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Archive for May, 2013

Today’s picture (from my younger son in the US)  is another example of German glass working skill from the Natural History Museum of Harvard.

german glass work

The weather today was as good as anyone has any right to expect.  The wind was kind, the sky was blue and  the temperature was just in that perfect spot between being too cool and too hot.  It was a day for gardening, walking beside the river and for cycling and  I was able to do all three.

The cycling came first.  I am in the middle of one of those short periods where I feel pretty tired so I picked an easy route,  adopted an easy pace with several stops to take photos and managed to pedal 31 miles through green countryside without making myself any more tired than when I started.  The route was full of interest.  I saw a deer grazing among some sheep, two hares boxing and any number of wild flowers lining the roads.

In the time it took me to stop and get the camera out, the deer and the hares had disappeared and the bright sun washed all the colour out of my wild flower pictures so photographically the trip was not a great success.    At least the brilliance of the gorse flowers was able to stand up against the sunshine.

Gorse

And a field dotted with yellow will have to stand for the rest of the wild flowers.

field with yellow flowers

I met a horse drawn vehicle and stopped to let it by.

horse and trap

The driver thanked me for stopping and said that the horses were calm in the face of cars and tractors but became excited on meeting a cyclist.  “Don’t we all?” I said and she gave me  strange look and drove on.

I stopped for a banana at Canonbie and enjoyed this view up the Esk valley while I munched it.

Esk Valley

The thirty one miles took me comfortably over the 400 miles for the month at which I had been aiming and this made the ride all the more enjoyable.  In case of terrible weather late in the month, I had been keeping a stock of sixteen illegal miles up my sleeve.  These were miles which I had totted up during the month while cycling round the town in the ordinary course of events and I was pleased to be able to discard them as they don’t really count as cycling, although it is surprising how the miles add up when going to the shops and such like.

Owing to a late start and the leisurely pace, it was almost time for lunch when I got home and soon I was sitting down to a tasty bowl of Mrs Tootlepedal’s mushroom soup with a slice of sourdough bread and some Northumberland cheese on the side.   The only thing to detract from my complete enjoyment of the morning was the realisation that while I was enjoying the weather and the countryside, there were people slaving over a hot computer in an office or toiling at a workbench in a factory.  I was able to bear the sorrow that this thought caused me with remarkable equanimity.

I never cease to remember how lucky I am.

I was supposed to be filling the bird feeders  at the Moorland Feeding station but Sandy kindly volunteered to do this for me while I was having my lunch.  After lunch, I went up to the see his nest cam in operation.  This is the scene in his front room.

nest cam on TV

The most interesting thing on the telly by far.

While we were watching, a little drama was played out as a nestling hung onto the food in its parent’s beak so fiercely that it was pulled right out of the nest and disappeared from the picture.  Sandy went to check that it hadn’t been thrown out of the nest box entirely and found that it was still safely inside.  He is going away this weekend but I can thoroughly recommend a visit to his blog next week to check on the nest cam updates.

We left the  nest cam with reluctance and headed down to the River Esk to have another walk along the bank below Irvine House.  It is a beautiful spot and from time to time we sat and enjoyed the river flowing by us.  We were hoping for some good bird pictures but they were few and far between.  We saw a goosander at the start of our walk…

goosander

ignition…………………………….engines firing…………………………………….lift off

oyster catcher

…and an oyster catcher at the spot where we turned to come back.

In between times, we sat and stared at the river…..

Esk

…admired the many views….

Esk

…and walked along paths among the wild flowers.

path at Irvine House

It really is a lovely spot and it would be hard to be there on a day like today and stay gloomy.

Esk

My favourite spot

wild flowers

There were wild flowers of all colours

wild flower

This was my favourite flower of the day

A little wagtail bobbed about on front of us as we walked back to the car.

wagtail

…but it hadn’t been a day for bird watching.

I did take a picture of a tree that we passed which was in full blossom even though it it looked as though it had fallen completely over.

tree

I have to admit that I only took the picture so that I could point out that here was a tree that was truly down and out.

When we got back to the car, we decided to take a quick look at the wood where we hoped to find a fine display of bluebells.  We found the wood…

North Wood

…but the bluebell crop was so thin as to be almost invisible.

When we got back, I attacked the front lawn with a combination of liquid feed and mosskiller.  It is always tricky to put this stuff on evenly and tomorrow will show how successful I have been.  The moss killer turns the moss black and it may be that we will wake up to view an almost totally black lawn.  There is a lot of moss out there even after the scarifying.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a very good rattle through works by Telemann, Loeillet and Marcello.  You might almost think that we had been practising.

The flying bird of the day was the oyster catcher flying off into deep shadows with a ghostly reflection on the water just below it.

flying oyster catcher

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows a colourful dell in the garden at Bodnant which my brother visited after whizzing up Snowdon (1085m) in Wales.

Dell at Bodnant

I didn’t whizz up anywhere in the morning because once again, a very strong northerly wind was making cycling uninviting, especially as I was quite tired after my lawn care activities yesterday.  I did bicycle as far as the town to get hold of a picture of the soloist who is coming to sing at our choir concert so that I could finish the poster.

I only found time to record two of our avian visitors before lunch.

greenfinch

A greenfinch always looks to be a serious sort of character

sparrow

A very rare visit this year from a house sparrow

It was a grey cloudy morning and I was quite happy to be getting on with some work but I did find time to mow the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.  Then after lunch the weather brightened up a lot and Mrs Tootlepedal went off with her mother to do a little shopping in Hawick.

Mauri

Mauri can’t contain her excitement at the thought of going to Hawick

As they went, I captured a chaffinch in the plum tree…

chaffinch in plum tree

…and a bee wasting its time on a rhododendron when it could have been pollinating the apples.

Bee

A blue tit took a sunflower heart from the feeder and retired to peck at it at its leisure.

blue tit

I got my slow bike out as it seemed a pity to waste a sunny afternoon even on such a windy day.  I started with a quick visit to the nuthatch nest to see if they had started to feed their young.  As I got near the tree I was distracted by an unusual sight.

red squirrel

It was a red squirrel hiding as I got near.

Sadly it ran off and leapt away from the tree before I could catch it in a cute pose.  Ah well, you can’t win them all.

red squirrel in mid air

The nuthatches were feeding as I quickly found out.  Almost before I had settled down after the squirrel excitement, a nuthatch arrived at the nest and fifteen seconds later, left again.

nuthatch nest

Going in……………………………….coming out.

nuthatches at the nest

It wasn’t hard to spot them.

nuthatch

They were so busy at their work that I could get quite close.

One even threw a set of attitudes on a branch just for me.

nuthatch on branch

I took all these pictures in the space of twenty minutes.

Pausing only to snap a wild garlic flower….

wild garlic

….I cycled back into town and continued up the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse.   As I left the town, I stopped to admire an elegant heron standing on the caul at Pool Corner.

heron at Pool Corner

I wasn’t feeling at all perky but I went on to Westwater and there, for some inexplicable reason, I turned off the paved road and ground up the forestry track to the top of the hill.  In contrast to the cloudy weather the last time that I was up here, I got a good view of my way home below.

Cleuchfoot

As you can see from the way the windmills behind me were whistling round, the wind was still pretty strong.

windmill

Perhaps a video would have been better at conveying the strength of the wind.

My route home was into the teeth of the wind and I think all in all that this must have been one of the slowest cycle rides I have ever done by myself.  Even the lovely sunny weather couldn’t make me feel less tired after 13 miles of cycling and in retrospect perhpas going over the hill wasn’t very sensible.

The heron was still standing in the water when I got back.  I had taken so long that the light had changed completely.

heron at Pool Corner

Mrs Tootlepedal and her mother were enjoying a cup of tea in the garden when I got home and I sat with them, admiring the vivid flowers on one of the rhododendrons.

rhododendron

After an excellent shepherd’s pie for our tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a practice for a concert that the operatic society is planning in the autumn and Granny and I went to the Buccleuch Centre where were treated to an excellent concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.  The programme contained two Mozart overtures, Haydn’s symphony 102, a very flashy clarinet concertino by Weber and Beethoven’s Ist symphony.

The orchestra was in good form, putting their all into the music and obviously enjoying their playing.  The concert was refreshingly short and I enjoyed myself very much.  Because there is a huge gap in my musical education between Purcell and Scott Joplin, a lot of this music, which is familiar to other concert goers, is entirely fresh to me.  I was like a child in a sweetie shop.

I didn’t have much time to try to catch a flying bird today and I will have to make do with a blurry swallow which I passed on my way to the nuthatches.

swallow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My son and daughter-in-law have been getting about in the US and have sent me this teasing picture from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  The leaves were made of glass by a pair of German glass workers from the turn of the previous century..

glass leaves

It was extremely windy here today and as I only have 27 miles to go before the end of the month to meet my interim target, I decided not to cycle in the gale but to put the day to good use in getting tasks off my to do list and onto to my (phew) have done list instead.   I managed to do three tasks (tickets, publicity photos and minutes of a meeting) regarding our forthcoming concert and that eased my mind a lot.  I still have two musical task to complete and then my conscience will be completely clear.

I wouldn’t like you to think that I am a slave toiling at a wheel.  I still had plenty of time to make and drink coffee, watch birds and wander round the garden, although I couldn’t find time for the crossword until late in the day.

Before I settled to my tasks, I received a phone call.  I had met Elaine at the concert on Sunday and she had told me that I just had to come and take a picture of something that amused her.  I told her to ring me when it was convenient for her to show me the thing and to be hones, I hadn’t expected to hear from her so it was a surprise when she said that now was the moment.  I got my camera and cycled up to meet her at the Thomas Hope Hospital.

She told me that she had been sitting in her car waiting for her husband to come out after having some treatment when she felt that someone was watching her.  She finally realised that it was a strange looking man with a moustache.  Here he is.

Thomas Hope man

An MI6 spy if I mistake me not  complete with a James Bond communication gizmo on his hat.  I was amused too.

As I used the opportunity of being near the cheese shop to buy a couple of tasty items, the journey proved well worth while.

During the morning, I had a couple of turns about the garden and found a red(-ish), white and blue display both times.

Rhodie, white bluebell and geranium

Rhododendron, white bluebell and geranium

Anemone, star of Bethlehem and cornflower

Anemone, star of Bethlehem and cornflower

I love the cornflowers but Mrs Tootlepedal regards them as ill mannered garden thugs.

I had completed my tasks by lunchtime and I was able to enjoy the excellent soup prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal in a peaceful state of mind.  I am eating very well at the moment thanks to Mrs Tootlepedal catering for her mother as well as for me.

After lunch, I shot a pair of warring siskins…

warring siskins

…and then I discharged another task which I had acquired during the morning.  Cat had  rung me up and asked if I could fill the bird feeders at the Moorland Feeding Station. This was no hardship at all and Mrs Tootlepedal and her mother came up with me and enjoyed a little bird watching from the comfort of the car while I sat behind the screen after I had filled the feeders.

We saw a woodpecker feeding as we arrived but it flew off.  Amazingly, it was back at the feeder only moments after I sat down behind the screen.  Usually it takes them about a quarter of an hour to return after being disturbed.  The woodpeckers gave me plenty to watch, one on a nut feeder…

woodpecker

….one on a tree….

woodpecker

…and one being very busy collecting seeds and ramming them into the big cracks which the woodpeckers have made in a bird table pole.

woodpecker with seeds

This was a very active bird indeed.

woodpecker

One minute dashing to the hanging seed feeder…

woodpecker

…and the next, pretending to be a chaffinch

There were lots of pheasants about too.

pheasant

Collecting fallen seed below a feeder…

pheasant

…and getting stuck in elsewhere.

The light was poor and the very strong north wind was rocking the screen and making keeping the camera with the big lens still a problem so that explains both the lack of quality in the pictures above and the relatively short time I spent sitting there.

On the way home, we made a diversion to show the Granny the bluebell wood. She was impressed as well she might be.

bluebells

bluebells

They were just about at their best and the lack of sunshine on this occasion made taking snaps a bit easier.

When we got back, I got the scarifier out and taking my courage in both hands, scarified the front lawn.  I was afraid that if I raked the moss out, there might be nothing left so I set the scarifier set to a fairly gentle scratch level and gave it a go.  In spite of removing six wheelbarrow loads of moss, the end result was surprisingly satisfactory.  After my gloomy thoughts of yesterday, I became remarkably cheerful about the lawn’s prospects.  I think that I will have another go with the scarifier next week.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I left granny to watch the telly while we went off to a choir practice.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and am even beginning to think that I might be able to learn to sing.   It helps a lot of course to be standing between two people who can sing well.

Today’s flying bird is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture, another from my son and daughter-in-law’s USA trip, shows two frogs at the Frog Pond in Boston.

frog pond, Boston

I am trying not to overdo my cycling mileage at the moment so I was happy that Dropscone is away refereeing juvenile golf matches and that my cello playing friend Mike came to pay me a morning visit.  Before Mike arrived, I noticed an unusual perching bird in the plum tree….

pigeon

…as well as a colourful regular one.

redpoll

Mike was interested in the software that I have which can read scanned music and let you edit and play the result.  I am going to use it to shift a Mozart piece from the viola to the cello clef at the touch of a key for him.  This would have been a considerable undertaking in the days of a piece of score paper and a sharp pencil but should not take me too long now.

After he left, Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and we decided to go out to try to get the definitive bluebell shot.  It was a cloudy but fairly bright day.  The curse of the photographer struck as we shut the car door and before we had even left the front gate. It started to rain.  We travelled on hopefully but the weather god laughed at us and the rain got heavier and heavier.  We arrived at the target bluebell wood by the time that the light had gone altogether and the rain was a menace to our cameras so we turned for home and set our minds on doing some of the work in our respective in trays.

It stopped raining soon after we got out of the car.

In spite of the weather, the garden is quite exciting.

spirea

A spirea gives witness to the rain

aquilegia

There is a new aquilegia out.

dying poppy

A dying poppy is still very colourful

azaleas

The yellow azaleas are refusing to break into flower until it gets warmer.

On every side, plants are getting ready to burst into bloom.  We just need some warm weather.

I did my work, which involved finishing off the transcription of the ten flute band tunes and had time to mow the front lawn before lunch.  Between the moss, the lichens, the pearlwort and the meadow grass, the business of lawn care is a bit depressing on this patch and I am seriously thinking of getting a quote to get it dug up and re-turfed.

My spirits were lifted by the arrival of the first baby starling of the year.

baby starling

It was soon followed by siblings….

baby starlings

And a parent.

starling family

After lunch, I went off to do another lonely stint in the Tourist Office at the Kilngreen.  Apart from a passing visit from Sandy, who was on his way to a Craft Fayre in Newcastleton, I wasn’t bothered by anyone wanting information.   (Sandy had some very nice squirrel and nesting blue tit video material on his blog at the moment.  Well worth a visit.)

I got home just in time to go and visit my flute pupil Luke’s grandfather.  I was consulting him on the flute band tunes and we discovered that an amendment or two would be needed before the task was complete.  He is the conductor of our local orchestra and they are having a social and concert to celebrate 35 years of music making this weekend and it has fallen to me to propose a toast to the orchestra.  I was lucky to have him to fill the many gaps in my memory about the history of the group.

When I got home, I mowed the middle lawn which is in much better condition than the front lawn because it gets more of the available sunshine.  I also had a look round the productive side of the garden and was encouraged by the apple, broad bean and strawberry flowers.

fruit and veg

I just hope that my pollinating work with paintbrush pays off.

A new clematis has come out to join the blue brigade.

Blue flowers

In order of length of time in bloom so far

Just as we were going to have our tea (salmon followed by rhubarb crumble) ,  I noticed a strange sight on the feeder.

feeder feathered ball

It was a bird but did it have its head stuck in the feeder opening?  Did it have a head at all?

goldfinch

It was a goldfinch resting with its head under its wing

goldfinch

It came to life and flew off.

Was this a sick bird or just a very young bird?  If Dr Barlow reads this, perhpas she can tell me.

I had my tea and went off with Susan to play recorders in Carlisle where we had yet another fine evening of playing.  There were five of us tonight and by and large we played the sort of music where each player’s part follows its own track and, with luck, we all arrive at the final destination together.  This is my favourite sort of music and as it was followed by particularly tasty biscuits, it was a good way to end a busy day.

The flying bird is a siskin caught in one of the cloudier moments of the day.

siskin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture is another picturesque view from my sister Mary’s stroll round Kenwood the other day.

by the lake, Kenwood

It was not a day for a picturesque stroll anywhere round here today as it was raining heavily when we got up.  As it happened, we were not able to have a stroll anyway as we had an appointment in Warrington to collect Mrs Tootlepedal’s mother.  I had a moment or two to stare out of the window at a rather disgruntled starling trying to find a perch that was both  comfortable and let it get at the food. It gave up in disgust and flew off.

starling

The other birds weren’t much cheerier.

standing siskin

Note the siskin standing on a redpoll to get a good spot to shout at another siskin.

Our 140 mile drive down the motorway was unpleasant when we were peering through thick spray and boring even when the road surface dried a little because the clouds were so low that there was no view to admire at all.  Nevertheless we arrived on time as did Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother and mother and we enjoyed a light lunch in a Holiday Inn before setting off to our respective homes.

The journey home bore a remarkable resemblance to the journey down but once again passed without incident.  The best thing about the drive was that we passed a considerable traffic jam going north on our way south and a considerable traffic jam going south on our way north.  Sometimes the gods smile upon you.  The rain stopped as we got to Scotland.

When we got in, I just had tome to take a snap or two…

chaffinch in plum tree

A perching chaffinch for my sister Susan.

blue tit

A flying visit from a blue tit

…take a quick walk round the garden to see that everything was all right.  It is beginning to be quite colourful again after the death of the daffs and tulips….

aquilegia and allium

Aquilegia and allium showing promise on the purple and blue front

Rhodies and azalea

Rhodies and azalea showing the flag for the pink, red and orange section.

…and I took another picture of this blossom because it looked as though it was doing very well in spite of the rain.

berberis

Then it was time to play a duet with my flute pupil Luke who is continuing to develop well before having a delicious dish of chicken cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and going off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

I had dug out a canon sonata by J F Fasch for violin and recorder but as I gave the music to Mike an additional cello part fell out and it transpired that the original piece had been written for recorder and bassoon.  It turned out to go very well for recorder and cello.  We added a couple of trio sonatas by two old English masters on violin and recorder and a trio for recorder and cello by Telemann and it all made for a most enjoyable evening.

The piece by Fasch was not very difficult but was still a gorgeous bit of music and it made you feel that you might even be a good musician as you played it.  This is unlike much music I play which for some reason reminds me that I am not that great.

I had a look on the internet when I got home and found a trio by J J Quantz for flute and cello so I ordered it and it should be here in time for next week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s picture, sent by my friend Bruce, shows two ducks visiting his garden.  I can’t make up my mind as to whether they look shifty or fierce.

bruce's ducks

It was breezier today and a little bit colder in the morning but it was another beautiful spring day and the sort of day that compelled you to take too many pictures.

New flowers are appearing in the garden.  Here are a blue and white pair of Jacob’s Ladders.

polemoniums

Polemonium

And a fringed tulip with a Welsh poppy.

tulip and poppy

Things are getting exciting.  The apple blossom on the espaliers is looking literally brilliant…

apple blossom

..and between my paintbrush and two hard working bees, we should get more than two apples this year.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir as usual and she was telling me that since she made an appearance in the sports results in our local paper after the sportive, she has been asked for fitness advice.  She gave some out and was very pleased to see the recipient out on her bike as she came back from church.

I used the time to put some work in on transcribing flute band tunes and now have only two to do.  When she got back from church, we did a little furniture shifting to make a room ready for a visit from her mother, who is coming to stay for a fortnight.  As her mother is 96, a visit away from home is no small thing.  We are going to fetch her tomorrow.

When my help was no longer needed, I took a picture of one of our siskins….

siskin

….and then got the slow bike out to have a look for some nuthatch shots.  I found birds at both nest sites.

nuthatch

A nuthatch approaches the nest hole.

I didn’t have any problems waiting for the birds to arrive as there was a great deal to delight the eye while I was hanging about.

A tree at the first nest site

A tree at the first nest site

Lots of trees at the second nest site

Lots of trees at the second nest site

I didn’t have to wait too long for birds at either site.  At the second site, the two birds swapped sitting duties.

nutchatch

This one was going in…

nutchatch

…and this one came out for a breath of fresh air.

I couldn’t linger too long because I had to get back home for some lunch (luckily I had made some bread in the morning and had five varieties of cheese on hand) before leaving for the Castleholm for a second time.  This time it wasn’t birds that drew me there but the sound of thundering hooves.  There was horse racing to be seen.

horse racing on the Castleholm

There were only four races so that there were quite long gaps between each race.  I was able to entertain my eyes quite easily though.

The bottom bend

The bottom bend

Beside the back straight

I went to the start and finishing straight for the second race.

second race

They’re off.

The first bend

The first bend

The finish

A lady jockey takes the prize

For the third race, I went to the back straight where the start was.  While I was waiting, I visited an irate oyster catcher who was letting everyone know that it wasn’t happy with the traffic.

oyster catcher

I was just getting organised to take a fine picture of the start, when the starter let them go before I was ready and this was the best that I could do.

Part of the field

Part of the field at the start

Getting away

And away they go.

Although it was a mile and quarter race on quite heavy going, they were still racing at quite a lick when they past me for the second time.

Round the bend

Brave riders.

I didn’t wait for the last race as Mrs Tootlepedal had expressed an interest in going for a pedal.  I was a bit tired after yesterday’s ride and walk but it was too good a day to waste so we got the bikes out and pedalled round an abbreviated (14 mile) version of the morning run.

The wind was noticeable but not a problem and the temperature was perfect.  We were an object of interest to the locals as we pedalled by Tarcoon.

Local interest

I returned the compliment.  I don’t think that I have ever seen a cow in a field looking more like a cow in a field.

cow

We passed another example of spring on our way and also another example of the sort of thing that I wouldn’t have noticed until I got a camera.

Conifer

We had hardly got home before it was time to go out again.  This time we went to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert given by the Langholm Town Band, our local brass band, and its junior section too.   The band played really well under its new conductor and particularly in the second half, was really crisp and lively.   I am very traditional in my brass band tastes and some of the more modern music, however well played, didn’t appeal to me but there were quite enough  numbers that did so that I enjoyed the evening a lot.  The conductor himself delighted the audience by playing an elaborate air varieé on the tune My Grandfather’s Clock, using four different instruments as he did so.

During the morning, I thought that I had seen an entirely new bird species in the garden but it turned out to be an albino, either a  redpoll or a siskin as they are very similar in size and shape.  I notice that it has been ringed.

albino redpoll

The flying bird of the day is definitely two siskins.

two flying siskins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture was sent by my younger son and daughter-in-law who are in Boston on holiday.

boston 3

We had, as the title suggests, wall to wall sunshine today.  There absolutely wasn’t a cloud in the sky and for most of the day there wasn’t much wind either.  It may be three or four weeks late but this was spring at its springiest and very welcome indeed.

It was pretty cool first thing after a clear night so I dillied and dallied after our guests had gone until the temperature had warmed up a bit.  I spent a little time looking out of the kitchen window of course….

siskin trampling

A little siskin trampling brightens any day

…but in the end I got going.  The sky was blue, the hedges green and the air was full of bird song.  I passed curlews, blackbirds, chaffinches, larks, peacocks…..peacocks?  Well, just one peacock.

peacock

Unmistakably a peacock beside the road at the Bigholms.

I had a pliable route plan depending on how I felt but a few miles of cycling along roads like this…

Near Middlebie

…made me feel very good.  I was also cycling into what wind there was which gave me hopes of a wind assisted return to Langholm so I kept pedalling on through, Waterbeck, Middlebie, Ecclefechan and Hoddom until I got to Dalton.

I stopped to check the time and have a snack at Ecclefechan.

clock

Just after 11 am.

At Dalton, I turned and headed down to Annan and the Solway shore.  I crossed the river Annan twice, first at Hoddom and then in Annan itself.

Annan bridges

Once through Annan, the wind was at my back and obligingly increased in strength so I was able to nip along quite smartly.  It all felt so good that I made a short diversion to Brow Houses just to enjoy the sight of the Solway with the tide fully in.

Solway

As I went through Gretna, I had to slow down to pass an unusual vehicle with care.

Gretna cart

It was off to fetch a blushing bride for a Gretna wedding no doubt.

The friendly wind pushed me home through Canonbie where Ii crossed the Esk.  Later in the day I would cross the Esk again but this time by car at Longtown.

Esk bridges

Life must have been hard work for travellers before all these handsome bridges were built.

I had a slightly worrying twinge in my left calf muscle as I pedalled along but it didn’t get worse if I didn’t push too hard.  Luckily by the time it started hurting, the road was mostly flat so I ignored it and arrived home having completed 54 miles at a shade over 14 mph.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day while I was out,  visiting garden events on the Buccleuch Centre (she bought some leeks) and an art gallery in the High Street (she nearly bought a painting but not quite).  When I arrived she had already planted out the leeks and was busy on other tasks in the garden.

The garden looked very cheerful in the sunshine.

Back path

The back path is moving into a blue and pink mode now that the snowdrops and daffodils have disappeared.

There are still some new tulips coming out.

tulips

And I was more than happy to see some bee sized bees at work on the apples and broad beans.

bees at work

A little frog lay basking on the traditional lily pad in the pond.

frog on lily pad

And a redpoll and siskin glowed in the sun.

redpoll and siskin

It was such a lovely evening that I rang Sandy up and we drove down to Longtown to introduce Mrs Tootlepedal to a very nice riverside walk which Sandy had shown me a month or so ago.

The willows beside the river where in flower.

willow

Our walk took us along the river bank and then round a set of ponds.  I was surprised not to see more water birds about but the whole area is so pretty that it was a pleasure to wander around even without snapping away at birds all the time.

Ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

ponds at Longtown

Ponds at Longtown

Ponds at Longtown

There were two swans in one of the ponds.

two swans

Mrs Tootlepedal thoroughly enjoyed her walk, as did Sandy and I but I was more than ready for a little sit down and some food by the time we got home.

One milestone was reached today.  Ever since Mrs Tootlepedal was a nun in the local production of the Sound of Music in March, she has been beavering away at an embroidery giving a nun’s eye view of the song, “Climb every mountain.”  You will no doubt recall the injunction to climb every mountain, ford every stream and follow every rainbow.  Here is her realisation of that dream.  ( I have put it in at a good size so that those interested in needlework can click on it for a better view.)

embroidery

The sharp eyed will notice a thread hanging on the left hand side of the picture and although Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had definitely finished it, she now tells me that she has put some more French knots in since I took the photo.

It will be hard to get a better day than today.

The flying bird of the day was a gull which we met on our walk.

gull

 

 

 

 

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