Archive for Jul, 2011

Today’s picture shows a fine iron bridge over the Kelvin in Glasgow.

kelvin bridge

The chief business of the day was a trip to Glasgow to take Alistair and Clare home and see the new kitchen and bathroom in their flat. We started with a visit to our local bottle bank.

bottle bank

It takes three to do the work after another hard night at Wauchope Cottage

The drive to Glasgow was uneventful until I decided to take the new M74 extension along the south of the city. Al and Clare’s flat is just over the Kingston Bridge on the north side of the river and he did warn me that it might not be possible to get onto the east bound M8 from the new motorway. I should have listened as it turned out that you can’t so we had to go further on and then turn back to cross the river. Still it was nice to use a road that has cost us all so much money.

The new kitchen and bathroom were very fine.


Mrs Tootlepedal being entertained in the kitchen.

We went for brunch at a nearby restaurant and after a good meal we returned to the flat by the scenic route, visiting this community garden on our way.


It seems to be on the site of a demolished building and a lot of work has gone into it.

Back at the flat, we paused for a cup of tea and then, having loaded some unwanted rubbish into the car, we headed home. We couldn’t use the new M74 extension on the way back so had to return by our customary M8/M73/M74 route. We nipped along to ensure that we could visit the dump at Corsehill on our way home to get rid of the rubbish and save an extra journey.

We got home without further incident and I took the camera out into the garden to see if anything had happened while I was away. Nothing much had changed.


The tomatoes are taking their time ripening but my single plant has a good crop on it.

cosmos old and young

Two stages of the same cosmos

wide cosmos

They really are doing well this year


So are the petunias

petunia (2)

..and another

The Sweet Williams keep on flowering. They have been joined by recently planted nasturtiums in places.

nasturtium sweet william

The tall delphiniums are all over and have been cut back but some of the smaller side shoots still have life in them.

delphinium side shoot

I couldn’t help myself and my camera finger twitched involuntarily as I passed the Rosa Wrenn.

rosa wrenn

I did find two new flowers too.

clematis (5)

Yet another clematis is out


This tiny knautia should be the first of many

There has been quite a bit of discussion about what this next plant is and Mrs Tootlepedal has finally come down on it being a sedum. I am hoping to see butterflies on it soon. I like the contrasting blue tips it produces.


I didn’t have much time to look at thebirds but I noticed this young starling inside the fat ball fortress. We hope it doesn’t eat so much that it can’t get out again. I took these two pictures in the morning before we went to Glasgow.

starling inside

There were the usual crowds of sparrows about.

several sparrows

It looks as though the rain will be back tomorrow but the last few days of lovely weather will make up for a few wet days to come.

I will update the cycling page today as it is the last day of the month. It has been a very good month for cycling with very few days missed. All in all, I am feeling very cheerful just now.

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Today’s picture is another from my sister Mary from one of her walks. It shows the magnificent house at Knole Park in Kent.

Knole Park, Sevenoaks

The glorious weather continued today but we were all a bit shattered after yesterday so we had a late breakfast. While the others were getting up, I took the camera into the garden.

cosmos and hawkweed

The cosmos are producing very large flowers.

cosmos mixed

The patch of cosmos planting didn't turn out as mixed as Mrs Tootlepedal hoped


The pinks have exceeded expectations


This knapweed lurked in the shadows but was still visited by a bee

blazing crocosmia

The crocosmia by the front lawn was ablaze in the early sunshine

After breakfast, we went with our visitors to the producers market in the sports hall where under the supervision of Mrs Tootlepedal, I purchased fish, venison and soap thus catering for the inner and outer man in one go.

Alistair and Clare went with Mrs Tootlepedal to explore the delights of Latimer’s while I made a fresh batch of soup for lunch. After lunch, a great shopping expedition to Carlisle was planned but that seemed too exciting for me so I stayed at home to make some dough for pizza bases for our tea.

The sparrows are making use of the new fatball fortress. Here we see one with a beak full getting ready to enjoy eating it in a nearby bush.


After the dough was made, I got out the speedy bike and set out to fill in the time till the shoppers returned. I went to Dunnabie, Waterbeck, Middlebie and Ecclefechan to start with. The council have done good work in resurfacing some of the worst bits of the roads on this route so the pedalling was very pleasant in the warm sunshine. There was a cooling breeze in my face but I still  went at a gentle pace so as to get neither too hot nor worn out.

From Ecclefechan I headed towards Hoddam Castle, stopping at Hoddam Cross to take a picture of the ruined church there.

Hoddam CrossThe original church at this spot in the middle of nowhere, was built to provide a central church for three parishes at a time of a shortage of ministers. The present church was built in 1815 and burnt down in 1975.

I crossed the river Annan at Hoddam and headed for the town of Annan where I crossed the river again.

river Annan

The River Annan at Annan

From Annan I went up to Chapelcross and then down to Eastriggs. From there I stuck mostly to the main roads to take me back to Langholm through Gretna with the wind behind by now. The trip was a pleasing 50 miles at a gentle pace with only one brief stop to eat a snack.

As I was going along the road to Longtown I met a family going to Lands End on two tandems, a parent and youngish child on each. I greatly admired their courage.


I had stopped for a banana as they went on their way.

When I got home, I felt perky enough to mow the front lawn. It is looking very good after its recent weed and feed. The shoppers had got back before me and my son Alistair had taken a couple of pictures of the sparrows at the fat balls.

sparrows feeding

sparrows in numbers

We had pizza for tea and followed it up with another game of cards and an early bed.


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Today was the day of the Langholm Common Riding and I have made an effort to give a picture of the day as it passed. For those who don’t know Langholm, the Common Riding is  a two hundred and fifty year old annual ceremony  arising originally from a court case where the inhabitants of Langholm were required to go out once a year to check that their boundaries had not been encroached.

Nowadays, this aspect is more symbolic than real but the emotional commitment of of the town to the day is thoroughgoing and it means a lot to many people. On top of that, it is a great day out and people come from miles around to enjoy the spectacle and have a drink or possibly two.

Each picture in the following sequence has the time it was taken as its title and this should appear if you run your mouse across the frame.

The day starts early when the flute band rouse the town at 5 a.m. by marching round the streets with a good thump on the bass drum as it goes. They lead the townspeople up onto the hill to see the hound trail. This starts at 6.30. A pack of hounds following a laid trail race up the east side of Ewes valley and back down the west side crossing the main road twice.  I went to the second road crossing at ten to seven. The hounds have to make the distance in a set time or the trail is declared void..


Waiting for something to happen


The first hound appears


The second hound is close behind.


They cross the road and climb the steep bank on the other side. The finish line is close.


They are fantastic athletes


A short time behind the rest of the hounds follow the two leaders


They have been racing for half an hour but are still full of pep


Well nearly all of them are. These two didn't fancy the steep bank and set off for Hawick up the road.

I left the hound trail and went back to the Townhead toll bar to wait for the flute band to march back from the hill into the town. There were not as many players in the morning, which requires rising at 4.15 a.m. as there were last night.


The flute band on the Bar Brae

I nipped home for a quick breakfast and then went to the Buccleuch Centre to watch the procession. The flag is handed to the cornet at 8.30 and then, accompanied by a large number of mounted followers and preceded by the Town band he parades the flag around the town. Here they are coming down Thomas Telford Road.


Someone told me that there were 179 horses in the procession today


The front three leading the procession round the Buccleuch Centre before returning along Thomas Telford Road


For the riders in the procession, there is a good deal of waiting around.

Mrs Tootlepedal went with a friend to the Market Place to hear the first crying of the fair while I went to the top of the Kirk Wynd to wait for the cornet to carry the flag up the Wynd and then onto Whita Hill.

I met our neighbour Dr Tinker waiting there with some of his family.


It is a happy day for young and old alike

In the sky above, we could see a local lad who enjoys using his video camera from his microlight.


He often posts his results on YouTube


To a great cheer, the cornet emerges at the top of the Kirk Wynd


Followed by the right and left hand men

The riders continue up the Kirk Wynd past the golf course until they reach the open hill where they head for the ancient boundary of the common land. I followed them up and took several pictures which I will put here without further comment.







I left them there and headed home for a restorative coffee. On my way I met the team that carries the rose in the procession on their way to work.


From my upstairs window after coffee, I could see the horses coming back down the hill from the monument into the town.


I went up to the second crying of the fair with my son and his wife and a friend of theirs. The market Place was full for this part of the day.


The crown, made of roses, now in its place in the procession.


It is followed by this magnificent thistle

Standing on the back of a horse, Rae Elliot cries the fair. Although there is a loudspeaker behind him, he does not use it.  He needs no help to keep the large crown spellbound. He is the third generation of his family to act as fair crier.


Hoyez and that's yince


Crying the fair

The High Street after the fair crying as people make their way towards the Kiln Green


After the fair crying two processions head towards the Kilngreen along the Drove Road. The first, led by the pipe band, is a vast flock of children holding heather besoms. The age of the children has decreased in recent years and now most of them are carried on parent’s shoulders.


The pipe band leading the heather besoms down the Bar Brae


The emblem bearers carrying the spade, the barley banna, the rose and the thistle


The town band and the horsemen


The crown and the thistle on the saw mill bridge


The horsmen circle a sod that has been cut to mark the common land boundary


The crowds on the Kilngreen as the horsemen head towards the river


Crossing the Ewes


Circling another sod cut on the Castleholm

I left the horsemen there and went home to make a bowl of soup for lunch. Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared many delicacies and we had a good meal.

After lunch, I went back to the Castleholm where sports and horse racing go on throughout the afternoon. By this time, the sun was out and it was a perfect Common Riding day.


The field coming up the back straight in the big race of the day.


Sprinters in the second semi final of the 90m handicap sprint


The crown in its position on the sports field


The field in the next race coming down the home straight on the first circuit of the track


Cumberland wrestling in the ring

I left the sports field and headed home. As there is a pause in the proceedings at this time, I took the opportunity to have a quick dash round the morning ride on the speedy bike. We decided not to go to the dance on the Castleholm in the early evening because it is often plagued by midges so after an excellent tea and a family game of cards, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went back to the Market Place to watch the handing in of the flag, the last scene in the day’s events.


The platform party and the cornet. They both say a few words.


Singing Auld Lang Syne


The High Street after the ceremony. It is closed to traffic at this time and it is a pleasure to see it full of humanity.

A very successful day. We think that next year, the authorities have foolishly arranged the Olympics at the same time as Langholm Common Riding.  Will they get any attendance at all down there?

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Dropscone has sent me a picture of his bruised leg for picture of the day but it was ruled out on the grounds of good taste and decency.  It looks very sore indeed. Here is a picture of the Holmwood rooks startled into flight by the pipe band instead.


For one reason or another, I didn’t feel very well in the morning and I sat around reading the paper and doing the crossword until it was time for coffee. I did check on the new feeder.

business as usual

Business as usual

I hope that the starlings find it hard to get into because as you can see, they are recklessly wasteful feeders.

extravagant starling

Fortunately flocks of chaffinches clean up the discards below


I stepped out into the garden for a moment because Mrs Tootlepedal had told me that two poppies were out together.  I found the poppies…

two poppies

…and I caught two of my neighbours enjoying a joke.

Liz and Bruce

We have an unusually good humoured street

Liz came in for a cup of coffee and a natter and after downing two or three cups myself, I felt a great deal better. I didn’t have any coffee yesterday so perhaps I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. I shall have to reduce my coffee intake if that was the case.

During the morning, Ross and his men came in to replace the glass in some upstairs windows where the old double glazing had let moisture in between the panes. The new windows look very good but it did mean the old windows beside them needed cleaning.



My poor head for heights mean that this is the sort of job that I leave for Mrs Tootlepedal. I gave her moral support and took some pictures of the plants at the back of the house.

croc host back

Crocosmia and hosta

damside group

Potentilla, aubretia and alchemilla beside the dam

wauchope st group

Looking along the house towards Wauchope Street

I took some group pictures in the garden as well.

fence group

Cosmos, spirea, hawkweed, crocosmia and rambling rose. The fence is under negotiation with our neighbour.

greenhouse group

Looking in the other direction from the same spot. Phlox and delphinum.

The first michaelmas daisy has just showed its face.

michaelmas daisy

The garden is full of young birds at the moment.

young starling

Young starling

young blackbird

Young blackbird

chaffinch pair

Young chaffinch

The blackbirds have been very active and indulge in a lot of shouting at each other. This one looks as though it has come of worst in some sort of scrap.

blackbird ragged tail

On the flower front, the day lilies appear all over the garden.

lily astrantia

This one is among the astrantia

As well as birds, the insects are thriving. Hoverflies seem to like the Stachys for some reason.


We call this one Ernie (check out the hairy legs)

In the afternoon, I cycled down to Longtown to buy some strawberries for our Common Riding visitors. I went down the A7 cycle track to see if my telephone calls and e-mails have had any effect. They haven’t. I imagine that if a motorist rang up to say that there was a fallen tree across a road, he or she would not have to wait for very long before it was removed, certainly not more than three weeks. Respect for people who keep themselves fit and who do not pollute the air by cycling is almost non existent among the transport authorities in this country. In spite of this, I managed to get to Longtown safely. I had hoped to  buy local strawberries but the early season’s crop was over and the late ones are not fruiting yet so I bought some very nice fruit from Dundee instead. I cycled back by way of Corrie’s Mill and Glenzier. It started to rain at Glenzier and I came up the main A7 rather than risk the cycle track in slippery conditions.

I took my little camera but there was too much traffic on the way down and too much rain on the way back so it never came out of my back pocket.

In the evening, I drove over to Lockerbie to fetch our visitors from the train from Edinburgh. There is something that appeals to me about the simple geometry of the railway tarck.

railway geometry

Lockerbie’s fine old station has been uglified by an expert hand.

Lockerbie Station

There is a phone helpline on the platform with a notice saying that people using the helpline will be photographed by CCTV which may be used in any prosecution. The imagination boggles. What do they get up to in Lockerbie?

Our visitors arrived bang on time.

Clare and Al

Alistair, our son with his wife, Clare after a hard day at work.

After a small feast prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, we went out to watch the flute band marching by. For the uninitiated, the flute band parade on Summer Fair night to meet returning exiles off the last train. This is a notional activity as the last passenger train ran to Langholm in the 1960s.This and tomorrow are the only two times in a year that the flute band appears.

flute band

flute band

The flute band of 1925 from the Archive Collection

There were a good deal more players this year than then. It seemed as though there might be over 50 band members.

The flute band are followed round the town by the pipe band.

pipe band

Langholm Pipe Band turning right into Walter Street

After all this excitement, it was time for an early bed to prepare for Langholm’s Great Day tomorrow.


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Today’s picture from my sister Mary shows a deer at Knole Park in Kent where she went today.

deer Knole park

No cycling this morning as the golf course called. I went up straight after breakfast. The weather was ideal for golf, the course was in good condition, my playing partner was ready…it was all systems go. Except me.

My system was not ready at all. I just can’t get going on the first few holes. Once they are past, I can play reasonably well and I did so again today. For the first three holes I scored one point and for the next fifteen I scored 31 so I ended up fairly happy. At once stage I managed to putt well for five holes running and my score was looking quite promising until I carelessly lost a ball at an easy hole. My playing partner  Arthur struggled but not so much as to want to give up golf for ever. He had played well at Lockerbie on Monday which had cheered him up.

In the afternoon we went to Carlisle to shop. I purchased some cheese and a new purpose built fat ball fortress as the jackdaws and rooks have damaged my home made one.

fatball fortress mark 2

Waiting for customers

A rook came and looked at it and went away again which I hope augurs well. The sparrows haven’t tried it yet.

It was very hot in the afternoon and I really felt sorry for the people who have been suffering in the heat wave in the US and Canada. I am not a hot weather person at all and I was glad to get back from Carlisle and sit down inside.

I had to visit the doctor in the late afternoon (for trivial reasons) and found a busy waiting room including Dropscone’s eldest son and a regular blog reader and commenter, Ruth. I hope they came away from the doctor as happy as I did.

I did get out into the garden later on when it had cooled down a bit.

riot of reds

Roses and crocosmias blaze away in the sunshine


More cosmos are flowering every day


A young blackbird on the drying green


My favourite flower

light and shade

I liked this light and shade among the lilies

I finally found a good light to take a picture of a marigold.

good marigold

I had a salad for my tea and went outside when I heard the pipe band in Eskdaill Street. It was marching to the Buccleuch Centre for the Common Riding concert.

pipe band

One of the pipers is staying in our B & B with his wife as they have done for several years now.

After the band had marched away, I got the slow bike out and pottered slowly up to Wauchope schoolhouse just to turn the legs over. It was cooler now and the only peril was of being battered  by flying insects.

I stopped to have a small feast of wild raspberries on my way home and noticed this fine wild flower nearby.

wild flower

The evening sun was dropping behind the hills on my left but still catching the slopes on my right.


The forecast says it is going to rain tomorrow. This will be a nasty shock to me after the recent spell of sunny weather but the vegetables and lawns will welcome it.

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Today’s picture shows the clipped front hedge and shows how noticeable the new lamp posts are in their gleaming sliver.


The good weather continues and I continue to pedal. I have only missed two days so far this month. I went round the morning run by myself again today and stopped to take this picture of the church at Kirkandrews-on-Esk which was catching the early sunlight.

Kirk Andrews

There was a bit of a wind for the first time for a few days and it wasn’t coming from a sympathetic direction so I took my time. When I got home, I was pleased to welcome Dropscone for coffee and even more so when I discovered that he had brought some girdle scones with him. I was surprised though when he arrived by bicycle. He explained that it is easier for him to cycle than to walk as his leg is still very sore.

He told me that when he looked at his helmet after the fall, it was broken. I think that this shows the value of wearing a helmet when cycling. People often quote Denmark when they say helmets are not necessary but there is a great deal of difference between riding slowly on the flat on an upright bicycle, often with no crossbar, in streets where cycling is seen as part of the traffic and riding at speed on a bike with a crossbar up and down hills on roads with poor surfaces. I can never imagine a set of circumstances when someone falling from a bike thinks, “Thank goodness I am not wearing a helmet.”

After lunch, I went to the Tourist Office to do my stint and as I opened up, I was struck by how well the hanging baskets are looking after the recent good weather.

ti basket

I was short of paper to print out leaflets and Mrs Tootlepedal very kindly cycled round with fresh supplies. I caught her as she was going over the Sawmill Bridge on the scenic way home.

heading home

For once, I was quite busy as a steady stream of visitors, including a couple from Holland,  came in looking for information or leaflets. I didn’t have time to read my camera manual at all so improvement in my photos will have to wait.

After I had closed up, I went down to the Kilngreen with the camera. I bought an ice cream form Pelosi’s van  and watched the gulls being unusually active. The photograph below shows the reason as we see a gull streaking away with what looks like a jeely piece in its beak.

bread gull

I suppose it might be a ham sandwich

They soon settled down but not without some discussion.

gull talk

Gull talk

Others were keeping their feet cool.

paddling gull

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy mowing a neighbour’s grass when I got back so following my usual policy, I kept out from under her feet and wandered round the garden with the camera. The roses are still looking well.

pink rose

Rosa Wrenn

white rose

Rosa rugosa Blanc Double de Coubert

Mrs Tootlepedal is very fond of nasturtiums and has planted many of them round the garden. They are just beginning to make a proper show.


The cosmoses are also getting into their prime.




These lobelias look delightful to me. They pack more punch than you might imagine from their size.

Some flowers are on their last legs and some are just beginning.


The foxgloves are almost over. I have pulled quite a few out already.


This verbascum has just started. Mrs Tootlepedal regards these as weeds so it might disappear soon.

I dug up a potato for my tea and was very pleased with the quantity from a single plant.

early potatoes

They haven’t all been as good as this. This plant was grown in a trench of good kitchen compost and it shows the value of that.

Susan had spent the weekend in Germany watching the F1 Grand Prix at the Nurburgring and was resting on her return so I went to Carlisle to play recorder on my own. Heather was in Wooler at a walking event so we were a quartet tonight and got to play some different music as a result. Blowing the recorder made my chest wheeze a bit and as I am playing golf with Arthur tomorrow morning, I fear the worst. Still, the weather should be nice.

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Today’s picture was sent to me by Bruce. In the spring we had a discussion about a large plant he had noticed while walking his dog. This is that plant now.  It is a teasel.


siskin (4)

It was another fine day as this picture of a siskin glowing in the morning sunshine shows. Although the sun has been out a lot, the general temperatures have been on the cool side of hot which suits me very well as I don’t do very well in hot weather unless sea bathing and wine drinking are the only activities required.

We waved our Lands End to John O’Groats B & B guests off on their journey to Nine Mile Burn near Edinburgh. They look to have two or three goods days of cycling in front of them.

Dave and George

In the absence of Dropscone, who is gradually improving although his ribs are still sore, I took a leisurely ride round the morning circuit in the cool, pleasant weather. I was surprised to see harvesting going on in a field at Glenzierfoot as it seems very early in the year for it.


My neighbour Liz thinks it might be some special early crop. It certainly looks very short.

When I got home, there were plenty of birds to point the camera at.


A handsome young starling on the fat ball fortress

starling in cage

Surprisingly the young starlings can get into the fortress without trouble


A rook takes an avuncular look at what is going on. Was he a lawyer in another life?

mixed birds

Multibirdalism in action: sparrow, starling and tit share the goodies.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn. The feed had certainly had an effect and  the weedkiller is doing some damage to the pearlwort so I hope that it will continue to look reasonable for a week or two more.

I then turned my mind to doing a small editing job for Bruce, who is putting together a book on the Waverley Line. From what I have seen of it, it should be a very interesting read.

After I had done this, I took the camera out into the garden.

leaning astilbe

This astilbe has a severe lean on it but it seems to be surviving well.


Mrs Tootlepedal has crocosmias in many places. This one in next to the newly mown front lawn.

day lilies

Day lilies in profusion

clematis niobe

One more clematis, this is clematis niobe lurking in the azalea corner

There seem to be more bees and other insects buzzing around every day. I think this is a hoverfly. It seems to stand quite still in the air for moments until zipping off to find a flower.


The campanulas are nearly over but one or two are still sticking their tongues out.


While I was snapping away, I caught sight of the front hedge and remembered that I had said that I would give it a tidy up. I got out the hedge trimmer and gave it a short back and sides while Mrs Tootlepedal did some specialist cropping of some ivy that needed trimming.

After we put the tools away, we got out the bikes and pedalled up to Westwater and back. I came back at a normal speed but Mrs Tootlepedal covered the last section at a snail’s pace in an effort to spot Sue’s glasses which had been lost last week. As I had done the same last weekend without success, I told her that she was wasting her time and wouldn’t be able to find them. I told her this with such confidence that I was quite relieved when she didn’t find anything, though it would have been good for Sue if we could have found them.

We passed quite a few orchids on our trip. Dr Tinker says that there are more than usual about this year.  I stopped to photograph one on my way home.

spotted orchid

This is a spotted orchid, so called not because of the flower but because of the spotted leaves.


A day or two ago, Sandy showed me some pictures he had taken of slow worms with his new camera and kindly told me where to see them for myself. We stopped on our journey to look and there they were.

slow worm

I am due to do a stint in the tourist office tomorrow and I hope that the good weather will have brought out the tourists at last.

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