A benchmark

Today’s guest picture is another from Joe and shows our daughter Annie crossing a bridge in the highlands when she came to it.

highland bridge

I was anxious to make up for the defect in my spreadsheet calculations by having a 30 mile plus cycle ride today so I was pleased when I got up to find that the temperature had stayed at a very temperate 9°C, the wind wasn’t whistling and the rain was staying firmly in the clouds.  Under the circumstances, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to represent the family in the church choir and set off to visit a well known bench in Newtown, twenty miles away.

I reached the bench without any undue excitement….

Newtown bench

…had a drink and a few raisins and set off back home again as it wasn’t a day to linger about taking in some rays.

I stopped at the bridge over the Esk in Longtown..

Esk at Longtown

….out of respect for my legs which were muttering under their breath at this point.

And got home in good order after finally (and definitively) reaching 4000 miles for the year.  My secret target had been 4200 but the pulled leg muscle in November put paid to that and 4012 miles will just have to do.

It was made up of 153 rides with 320 hours in the saddle, meaning an average distance per ride of 26.2 miles at an average speed of 12.5 mph.  As 827 of the miles were done on my slow bike while I was waiting for my new bike to arrive, the average speed for the new bike will be a bit higher than that but not a great deal.

It was still warm and dry when I got home so after a nourishing plate of duck soup and some bread and cheese, I went out for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We chose a modest two bridge walk up one side of the river and down the other. Mrs Tootlepedal strode out bravely, ignoring the trees leaning over the path….

Riverside path with Mrs T

…and the ones that had leaned finally and fatally in the woods along side.

fallen trees beside the river

This bank of the river spends a lot of its life in shade and the trees are very mossy to say the least.

mossy tree

But they are very much alive and the catkins and buds on a birch beside the Duchess Bridge were looking very healthy.

birch catkins

We crossed the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess Bridge

…passed a fine show of ferns…


…and walked onto the Castleholm track through a gate with a garden of moss on the gatepost.

moss on gate close up

Looked at more closely, the moss seems rich and lush.

moss on gate

Further on, the trunk of a Scots pine showed evidence of wear and tear…

pine tree trunk

…and a fallen birch was playing host to a splendid set of birch polypores.

birch polypore

To my eye, this tree on the bank of the river had the look of a samba dancer with a skimpy backless costume of fern.

tree with ferns

We crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the track behind the school where we came across what looked at first sight to be a shrub in full flower…

pernettya bush

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eye noticed that the colour came from berries and not from flowers….

pernettya berries

…and she correctly identified it as a pernettya, presumably a garden escape.

Although it was still quite early when we got home, the gathering gloom made taking pictures of birds on the feeder impossible so I didn’t even check to see if there were any about and it wasn’t long before the curtains were drawn and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked gammon and egg for tea and it was very satisfying to have a serving of home grown marrow on the side.  The marrows were picked a long time ago and have survived very well in a cool place with no special care required.

In the absence of a garden bird, the non flying bird of the day is one from the Castleholm.  It sang very loudly and continuously as we walked down the path but it was too far away for a good identification.  We wondered if it might be a blackbird or a thrush.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

singing bird in tree

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “A benchmark

  1. Beautiful photos from this time of year. Moss, fern and lichen encrusted trees are a staple here in our climate, too.

    I had to look up marrow, as I am only familiar with it in terms of the interior of bone. Sounds good. It probably goes by another name here, but I am at a loss for what that might be..

  2. I Googled marrow. It seems the USA version of the British marrow is similar to zucchini or other types of squash.

  3. You cycled from Brandon, MB to Vancouver, BC, twice, with just about 200 miles left over. And if you’ll excuse me now, I’ll just go have a bit of a sit-down, because just the thought of that many miles in the saddle tires me out. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on cycling so far and for so long! The only bird I can think of that would sing so loud and long at this time of year is a mistle thrush.

  5. The pernettya looks like it would be in the same family as blueberries. I’ve never heard of it.
    It’s great to see the ferns and mosses.
    Congratulations on riding over 4000 miles. I can’t even imagine doing such a thing.

    1. I had never heard of the pernettya either but Mrs T recognised it at sight. She knows a lot. The cycling is quite manageable if you have nothing better to do!

  6. Pleased you reached your bench mark! Amazing amount of miles covered surely a celebration is due! Love the Samba dancer and the pretty pink pernettya.

    1. Rather depressingly it has been my worst year for three years though only by a hundred or so miles so I don’t feel like celebrating. The feeling is more of relief that December was such a mild month that I was able to scrape over the 4000 mile line. I just hope that newspaper predictions of another cold winter ahead are not correct as the beast from the east got me off to a bad start this year.

      1. I think we are all hoping that we don’t get another Beast from the East to start the New Year. Setting yourself tough targets is admirable but nearly achieving your goal is definitely worth being pleased about too!

  7. As with Lorna, I too googled marrow! Congratulations on your cycling accomplishment. You’re 4012 miles beyond me and I’m impressed beyond words. Best wishes for a splendid 2019 to you and your family1

  8. To me, 4,000 miles is an incredible distance to cycle in a year, so well done even if you’re not that pleased with the numbers. Maybe the new bike and knee will allow you to do better next year.

    It’s nice to see so much green and other colors in your images, everything seems brown around here this time of year, unless snow covers it over.

  9. Bravo for having ridden 4,000 miles, which is way ahead of what many people ride! Hope your weather is kind enough to allow some winter riding. The only bike riding I’ll be doing is on my exercise bike on the road to nowhere. 😉

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