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My feet got a good workout today. We started out with a visit with my sister Mary to Regent’s Park.

We went to see the roses and have a cup of coffee.

There were plenty of roses to see.

And a splendid willow tree too.

After we left the park (and my sister) we walked up Primrose Hill to visit one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s nieces and her partner and their new baby. She unsurprisingly turned out to be the world’s greatest baby.

Then we took the underground to visit our daughter Annie and took part in the Stockwell Garden tour with her, her partner Joe and his mother. This was a most sociable occasion and we thoroughly enjoyed poking our noses into the charming gardens of the neighborhood (followed by tea and cake)

They was lots to enjoy…

… and too much going on to record it all.

After we had exhausted the delights of Stockwell (and ourselves), we took the underground back to Euston and attended a choral evensong with my sisters. The small professional choir of five filled the whole church with a glorious sound.

We followed that with a light meal at an Italian restaurant across the road and took the bus home, tired but happy.

We will need a holiday when we get back to Langholm.

The non flying bird of the day is Mr Grumpy’s London cousin in the park.

While we are in the deep South, our son Tony is on holiday in the far north in the Highland’s This is the view from his holiday cottage.

We didn’t have such a fine view but we did have a sunny walk up to Kenwood House with my sister Mary for a coffee and croissant.

There were fine trees on the way..

.. And the park keepers have let a lot of the grass grow which is good to see.

Then we left Mary and headed into the bustling shopping centre of the big city.

Where we met our daughter Annie and had lunch..

.. And then we did a little shopping.

Then Annie went home and we took my sisters out for a meal.

Another good day

Down south

After spending some time in the garden mowing and watering lawns and looking at flowers…

.. which were well worth looking at in the sunshine…

… and trying out the macro ability of my phone camera on a bee…

… we left for London and arrived safely.

Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June

More sunshine

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows one of his dogs relaxing in his garden.  He tells me that he sun (almost) always shines in East Wemyss.

cof

When I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the sun was shining and my feet were not hurting.  Life was good and it got better when I went out into the garden after breakfast and found a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) sunning itself on a Sweet William.

painted lady on sweet william

Things improved even further when Dropscone arrived for coffee, bringing scones of the highest quality with him.  Add to that a passing visit from our friend Gavin who stayed for a cup of coffee and happiness was to be found all around.

In the garden, when the visitors had departed, there was plenty of cheerfulness too. We have three different astrantias and they are all doing well…

three astrantia

…and the painted lady was back showing both sides of its wings.

painted lady panel

On the feeder, a siskin stood for a moment before getting a seed.  (This is a rare siskin picture for me as it wasn’t taken through a window.)

siskin not through window

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing the garden equivalent of housekeeping after the pole excitements when she found this quite unexpected but very pretty iris in the middle of a bed.  Where it has come from is a mystery, as she didn’t plant it.

new yellow iris

Long established irises should not be overlooked though.

old blue iris

Two days of warm sunshine had brought life to the garden and plants asked to be photographed, both in the form of Jacobite roses…

Jacobite rose

…and the butter and sugar iris.

butter and sugar iris

The painted lady returned to another Sweet William and let me get a close up.

painted lady on sweet william 2

The tropoaeolum has burst into flower as well.

tropaeloum flower out

In between running around snapping at flowers, I mowed the front lawn and lent a hand with the garden tidying until it was time for Mrs Tootlepedal to drive off to Newcastleton for an embroiderers’ lunch.

I made a pan of soup for my lunch, did the crossword and then headed out on my bike to see how my legs were feeling after yesterday’s effort.

I chose a route where the wind would be across and hoped that bends in the road would mean that it would frequently change from hostile to helpful as I went along as I didn’t fancy another long spell of battering into the brisk breeze.

I chose a more hilly route but my legs were unfazed and carried me along without complaint.  My windy plan worked well and I didn’t have any long struggles into the teeth of the breeze, but all the same, I adopted a very gentle pace and stopped to take many pictures as I went along.  Here are a sample.

A mown field and a variety of greens made a interesting picture as I cycled down the hill from Peden’s View.

mowed field

There was a pretty selection of hawkweed and daises at Bentpath village (and another painted lady which didn’t get into the picture).

wild flowers at Bentpath

The Esk looked serene when viewed from the Benty Bridge.

esk from benty bridge

The shadows on the back road past Georgefield look attractive but they are a snare for cyclists as it is hard to spot potholes among them and there are plenty of potholes on this section.

road ar Westerhall

I got through safely though and was able to admire this small prairie of buttercups near Enzieholm Bridge.

filed of buttercups enzieholm

When I looked more closely, I found that below the buttercups, the field was also full of yellow rattle.

sweet ratle in buttercup filed

There was a lot of traffic on the road on my way home…

sheep on Benty road

…but I got back in good spirits after fifteen very pleasant miles.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her lunch and was busy in the garden again so I joined her in a supervisory role and took more flower pictures from time to time.

six brilliant flowers

It was a perfect day and all the better because we have had so few good days lately.

The only fly in the ointment came in the evening with the news that Scotland had failed to hang on to a three goal lead in a crucial game in the Women’s World Cup football tournament.  I wisely hadn’t watched the game because I wasn’t in the mood for needless suffering.

I didn’t find the necessary time to catch a flying bird today as it wasn’t a good day to spend a lot of time indoors, so a sitting blackbird of the day takes the position instead.

blackbird on fence.

Acting my age

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When I looked back at his pictures from Kirkcaldy’s Highland Games on the beach, I saw that as well as cyclists and runners, they had these curious characters too.

beach runners Kirkcaldy

It was the day of the wires in our garden and luckily, the wire hangers had a fine day for their work.  They got prepared and while one man disconnected the power from a neighbouring pole, using a handy bucket, a worker shinned up the new pole in our garden and got ready to remove the wires from the old pole.

new electricty supply 1

The picture on the right in the panel above was taken by Mrs Tootlepedal and as I had to leave the scene, she took all the others of the works too.

Once the wires had been taken off the old pole, it was carefully lowered down….

new electricty supply 2

…and turned out to fit exactly into the available space.

Our new pole stood alone.

new electricty supply 3

Then new wires were fitted from our neighbour Liz’s house to the new pole at the front gate….

new electricty supply 4

…and connected up by a team of two hanging on the vegetable garden pole which acts as a centre point for all the houses surrounding our garden.

new electricty supply 5

I see that I have put the two pictures in this panel in the wrong way round. 

Mrs Tootlepedal took a picture of a section of one of the old poles showing exactly why it was time for replacements.

new electricty supply rotten old pole

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to the Buccleuch Centre, where she was helping out at the coffee shop, and it wasn’t long after she got back that the power was restored and she was able to enjoy our new (and doubtless better) electricity as she made herself a cup of tea.

I had had to leave her to be photographer in chief as I wanted to make use of the good weather to get a cycle ride in.  After cycling thirteen miles on Sunday and walking two mile yesterday without any bad effects on my feet, I thought that the time had come to extend my range a little.

Long suffering readers will know that I harbour an ambition to cycle as many miles as I have had birthdays each year and for as many years into the future as possible.  As there was a rock solid guarantee of no rain today, I thought that this might be the day to accomplish the challenge for this year.

Unfortunately, in spite of the sunny conditions, there was still a pretty brisk wind blowing with gusts of up to 25 miles an hour, so I chose a very flat out-and-back route in the hope that the wind would blow me home.

I was not at all confident that I would be up to the task so I made to sure to stop for a minute or so every five miles to have a drink, eat a snack, stretch my legs and take a photo if the opportunity arose.

There were a lot of things to see on my way…

wild flowers on way to Bowness

…but my favourites were the banks of daises that lined the roads in many places.

daisies beside M6 service road

My route took me down to the southern shore of the Solway Firth and along some very flat roads beside the salty marsh there.

This cow crossed the road in front of me at one point and gave me a hard stare before going off to join her pals in the distance.

salt marsh cow

I would have enjoyed the flat road better if I had not been pedalling straight into the wind, working really hard to achieve a measly 10 mph.

I stopped to admire the fortified farmhouse at Drumburgh, built in the 12 century using stones taken from Hadrian’s Wall.

Drumburgh Bastle

For once, the tide was in and the sea was lapping at the shore as I pedalled along.

solway fiorst view

After 40 miles of head and cross winds, I was mighty pleased to find a small shop in a developing holiday complex in Bowness.  I bought an ice cream, a coffee and an alleged Bakewell tart bar and sat in the sun and had a rest while I enjoyed them. (The Bakewell Tart bar tasted surprisingly good but not much like a  Bakewell Tart.)

Bowness cafe

I pedalled along the shore a bit further after my snack and enjoyed the sight of the marsh cattle peacefully grazing.  Across the Firth, I could see Criffel on the Scottish side.

cattle grazing on salt march bowness

I turned for home after 43 miles, and my plan to be blown home by a friendly wind worked out well.  This was lucky as the 43 miles into the wind had been hard work.

I had stopped on the way out to record the Methodist church at Monkhill, and to even things out, I stopped to record the 12th Century Anglican church at Burgh by Sands (also built using stones from Hadrian’s Wall) on the way back.

chapel and church

I had nearly got back to Langholm when I spotted the biggest treat of the day.  The people who mow the verges of our roads had failed in their task of exterminating every possible wild flower on the  A7  and near the end of the Canonbie by-pass I came across a small clump of orchids which had survived the trimming.

orchid beside A7

After 81 miles at a very modest speed, I managed to get home just before Mrs Tootlepedal went out to an evening meeting and was very pleased to find that she had cooked a nourishing meal for me to eat after she had gone.

When I had eaten, I was recovered enough to go out and mow the middle lawn and take a turn round the garden.

The climbing hydrangea is covered with flowers and bees.

climbing hydrangea with bees

The day of sunshine had brought the coral…

coral peony out

…and the white peonies out…

white peony out

…and the lupins were a joy to look at in the evening light.

lupins

But of course, the highlight was the new pole.

new electricty supply final

At the time of writing,  my feet and ankles have survived the slightly longer cycle ride but only tomorrow morning will tell if I was ill advised to take on my age challenge.

I managed to capture a flying siskin of the day after I got home.

flying siskin

I have appended my route map below.  You can see that it was a very flat route.

Those interested can learn more by clicking on the map.

garmin route 18 June 2019

 

Exciting times

Today’s guest picture appeared when I was looking through the archives and I found this one, which I think comes from Venetia.  It was too good not to put in, so here it is.

Deanery

We had a day with a lot of sun and no rain which in itself would have made it a very good day by recent standards but lots of good things happened as well.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine.

rododendron daisies tropaeolum peony

Everything had a smile on its face.

In the vegetable garden peas are flowering and beetroots are beeting…

pea beetroot foxglove with bee rose

…while among the flowers, the bees were busy again in the foxgloves and roses were beaming with delight.

Along the back of the house, the dam is lined with potentilla and musk, punctuated by the occasional bright poppy.

dam and yellow flowers

I went back in and I was just about to settle down to do the crossword when I noticed a mini digger by the back door…

mini digger

…and in no time at all a large lorry with three new electricity poles was parked in the drive.

big lorry with poles

It turned out that although we were told that the power company was coming to switch wires from our old decrepit poles to new ones tomorrow, the actual poles were to be put in place today.

It was done remarkably quickly.  The first pole was swung off the lorry, manoeuvred under the wires and dropped into a hole dug by a second mini digger.  Considering that it is nine metres high and weighs 210 kg, things went very smoothly.

the front pole

The second pole is in the middle of the vegetable garden and this required a very long arm to drop it in behind the fence…

the veg garden pole

…and a good nudge from the mini digger to get it into place.

digging in the pole

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mustard got a bit crushed in the process but the men made a very neat job of it.

the pole complete

The new poles have got two very decorative plates set into the wood to let the world know all about them

pole makers

If all goes well, the power lines will be transferred from the old poles to the new ones tomorrow and the old poles will be cut down and disappear as if by magic.

The birds kept their distance while the work was going on but they soon returned once the lorry and diggers had gone.

busy feeder on pole day

After lunch, I spread the chips which we collected yesterday onto a path in the vegetable garden and now the whole of the top end is looking well cared for.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy with a new project all day and I gave her a bit of help in working out how to get her new tablet to speak to my printer and then I set out to test the state of my rested feet by going for a walk.

After the miserable weather on my bike ride yesterday had prevented me from getting a view, I headed for the hills today with scenery in mind.

There were wild flowers about…

thre wild flowers warbla track

…but it was hills that I was after. I had an early view of them which I took in case the clouds covered the sun before I got higher…

veiw from stubholm track

…and I had another look when I was half way up the hill…

warbla panorama

A ‘click on the pic’ will show the bigger picture

…and yet another when I was near the top just in case…

view from near warbla summit

…but the sun kindly stayed out for my whole walk and I got a splendid view from the top of Warbla.

view from warbla summit

It was well worth the effort of the short climb.

view up esk valley from warbla

As there was a very stiff wind blowing on the summit, I didn’t linger but made my way back down to the town.

sahdt tarck to stubholm

I found Mike Tinker in the garden talking to Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and we had a cup of tea and a biscuit.  He was impressed by our new poles.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we had a really excellent lesson.  I have learned a lot from my singing teacher, and as much of what she tells me applies to flute playing too, I have been able to pass useful advice on to Luke and he has listened and acted on it.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden after tea, and I enjoyed the sight of a siskin sitting on one of the wires which will be moved to a new pole tomorrow.

siskin on electricty wire

Then the members of our recorder group arrived for our monthly meeting and as Roy, our librarian, had produced a good set of music, we had an enjoyable time.  Sadly, Roy is not well enough to play at the moment, but he is still looking after us well in his choice of pieces to play.

Dropscone’s daughter, Susan is one of our players and as I had met her and her father when they were passing our house on a walk yesterday, I was pleased to discover that Dropscone had got round the walk safely without falling over and breaking any more ribs.

I don’t want to tempt fate, but my feet are still feeling well rested in spite of today’s walk.  Fingers are firmly crossed that they still feel alright tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a passing crow.

flying rook