Dawn of a new age

Today’s picture shows my new wheel and I think we can all agree that it is a very beautiful wheel indeed.

new wheel

The picture clearly shows two things: one, that the morning ride was done in muddy conditions and two, that I am not very good at bike cleaning.  I thought I had given it a good wash and brush up but the camera in this case doesn’t lie.

The wheel has a fancy design logo on it and I could have acquired a matching tyre with it if I hadn’t wanted to stick to my good Schwalbe Marathons which have given me puncture free pedalling since I put them on.

Once again, it had rained overnight and cleared up in time for the birthday pedal but even although I have mudguards on, Dropscone came back for coffee looking as though he had been in a cyclocross race.  I made sure that I was never in range of his spray when I was behind him.  The farmers left the roads very muddy and we had to pedal carefully here and there so our time was modest.  All the same, the recent good weather has meant that I have been able to bicycle more this November already than in any of the other Novembers in the years since I started cycling seriously.

We had our normal coffee but today the usual scones were replaced by a delightful almond cake as a result of the party surplus.  We are adopting a Marie Antoinette solution to life at the moment and not eating bread.

By the middle of the day, the weather was very pleasnt.


Even the birds looked a little dazzled by the sun.


After lunch (more party surplus), we went up to the moorland feeding station to see if we could spot a woodpecker.  There were none immediately about so while I waited, Mrs Tootlepedal set off to walk the two and a half miles home.

There were plenty of chaffinches around.

moorland chaffinch

But other birds, apart from a sprinkling of various sorts of tits, were in short supply.  Perhaps the bird on the left in the picture below is a brambling but if so, it was one of very few.

moorland bird feeder

It was rather cold and windy and I couldn’t hear the call of the woodpecker so I gave up quite soon and passed Mrs Tootlepedal on her way home. She refused a lift and I went on to the Kilngreen to see if I could take a good picture of a gull to cheer myself up.  There wasn’t a single gull to be seen which is most unusual so I skulked off home and photographed two jackdaws.  They certainly have the beadiest eyes of any of the birds in our garden.


There were plenty of chaffinches in the garden too.

garden chaffinch

While I was waiting for Mrs Tootlepedal to get home, I was delighted to be visited by Dr Tinker who had returned this morning from a family visit in New Zealand via a few days stop over in Singapore.   He and Alison had had a good time over there and were hurriedly adjusting to the relatively cold temperatures in Langholm.

I have been given a Kindle by my children for my birthday and I spent some time on the phone to Amazon getting it properly registered.  The third adviser that I spoke to was able to believe that it might be something at their end rather than my inability to read simple instructions that was causing the problems and I now have a fully functioning little device.  As a test to see if everything was working well, I was asked to download Pride and Prejudice from the Kindle Shop.  It took about two seconds to do this.  Wonders will never cease.  I had to look at the first and last page just to make sure that it really was all there.  It was….and free.

Another wonder of technology was that on the Amazon website is an invitation to click on a button if you want them to ring you about your problem.  No sooner do you click on the button than your phone rings.  That’s what I call customer service.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a professional production of Macbeth done by a travelling company of mainly young and very energetic actors.  I thought it was very, very bad.

It was very well set and the sound effects and music were excellent but the cast of five men and two women made for some very confusing doubling of parts.  In addition, the director had decided that matters would be helped by the cast caressing or grasping each other’s faces and arms at every possible opportunity.  I found this distracted fatally from the text.  It didn’t help that the actors shouted every line from the start to the finish so that there was little chance of any change of mood being communicated and that they mangled the rhythms of the verse without any compensatory gain in realism or intelligibility.

The cuts they had made in the play also added to the air of mystery about the plot and killed the rhythm of the play.  There was no development and no tension.  There were a lot of youngsters in the audience because Macbeth is a set text in school this year and speaking to a couple of them afterwards, I was surprised to find that they had enjoyed it a lot as had the adults we spoke to.

I thought it suffered terminally from a fear that if they slowed down from time to time and didn’t act at 120 per cent, we might get bored.  I am an old curmudgeon and found this approach a bit insulting.  (For UK readers of this blog, you can imagine the play being read by Robert Peston,  the BBC correspondent, and that will give you an idea of what the actors sounded like. It was very wearing.)

Still, it was interesting to see a company having a go at the play at all and the two and a half hours passed quite quickly.

All in all, I have had a very good birthday.  In fact, it was so good that I have decided to be seventy again next year. Now we can look forward to Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday on Saturday.

(Footnote: We did our best to discourage people from bringing gifts to the party on Sunday but I would like to thank the bringer of gingerbread who ignored us.  It is delicious.)

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

9 thoughts on “Dawn of a new age

  1. yes it is a brambling on the left of your picture.. feedign station has been quieter this last week or so.. bring on the cold weather I say!

  2. The Jackdaws are looking very scary.
    Glad to hear that you have got the Kindle working. The Amazon help button sounds truly amazing!

  3. Relieved to read your review of Macbeth! I also thought it pretty awful but seemed to be in a minority!

    1. It was a Mavic Aksium and I now have a matching pair. They are described as entry level. I had to get them because of rim failures in both my previous wheels where the spokes pulled inwards through the rim. I don’t know how long a wheel should last but I did a good few thousand miles on the last set over very bumpy roads.

      1. What a coincidence – I was at my LBS yesterday, discussing my failing rear hub (stay tuned for blog post) with the mechanic when he recommended I buy a set of Aksiums. Earlier in the day, I was discussing my wheel with a friend who said he swears by his Mavic wheels. Looks like you made a good choice!

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