End of an era

Today’s guest picture is another from Mike Tinker’s daughter Liz’s holiday on the west coast of Scotland.  Yesterday she saw this little fellow just outside her front door.

lizardFor the first time since we came to Langholm (41 years ago almost to the day), I had to send Mrs Tootlepedal out today to buy two pints of milk.  This is not because we have just started drinking the white stuff but because our milkman has given up on doorstep deliveries on account of lack of demand.  Supermarkets in Britain use milk as one of their loss leaders to attract customers and this has not only helped to drive many dairy farmers out of business but has led to this tragic loss of one of the charms of living in Langholm.

The pain was slightly assuaged by the arrival of Dropscone with some tasty scones to go with our morning coffee.  He had done better than me and got up early so that he had been able to cycle twenty miles before he came round.  The strong winds and threat of showers had discouraged me.

After coffee, I spent some time preparing cards to be sold in our local paper shop to raise funds for the Archive Group.  They have sold quite a lot of the first batch that I gave them and more will be required.

I didn’t get out into the garden until nearly lunch time.

rambler roses

The rambler roses have finally come into their own.

rambler rosesThe cool wet weather this year has kept their leaves free from mildew so that is something to be pleased about.

I wouldn’t say the the garden is buzzing with bees but there are usually a few about and today was no exception.

beesBut there are still no butterflies.

The clematis on the vegetable garden fence is flourishing.

clematisclematisThe weather this year hasn’t been so kind to the orange hawkweed which is usually very perky.  Some flowers are to be seen but not many.

orange hawkweedA white potentilla nearby is doing well though.

potentillaWhen I came in from the garden, I spent a moment looking out of the window.  After yesterday’s rather scruffy blue tit, we had a siskin with a bad haircut today.

siskinThere was an article in the newspaper today saying that siskins are spreading out all over Britain and that they are particularly fond of garden feeders.  That seems to be quite probable.

They are certainly fond of ours at present.

They are certainly fond of ours at present.

After lunch, I had a two hour spell of duty in the Tourist Information point on the High Street but I wasn’t troubled by any pesky tourists demanding information so it was quite peaceful.  I was visited by Archive Group data miner Ken, who lent me an excellent and heavily illustrated book about Edinburgh and its architectural history.  This went down very well with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is a great history enthusiast.  I shall enjoy it too.

When I got back, the day had improved a lot and some bright, warm weather let me get the middle lawn mowed, some compost sieved and some more pictures taken.

moss rose and dahliaI was in the middle of taking the moss rose picture above when a rumbling in the sky made me look up.


I just hope that all that dangerous looking stuff is tied on with stout string.  You wouldn’t want it dropping on your head.

The hostas all over the garden are bursting with flowers.

hostasKenneth, our milkman, came round to collect his last payment and we apologised for not being able to drink more milk and wished him well in his new job.

My flute pupil Luke and I are taking a short break until he goes back to school when the new term starts but I got some flute playing after tea anyway when I went up to play trios with Isabel and Mike.  The playing was very enjoyable and we made some good progress in improving a couple of the pieces we play.

The flying bird of the day is one of those universal siskins taking a bow.


Another miracle cure

After yesterday’s lack of a guest picture, I have had many kind offers which I will get to in time but this one from my younger son, showing the world’s most elegant young lady, had to go in first.

MatildaI woke up full of aches and pains and although I am well known for my abilty to suffer in silence, I might have broken several national and international records for mooching about and moaning today.  I did put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and was slightly cheered by finding that it was the first for 1891, meaning that another year had been ticked off.

I was also amused by a blue tit doing ‘chin-ups’ outside the kitchen window.

blue titIt did manage to pull itself up in the end.

blue titOn the whole, though, it wasn’t a very productive morning.

After lunch I looked out of the window for a short while….

siskin, sparrows and chaffinch

A siskin blows away two sparrows with one blast but doesn’t see the threat from an incoming chaffinch


A sparrow has the tail flaps down as it comes in for a landing.

…before deciding to see how good Dr Velo might be at curing my ailments.  As usual, the good doctor turned up trumps.  As soon as I got on the fairly speedy bike, the aches and pains slipped away and I found that both my legs and my lungs were perfectly in tune and ready for fun.

Because I wasn’t certain how well I would go, I had settled on doing the roughly six and half miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times, the least strenuous way of doing twenty miles that I know.  Some might think that doing the same route three times is boring but I find it quite satisfactory as  it lets me challenge myself to improve on my times for each segment as I go along.  Today I went up to Wauchope Schoolhouse slightly faster on each repetition and came back down the hill only marginally slower each time.  This resulted in a very cheering average speed (for me at least) and I was completely cured of any tendency to moan at all by the time that I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was quite pleased by this.

I then spent some time watching professional cyclists on the telly cycling at twice the speed that I managed.

Although a very light rain had started, I took a quick walk round the garden before tea.


The ligularia positively thrive in the wet and gloomy weather


As do the phlox


The dahlias seem impervious too and this pale specimen grows prettier every day

special grandma rose

The special grandma rose, in a sheltered spot, also laughs at bad weather.

day lilies

Day lilies keep coming too.

The most surprisingly pretty flower in the garden at the moment is this hosta.

hostaThe hostas in general are flowering profusely.

I couldn’t go past the tropaeolum on the yew without recording another formation of flying flower buds…

tropaeolum…on their way to becoming flowers like these.

tropaeolumThey too seem to have enjoyed the damp conditions.

Mrs Tootlepedal had once again spent a lot of the day hard at work in the garden and among her many other tasks, she had made a very neat job of the lawn edges.

lawn edgesI had dug up a row of Mrs Tootlepedal’s early potatoes  yesterday and in spite of the wet, they were slug free and in good condition.  By chance, each seed potato had produced a crop of  exactly twelve…

potatoes…a rate of return which would surely please even the greediest financier.

I had some of them for my tea today and they tasted very good so a day which had started out in great gloom, ended up with great satisfaction.

A siskin once again appears as flying bird of the day.

flying siskin

Getting the picture

In the absence of any guest pictures, I am repairing an omission for which I was rebuked by a reader after my Common Riding post. This is a shot of the Chinook helicopter which flew low over the town to check what was going on in the middle of the proceedings yesterday .

chinookLife was at a rather slower tempo today after the excitements of the Common Riding but we didn’t entirely waste a day of pleasant sunshine.

I started off by going to the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and stocking up with fish, meat, cheese and honey.  I was surprised to get the honey as I thought that our local beekeeper and her bees might have been struggling in the recent poor weather but she had plenty of fresh stock and was in a cheerful mood.

There had been some tremendously heavy showers of rain as I went to bed last night and I fully expected to see the flowers in the garden battered to the ground this morning.  Apart from the David Austin roses and the delphiniums, which were definitely the worse for wear, other flowers were still standing up well.

lilies and nasturtiums

poppyNext, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to Eskdalemuir to collect the pictures from our photographic exhibition at The Hub there.  On a sunny day like today, it is hard to distinguish Eskdalemuir from Shangri-La…

Eskdalemuir…but on a more normal day (when it it raining and the wind is blowing) there is no such difficulty.

We collected the pictures (and the money for several that had been sold) and stopped for a coffee.  A group of Harley Davidson riding motor cyclists from Yorkshire on a tour were also having coffee and they allowed me to take a picture of one of their beautifully shiny machines.

motorbike at the HubAs The Hub had already catered for a large party of cyclists on a 300 km Audax ride from Galashiels to Alston and back, they were having a busy morning for a place in the middle of nowhere.

Because it was such a nice day, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a walk through the woods to Bessie’s Hill forts would be a good idea.  I visited this spot with Sandy in spring but Mrs Tootlepedal has never been there.  It is one of the sites on the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.

By a stroke of good fortune, the Forestry Commission had sent someone out very recently to strim the trail through the woods….

Bessie's hill…so the going couldn’t have been better.

The short walk through the mossy woods was delightful…

Bessie's hill…and the view from the top was as good as ever.

Bessie's hill viewThere are two forts and from the surrounding mound of the upper fort you can get a good view of the lower one.

Bessie's hill fortOddly enough, when you walk onto the summit of  the lower fort, which we did, you don’t get any feeling of being above the ramparts and ditches or of the shape of the ground at all.

As well as the forts, there was much else to enjoy on the walk.

Bessie's hill nature

There were elusive butterflies and tiny moths everywhere we walked

Bessie's hill nature

There was moss in clumps and in mounds

Bessie's hill nature

And sprouting

Bessie's hill nature

The first signs of heather coming into flower

Bessie's hill nature

Insects of all sorts and lichens too

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eyes spotted fungi, some quite large and some really tiny as we neared the end of the descent back to the car.

Bessie's hill fungusWe took a last look back up towards the ramparts of the lower fort…

Bessie's hill fort

You would have to be a fit person to attack up that hill.

…and drove quietly home.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the garden and I sieved some more compost, did some shreddding and a little tidying up under the bird feeders as well.  The mess that the birds make, especially the siskins who perpetually drop seed onto the ground, is the downside of the pleasure that I get from watching the birds feeding.

I walked round with my camera too.

phlox and buddleia

A variegated phlox and the new buddleia were glowing.  No butterflies on the buddleia yet though.

After that, my legs started complaining so I went inside, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal still working, and enjoyed what I thought was a well earned sit down.   Later in the evening, I converted a couple of pounds of our blackcurrants into a few pots of blackcurrant jam.  There are a lot left on the bush so if everything goes well, I shall make some blackcurrant jelly next.

All in all, I didn’t get much time to look out of the kitchen window so this was the best flying bird of the day that I could manage.

flying chaffinch

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent’s trip to the west coast of the USA. It shows ‘Old Faithful’, which she tells me is one of only three regularly erupting geysers in the world.

old faithfulIt was Langholm Common Riding today and it was my firm intention to rise at 5 am. This is the time when the flute band perambulates the town to wake up the citizens and remind them that there is a hound trail on the hill at 6.30.  My plan was to take wonderful pictures of both the band and the hounds.

The flute band duly perambulated and I duly got up and put my clothes on.  Then I heard the rain hammering on the windows and looked out to see the hill swathed in low cloud.  Wonderful pictures were off the menu. I took my clothes off again and retired to bed.

I had a second and more successful go at getting up and although it was still raining, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to wait for the Cornet and his mounted followers to come down Thomas Telford Road, the first part of their visits to the far flung corners of the town during the morning.

Langholm Common RidingThe procession is led by group of men organised by new neighbour Hector, whose job it is to carry the first of the emblems of the Common Rising, a barley banna and a saut herring.  They are the ones braving the rain in their shirtsleeves.

The mounted procession circles the Buccleuch Centre and the historic pump beside it….

Langholm Common Riding…and then led by the emblem bearers and the Town Band, makes its way back up Thomas Telford Road….

Langholm Common Riding

The cloud was still on the hills

…and across the Langholm Brig….

Langholm Town band

The High Street is lined with crowds of spectators, several rows deep.

Langholm Common Riding

The cornet is cheered on every step of the way

…and then it disappears along the High Street to Townfoot.

Mrs Tootlepedal counted over a hundred and thirty riders in the cavalcade and this makes for many delays.

Langholm Common Riding

A horse with some natty headgear waits patiently for the procession to resume.

We left them to it and walked up to the top of the Kirk Wynd.  After the first ‘crying of the fair’, the cornet and his mounted followers gallop up the steep Kirk Wynd out of the Market Place surrounded by cheering crowds and Mrs Tootlepedal likes to see this part of the proceedings.  I walked a little further up the hill in pursuit of pictures which didn’t include the heads of a hundred people waving mobile phones in the air between me and the cornet.

I admired these fine rosebay willow herbs as I waited for the cornet to arrive.

rosebay willow herbsThe cheers from the crowd below told me that he was coming.

Langholm Common RidingJamie Fletcher, the cornet, passed us in very good style and he was pursued by his 130 followers at a more leisurely pace.

Langholm Common RidingThe procession was still passing me as the cornet arrived on the hill.

Langholm Common RidingBy the time the procession had passed me, the rain had just about stopped and by the time that I had met with Mrs Tootlepedal and we had gone home for a cup of coffee, it was bidding to be a slightly better day.

We left the house after our coffee and walked up to the Market Place for the second ‘crying of the fair’.  The procession is now preceded by three more emblems which are carried aloft, the spade, the crown and the thistle.

emblemsRae, the fair crier stands on the back of a parked horse to address the crowd.  He does this in stentorian tones without the aid of any amplification.

Fair crier
He starts with an introduction reflecting on the route that the procession has taken so far:

Now, Gentlemen, we hae gane roun’ oor hill,
So now I think it’s richt we had oor fill
O’ guid strang punch – twould mak us a’ tae sing,
Because this day we have dune a guid thing;     (
cheers from the assembled listeners)
For gangin’ roun’ oor hill we think nae shame,
Because frae it oor peats and flacks come hame;
So now I will conclude and sae nae mair,
And gin ye’re a’ pleased I’ll cry the Langholm Fair. (
more cheers)
Hoys yes! that’s ae time,
Hoys yes! that’s twae times
Hoys yes! that’s the third and the last time.

And then he cries the fair with warnings about what will happen to those who behave badly:

This Is To Give Notice that there is a muckle Fair to be hadden in the muckle Toun o’ the Langholm on the 15th day of July, auld style, upon his Grace the Duke of Buccleuch’s Merk Lands, for the space of eight days and upwards; and a’ land-loupers, and dub-scoupers, and gae-by-the-gate swingers, that come to breed hurdums or durdums, huliments or buliments, hagglements or bragglements, or to molest this public Fair, they shall be ta’en by order of the Bailey and Toun Cooncil, and their lugs be nailed to the tron wi’ a twalpenny nail, and they shall sit doun on their bare knees and pray seven times for the King and thrice for the Muckle Laird o’ Ralton, and pay a groat tae me, Jamie Ferguson, Baillie o’ the aforesaid Manor, and I’ll away hame and hae a Bannock and a saut herring tae ma denner by way o’ auld style.

The crowd cheers.

While the riders and both the brass and pipe bands did some more processing, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along to the Kilngreen to wait for the ‘crossing of the water’.  We weren’t the only ones as both the Sawmill Brig…

Sawmill Brig..and the Langholm Brig….

Langholm Common Riding…were filling up with interested spectators too.

The cornet and the spade carriers led the way across the Ewes water and onto the Castleholm.

Langholm Common Riding…followed by the rest of the riders.

Langholm Common RidingSoon everyone was safely across…

Langholm Common Riding…and the cornet was led out to start the Cornets Chase.

Langholm Common Riding

Passing in front of the ruins of Langholm castle which give the Castleholm its name.

He is given a good start and then the rest of the riders chase after him.

Langholm Common RidingThat concluded the morning’s work for us and we retired for our lunch….and an obligatory flower picture.

knautia and knapweed

Knautia has appeared as the knapweed starts to go over,

In the afternoon the weather took a decided turn for the better and the sun came out.  I walked back to the Castleholm to watch the foot and horse racing there.  Mrs Tootlepedal stayed at home and did heroic gardening.

The athletics takes place on the cricket ground and it was looking very sunny when I got there…as was Roger, the chairman of the Common Riding committee whose heart must have sunk when he saw the early rain.

Langholm Common RidingThere are races over varying distances from 90  to 1600 metres.

Langholm Common Riding

The last stages of the 800m

Langholm Common Riding

A tight finish to a 90m handicap race

 All the races are handicapped and open to males and females and there is wide variety of runners, the oldest today being over 70.

The going on the horse race track was very heavy after all the rain and entries were low as a result.

Langholm Common Riding

Three runners in the first race round the top corner in a shower of dirt

It was a little drier at the bottom corner.

Langholm Common RidingIn the third race, a crafty jockey stole a march at the start of the race and was still leading handsomely when they came round the bottom corner.

Langholm Common RidingThe rest of the field was playing catch up.

Langholm Common RidingI expect that words might have been spoken if the runaway held his lead to the finish.

I was able to look around between times and saw a nice fence post.

fungusI would like to have stayed to watch the Cumberland wrestling and the high jump but my legs had other ideas and took me home before I fell over.

I apologise for going over the top with the number of pictures in this post but the Common Riding only happens once a year so I hope that readers will forgive me.  I also note that if readers looked at the posts for the Common Riding for any of the past three or four years, they might find a remarkable similarity to this post.  One of the charms of the Common Riding is that it follows a traditional course and hardly alters from year to year.  We know what we like.

A flying siskin offers the day its blessing.

flying siskin

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia and shows a green woodpecker visiting a hornbeam in her garden.  DShe says that it made a tremendous amount of noise.

green woodpeckerMrs Tootlepedal spent the day visiting Matilda in Edinburgh while I made the most of a second sunny day at home.  To make the day even better, there were no threatening clouds or passing showers.

I was very good though and spent the first hour after breakfast putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This post finished off 1890 and it is always a great moment when another year is tucked away.

Luckily Dropscone was on hand with freshly made scones to go with a cup of coffee (or two) when I had finished.  Fortified by this, I went out on the fairly speedy bike to test my creaky knee.

I did walk round the garden first though.


The sun had brought on the two new dahlias


A nasturtium’s mouth looked like rather a dangerous place.

apple and rose

There was promise of further delights to come

nicotiana and lupin

The first nicotiana and the last lupin

Polemonium and musk

Two lasting old friends, polemonium and musk. I like the way that little footprints lead into the heart of the musk.

I put the camera away and got started.  It was a wonderful day for cycling….

Kerr…with light winds which were behind me on the exposed parts of the route and against me when I was in the sheltered sections.

Sensibly I slowed down a bit as I got onto the gently uphill section back to Langholm and this gave me a moment to enjoy the wild flowers in the verges.

Old A7

There is still plenty of colour left on the old A7

Old A7

A closer look

I got home in very good order and after a light lunch, set about some garden tasks.  I mowed lawns and I sieved compost and felt very virtuous.  So virtuous in fact that I had to sit down in an easy chair to recover.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Edinburgh, having had an enjoyable visit to Matilda.

It was Summer Fair today in Langholm, the eve of our annual Common Riding and it is celebrated with music so after tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to the High Street and joined the crowd in the Market Place who were listening to the Langholm Town Band playing a programme.

Langholm Town band

It was a glorious evening

After the band finished, we walked back home but I was soon out again to watch the Flute Band march round the town.  The flute band meets the last train of the day into Langholm,  greets returning emigrants and then leads them through the streets.  The fact that the last train arrived in Langholm nearly half a century ago doesn’t make any difference.  They still go to meet it.

Flute band

There seemed to be about 50 flautists in the band tonight

…and even more people following along behind it.

Shortly after the Flute band had passed by, the Langholm Pipe Band also marched through the streets of the New Town.

Langholm Pipe bandThey too have their followers….

band followers

Pipe band enthusiasts on the left and flute band fans on the right

It is one of the best things about the Common Riding and its proceedings that the streets of the town, for  short time at least, are reclaimed by its inhabitants from the grip of the motor car.

Although my camera makes it look as though it was still quite light, a full moon was looking down benignly from the sky above the town as the bands went by.

full moonThe end of a very good day.  It looks touch and go as to whether the weather will be as kind to us tomorrow.

I did look at the birds in the garden from time to time and the sparrows were as hungry as ever…

sparrows…even to the extent of sharing a perch.

sparrowsIt will come as no surprise that the flying bird of the day is another sparrow (though I should have been able to get a better picture on such a sunny day).

flying sparrow

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Liz, Mike Tinker’s daughter, who is on holiday with her family in the West Highlands.  The picture shows the view from their holiday home window.  Close examination of the large red boat shows that it is loaded with cut timber and is the Highland equivalent of our log lorries, taking trees from local forests as they are felled.

log boatWe got up to a sunny morning and although it was still on the cool side for July, just having the sun out made it feel warmer than it has been lately.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a large part of the day in the garden and I spent some time there too.  During the day, I turned compost Bin A into Bin B and before I had turned my back, Mrs Tootlepedal was already busy filling up Bin A again.  At least the bins are in the right order now with the newest compost in Bin A and the oldest in Bin D.   I shall have to get busy sieving the contents of Bin D but I need a little dry weather before I can do that properly.

The feeder was busy again….


The siskins never stop making their opinions known


This one showed a nifty ability to stand on a non existent perch

The chaffinches are more modest in their approach and often look a bit apologetic about barging in.

chaffinchesIt was very agreeable to have some good light to look at the flowers.  Although things were still damp as you can see from the day lily, at least the poppies could hold up their heads.

day lily and poppyThe stachys lanata or lamb’s ear was positively glowing with delight at seeing some sunshine.

stachys lanataI made some lentil soup for lunch and as I was cooking it, we were visited by Scott, the minister.  He is taking part in a hundred mile cycle sportive in London at the weekend.  He had brought his bike round to see if I  thought that there was anything that needed doing to it. This is mass entry event with thousands taking part and he is looking forward to it.  He has done lots of training for the event but his one worry is mechanical failure or punctures during the run as he has no knowledge of bike mechanics and can’t change an tube.   I offered to show him how to do it but he felt it was too late to master the skill so close to the event.  I pumped up his tyres for him, patted his bike and wished him well.  He will rely on a Good Samaritan helping him if disaster strikes on the way round.

The soup turned out well and I thought that I would go out for a short pedal myself after lunch.  Rather annoyingly, as soon as I had got my bike kit on, it started raining out of a clear blue sky.    It was only a passing shower though and I was soon on my way.  My knee is still not fully back to normal and as I had done thirteen miles last time that I went out, I thought that I might do fifteen to eighteen miles today.  However, when I got to the top of Callister, the sight of these clouds in front of me….

clouds on Callister…and this heavy rain shower in the valley behind me….

clouds on Callister…persuaded me that twelve miles might be quite enough and I turned for home.  I got there safely, quite dry and with my knee in good order but looking back from the garden, I could see that the clouds had been following me down the road.

cloudsMike Tinker, who was discussing a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got in, has done some research and tells us that the white thistle we saw yesterday was a marsh thistle which very occasionally produces white flowers.  As always, he is a mine of information.

Amazingly, the rain stayed away from the garden and let Mrs Tootlepedal finish trimming the internal hedges….

hedge trimming…and me mow the middle lawn.

When I finished that, I picked a couple of pounds of blackcurrants and looked round the garden to see what I could see.


Lilian Austin and Special Grandma perked up in the sun.


The fancy dahlia has been joined by two more restrained friends

There are now four clematis blooming on the fence along the vegetable garden.


Two showy….


…and two plain

As always, I enjoyed peering closely at flowers….

astrantia and lily..and the Goldfinch rose once again surprised me by how much it changes as it grows older even side by side on the same stem.

goldfinch roseMy favourite rose of the day though was one of the moss roses.

moss roseWe had potatoes, broad beans and turnip from the garden for our tea and there is no doubt that home grown food always tastes better than the shop bought stuff  (and even when it doesn’t taste better, it feels as though it does).

I am hoping to get a few more miles in tomorrow as the forecasters are speaking of another dry day.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin looking for someone to argue with.

flying siskin

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent who has deserted our cool damp weather for the blazing sun in California while she visits her brother who lives there.  She sent me this picture of her children suffering from the heat there and being comforted by their cousin.

Hannah, Elinor and LeoWe had another day of continuous rain here, the only variety being in the amount coming out of the sky at any one time.

I had an appointment in Carlisle to get  two watercolour paintings which have been entrusted to the Archive Group valued and Mrs Tootlepedal came with me to make sure that I didn’t run off if they turned out to be worth millions.

The valuer was a very charming man who was pleased to see the paintings which are by W H Nutter, a  Victorian artist, well know and admired in Cumbria.  He said that he had never seen paintings of Langholm by this artist before and added that this would oddly make them less valuable as it is the Cumbrian pictures that are most sought after.   You can tell by the fact that I am still here, that they were valued at less than millions (or indeed thousands) but they are valuable enough to make sure that we look after them well.  I have had them framed and the next thing will be to see if some restoration can be done at a reasonable price.

nutter distilleryWe made good use of the trip to Carlisle by adding a little necessary shopping to the morning. Because I have been asked to provide two copies of one of my local photographic views to a friend, frames and mounts were on the list and we added some French, Italian and English cheese to these so the morning was well spent.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back, as it was one of the moments when the rain was quite light.  Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought and planted a buddleia for me which I hope will attract butterflies.  It is growing well but has only got as far as attracting bees at the moment.

buddleiaThe poppies are suffering badly in the wet…

poppies…but nasturtiums and hostas are not such wimps.

hosta nasturtiumAt the bird feeder, queues were forming.

bird feederAbout three o’clock, another lull in the rain gave me a bit of hope and, clutching an umbrella to protect my cameras, I went on a short walk up the Wauchope road to see an unusual thistle.  I had passed it while cycling and I had taken Mrs Tootlepedal to visit it in the car when we came back from Carlisle because she hadn’t quite believed what I had actually seen it but when she saw it herself, she was convinced.

It was a white thistle.

white thistleThere were quite a few of them about among a field of more conventionally coloured thistles.

thistlesThey are definitely white flowers and not just washed out old pink ones because you can see white buds waiting to come out.  We have never seen these before.

I was distracted by lichens on walls and fence posts as I walked.

lichensWhile I was up the road, I walked a few hundred yards further and took a look at my favourite cascade…..

Wauchope cascade…and found a bit more water going over the rocks than on my last visit.

I turned for home and took the path along Gaskell’s Walk as a change from the road.  Considering that it looked like this four years ago…..gaskells…it has recovered well…

Gaskells walk…and the bank is covered in growth.  Rosebay Willow Herb is in fashion at the moment.

There were fungi to be seen…

fungi…both small and big and plenty of wild flowers too.

wild flowersI came back down through the park and stopped to look at the fruit on a cypress tree beside the war memorial.

cypress treeIn spite of the rain, there was colour both at the back of the house when I got back….


Crocosmia hanging over the dam.

…and in the garden.

Rambler roses

Rambler roses hanging over the fence

During my walk, I was conscious of agents keeping an eye on my movements.


A cow at Wauchope Castle checks me out

cow in thistle

Another keeps a low profile among the thistles

Sheep on Stubholm

Sheep on Stubholm give me a hard stare. The one on the left apparently has no eyes and the other apparently has four.

The rain got heavier after I returned home and that was the end of that.

In the evening, our neighbour Margaret took us to a pre Common Riding evening at the Masonic Lodge where the chief speaker was her grandson.  He did an excellent job and as he was joined by a competent and varied lot of local singers as well as other good speakers, we had an enjoyable evening.  It had the added advantage of not going on too long which was very welcome.

I don’t want to get too excited but the forecasters say we might get a glimpse of the sun tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch


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