An interesting visit to Australia

Leo and Shaun

Today’s guest picture arises from some coloured wools that Dropscone gave to Mrs Tootlepedal.  She converted some of them into a colourful edition of Shaun the Sheep and the picture shows Leo, Dropscone’s grandson, giving Shaun a warm welcome.

Leo and ShaunThere has been some wet and windy weather in Britain over recent days but by and large, we in Langholm have escaped unscathed and today was no exception, with occasional sunshine and light winds.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda and I put the day to good use at home.  I started by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then went out into the garden to enjoy the pleasant weather.

I stood back from the flowers for a picture or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal has several clumps of Rudbeckia about and they are thriving.
She loves the blue of the salvias

I took closer looks too.

nasturtium and astrantia
A contrast in loud and soft between Nasturtium and Astrantia

I couldn’t go past the poppies.

poppy with astilbe
Poppy with astilbe
And poppy with poppy

I had just gone in again when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.  He has fully recovered from his mountaineering exploits and is back playing golf in good style.  He hasn’t lost his touch with the scones either.

After coffee, he went off to play golf with a friend and I watched the birds for a while.

A coal tit is never absent for long these days.

coal titSometimes they may be seen in concert with a blue tit.

blue tit and coal titOn the old feeder, the traffic was heavy.

Busy feeder
An incoming sparrow considering its options in the face of full perches and combined siskin hostility
A siskin competing with a siskin…
siskin and chaffinch
…and chatting to a chaffinch

I generally take pictures of flying birds on the right hand side of the feeder where there is space.  On the left hand side, careful navigation is necessary.

chaffinchI put down the camera and went out to sieve a little compost and mow the drying green and the grass round the greenhouse.  I should have mowed the middle lawn too but I got distracted by a crossword and then lunch and never got round to it.

The crossword proved quite tricky and it wasn’t until well after lunch that I finally got some cycling gear on and took the fairly speedy bike out for some exercise.

Following my policy of being a bit less timid about my route choice, I cycled over the hill to Newcastleton.  This has an energetic start to a ride with a climb up onto the Langholm moor right at the beginning.  Having climbed up out of the Esk valley, the road promptly drops down to the Tarras valley and then just as promptly climbs up to the county boundary at 1100ft. I started at 250ft in Langholm and the drop into the Tarras valley cost me 250 hard earned feet so the total climb was 1100ft in six miles and I was happy to stop and take a picture or two when I got to the summit.

Langholm Moor
Looking back towards the monument on the horizon.  The hills have turned brown now.
Looking forward into Liddesdale.

As you can see, there were some threatening clouds about and I was beginning to worry about the wisdom on my route choice but the next four and a bit miles were 750 feet straight downhill to Newcastleton on a road with a good surface and few bends so I whizzed along hoping to beat any bad weather.  My first six miles took 42 minutes, the next four and a bit took 12.

Once at Newcastleton, I turned south and headed for Canonbie.  This is an undulating road with lots of ups and downs so once again I was happy to stop near a minor summit to take a picture or two.

Large portions of this hill are now lying under the M6 extension from Carlisle to Gretna.  The have chopped the top of the hill right off.
Liddesdale road
I had fortunately left the bad weather behind me.

I was quite enjoying the hilly ride so I turned off just before Canonbie and took the strenuous route home.   At 26 miles. the trip was more or less the same distance as yesterday’s jaunt but the climb was nearly double so I was quite pleased to get home in good order.

I had time to make  a sausage stew and have a shower before Mrs Tootlepedal got home and then we had to get ready to go out again.  This time we were going to Australia….but only via the Buccleuch Centre where they were showing a ‘live’ broadcast of a production of Aida on Sydney Harbour.

I love Verdi’s music and I thoroughly enjoyed the evening out but it was the weirdest production I have ever seen.  The singing was fine but being an outdoor production on a huge stage with a vast audience, it was a bit unrelenting in what should have been the quieter moments.  The big ensembles however were tremendous.  Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly delighted to be treated to real camels in the Grand March but I was disappointed not to get elephants.

The production values were odd.  The costumes were a mixture of kitsch Nazi, ancient Egyptian, modern European and fantasy Ruritanian, with the Ethiopian King looking like a bizarre cross between one of Santa Claus’ elves and Bruce Springsteen.  There was a totally mesmerising appearance of a chorus of disco dancing ladies at one point.

Still, any amount of wide eyed amazement at the production values couldn’t diminish the power of the music.  Some of the staging worked really well and the singing was good enough to get us thoroughly involved in the twists and turns of the plot.  What a treat.

My cycling outing got my total distance for this year up to 2500 miles so what with that and scones, lawn mowing and a Verdi opera, I really couldn’t have asked for a better day…not to mention the sausage stew.

The flying bird is a chaffinch going flat out for a vacant perch.

flying chaffinch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “An interesting visit to Australia

  1. Congratulations on tackling the climb during your cycling trip. I do like “Poppy with Poppy” . . . if you ever make it into note cards I would quite happily be your first customer – AND pay the shipping!

  2. A wonderful day. Congratulations on that hilly ride – the views were splendid.
    So glad you enjoyed the opera in spite of the production’s weirdness in places.
    Would love to have been there.

    1. It wasn’t very long but it certainly was hilly so I was glad to be able to do it without actually crying. The double poppy picture was good and it was totally untouched in the editor for a change.

  3. I’m glad you had such a good day. I particularly enjoyed the bird shots at the feeders. Such detail in the wings and you enable us to see positions that our eyes miss. Their is a lot more manoeuvering involved than we can catch. Well done on the cycling. The poppy with astilbe is my favourite flower shot. The light is lovely.

    1. I have often taken pictures of birds with seeds in their mouths when I haven’t realised that they have had time to dip and peck. They do move fast in real life.

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