The return of summer

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent and shows her daughter Hannah with a square blue tit nest from their square blue tit nest box.  Earlier in the year some square blue tits had nested in it.

HannahIt was a warm and pleasant day with light winds and no threat of rain so it seemed like a good day go cycling.  It took quite a bit of mental effort to get my body to agree but in the end I managed to get mind and body united and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to go where my fancy took me.

Mrs Tootlepedal is a public spirited woman and she had noticed that one or two of the road signs which she passes when on her way back from catching the train to visit the world’s greatest baby were rather dirty and hard to read.  As a result, on the last occasion that she had passed  the signs, she had stopped the car and got out the handy cloth and bottle of water that she just happened to have with her and gave the signs a good clean.

It seemed only fair to cycle that way and record one of the shiny signs.

clean road signI had to stop and look behind me to see the signs but I was feeling quite perky so I turned forward again and kept on going towards Lockerbie. 

View near paddockholeThe route goes across the grain of the country so there is a lot of up and down but the views are always a consolation for the hard work.

We had driven along this road yesterday and when we were quite near Lockerbie, we passed a small unsignposted side road and Mrs Tootlepedal had idly asked, “I wonder where that goes?”

We though that it might go to Castlemilk and when I took it today, I found that this was the case.   It wasn’t very long but it is always a pleasure to find a new road to cycle along.

trees turningThe trees beside it are just beginning to turn, led by the horse chestnuts.

I followed the old A74 south for a few miles but then turned west until I got to the decommissioned nuclear power station at Chapelcross…

It seems as though it will take almost as long to demolish it safely as it spent producing power.

…where I stopped for a banana and a small piece of chocolate.   I had done 25 miles by this time and was looking at about another 25 miles for my route home.  The lovely weather had tempted me to take a longer route than I had planned and I knew that I might be going to be  a bit short of food.

garmin 31 Augu 2014As a result I went home via Eastriggs, Gretna and Canonbie at a very stately speed and with the help of a single energy gel and another little piece of chocolate, I lasted the course.

The route was well chosen as the first half of the loop had the wind against and a good deal of climbing but the second half, along the shore of the Solway and up the Esk valley was much less demanding and helped by the wind.

In a moment of good fortune, the distance clicked over to fifty miles just as I turned into our drive.

Dropscone tells me that he went out earlier in the morning determined to do his longest ride of the year but miscalculated and missed his target by two tenths of a mile.  He’ll just have to go out again.

I didn’t stop for many photographs as getting on and off the bike is still a bit of a pain but I did enjoy these swallows at Tundergarth getting ready to leave.

Musical readers will appreciate that the stave shows that they are leaving in B flat major.

And four tall trees standing by themselves near Eastriggs caught my eye. Perhaps they are part of a hedge that got out of control.

four treesAs usual, a click on the map above will bring up the route details.

I gave the speedy bike a little rest in the sun when I got home….

bike in garden…and after a pause for refreshment, I mowed the front lawn and picked some raspberries.

Mrs Tootlepedal has got plum consumption on her mind so she made six pounds of plum jam while I ate as many as I could without making myself ill but we still have a large number left.   It seems churlish to complain but the plum tree produced no plums last year and far too many this year.   We are expecting a poor year again in 2015.

The sunshine had brought the sedum on and the sedum had attracted a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly…which was soon joined by a bee….

peacock butterfly and bee…but then Mrs Tootlepedal passed by and inadvertently frightened them off and left an unflappable insect as the sole visitor.

insect on sedumI watched the birds on the feeder from time to time and I regret to say that the sparrows seem to have been learning bad behaviour from the siskins.

sparring sparrows
sparring sparrows
And pushing and shoving.

As well as the Shirley poppies, there are a few opium poppies scattered around the garden which appear from time to time.  The latest one is a very delicate purple…

poppy…with the usual intricate centre.

poppy centreAlthough I have been doing a lot of complaining about sore hips, the fifty miles that I cycled today brought up exactly 500 miles for the month which was very satisfactory all things considered.  As a reward I treated myself to  a large dob of ice cream on the tasty bramble and apple crumble which Mrs Tootlepedal had made for our tea.  It rounded off another good day (though I am creaking a bit when I walk).

One of the sparring sparrows turns up as flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow





Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

26 thoughts on “The return of summer

  1. Five hundred miles in a month – a great achievement. And Mrs. T., cleaning road signs – an amazing woman!

  2. I encountered an official road-sign cleaning truck out in the rain last Thursday morning. Their results weren’t half as good as Mrs T’s. You have so many lovely photos today I am having difficulty choosing a favourite. I give up – it’s a tie.

  3. My legs creak and I haven’t cycled 50 miles in a day since I was a kid.

    I didn’t think that there could be any poppies that were more beautiful than the one that you posted earlier this week, but the oriental poppy certainly is.

  4. I enjoyed the musical joke, the fighting birds and was pleased to read you had managed to cycle so far despite all the problems you have had.

  5. The picture of the young ornithologist is beautiful. I love the kind of person who would stop and clean the road signs, haha. Your wife is a hoot. Congrats on your 50-miler. Reminds me that I need to get back on the trail. God bless you 🙂

  6. Wonderful post and pictures. I am inspired to dust off my bike, pump up the tires and go at least to the zoo before the weather changes. As for the sparrows learning bad habits from the siskins, here we would think it was the other way around.

  7. Fifty miles is a good distance to ride but you had some beautiful scenery to keep you going. I wish my sedum would attract butterflies, so far all it’s attracting are spiders.

  8. Hannah is absolutely adorable in your guest photo. Enjoyed the musicality of the swallows. Mrs. T is a treasure beyond price. I don’t believe I know a single person who would clean a road sign.

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