Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who met Aethelflaed, (daughter of Alfred the Cakes Burner), Queen of the Mercians standing in front of Tamworth Castle. He tells me that she led the successful military assault on Derby in 917, which was so decisive, that it resulted in Mercia being fully recovered from the Vikings.
It was generally a rather grey, drizzly and miserable morning here which wasn’t made any better by the departure after breakfast of Mrs Tootlepedal on a two day visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh. I was cheered up by some bright flowers in the garden…
…and the arrival of Sandy for coffee. We exchanged news, sympathised with each other’s foot problems (his are worse than mine) and talked Archive Group business.
When he left I was motivated by our archive talk to go and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database. This took some time because the edition was unusually full of content.
Before I sat down at the computer, I had a look at the birds. The rain came and went every few minutes as I watched the sparrows.
There are several sparrow families on the go at the moment.
This sparrow, using a sunflower as an umbrella, hadn’t noticed that the rain had stopped again.
I made myself some scrambled eggs for lunch and after listening to the news (nothing about Langholm on it today), I went out into the garden to check on the weather.
It was raining sparrows.
They rose from the ground in a cloud when I went into the veg garden and settled on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.
This was just a fraction of the flock.
The weather looked set fair for a bit and the forecast was good so I decided on a cycle ride. The was a blustery wind coming from ENE and as my usual route starts by going west, this would have meant cycling home into the wind. I therefore decided to head north today, hoping that getting a crosswind in both directions wouldn’t be as bad as pedalling straight into the wind for half my trip.
This proved to be a sound decision as the bends and twists in the roads gave me a nicely varied diet of cross, behind and ahead breezes and added variety to the journey.
I still went very slowly though as it is quite a hilly route…
…but going slowly can be a good thing if you want to look at the view and keep an eye on the verges,
The ride is not short of views…
…and includes my favourite bridge, not so much for the bridge itself, which is neat but modest, as for its setting in the surrounding countryside.
Once over the bridge, I cycled along one of my favourite roads. It has a reasonable surface, no traffic, gentle gradients, fine trees…
…and verges rich in flowers and with snacks available every so often.
The route is part of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I passed three hill forts as I went along, Bailiehill, Castle O’er and Bessie’s Hill, which are all worth a visit if any local blog reader has not visited them before.
I didn’t have time to stop and visit today and I pressed on through the village of Eskdalemuir until I came to our little bit of Tibet in Dumfriesshire.
It comes as something of a surprise when you first see the statue of the god Nagarjuna in the garden of the Kagyu Samye Ling Centre but you soon get used to it.
There were some lovely water lilies in the pond surrounding the god.
And the stupa was as impressive as ever.
I had a close look at one of the flags beside the path. Research on the internet tells me that the flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.
There was plenty of wind today so perhaps we should put out more flags. We need a lot of goodwill and compassion at the moment.
On my way up to Eskdalemuir, I had followed the west bank of the Esk so on my way home, I decided to cross the bridge at Eskdalemuir….
…and follow the east bank back to Bentpath.
I was a little tired by this point on my journey as it was quite a hilly route, but I was nothing like as weary as this lot, flat out in a field beside the bridge.
I had a last look north along the Upper Esk valley…
…and headed south.
I stopped near Georgefield for this view of the river…
…and had a final stop for some guava jelly and a drink at Bentpath. I was very impressed by the lichen on the wall…
…and this use of an old wheelbarrow.
I was aiming to do thirty miles to bring me up to four hundred miles for the month and ended up doing thirty two miles so I was very pleased with my ride. Even a little shower of rain in the last mile or so did not dampen my spirits.
The rain didn’t last and I was able to mow the front lawn when I got home and pick yet more sweet peas. A reader asked for evidence about the great number of sweet peas I claim to have been picking, so here is the current collection.
Many bunches have been given to neighbours and many vases have been emptied and the dead flowers thrown away so this represents only a fraction of this year’s crop.
In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I am having a very quiet night in.
The flying bird of the day is being shouted at in a very rude manner.