Archive for Jul, 2017

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba, is entitled “Alcatraz on the Assiniboine” and shows the lengths she has to go to keep the deer off her vegetables.  It makes Mrs Tootlepedal’s anti-sparrow pea fortress look a little small.

deer fence for veg

I was woken several times during the night by rain pounding on our Velux windows and was not surprised to see two large puddles on the lawns when I got up.  It was still raining after breakfast when I walked up to the Welcome to Langholm office to do my tour of duty.

As usual, I settled down to do some Archive Group work on the computer when I got in but unusually, I was constantly interrupted by people coming in to buy DVDs and booklets.  Mike Tinker also came in to look at the Camera Club exhibition and Archive Group treasurer Nancy dropped into to compare grandparenting fun over the Common Riding so I was not short of things to do and people to talk to.  I will finish off the Archive Group work later.

It had stopped raining shortly after I had got to the Welcome to Langholm office and with one or two brief exceptions, it stayed dry for the rest of the day without ever looking as though it might not rain at any time.

I had a walk round the garden when I got back but the very brisk wind made taking pictures hard.  Once again, it was pleasing to see that the miserable weather had not discouraged the bees from visiting.

bees on poppies

I like to think that some of the local honey that I bought at the producers’ market may have come from our garden.  There are other hives about though so it may not be true.

Thanks to the chilly weather, the garden is at a bit of a standstill at the moment, though a few dahlias are battling the elements.


A new and blue hosta has come to join the others.


I had lunch and decided to risk a heavy shower and go for a cycle ride.  In the event, the roads were running with water in places but it stayed dry.  It was blowing very briskly so I did one of my valley bottom hugging three lap runs to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back to get my twenty miles in.

It was hard work going uphill and against the wind.  Even on the flat in the more exposed sections, I was struggling to go at 10 mph. Conversely of course, the trip back down was a breeze!

My eye was caught on the way up the hill by a very pretty pink flower in the verge.


I think it is yarrow and I found it hard to say whether the white flower next to it was the same plant or not.


Nearby, there was some interesting lichen….


…which deserved a closer look.


You can’t get anything much more interesting than that, I am sure you will agree.

Although the river level in the Esk was not as high as I thought that it might have been after the heavy rain overnight, there was plenty of water flowing over one of my favourite cascades on the Wauchope.

Wauchope cascadeWauchope cascadeWauchope cascade

The power of the water, even in a small river like the Wauchope, is awesome.  I took good care not to get too close to the edge of the bank.

My bicycle was glad of a moment’s rest in the battle against the breeze.

Bloch field gate with bike

The field has been mowed for silage

As I came to Langholm for the last time, I whizzed past my South African correspondent, Tom, who was pedalling up the hill in the opposite direction with his niece.

I have fitted my new wing mirror to the bike….

wing mirror

It is held on by a velcro strap

…but it might need refitting as it was fine at low speeds going up hill but when I was going at speed back down the hill over the bumpy road, it dropped out of position a lot.  (If you have straight handlebars, getting one that fits into the bar end is the best solution.)

Almost as soon as I had got home, I went out again.  This time I was picking up Sandy in the car.  It was the first time that I have been to his new house.  It is very neat and well decorated but he has a few things still to come before it is completely done.

He has an interesting shed in his garden.

Sandy's shed

A piece of living history: ideal for a bicycle and a lawn mower.

Our plan was to drive a little bit up the road and pick wild raspberries.  As a plan, it worked out very well and we did just what we had meant to do.

My haul looked like this….

Sandy's shed

…almost exactly a pound of fruit and it quickly became three small pots of wild raspberry jam.  They will not last long.

As well as the raspberries, which were unusually good in quality, we saw a butterfly and it is doing duty as the flying bird of the day today.  It flew off soon after I took this picture.

ringlet butterfly



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Today’s guest picture comes from my my friend Marjorie.  She is on holiday in the Highlands and sent me this picture of the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge.  She knew it would interest me as Mrs Tootlepedal and I lived not far from the memorial when we first got married.

Commando memorial, Spean Bridge

The house is very quiet as I write this short post as Matilda and her parents are back home 70 miles to the north and Mrs Tootlepedal is still visiting her mother 300 miles away to the south.

We had a morning of fun with Matilda before she left, including another go of Grandmother’s Footsteps and an adventurous external tour of the house. This entailed a daring  crossing of the dam using the stepping stone.

stepping stone Matilda

Safely on….

stepping stone Matilda

…and safely off again. One small step for Daddy but one giant leap for Matilda.

Peas and beans were picked and apples admired and then it was time for lunch and the journey back to Edinburgh.

We hope to have another visit from Matilda before too long, preferably with better weather.

The afternoon was mostly dry and I did think about going for a pedal to test out my new cycle mirror which has arrived through the post but a combination of a very brisk wind and the chance to watch the Surrey Classic bike race on the telly proved too much for my rather feeble resolution and I succumbed to sofa torpor.

I was so well planted that I failed to rise and offer Mike Tinker a cup of tea when he came round.  He took this in good part.

After the race finished, I went out into the garden but the strong wind made taking flower pictures very difficult and the possibility of rain made a walk unattractive.

I did take a couple of low lying Sweet Williams.

Sweet Williams

The Sweet Williams have been very colourful for several weeks but are just coming to an end now.

The bees don’t seem to have been too discouraged by the chilly weather and the Lamb’s Ear had several customers buzzing round it.  It is very annoying when you point a camera at a bee and it focusses perfectly on the leaves behind it but I have put the pictures in anyway for illustrative purposes, as they say.

bees on lamb's ear

The delicate lupin in the shelter of the hedge has still got a few side shoots flowering…


…and the  very loud pot marigolds near the green house are defying the weather in style.


The weather forecast says that it going to rain at some time on every one of the next eight days and the temperature is not going to get above 16 degrees so it appears that autumn might have come before summer this year!

No flying bird of any sort today but as I am ordering a new lens for my DSLR camera (if I can get a good trade in on my old lens),  I hope to be able to take some good bird shots with it when it comes.  Meanwhile, I will be looking out my waterproof cycling gear.

After all the fun of three days of playing with Matilda and being head cook and bottle washer, I am off to an early bed tonight.



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I have had enough of the London Trip pictures so it is back to guest pictures of the day.    Dropscone was on holiday in Glasgow last week when he met this attractive bridge over the Clyde.

Glasgow Bridge

After the excitement of yesterday, we had a very calm domestic day today.  We did get out in the morning to visit both the Producers’ Market where we bought honey and our corner shop where we bought milk.  We were thus fully equipped for a pleasant day.

It rained heavily at one point but mostly it was dry and occasionally it was even sunny and almost like summer though still rather cool for the time of year.

Al and Matilda took a turn round the garden…

Al and Matilda

…finding plenty to keep them interested.

I mowed both lawns and the drying green and checked on the flowers.


Two rather diffident dahlias…


…and a very peppy poppy

Japanese anemone and clematis

Japanese anemone and clematis, both doing well

On spite of the bright colour of the Lilian Austin rose, I rarely see a bee near one.  They much prefer the rather plainer hostas.

Lilian Austin and hosta with bee

You can see the bee is putting its heart into the job

In the greenhouse, the petunia is still looking good….


…which is lucky, as it is my job to keep it watered in the absence of the gardener.

I bought 3lbs of raspberries at the Producer’s Market as the blackbirds are eating ours because I haven’t netted them and I made six jars of raspberry jam with them.

I have kept the breadmaking machine very busy while Matilda has been here. I have made two loaves, 12 rolls and a pizza dough.  The breadmaker makes good bread but it makes excellent dough.

In the afternoon, we all went out into the garden in a sunny spell.  I took a formal picture of the visitors.

Al Matilda and Clare

As you can see, Matilda was dressed for every weather condition.

We had lots of fun but the highlight was several games of grandmother’s footsteps (in spite of the absence of the actual grandmother).

Al Matilda and Clare

Matilda in the garden

Matilda was very difficult to creep up on….

Matilda in the garden

…but I was easier to catch.

Photos courtesy of the Al and Clare Photo Agency.

There were a couple of white butterflies flitting about but they were reluctant to pose for me.


As Al and I wandered around, Matilda practised putting her foot down.

Clare and Matilda

She is quite good at that already.

The pizza dough made a delicious base for a home made pizza for our tea and as there were strawberries and cream and cherries about too, we ate like kings.

There are a large number of blackbirds in the garden and I can’t make up my mind whether they are all from one family or not but almost every time I look out of the window, I can see at least one.

This is one of three I could see today.  The others were the flying birds of the day and flew out of the frame before I could shoot.




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No guest picture today but instead, a picture of my guests; Matilda flanked by her mother and father and outflanked by her granny and grandfather.

Eileen, Al, Matilda, Clare and Francis

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, who is still visiting her mother, I was the chief cook and bottle washer of the party and as a result I was not as free as usual to flit about taking happy snaps.

I was woken at 5 o’clock by the boom, boom, boom of the big bass drum as the flute band perambulated the town, reminding the townsfolk that the hound trail would soon take place.  As it was pouring with rain, I was able to roll over and go to sleep again without feeling too bad about missing that part of the fun.

When I woke again, it had stopped raining and I made breakfast for Al and Clare and Matilda.  Then Al had to go out rescue Eileen and Francis who had got caught up in the road closures for the ceremonies and hadn’t made it to our house in time.

Matilda and her parents went off ‘to see the horses’ while I made breakfast for her grandparents.    Then we set off to join them.  By this time the youngsters had seen the procession of horses in the town and gone up the Kirkwynd to wait for the riders to ride up onto the hill.

We could see the crowd assembling there on the far side of the river as we walked along Caroline Street.

Kirk Wynd

It didn’t take us too long before we found the others and we too were part of the crowd waiting for the cornet.

Kirk Wynd

You might think that there was a good sized crowd on the hill but it is multiplied considerably when those who have waited in the Market Place for the first fair crying to finish, squeeze up the Kirk Wynd…..

Kirk Wynd

…..and annoyingly stand in front of the people who were on the hill first.

We could just see Cornet Murray over their heads as he rode past us in fine style….

Cornet Murray

…being enthusiastically cheered on by the crowd.

Kirk Wynd

About half the crowd are trying to take pictures with their phones of course.

The cornet is followed by the rest of the riders, about 150 today in number…

Kirk Wynd

…each one cheered to the echo by friends and family…

Kirk Wynd

…but there is always a head in the way.

After the riders had gone by, we went back home for refreshment, passing Mr Grumpy who was lurking by the river bank, probably wondering what all the commotion was about.


When I got to the garden, I had a quick check to see how it had survived the overnight heavy rain.  The result was very positive.


poppy, buddleia, dahlia

The mounted procession returns from the hill and after a while, the riders cross the Ewes at the Kilngreen and assemble on the Castleholm.  Matilda had had enough outdoor activity for the morning so I took her grandparents along to see the riders crossing the water but we were a bit late and the cornet was already on the Castleholm when we arrived on the other side of the Esk…

Cornet's chase

…so we watched as he was led out to start the Cornet’s Chase where he takes the town standard round the racecourse and is pursued, at a decent distance, first by his right and left hand men (the ex cornets of the previous two years)…

Cornet's chase

…and then by the rest of the riders.

Cornet's chase

It was an impressive sight as the cavalcade thundered onto the racecourse.

We retired for lunch and then Eileen and Francis returned to their car and drove off on other business.

As Matilda has a siesta after lunch, I took the opportunity to walk over to the Castleholm to see the horse and foot racing which takes place there.

While I waited at the bottom corner for the first horse race to come round the track, I noticed that the castle ruin has sprouted some ragwort on its topmost turret.

Langholm Castle

Because the going on the racecourse was very heavy, there were only four runners in the race but it was still a stirring sight as the hurtled round the bend towards me.

Langholm Common Riding races

The small field was less impressive as it headed up the back straight.

Langholm Common Riding races

The next race also had four runners and I went to the opposite side of track to see the start.  It was a tense affair.

Langholm Common Riding races

The riders were soon up to full speed.

Langholm Common Riding races

As they came round the top corner on the way to the finish, I could clearly see the advantage of being in front of the field on such deep going.

Langholm Common Riding races

The air was full of flying mud and the rider at the back was covered in it.

On my way up the track between races, I had passed the Highland Dancing tent…

Highland dancing

..where the piper was playing and kilts were swirling.  We had hope to see Matilda’s cousin Lola dance again this year but in the end, she didn’t come down.

In the athletics field, I could see the floral crown in its place of honour.

Langholm Common Riding Crown

Our roses are in there somewhere.

Further up the track I took a picture which epitomised the fun to be had at a soggy Common Riding field.

stick in the mud

It was a wonder that the horses were able to race at all.

The ever present threat of rain had not discouraged a good crowd for the racing though.

Langholm Common Riding races

As I walked along, the sun came out and my eye was caught by a brilliant yellow ragwort beside the course.  It was a busy plant.

ragwort with bees

I took a closer look.

ragwort insects

In between watching the horse races, I watched the foot racing from both ends of the track.  Almost all the foot races are handicaps and I watched the start of one sprint event.

Common riding athletics start

On your marks….

Common riding athletics start

Get set…

Common riding athletics start


The back markers may seem to have a lot of ground to make up but the handicapper knows what she is doing, as I could see when I went to the finish end of the track for a couple of later races.

Common riding athletics finishCommon riding athletics finish

The races often need a photo finish to see who has won.

The great beauty of events on the Castleholm is that there are always some lovely views to admire if the action gets a little slow.

Castleholm ViewCastleholm View

I stopped long enough to say hello to Sandy who was there with his family and then went back to see about making tea for my visitors.

While I was cooking, Matilda was getting on with her first novel.


It turned into a very pleasant evening as the wind dropped and the sun came out but it was too late for us as it was soon time for Matilda to go to bed.  She may not have had the full Common Riding experience but she has certainly ‘seen the horses’ as she wanted.  I wonder if she will remember her first visit to the great day.  I will remember it.

I was very sorry to have not been able to share the day with Mrs Tootlepedal and I hope that both she and Matilda will be present next year.

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Today’s picture from our London Trip shows the sign for a long forgotten shop on Brixton Road.  By coincidence, the American senator, Bernie Sanders, a diamond geezer if ever there was one,  spoke in front of a crowd of 5000 people at a Brixton venue nearby only last month.

Sanders in Brixton

I have been doing a bit of washing of clothes lately and as some of my readers will know, this leads to ironing and so I started the day with the ironing board in play.  I am not a skilful iron handler and I never cease to be amazed (and put out) by how much more easy it is to iron a crease into a garment than it is to iron it out again.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Still, it is a great lesson for life – careful preparation is almost always better than just breenging in regardless.  I am going to learn that lesson one day…..but not yet.

I had just got the board folded and the evidence of rather rumpled clothes tucked away upstairs when first Dropscone and then Sandy arrived to share a pot of coffee.  Because it will be a busy day for all of us tomorrow, Dropscone kindly brought forward the traditional Friday treacle scones and we ate them on a Thursday instead.

It was a wet and fairly miserable morning outside and it got a lot worse and fairly bucketed down when I went off to do some shopping for Matilda and her parents (and her other grandparents too) who are visiting me over the Common Riding.  We seem to be in the middle of a spell of occasional sunshine and many really heavy showers.  It doesn’t make for restful days.

Some of the flowers are looking a bit depressed…


…and who can blame them.

I can blame the sparrows though for pecking holes in my lawn.

sparrow holes in lawn

A water lily seemed quite at home, sheltering from the elements under a leaf in the pond.

water lily

The dampness hadn’t discouraged the bees though and there were quite a few about as soon as it actually stopped raining.

bee on lambs ear

In the afternoon, when it had stopped raining for a bit, I had a visit from my friend Gavin, with his daughter, my Newcastle correspondent and her two children.  Leo was hoping to see a frog in the pond but there was not a frog to be seen and a few tadpoles were scant consolation.  Hannah helped me pick some peas and kindly only ate enough of them to leave me a few for tea.

When they had gone, I picked some beans….


… and admired the other fruit in the garden, some for me….

Charles Ross apple

Charles Ross apple

….and some for the birds.

rowan berries

Rowan berries

I noticed that once Leo had left, a frog appeared.


…but by the time that Matilda arrived, it had gone again.

While I waited for Matilda to arrive, I looked around the garden while it was dry.

The privet blossom is falling like snow but there is still masses to come.


And it still looks very curious when you see it lying on the ground.


Rather than dwell on the depressed poppies, I looked at the ever cheerful phlox….


…and a very flowery hosta.


Hostas are mostly grown for their foliage but they pack a lovely flower too.


During the day, an emissary of the Crown builder turned up to pick a few of our rambler roses….

rambler roses

…and I shall feel proud when I see them in the Crown as it is carried through the streets tomorrow.  I shall take a picture of it, weather permitting.  The forecast is not very good for the morning but things look better for the afternoon.  Fingers crossed.

Al and Clare arrived with Matilda on schedule.  The garden was too soggy to play in so we had a pleasant time indoors with a construction set which lets you build marble runs.  Al and I let Matilda play with it too from time to time.

After tea, while Matilda got ready for her bath, I nipped up to the Market Place to hear a snatch of the Town Band’s open air concert.

Langholm Town Band summer fair 2107

Henry, who trained and accompanied our choir last night, can be seen blowing fit to bust on the trombone on the extreme right of the picture.  He is a talented chap.

We had a very quiet evening in as the strange surroundings kept Matilda awake long after she should have been fast asleep but I sneaked out to see the Flute Band lead a procession through the streets.

flute band 2017

They were followed by the biggest procession I have seen on Summer Fair night, it nearly filled the whole of Caroline Street.

flute band 2017

The flautists will wake us up tomorrow morning at 5 o’clock to announce the starting of the Common Riding, Langholm’s great day.

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The ‘London Trip’ picture for today is a glimpse of the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic park.  It is now chiefly a football ground and was a disappointment to me as I expected something more imposing.

Olympic Stadium

I have not much to say about the morning as it was a sad time.  My older son Tony came down from Edinburgh and together we went to the funeral of Ian, the son of our next door neighbour Liz.  He had died very unexpectedly, being the same age as our two eldest children and it came as a terrible shock to us all.

The words and demeanour of Ian’s wife and three sons made the unconventional funeral service very touching and it seems that they will have the inner strength to cope with this tragedy.

After the funeral and a short visit to the subsequent family gathering, Tony went back to Edinburgh and I finished off making a couple of jars of blackcurrant jelly which I had started at breakfast time, a mundane but soothing task

I wasn’t expecting to take many photos today but the unrelenting rain, which had made the morning even more sombre than it should have been, finally eased off and the sun came out.

I checked on the poppies.


They were battered but surviving.

As Tony and I had walked over the bridge after the funeral, we had seen a family of goosanders sitting on the bank of the Esk wondering whether it was good weather for ducks or not.  I went back to see if they were still there.


There were four of them but I couldn’t get them into one shot as they swam off in all directions when they saw me coming.


While I was at the bridge, I checked out the rock creation which I had seen  being built a few days ago.  It turns out that it is not a bench at all but a fine tortoise.

Rock tortoise

Nearby, I noticed a very badly painted robin.


I had to put gloomy thoughts behind me as the next business of the day was a final practice for our little choir which was going to sing at the Common Riding Concert in the evening.   The practice went very well and there was time when I got home to inspect the garden.  The front lawn was awash with about thirty sparrows pecking away….

sparrows on lawn

…but like the goosanders, they saw me coming and flew off before I could get a good enough picture to identify the guilty parties.

Could this have been one of them?


The sunshine persisted and I had time after my tea and before the performance to go for a quick walk round Gaskell’s.

A horse posed at a gate…


…hoping perhaps that I had an apple in my pocket.

It was a beautiful evening for a walk….

Manse hill

…and although I didn’t have time to dilly dally, I did see some things as I went.


Everything is so green and lush at the moment that the path almost disappeared at times.


It’s in there somewhere

The wind had dropped and even the grasses and docks were still.



When I got to the Stubholm and looked at one of my favourite evening views…


…I noticed a lot of furtive movement in the field in front of the house.  It was rabbits.  They all scampered off to hide in nooks and corners….


…except one who thought that by remaining very still, he could escape my eagle eye.


Does Bright Eyes come to mind?

It was a beautiful evening for a walk…

Castle Hill from Gaskells

…and I was sorry to have to rush round but my speed did bring me back to the Park just in time to hear the beat of a big drum coming up Caroline Street.

Langholm Pipe BandLangholm Pipe Band

It was the Langholm Pipe Band marching through the town to draw attention to the forthcoming concert.

They were perfectly in step.

Langholm Pipe Band

Their skirling music reminded me that I had no time to waste so I hurried home, put on a clean white shirt and made my way to the Buccleuch Centre and the concert.

It was a most enjoyable evening.  Our eighteen strong choir sang as well as it possibly could and was very well received by a packed house (the tickets for the concert are free which might have helped the attendance).  We hope to sing at the concert again next year.

As the concert ended, the heavens opened and we had to scurry home in a tremendous downpour.  There has been some heavy rain and even flash floods in nearby towns in recent days and I was worried that we might be in trouble but the rain soon stopped and all is peaceful again as I write this an hour or so later.

It was a day of clouds and sunshine, both literal and metaphorical, a day that made me think hard about the unfairness of life and count my blessings.




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Today’s ‘London Trip’ photograph is a peek into the Pullman coach which featured in yesterday’s post.

Pullman coach

Owing to a miscalculation there are far too many pictures in today’s post but having processed them all, I am too lazy to decide which ones to cut out so they are all here.

For the busy reader here is a synopsis of the day so that reading the rest of the post can be skipped.  Got up, mowed some grass, went for a pedal, went to bed.  Just another day.

For the long suffering and patient reader, here is the fuller version.

It was a dry and pleasantly warm day but the cloud cover never relented until late evening when we had a glimpse of sunshine.

As usual, the first business of the day was a poppy check.

opium poppies


Shirley poppies

Very encouraging


Who needs sunshine!

Other quieter flowers are available.

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta. I like the pyramid of clematis in the top right frame

Then I had to run an errand for Mrs Tootlepedal and thin out some radishes before any further action could occur but I managed both of these tasks and mowed the drying green and the green house grass and hung out a load of washing.

I needed a bit of sustenance after all that so I had a lettuce and marmite sandwich and I am beginning to realise that too much of my life has been wasted in not eating lettuce and marmite sandwiches.  Of course it helps that Mrs Tootlepedal has provided an endless supply of fresh lettuces.

Coffee and a crossword merged into a healthy lunch of sardines, new potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce and by this time I had eaten so much that a bike ride was essential.

I checked on the birds in the garden first….

sparrows eating peas

This is what drives Mrs Tootlepedal to despair.

blackbird family

After a stand off, a blackbird parent and child meet in the middle for a snack

Then I set off for a gentle, flat ride.  Most unusually, there was hardly a breath of wind so with the sun behind the clouds, it was a prefect day for cycling if not for landscape views.

I was in no hurry and there were plenty of flowers to keep me happy.

orchids and willowherb

The last two orchids along the Wauchope road and a nicely decorated wall up Callister

I took the road to Gair.  This is always a treasure trove of wild flowers.  Today there was a lot of ragwort all along the road.  I stopped because I was hoping to see a cinnabar moth caterpillar which likes ragwort a lot but I had to settle for this…


…less colourful visitor.  I checked quite a few ragwort out with no luck.

I stopped further along to see how many flowers I could see within a few yards of my bicycle.

Wild flowers

wild flowers

The raspberry was delicious.  I don’t know what the pink furry flower is but it turns into a doleful looking owl as it goes over.

The butterfly was very annoying. Why my camera wouldn’t focus on it was a mystery.  Still the flower that it was settled on was worth a shot in its own right.

wild flower

On the other side of the road, a bunch of thistles were looking good, some in full flower….


…and some, like the writer of this piece, gone to seed.


The most interesting flower than I saw on the Gair road was the great burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, which grows here every year.  When you first spot it, it looks like the dull head of a plantain but when you get closer it shows up as being a dark red colour and as is so often the case, a closer looks pays dividends.

Sanguisorba officinalis

I cycled on until I came to the Old A74, passing this hedge dripping with honeysuckle…..


…on my way.

When I got to Gretna, I saw a most unusual sight.  As you can see from the photo, it was so still that the windmills were not going round at all.

Gretna Windmills

Not contributing to the grid today.

I was so excited at taking this rare picture that I stepped back and stood on the mirror on my bike and broke it.   I can’t turn my head round while cycling without falling off my bike and  I hadn’t realised just how much I depend upon the use of a mirror to cycle safely.

I pedalled bravely on though, passing pretty but less welcome flowers in the verge.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam, an invasive pest.

As I was coming towards the border near Englishtown, I heard a great chattering and saw that the starlings have begun to gather.


I hope that we get a good murmuration this winter.

I saw a lot of this peeping out of hedges on my trip.

blue vetch

Cow or blue vetch

…but my camera is reluctant to let me get a close up of it so this group shot will have to do.

I couldn’t miss the daises on the Canonbie bypass.

daisies on the by pass

I met my neighbour Ken out on his bike near Canonbie and we cycled along together for a while.  When we came to a little hill, I had to let him go on as he is a much quicker cyclist than I am.  Uphill is my downfall as a cyclist.

When I got home, I walked round the garden and found that the early potato haulms were looking very sad and collapsed so I thought it best to dig the last six plants up.  They hadn’t fallen on stony ground!

early potatoes

I left them to dry for an hour (they were pretty dry when I dug them out) and then boxed them up.  My diet will have a lot  of potatoes in it over the next few weeks.

I picked and ate raw some of the peas which the sparrows hadn’t got at and then had a last walk round the garden.

There is no shortage of colour.


A Crocosmia reaches the end of the line.


A Fuchsia puts its dancing shoes on


Shy Nasturtium


Phlox contrast

The last flower of the day is a nicotiana…


…and it is right that is should be last as it only produces its delightful smell in the cool of the evening.

It was a delight to stand in the garden after my tea, with the scent of the nicotiana, the colour of the flowers all around and not a breath of wind.  I made the most of it as the forecast for the next few days is not very promising.

The non flying bird of the day, perhaps because it seems to have lost its tail a bit, is a very doleful sparrow indeed.

doleful sparrow


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