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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who is not too old to take a walk along the track above the town.

View from Stubholm

A very brisk wind greeted me when I got up this morning and this provided a convenient excuse for a morning of not cycling after yesterday’s efforts.  Instead, I had coffee with Sandy, mowed two lawns and wandered about looking at flowers.

There were plenty to see. The azaleas and rhododendrons are progressing well…

azaleas and rhododendron

…with more still to come as you can see.

The white rhodies deserved a shot of their own, I thought.

rhododendron

Other flowers were available in charming clumps.

euphorbia, chive, allium and potentilla

(from top left clockwise) Euphorbia, Allium, Potentilla and Chive

The flowers may have been colourful but the bird colour of the day in the garden was black.

jackdaw and blackbird

While I was sipping coffee with Sandy in the morning, we agreed to have a walk after lunch so I made a nourishing pot of soup for my midday meal to keep my strength up and went off with him in the afternoon.

Incidentally, keen grammarians will have spotted the transferred epithet in that sentence about the soup.  It isn’t the pot that is nourishing but the soup of course.  The government thinks that children in primary schools in England will be improved by knowing things like that but it has never done me much practical good. A bit of basic horticultural knowledge would have been more useful.

Sandy drove us down to below Irvine House and we walked back up the fishermen’s path beside the River Esk.  It was not sunny, apart from one or two tiny breaks in the cloud but it was quiet and warm enough in the shelter of the steep river banks.

River Esk

We were hoping to see some river birds and we did catch glimpses of a heron, goosanders, mallards and dippers but they were in flighty mood and we couldn’t catch them on camera.

We did see pied and grey wagtails, who were a bit more co-operative…

wagtails

…but they tended to dart away when we got close.

We walked up towards Irvine House…

Irvine House

…keeping our eye out for anything interesting.

It was not hard to spot a wild flower or two, both colourful….

wild flowers beside Esk

… and pale.

wild flowers beside Esk

When we got Irvine House, we disturbed a pair of oyster catchers.  One was most indignant.

Oyster catcher

We must have been near their nest.

The river was looking good and the walk, as ever, was balm for the soul.

River Esk

River Esk

We didn’t have as long as we would have liked to hang about taking pictures…

Sandy on banks of Esk

…because we were both due to attend a meeting of volunteers at the Information Hub so we had to hasten back down the path to the car. We passed a lot of the Pyrenean Valerian on the way.

pyrenean valerian

Fortunately, my part in the meeting was very brief and I was soon at home looking through the 150 pictures that I  had taken in the garden and along the river.  When will I ever learn?

I even went upstairs and took another one to show how the garden is looking at the moment.  Mrs Tootlepedal has edged the lawns.

garden view

I had to sift through the mound of photos quite quickly because we had the second of our Langholm Choir concerts to go to in the evening.  This one was at Kirkandrews-on-Esk…

Kirkandrews-on-Esk church

…which is quite a small church so that the singers were a bit squashed up when it came to performing.  Still the concert went well and although the choir beat the audience by one when it came to quantity, the audience was well pleased with the quality of the choir and they hope to see us back to sing again soon.

The only down side of the evening was the discovery, when we came out of the church, that it was pouring with rain.  After a pleasant day, we hadn’t thought that it was necessary to take a coat so there was a hurried scamper for the car.

We have only one more practice and one more concert with the Carlisle choir and then the spring singing season will be over and serious gardening and cycling will be on the menu.

My thumb has benefited from a couples of weeks of rest so I picked up the big camera today and the result is not one but two flying birds of the day, one from the garden in the morning…

flying jackdaw

…and one from the river in the afternoon.

Oyster catcher

A day out

Today’s guest picture comes from my visitors of yesterday, Nancy and Phil.  Before they came to Langholm they had spent some time on the Langollen canal and this picture shows the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct.

Pontcysyllte aqueduct

It was a lovely day with the forecast set fair when I finally dragged myself out of bed for a late breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal was already hard at work in the garden but I took my time, eating a little toast, doing the crossword and generally idling about until it was time for a cup of coffee.  Only then did I get the fairly speedy bike out, pump up the tyres and set out into the wider world.

I chose a route that would avoid newly spread gravel and which would take me down into England and along the southern shore of the Solway for a bit.  A nice flat ride.

The verges are really coming into their own and if I had stopped to capture every good moment, I wouldn’t have got very far.

Springfield road

Springfield road

When I got down to the main road into Gretna, I pointed the Lumix zoom at the Lake District hills, 24 miles away.

Skiddaw

This is Skiddaw, the highest of the northern fells at 3054ft

I had stopped at a field gate to take that picture and took off my cycling glasses and looked around at the wild flowers beside the gate.

plantain dandelion and wild flower

A little further down the road. the brilliant yellow of fresh broom flowers made the fading gorse nearby look quite subdued.

broom

You can see the gorse in the background

I was pedalling happily along, deeper into England, when a tear in my eye made it obvious that although I had taken my cycling glasses off to look at the wild flowers, I had omitted to put them back on.  This omission added three miles to my trip but luckily the glasses were still sitting on the gatepost where I had left them.

The return journey gave me the chance to stop for two more bursts of blossom which I had missed on the first pass, both large….

hawthorn

…and small.

umbellifera

I used the excellent bike path which runs alongside the new northern Carlisle bypass to get myself onto the southern Solway shore and after thirty miles of sublime downwind cycling on a sunny day in May, I stopped for lunch in a pub near Burgh by Sands.  It was proudly displaying a ‘Pub of the Year 2015’ award from the Campaign for Real Ale and the beer I got with my brunch was indeed delicious…

beer

It was a pint of dark mild (not made by Jennings incidentally), sweet and very refreshing

…and it disappeared in short order.  Although the pub may have won awards for its beer, it probably hasn’t won any for hospitality as neither the pub staff or either of the two  customers exchanged a word with me while I ate my food and drank my beer, other than to ask for my order.   That is not the treatment that a wayfaring stranger should get.  Still, the beer was so good that I might go back the next time I pass.

I might have gone further along the coast but I was very aware that the pleasure of the first thirty miles had been greatly enhanced by a favourable breeze and every mile that I went on made for another mile back into the wind. With that in mind,  I made a little loop through Burgh by Sands, stopping to take a picture of St Michael’s Church in the village…

St Michael's Church

A 12th century church with a fortified tower

…and going through Great Orton, where I stopped for another church.

The church of St Giles at Great Orton

The church of St Giles at Great Orton was built in 1098

The church of St Giles at Great Orton

A couple of details. The porch looks a bit more recent.

I used the bypass bike path again on my return journey (it has a superb surface) and then passed  under a splendid collection of overhead power cables near the Harker substation, a major meeting point for cross country power lines.

power cables

Anyone for noughts and crosses?

My way took in  Longtown…

Longtown Bridge

…where I paused to make an eye appointment at the opticians and to eat the last of my food beside the river Esk while enjoying the view of one of my favourite bridges.

I needed the food because I was finding the going quite tough against the wind.  It had strengthened a bit since the outward journey.

I was happy to stop at the Hollows Bridge again with five miles to go for a breather and a photo op.

Hollows Bridge

The trees were at their spring best

As I got near Canonbie, I was checked out by a curious cow.

Canonbie cow

And my last picture on the trip was a Pyrenean Valerian beside the old A7.

Pyrenean Valerian

This is a recent arrival from Spain and is doing very well around Langholm. It likes a cool damp climate!

I had clocked up 63 miles by the time that I arrived home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was still working hard in the garden.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can click on the map for details of the outing.

garmin 24 May 16

I bookended my cycling tour with a visit to the garden in the morning and another when I got back.

Azalea and poppy

A brilliant azalea and the first Icelandic poppy of the season in the morning sunshine

pink strawberry and aquilegia

A pink ornamental strawberry and an aquilegia, both newly out in the evening

What with starting late, stopping for lunch, taking pictures and battling the breeze, the ride had taken most of the day and I was very happy to spend a quiet evening recovering.

Although there is still no flying bird, I did catch a fleeing bird today.

blackbird

 

 

 

Today’s guest picture shows two old people in our garden clutching an invitation to join a musical garden tour.  The tour looks very inviting but the bus fare to get there might be a bit steep.  All will be explained later.Me and Ally

The day started with an early visit to the physio to check on progress with my hip and get advice on my thumb.  She was very pleased with my hip mobility and gave me some sound advice on how to manage the necessary exercises to keep it working and discharged me from her care with liberty to return if things went wrong again.

I had been a bit worried by some pain in my foot while walking  recently and thought that it might be coming from my hip problem but having wiggled my toe about, she reckoned that both my toe and my thumb are simply suffering from arthritis and gave me a further simple set of exercises which she thinks will help a lot.  I have great faith in exercises and will follow her programme and see what happens.

When I got home, I made a beef stew in the slow cooker and then mowed the front lawn and applied some buck-u-uppo to the worst patches.  It is slowly improving.

Then I took a little time to walk round the garden.

The yellow tulips are going out in style…

yellow tulip

…and a colourful clump near the kitchen window are coming to the end of their run too…

tulips

…while others are lasting better.

tulips

The back path is looking quite colourful with blue and white bluebells, the rhododendrons and a lot of potential alliums.

back path

Hidden away in the bed on the left a camassia and a tree peony are developing well.

camassia and tree peony

The strawberries are looking very healthy but the lack of bees and the cool mornings have meant that many of the flowers are not going to bear fruit so I was pleased to see at least one bee in the garden today.

bee on dicentra

I would have been happier if it had left the dicentra alone and gone off to visit some fruit flowers

I was also pleased to see an anemone in flower as I enjoy taking photographs of them because of their very rich colour.

anemone

I was just shifting a bit of compost from Bin A into Bin B (the contents of which have recently been transferred to Bin C) when the main business of the day arrived.

I had recently received an email from a lady who is friends with a blogger called ‘Mrs Tangly Cottage’ from Ilwaco, on the north west pacific coast of the USA, whose posts I read every day.  She told me that she and her husband were on holiday in Britain and as they would be passing near Langholm on their tour, she would be very pleased to be able to visit me and send back a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal and me to her friend in America.

She and her husband arrived bang on time and we gave them a tour of our garden.

Phil and Nancy with Mrs Tootlepedal

Phil and Nancy with Mrs Tootlepedal

They admired Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse.

Greenhouse

It is full of flowers getting ready to grace the garden.

After our walk round the garden, we retired for lunch at the Eskdale Hotel and we learned a lot about the area where they live on the banks of the mighty Columbia River where it meets the sea. Local fishermen will be very depressed to find out how many salmon Phil can catch in a year, not to mention the crabs and oysters he can collect as well.

After lunch, we left Mrs Tootlepedal to get on with some gardening and I took Phil and Nancy for a walk along the Esk.

I was a beautiful afternoon and Langholm was looking at its best.

As we crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I suggested that if we trod quietly, we might see the nuthatches and, very conveniently, we trod quietly and we did see the nuthatches flitting in and out of the nest hole.  I didn’t have my good bird camera with me but I took a shot or two with the Lumix just for the record.

nuthatch

We spent a little time watching the nuthatches and then walked up to the Duchess Bridge past some curious sheep and saw some pretty azaleas as we walked…

azalea and sheep

…back down the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…stopping to admire phantom insects etched by nature into the end of a sawn tree…

sawn tree pattern

…before crossing the Jubilee Bridge again.  We had another look at the nuthatches there…

Nancy

…but the wild life that we saw couldn’t compete with the charm of the minister’s large flock of chickens.  Phil and Nancy are chicken owners and they were delighted to see his hens ranging freely across his garden.

Minister's chickens

Nancy organises musical garden tours and she kindly gave us a brochure for the tours and assured us that we would be welcome to take part in one should we visit the area.  This made us very happy as you can see from the picture at the top of this post.

We offered then a cup of tea on the return to the house but the needs of their tour were pressing and they left us and set off on a visit to Glasgow.. They have already visited Wales, where they crossed the The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct by boat.  This famous aqueduct was of course built by Thomas Telford, born a few miles from Langholm.  After a visit to the Lake District yesterday they are now intending to ‘do’ Scotland and Ireland too.  I was lost in admiration for their energy.

They were a delightful couple and it was a great pleasure to spend time with them.  It is always exciting to meet someone that you have only read about in the blogosphere in real life.  It would be good to take part in a musical garden tour but my aversion to flying makes it unlikely that we ever will and I will just have to read about them.

To round off the day, I went out after tea to play trios with Isabel and Mike and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

No flying bird but a rather fuzzy flying bee of the day instead.

flying bee

Song cycle

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the Belper River Gardens.  He was looking across the river which had been widened to make a boating pond.

Belper

It was the day of the Choir of the Year audition for our Carlisle community choir at the Sage in Gateshead, just across the river Tyne from Newcastle.

We had an early start as we had to be in Newcastle, 70 miles away, by half past eight.  Luckily, it was a beautiful day and the drive was a pleasure in itself.  We picked up our friend Sue, the garden container queen, on the way as we went through Brampton.

Apart from missing a turn just before our destination and getting hopelessly dazed and confused in a never ending one way system, the journey was without incident and we met up with the bus party from Carlisle in the Hilton Hotel.  The  hotel had generously offered us a business meeting room for our warm up.  It is a hotel with fine views across the Tyne.

The Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge in one direction…

High Level Bridge

…and High Level Bridge (opened 1849) in the other.

After the warm up, we made our way across to the Sage, which turned out to have a magnificent hall for us to sing in.  The arrangements were very well organised and we were able to listen to all the other choirs and be finished before lunch time.  One choir was outstanding and won best choir of the day and was the only choir from the audition to go forward to the next stage of judging.  We were disappointed not to catch the judges’ eye and will have to wait to see the adjudications to before we know how close we came.

The Sage, like the hotel, is right on the banks of the Tyne and we could see a street market on the quay on the far bank when we looked across.

Newcastle

Mrs Tootlepedal and I are intending to go across to Newcastle  later in the year as tourists.

I get very nervous on these big competition occasions and as a result, I don’t do my best and personally I would be quite pleased if the choir gave up competitions and just stuck to the occasional concert.

The drive back was as beautiful as the drive over and we were got home in the early afternoon.

I was quite tired after the early start and the effort of performing but once I had had a cup of tea, the adrenalin kicked in and I mowed a lawn, photographed some flowers and went for a twenty mile bicycle ride.

The first of the Welsh poppies are poking their heads through the shelter of a bench.

welsh poppy

welsh poppy

There is sweet rocket in the vegetable garden next to the peony…

sweet rocket

…and a frog or two in the pond.

frog

I got really close to a rhododendron blossom.

rhododendron

I had to wait for some threatening clouds to pass by before I set off cycling and I improved the shining hour by making some bread while I waited.

The clouds drifted off after I got going and although it was still cloudy as I passed the Hollows Tower…

Hollows Tower

The skies had cleared by the time that I reached the Tower at Kirkandrews five miles further south.

Kirkandrews tower

This tower looks down on the church where our Langholm choir will sing on Wednesday.

Kirkandrews

Near the church is a blasted tree which looks as though it should have fallen down many years ago.

Kirkandrews tree

This was as far south as I went and as I crossed the border on the way home, I stopped to take a picture of a long distance cyclist who was on his way from Anglesey to the very north of Scotland.  He posed in front of the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign and I clicked away but as I took the picture of him with his camera, you can’t see it.

To make up for this omission, I stopped shortly afterwards to put the zoom on the Lumix to the test by pointing it at the Riddings Viaduct, a mile away.

Riddings viaduct

I was impressed.  The viaduct used to carry the Langholm branch railway line over the Liddel Water, which at that point, divides England from Scotland (Scotland on the left).

Shortly after I crossed the Esk in Canonbie, the skies began to look so threatening….

Threatening skies

…that I stopped to take one last picture of the scene and then put my head down and pedalled as fast as I could to get home.  I needn’t have worried though, as the gloominess had dissipated by the time that I got to Langholm and I could have gone home at my own pace and still stayed dry.

And that, as they say, concluded the entertainment for the day.

Today’s guest picture shows the Belper River Gardens which my brother Andrew enjoyed on a visit to the town.  The land was donated by the adjacent Strutt’s Mill owner, who wanted to thank his workforce.

Belper Garden

A rather brief blog today for three reasons, I didn’t do anything interesting during the day, a concert in the evening went on longer than I expected and we have to get up very early tomorrow to go to Newcastle.

The most interesting event of the morning was the arrival of Dropscone bearing traditional Friday treacle scones. He is 75 tomorrow and I thought that he was looking pretty perky under the circumstances.

I had thought of a little bike ride but a combination of very brisk winds and some rain put me off and by the time that things had brightened up, I was engaged in watching the Scottish Cup Final.  I don’t usually watch a lot of football these days but I have been a Hibs supporter since 1962 and although they haven’t won the cup for over 100 years, you always live in hope.

Hope was realised at the very last minute today.

I had a quick walk round the garden but the wind made taking flower pictures rather tricky.  However, I have never worried about taking less than perfect pictures so here are some close-ups to go with yesterday’s wider views.

Tulip

I noticed a tulip which had been lurking behind other plants

Tulip

And the clump of yellow tulips are developing a dainty red fringe to their petals

Magnolia

The leaves have come out on the magnolia and I like the effect this creates

Jacob's ladder

The Jacob’s ladder is climbing ever higher

geum

And the geums are growing well too.

In the back border there are Sweet Woodruff….

sweet woodruff

…which Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased about and persistent Spanish Bluebells….

Spanish bluebells

…with which she is not so happy.  She has dug up a great number this year but they keep on coming.

Also in the back border are some old friends….

Rhododendron

…and a new arrival, Camassia…

Camassia

…which looks very exciting.

In the vegetable garden there is the almost equally exciting sight of the first potatoes getting above ground…

potatoes

Also in a vegetable bed is a promising peony….

Peony

…which is going to earn its keep as a cut flower rather than show off in a border.

I did one other thing as well as drinking coffee and watching football, the only useful thing that I did all day.  I made some tea cakes.  As neither Mrs Tootlepedal nor I are keen on eating too much at the moment, I made the tea cakes using half portions of the recipe which was a bit of a nervous business (one and a half eggs are tricky to find) but they turned out well….

teacakes

There were nine on the tray a few minutes ago

…and they had to be locked up for their own protection.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a fun trip to the municipal dump with some of the tree roots which she has dug up and combined  this with some shopping and a visit to a garden centre to get yet more plants for the garden.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert by Eddi Reader, a Scottish chanteuse of great distinction.  She has a wonderful voice and gave us a varied programme of new and traditional songs, including some from her early incarnation as a pop star with Fairground Attraction.  My only beef, which is a common complaint for me, was that the sound was turned up far too much and her sound engineer had put on so much reverb that some of the pure quality of her voice was lost.  There were only five musicians on stage but they made more noise than a 170 strong choir and orchestra ensemble had made last week in Glasgow.  Still, she is a great singer and I enjoyed the concert.

Still no flying birds and no substitutes today.

Today’s guest picture comes from America and was sent to me by Barbara, who was one of three family members who came to Langholm last month on a dreadfully wet day to look for the gravestones of two ancestors.  We met at the Archive Centre.

Archive Centre

The weather here was a good deal better than that today and in spite of a brisk wind, it seemed too good a chance to miss so after breakfast (and with the minimum amount of time wasting), I got the fairly speedy bike out  and went for a pedal.

There has been any amount of loose gravel put on the back roads in our area recently so it was quite hard to find a route which didn’t involve pedalling through some of it.  In the end, I chose the nearest section and pedalled slowly for the first mile and half out of town until I was clear of it.

It was quite chilly when I set out but the weather cheered up as I went along and the wind kindly blew me home so I have had far worse rides than this.

I stopped just before Lockerbie to take a picture which sums up the country along the Lockerbie road for me….hilly but scenic.

Lockerbie road

The clouds were beginning to break up and shortly after leaving Lockerbie on the Dalton road, the sun came out.  I was in the rolling green country of Annandale by this time.

Dalton road

There are wide open views on every side.

Burnswark

A pheasant in the foreground and Burnswark Hill on the skyline.

I crossed the River Annan twice and it was obvious that it had rained more in the west last night than it had in Langholm as the river level was quite high and the water quite brown.

River Annan

I would have crossed it by this bridge at Hoddom but the road to Ecclefechan was another victim of the dreaded gravellers so I turned back, crossed the river at Brydekirk and went home by way of Eaglesfield and Gretna.

I stopped at the Old Toll House at Gretna for a plate of their excellent egg and chips and thus fuelled up, and with the brisk breeze solidly behind me, I cruised home up the main road.

Those interested in learning more about the route can click on the map.

Garmin 20 May 16

This was the first lengthy ride of the month and I would have been happy to extend it a bit but I didn’t want to get myself too tired with a concert coming up in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived and I had a walk round before I went off for a bath.

Following my daughter’s request, I avoided taking close ups of individual flowers today and have tried to show a bit of context.  We need a good week or two before things get a bit more colourful though.  Almost all the ‘bulby’ plants have gone now, snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, grape hyacinths and tulips and we are waiting for alliums, azaleas, hostas, astrantias, rhododendrons and geraniums and others too numerous to name.

tulips

The two beds of newly planted tulips beside the front door are still going strong

pond

Our tiny pond (with a wooden heron keeping guard)

Azalea corner

The azaleas in this corner were badly affected by a late frost

azaleas

This bush survived and will look great fairly soon.

Back path

The back path

There are some nice patches of foliage meanwhile.

middle lawn border

The vegetables and fruit are lurking behind the metal fence.

Apart from the tulips at the front door, there are two clumps left which have starred as individuals on these pages before.

yellow tulips

pink tulips

The lawn is in terrible condition but I am working on it.

We had a full day and after tea we went off to Newcastleton to sing in a concert in the church there with our Langholm choir.

The church at Newcastleton is well lit and warm and it makes a good venue for a concert.  In addition they have an excellent keyboard which we used.

Illness led to one or two absences both from the choir and from our intended visiting  soloists.  On top of that, our regular pianist was unavailable so that our conductor was playing and conducting simultaneously for some numbers.  We had several unaccompanied songs which helped though and we sang three more to a pre-recorded accompaniment which our pianist had prepared earlier. We hadn’t been able to practise these though.

Under these circumstances, disaster would not have been too surprising but, all in all, things went very well and the the tenors even hit the right opening note in the unaccompanied madrigal, much to everyone’s astonishment.

The audience  (more people in the audience than in the choir) responded very warmly to our efforts, the soloists gave of their best and the varied programme suited the occasion very well so we all went off happily looking forward to doing the whole thing again next Wednesday in a different church in a different country.

In the absence of any flying birds, my friend Bruce sent me this picture of two sparrows at his patriotic nesting box, dad on the roof and mum keeping an eye out.

sparrows

 

 

Today’s springlike guest picture comes from Sandy, which is to say that I stole it from him when he wasn’t looking.

Sandy's leaves

I did see Sandy himself though when he came round for a cup of coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders.  He has been doing a lot of gardening lately and took advantage of the situation to have a conference with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I should have been cycling as my mileage for May is very poor but we were waiting for an engineer to come and give our gas boiler its annual check so I used that as an excuse for not going anywhere.

I was a bit rude about the weather forecasters yesterday so it is only fair to point out that they said it would be fine in the morning and start to rain at two o’clock today and they were absolutely right to within five minutes.

I used the dry but overcast morning to mow the front lawn, the middle lawn and the grass round the greenhouse and was pleased to see that the newly sharpened mower was cutting a bit better.

I also took the camera round the garden.  My daughter has complained that in my pursuit of striking flower pictures, I don’t show enough general pictures to convey what the garden actually looks like.  This is a fair point but we are in a state of floral pause at the moment and the general picture is quite dull.  I will be looking for colourful corners quite soon.  In the meantime here are some individual promises of better things to come.

Astrantia and geranium

The first signs of a feast to come

Lily of the valley and solomon's seal

A rather Biblical touch of Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s seal

gooseberry

The promise of gooseberry fool

tulips

…and there are still some tulips left

After lunch, I was working away at my computer because I have finally been bullied by Microsoft into upgrading to Windows 10 and there are differences to the filing system for pictures which are giving me some grief when Mike Tinker popped in.

When I went out into the garden with him, it had almost stopped raining so when he left, I decided that a short walk would perk me up and I put my coat on.  By the time that I got out of the house, it had started to rain again so I picked up a stout umbrella and went off regardless.  After a dull half mile pushing up the road into the wind and rain, I turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and with the wind and rain behind me, the rest of the walk was very pleasant.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but I poked my lens out under the umbrella from time to time because it was a beautiful stroll in spite of the conditions.

Bluebells on gaskells

Not long ago, Gaskells Walk ran through a dark and flowerless conifer plantation but these trees were cut down and the bluebells which had been lurking underground for many years have seized their chance and the walk is now lined with them.

There were wild flowers in abundance.

wild flowers

…and I was pleased to see some red campion among the bluebells.

red campion

I walked along the track down towards the Murtholm and the bluebells defied the gloomy weather.

bluebells

bluebells

As I walked back along the river side towards the park…

Beechy Plains

I know it’s hard but someone has to walk along this path

….it wasn’t only the sight of wild flowers that caught my attention but the smell too.  The wild garlic was rampant, swirling up the banking…

wild garlic

…and lining the path.

wild garlic

They look as good individually as they do en masse.

garlic and bluebell

My umbrella did its job very well and the temperature was kind enough to make my damp walk a real treat.  A little rain brings out the fresh spell of spring to add to the colours.

After a look back at the park…

Buccleuch Park

It really is that colour.  I haven’t Photoshopped it.

…I headed home for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and settled back down to try to get to grips with Windows 10.  At least I can find my files and all my programs work so I am reasonably content.

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we enjoyed a good selection of music dug out from his vast collection by our librarian Roy.  It is very good to be able to play music with old friends without any of the pressure of preparing for public performance but just for the pleasure of hearing and appreciating the music itself.

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