material for me to shred and add to the compost bin, so we were quite ready for lunch by the time that she had finished.

She is thinking of cutting the rest of the hedge back to the same level. That will give us plenty to do in the weeks to come.

After lunch, she finally slowed down and retired to read a good book. I went out for a short pedal round the Solwaybank loop.

My progress was tracked by a curious cow.

Since I have crossed it several times this year but have not photographed it since May, I thought the bridge across the Kirtle Water at Linnbridgeford deserved another look.

I was surprised to see two lots of rather late wild flowers on my trip, red campion . . .

. . . and ragwort.

In general, the colours are a bit muted at the moment, though the tunnels on the Solwaybank road are showing a bit of autumn promise to come.

In contrast to the curious cow on my way out, I saw a magnificent bull on my way back, not quite the monarch of the glen, but certainly the master of all it surveyed.

Once again, the light faded away not long after I got home, so another quiet evening unfolded.

The flying bird of the day is a looming greenfinch.

A smaller tour

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She spotted this little burst of autumn colour beside the pond in Regent’s Park a day or two ago.

Our weather was much improved here, and the birds didn’t take long to come to the feeder when I filled it after breakfast. I was pleased to see the first siskin back after a noticeable time absent . . .

. . . but a greenfinch was not as happy about encroaching siskins as I was.

It may not have been raining, but it was misty and pretty chilly as we cycled to church, and we saw this as we cycled through the church gates.

As well as the gate, the whole fence along the road to church was festooned with droplet covered strands, but they had all disappeared by the time that we came out. The length of the service gave them plenty of time to go. We had a choir of eight today, and we sang cheerfully. We had new words for one of the hymns, so I had to simultaneously read the music from the hymn book and the words from a video screen some distance away. The minister likes to keep us on our toes.

We had a much needed coffee on our return home, and I had another look at the bird feeder.

A coal tit was popping to and fro . . .

. . . while a sparrow kept a watching brief.

I had time for a turn round the garden, where I found pairs of dahlias, roses and snapdragons . . .

. . . before Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a gentle preprandial two mile stroll.

We stopped at Pool Corner, and saw not just one, but two dippers, one at each end of the pool.

We took the Becks road up the hill, passing these sparkling haws . . .

. . . on our way to the track down to the bridge across the Becks Burn. Mrs Tootlepedal kept her eye out for things of interest . . .

. . . and we saw sow thistle . . .

. . . as well as yarrow, fungus and meadow vetchling seed heads, some of which she collected.

As we dropped down to the bridge, I liked this tangled view up the little valley of the burn . . .

. . . and as we climbed up the other side, Mrs Tootlepedal was taken by the vibrancy of the fireweed.

A horse reminded us that it was nearly lunch time . . .

. . . so after a final shot of the track . . .

. . . I put the camera away and we kept going until we got home.

I did just have time for another quick sneak round the garden before attacking the lunchtime soup.

The salvias have made me eat my words about being over for the year, so I have put two pictures of them into the panel by way of an apology.

After lunch, I combined going to the Carlisle Community Choir practice with some dedicated cheese shopping. Both were very satisfactory. The sun had come out by the time that the practice had ended and I took this picture of the large chapel where we had been singing.

The days are beginning to draw in now, and when I got home, I decided that that was quite enough activity for the day and settled down to a quiet evening in. My knees were grateful.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

The tour of the moor

Today’s stunning guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss. He took it this morning looking out over the Firth of Forth.

We didn’t even have a glimpse of sunshine here today. It was a uniformly grey day from start to finish, with the only variety being provided by additional rain which started at lunchtime.

This wasn’t a perfect day for a guided tour of the moor, but after meeting at the Kilngreen, five walkers and three marshals were driven up to the car park at the top of the hill, and we assembled there, suitably dressed for the conditions. Mike Tinker, the walk leader can be seen indicating our route. (The fifth walker was taking the picture.)

To our great delight, we were met by a piper . . .

. . . who led the us off on the start of our journey, playing a 6/8 march which he had composed in honour of the community purchase of the land.

He took us to the top of the hill, and then we turned off to walk along the ridge to the left. We would have enjoyed the views . . .

. . . on both sides of the ridge . . .

. . . if we could have seen them.

Instead we looked at old gates . . .

. . . and neatly built walls . . .

Going along the ridge was a bit of a slog, with dips and rises on a rough path to negotiate before we got to the trig point on Hog Fell at over 1200ft.

Then we dropped down over some even rougher ground to the col between Hog Fell and Auldshiels Hill, just on the 1000ft contour. We were still well in the low cloud, and it was quiet, gloomy and slightly eerie as we came to the wall.

Luckily, a fine stile had been put up by the Langholm Walks Group to help us on our way . . .

. . . and John took advantage of it to get a commanding view of the surrounding terrain.

We crossed the head waters of the Duncan Sike, and battled along the faintest of paths among the tussocks to get to the forestry track that leads down the hill to the road along the Tarras Water. After three miles of heavy going, it was good to have a solid surface to walk along.

On the down side, it started to rain as we reached the bridge across the river.

We walked along the road beside the river into both wind and rain, buoyed up the promise of a sit down to eat our lunch when we got to the end of the road.

In spite of the rain, we remained remarkably cheerful and the walkers chatted away as we went along.

After a brief stop for lunch (in the rain), we crossed the Tarras Water . . .

. . . and walked up the road back towards the White Yett where we had started our tour.

We soon turned off the road and took the track to Middlemoss. I had seen the wild goats here on my last walk a couple of days ago but they were not to be seen today, so I took a view from the road . . .

. . . and then we pressed on and took the track that leads across the moor into the valley of the Little Tarras. The path we were following on this section was sometimes more an act of faith than a clear track . . .

. . . but our leader Mike lead us unerringly to the footbridge that spans the Little Tarras Water.

There we had a pause . . .

. . . before tackling the steep climb up to the road.

There is a neat sheepfold near the bridge.

We were very pleased to get back to the car park after nine miles of hard walking in unfriendly conditions, but I had thoroughly enjoyed the walk all the same. I have been meaning to do this walk for some years, so it was very good to have a guided tour to show me the way. I am grateful to Mike.

I will certainly do it again now that I know it as there was lot to see even without any views. There was fungus on all sides . . .

. . . plants, mosses and lichens . . .

. . . and more lichens, heather and webs.

If we get a fine day soon, I will go back and try to do the walk photographic justice. This definitely was not a good day for taking pictures.

To make a good walk even better, we were provided with tea, scones and tray bakes when we got back to the town.

No flying bird of the day today but one of the walkers did spot a very soggy kestrel sitting on top of a telegraph pole.

A lot to do

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She was visiting the Tate Modern art gallery when she took this picture of the River Thames and a familiar landmark.

Our unseasonable warm spell continued today, but with only very fleeting glimpses of sunshine. It is mostly quite grey, but as it didn’t rain, we didn’t complain.

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to take the minutes for a Langholm Initiative board meeting, I started today by getting the newsletter for the Langholm Initiative organized, and sending a preview copy to get it approved.

Then I got a quote for the repair of the stuck zoom of my little Lumix, and took my old already repaired Lumix out into the garden to see what I could find. What I could find was quite a lot of dahlias.

Not bad for two packets of mixed seeds and one or two saved tubers.

There are other flowers about . . .

. . . and I thought that the nerines deserved a spot of their own.

While I was photographing the nerines, a white butterfly settled on a sweet pea beside me.

I went back inside, and I had just made a large pot of coffee, when Dropscone arrived to help me in the task of drinking it. He bought some delicious scones with him, and I ate mine with some home made black currant jam.

Dropscone told me that he had recently been playing golf beside the Solway Firth on one side of the country and beside the North Sea on the other, so he is obviously getting about well, considering that he’s even older than I am.  (We will be the same age next month though.)

When he left, I checked on the quote for the camera repair, which the man who repaired the old Lumix had sent me extremely promptly. It was very reasonable, and I was getting ready to pack my new Lumix up when I thought that I ought to check it. Much to my surprise, I found that after a night on a radiator in the kitchen, it was now working perfectly. I took it out into the garden and photographed a few more flowers just to see if it really was working, finding yet another dahlia to add to my collection.

I don’t know how long it will last before the zoom gets stuck again, but I was very happy to be able to use it for the time being at least. Having run out of flowers to photograph, I put the camera away, got the hover mower out, and mowed the greenhouse grass and the vegetable garden paths.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting and I cycled round to the shop for supplies, and made a pot of soup for lunch when I got back.

After lunch, I mailed out the newsletter, and then we did some much needed dead heading among the dahlias. Mrs Tootlepedal continued the task of clearing up old flowers. I left her to it, and went off for a cycle ride to stretch my legs after yesterday’s walk.

There was quite a gusty wind about, so I didn’t attempt anything ambitious, but merely pottered round my familiar twenty mile Canonbie circuit. The wind direction was friendly and after three miles battering straight into the wind, the turn to the south provided me with more or less helpful crosswinds for the trip down, and a generally friendly wind behind for the return journey.

I was in no hurry, and stopped to admire the resilience of this fallen but still growing tree . . .

. . . cattle posing on the skyline . . .

. . . the three sisters of Grainstonehead . . .

. . . two bursts of colour on the road to Canonbie . . .

. . . and early autumn views up . . .

. . . and down the River Esk a mile or two outside the town.

I also passed a new sign, put up by the Duke or his minions at Irvine House.

The use of the word curtilage, not a word on everyone lips in the normal course of life, is a by product of the right of Scots to roam freely over their countryside except in people’s curtilages. Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in our curtilage while I was cycling.

She was in the house by the time that I got home and we had a cup of tea before I had a shower and we joined my brother and sisters for one of our regular Zoom meetings.

I am going to have to stop looking at the weather forecast because every time that I check the weather for tomorrow’s walk over the moor, the forecast gets worse. It wasn’t too bad a day or two ago, but it doesn’t look very promising now. It will be another outing for the new waterproof trousers I fear.

It was too dark for bird photos by the time that I got home as the clouds were thickening overhead, and I had been too busy for any in the morning, so there is no flying bird of the day today.

The moor and mist

Today’s guest picture shows some fine flying birds. They are officially sanctioned street art in Derby, and were captured by my brother Andrew.

After yesterday’s uncharacteristically sunny day, the weather gods reverted to type and produced a grey, windy, and wet morning here. On the other hand it was very warm for the time of year.

We were in no hurry to get out and about, and I waited until after coffee with Margaret before I cycled round to the corner shop, grateful that the rain had stopped for a while.

I had a look at the bird feeder after lunch and found a goldfinch who looked as fed up with the weather as I was.

After a calm moment . . .

. . . things got much busier . . .

. . . and a goldfinch flew round in circles trying to find a spare perch.

I’m going for a guided walk over the moor on Saturday, so I thought it would be a good idea to give my legs a bit of practice by having a walk today. I studied the forecast with considerable interest. It said it was going to rain very heavily all afternoon. However, when I looked at the cloud map, it seemed as though Langholm might be on the very bottom edge of the rain area, so I thought it worth the risk, put on my magic waterproof trousers, and went for a walk around Whita.

It is good to see plenty of water flowing down our rivers after so many weeks with just a trickle in them . . .

As you can see from the picture above, the clouds were down on our hills, and although it wasn’t actually raining, there wasn’t much in the way of views as I walked up the hill, and none at all when I got to the White Yett and looked over the Langholm moor.

At 900 feet above sea level, I was well in the cloud here, and although it wasn’t raining, it was fairly moist as I walked down towards the track to Middlemoss. Ahead of me, a couple parked their car at the start of the track, got out, walked a little way down ahead of me, and then stopped and looked around.

They were looking at the wild goats and the wild goats were looking at them.

I left them to their mutual admiration and walked on down the track.

When I came to the Tarras Water, the ford looked a little too exciting for me . . .

. . . so I walked down the riverbank and took the less exciting bridge option.

Although it was undoubtedly still a very dull day, I was out of the cloud now, and able to look around as I walked along the track past Cronksbank and back down to the Tarras Water again.

A field of bracken beside the river was just turning gold, and it added an unexpected touch of colour to the grey day.

I took the track from Broomholmshiels back to the town, and found a couple more bursts of colour on my way . . .

. . . and another fine fungus caught my eye, even it wasn’t so striking as the red toadstool.

I had done a few miles by this time, and the need for a cup of tea and a slice of fruity malt loaf was more pressing than the urge to take more pictures, so I headed home as fast as I could. I was helped in this resolve by the fact the zoom function on my little Lumix had given up the ghost, and I fear the camera will have to go to the repairers. Luckily, I had my phone with me and a lot of the pictures in this post were taken with the camera on the phone and not the one in my pocket.

It was too dark on such a gloomy day to take any pictures in the garden when I came back, so the consumption of the cup of tea and the slice of fruity malt loaf signalled the end of my active participation in life until tomorrow, when it may brighten up in the afternoon.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.