Archive for Jul, 2013

Today’s picture was taken especially for the blog by my brother as he pedalled along the Erewash Canal in Nottinghamshire.  Very nice it is too.

Erewash canal

map31july13 Dropscone and I enjoyed a pedal ourselves this morning.  It was a lot cooler than it has been lately but the  absence of any wind made it very pleasant as we cycled across Callister, past Gair and through the farmlands around Chapelknowe and Glenzier. (Click on the map to see the details.)   We were additionally cheered by the fact the the council seems to be busy mending some of the worst sections of the roads.

We went on this slightly longer than normal morning ride because I was keen to do 25 miles to get my total for the month up to 500 miles.  This is the most that I have done in a month since September 2011 and brings my total for the year to 2761 miles.  I am very pleased to have managed this but it compares poorly with the 4888 miles that I had done by this time in 2011.  Judging by how tired I feel, there is little chance of ever getting back to that sort of distance.  All the same, I am enjoying the cycling that I am doing  and I am very pleased to be able to do it thanks to some very effective medicine.

My spreadsheet tells me that I have done 168 miles with Dropscone  at an average of 15 mph, 70 with Mrs Tootlepedal at 9 mph and 263 by myself at 14.5 mph.  The 168 miles with Dropscone probably means that I have eaten 16 of his scones after cycling and as he has brought round treacle scones on at least two non cycling days, that brings the total up to 20.  It’s a good thing to go cycling with a retired baker.

After he left today, I wandered round the garden as usual.  There are pink and blue phlox coming to join the white ones.


And cosmos of many different shades


The rose with many heads is progressing.

rosa princess margareta

It makes dead heading a little tricky.

Shirley poppies are coming in various shades as well.

shirley poppies

Altogether, there is quite a lot of colour in the garden if you know where to look,  Some of it is well hidden.


Lilies in the long grass

Some is quite obvious.


It’s a pity that they didn’t all grow to a nicely matched height.

After lunch we headed off to Carlisle, stopping on the way at the bike shop at Longtown to collect a couple of new pedals for me. Our main task was to pick up a B&B duvet which was being cleaned professionally but Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like to miss a chance to go to an embroidery shop so after picking up the duvet, we headed into the centre of town.  As we passed under a railway bridge on the way to the car park, we thought we heard the sound of a steam engine on the line above us.  Once through, we looked back.


We had heard a steam locomotive.  It was a Black 5 Stanier

Like the canal at the top of the post, it too had a Nottinghamshire connection.

Sherwood Forester

It puffed off towards the station and was soon followed by its modern equivalent.


The London bound Pendolino

Somewhat astonished by all this, we pulled ourselves together and went off shopping.  The widely held view is that the British town centre is dying but Carlisle people obviously don’t know about this and the town was absolutely hotching with people busy visiting shops.  Carlisle has a broad pedestrianised High Street with room for street cafes and entertainments so that is maybe one reason why people come to it. It still has a good range of shops too.

We got home and as the weather looked a bit threatening, we took the onion crop which we had laid out to dry and hung it in the greenhouse.

onion crop

Part of the crop

Mrs Tootlepedal fears that we might have been a bit hasty in bringing them in and wonders if the crop will keep well.  Time will tell.

I snapped a dahlia which is growing beside the greenhouse while I was there.


The evening got darker and darker and in the end, it started to rain.  I spent some time trying to catch a flying bird before it got too gloomy.  I cheated a bit.

hhoming pigeons at exercise

This was a passing flock of homing pigeons at exercise.

As the month has gone on, the goldfinches have disappeared and the siskins and greenfinches have thinned out considerably and we are left with our most regular visitors, the chaffinches.


One of them obliged for flying bird of the day.










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Today’s picture, sent by a fond father, shows Maisie chasing her shadow in the middle of a New Zealand winter.

maisie on the beach

It was an itty-bitty day today with stuff done but no great satisfaction.

It started with a routine  visit to the health centre to get a blood test to check that my arthritis medicine isn’t doing me any harm.  The results have been very encouraging so far.  On a different note, for a year or two now, my arms have been showing very marked bruises at the slightest touch and I recently visited my doctor to see if there was anything to worry about in this or if it was simply the result of getting older.  The doctor thought it was the latter but added an extra test to my regular ones just to make sure.  The nurse was excited to find that the doctor had given my condition had a medical name, ‘ecchymosis’,  so we checked it out.  Disappointingly it turns out to  mean ‘having large bruises’.

No sooner had I got home than it started to rain heavily so I turned to my computer and put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  I have been very slack at this task during the fine weather so a bit more rain will be needed to get me back on track.

By midday, the sun had come out and I was able to catch two siskins arguing at the feeder.


A sparrow and a blue tit shared the fat ball feeder with less fuss.

blue tit

The sunshine gave me the chance to start trimming the large chessman that stands between the two lawns.  The job is complicated by the fact that there is a perennial nasturtium growing in the bush which has to be carefully removed and replaced as you go along.

I didn’t have time to finish the job and I couldn’t take advantage of the good weather for a pedal as it was my turn to man the tourist information point at the Kilngreen.  There weren’t many tourists but there were plenty of gulls back at their posts after the disturbance of the Common Riding.


I had plenty of time to do the crossword and admire the council planting on the bank across the road.


I had one or two visitors to help pass the time and it was nice enough for me to buy an ice cream from the van on the Kilngreen when I had finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out at work when I got home so I decided to wait and see if she would like a pedal in the evening rather than go out by myself.  I passed the time by mowing two lawns and finishing off the chessman.

Only a pawn

The hole in the side of the head hides a nest box.  It hasn’t been used yet but we can always hope.

I walked my camera round the garden when I had finished. The Princess Margaerta rose has got an amazing number of blooms on a single stem.  It is hard to count them all but I think that there are ten or eleven.


The two boring flowers are making an effort to look livelier.

clematis and nicotiana

Clematis and nicotiana

The astilbes defy  my photographic skills so I have made do with a mash up.

astilbe mash up

And I noted another patriotic corner (although the rambler rose is past its best).

red, white and blue

Sunflowers are rather addictive to people with cameras in their hands.

developing flowers

My favourite plant, the fuchsia, is doing its best but its leaves have been attacked by something which stops it flowering properly.


Some of the few flowers that have appeared.

We don’t know what is attacking it, whether it is disease or bugs.  The leaves have little holes near the junction with the wood but we can’t find any evidence of creatures on the leaves.  You can see a typical hole in the leaf on the left of the picture.

When I went inside, I heard a loud noise at the feeders.  It was three starlings trying to get at the last of the fatballs.


A chaffinch looked a bit world weary when I saw him later on.


I turned down an offer from Sandy to go and look at the woodpeckers again (he has some nice shots on his blog) and opted for a little sit down until Mrs Tootlepedal came home.

We picked turnips, beans, beetroot and a small courgette to go with our tea and then got ready to go for a 14 mile pedal. No sooner had we started off though, than it started to rain.  At first it was just a drop or two and we pressed on but soon it became heavy and we got discouraged.  In the end Mrs Tootlepedal opted for eight miles and I did ten.  Once again, the weather gods were laughing at us and the sun came out just after we arrived home.  It was too late and we were too wet to think about starting out again so we went inside and sulked.

It was the sort of day when birds sneaked up to the feeder instead of approaching it in a nice ‘wings  open’ sort of way so the flying bird of the day is one of the scrapping starlings beating a retreat.


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Today’s picture was sent to me by Dropscone who was officiating at the Scottish Boys Golf Championships last week when rain stopped play.  I assume that there was no hint of lightning about.

Rain stopped play(1)

If there had been any play here today, rain would have stopped that too as it was quite wet in the morning.  As a result, Dropscone and I had coffee and treacle scones without bicycling first.   I was quite pleased as the effort of eating all those scones yesterday at the Waterbeck cream tea event had left me feeling a little too weary for cycling (but not tired for treacle scones strangely).

When Dropscone departed in the continuing rain, I stared out of the window for a while.  Sometimes no birds fly at the right time but today they came out in force.  A handsome sparrow led the way.

flying sparrow

Followed by two chaffinches…


Wings in


Wings out

The aerial display was rounded off by a young sparrow trying to share a perch with another youngster.

young sparrows

By this time the rain had stopped and I was able to walk round the garden.


A damp crocosmia beside the middle lawn.

Day lily

A day lily makes the most of its brief existence.


A poppy looking a bit like a fancy dessert

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work in the afternoon and as the weather had cleared up, I did some work in the garden.  I sieved some of the kitchen waste which has been composting for two years and is producing rich material now.  The only downside of waiting for two years for material to compost is how little you get out compared with how much you put in.

Then I mowed the middle lawn which is looking as good as can be expected.

Mrs Tootlepedal has cut down one more of the large box balls which are dotted about the garden and I was able to finish uprooting the stump.  (She had done most of the heavy work already, needless to say.)

Finally, I gave the yew chicken in the drive a bit of a clip.  This is the first time I have done this and I was nervous as it is always easy to make a cut too far and ruin the shape.  However, it seemed to come out not too badly.

yew chicken

As you can see, by this time the sun was shining brightly so Sandy and I agreed to make a visit to the Moorland bird feeders in the hope of seeing a woodpecker or two.  Our record for making it rain when we visit the feeders is very good and we thought for a moment that we might have succeeded again when we got there…

Drak clouds at Moorland feeder

…but the dark clouds passed and the sunshine remained.

We couldn’t see much when we sat down because of the crowds of woodpeckers which kept getting in  our way.  We were vastly entertained by them visiting nut and seed feeders, flying high, swooping low and in general putting on a great show.  Here are a few of the many snaps that I took.


One even got into the cage to keep larger birds out.


At the branch office


Going nuts




Is this my best side?


Watch the birdie

The young ones were busy chasing each other round the feeders for a lot of the time and there was never a dull moment.  I had to leave though to get ready for my flute pupil Luke.

He has been on holiday but he hasn’t neglected his flute practice and we managed to play the whole of the first movement of our Loeillet Trio Sonata, accompanied by the computer playing the keyboard part, without stopping and without a mistake.  This was a great moment and we were both very pleased indeed.

For our pudding with our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a dish of gooseberry fool….

gooseberry fool

It may not look much but it tasted delicious.

This rounded off a day that started gloomily but ended very well.

You will be surprised to find that the flying bird of the day is one of those skittish woodpeckers.

flying woodpecker









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Today’s picture is a detail from a very nice photo of a dragonfly which Gavin kindly sent to me.


After several weeks of fine weather, the rain arrived today.  In fact it had rained all through the night as well but so dry has the garden been that it soaked all the water up without complaint.  The rain persisted throughout the morning  in that annoying way of seeming to stop and then as soon as you go out, starting again. 

I did manage to sneak out without it noticing long enough to take a picture of an apple.


Looking good.

Mrs Tootlepedal also got out for long enough to wonder how she is going to pick the runner beans that have climbed up the telegraph pole.

runner beans

We are wondering if this another case of runners on performance enhancing substances.

Mostly I stayed indoors and looked out of the window at birds both small….


…and large….

starling and blackbird

…and, of course, in argumentative mood as usual.

siskin and sparrow

A siskin and sparrow contest the same space.

siskin and greenfinch

A greenfinch rises above siskin provocation

The forecast said that after lunch the rain would subside so Mrs Tootlepedal had a cycle trip planned.  I checked the forecast map on the internet and it gave us the all clear so we got the bikes out and…..it started to rain heavily.  I went back and checked the map again and they had changed it from fine to heavy rain during the five minutes that we were getting ready.  We sulked.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not easily put off though once she has made a plan so as soon as the rain looked like letting up, we set off again.

The results of the prolonged rain could be heard and seen in the rivers and streams that we passed.


The Wauchope flowing strongly

We  were pedalling into a stiff breeze and up some steep hills but Mrs Tootlepedal was undaunted.  Could this have had anything to do with it?


It had.  This was our destination.  The congregation of the church at Waterbeck were running a fund raising cream tea event and very well attended it was too. The village hall was full and tea and cakes were disappearing at a great rate.  We did our part and had plenty of conversation as well as munching as we knew quite a number of the tea drinkers in the hall.

I was very pleased to be there, apart from the fancy cakes of course, because my great uncle John had been a minister in the church for a number of years in the 1930s.  We went to look at the church and I was able to find his picture on the walls among all the other ministers of recent times.  The church, which was formerly a UP congregation, is now independent of the Church of Scotland which tried to close it and is being being well looked after by the present congregation.

Waterbeck Church

Great Uncle John is the top right minister in the frame.  He died in Carlisle shortly before I was born.

The pleasure of this little bit of family history and the excellent cream tea was enhanced by the fact that the brisk wind was behind us on the way home and the sun came up too.  here we can see Mrs Tootlepedal going over Callister in the style of Alberto Contador.


I had stopped to take a picture of some of the roadside flowers that brightened our route.  The blue flowers are harebells and the yellow flowers are either trefoil or vetch.

hare bells and yellow flower

Later on the way home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out some orchids in the verge.


By the time we got home, after an enjoyable 20 mile trip, it was such a lovely evening that I rang up Sandy and suggested an excursion to the sand martin colony at Canonbie.  He agreed and after a short drive, we were soon walking past the churchyard by the River Esk.

grave yard at Canonbie

The new and old burial grounds.


Canonbie church

The church seen from the river bank.

We strolled along the bank of the Esk enjoying the scenery.

Esk at Canonbie

It wasn’t hard to spot the sand martins as there were a great many going to and from their nests.  They nest in holes in the sandy bank above the river just below where the sheep are grazing.

Sand martin nest site

They move very quickly and it would take more time and care than we had available to take good pictures of them but it was very agreeable just to stand and watch them flitting across the river. I did try to take some pictures.

sand martin

Just as we were leaving, a goosander landed with a splash.


When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had kindly cooked my tea fro me.  A day that had started rather gloomily thus ended very cheerfully.

Unsurprisingly, the flying bird of the day is a sand martin.

sand martin
















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Today’s picture, sent to me by Dropscone’s niece, shows her daughter thoroughly enjoying the Monticello Trail.

monticello trail

After the excitement of Langholm’s Great Day yesterday, I was in relaxed mood and spent the morning in idle pleasure, wandering around the garden and sitting down in equal proportions once I had visited our local producer’s market to get some provisions.

Although the garden is on the turn, it still has many treats for a man with a camera.


An entry from a newly flowering clematis in the world’s dullest flower competition.

Shirley poppy

An elegantly simple Shirley poppy has arrived too.


This bee preferred one of the older poppies


A very richly coloured cosmos

Mrs Tootlepedal’s row of sunflowers is coming along nicely but they are annoying her by resolutely refusing to turn their faces to the sun in the approved manner.


They are supposed to be visible from the road but keep facing east.  I’m enjoying them, even if passers by are getting no benefit.

The warm weather has kept the delphiniums going at full blast…


…and the runner beans are growing at such a rate that a steeplejack will be required when it is time to pick them.

runner beans

They are already well above my head.

I picked the gooseberries which have produced a modest crop.  They are very delicious to eat (luckily Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t care for raw gooseberries)  and those too small or too unripe will shortly be making an appearance in a dish of gooseberry fool.

The rambler roses continue to delight the eye.

rambler rose

We were visited by a jackdaw which made a good contrast to our smaller regulars.


The general supply of garden birds is much reduced and I am only having to fill the feeder once a day and sometimes not even that.

After lunch, I pulled myself together and got the speedy bike out.  After a lovely sunny morning, the clouds were looking threatening and heavy rain was forecast so I contented myself with a 3 x 7 mile dash up and down the road to Wauchope School and back.  I took my little camera but I concentrated so hard on the pedalling that I forgot to use it.

When I got back, Sandy came round and we went up to the Moorland Bird Feeders to see what we could see.  The moorland is showing a rich range of yellow, brown and green colours at the moment.


We didn’t have to wait long for the inevitable woodpecker to put in an appearance….


…and we also didn’t have to wait long before it started to rain.  It looked very gloomy and  we packed up and headed back to the town.  By the time we got there, the rain had stopped (of course) so we drove through the town and up on to the moor to see if any harriers were about.

They appeared even more promptly than the woodpecker and this time, the rain held off so we enjoyed half an hour of harrier watching.


As far as I could see, the birds were mostly the young from the nearby nest site and didn’t venture very high into the sky.  I wasn’t able to get very good shots but I’ve included a small set of pictures just to record their presence.  The birds rose and fell from behind the crest of the ridge, sometimes singly…


…but more often in groups of two or three or more.


The moorland managers are putting out food for the harriers and we could see them swoop down to pick it from the feeding posts and take it back up with them.  This was too indistinct for my camera to pick out and I had to wait until they were up in the sky.


Since the rain was holding off, the call of the lawn mower became too loud to ignore and we waved goodbye to the birds…


…and headed for home.

There I mowed the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.  I have been looking at this grass for some days and wondering why Mrs Tootlepedal was letting it grow so long and it turned out that she has been looking at it and wondering the same about me.  The result was that it was extremely hard work to cut and I had to leave the middle lawn for another day.  I might have gone out later to do it but it started to rain which gave me a good excuse for doing the crossword instead.

We had the first carrots of the season, along with turnips, beans and potatoes from the garden for our tea.  Looking at other people’s gardens and allotments, we will not be the only ones enjoying a bit of home food at the moment in this fine spell of weather.  The food tastes all the sweeter after the two horrible summers we have had previously when home grown produce was hard to find.

The flying bird of the day was a domestic chaffinch in the morning sunshine.








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The picture of the day shows Langholm’s 2013 cornet Alistair Cavers.


The last Friday in July by tradition sees the celebration of the Langholm Common Riding when the town’s standard is carried round the town and the common lands on the hill by a mounted horseman and his followers.  Although the ceremony has lost its original purpose and is largely symbolic, it has a place in the hearts of most townsfolk and is a magnet for visitors from the surrounding areas.

The great day starts at 5 am with a march round the town by the Flute Band followed by a hound trail on the hill.  Although I played in the flute band for thirty years, this is now too early for me and I slept through the beating of the big drum as they passed by.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to our usual spot to greet the Town Band which leads the procession of riders through the streets.

Langholm Town Band

It was followed by a good number of riders.


To avoid problems, the main roads through the town are closed for the morning and the townspeople take possession of the streets which is one of the best things about the day.

After the cornet has led the riders round the pump (and the Buccleuch centre too)…

Buccleuch Centre

…the procession heads back into the High Street and in a while, the crowds listen to the first crying of the Langholm Fair and the cornet leads the riders in a gallop up the Kirkwynd and onto the hill.  I left them to this and cycled up the road to the White Yett to watch for the riders coming to the top of the hill.   After the gallop up the Kirkwynd, the procession disappears from my view normally so this year, I thought that I would find out what it is that they actually do up there.

It was a beautiful day up on the hill, looking along the Ewes valley, with a fresh wind keeping the clouds moving so that we had frequent sunny spells.

Ewes Valley

I didn’t have long to wait before the cornet appeared….

Coming up the hill

…and came through the gate onto the common lands.

the gate

Once there, he led the procession to  succession of cairns. first going downhill…

going to the cairns

…and then back up again….

going to the cairns

…and finally round the shoulder of the hill…

going to the cairns

…before heading to their final destination….

going to the cairns

…at the Castle Craigs.

Castle Craigs

Here the cornet relinquishes the standard and it is attached to the cairn while the train of riders catches up.

Castle Craigs

Castle Craigs

When all the riders are assembled, the Castle Craigs fair crier mounts the cairn and cries the fair.

Castle Craigs

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;
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.
Hoys yes! that’s ae time,
Hoys yes! that’s twae times
Hoys yes! that’s the third and the last time.

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.

When the fair had been cried, I and the other onlookers walked straight up the hill to the monument while the riders took a more circuitous route.  Going back round the hill again…

Leaving the Castle Craigs

…before coming up the fence to the monument.

coming to the monument

For this section of the ride, the procession is led by the cornet of 25 years ago (the ‘semi-jubilee’ cornet), in this case Andrew Jeffrey.

semi jubilee cornet

He is riding the cornet’s horse as well as carrying the standard with the cornet riding his horse behind him.

The flag is carried three times round the monument….


…before the 160 riders head back down the face of the hill to the town.


This was a part of the common riding which I had never seen before and if possible I will certainly come to watch it again.  To be on the hill with the valleys laid below me and a procession of 160 riders walking across the rough ground and through the heather against the backdrop of spacious views was quite an experience.

I left the horses to tiptoe carefully down the face of the hill and went back to my bicycle and zoomed down the road back to Langholm.

When I got home, I found my son and daughter-in-law there and we walked up to the High Street to meet the procession which had got safely back to the town.

High Street

By this time the procession has been joined by an enormous Scottish thistle….


…carried by some very strong men.

After a bit of marching about behind the band, the procession comes back to the Market Place and the fair is cried again to a very large crowd of supporters.

fair crier

Here the fair crier is gripping the twelve penny nail by which the ears of those who misbehave at the fair will be nailed to the tron.

Then the procession is resumed until it comes to the Kilngreen where, in front of a large crowd,  the spade carrier fords the Ewes Water…

spade carrier…followed by the cornet and the rest of the mounted followers.


Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked home at this point, though we did stop in Mary Street to look across the river to the Castleholm where the cornet was being led past the castle ruins to the racecourse to lead the cornet’s chase.

cornet's chase

In the chase, he is given a very generous start so that there is no danger of him being overtaken and then the followers get their chance to enjoy a gallop round the racecourse.  After four hours of patently walking in line, many of the horses and riders set off at a hair raising pace…

cornet's chase

…but we only saw one faller in the rush.

Then it was time for a well deserved lunch.  In turned out that while I had been on the back of the hill, Mrs Tootlepedal had met a friend and walked half way up the front of the hill to Whita Well so we both felt that food and a rest had been well earned.

In the afternoon, I went across to the Castleholm to have a quick look at the sports going on there.  There was horse racing…

first race

A six furlong sprint with a small field.

…and foot racing, both sprinting….


The youth’s 90m handicap final

and longer distances…

The fornt marker in the 400m about to be swept up near the end of the race

The front marker in the 400m handicap about to be swept up by quicker (and younger men) near the end of the race

…as well as wresting.

cumberland wrestling

This is Cumberland wrestling with one competitor dressed in traditional style

In spite of the long Johns and velvet pants (often handsomely embroidered) this is a serious event.  I watched some hotly contested bouts.

cumberland wrestling

I took another picture of the second horse race of the meeting and was impressed by the concerted way that the first three runners seemed to have left the ground in unison.

leaping racehorses

I didn’t stay too long as the afternoon had got quite hot and our visitors were leaving to go on to London.  I was glad to get back to the cool of the house and an ice cream.

I didn’t entirely neglect the garden during the day and was pleased to see that  a sunflower had come fully out to welcome our great day and the one of my favourite fuchsias had managed a flower too.


We sat peacefully round the kitchen table and did the crossword in a communal way.  My son took this rare picture of me actually thinking.

Tootlepedal pondering

Mrs Tootlepedal took them off to catch the train in Carlisle while I looked through the many pictures of the day.  The flag gets handed back by the cornet at 9 pm after a long day but we were too tired to go up to watch.

No time or energy for a flying bird so this picture by my son of his wife also thinking about the crossword will have to do.


It may have been Langholm’s Great Day but I had a great day too.






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Today’s picture, in the absence of any contribution from readers, shows one of the developing sunflowers on the veg garden fence in a nifty vignette.


At the moment, I can take a busy day if I follow it with a calm day so after all the fun of yesterday’s tour, I settled in for a quiet time today.

The day started with a telephone call from a reader pointing out that I had wrongly identified a plant as a butterbur in yesterday’s post when it was in fact a burdock.  There is nothing that gets your day off to a better start than being told that you have made a mistake.

On the other hand it was yet another fine, warm, dry day and it had rained in the night so that was all to the good.

I had a rather disconnected day today when I did a few useful things at various times but not in a well organised way so I will just enumerate them briefly because I can’t necessarily remember when I did them..

I scarified the front lawn and mowed it, leaving it looking rather worse than before I started.  I am hoping that in a week or so, the work will pay off.

I used my nifty music reading program to get the music for a song I am learning off the page and  onto the computer so that I can practise with an accompaniment.

I picked and ate some gooseberries.

I made a really good looking sourdough loaf.

I spoke nicely to my tomato plant in an effort to get it to start to ripen the many green tomatoes hanging on it.

I watched Mrs Tootlepedal doing a lot of cooking.  This was because our younger son and his wife are coming for a brief visit.

I took quite a lot of pictures in the garden.

Things came in clumps today, mainly of roses.

bobbie james

Bobbie James

Rosa Goldfinch


Princess Margareta

Princess Margareta

And the sparrows came in clumps too.

clump of sparrows

There’s a siskin hidden under all the sparrows

There are a lot of young birds about still…

blue tit


…but this one was my favourite of the day.  I nearly trod on it as I came round a corner in the garden.


It looked at me with a reproachful eye.


But it didn’t go so far as to move off so I went on my way, treading carefully.

I watched a sparrow feed a youngster.

sparrow feeding young

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a blackbird feeding a youngster considerably bigger than itself the other day and was amazed…but then she is doing the same to one of her young today with a nice piece of flan.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sweet peas are providing a never ending supply of cut flowers at the moment but I took this one while it was still as nature intended.

sweet pea

Speaking of cut flowers, the yellow dahlia which was a cut a day or two ago looked so good that I put up a piece of card and took a couple of shots indoors which is not my usual thing at all.



You can see that I was at a bit of a loose end.

As well as birds in the feeder, I found two in the plum tree.



It was a nice, sunny day but luckily just that bit cooler than it has been and it was a great pleasure to laze about in the garden without getting fried.

In the evening, I went across to Lockerbie to collect Alistair and Clare from the train.  This involves driving across a winding, hilly, potholed road and in normal circumstances, it is a tedious journey but today in the evening sunshine, it was a treat.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s cooking made for a good feast when we got back and we established after some discussion and a bit of research that all quiches are flans but not all flans are quiches.  We thought that this was very interesting.

I couldn’t find a good flying bird so a contorted chaffinch will have to do today.

flying chaffinch














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