Today’s guest picture comes from another inveterate traveller. My Somerset correspondent Venetia has been eyeing up some tasty chocolates in Toulouse.
It was a day that would have been familiar to fans of Waiting for Godot….except that in this version, Godot finally turned up.
While I was waiting for the call from the bike shop to come, a perfectly wonderful day of sunny weather with light winds was just begging for some bicycling. The garden offered consolations and I sieved some compost and chatted away while Mrs Tootlepedal worked at some of the many tasks a gardener faces in spring. We also tested the new bench again.
There was a lot of colour about in the sunshine.
New on the scene was this anemone….
…and the first of the azalea flowers to open.
There was a colourful corner, entirely of tulips with a hint of grape hyacinth in the background…
…and some individual flowers to admire as well.
Particularly this one.
The spirea is at is best.
And on the back wall of the house beside the dam, the first potentilla flower of the year was to be seen. I expect to still be able to see potentilla flowers in autumn.
More unusually, I found our neighbour Charlotte’s dog cooling its heels in the dam.
Charlotte was sitting in the sun nearby but resisted the temptation to jump in too.
There was fauna as well as flora.
A rook flew overhead…
…a bee buzzed about…
… a baby blackbird looked indignant (they always look indignant).
…and a frog basked in the pond…
…with what looks like a tadpole hanging from its lip.
The most interesting visitor to the garden though was human. Our friend Bruce arrived on his electric bike…
…with news that he had not only heard a cuckoo on his bike ride but seen it as well. Seeing a cuckoo is a very rare experience so he was quite excited. His electric bicycle looked very exciting too.
Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a sparrowhawk collecting its breakfast from the feeder early in the morning and while we were eating our lunch, presumably the same sparrowhawk returned for another meal….
…but this time in vain.
After sitting in the tree for a while, it suddenly flew to the ground and started prowling about among the flowers.
I have never seen this behaviour before but I suspected that it was after one of the baby blackbirds which tend to lurk in the undergrowth there so I went out and shooed the hawk away.
It went reluctantly, circling round the garden for several minutes getting higher on each turn before it flew off.
Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting and I killed a little time until the phone finally rang and I drove off to collect my new bike from the bike shop in Longtown.
Levi at the bike shop fitted the pedals of my choice, I paid him a king’s ransom and then, putting the slow bike in for a service at the same time, I drove home with my prize.
Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from her meeting shortly afterwards and got her bike out and came with me for an inaugural ride up to Wauchope Schoolhouse. Then she returned and floated back downhill and downwind to Wauchope Cottage while I completed the twenty miles of my usual Canonbie circuit.
She took this picture before we set out.
The bike may not look much but it has sealed bearings, a belt drive, a 14 speed internal hub gear, mudguards and a rack so it is dirt proof and needs no day to day maintenance at all and is in every way suited to the needs of an elderly cycle tourist. I say nothing about the state of the cyclist.
It was still a beautiful day, although the clouds were beginning to build up….
…and as a day to test a new bike, it couldn’t have been better.
I kept an ear out for Bruce’s cuckoo as I went across the hill but there was no sight or sound of it and I had to be content with seeing both a fox and a hare crossing the road in front of me (but not at the same time).
The sight of a rain shower developing to the south made me keep pedalling rather than stopping for photo opportunities though and the new bike couldn’t have been more co-operative. It is light, firm and comfortable with the feeling that every bit of power that I was putting through the pedals was being put to good use on the road.
The 14 speed hub gear has a ratio for every occasion and I was able to drift up any little hills with an ease and grace far removed from the inelegant puffing occasioned by striving to get the slow bike up any incline.
For those with a motoring interest, it was like driving a Lotus 7 (but quite a bit slower).
I did force myself to stop a couple of times, the first to note the leaves arriving on my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead…
…and the second to pay tribute to fine bunch of primroses at Irvine House.
I arrived home having done 17 miles at 15 mph, a very satisfactory speed for me these days and on a real high. I had been worried that I might have found the new bike not to my taste and would have regretted the money invested but it turned out that Levi had been quite right when I first visited him after my old bike needed replacing. He said then that he had just the bike for me in mind and it turned out that he was quite right.
Now I hope for some good weather and the chance to give it a real workout.
The flying bird of the day is the sparrowhawk as it circled above the garden after I had disturbed it.