Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony who is working in Fife and took the opportunity to walk along the Fife Coastal Path from Anstruther to Crail today.

Anstruther to Crail walk

We had good weather on the south side of the Forth too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent some of the morning on the beach watching Matilda proving that King Canute was quite wrong as she told the sea to go away and it went away.  In the process some first rate paddling took place.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I got our bikes out and went for a gentle pedal along the coast road towards Dirleton.  I was quite surprised to find a few poppies out along the road side near the town.


I had a visit to a castle in mind but we ended up at the walled garden at Archerfield instead.

Archerfield walled garden

The walled garden is enormous and a team of volunteers are putting about half of it back into order.  I liked the alliums which were out in full force.


We came back by a different and more inland road, crossing over the single line branch railway to North Berwick…

North Berwick railway

…and stopping to admire a fine show of “snow in summer” and a hill of gorse…

wall and gorse

…as well as a fine house and the remains of a windmill tower.

east lothian buildings

Our route back into the town took us past the foot of the Law and we could see people on the summit.

North Berwick Law

Mrs Tootlepedal climbed up it last year but is going to admire it from a distance this year.

We found Al and Clare on the beach when we got back from our ten mile ride.

Al and Clare NB

It was that sort of day.

Matilda had been given a kite for her recent birthday and her father got it flying well in the light breeze.


Then Matilda built a sand castle and Al and I built one too.  Matilda kindly posed by our castle looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…

matilda castle stamping

…but old habits die hard and soon, Matilda the destroyer of castles was hard at work…

matilda castle stamping

… and Edward the First, the hammer of the Scots,  would have been proud of her work.

I went off to look at boat trip times and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda went down to the water’s edge.  The tide was far out and just beginning to come in again and when I got back, I found Matilda busy marooning Mrs Tootlepedal on a rock.

Ally and Matilda

I thought that Mrs Tootlepedal was very reminiscent of Ariadne on Naxos on her rock.   Matilda kindly allowed Mrs Tootlepedal to get free and began shifting as much of the sea as she could with a small spade.

Then it was time for tea.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal put Matilda to bed and I went for a walk past the harbour.

Once again, there was plenty to look at both above the rocky point….


…and below…

sailing boats NB

…and looking out to sea.

sun and sea NB

When i got back, we played Oh Hell, a fine card game without which no family holiday is complete.

Once again a passing gull obliged as flying bird of the day…

flying gull

…though I was tempted to have a paddling dog of the day instead.

dog on canoe



Today’s guest picture was taken by my son Alistair and shows an old man relaxing on his holiday.


I did get out for a bit of activity though.  Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal and I paid an early visit to the beach and later on, we were joined by Al and Clare and we walked up North Berwick High Street to do some shopping, have a refreshment….


Matilda contemplating a babyccino.

…and a look around.


Very striking tulips in a tub.  I haven’t processed them at all.


Top quality blossom beside a church…


…which was offering a curious menu for worshippers today

After lunch, I left the others to the delights of flying a kite on the beach and went off for a ride on my new bike which we had brought with us in the back of the car.

It was breezy but the new bike is such a pleasure to ride that I didn’t mind and the views on the way offered constant pleasure.    As the road surfaces were smooth and there were no potholes, it was a most unusual ride for me.

A brief summary of things seen follows.


The Bass Rock to my left


Tantallon Castle ahead


Berwick Law across a field of rape behind me.


Berwick Law is not the only law around,  Traprain has a law too.


Typical of the back roads that I used

I stopped at Preston Mill to have a quick look round.


What looks like some sort of oast house


The mill pond


The water wheel turning slowly


I passed several churches.  Quite a few gravestones seemed to have blown over at this one


Drem Station on the recently un-privatised East Coast main line.  (Oh Lord, lead us not into Drem Station my father used to say)


A lot of the bridges had to be lifted up a bit when the overhead electricity lines were installed


Dirleton Castle hiding behind a tree,  We hope to visit it later on in the week.

Although it was reasonably warm, there was no hint of blue sky or sun while I was pedalling which is why the pictures are a bit dull.

I only had a road map of the area with me and I didn’t want to take that along so I took a photo of the map and looked at my camera when I wanted to get directions.  It worked surprisingly well.


By zooming in on the map in the camera viewer, I could see quite well where I might go.  I have inked in my route.  I made it up as I went along with the aim of making it came to 20 miles.  It ended up as 21 so I was quietly pleased.  Those interested can find details here.

I went for a short walk before tea to stretch my legs.

A boat full of passengers was coming in to the harbour.


Although they were too far away to photograph properly, I could see a host of birds on Craigleith Island and it was clear enough to see two fields of rape in Fife on the other side of the Forth._DSC4182

After an excellent tea of roast chicken, roast potatoes and veg, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, she and I went for a walk along the beach while Matilda was being out to bed.

The wind had died away, the skies had cleared a little and it was a lovely evening for a stroll.


The tide was in


Wild flowers abounded: bird’s foot trefoil, red campion, ribwort and valerian


We climbed a little hill and looked back to the town


Below us, a small flock of gannets were very active.  It looked as though they were collecting seaweed.

We are promised warm sunshine tomorrow.  That will be nice.

Another flying gull of the day.




Today’s guest picture comes from my bother Andrew who is back on home territory.  He claims that his walking group couldn’t get across the famous Dovedale stepping stones today because of the traffic!

stepping stones

We are on holiday in North Berwick and Matilda and her parents have arrived safely too.

We left the garden looking lovely on a brilliantly sunny day…

garden in May

…having done a little precautionary watering before we left.

We stopped on our way at the stunning Leaderfoot bridges….

Leaderfoot old bridge

The old road bridge with the new one just visible behind.

Leaderfoot Viaduct

The sensationally elegant railway viaduct (disused)

Leaderfoot viaduct

It really is tall.

…and arrived at our holiday home.  It is called ‘The Cottage on the Beach’ for some reason.

Cottage on the beach

I took a stroll round while we were waiting for the others to arrive.

berwick Law

North Berwick Law looms over the town.  Mrs Tootlepedal climbed to the top last year.

North Berwick

There are many little islands lying just off shore.

Bass Rock

And the famous Bass Rock, home to many, many gannets.

North Berwick

At the end of a sunny Saturday, the beach was still busy


And so was the sea


And so was the sky above my head


I saw a cormorant and thought that it had caught a fish but it had nabbed some weed instead

North Berwick

The buildings round the harbour

North Berwick

The sun was beginning to sink in the sky

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along the sea shore and back through the town.  It was very peaceful by this time.

There was little difficulty in finding a flying bird of the day.


Note: As I am on holiday, I am writing only brief posts, not replying to comments (though reading all of them) and not commenting on the other blogs that I read.  It is rude to spend too much time crouched over the keyboard when you are in company.  I should be back to normal next week and hope that I can take  few interesting photos while I am here.

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who enjoyed the view at Buttermere on her recent flying visit to the Lake District.


Our fine weather continued unabated today and there were gardening and cycling opportunities as a result.  Mrs Tootlepedal seized the gardening opportunities with both hands (and a trowel)  while I rather let the cycling chances slip through my fingers.

I still had a mysteriously croaky throat when I woke up so I was happy to try to soothe it with coffee and treacle scones.  The scones were accompanied by Dropscone and came with additional agreeable conversation.

I went up to the town before coffee to replenish my stock of coffee beans and was pleased to find that a local shop had been able to source a good quantity of organic beans from Sumatra and Ethiopia.  We tried the Sumatran beans today and they were very good…though we failed to detect the overtones of apricot promised by the blurb on the packet..

When Dropscone departed, I wandered round the garden, an easy thing to do on a sunny spring morning.

The blackbird, who has been very busy feeding demanding young, was looking a bit tired, I thought….


…and had paused for a moment before diving into the compost heap looking for worms.

The alliums are finally coming out and one or two are getting near having the perfect globe…


….with all that goes with it.

allium closer

The brilliant azaleas, both red….

azalea red

…and yellow….

azalea yellow

…caught the eyes of our neighbours Liz and Ken, the pig transporters, when they stopped to exchange a few words over the garden hedge.

Liz and ken

The delights of the geums….





…and astrantia were harder to see from the road.


I did a little work and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting out needs.

Mostly though, I took things easy and only got my new bike out well after lunch.  The new bike is a delight to ride and I had an enjoyable hour and a half pottering round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Yesterday, I took pictures of both cows and trees and to save time today, I took a picture featuring both subjects in the same shot.

cows and tree

Nearer home, I stopped to look at some ‘Jack in the Hedge’…

Jack in the hedge

…although it was actually alongside a wall and not in a hedge at all.

I had a cup of tea sitting on the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back but it was hard not to jump up and take more pictures.

Tulips get some added colour as the flowers mature.


The rhododendrons just get brighter.


The first pink tinged flowers have appeared on the white potentilla in the garden.


The clematis at the back door is heavy with buds and a few flowers are giving a hint of what is to come.


And the bees were busy visiting the dicentra again.

bee on dicentra

After an early burst of visits from honey bees when it was still pretty cold, there have been hardly any in the garden during the good weather.  We must have had some blossom available when there was not much elsewhere but presumably, the bees are spoiled for choice now.   As you can see from the bumble bee in the picture above, there is plenty of pollen available here.

We are going on holiday for a week beside the sea with Matilda from tomorrow so patient readers will get a break from incessant garden flowers for a while.  There may be sand castles and sea birds instead.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good time renewing our acquaintance with some pieces which we haven’t played for some years.  It was hard work but worthwhile as the pieces were good.

Mike and Alison are kindly going to look after the greenhouse and keep an eye on the vegetable garden while we are away and Liz is going to fill the bird feeder so all should be well at Wauchope Cottage.  Whether there are any blog posts will depend on the wi-fi in our holiday cottage.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with a background of the very last of the daffodils..

flying goldfinch


Today’s guest picture  comes from my brother Andrew who is working his way back south after his visit to Langholm.  He took this picture of Morecambe Bay in the distance from the wonderfully named Hutton Roof.  By the time he got down to the seaside, the tide was out.

hutton roof

Our spell of excellent weather continued and it now feels as though we have had more good days this year already than we had in the whole of last year. Long may it go on.

My throat was still strangely creaky (but with no other ill effects) so I pottered about in the morning, looking at young birds….

blackbird and baby

Dad looks a little fed up with the incessant demands of the big baby.

baby dunnock

A fluffy dunnock looked a bit unhappy….


…until it found a more secure place to rest.

…as well as supervising the hard working Mrs Tootlepedal, sieving a little compost and mowing the middle lawn.

And looking at some small flowers.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave the lithodora a severe haircut the other day but it seems to be thriving on this rough treatment…


…and along with the more showy flowers on the back path, there are some nice clumps of sweet woodruff.

sweet woodruff

There were some grown up birds in the garden too.



Rooks are handsome birds.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawn after I had mowed it and I took a picture in the late afternoon to show the effect that all this care had.

lawn with edges

I made some carrot and lentil soup for lunch and then, after a restful moment or two, I got the new bike out and went round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I did stop for photos today and after taking a picture of the road that climbs out of the Wauchope valley…

bloch road

…a pattern developed:

tree at Bloch

A tree


Some cows posing

trees at grainstonehead

Some trees

highland cow

A cow posing

trees on esk at Hollows

Lots of trees.  The Esk is fully clothed at the Hollows now.

The pattern was interrupted when I stopped off at Irvine House in an effort to capture some orange tip butterfly pictures.  I succeeded after a fashion…

orange tip butterfly

Female on left, male on right

…but I would have needed to spend a lot more time to get good shots as the butterflies were in a flighty mood.

There was time for another walk round the garden when I got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse is full of plants waiting to go out….


…but there are quite a lot already in place in the vegetable garden with individual greenhouses.

bottle greenhouses

You may have heard of bottle green.  These are green bottles.

The drumstick primula in front of the pond was looking lovely.

candlestick primula

…and it is hard to pass the rhododendrons without the shutter finger twitching.


In the evening, Susan arrived and gave me a lift to Carlisle where we enjoyed a very entertaining evening of recorder playing with our group.  As an added bonus, we were treated to a very elegant new moon in the sky as we drove back.  Sadly, it was behind the hill by the time that we got home.

Although not a flying bird, the most interesting animal we saw all day was this amazing pig  in our neighbour Liz’s garden.


It was having a rest on a journey from Corby to Aberdeen.

The actual flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder in a hurry when Mrs Tootlepedal went out to shut up the greenhouse for the night.

flying greenfinch

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi and thought that possibly this advertising poster, commissioned from Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896 by the Simpson Chain Company, might possibly be of interest to me.  It was indeed.

Toulouse Lautrec poster

If you are interested there is more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson_Chain 

I had the intention of taking my new belt driven bicycle out for a spin after breakfast but what with one thing and another (things to do, cold northerly winds, lassitude, mental instability etc), I didn’t get out until midday.

I had a quick look at the garden in the morning…


…and couldn’t resist another look at the anemones, radiant in the sunshine.

I enjoyed watching a bee literally getting stuck into a rhododendron flower…

bee and tulip

…and admired the colour of the tulip.

When I finally got going, I chose a route which I hoped would see me battling the breeze on my way up to the county border above Eskdalemuir and then getting swooshed back down to Langholm with the wind behind me.

Alas, my calculation was out and I had a crosswind to annoy me in both directions.  However, it was a lovely sunny day and the cool north easterly breeze stopped me from cooking in the sunshine so “mustn’t grumble”.

It is quite a hilly route by my standards and I have to be careful of my tin* knee when going up steep hills so I was lucky to have my new gears working well today.  The new bike’s hub has a choice of really good low gears which let me get up the hills without putting too much strain on my legs and I enjoyed the journey up to the border at 1000 ft above sea level.

I snapped away as I went along.

It was a great day for wide views and closer looks.


wild flowers

This is the Esk at Bentpath.

Esk at bentpath

bluebells at bentpath

I saw a lot of orange tip butterflies on my way and even spent some time on the Shaw Rigg chasing up and down the road on foot trying to catch a male who kept stopping and then flitting onwards just before I got the camera into focus.  I had to settle for this shot of the female which annoyingly doesn’t have the orange tip to her wings.

female orange tip butterfly

Wherever I looked there were beautiful corners…

esk view

…prehistoric stone circles…

stone curcles

…and wide panoramas.

Upper esk valley

This one was looking up the upper Esk valley over Eskdalemuir to the hills behind.   Sharp eyed readers may spot a curious white tower in the middle distance.  I passed it later.

On a sunny day Eskdalemuir is uniformly lovely.

Upper esk valley

And this is the white tower a few miles north of Eskdalemuir village.

samye Ling
It is part of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery which has a beautiful temple.  It is not the first thing that you might expect to see in the Scottish Borders but the community has been here for 50 years and is part and parcel of this part of the world now.

Leaving the monastery behind, I headed up the single track road to the county boundary.  It is one of my favourite sections of road as the records show that in five miles the gradient is so steady that you only lose 15 meters in the course of climbing 432 metres.

Road to Ettrick

The climb is gentle, the scenery delightful and the only fly in the ointment is the need to avoid the large and speedy timber lorries that come hurtling up and down the road.  Luckily they make such a noise that you get plenty of advance warning.

I stopped for a light lunch at an abandoned sheep fold in the forest at the top of the hill…

sheep fauld

…and was quite pleased not to be driving in a car on such narrow roads when log lorries were on the go.


The trip home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked as the cross wind nagged and pestered and I had to keep a sharp eye out for the many potholes on the way.  This didn’t make for relaxed riding.

I chose a slightly different route for my return which  gave me other views, including the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers…

meeting of black and white esk

…and a new selection of wild flowers.

wild flowers

As I got near to Langholm, I saw a farmer rolling his grass pastures…

rolling the grass

..and reflected that I could do with a good roller for my lawns.

I took a last look round…

valley north of langholm

…and was grateful for a quirk in the wind which pushed me up the final climb and then down into the town.

I had only done just over 40 miles but with over 2000ft of climbing, it felt like quite a long ride and my average speed was very modest.  I don’t do many hilly rides so it was a pleasure to have managed one without taking any harm to my joints.

When I got in, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a cup of tea on the new bench in the garden and I kept leaping up to photograph more flowers.

There were a lot to choose from.  They included a fine display of lilac blossom and the first sighting of a new yellow tulip, just out today…..

lilac and tulips

…as well the first of the white clematis on the wall round the back door, one of the few remaining daffodils and some of the very hardy grape hyacinths which have been out in frost, rain and sunshine for weeks.

hyacinth, daffodil and clematis

After a nourishing evening meal of corned beef hash, I went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.  For some reason the cycling had reduced my voice to the merest croak so I wasn’t much use but I was able to hit some impressively low notes.

The flying bird of the day was far too busy hitting some high notes of his own to be flying about.

blackbird singing

*Tin knee:  Actually it is likely that my new bike and my artificial knee are made of the same material, titanium.

Those interested can see details of my bike ride here.




Sibling arrivalry

Today’s guest picture shows an ingenious planter which my brother Andrew encountered on the platform of Penrith Station…..

penrith station

…where he also met my sisters Mary and Susan.  More about that later.

We had another generally fine day with just the merest touch of rain in the early evening but the sun was not so hard working as yesterday and it felt a good deal cooler.

I had intended to embark on a bicycle ride of some length but my legs had other ideas so instead I was happy to welcome Dropscone for a cup of coffee.  We sampled some of Mary Jo’s Canadian jam with his scones and found that it went very well.

Dropscone brought with him a small gift of crusty rolls which he had acquired at an extremely reasonable price from a Hawick supermarket just before it shut for the day as he passed through on his way home from a  golfing meeting late last night.  In return, we sent him off with a bag of rhubarb stalks.

I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then had a walk round the garden.

There is no shortage of things to look at.

The anemone is among my favourite flowers.  Its hand painted look appeals to me.


The white bluebells are looking strong.


And the good weather has the tulips opening their petals to the world.

tulip hearts

At noon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre Coffee shop and I went in to have lunch and keep an eye on the birds.

Goldfinches appeared to be unhappy about something.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal reappeared and I got out the new bike and went off for a gentle and short run down to Canonbie by my usual route.  I don’t have any pictures to show from the trip as most unusually for me, I did the whole twenty miles without stopping at all, except on the two occasions when I had to cross the main road.   I have added a pannier to the set up and the bike coped with this without difficulty.

Since I hadn’t taken any pictures on the cycle ride, I took a few in the garden when I got back….

bees on dicentra

Two colours of dicentra both acting as bee magnets

garden ferns

A ferny corner of the back bed


Ornamental and edible strawberries both in flower

lamium, tulip and rhododendron

Lamium, tulip and rhododendron


The daffodil of the day (not many left)


This is the dawning of the age of azalea (with more to come)

…and then, as it was sunny for a bit,  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to see the bluebells.  Unfortunately we had left things just a moment too late and by the time that we got to the bluebells, the sun had gone in again.  There was plenty to see on the way through the park and along the river…

park trees

Blossom in the park

…but the most surprising thing that we saw was several young rabbits scuttling across the grass at the far end of the park and disappearing into holes in the banking.  We stopped to watch them scamper about and one rabbit felt mistakenly that it was well enough hidden…

park rabbit

…to avoid the inquisitive lens.

We walked on.

wild garlic

wild garlic along the path

easton ferns

ferns everywhere


bluebells and more wild garlic

When we got to them, the bluebells were at their best…


…but the clouds had thickened up and the dull weather didn’t do them justice.  However, the scent from the flowers was not affected and gave our walk special pleasure.

We came home along the Stubholm track…

Stubholm track

…and walked back through the park, passing stitchwort by the Stubholm track and…

stitchwort and white wild flower

…and an unknown white flower in profusion at the park bridge.

We didn’t have long to wait after we got home before my brother Andrew drove up bringing Susan and Mary, my two eldest sisters with him.   Andrew is on a holiday in north Lancashire, my sister Susan had been staying with friends in Cumbria,  my sister Mary had joined them for a short break in the Lake District based in Penrith and all three had come to Langholm to test the new bench, marvel at the new bike and have a meal at the Douglas Hotel with us.

The test, the marvelling and the meal all went off well and we waved them goodbye as the light began to fade at the end of a good day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch showing strong shoulders as it approaches the feeder.

flying chaffinch