Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening. Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered. Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.
I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword. It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit. Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.
But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly. The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.
There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route. At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.
In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals. This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.
I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship. To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7. These routes often have artistic trail markers.
This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.
It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.
Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.
Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…
…near the fine church at Arthuret.
I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change. Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future. Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.
Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.
This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time. Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.
On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them. I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion. As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.
My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles. As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance. Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.
When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.
The warmth had brought a new tulip out….
…caused others to open wide….
…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.
A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged. I liked it a lot….
…as did a bumble bee.
We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.
Redpolls returned to the feeder…
…and one took a very dim view of the loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.
Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.
The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.
Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.
She has finally finished turning this…
We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.