Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit of my brother Andrew and his wife Catherine to Antwerp and shows the interior of the very handsome railway station there.
After yesterday’s early start, I wasn’t quite so nimble today and had to settle for a shorter 21 mile ride up the A7 to the Mosspaul Hotel and back while Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church choir.
The wind was a bit brisker than yesterday and I had to work quite hard on the way up the gentle slopes to the hotel. I stopped to admire some sheep adrift in a sea of buttercups…
…while looking somewhat nervously at the mist shrouded hills that lay ahead.
My nervousness was justified as it was raining by the time I got to the last mile up the narrow valley to the hotel. I was pleased to turn at the top of the hill and to get the rain and wind behind me. I soon got out of the clouds though and enjoyed a brisk (by my standards) and dry spin back down to Langholm.
Often on a Sunday there are groups of enthusiasts in collectors’ vehicles going up and down the road on rallies. The other week it was motor scooters and today it was vintage two stroke motorbikes so I was assailed from time to time by the smell of two stroke oil being burned as I was passed. This is one of those sensory trigger mechanisms and I was instantly transported back 60 years to when I used to watch 500cc two stroke engined cars racing round the club circuit at Brands Hatch. Ah, the smell of Castrol.
I had enough time for a wander round the garden when I got back. New flowers appear almost every day.
Today there was a double royal visit. First a princess….
…and then a queen.
These are both David Austin roses and should develop well over the next few days. The Queen was infested by little black flies as you can see. They will have to be discouraged if she is going to look her best in a picture.
The alliums continue to look striking with their seed heads and I thought that this one might go well in black and white.
We are waiting eagerly for the bulk of the Delphiniums to burst into a flower and one new one appeared today.
I wasn’t the only one interested in this flower.
Going along the back border, I met a foxglove…
…a campanula freshly out….
…and had another look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s newly planted Rhododendron, Lord Roberts, which is looking very much at home.
I took a long distance shot just to show how well the bee loud hydrangea is doing on the house wall. It was buzzing again today.
Then it was time for a quick bath and an early lunch before we went off to Carlisle, picking up another singer from Langholm on the way, to prepare for our afternoon concert.
I did snatch a moment to watch a young sparrow waiting hopefully for someone to look after it before we left.
We had a practice before the concert and as well as a bit of singing, we had to learn how and when to open and close our folders, where to stand and where to sit, how to hold a folder when we weren’t singing from it and, most importantly of all, to remember to look at the conductor. Being in a choir is hard work for an old man.
There are so many singers in the choir that we were a bit squeezed for space when we stood up to sing. As a result, the tenors found it difficult to hear each other so there were moments when we weren’t quite as good as we would have hoped to be but the other sections sang very well and in general the concert was satisfactory. The church was full to the brim with supporters and they gave us a very good hand at the end.
We had a visiting soprano soloist from Glasgow who sang several showy operatic arias very brilliantly between our numbers. I was talking to her and our accompanist afterwards and they both said how much they had enjoyed the rich sound that the choir made. Considering that it is an open access choir with many members who don’t read music and others who haven’t sung much before, it has made very good progress since it was started in October 2012. We are keeping our fingers crossed that we can perform to our best standards next week when we go to Glasgow to audition for the Choir of the Year in the open access class.
It was a warm and still evening when we got home so I got out the mower and mowed the middle lawn while Mrs Tootlepedal finished off the job of remodelling one of the box hedges by the front lawn. She is never completely happy with the way things are and is always changing, experimenting and improving things. I wandered about afterwards snapping away.
I have put in the main crop potatoes flowering well before midsummer day just for the record, though the flower is quietly attractive in itself.
Otherwise I looked at white things as the light faded. Mrs Tootlepedal has a bed of peonies at the end of the vegetable garden at the moment and although they don’t have a glamorous background, it lets each bloom really stand out well.
The dim light made it more easy than a bright day would to take a picture of the Jacobite rose.
I felt that the white Martagon lily by the front gate deserved another look.
We have had a busy day and should sleep well tonight.
The non flying flower of the day is a closer look at one of the new Campanulas.