Spring in my step

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Sandra Waller, shows a good crowd at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.  It is a 30 acre sculpture garden created by landscape architect and theorist Charles Jencks at his home, Portrack House, near Dumfries.  The reason for the crowd is that the garden is only open for one day in the whole year.  Sandra says it took her an hour to get out of the car park but the visit was still well worthwhile.


I had little time this morning for speculation, cosmic or otherwise, before setting off straight after breakfast for a ride round my Canonbie route.  The reason for the prompt start was an appointment to eat some of Dropscone’s scones with a cup of coffee later in the morning.

The wind wasn’t very helpful, being across for much of the trip, so I only had time for two picture stops.

Canonbie trees
My favourite trio of trees are beginning to burst into leaf.
Irvine House
The river Esk at Irvine House looking very fresh and green

I got back within a a minute of the appointed time for coffee and enjoyed the subsequent scones a good deal, having worked up an appetite for them.  Dropscone was in good form after his two recent holidays and is already considering his next one.

When he left, bearing a gift of rhubarb, I took our car up to the garage to get the winter tyres taken off and the summer ones put on.  I hope that I have not been too optimistic about this but the forecast looks quite settled for the moment at least.

I dawdled my way home, visiting the chemist, my coffee bean supplier and the Welcome to Langholm office on the way so it was almost time for lunch when I got back.

I had a moment for a walk round the garden…

There are still plenty of tulips on the go

…and a look out of the window….

busy feeder
…and plenty of birds too

…before I had the last of the leek soup with some excellent Northumbrian cheese which we had bought in Alnwick.

After lunch, I got busy in the garden.  First I sawed and spilt some more of the cherry branches which Dropscone had pruned from the tree in his garden and given to us.  I bought a new blade for the bow saw yesterday and it made the task a lot less like hard work than using the old blunt blade.

Then I mowed the greenhouse grass, did a bit of dead heading and looked at the flowers again.  The plant with the most flowers on is a berberis and the one with the most elegant is an alpine clematis.

berberis and clematis

A loud buzzing drew my attention to our apple blossom and I was able to point out a tree bumblebee to Mrs Tootlepedal.

tree bumblebee

I have seen one before but this was the first that she has seen.  They are recent arrivals in Scotland.

In spite of the bee, I spent a little time with my soft paint brush being a bee myself as our apples have a lot of blossom and one bee is not enough.

I went inside for a refreshing cup of tea and had a look out of the window while I was there.

Siskins don’t let trying to eat get in the way of having a good row.
The perching redpoll of the day

It was such a nice afternoon that I was able to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to come on a short cycle outing to see nuthatches and dippers.

On our way round the Scholars’ Field, we stopped to look first at wild flowers in the verge beside the path…

wild flowers

The plant on the right is ribwort or P. lanceolata which I learn from Wikipedia is used frequently in herbal teas and other herbal remedies. A tea from the leaves is used as a highly effective cough medicine. In the traditional Austrian medicine Plantago lanceolata leaves have been used internally (as syrup or tea) or externally (fresh leaves) for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, skin, insect bites, and infections.  It seems to be more useful than you would think from its modest appearance.

…..and then at a pretty yellow flower growing on the wall at the end of the pitch.

Corydalis aurea

It was new to Mrs Tootlepedal but some research when she got home showed that it was Corydalis aurea, another plant much used in herbal medicine.  After looking up the side effects, we have decided not to test it out.

When we got to the Jubilee Bridge, we did see a couple of nuthatches at their nest but only for a brief moment and the only shot I got was of one of them coming out of the nest and making off at speed.


We waited for a while but it didn’t return so we cycled off on a tour of the Castleholm and pheasant hatchery.

Pheasant hatchery

It was a very green experience.

We were well sheltered from any wind and although the sun was sulking, it was a lovely spring day to be out and about.

copper beech
A copper beech among the greens
Castleholm tree
A tree revealing exactly how tall local cows are.

There were wild flowers, fresh leaves and an azalea to enjoy as we pedalled along.

azalea, primrose and leaf

When we got to the Sawmill Brig, there was a dipper perched on a rock just below us but we were too much for it and it flew off up the river and did its dipping there, in plain view but annoyingly, too far away for a picture.

We watched it for a while and then cycled back home past the nuthatches (no show) and a very pretty  lesser stitchwort…


…and got back just in time for me to go and collect the car with its seasonal tyres properly adjusted.

The winter tyres have been very successful in a way because since I bought them, we have had two mild winters and I have never had to drive in snow or ice.  Obviously they have been well worth the money.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me some shy violets under one of our hedges.


I curried the remains of the sausage and bean stew for my tea and spent a little time going over some of the many songs which I need to know for forthcoming concerts with two choirs.  I don’t know why people are so keen on concerts.  I would be happy just to go to the choirs for the sheer pleasure of singing.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, concentrating hard.

flying goldfinch








Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

16 thoughts on “Spring in my step

  1. Your stitchwort is different than the ones I find here, but ours is a native of Europe.
    We call the ribwort “English Plantain” because that’s where it came from. It spreads fast and I’m seeing everywhere. 5 years ago I knew of one plant.
    The spring greens on the various landscapes are beautiful.

  2. The photos are beautiful, and I especially love the violets, as I have found none here on the farm in all these years. They were all over the yard back east.

  3. Lovely spring colours everywhere. I’ll keep watching out for a tree bumblebee now. I love the photo showing the path through the trees,the bright grass, the picket fence and the lone gardener ..sorry cyclist!

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