A lot to see

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent trip to Spain.  Santillana Del Mar is a Spanish village 20 kilometres from the Bay of Biscay, which has scarcely changed from Medieval times.

Santillana Del Mar

After the thunderstorm overnight, today was sunny and much brighter as the haze had been swept away by the rain.  It would have been good to have had this bright weather for our trip yesterday but we made the best of it today.

Dropscone was busy and the wind was very brisk so I took the opportunity to give my legs a rest.  After a leisurely breakfast, I went up to the town to do some business.  This would have been more useful if the shop that I was going to visit had been open and the person whom I wanted to see had been in.

I spent a lot of time walking round the garden at various times during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different varieties of Euphorbia in different places.
astrantia and aquilegia
I like this colour combination, probably a happy accident.
Dicentra, lilac and anemone
Dicentra, lilac and anemone all enjoying the sun
The back path
The back path, a riot of growth.
Walnut tree
The leaves are just coming out on the walnut, one of the last trees to come into leaf.

We are too far north to get a crop of walnuts but there is at least one flower  this year as you can see.

The number of visitors to the feeder has gone down sharply and if this continues, I may even stop putting food out this year though I generally feed right through the summer.  Looking out of the kitchen window is less of a full time occupation as a result but I still take the occasional peek.

two sparrows
Two sparrows
redpoll and goldfinch
Redpoll and goldfinch

I am still in the process of turning the compost heap into a new bin, doing a couple of wheelbarrow loads at a time to try to preserve my joints.  We have a small shredder which works very well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I try to shred as much of the garden waste as we can with the result that the compost rots down very quickly and takes up less space than a conventional three year system.  Mind you, we still have ten compost bins  dotted about the vegetable garden.

After lunch, we went out to make good use of the sunshine.  We started with a visit to the Langholm Moor and we were lucky to see a hen harrier fly past.  It was too far away for the camera but well in range of my new binoculars.  The were several other people out with binoculars in hand as well as us.  As an added bonus we were serenaded by larks as we sat and watched.  We moved on in search of wild goats and soon saw some not far from the road.

Wild goats

They were near some of the peat banks which locals still use to cut fuel for their fires.

peat bank
The peats are laid out to be dried after cutting.

The banks are cut and the top layer is replaced behind the cutting so that the trench advances across the moor by a metre or so each year, leaving a reinstated surface behind it.

Two peat cutters arrived while I was watching the goats and set to work.

peat cutters

After drying flat, the peats are tipped up into little pyramids to dry further.  Peat cutting is very hard work and my back is still suffering from my efforts cutting peat nearly forty years ago.

I took two pictures of the Tarras valley before we headed back to Langholm.  The hills are just beginning to ‘green up’ after the winter months.

Looking up the Tarras valley
Tarras wood
Looking across the river.

When we got back to Langholm, we went in search of a nuthatch.  We didn’t have to look hard because there was a nuthatch hanging at the entrance to the nest when we arrived. There was no shortage of photo opportunities in the next few minutes.


We didn’t stay too long as the garden was calling to Mrs Tootlepedal and walked back across the Castleholm to the car, enjoying the beautiful day as we went.

Timpen Hill

Castleholm trees

Lodge walks
The Lodge Walks

We had to watch ourselves as we crossed the race track as a sheep race was in progress.

sheep on race track

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly allowed me time to stop at the Kilngreen on the way back to the garden.  We enjoyed an ice cream from the Pelosi’s van there and I strolled along the waterside.

The heron was posing for the camera beside the car park….


… but obligingly flew off to a more photogenic spot after a while.


Beside the Ewes, a little wagtail was leaping up into the air to catch insects.  I managed to get a quick shot of it before it shot off to feed its young.


Once back in the garden, we turned our attention to mending the main compost bin which was made out of the old surrounds for small raised beds and like its owners, is showing the ravages of time.   With a bit of skilled bashing of three inch nails, it should now last for another few years.

I shifted another two barrowfuls of compost and then  retired indoors for a cup of tea and a snooze while the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal  worked away outside.

I am getting trigger happy on the camera these days and had to throw away a lot of pictures but even so I have put more than my daily ration into this post for which I apologise.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Sings choir practice and had to put up with an AGM for half the practice.  AGM are necessary evils but they aren’t half as much fun as singing.  Ominously, we were bitten by midges as we came out.   If there is one drawback to life in Langholm it is the midges.  Last year was very midge free after the severe winter.  This year’s mild and wet winter may make for a very midgy summer.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, snatching a seed and making off at speed.

blue tit












Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

38 thoughts on “A lot to see

  1. I love the shots of the great blue heron. I’ve never cut peat but I’ve put down a lot of sod lawns and that peat cutting looks the same-heavy, hard, dirty work.
    You can tell a great gardener (and garden) by their compost piles. It was the first thing I built when I was hired on as a gardener, if they didn’t already have one.

    1. The peat blocks are incredibly wet and heavy when they are cut and have to be heaved up on to the top of the bank to be laid out to dry. It was the slicing and twisting movement that did for my back.

      1. Not me 🙂 My sister has a blog called “The road to serendipity” and writes so much about her life on a hobby farm in Tasmania with lots of pictures and I just make a big cup of tea and have a good read. Your blog is just brilliant for the way it includes us, the readers, in yours and your friends daily lives. Well done 🙂

  2. Such a pleasure to read your blog, the garden so pretty, the scenery so splendid and the activities of the nuthatch so interesting, I enjoyed scrolling through and there weren’t too many pictures at all.

  3. Lovely picture looking up the Tarras valley. That peat cutting does seem to require a very strong back!

  4. A very impressive range of pictures of diverse subjects. The peat cutting was the most interesting to me. I was surprised that folk still extract it for fires. It is solely used for gardens in our town.

  5. As ever a wonderful blog, It makes my day and is a consistent source of inspiration. So much so that I find accolades difficult? If you get just half the pleasure from posting as I do from reading……. Thank you.

  6. Incredible post and pictures. Trigger-happiness suits you well. As for the feeders, I suspect they will get very busy again when the youngsters start showing up. I think birds get preoccupied with nesting and we miss seeing them for a while. Anyway, love the nuthatch.

  7. Very interesting to see the peat cutting. My Dad was something of a woodsman and in my youth I helped haul and split the wood to heat our house. I think the peat cutting looks at least as strenuous.

    1. Because of the weight of the peat when wet and the amount of stooping required when cutting, turning, stacking and carrying home, I would think peat cutting is slightly the more laborious if a little less skilful than log splitting.

      1. Well, we cut the wood ourselves so there was a considerable amount of stooping, turning and stacking into the trailer in the woods and then again unloading to the woodpile at home and then again when splitting. But the water weight of the peat may be the determining factor. I hope to never have the opportunity to find out for certain.

      2. I feel sure that if there had been any trees to cut, the peat cutters would have done that instead of cutting peat but I don’t mean to underrate the hard work involved in being a lumberjack.

  8. I loved all the photos as usual. The peat cutting reminds me of baling hay, hot, sweaty work that every young man should do for a week to teach them to place more value on an education so that they don’t wind up doing that type of manual labor for a living!

  9. Somehow I managed to overlook this post when catching up after our long weekend away. I love lots of photos, and always read the text as well, so those nay-sayers can just skip over and leave the rest of us to our enjoyment!

    Quite interesting to see the peat cutting. It does look very laborious and I’m thankful to not have experienced it, but would probably enjoy a nice peat fire. 🙂 Also interesting to see the wild goats. Do they cause destruction and make pests of themselves? I think they are quite cute, although with being wild they probably aren’t the friendly sort.

    The Tootlepedal garden sure is a glorious place – it makes me sigh with pleasure to see your lovely photos. I went and bought a couple of flats of annuals today and played pretend gardener out around my patio. We’ll see how long my efforts last into the summer.

    1. Keep watering. That is the key. The goats are not too much of a nuisance as the moor is pretty desolate to start with. People keep an eye on them to make sure that the flock doesn’t get too large. They are very smelly indeed if you get near to them.

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