Archive for Jun, 2018

Down south

Safely arrived in London.

We had a delightful meal with my two oldest sisters and my stepmother at a Greek restaurant..

… where my sister Susan and Mrs Tootlepedal did some deep pondering.

It’s quite hot in London too.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She was in Glasgow on business a day or two ago and took this shot of a bridge across the River Clyde. (Actually the bridge was too wide for her camera and she sent me two pictures which my photo editor has stitched together.)

glasgow bridge

We had another fine day here with the temperature topping 30°C yet again.  I was content to leave my bike in the garage and have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone rather than doing anything more energetic.

I did mow the greenhouse grass and look round the garden before coffee though so I wasn’t entirely idle.

It was Mrs Tootlepedal who got me out into the garden with  cries of, “Look at the swifts!”

They were swooping through the garden and climbing over the roof at the very last moment in a great display of aerial skill.  They are too quick for my camera to focus on them when they are close so I had to catch them higher up to get a picture at all.


Watching the swifts is one of the delights of summer.

The sunny weather is bringing everything on.


Delphiniums developing

blue allium

The little blue alliums have finally come out properly


Alstroemeria joining in

ginger syllabub rose

The ginger syllabub rose looking plumptious

runner bean flower

The runner beans are starting to flower


The treacle scones were well up to standard and the coffee, a blend of Old Brown Java and Ethiopian, went down well with them.  Dropscone had been playing golf at Innerleithen yesterday and had found it a bit too hot for comfort but he had survived.

Mrs Tootlepedal saw an unfamiliar bird on the feeder and i took a picture for a closer look.

young greenfinch

The speckled breast means that it is a young greenfinch, I think.

After lunch, no soup just a salad, Mike Tinker appeared with the promise of great excitement if I took him to a certain spot.  I drove him down, parked the car and went for a stroll.  As we walked along, he suddenly said, “There it is.”

This is what was there.

bird's nest orchid 3

It is a bird’s nest orchid.  This is not a common plant and it is hard to spot as it isn’t green at all.  Mike told me why and I found this paragraph on the internet to describe it:

Completely lacking chlorophyll, it looks more like a dead or decaying plant, and is entirely saprophytic which means it parasitizes other plants for nourishment, although the word myco-heterotrophs is now known to be technically more correct, since the plants actually parasitise fungi which are feeding on nearby plants, rather than on nearby plants directly.

I learn something every day.

The seed heads of the plant may still be seen a year after the flowers and there were some nearby.

bird's nest orchid 2

Because it likes deep shade, not needing any light for chlorophyll, it was a bit hard to get a good shot of it and I had thoughtfully brought a bit of green card with me to help get a clearer background.

bird's nest orchid

Mike has told me where another set of these orchids may be found and I am going to have a walk there soon to see if I can find one by myself, without needing expert help.  I am not overconfident about my chances.

While we were out, we walked a bit further and Mike was able to point out some wild flowers for me to enjoy.

golden rod

Golden rod

hairy tare

The improbably named Hairy Tare


I spotted this Figwort.  I had seen some on our fern walk./  Mike had to tell me what it was called though.


I thought that this was a nettle but Mike tells me that it is Woundwort

We walked along the banks of the Byreburn and hidden among all the greenery, we could see the ruins of an old house.

old byreburn house

Finally we found a bench, handily provided for old age pensioners to have a rest on a very hot afternoon…

fairy loup track

…and we enjoyed the view for a while before walking back to the car.

Walking with Mike was once more both a pleasure and an education.

We had a cup of tea when we got back and then Mike went home and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the vegetable garden to consider whether we could find anything  to eat there.

We could.

home veg

There were peas, beans and the first potatoes and we had these with some added turnip and spinach for our tea.

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to visit her mother for the next two and bit weeks so I will have to do some serious vegetable eating in her absence if we are to avoid a glut and subsequent waste.  Mind you, if it doesn’t rain soon, maybe everything will dry up and the crop will be rather sparse.

The hot weather has brought the rambler rose out earlier than usual…

rambler rose


…and we are worried that the flowers will be over before it is time to make the Common Riding Crown…

Langholm Common Riding Crown

Some of our roses were in the crown last year.

…at the end of July.

I was pleased that after a couple of idle days, I managed to get organised enough to put another week of the newspaper index in the Archive Group’s database.

I am going down to London with Mrs Tootlepedal tomorrow but only for a few days.  We are just hoping that the garden will survive both the dry weather and my unassisted care when I get back and  Mrs Tootlepedal is still away.

Rather than cart cameras and computers about in the hot weather, I am going to rely on my phone for pictures and posting while I am away so I have got my fingers crossed that I can remember how to do it….and that I remember to take my phone with me.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the poppies.  (Well it is flying, even if it isn’t a bird.)

bee and poppy






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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows the calm before the storm.

Tom's calm before the storm

I managed to get up quite promptly and had time for a quick look round the garden after breakfast…

lilian austin group

All four stages of the development of a Lilian Austin rose on one stem

the wren rose

And it is hard to believe that the young Wren rose….

the wren rose older

…will very soon look like this

sweet william close up

A Sweet William repaid a close look

…and then I  got going on my new bike before it got too hot (it was a mere 73°F when I started) and went round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  With a light wind again, it was a good day for a pedal  and my legs were recovered from Tuesdays efforts.  I didn’t have a lot of time to spare so I only stopped twice for pictures.

The first time was for this wonderful stand of long grass, rising to well over the top of my head in height.

tall grass

It was covered with seed when I took a closer look.

tall grass seed

(Feeble joke alert) I had a quick look to see if there were any brexit plans hidden here which the government had kicked into the long grass but I couldn’t see any. This was not entirely a surprise as nobody has been able to see any government brexit plans in or out of the long grass.

Further along, I stopped for a fine display of knapweed.


This ride, though short was significant as it took me over 2000 miles for the year and over 500 miles for the month, the longest distance for a single month for me since September 2014.  It is amazing what a spell of good weather can do.

There was just time for another look round the garden when I got back…


The lamiums are in good shape

butter and sugar iris

The last of the butter and sugar irises

pale astrantia

A third variety of astrantia has joined the show

pink sweet william

And I looked closely at another Sweet William


Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine clump of feverfew in one of her old chimney pots.

another philadelphus

And yet another Philadelphus

…before it was time for lunch, a quick look at a beady eyed goldfinch…


….and then a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

There had been some trouble on the West Coast line yesterday because of rails bending in the hot weather so we drove to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh from there and were pleased to find ourselves on one of their newer trains.

The journey, passing through lovely countryside, was a treat and we had a thoroughly good time with Matilda and her family and Rosa, a nursery friend of Matilda, who was visiting.

After a good meal, we went back to the station and saw that many of the trains were delayed by speed limits on overheated tracks.  We found our train, took our seats and were just congratulating ourselves on our acumen  when the announcer came on and told us that although the train was ready, the driver had been held up on one of the delayed trains on other parts of the network and we would therefore have to get out of our train and go and catch the next one which would leave in half an hour from a different platform.

Luckily it was one of the new ones too so our anguish was somewhat assuaged.

We got home safely and I was able to catch a flying bird (or two) as the rooks fidgeted around above their roost at Holmwood before settling down for the night.

rooks at sunset

Note: The train that we would normally have caught was indeed delayed…but only by seven minutes.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Somerset where Venetia says it is even hotter than Langholm.  A blackbird in her garden agrees with her.

panting blackbird

After yesterday’s long stint in the saddle, I cycled no further than a few hundred yards today and spent most of the day in the cool of the house.  Our thick stone walls may not keep us very warm in winter but they do keep us cool on hot sunny days.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast before it got too hot and it was certainly another wonderfully sunny and bright day.

More poppies have come out.  This opium poppy was where it ought to be, in a  flower bed and not in the greenhouse…


…and the colourful poppy had acquired a friend.  Mrs Tootlepedal is no longer absolutely sure that these are Shirley poppies but I like them whatever they are.


The roses were looking wonderful today.


rosa complicata

And the peonies are enjoying the still, sunny weather too.


The  stachys is getting steadily covered with more and more little flowers.


And I think that this can be fairly described as a colourful corner.

colourful corner

Among the new flowers is this lovely philadelphus…


…and these two nasturtiums, the first of many.


After a final shot of the clematis at the front door which lives in almost perpetual shade and seem to like it…

blue clematis

…I went in to have coffee and scones with Dropscone.

Then Scott the minister arrived.  His scone radar was malfunctioning as he arrived just after we had polished off the scones but his coffee radar was working well and he had a cup with us.

Dropscone went off to play golf in the searing heat and Scott revealed that he had brought two bags of coconuts, surplus from the coconut shy at the church fete, as a gift for me and the birds.  I collected the coconuts from his car and cut one in half and hung the two halves up in the garden.  I expect it will take a bit of time for the word of these treats to get around the small bird world but I hope to see birds visiting them soon.

After coffee, I took another turn round the garden.

Although half the plant has succumbed to the clematis wilt, the other half of the Ooh La La continues to flourish and it is fortunate to have a bit of shade to stop it getting burned up.

ooh la la clematis

The potatoes are getting regular watering and are looking very healthy at the moment…

potato flowers

…but you can never tell until you dig them up how well they tubers are doing under ground.

The flowers on the spirea beside the new bench are so closely packed  that it is hard impossible to get a good picture of an individual.


As regular readers will know, my flower and plant identifications are more enthusiastic than accurate and Mrs Tootlepedal points out that the white roses which I said were Scotch roses yesterday are in fact Jacobite roses.  They are looking good whatever they are.

Jacobite Rose

The Martagon lilies are dancing all over the garden…

martagon lily

…but the water lilies are relaxing in the pool.

water lily

Another Dutch iris has flowered.

dutch iris

For a treat, we cycled off to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch and I am happy to report that our food arrived promptly and was very good.

After lunch it was siesta time.  I watched tennis and football on the telly but made two forays into the garden to cut the middle lawn and the front lawn with a substantial recovery period in between.  The combination of watering, feeding, sunshine and regular mowing is having a very good effect on the lawns and there are now quite a lot of places where there is more grass than moss.

In the early evening, we watered the garden and then had a salad for our tea before cycling off to the church for a practice with organist Henry’s Common Riding choir.   There was a good turn out and we had an enjoyable time.  My voice is still a bit thin but I was able to sing for an hour with no ill effects which was heartening.

I hope to get out and about a bit more tomorrow, although it is going to be just as warm.

The flower of the day is a peony.







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A long sit

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Sandra and shows her her husband Jim keeping company with the famous Molly Malone.  Those who know their cockles and mussels will realise that Jim and Sandra were having a good time in Ireland.

Jim and Molly Malone

Our hot weather continued but I had run out of excuses for dawdling about in the garden so I dawdled about all day on my new bicycle instead.

Before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the first of two sorts of poppies in the garden this year.

A Shirley poppy…

shirley poppy

…and an opium poppy.

opium poppy

If you think the the background to the opium poppy looks a bit odd that is because it is a bit odd.

greenhouse poppy

Somehow or other, it has sowed itself, along with some friends, on the floor of the greenhouse and Mrs Tootlepedal has let it grow.

My plan was to bicycle until exhausted and I imagined with the temperature forecast for the mid twenties by the afternoon, that that might not take too long. However, I adopted a very regulated behaviour scheme and stopped every five miles for a minute or two to have a drink and stretch my legs and on the ten mile stops, I took a little longer and had a snack as well.

I had two water bottles and I had put an isotonic tablet into each and I took some guava jelly in tablet form which I had cut into nine little squares and I ate one of the squares on my ten miles stops. On top of this, I stopped for a cafe lunch and by dint of all this sensible behaviour, I stretched my ride out to 100 miles.  Even when I  finished, I was not entirely exhausted though I am a little tired as I write this so I hope that indulgent readers will, forgive a little incoherence.  It was decidedly hot by our standards.

On many of my stops and at some other interesting points, I tried to take a picture or two and here are some of the results.

pine cone

Not a pineapple but a pine cone.


Sun, sea and sand at Powfoot

anthorn from powfoot

A welcome haze was keeping the most direct sun off me.  I could just  see the radio station at Anthorn, a few miles away across the Solway but not the hills behind it.

rider at powfoot

A horse rider on the beach at Powfoot. In a sign of the times, the rider is checking her mobile phone.

emu type bird

There are unusual animals to be seen near the caravan park at Powfoot.  There was one of these….


…and several of these.

bankend tower

I had another look at the tower at Bankend and from the side, it is just a hollow shell.


The car park at Glencaple was full again today.  For a fairly dull place it has a lot of secret allure.  A good cafe helps no doubt.


I went down to the shore of the Nith estuary, passing this bindweed flower on the way.

Nith tanks

And once again wondered about these two storage tanks on the opposite bank.  What are they storing and why?

nith reeds

I would have stayed longer but a couple were unable to restrain a very irritating jumpy-up sort of dog so I made my was back through the reeds to the road..

Caerlaverock Castle

And moved on to Caerlaverock castle where there is a cafe.

Here, I made one of the two mistakes of the day and ordered soup and coffee.  The coffee came but not the soup.  I waited…and waited…and waited.  Very occasionally a bowl of soup appeared for other diners and finally after about 50 minutes, I was the next in line.

The cook appeared from the kitchen and came up to the table.  Was she going to offer an exciting addition to the soup? Parsley perhaps?

“I’m very sorry, sir, but the soup has run out.”

They didn’t charge me for the coffee.

I went a few miles down the road and found soup freely available at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust cafe.  Luckily it was very tasty and I bought an extra roll so I was in a much better frame of mind as I set out on the next 50 miles.

cummertrees church lych gate

There is a rather unlikely memorial lych gate at Cummertrees church but it offered some welcome shade for a little sit down and snack

Justice town road

I had to go into England to get my mileage up and I enjoyed this tunnel of shade near Justicetown.

I really enjoyed almost every mile of the ride but the heat had melted the tar on the back roads near Scaleby and that made cycling for the next few miles a pretty hard task. When I got back to the main road, I popped into the pub at Smithfield and had half a pint of fresh orange juice and this kept me going for the last few miles.

hollows bridge view

My last ‘five mile’ stop was on the Hollows bridge.

Those interested can get further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 26 June 2018

You can see that it was a very flat route after going over Callister near the start.  The temperature was a lot higher than 63 degrees as I was in the open sunlight the whole way round but my eating and drinking was quite well managed and I only lost about 1kg on the ride, not bad for such a warm day.  The wind was mercifully light and that meant that I was cycling into a bike generated breeze for the whole trip which helped to keep me relatively  cool.

The actual cycling took me seven and a half hours but the elapsed time for the trip was nearly ten hours, partly because of the long wait for the non existent tomato soup which meant that I took an hour and a half for lunch and partly because of the 19 short breaks that I took along the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a rather frustrating day wandering about the garden thinking of things to do but finding that it was too hot to do them.  In the end, she did a little planting out and a lot of watering.  I had more fun than her today.

I looked at a couple of roses in the garden when I got back.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that my favourite rose should just be called The Wren….

rose Wren

…and here it is with the inevitable little black flies on it which I didn’t have the energy to dislodge.

This means that the flower of the day is Lilian Austin.

lilian austin

I dislodged her little black flies on the computer.



Observant readers may note that I claimed to have made two bad decisions but have only mentioned one.  The other was falling gently but in a very undignified way off my bike when I misjudged the height of a pavement as I stopped near Dornock.  Nothing was hurt except my pride fortunately.




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I do have a guest picture today as my sister Mary sent me this shot of a herd of art loving geese rushing to see Christo’s work in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park 21.06.18 008

While we were having our last spell of good weather a few weeks ago in late spring after a miserable few months, nobody dared to say that it was too hot.  Now we are having another spell of good weather and mid summer day has passed so I can confidently say about today that for me, it was too hot.

Still, it was a lovely day so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to arrange an exhibition of her embroidery group’s work in the Welcome to Langholm space and I took a walk round the garden.

On one side of the garden, roses were glowing…

two roses

…the day lily was gleaming…

day lily

…and my favourite iris was shining.


On the other side of the garden, there were sparkling roses, Ginger Syllabub and Goldfinch…

two roses (2)

…and lots of bees on the cotoneaster.

bee on cotoneaster

The lupins were badly battered by the wind and rain and Mrs Tootlepedal cleared the main shoots away.  Now, the smaller side shoots have come into their own.


I put my camera down and picked up a mower and mowed the drying green and then welcomed Sandy in for a cup of coffee.

I haven’t seen him for a bit as he has been building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend so it was good to catch up with him.  He was busy again in the afternoon so when we had finished coffee, we put on sensible headgear and went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill, hoping that there would be a breeze to take the edge of the heat.

We were looking for orchids.

The down side of good weather is pollen and there was plenty of evidence of grass seeds as we went up the track to the hill.

grass with seeds

We enjoyed the cool avenue of trees just before the track goes on to the open hill….

gate onto hill

…and the views once we got onto the hill were compensation for the effort of getting there.

view fromMeikleholm Hill

And there was a light breeze.

Sadly, views were all we got as there were very few varieties of wild flower to be seen and only one or two scruffy orchids.  There was plenty of tormentil, buttercup and hawkbit which the sheep must not like.  The sheep had grazed off all the rest.

Still, the views made the walk well worth while for its own sake…

View from Hunters Gate

…and we will have to find orchids elsewhere.

As we came back down the hill, I really liked this little tree with a big view…

little tree with big view

…and well protected from the sheep by bracken, a foxglove poked its head up to give a little colour.

foxglove on Meikleholm Hill

We saw more colour on the walk down the track past Holmwood than we did on the whole of the hill.

herb robert and cornflower

rose beside track

It was a good walk but warm work and I was happy to get back into the cool of the house.

I did consider a bike ride after lunch but felt  that the walk, short as it was, was probably enough exercise for the hot day so I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.

After that, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her exhibition work and needed some supervision in the garden so I sat in the shade while she shifted and levelled some paving stones. I stopped supervising and did a little compost sieving but as it was about 30°C in the sun, we didn’t stay out too long and were happy to pause and have a cup of tea with Dr Tinker who appeared wearing a very sensible hat.

Then my flue pupil Luke came and we continued to make steady progress.  He has left school now and has just got a job but I hope that he will continue to come and play.

Next,  it was time to start watering the middle lawn and the vegetable garden and that took some time and completed our activity for the day.

I was going out to move the hose at one point when a strident shrieking from over head told me that swifts were about.  There has been a lot of talk about how scarce swifts are this year so I was happy to see a small flock swooping about over the house.


While I had the camera in my hand, I looked at our Scotch rose…

Scotch rose

…which always turns out to have a little black fly or two on it when I try to take a picture.

Nearby, the very first flowers on the delphiniums appeared today.  I hope that  they don’t get damaged by strong winds as often happens.  Mrs Tootlepedal has tried to get them in  more sheltered places this year.


The flower of the day is a blue allium.  They have been sitting outside promising to come out but not actually coming for what seems like weeks.  One got knocked over by the recent winds and has found living indoors in a vase is more to its taste.  They are small flowers, about the size of a ping pong ball.

blue allium


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In the total absence of a guest photograph today, I have had to resort to one of my own to head up the post.  It shows Langholm Parish Church en fête this afternoon.

church fete

Since it was the day of the parish church fête, it is the customary practice of wise old heads to look out their best waterproofs and tie down anything that might be blown away by the gales that seem to accompany this annual event.  This year however, as you can see, the weather was perfect.

I had been at the church to sing in the choir in the morning and although my voice was still a bit rough, the singing didn’t seem to make it worse so I am keeping my fingers crossed and will have another sing on Wednesday.

I had  time to walk round the garden after breakfast and before going to church.

New flowers were out.

The first of the Dutch Irises….

Dutch iris

…and the first flowers on a verbascum.


A young blackbird kept an eye on me as I went about.


The ornamental strawberries are still showing and  as I took my first picture of one on May 14th, they are lasting well.

ornamental strawberry

The morning sun picked out some Sweet William.

sweet william

When we got back from church, Mrs Tootlepedal was soon back at work in the garden and I did some shredding and compost sieving in an effort to be of assistance.  I mowed the front lawn too and edged both lawns so the grass department is looking quite neat.

I had time to poke about with a camera as well.

Another new flower has appeared but this time in the vegetable garden.  The potatoes are looking quite healthy.


The Ooh La La clematis had a bad attack of clematis wilt but parts of the plant have survived and there are plenty of the striking flowers still on show.

Ooh la la clematis

The Rosa Wren was looking very fine and…

Rosa wren

..to continue the avian theme, the Goldfinch rose is flourishing too.

rose goldfinch

Among the real birds, this greenfinch looked as though the warmth of the day might be a bit too much of a good thing.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the fête where she was helping to sell raffle tickets.  I followed along and bought a raffle ticket (in vain as it turned out) and had a couple of goes at the coconut shy in an effort to win a coconut to put out for the birds in the garden.  My efforts here were in vain too with my throws being well shy of the target.

I cheered myself up by listening first to the Town Band…

town band at fete

…which played a very nice selection of tunes in the sunshine and then to the pipe band…

pipe band at fete

…who sensibly found a large tree in the park to provide a bit of shade for their selection.

The plant stall was being looked after by two archivists and a bass from the choir and was doing a brisk business.

plant stall at fete

Mrs Tootlepedal had taken some plants along for the stall but couldn’t find a buyer for all her Doddering Dillies so she had to bring three home and plant them in the garden.  (Some times I think that she makes these names up to entertain me.)

I left a bit early and went along the river to see if the oyster catcher family was still there.

It was.

oyster catcher young

One of the  youngsters

oyster catcher adult

One parent lying low…

oyster catcher one leg

…and the other standing on one leg

When I got home, I felt that it was too hot for a comfortable bike ride so I went inside and in the cool of the house, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

By the time that I finished, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned and the sun was low enough in the sky to encourage me out for a twenty mile circuit of Canonbie.  It was a lovely day…

Bloch view

…but I had already taken plenty of pictures already so I settled for this view back over Wauchopedale and concentrated on cycling for the rest of the journey.

Once again the breeze was brisk enough to make me faster on the way back up the hill when  it was behind me than I was battling into it down the hill.  We are promised calmer days next week which will be welcome if it is true.

As I had no guest picture of the day at the head of the post, I am going to end abruptly with no flying bird of flower of the day at the foot.



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