A bike, a bench and a banana

Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa.  While he was up near the Orange River, he saw this a tree.  It may not look much but he tells me that  the tree is a Shepherd Tree, the tree of life which is useful for man and beast.  It is probably 3 to 4 hundred years old.


My plan for the morning was to get up early, have a nourishing breakfast and then cycle 40 miles and be back before noon.  It was a good plan and it worked.

I chose a very boring route, straight down the main roads and back but it was very satisfying except that my average was 14.99 mph rather than the 15 mph that was in my mind.  You can’t have everything though.

Conditions were perfect and the roads were empty….


…and there is a very convenient bench exactly at the twenty mile turning point where an old man can get a seat for a few minutes and eat his banana.

seat at Newtown

The sharp eyed will notice a pair of thick gloves beside the banana.  It was quite crisp when I started and although it was a lovely day, it never got very warm and I kept the gloves on for the whole ride.

Beside the bench was a gate and a willow tree so that made it an even better place to spend some time.


On my way, I passed a large number of people behaving very suspiciously in a field.  It turned out to be a metal detectorists’ rally.    Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to have been there as she dreams of turning up a Roman coin in our garden.

I got home in plenty of time to make a venison and mushroom stew for the slow cooker, watch the birds for a bit and walk round the garden.

The birds were very active again even though the sparrowhawk is making regular flying visits.

It is hard to look really threatening when your mouth is full
redpoll and chaffinch
The little redpoll is not scared of the bigger chaffinch
goldfinch and siskin
A goldfinch and siskin rose to heights of aggression
flying chaffinch
And a chaffinch has had enough of all this and is going home.

In the garden, the tulips are coming on well…

red tulips

..in a good variety of colours.


The chionodoxas have swiftly passed but the scillas are still very much alive and kicking…

fritillary and scilla

…and they make a dainty contrast to the more sober fritillaries.

The reason that I had to be back from the cycle ride was that it was a choir day so after a shower and some lunch, I went off to Carlisle to have a sing.

There are a lot of very small houses in Carlisle dating from the time when it was a railway centre and had a thriving industrial scene.  This row is right opposite the church where we sing.

Carlisle terrace
There are seven front doors in the picture and severalof the houses are just about as small as a house can be.

We spent the whole practice on one song, a tricky thing for me with a heavily syncopated style and a lot of words in a very short space.  Ominously, the practice went so well that the conductor talked of us be able to learn it off by heart.  This undoubtedly means that he has his heart set on some clapping at the very least and possibly clapping and swaying.  Nightmare!

We should have tried less hard.

I thought about a little sightseeing on my way home but instead settled for the direct route and a walk round the town when I got back.

I passed our magnolia on my way out of the garden and thought that it was worth another look.


My aim was to enjoy the evening light and take a picture of anything that caught my fancy in the course of a half mile stroll.

Parish Church
The Parish Church seen across the Wauchope
Castleholm trees
Trees on the Castleholm, seen across the Esk

But I was distracted by birds.  There were two goosanders again.  The male was floating down the choppy waters of the Esk between the bridges at a great rate…


…and I saw the female doing a little fishing in some calmer waters further upstream.

Mr Grumpy must have done something bad because he was behind bars.


Whatever it was, he looked sorry about it.

When I got back, I sieved another modest amount of compost and picked the first rhubarb of the year.  Subsequently, I ate my venison stew and followed it up with some rhubarb and custard.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a good time with Matilda in Edinburgh but plans to be home some time tomorrow.  I shall be pleased to see her.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch



Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “A bike, a bench and a banana

  1. My inability to move and sing at the same time put paid to my ukulele playing dream…I am a simple soul…I hope your conductors aspirations for the new song are not too above and beyond 🙂

  2. I’d like to have one of those tiny houses. This one is too big and in the winter too much work comes with it.
    I hope the magnolia is one of the fragrant ones. There isn’t anything else quite like them.
    The shepherd tree must grow very slowly.

    1. My sense of smell is so poor that I can’t tell you whether the magnolia is scented or not.

      The tiny house might be a bit constricting but it would have its charms.

    2. I do enjoy watching telly shows about tiny houses. I lived in 400 sq ft for about 14 years and it’s interesting to see how some folks are doing well in 200 sq ft.

  3. Yes my heart sank a bit when he said that too. I feel a lot more secure with the music in front of me.

  4. Goodness that was a full and rewarding day and the sun shone too. The birds in your garden like putting on a show and so do your flowers. The trees on Castleholm look lovely with the daffodils by the water’s edge..can you walk along that side too?

    1. You can. A nice new path was built in the course of a visit by an American TV presenter called Ty Pennington to do one of his shows from Langholm.

  5. Wonderful photos, especially love the birds of course. Lots of bird aggression on this side of the pond too, those hormones at work. As for singing, I have enough trouble keeping the words with the notes, especially when they fly by fast which is what we’ve been working on lately. I’m grateful we won’t have any hand-clapping or dancing.

    1. It’s annoying because remembering words was the easiest thing for me when I was young. If I have to clap and sing at the same time, I am done for nowadays.

  6. The Shepherd tree is a venerable old resident.

    Another action-filled episode of “As The Chaffinch Turns”! The goldfinch on the left seems to be saying to the one with seed in mouth on the right, “Surely, you jest.”

    The flower panels are beautiful. I like the display. It gives the feeling of being in a gallery.

    Spring in your area seems cool as well. The sun is quite bright and warm out there today in western Oregon, but the air coming down off the mountains still has a real nip to it.

    1. We are having cool weather at the moment in spite of the sunshine. The high pressure is bringing the air round from the north and any breeze feels quite chilly.

  7. My sister lives in a tiny house, not unlike those you saw in Carlisle. There is an extension at the back of the house and she has also had a loft extension fitted. Necessary when you have three children and a dog.
    The magnolia photo is beautiful and I like all the different tulips. Birds behaving badly is as entertaining as ever.

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