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Archive for May, 2018

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin and shows his granddaughter Hannah, from Newcastle-on-Tyne, testing out the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal.  It seems to be perfect for all ages.

Ally and Hannah on bench

I have a simple plan for the next few years and that is to have a cycle outing at least once each year in which the number of miles is equal to or greater than my age in years (currently 76).  Today seemed to be a really good day to put the plan into action as it was very calm, pleasantly warm but not sunny and with no chance of rain according to the forecast.

I am not sleeping very comfortably at the moment so even with the twin lures of the new bike and perfect conditions, it took me an hour after breakfast to actually get going.  I took any excuse to put off the start…

lupins

…and wandered round the garden to check on new arrivals.

I couldn’t put it off for ever though and set out with a view to going to Caerlaverock Castle which is about 35 miles away and has a cafe.

I stopped every ten miles to have a drink and some small snack and take a photo or two if the opportunity arose.  My first stop on the Gair road provided me with many wild flower opportunities (which I took) and here are just a few of them.

hawthorngeumnettleyellow wild flower

My second stop was at Hollee where I concentrated on grasses.

grass biggrass smaller

I had a lot to choose from.

My third stop was at a bridge on the road to Clarencefield.  There were no interesting wild flowers nearby so I was looking at lichen when I spotted one of many ants crawling along the parapet.

ant

Luckily the ants had not been on the part of the parapet where I sat and had my snack.  Nothing is less conducive to happy pedalling than having ants in your pants.

I made a non decimal stop at Bankend just to take a picture of the Isle Tower on the banks of the Lochar Water….

Isle tower

…which looks in need of some TLC.

On my way to Caerlaverock Castle from Bankend, it was hard not to notice the abundant broom in bloom beside the road.

broom

It is interesting that gorse looks really bright until the broom comes out but once the broom is in full blossom, the gorse looks very dowdy in comparison.

When I got to the castle, my legs were in such good order that I merely peered at the castle over the hedge….

caerlaverock castle

…and headed down to the banks of the Nith Estuary.

It was a curious sort of day with quite a bit of blue sky if you looked straight up but a lot of mist if you looked straight ahead.  When I got to the Nith, I could hardly see, Criffel, only a few miles away on the opposite bank.

criffel in mist

In search of a cup of coffee, I headed up stream until I came to Glencaple, a very small village with a huge cafe where I purchased a mandarin sorbet (surprisingly good) and a latte (just what you might expect) and ate and drank them while talking to a fisherman and his wife from Eastriggs. They had kindly kept an eye on my bike while I was in the cafe.

The fisherman was trying to catch flounders, a bottom feeding fish.  He pulled his line in as a boat came steaming down river past us….

glencaple boat

…but like a bad rower, he found that he had caught a crab…

floundering crab

…which he returned to the river.

I had taken almost exactly three hours of cycling time to do the 40 miles out and I was hoping to get what help was available from the very light wind to help me do the 40 miles back at the same speed.

I stopped every ten miles or so on the way back and noticed how many fine grasses there were in the hedge at the Brow Well (a good place to stop as it has a handy bench for aged cyclists).

grass at brow well

I had a final stop about eight miles from Langholm and noticed a prominent patch of silverweed, a plant that seems to like to grow right on the edge of bust main roads.

silverweed

Perhaps it likes the salt from the winter gritting.

Nearby, there was an unusually coloured rhododendron in a driveway.

rhodie

It had the air of an enormous allium.

I got home in good order with the second 40 miles covered in more or less bang on 3 hours so I was happy about that.  If I had got going a bit earlier, it would have been a good day for 100 miles but that will have to wait for another good day to come along.

It had been a pretty warm day for the time of year as can be seen from the top quality helmet hair that resulted…

helmet hair

…but I had been well supplied with water bottles and hadn’t lost weight on the ride, always a good sign of sensible hydration and nutrition.  (Two of Johnny’s filled rolls, two bananas and the sorbet from Glencaple.  Scientific sports nutrition at its best.)

Although I did the cycling in just over six hours, the whole 82 miles actually took me seven and a half hours so the ten mile stops added up.  I tried to make them about 5 minutes each to give me a chance to relax and stretch a bit but the stop at Glencaple must have been quite a bit longer.

Mrs Tootlepedal was away visiting Matilda in Edinburgh while I was out so I was very pleased that everything went smoothly and that there was no call for the MTRS which wouldn’t have been available.  I am waiting for her to return as I write this post.

I did catch a flying bird of the day when I got home.  It is an angry siskin.

flying siskin

Those interested can find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.  It was very flat as you can see.

garmin route 31 May 2018

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Susan on a visit to Reading.  It shows the Maiwand Lion, commemorating the dead of the Berkshire Regiment of Foot at Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar in 1880. The British were defeated at Girishk Maiwand by the Afghan army at a high cost to both sides during the 2nd Afghan war. reading lion

As the astute reader will gather from the the title of this post, it actually rained today but as this didn’t happen until the early evening and as it didn’t last long, it didn’t make much of a dent in our spell of excellent weather.

We had a sunny morning and made the most of it.  I had to pay an early visit to the health centre for a blood test and was happy to find that I still had some but I wasted no time when I got back in getting to work on the front lawn.  It lives in cold shadows over the winter and gets very mossy and the poor weather of the first four months of the year hasn’t helped it so I gave it a scarifying with our electric scarifier.  I followed this with a rake and a mow and then I topped off the treatment with a dose of seaweed buck-u-uppo.  Did it look grateful after all this? No, it still looked mossy.  Still, I enjoy the challenge.

In between the scarifying and the seaweed, Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and a news catchup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting stuff out, she is using the sieved compost as fast as I can produce it so I sieved another batch and the contents of Bin D are decreasing rapidly.

I found time to wander around with the camera.

I often concentrate on single flowers so today for a change,  I went for quantity over quality.

potentilla

Potentilla

peony

Peony

poached egg plant

Limnanthes douglasii or the poached egg flower.  A bit of ‘egg white’ is developing on some of the flowers.

geraniums

Geraniums

geums

Geums

Solomon's Seal

Solomon’s Seal – no sign of sawfly larva yet.

I did take one shot a single flower.  This was the clematis at the front door and I took the single flower shot to show the contrast between the clematis at the front door (two flowers) ….

front door clematis

…and the clematis at the back door (hundreds).

back door clematis

I try to keep an eye out for the new arrivals and today a nectaroscordum had developed enough to get a personal portrait.

nectaroscordum

It was very breezy but I am still a bit short of cycling miles so I got my new bike out after lunch and decided to test the conditions.  It was warm but the skies had clouded over so the temperature was perfect and I set off with hopes of 30 miles or more.

However, after a few miles at a crisp speed and with not a whisper of wind in my face, it became apparent that the wind was going to make it very hard work pedalling home if I cycled too far out and I lowered my ambitions and went round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

This was a good decision as there was plenty to see…

field of buttercups

A field of buttercups near Langholm

bog cotton

Bog cotton at the Kerr

tarcoon verge

Beautiful verges near Tarcoon

wild geraniums

Wild geraniums on the old A7…

Pyrenean valerian

…and Pyrenean Valerian nearby.

… and the route choice turned out well as I got a good deal more help from the wind than I expected and managed to get my average over 14 mph.  This is very good for me these days.

As I cycled down the road along our garden hedge at the end of my ride, I was detained by the old Rosa Moyesii…

Rosa Moyesii

…and the honeysuckle.

honeysuckle

I hadn’t seen these earlier as they can only be seen when you are not in the garden.

The rain started not long after I got home so I had a good excuse to spend some time watching the birds at the feeder.

It was quite busy with siskins and goldfinches…

siskins

…with the siskins demonstrating why the seed level goes down so quickly when they are there.  They drop at least half of their food as the seeds are just too big for their beaks.

We have had regular visits from a small group of pigeons recently and they were back again today…

pigeon

…keeping an eye out for fallen seed.

I am hoping for a less windy day tomorrow to get a last minute addition to my mileage for the month of May but there is a hint of more rain in the forecast so time will tell.

The flying bird(s) of the day is a collection of airborne siskins.

flying siskins

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who contemplated Nottingham Arboretum’s war memorial (Crimean War), sometimes called “the Chinese Bell Tower”.

chinese bell tower

Our fine weather continued though it was pretty windy and a good deal cooler than the recent very unseasonably hot days.  Still, it was warm enough to wander round the garden in just a T shirt (and trousers) after I had gone up to the town to do a bit of embarrassing business.  I had lost the Archive Group chequebook and had to eat humble pie and ask for a new one to be issued.

The garden somewhat made up for my bumbling.

The very last of the tulips are fading away gracefully…

late tulips

…and are being replaced by white blossom…

parsley, dogwood and rowan

Cow parsley, dogwood and rowan

There are signs that we might get at least a few strawberries in the not too distant future…

strawberry

…but a lot of the plants look as though the hot weather has been too much for them.

The alliums are at their best….

allium

…and one my favourite flowers, the astrantia, is also thriving.

astrantia

For sheer impact, the Icelandic poppies are hard to beat, particularly in a sunny moment…

icelandic poppy

..but the geraniums are well worth a second look even if they are not so zingy.

geranium

After coffee, I went out again to check on the bird activity.

There were sparrows everywhere; trying to get at Mrs Tootlepedal’s peas, eating aphids on the gooseberry bush, flying into compost bin C and taking a little seed from the feeder.

sparrows

They can eat all the aphids they can with my blessing but Mrs Tootlepedal hopes that her defences will keep them out of the peas.

The baby thrush and an inquisitive blackbird were about too.

thrush and balckbird

I checked on the chives while I was out.

chives

I really should have gone out for a bike ride in the sunshine but the brisk wind and a slightly weary feeling put paid to any energetic ideas so I booked some railway tickets for a future jaunt to London instead.

All through the day, there were incessant and noisy demands from a young sparrow for food…

sparrow feeding

…and the mother responded with superb patience.

After lunch, I went down to Longtown to pick up my slow bike from the bike shop where it has been serviced and the briefest of test rides on it showed just how good my new bike is in comparison.  My new bike has to go back to the bike shop soon for a post sale checkup and the mechanic suggested that they might have to keep it for some time so that they all could get a ride on it.  Hmmm.

Then I had to go off to see a doctor about my persistently malfunctioning voice.  I went in the hope of a miracle cure so I would be in good order for two concerts in the coming weekend but no miracle cure was forthcoming, only a blood test appointment and a re-visit in two weeks.  I can’t complain about a doctor being thorough though and I will just have to wait to see what happens next.

The day had got rather cloudy and grey by this time so I instead of going for a bike ride when I got back, I did a little gardening in the shape of sieving some compost and doing a bit of shredding for Mrs Tootlepedal who was improving one of her flower beds by clearing things out.

A visitor came round to check on the health of some plants that she had given Mrs Tootlepedal and was relieved to see them doing well as hers were looking a bit peaky.  She looked along Ally’s allium alley before she left.

Ally's allium alley

We had a cup of tea and I noticed a great tit coming to the feeder for the first time for ages.

great tit

Later on,  since the skies had cleared and a beautiful evening was developing, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip up to the Langholm Moor in the hope of seeing something interesting.

Sadly, we saw no wildlife of any sort though we heard a distant cuckoo.  Nevertheless, the general beauty of the scene, both on the drive up…

Ewes valley

…and when we got to the moor…

On Langholm Moor

…made it a very enjoyable if brief outing.

On our way home we stopped to look at the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…and take in the view of Warbla across the Castleholm.

Warbla view

We had a salad for our tea, with radishes and a variety of cut leaves from the vegetable garden.  I hope that this will be the first of many meals enhanced by home grown produce.

The flying bird of the day is a curiosity.  I noticed a jackdaw on the front lawn and followed it as it took off.  I don’t try this often as it needs a quicker hand and eye than I possess but I thought that the result was worth a look even if just to notice how the bright light made a black bird look pale grey.

flying jackdaw

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is enjoying good weather in Aberdeenshire near the former fishing village of Collieston.

Collieston

We had another day today which would have been very welcome in mid summer and it is becoming pretty clear that it will be very unlikely that summer, when it comes, could be any better than late spring has been.  It may well be all downhill from here on when this good spell ends.

Still, we are really enjoying the lovely weather while it lasts even though it does mean that quite a lot of garden watering is going on.

watering the lawn

I have given both lawns a soaking and Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the flower beds with hose and watering can.

I should add that we are not at all keen to get one of the torrential downpours which they have been getting in England.  A light shower would do very well.

I had an early look round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I couldn’t get past the best of the rhododendrons without clicking my shutter finger.

rhododendron

The Rosa Moyesii is more modest but very pretty too.

rosa moyesii

I had to admit that I was wrong and Mrs Tootlepedal was right (there’s a surprise) because when I looked really closely at the Veronica, I could see that it is blue after all and not pure white at all.  I had to look pretty hard though.

veronica

A blackbird took a good look and agreed that it was blue.

blackbird

Our walnut tree is almost fully clothed.  It is one of the last trees to get its leaves.

walnut

I didn’t have the long to enjoy the morning sunshine as I was doing my very last stint in the Welcome to Langholm Office.  After many years, I have decided to retire as a welcomer.  I had quite a few people to welcome today but I still had enough time to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive database.

While I was at work welcoming people, Mrs Tootlepedal was also doing some welcoming. A friend from the choir and her partner, Anita and Nick who live in Canonbie, had been visiting the dentist in Langholm and took the opportunity to come round and look at our garden which they had seen on this blog.  They gave the new bench a test and declared that it was as good as sitting in a National Trust garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased at such a nice compliment.  Not being a photographer though, this whole event went unrecorded.

I passed a gull as I crossed the suspension bridge on my way home at midday…

gull

…it was probably wondering where all the water has gone, The river is very low.

There was plenty to see in the garden when I got there.

Beside the front door, another clematis has just come out…

clematis front door

…and almost hidden beside it, is a tiny lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley

Across the drive, Mrs Tootlepedal has some very vigorous variegated hostas.

hosta

After lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then got my cycling gear on and took the new bike out for a spin.  It was really very hot and I was wondering if I would get cooked but luckily,  a surprisingly cool and steady wind kept me at a reasonable temperature and I enjoyed a thirty mile run which brought my total on the new bike up to 250 miles.    I think that I can safely say that it is going to suit me very well.

I wasn’t the only one keeping cool.

bull keeping cool

The verges were full of interest.  I saw these flowers when I stopped for a drink after ten miles.

Gair road wildflowers

And I saw these beside the old A74 near Kirkpatrick Fleming.

Old A74 wildflowers

The dandelions may have gone over but there was ample yellow colour near Sprinkell…

Sprinkell road (2)

…and looking ahead at this point, I think anyone would have to admit that it looks like a good day and place for a pedal (even taking the vast amount of traffic into consideration).

Sprinkell road

When I got back, I had time to admire the Japanese azalea…

Japanese azalea

…before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We are making steady progress even though wonderfully sunny weather does not make flute practice the first thing one thinks of doing.

After a really nourishing tea of mince and tatties, I went out and sat on the new bench and admired some late colour.

evening colour

Then I mowed the middle lawn and trimmed the edges which was a good way to end the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a baby thrush in the garden while I had been out cycling and when she came out to admire the lawn, she spotted it again.   I fetched my camera and found that it had flown up onto a fence and was making quite a noise.

Baby thrush

Curiously it was joined not by its mother but by a blackbird which was making a noise too.  Then a small flock of sparrows started to join in and I went over to see what the racket was all about.

It was a dratted cat, stalking about among the flowers below, seeing what little birds it could snaffle. In  my view, cat owners should feed their animals so much that they lose their appetite for birds…. or at least keep them in their own gardens.

I shooed the cat away and there were no fatalities.

The mother thrush, flew up to join her infant and she became in that moment, a quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying thrush

 

 

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Today’s guest picture come from Venetia’s trip to Toulouse a couple of weeks ago.  She came across this very cheerful lady with a rather macabre exhibit in a local flea market there.

toulouse flea market

Our spell of remarkably fine weather continued with temperatures so far above the seasonal average that we were quite pleased to find them moderated by a brisk wind.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the sunshine before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir sang a short anthem between the bible readings and we were stunned to receive a totally unexpected round of applause from the congregation when we finished.  It might have been sparked off by the visiting minister who was taking the service. I have never encountered this in the middle of a service before but it was very pleasing to be on the receiving end of it.

My throat is not much better but as I was singing bass, I was able to croak my way through without too much trouble.

When we got back to the house, there was a few minutes to look round the garden.  There is a lot to look at as the garden has been transformed in the week that we were away.

There is a good variety of colour ranging from the white of the  clematis round the back door…

clematis

…and a new veronica beside the middle lawn (which Mrs Tootlepedal assures me is blue but it looks dead white to me)…veronica

…and some sweet rocket near the silver pear.

sweet rockety

Slightly more colour can be seen in the pale aquilegias…

aquilegia

…and more still in the potentillas along the back wall of the house beside the dam.

potentilla

This year Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to be pleased by the various Welsh poppies which tend to pop up randomly all over the garden…

welsh poppy

…this one beside a promising looking hosta.

On the opposite side of the dam, Kenny’s euphorbia is going from strength to strength.

euphorbia

Stronger shades of colour have cropped up unexpectedly beside the yellow potentilla in the shape of this blue aquilegia which has dropped in from somewhere unknown.  It is very welcome.

aquilegia

In the garden, there was more blue as the first cornflower has come out.

cornflower

But for ‘big colour’, it is hard to beat a peony.  This is the first of the year.

peony

However, all things considered, this azalea does probably carry more zing.

azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried because its leaves were tinged with what looked like an unhealthy colour but as you can see, it is looking very well.

We didn’t have time to do any lawn care or large scale watering as we had to rush off to Carlisle to get to an early start for the last practice of the community choir there before its season ending concert next Sunday.  Our excellent conductor is leaving us to go on to bigger and better things and as he will be sorely missed, the practice was a bitter sweet occasion.

My croaky voice just about stood up to singing the tenor part as luckily, the parts were generally in the lower range of tenor part singing but there were times when it gave up and I was left looking a bit like a beached fish with my mouth opening but nothing coming out.  The conductor has prescribed a week of not talking.  Those who know me will gauge how likely that is to happen.

It was a beautiful evening when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal rushed to water her seedlings in the greenhouse (the temperature was in the mid twenties) and then she was able to do some useful work in the garden while I took a few more pictures.

The clematis at the back door is at its best when the evening sun lights it up…

clematis

…and the peony looked good too.

peony

Also looking good but not quite so welcome was this striking rhubarb flower.

rhubarb flower

The rhubarb has been neglected while we have been away and may be past its best for eating but there are promising signs of meals to come in the bean department.

broad  beans

The evening light was kind to our white potentilla…

potentilla

…but a new plant, recently purchased by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking good in a shady bed.  It is a Choisya…

choisya

…and a good one as far as I am concerned.

The ornamental strawberries are having a very good year and Mrs Tootlepedal is spreading them about a bit.

ornamental  strawberries

I had no time to linger around at the kitchen window waiting for birds to come to the feeder today…

siskin

…but I did catch a siskin having words with someone.

The best I could do for a flying bird was a couple of shots of an aggressive pigeon trying to get another pigeon to fly away.

pigeons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the Lake District where she stopped at a cafe in Grange and enjoyed this lovely view.

cafe garden at Grange.

We stopped at a cafe today.  This one was at a garden centre near North Berwick where we had an excellent breakfast this morning as we left for home after a very enjoyable week at the sea side.  It seemed easier to eat out than have to do a lot of washing up just before we left our holiday cottage.

Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to acquire a few plants while we were there.

We then took a road that we haven’t travelled along before to get home and drove over the Lammermuir hills to Duns and Kelso, adding about 15 miles to our trip but getting some wonderful views in exchange.  Unfortunately, it was rather hazy and there weren’t a lot of handy parking spots so you will have to take the views on trust but they were good enough to make us think of going that way again.

We did stop at the Whiteadder reservoir in the heart of the hills.

P1100510

There was enough sun to give the water some sparkle.

Whiteadder Reservoir

The Lammermuir hills are treeless and heather covered as they are extensively used for grouse shooting and their spare beauty is entirely man made.  It is sad that this also means that birds of prey have a hard time here and often suffer mysterious accidental deaths.

We passed a great number of cyclists who were testing their legs against some impressive climbs on the good surfaces of the East Lothian roads.

Soon after leaving the reservoir, we crossed the River Whiteadder on this fine bridge.

Lammermuir bridge

After we had passed through Kelso, we stopped again at another garden centre (can you detect a pattern here?) for a cup of tea and a tea cake .  This one has a water garden and caters for lovers of pet fish…

Teviot fish

…and it also has a very charming garden that tumbles down the bank…

Teviot water garden

…from the centre to the river Teviot running past below.

River Teviot

It had a most spectacular aquilegia in its plants for sale section.

aquilegia

We didn’t buy one but I did get some good cheese from their smokery department.

Were were nearly home when we got caught up in a rush of traffic heading for Mosspaul to meet the rideout from Hawick, part of the Hawick Common Riding proceedings.  Luckily, we were early enough to avoid the horses and riders so we didn’t suffer too much of a delay.

After all this excitement, we got home in the early afternoon and had a look round to see how the garden had got on without us.

Very well.

blue flowersred/purple flowersyellow flowerswhite flowersazaleas and rhododendrons

I will go round again soon taking a more detailed look at what is new as I have not got all the new flowers in by a long chalk.

Things needed watering though so I got the sprinkler out and gave the vegetable garden a good soaking while I cut the grass on the middle lawn.

Then I cut the front lawn while the sprinkler sprinkled water on the middle lawn.

The sprinkler was adjusted so delicately, that Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz were able to sit on the new bench and catch up with the news as the water drops stopped a few inches away from their feet.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the way that her new bed at the end of the middle lawn is shaping up.

new bed

In the background to the picture above, the tree peony is in flower and this year, unlike last year, the flowers are not (entirely) hidden behind the leaves.

tree peony

Mrs Tootlepedal filled the pond, which had gone down a lot during a dry week, and we were relieved to see plenty of tadpoles swimming around once the water level had gone up.

tadpoles

The path along the back of the garden, familiarly known as “Ally’s allium alley” is looking good…

P1100546

…from either direction.

Ally's alley

There wasn’t a lot of time to look at birds today but I did catch a couple of siskins and a goldfinch on the feeder.

siskins

…and while I was hoping for a flying bird, my attention was diverted by this colourful corner.

colourful corner

We enjoyed our holiday a lot but we are nevertheless very pleased to be back on home territory again.  The forecast is good for the next few days so we should be able to catch up on garden tasks that need doing and perhaps get some cycling in too.

There was no flying bird of the day available so a creeping thrush is here instead.

thrush

I hope to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was beside the river on a sunny day in Nottingham.

river trent at nottingham

For our last day beside the sea in East Lothian, we got continuous sunshine.  This was very welcome.  I put my nose out of the back gate to check the temperature…

Bent grass NB

…and found that it was still a little chilly with the wind coming off the North Sea.  Still, it was warm enough for us to go along for a coffee on the terrace of the Seabird Centre at the harbour where we enjoyed the company of a one legged gull…

one legged gull NB

…standing on a sculpture of a seal.

Then, to our great delight, we saw a real seal swimming along just off the shore.  I took many pictures but I only had the Lumix with me and for all its merits, taking long distance pictures of moving objects is not one of them.  This was my best effort…

not a seal NB

…but I can assure you that there was a seal underneath that ripple.

Not long afterwards we saw several groups of what we took to be porpoises heading across towards the Bass Rock.  They were further out and I didn’t even manage to get a ripple from them.  All the same, it was very good value for the price of a cup of coffee.

We then went down to the beach where the wildlife was more co-operative.

eiders MB

Eider ducks

cormorants NB

Cormorants in a typical pose

Matilda soon got down to the business of castle building…

matilda at the seaside (3)

….with a willing band of helpers.

holiday family NB (2)

As you can see, she was working hard…

matilda at the seaside (2)

….and her helpers felt quite exhausted watching her.

holiday family NB

Sadly, the tide which was coming in and against which the castle and its ramparts had been built, decided to turn back several yards before it reached the castle so Matilda gave up work and devoted herself to having fun.

matilda at the seaside

And then we went for lunch.   It had been a hard morning.

After lunch, the rest of the party returned to the beach where Matilda and her father paddled in the sea and her mother and grandmother did not.

I went out on my new bike for twenty miles.   The roads were still good and the views were satisfying..,..

view near athelstanford (4)

view near athelstanford (3)

view near athelstanford (2)

And I even saw another doocot at Dirleton Castle.  The castle itself is hidden behind the trees.

doocot in dirleton

The beach party had returned by the time that I got back and after a pause, we set out to have our last holiday meal in the town.  We topped it off with a North Berwick ice cream and then Matilda and her parents packed themselves and their belongings into their car and headed back to Edinburgh where they had an early start planned for a day full of activities tomoorow.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a final walk along the rocks at the harbour where the eider ducks seemed to have had a disagreement and were sitting apart.

MB eider male

NB eider female

Out at sea two yachtsmen stopped for a chat.

NB sailors

The light was fading as we went back to the cottage.

sunset NB

We have had a good week with plenty of sunshine and endless fun on the beach and the bonus of 60 miles on the bike for me, including two bike outings with Mrs Tootlepedal.

This will be the last flying herring gull of the day for some time, I expect.

flying gull (2)

Fittingly, as I wrote this post, we finally got a sunset to give us a proper farewell from North Berwick and the Firth of Forth.

NB sunset

 

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