Free at last

Today’s guest picture is another from my three sisters’ recent trip to Bath.  Sent by my sister Mary, it shows the Saxon church at Bradford on Avon.  It seems a bit short of windows.

Saxon Church, Bradford-on-Avon

We had some decent weather today so in spite of my cold being much the same as ever, I decided to get out and about come what may.

I started by visiting the producer’s market at the Buccleuch Centre and picking up some local meat and cheese.  The fish came from the other side of the country but since that is only eighty  miles away, it was fairly local too.

On my way back to the house, I found my neighbour Liz with two grandsons and a friend clearing the dam that runs behind her house.

Clearing the dam

It used to be cleaned regularly by men from the mill that owned it but since the mill has gone bust, no one looks after it now and it is left to those householders who back on to it to clean it up.   It is hard work.  I leave our section to Mrs Tootlepedal to do.

After a pause for coffee and toasted teacake,  I ventured out for a short run on the slow bike with Mrs Tootlepedal.   She was soon miles ahead of me as I was taking it very gingerly but she kindly waited for me from time to time.  It didn’t help that I had stopped to take a picture on the way.

The trees are only just beginning to hint of autumn colour.

We arrived at Wauchope School and I made the taking a picture of the stream there an excuse to get my breath back.

Wauchope School

The hedges here should be full of sloes but the late spring seems to have put paid to them and there was hardly a sloe to be seen.  Mrs Tootlepedal made do with some brambles instead.

brambling at Wauchope School

These appeared at tea time in yet another delicious apple and bramble crumble.

On the way home, I  stopped again to admire the rich brown colours of the bracken on the hillside,


You can see the piecemeal pothole patching on the road which means we can now spare a moment to look at the views as we pedal along instead of having to keep the eyes firmly fixed on the road.

We got home safely to find that the boys had gone and only Liz and her faithful dog, Riley were left in the dam.

Liz in the dam
You might not imagine that we had recently attended her seventieth birthday party.

I may say that having completed the six and a half miles at a heady 9 mph, I needed a sit down and a cup of tea to recover.  After lunch, I had a garden wander.

The flowers have reacted variously to the rain.

flowers in the rain

The variegated nasturtiums which are doing so well this year have arrived in the garden of their own accord and are not the result of Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting  she tells me.

Two roses are battling on in the warmer weather.


It is due to get much colder on Wednesday so they might not make it to flower.

The fuchsia, after a very slow start, probably due to the late cold spring, has really taken to life in autumn and is getting bigger and better every day.


Finally, the pale astrantia has unexpectedly taken a new lease of life and put out a new set of flowers.


One unexpected encounter came when I was intending to take a picture of a tiny sunflower, one of the last left in flower.  I was just going to brush off what I thought was a leaf which was spoiling the picture when I realised that far from spoiling the picture, it was making it much more interesting.

sunflower and moth

Can any knowledgeable reader tell me what sort of moth my ‘leaf’ is?  It’s not in our moth book.

Soon, Sandy arrived and he took me off to the Moorland bird feeders.  On our way, we stopped at the Kilngreen to see what was going on.

It was a busy place.  There were gulls flying in every direction.


In an unusually co-operative mood, they turned at the sawmill bridge and flew back down river against a nice dark background.

black headed gulls

They then turned again and flew back higher in the air.

black headed gulls

Meantime in the river below, the ducks were going mad.   They were rushing up and down stream, ducking under the water with a great splash and emerging with a greater one.  Perhaps some source of food was flowing by.  Certainly it was fun to watch them.

duck frenzy

duck frenzy

duck frenzy

The only calm point amid the turmoil was the statuesque heron on the back regarding all this with a sceptical eye.   He started to stroll away as we approached….


…but then turned and stood to get his picture taken.


We left the Kilngreen and headed up to the Moorland feeders.  By contrast there were few birds and little action there.  In the end we set the cameras up on tripods and used the remote control.  This let me take a series of pictures of a great tit (or possibly two different great tits) on a peanut feeder.

great it

I left Sandy concentrating on close ups….

Sandy disguised as a basket

…and went to take a wider view.  I was hoping to see a hawk which I did…..


…but it was too far away to take a good picture.

I wasn’t feeling very well by this time so Sandy obligingly took me home and we polished off the remaining teacakes over a pot of tea.  He has lent us his slow cooker and we are going to try to make a stew with it tomorrow as Mrs Tootlepedal has got the feeling that it would be a good thing to have.

In the evening, we sat down for the first time since last year to watch Strictly Come Dancing on the telly.  Mrs Tootlepedal also made a really good job of cooking the fish that I bought in the morning for my tea.   The fish was followed by  crumble and all this while watching Strictly so it was an evening of unalloyed pleasure.

The flying bird of the day was a great tit from the Moorland feeders.  It’s not a great picture but at least it’s not a chaffinch.

flying great tit

All this rushing about didn’t make me feel any better but it was an improvement on mooching around the house moaning all day.


Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

28 thoughts on “Free at last

  1. For not feeling very well you sure got around ad captured a wide variety of subjects today. I believe that the moth is one of the sphinx moths, but I couldn’t find the exact species. This is from Wikipedia…”The Sphingidae are a family of moths (Lepidoptera), commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms; it includes about 1,450 species”.

  2. Loving your avian photographs today, Tom! I never thought I would say such a thing, but after 5 years of never seeing one, I must admit to missing seagulls. There are none this far inland in Alabama.

    Take care of your cold, and don’t overdo. (She says while waggling her finger at her computer monitor.) 😉

  3. You have excelled yourself with your bird photographs today Mr T.
    Sorry to hear that you are no better.
    What a trooper is Mrs T, I can see her donning the green wellies (same as Camilla Duchess of Cornwall favours) to clean out the dam and sallying forth.

  4. Despite your poor state of health at the moment you haven’t lost your eye for a good picture, I thought you excelled yourself in this blog. I think the moth was a real winner as were the splashing ducks, I could almost feel the spray. I am looking at that heron on my calendar this month.

  5. Great duck action pictures, and a nice close up of the heron. Lovely roses, and an impressive effort by your neighbours clearing the dam. Hope you will have more energy soon.

  6. I do hope you are feeling better soon, Tootlepedal. Wonderful pictures, especially the ducks and the heron. I wish I had your neighbor’s energy or yours too, for that matter (all that cycling.)

  7. Beautiful flowers! And the gulls were fantastic only to be outdone by those incredible duck photos. Well done!

  8. I like the idea of the other side of the country being only 80 miles away. I am more than 3000 miles from the part of the country I grew up in.

    Photos of the moth, splashing ducks and the heron (of course) are all great.

    1. North America is a big place. Looking at it from afar, it is hard for us to get a true idea of what it must be like to live in the middle of it.

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