Well worth the wait

toulouse chocs

Today’s guest picture comes from another inveterate traveller.  My Somerset correspondent Venetia has been eyeing up some tasty chocolates in Toulouse.

toulouse chocs

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…

colourful corner tulips

…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.

kenny's dog in 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).

baby blackbird

…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.

new bike

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…

trees at Grainstone head

…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.






Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

47 thoughts on “Well worth the wait

  1. Lovely chocolates and flowers, and that bicycle seems a wonder. Thansk for shooing off the hawk–I wish them well, but hate it if they try to get animals or birds in our yard.

  2. Holy road bike Batman! That’s a handsome piece of machinery, and it looks like you will be able to pile on the miles with far less effort than you’ve been expending lately. Will you christen it? Perhaps Vladimir or Estragon?

      1. Repeat as necessary . . . “I can’t take it wit me” . . . and maybe it won’t hurt as much!

  3. The most important feature of the bike is how it makes you happy and that’s worth quite a lot, I’d say. Glad you finally got it.
    I like that dark tulip and the beautiful spirea leaves. I once worked for a lady who absolutely forbade me to ever plant anemones in her yard. Looking at that one makes me wonder why all over again.
    The sparrowhawk is a stunning bird in any pose and it does have to eat, but like you I’d probably wish it did it somewhere else.

  4. You look so proud and pleased with that new bike! May it give you many good years of cycling! All the flowers 🌺 are gorgeous of course! It must be such a joy to look out at them.

  5. Lotus 7. For those with a commanding stature, not the easiest of cars to drive. Nor the most practical. But great fun.

  6. Bike and biker both look good and well set for some happy cycling trips around the area. Love the FB.. lovely markings on its underparts …pleased you chased it away from the border through. Everything seems to be in glorious bloom in the garden at the same time…hope there are some surprises left for the rest of the year!

  7. Your new bike sounds and looks fantastic. I am completely intrigued to find out what make it is, can you let me know the secret? I feel certain that I’d like to upgrade my faithful Pioneer to a belt drive, or if not possible my next bike to have one at its core. Wonderful shots of the sparrowhawk, which I believe is a female, I think you are right, those young blackbirds are what she was looking for. Great post once again so full of interesting stuff you have taken the time to share, thank you tootlepedal. Cheers.

      1. They are really superb bikes. When I first started riding bikes again back in 2004 ( I think ) I was, and still am, if I admit it, mad keen to do some cycle touring with the full rig. Just like a boy again I’d scan the catalogues, now of course via the internet, for touring bikes, and Van Nicholas bikes were right up there. Congrats on getting such a marvellous bike, in another couple of years ( fingers crossed ) when I finally retire I will be looking to get such a bike. Meanwhile, my trusty old Pioneer is still serving me well, we had a great sorte earlier this morning down and back up the valley in a light drizzle. Just makes you feel great to be pedalling. Cheers.

  8. Tom, your new bike sounds wonderful and I am very excited for you. Hope to see more up close pictures of your new ride soon. As always I’m loving your garden flora and fauna. I never knew Spirea was so colorful in spring. Is it a special cultivar?

  9. Congratulations on the new arrival! I don’t know much about bikes, not the pedal type anyway, but I do know a thing or two about power transmission and the belt drive and internal geared hub sound like a huge improvement over a chain drive. I hope that you have years of pedaling enjoyment on it!

    The sparrow hawk and flowers were great today as were the views of the countryside from during your ride.

    1. Mrs T and I especially liked the sparrowhawk today as it was a most unusual view of the bird for us.

      I hope to get some good mileage out of the new bike.

  10. Oh, wonderful!!!!! I must admit I zipped through the birds and flowers—-something I never do—-so that I could see your new bike. Sounds like you were advised to get exactly the right bike for you. I am sure you and your new bike will go many happy miles this summer.

  11. Glad to hear the bike is everything you expected. Nice to hear it has mudguards – I always worry about cyclists who don’t have them. It just seems so wrong to have a big wet stripe up your back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: