The day started, for the first time for a week, as a day ought to start with a pedal in the company of Dropscone who is recovering from his recent cold. We went round the usual morning route at a calm pace in good conditions and enjoyed not only coffee and scones afterwards but a slice of carrot and walnut cake left over from his birthday as well.
Meanwhile Mrs Tootlepedal was doing the necessary work to tidy up the B & B bathroom. This involved raising the bottom of the door to accommodate the new flooring. To do this, she had to take the door off, take a bit off the bottom and put the door on again to see if she had taken enough off. In the end, she had to take the door off and put it on again three times until it fitted perfectly. When she had done this, she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to do some community weeding. She is tireless.
While she was out, I made a walnut and banana loaf for the evening’s B & Bs and then wandered round the garden.
At lunchtime, I was happy to see this goldfinch back in the garden. They have been away for a few days now and we saw one a couple of miles up the road on our morning pedal so I thought they had deserted us for the summer.
Because of the trouble with powerless batteries in our hedge clipper, I had looked on the web yesterday and found that I could buy a new one with a power cord for less than the price of a new battery for the old one so I ordered it. (The economics of retail are a mystery to me.) I was staggered when it was delivered to our door at 8am this morning. After lunch, I took it it out see what it could do. It seemed to me to have a bit more power than the cordless model and you can see the result on one of the bigger box balls.
After I had got bored with that, I mowed the lawns and then got the camera out again to see what I had missed in the morning.
In the greenhouse, there has been an exciting development on the soft fruit front. Following a suggestion from Sandy, I tried putting a strawberry plant in a hanging basket in the greenhouse and we are hoping to be able to eat a strawberry or two before the end of May.
You can already buy local strawberries in the shop from a big glasshouse near Longtown but home grown ones always taste better (even when they don’t).
I saw a new plant and asked Mrs Tootlepedal what it is and she thinks it is a rock rose. It is certainly very vivid.
I was pleased to see that the rather exposed flag irises had survived the battering from the weather. These are truly voluptuous plants.
I was not neglecting the birds but their behaviour was not out of the ordinary.
In the late afternoon, I went down to Houghton to purchase a purpose built lard ball holder because the jackdaws have got so expert at vandalising the one I was using that they could take the top or the bottom off in moments and eat all the balls. To add insult to injury, they never did it when I was watching. The new one has a smart lid so I hope it will keep them off.
It wasn’t long before it was in business.
Our two B & B guests tonight are members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra who were playing at the Buccleuch Centre. We went along to their concert. They played a Haydn Symphony (No 70 in D), the first Weber clarinet concerto and the Eroica by Beethoven. The sound in the Buccleuch Centre is very dry and the players told us that they found it left them feeling a little exposed but I love it because you can hear every tiny detail of the music so clearly. It allows the orchestra to play extremely quietly without losing clarity and it means that when they play very quick tempos, the music is not at all blurred. They played the Beethoven with authentic valveless horns and trumpets which was very interesting.
The soloist in the clarinet concerto, Maximilian Martin, was really excellent and I was even more impressed when he turned up in the back row of the orchestra playing first clarinet in the Beethoven in the second half of the concert. We thought the orchestra played very well. They certainly made the Hadyn sparkle and gave the Beethoven everything that they had got. We enjoyed the evening a lot. Our two players told us that it had been very hard work for them because the hall was too hot.
I have said it before but I will say it again, we are very lucky to have this quality of entertainment within easy walking distance.