My children have been looking upwards. After my daughter’s moon shots yesterday, my older son Tony saw some aeroplanes playing noughts and crosses in the sky over Edinburgh this morning.
It was another perfect day today, still and sunny from start to finish. I was intent on cycling but it was too cold for me to start straight after breakfast so I waited until the temperature got to a point where I would be able to go out and not have to discard cycling gear as the day warmed up.
This gave me a moment to enjoy the early sunshine in the garden.
I finally got going after a cup of coffee and a slice of toast and I set off to see how far I could go. My route took me up to Eskdalemuir where I stopped for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake in the Old School there. I then went over the hill to Annandale. As I climbed the hill out of Eskdalemuir, I saw a trail of smoke across the hillside in front of me.
It turned out to be a timber wagon turning onto the road, having come across a special track provided to keep these big vehicles out of the village of Eskdalemuir. I was glad that it was ahead of me. The pedal across the hills was delightful with the almost total absence of wind allowing me to keep up a good rhythm over the undulating countryside.
The state of the rosebay willowherb beside the road interested me. Some patches were bright red and almost seed free while others had green stems and were snowy white with the seed heads still clustering on the stems.
The road on the right is the old dual carriageway, now reduced to a single lane, which has been bypassed by the new motorway. I often cycle up it as it has a bike lane on both sides of the road. The big building is a wood fired power station.
I went over the motorway but before I got to the river, I followed a sign to Applegarth Church. I have cycled past this sign several times and I thought that it was about time to see the church itself. It was not far from the sign.
I crossed the River Annan at Millhousebridge and turned south to Lochmaben. The Mill Loch there was looking very placid in the sun.
I pedalled on south towards Dalton. It was not long before I came to another sign pointing to a church; this time it was for Little Dalton Kirk. At one and a half miles, this was a bigger detour than the visit to Applegarth but the legs were in good order and the bicycle was going smoothly so I turned off. It was lucky that my legs were feeling cheerful becuase the route to the church involved going up a long and fairly steep hill. This was followed by a plunge back downhill but it was shorter and the the sign to the church was at the bottom. I had no idea what to expect and was a bit dashed to find that I would have to leave the bike and walk through a field to get to the Kirk. Still, it was a beautiful day and the views were good…
…so I didn’t mind too much. I found when I looked it up after I got home that “The kirk is located West of the town of Dalton, between the old Carruthers estates of Fourteenacre and Butterwhat, on the road between Dormont and Mouswald.” It is not in pristine condition.
I jumped on my bike, ready to pedal off back up the hill and as I changed gear, the gear cable sprang out of its housing and left me with no way of changing gear. My front gear was still working but that left me with only three gears and every chance of damaging the transmission train further if I stamped up hills in an inappropriate ratio. There was nothing for it but to ring the MTRS*. Luckily this service was available and I managed to walk up the hill and cruise down the other side into Dalton village where she picked me up after a short wait. The wait gave me the opportunity to take a couple of pictures in Dalton.
The MTRS took me to Bike7 in Longtown where I was able to get a new cable fitted in very quick time and while the MTRS drove home, I followed on my bike. I have done about 30,000 miles of cycling since 2009 and this is only my second breakdown (apart from the very occasional puncture) so I can’t complain but it was lucky that it happened on a day when the MTRS was available as I was over 20 miles from home.
The sedum round the bird feeder was absolutely humming again when I arrived back.
Owing to the excitement of the breakdown and recovery, I didn’t get quite as many miles in as the day deserved but the 53 miles I did manage took my total for the month to just over the 500 mile mark and that was very satisfactory. I think I can begin with some confidence to say that my new knee is now fully functional.
In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to see a performance of Coriolanus by Shakespeare, screened from the National Theatre into the Buccleuch Centre, while I went off to our local choir. I had meant to go to the play too but we have become rather short of tenors as two have left so I didn’t want to let the new conductor down. I enjoyed the choir practice and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed Coriolanus as much as was possible for a rather stern and gloomy play.
Since the garden was so full of bees today I have got a flying bee to go with today’s flying bird.