Archive for Jun, 2016

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who paid a visit to Chatsworth.  Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of having something similar in our front garden.


I was on the go from morning till night today but largely at a gentle speed  suitable to a man of my age.  It started with a 20 mile cycle ride after breakfast and interestingly (to me at least), although the wind was much stronger than when I did the same ride a couple of days ago, I got round within seconds of the same time.  Is this down to a powerful consistency or simply the fact that I couldn’t bicycle any slower if I tried?  The jury is out.

When I got home, I had a quick dash round the garden.  The scientific rain gauge showed that there had been a fair bit of rain over the last two days…

wheelbarrow of rain

…but the garden had stood up well.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta had survived.

lily and philadelphus

There was strong colour and strong scents too

The melancholy thistle was looking quite cheerful…

Melancholy thistle

…and the fancy geum is continuing to flower well long after the standard ones have gone.


Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Fuchsia specially for me when she was at the Gardener’s World flower show in Birmingham and it has survived the journey north and is looking good.  It is going to live in a pot.


I didn’t have long to spend outside as there was bread to make, cards to be prepared for the Paper Shop to sell and Archive disks to be copied for the Information Hub.  I managed these tasks and delivered the cards and disks and still had time for a glance or two out of the window.

goldfinch and greenfinch

We were visited by goldfinch and greenfinch

goldfinch and sparrow

I liked the abilty of the goldfinch to fly without using its wings.

The reason for all the rush was a need to catch the train from Lockerbie after lunch to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.

We got to Lockerbie with enough time in hand to let me walk about for a while.  I enjoyed an old sign on a shop wall which I had never noticed before…

Lockerbie High Street

The letters CTC on the spoked wheel stand for the Cyclists Touring Club of which Mrs Tootlepedal and I are members.  Sadly the shop is no longer a cycle shop.

I thought that the King’s  Arms Hotel might have more balconies than was strictly justified by the probable amount of good weather that might tempt the guests out onto them.

Kings Arms hotel Lockerbie

And I never fail to enjoy the sheep.

Lockerbie sheep

The train arrived on time and we spent some quality time with Matilda when we got to Edinburgh.  One of the highlights was a visit to her pocket handkerchief sized garden where she showed that  whatever the size of the space, she could run round in circles with the best of them.

Matilda running

There was work to be done though and she lent a hand sweeping up while her father, Mrs Tootlepedal and I cut the front hedge with a rather blunt pair of shears…

matilda's hedge

…and she came into her own when the resultant clippings needed to be taken to the recycling bin at the foot of the street.

recycling the hedge

Thank goodness someone had the foresight to bring their truck with them.

After a tasty evening meal, we waved goodbye to Matilda (and Alistair and Clare) and caught the train back to  Lockerbie.  It was very gloomy there and we had to drive through some severe puddles on the way home so we had obviously got the best of the weather in Edinburgh.

Since I had a camera with me I took a couple of shots while I was there.  They show the single pole that carries all the telephone wires for the whole of Matilda’s street and the never ending supply of people who are prepared to walk to the top of Arthur’s Seat at any time of day (the shot was taken at 7.30 pm).


The flower of the day is the aptly named Special Grandma Rose…

Special Grandma Rose

…and the flying bird is a siskin.

flying siskin


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The guest picture of the day is another from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the lake District.

view of lake District

I had hoped to get up early and beat the oncoming rain with a quick bike ride  but when I woke at six o’clock, the rain was already beating on the windows so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

The rain continued until late afternoon so it was a day for getting some of those things done which I had promised to do but hadn’t.

There were moments when the rain eased up to the merest drizzle and I could get out into the garden to investigate a flash of colour hidden deep in the back border.  It turned out to be a lily.


Not the most conspicuous bloom

But I didn’t stay out long  and was soon back inside having coffee with Sandy and then occasionally staring out of the window.

a siskin

A siskin waiting for space on the feeder.


There was always a queue

I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Sandy has started to help with this task and has taken a great load off my shoulders for which I am very grateful but I still need to do my share so some more rainy days will help me get going.

I made some picture cards to sell for Archive Group funds and did some work to get Langholm Heritage DVDs about the mills and the railways ready to sell in the Information Hub so I was quite pleased with the miserable weather.  Every cloud etc etc.

When the rain finally stopped, I went out into the garden.  It was wet out there…

wet day in the garden

…quite wet…


…but as always there were flowers and promises of flowers to enjoy.


Although it was still rather gloomy, the clouds didn’t look threatening so I went off for a short walk, hoping for the best.

becks track

Another very green track

There was a lot to look at on the way and quite a lot looking at me too.

horse and cow

horse in stable

There was a lot of this yellow flower about.  It looks like a member of the pea family.

yellow wildflower

And a bit of this one too. I don’t know what it is at all.

yellow wildflower

There was red coloured grassy stuff.

red grass

And umbellifera too.


They are often covered in insects. Maybe the rain had kept them off today.

The red clover has prospered this year and the wild raspberries look as though they are going to provide a feast soon.

clover and raspberries

I came down past the Auld Stane Brig, nestling among the trees…

Auld Stane Brig

..and was surprised to see how much water there was going down the Wauchope.  It was rushing over the caul at Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…and barging into the middle of the stream where it joined the Esk.

Wauchope and Esk

It had obviously been raining harder to the west of the town than to the north as the Esk had hardly risen at all.

Some might think that a day like this was good weather for ducks but I don’t think that this pile of ducklings, huddled together beside the Wauchope, would agree.


A variegated hosta caught my eye as I got back to the house and the weather finally brightened up a bit.


My Friday night orchestra, Alison, had bought a trio sonata by J J Quantz from a second hand bookshop when she was in Wales recently and the cads had not told her that one of the parts was missing so I had a bit of fun putting it on to the computer and I think it will be enjoyable to play from a first look at it.  I am rather slow at doing this so it will provide me with a handy occupation for wet days to come.

No flower of the day today as it was too wet and grey.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow




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Today’s wonderful guest picture is another from my nephew Dan’s visit to Iceland and I put it in as a tribute to Iceland’s victory over the England football team.  Their win was almost as overwhelming as these falls.

Iceland waterfall

We have been promised rain for two days now so I got up early and was out and back from a twenty mile bike ride in time to welcome Dropscone round for coffee.  He has been in Majorca on holiday where he enjoyed a full week of sunshine.  It was good to have him back….and his scones too of course.

I even had time for a look round the garden before he arrived.

New irises have arrived.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Dutch irises unlike the iris Siberica which are pretty well over now.

iris and clematis

Two of the irises with a clematis in the middle

The red campion from our friend Jenny’s garden is looking very beautiful.

red campion

There was a spot of rain just as Dropscone arrived but it was  a false alarm and when he went off to play golf, I went out for a stroll round Gaskell’s and Easton’s Walks.  The New Hampshire Gardener has helpfully suggested a means of getting properly focussed  close ups with my Lumix as I was struggling a bit with this and I put his advice into action.  I need a bit more practice but some of the results were quite good.

I started as soon as I could while walking along the road.


A rather handsomely coloured nettle at Meikleholm

slow worms

The slow worms were clustered in large numbers at Pool Corner

When I got to the track, the greenery was  very green.

Gaskell's walk

I snapped away furiously as I went along.

rose and rosebay willowherb

The roses are very pretty and the rosebay willowherb will make a fine splash of colour soon.

The tracks were lined with grasses and other plants which I cannot name.


And various spiky things too.

spiky things

Some past and some potential

More delicate flowers were to be seen.

pink flower and ragged robin

I don’t know what the little pink flower on the left is. The other is ragged Robin.

The meadow at the Stubholm was a treat, even on a dull day.


When I got back to the Park, I saw a ripple in the Wauchope Water.  It was made by a dipper which was doing some very energetic dipping.

Dipper in wauchope

The weather defied the forecast and stayed dry until well after lunch which let Mrs Tootlepedal do some gardening and let me take some pictures of the annual cornflowers.  One came with added greenfly.


The garden needs some rain after our long dry spell so Mrs Tootlepedal was pleased when it finally arrived (though slightly less pleased that the washing was still hanging out). Our neighbour Liz came to our aid when she realised what the situation was and rushed across the road to warn us so we got it in without much  additional dampness.

The rain didn’t interrupt any great plans as we were safely indoors watching Andy Murray play his first round match at Wimbledon.

I had had a look out of the window before we settled down but as there were no interesting birds to be seen, I took a picture of the floral view from the kitchen instead.

feeder flowers

I had another look when the match was over.


A greenfinch checking things out.

Earlier today, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on the fact that we hadn’t seen the sparrowhawk for a long time and by a strange coincidence, she spotted one this evening perched in our variegated elder.


It stayed long enough for me to fetch my camera but wouldn’t pose in the open and flew off without catching anything.

The rain continued for the rest of the day but the winds remained very light so once again, we have been lucky.  I am thinking of renaming the local weather forecast as “Project Fear”.

Talking of which, the political situation remains farcical with prominent promoters of the Leave campaign saying that of course they didn’t mean all those things which people who voted for leave might have thought that they meant and they are sure that the people who might have believed them realised that they didn’t really mean them.

On the other side, the people who promoted the Remain campaign with prophecies of absolute economic meltdown are now going round saying, “Everything is firmly under control, nothing to see here, move along.”  It might make you laugh if it didn’t make you cry.

On a mildly amusing note, Conservative politicians who have been telling Scots that there can be no possible need for another referendum on independence ever after the ‘decisive’ vote two years ago are now busy floating the idea of another EU referendum very soon so that the voters can get it right this time.

Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is a young sparrow.

flying sparrow


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Today’s guest picture comes from a Canadian correspondent, Mary Jo.  She thinks perhaps their weather is worse than ours by some way and if the evidence of a chokecherry  tree blown over is anything to go by, she is quite right.

fence before

We were promised some wet weather here today but like so many promises recently, this turned out not be the case and the rain has been postponed until tomorrow.  In fact, the day turned out to be pretty good, if rather windy.

It didn’t matter to me in the morning as I was in the Information Hub on the High Street but not giving out information as there were no visitors asking for any.  Luckily there is plenty to read in the newspapers at the moment so I put the two hours in without getting bored.

Once I was back home, it seemed like a good idea to do as much work in the garden as we could while it was still fine so I did quite a bit of mowing before lunch and after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I finished the trimming of the box balls round the front lawn.

Box balls

After all the recent hedge and ball trimming, there was a heap of cut stuff to be dealt with so we got the petrol shredder out and put the whole lot through it in quick time.  Most of the result is resting comfortably in compost Bin A now.


Once this task was over, I had time to wander round the garden looking at flowers. They were enjoying the sunshine too.

peony, geum and Icelandic poppy

The Icelandic poppy on the right was looking particularly cheery so perhaps it knew what was going to happen later in the day.

There are a lot of Martagon lilies getting ready to flower and this one was the first in the race.

Martagon lily

As well as our large ox-eye daisies, we have a clump of smaller daisies too.

small daisies

And if you want even smaller but perfectly formed flowers there is a Cotoneaster in the back border which provides just that.


The pushing of the mower and the bending and stretching with the trimmer was more than enough exercise for the day and a short rain shower, just as I might have been considering a walk, confirmed that watching Wimbledon on the telly would be the best thing to do so I did it.

I did find time to look out of the window as well.

Siskins were very busy…


…as were the sparrows.


Other birds took on the role of spectators.

They were small…






…and large.

Jackdaw and wood pigeon

Jackdaw and wood pigeon

The jackdaws were interested in the some peanuts which I had put out on the bench beside the feeders.


In the evening, I inadvertently found a channel that was showing the England vs Iceland football match in the European Championship. I hadn’t meant to watch the game but in the end, I watched enthralled as highly paid players failed to pass the ball to each with any great precision or purpose and when they did get near goal, managed to kick the ball anywhere but in the direction of the  net and this let plucky Iceland (pop 330,000) beat England (pop 53,000,000) by two goals to one..

These things happen but at least the footballers can console themselves with the thought that they have managed to get out of Europe a lot more quickly and cleanly and with less fuss than the politicians are going to be able to do.

On an incidental note: since Iceland had beaten the Czech Republic, Turkey, Holland and Latvia in the qualifying rounds, perhaps the result should not have come as quite such a surprise to the expert commentators as it seemed to.

The flower of the day is the Lilian Austin rose, at its most expansive just before the inevitable decline sets in.

Lilian Austin

And the flying bird of the day is one of the busy siskins.

siskin flying

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Today’s striking guest picture comes from my nephew Dan, via his father.  Dan is on holiday in Iceland.


The forecast said it would rain in the afternoon and it did.  Under these circumstances, it was just as well that I got up early, thanks to Mrs Tootlepedal’s encouragement, had my breakfast and got out and about on the bike promptly.

The wind was very light and the temperature was pleasantly cool so conditions were ideal for cycling.  I chose a familiar forty mile Sunday morning route on main roads with no hills to speak about on the way.  Although this makes for a dull ride from a scenic point of view, it is very satisfying from a pedalling point of view as you can put your nose over your front wheel and keep it there for two and a half hours and there is something very therapeutic about sustained vigorous exercise.

To tell the truth, I did stop twice to nibble a banana as I can’t pedal and eat at the same time without falling off.

Fairly speedy bike at Newtown

The ‘twenty mile’ bench at Newtown near Hadrian’s Wall.

A few miles before I got to Newtown, my turning point, I was overtaken by a very civil bunch of eight serious cyclists and they kindly allowed me to tuck in behind them so I got a splendid tow along.  It is amazing what a difference having eight cyclists in front of you makes to the wind resistance.  I was able to float up a gentle hill at sixteen miles an hour when I would have been toiling up it at 12 mph on my own.

I was home before Mrs Tootlepedal got back from singing in the church choir and as it was warm and dry still, I took a walk round the garden.  The forecast for next week is for a lot of wind and rain so this might have been the last chance to wander round the garden in dry conditions for some time.


Delphiniums always seem to come out just before rain and wind knocks them over.  Mrs Tootlepedal has got them well supported so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Annual cornflowers are popping up all over the place.


Mrs Tootlepedal has scattered them around in many beds.

A moss rose came out to join the rose family.


Moss rose, Rosa Complicata and Jacobite rose

The dahlias are enjoying the weather at present.


And the Sweet Williams seem to get more ‘pingy’ every day.

Sweet William

Mrs Tootlepedal joined me when she got  back and she was pleased to hear the bees in full buzz as we passed the hydrangea.

Hydrangea with bee

And we were surprised to find that another iris has appeared just when I thought they were all past their best.

purple iris

Mrs Tootlepedal went in for a cup of coffee and I wandered through into the vegetable garden.  The early potatoes are looking promising…


…so promising indeed that Mrs Tootlepedal nearly dug one up yesterday but in the end she wisely resisted the temptation as it is really too early even for ‘earlies’.

After lunch, I might have done several useful things but the effort required these days to bicycle 40 miles at 16mph was sufficient to make sitting down watching the British Athletic championships on the telly seem like a good thing to do.  So I did it.

And the rain started on cue…

chaffinch in rain

…and that put paid to any more excursions for the day.

It didn’t stop the siskins fighting.


A goldfinch checked to see if there was any room…

goldfinch and siskin

…but had to wait its turn…

goldfinch and siskin

…before finally getting a seat at the table.

goldfinch and siskin

The jet stream is flowing right over the middle of the country leaving Langholm on the wrong side of the Azores High and ushering in a queue of Atlantic lows over the next few days so I was pleased to find that today’s cycle ride has taken me over 2000 miles for the first six months of the year.  As my target is 4000 miles for the whole year, this is mathematically quite satisfactory, although I would liked to have banked a few extra miles against any future injuries, ailments or prolonged bad weather.

The flower(s) of the day showcase rich profusion, actual and potential.

hawkweed and Goldfinch rose

And the flying bird of the day is a soggy siskin.


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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Flamborough Head.  As well as seeing gannets and a puffin, he witnessed a dramatic sea rescue of a woman who had got into difficulties in the sea.  It needed a brave onlooker who plunged into the sea, a life boat and a helicopter.  Here the helicopter is lowering medical assistance  to the shore.


Mrs Tootlepedal was very excited when she looked out of an upstairs window after breakfast and saw that the first of her Shirley poppies,  grown from seed, had shown its colour.

Shirley poppy

I was excited too as I like them a lot.

Talking of plants grown from seed, Mrs Tootlepedal is also very pleased with the good show that her Sweet Williams are making along both sides of the drive.

Sweet William

It would be a very gloomy person who wasn’t cheered up by these bright flowers.

In the morning, I had to visit the Archive Centre to replace a bulb in one of the microfiche readers.  Luckily you can buy the bulbs in town so it was not a great problem.  I had a bit of other shopping to do and I got back home in time to watch Scotland play Japan at rugby for the second time in two weeks.  Like the first match, Scotland managed to win but once again it was a far from convincing performance.  Still, it can’t be bad if you can win matches when you are not playing your best.

By the time that the game had finished so had the dry weather and a light rain was falling.  It got heavier which put paid to any plans for a walk or cycle.  It did ease off though and both the sun and I came out into the garden.

philadelphus, peony and water lily

peony and marigold

Everything was rather wet but still looking good.

We had a  bit of a worry a few days ago when one branch of our gooseberry bush got terminally sick and had to be cut off but the rest of the bush seems to be doing very well and the fruit is developing nicely.


The rain came back again and I went inside.  It didn’t dampen the spirits of the sparrows who continued to trample happily on each other in the pursuit of seed.

sparrow trampling

A blackbird took advantage of a rain filled coconut shell to have a drink.


The rain eased off again just in time to welcome a visit from Bob to the garden.


Bob had brought Mike Tinker and his daughter Liz with him.  She is a professional gardener and her visits are always welcome as she is very generous and helpful with her advice.  She had given Mrs Tootlepedal two Cardooms last year and there was a ceremonial inspection of the plants today.

They are doing well.


They are members of the artichoke family and should soon have big flowers.

Mike and Liz went on their way but not before Mrs Tootlepedal had pressed a dahlia on Liz.

When they had gone, I noticed a bee heading for a foxglove.

bee and foxglove

In spite of the some ominous looking dark clouds, the rain seemed to have gone away for a while so I decided on a short walk while the going was good.

The view of the church from Caroline Street is much improved since a tree on the river bank had to be felled.  You can see the stump in front of the wall.

Langholm Parish Church

This is where Mrs Tootlepedal sings in the choir on Sundays.

I passed the family of oyster catchers between the bridges on the Esk.

oyster catchers

Both the adults tried to lead me away from the youngster.

I walked along the Kilngreen taking in the sights both welcome…


A mallard making waves….well ripples.

…and less welcome.

Giant hogweed

This looks like giant hogweed on the Castleholm bank, a real pest among weeds

My walk took me towards the cricket ground and I noticed that there was a match on in spite of the rain earlier.

Cricket notice

I see that the most important spectator attraction is in the biggest writing

I kept away from the bar but stood on the boundary watching the game for several overs.

Langholm Cricket Ground

For those unfamiliar with the game of  cricket, there are bowlers who hurl balls at…




…who fend the balls off with a bat.

They are surrounded by fielders who collect the balls that the batsmen hit and catch them out if they are in the air.  On the occasion though, the fielders failed to keep hold of two very easy catches and the batsmen biffed and bashed and won the game.

I walked home when the game ended.

As I am still a bit tired after missing a whole night’s sleep, I was very happy that it had just been a short walk and to make things even better, Mrs Tootlepedal made the tea.

We followed the main dish up with a plate of strawberries and cream.  It seems bad that we have to eat strawberries and cream every day just now as the strawberry plants are very productive but someone has to do it.

The flower of the day is a Goldfinch Rose.  It is yellow when it comes out at first but soon changes to white as it develops.

Goldfinch rose

The flying bird of the day is two siskins.

flying siskins



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Today’s guest picture shows a gannet which my brother Andrew met at Flamborough Head.  He met more more exciting things too while he was there, which will appear on another day.


A rather soggy post today, I am afraid, as I stayed up all last night watching the results of the Brexit referendum coming in and getting steadily more depressed as the night wore on.

As a result, I had a very quiet day today, going no further than the corner shop and the end of the garden. I spent a lot of time watching the telly and hoping that some sensible interviewer would ask someone a pertinent question.  You will not be surprised to hear that I waited in vain.

At least there was some fine weather outside to cheer me up when I did put my nose out of the door….and a beautiful rose too.

Lilian Austin

The sparrows keep on coming and although Mrs Tootlepedal views them with a jaundiced eye as they eat her vegetables, they seem very charming to me.


They are certainly getting through my seed at speed.


Mrs Tootlepedal’s dahlias are blooming away very well….


…and she grew so many from seed so that she still has has plenty to give away.  If any local reader would like a dahlia, let Mrs Tootlepedal know.

She has got some pretty annual cornflowers on the go too and they are popping up all over the garden.


I was surprised and a bit alarmed to see some fungus in one of the flower beds…


…but Mrs Tootlepedal was quite calm.  She thought that they would have arrived with some of the manure from her manure mine.

I cheered myself up by finding a good quantity of ripe strawberries ready to pick.  I picked them and we ate them.  With cream.

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the ‘Butter and Sugar’ Iris which was the last of our irises to bloom and you can quite see why.

Butter and Sugar Iris

More new flowers have arrived, a nasturtium…


…and an ornamental clover.


The bees were buzzing around in quantity again today and this one was cheering up a Melancholy Thistle.

Melancholy Thistle

I had a short snooze after lunch and when I came downstairs, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was busy trimming some of the garden hedges.

Hedge trimming

The hedges are very pretty and give the garden some shape but they quickly grow too big and you can see that she has taken some drastic action to thin down the hedge in the foreground.  I like the curve that she is shaping in the hedge at the back.

I thought that I ought to do a bit of work too so I borrowed the trimmer and got to work on a couple of box balls on the front lawn path.  They grow relentlessly too and need trimming every year.

box balls

Before, during and after

You will see that I am a rebel and refuse to be bound by boring convention which dictates that  each ball should be a perfect sphere.  Variety is the spice of life, they say.

It was such a lovely afternoon that it was no hardship to tackle another two at each side of the lawn, one beside the bridge over the pond…

box balls

Fooling around with the b&w setting on the camera.

…and the other beside the lupins.

box ball

Four down and seven more to do.

As well as sparrows and siskins, we are beginning to get a few more chaffinches on the feeder after a quiet spell for them.


I had enough strength left to make a risotto for our tea and then play some music with Alison when she came round with Mike.  She had bought a set of seven pieces by Rameau from a second hand bookshop in Wales while she was on holiday there last week and we had a go at playing them.  It was good to have  new music to work on.

The flying bird of the day is one of our extended sparrow family.

flying sparrow

I end with a quote from Robert Burns which seems appropriate to  me today:

“An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear! “

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