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Archive for Aug, 2019

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Haynes International Motor Museum.  This is a 1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon and very nice too.  They keep the exhibits very well polished.

1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon

The day started much as yesterday had finished, windy and grey. I wisely spent so much time over breakfast that by the time I had finished my porridge and tea, it was time for coffee and an iced bun (or two).

Then I had a look round the garden where I was astonished to find a red admiral butterfly at full stretch.

red admiral butterf;y

I was so astonished that I had to go inside and sit down again.  I made some vegetable soup and while it was cooking, I popped out and mowed the front lawn.  In spite of quite a lot of rain during August, the ground is still reasonably dry and the lawn mowed very well.

I had a look round the garden to see what had survived the strong winds and was pleased to find a lot of flowers still looking well.

lilian austin rose

As I looked, there was a break in the clouds and some sun peeped through.

phlox, red flower, fuchsia, anemone

All things considered, I thought that the garden looked not too bad.

border in august

I wasn’t at all confident that the rain had actually gone away so I frittered some time away after I had had my lunch by watching some rowing on the telly for a while.  Then I consulted the forecast.

You would think the the forecasters would be able to tell you what might happen in the next hour even if the the next day’s weather was still a mystery to them, but having consulted several forecasts, I had a choice of anything between a 0% and  a 70% chance of rain.  I chose to believe the 0% forecast (though I did pack a rain jacket) and set off for a pedal on my borrowed bike.

The wind was still blowing briskly, but a look around showed a lot of blue sky…

vew from Bessie Bells

…so I was happy to stop on my way and take some pictures.

I visited my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope…

Wauchope cascade

…and had another look at the landslip further up the road.

Wauchope lnad slip Aug 31

There is a set of traffic lights here which lets motorists (and cyclists) use half the road , but I would imagine that the road will have to be closed when they try to make the banking safe.  I also imagine that they will not be rushing to do the repair.

I cycled on and picked a route that kept any pedalling straight into the wind to a minimum.  As a result, I had a most enjoyable 18 miles, especially as some threatening clouds soon cleared off, leaving a lovely afternoon.

view from Bloch

I was happy to see that the cut silage had all been safely gathered in.

silage bales bloch

There was some colour beside the road as I went along.

four roadside views

And as I hadn’t stopped while passing over it for some time, I stopped today and took a picture of Skippers Bridge as I neared the end of my trip.

Skippers Bridge

It really was a fine afternoon by the time that I got back to Langholm

Whita from castleholm

When I got home, I took a picture of the plum tree just to settle any reader’s worries about whether I had given Dropscone too many plums yesterday.

many plums

We threw away literally hundreds of unripe plums as they were developing to stop them breaking the branches, we have made plum jam and plum chutney, I stewed some more plums and have been eating them with cream (someone has to do it), I gave some to our neighbour Liz, I eat fresh plums all the time and pick more and eat them every time I pass the tree, and still the branches are weighed down with countless more.  It has been, as Ken Dodd would say, a plumptious year.

And now the apples are ripe enough to start eating them too.

I had another walk round the garden to look for butterflies and on my way, enjoyed a new flower on the rambler rose.

rambler rose

There were one or two butterflies about but there were a lot more bees so I looked at them instead.

insect on Michaelmas daisy

I liked this cool one with dark glasses on.

insect on Michaelmas daisy 2

I was thinking about going for a short walk but somehow time slipped by again and I had to cook my tea, so I settled for my bike ride.  As the 18 miles took me to just over 400 miles for the month, I was pretty content with that.

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal in the evening and found that she is having an enjoyable time down south.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few butterflies that I saw in the garden today.

peacock buttefly

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Mary who visited the Regent’s canal near  St Pancras lock and found that it was pretending to be a lawn.

canal with weed

The weather here today was dismal, wet and very windy from morn till night.  Once again, it was a day for finding things to do indoors and I was fortunate that both Dropscone and Sandy were on hand for coffee (and treacle scones) in the morning.  When Sandy left, Dropscone and I had an extensive and amicable discussion on the politics of the day as seen from different viewpoints.

Dropscone departed, unconvinced by my arguments but with a bagful of plums for some crumble.  To be fair, I wasn’t convinced by his arguments either.

That was the high spot of the day and after that, I settled down to some catching up with correspondence, preparations for the camera club exhibition, and flute and singing practice.  I am never going to be any good at singing or flute playing but I do enjoy trying to get better, even if only by minute steps.

It wasn’t a day for taking photos and looking out of the back door was as far as I got.

view from back door

Flowers were waving about in the wind so wildly that getting a focus was impossible.

crocosmia in breeze

…and it always seemed to be drizzling…

washing line with drips

…even when it wasn’t actually raining.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a nice time in London, where she took the opportunity to do some much needed watering in our daughter’s garden.

There are some days when there is not a lot to be said, and this was one of them.  We are promised some sunshine tomorrow afternoon.  I hope that the forecasters are right.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my archives.  It was a grey and damp day here so I thought that this black and white picture of Skye with a lot of water in it, taken earlier in the year by our son Tony, was just the thing to match the day.

skye waterfall

As well as being damp and grey, it was very windy too, with the wind gusting to 30 mph all day, so it wasn’t much good for anything interesting.

I did note these sunflowers at the front of the house.  They were sold to Mrs T as a packet of seeds which would produce 5 foot high plants.  The one on the left is as per specification.  The one on the right must be about ten foot high.

big sunflower

As the light was poor and the wind strong, it was not an attractive day for a photographic walk or cycle ride so I just pottered once or twice round the garden while Mrs T was off at a meeting.

I found a dahlia which hadn’t been nibbles, a rare thing this year…

unnibbled dahlia

…and noted that we still have few campanulas still flowering, both white…

white campanula

…and blue.

blue campanula

This rudbeckia is well sheltered by other plants and stood sill enough to let me take the picture.

three rudbeckia

And this handsome white hosta was protected from the blast by the front hedge.

white hosta

It was dry enough to mow the middle lawn but I was sorry to see that the damp weather and the shorter days are bringing signs of moss back.  I edged the lawn just to make it look as good as it can at this time of year.

The perennial wallflower as been going for months, working on the principle of growing its stems up another inch and putting another flower on them when the old ones die.

perennial wallflower august

It looked like this on a sunny day in May.

perennial wallflower

I put two more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was very interested to see an article about a meeting of the Burgh Council in 1900.  This was the summary of the meeting:

 There was a discussion of great length about provision of WCs in the town. These included Matthew Knox wishing to install 2 behind his property, the size of the flush (too large) at the Conservative Club, Mr Grieve having installed a bath in his house in High Street and Miss Common having installed a WC at Montagu Street, all without advising the commissioners. Several commissioners thought it was time that sort of thing was put a stop to.

Quite right too, I thought.  To be fair, it was the demands on the town’s water supply that was exercising the commissioners’ minds.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her meeting and we combined some recycling of glass, metal and paper with shopping and that was the most exciting event of the day.

In the afternoon, I drove Mrs Tootlepedal down to Carlisle Station, and waved goodbye as she caught the train to London.  She is going to visit our daughter Annie to give her support and pay attention to our new granddaughter Evelyn Rose.

Life is always a lot duller when Mrs Tootlepedal is not at at home and as the weather forecast for the next day and a half is is very poor, I shall just have to find useful things to do indoors.  Still, a little flute practice never goes amiss.

No flying bird of the day as it was too windy for them so I have put in a very low flying flower instead.

perlagonium

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She visited the Haynes International Motor Museum with my sister Mary and saw many wonderful motor cars, including this 1900 Clement Voiturette.

1900 Clement Voiturette

When you look back at them, there are some days which seem to rather slip through your grasp and you never really get a grip on them.  This was one such day.  Although we did quite a lot, nothing much seemed to happen.  As a result, if this post is somewhat disjointed, it will match the day very well.

We had a slow start after breakfast but then we drove down to the bike shop in Longtown to recover my set of car and house keys, which were still in my bike pannier along with my rain jacket.  My bike won’t be ready until Friday at best so we drove quietly back home, giving a lift to a local man who had just left his bike for repair at the bike shop and was intending to catch the bus back.  As he would have had to wait half an hour before the bus came, he was quite grateful.

It was a rather grey and gloomy day but still reasonably warm so we had a walk round the garden when we got back.  A blackbird on the fence caught my eye.  It had picked up a fallen rowan berry from the ground.

blackbird on fence with berry

It was just as well that it hadn’t been tempted by these St John’s Wort berries near by and they are poisonous to livestock and probably not very good for birds.

st john's wort berreis

Most of the Sweet Williams are past but this one, lurking in a vegetable bed, still looks rather attractive with its dainty blue boots.

sweet william

The honey suckle on the vegetable garden fence is doing well.

honeysuckle

I went in and put a grey day to some use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, making a small dent in my backlog.

Mrs Tootlepedal occupied herself in making some plum chutney.  She tells me that we won’t be able to sample it for six months.

In the afternoon, I considered the weather and the forecast and the threats of heavy rain, and then went out for a short ride on my borrowed bike.

It was a day for cloudscapes…

cloudscape wauchope 1

…and no matter where you looked, there were plenty of clouds to see.

cloudscape wauchope 2

I had gone about four miles, when the view behind, with a hint of sunshine, looked a lot better than the view in front, and as it started to rain, I decided to race the rain back home.

cloudscape looking back to langholm

Although it continued to drizzle on me, the wind was coming from behind, so I didn’t get very wet at all. It was dry when i gt home.

I put the bike under cover and walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has recently put down some grass seed to grow as green manure on the now empty potato bed, and this is of great interest to the sparrows who lurk in every convenient tree and hedge…

two sparrows

…and eat the seed whenever our backs our turned.

When  we came out, they flew up in a great cloud and some of them settled for a while on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  This is just a portion of the flock who were pecking at the grass seeds.

sparrows on betty's garage

I had a look at some flowers.  The lobelias round the chimney pot are in fine fettle…

lobelia at chimney

…and the late Lilian Austin rose, featured yesterday, has been joined by two more blooms.

three Lilian Austin roses

I tend to look at the phlox as a cloud of colour but this single flower was worth looking at by itself, I thought.

phlox blossom

After a while, the clouds seemed to have passed over, so after a last look at these zinnias, one with a miniature garden at its heart….

two zinnias

…I set off to complete my intended mileage for the day.  It started to rain almost as soon as I had left the house but I had my rain jacket with me, so I put it on and pressed ahead.

This was a good plan because the rain soon stopped and in spite of some impressive clouds over Callister…

callister cloudscape

…it turned into a sunny day as I came home from the top of the hill.

callister view

Although there was a break in the middle, I aggregated the two rides into one and recorded 20 miles for the day in my mileage chart.

When I got home, I walked round the garden for a final time….

striking nastrutium

…and then went in to print out some pictures for our camera club’s forthcoming exhibition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked an excellent evening meal and we rounded off the day by watching an exciting stage of the Vuelta.

The flying bird of the day was standing very close to me on the lawn before it flew off.

blackbird on lawn

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s visit to the Caen Hill Locks.  It looks very peaceful, but if you have to take your boat through all of the 29 locks on the staircase, it is very hard work.

Caen Hill lock

The promised end of summer was deferred for another day and we had a beautiful morning, sunny, calm and warm.  In days gone past, I would have been out on my bike like a shot on such a day as this, but times have changed and I was happy to do a little business, lounge around artistically and, of course, wander round the garden.

There were some pretty nasturtiums enjoying the sunshine by the back fence…

nasturtiums on back fence

…I was very happy to find the red astrantia having a second go at flowering and joining the poppies and mallow.

poppies, mallow and astrantia

The butterflies were back on the buddleia, and we had a full of house of red admiral, painted lady, small tortoiseshell….

three butterflies

…and a profusion of peacocks.

three peacocks

I am always impressed by how butterflies can cope with the loss of quite a lot of a wing.

tattered small tortoiseshell

Since the weather is due to change tomorrow, I thought that this might be a good moment to take another look at the garden from an upper window.

The front lawn:

front garden from above august

The middle lawn: you can see the plum tree, laden with plums, on the left of the this picture.

middle garden from aove august

And I looked across to show the hedge that runs along the road beside the garden.

looking across garden from above august

I had to go to post a letter and on my way back, I took a shot of the garden as seen from the road by passers by, assuming that they are tall enough to look over the hedge of course.

garden from road

I mowed the greenhouse grass so I didn’t waste the entire morning and then I took a look at a very late flower on the Lilian Austin rose…

lilian austin august

…before going to have lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop so I ate by myself.  Then, before she returned, I got out my bike and set off to see where it would carry me.

There was a warning of thunderstorms and heavy rain later on so I wasn’t going to go very far but for the moment, it was still a lovely day.

I stopped for a drink after ten miles and noted the rosebay willowherb….

rosebay willowherb seed

…and the peaceful view of the rolling farmland that you meet when you leave our hills behind.

view from Gair road

My legs were in reasonable form and turning over fairly sweetly but unfortunately, my bicycle was far from well and was making miserable groaning sounds.  It has been grumbling a bit on recent trips but this was different so I decided to seek help and pedalled along this rather smartly mowed road down to Longtown….

road near corries mill

…the home of Bikeseven, the bike shop that had sold me my bike.  When I got there, the mechanic kindly came out to check the bike for me and diagnosed the cause of the grumbling.  I have a belt drive rather than a conventional chain and for some reason it had got overtight and was niggling on the rear cog.

He took it in to the workshop and had a go at fixing the problem but it wasn’t an instant fix and he needed more time.  (He was in the middle of servicing two more bikes so it was good of him to take any time out to help me.)   I was pondering how to get home and by good fortune, the friend with whom I had had a political discussion under the trees in the rain last week was in the shop and he offered me a lift home.

I would have accepted this kind offer but the shop owner then offered me a courtesy bike so that I could complete my trip by pedal power…and have a bike to ride until mine was ready.  This was an offer too good to turn down, so I thanked my debating friend and pedalled off on the borrowed bike.

The bike had flat handlebars and front suspension so it was easy enough to ride, though I had to get used to using derailleur gears again as my bike as a hub gear with one control and not four different levers.  I was pedalling along happily enough when I passed a digital traffic sign  warning of impending heavy rain.   Just then, it started to drizzle.  I hadn’t been able to transfer my pannier to the borrowed bike and I remembered rather too late that it had my rain jacket in it.

However, the drizzle didn’t get any worse and I could see blue sky beyond the Hollows Tower as I cycled past it….

hollows tower in the drizzle

…so I resisted the temptation to ring up Mrs Tootlepedal and ask for a rescue and cycled home.  I got there quite dry as the drizzle soon stopped again.

The borrowed bike was very satisfactory….

borrowed bike

….but it did make my joints very sensible of the comfort of my own bike and I hope it will not be too long until we are reunited.

Mike Tinker had dropped in for a cup of tea and when left  and Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to a meeting, I made a ‘Greek style’ potato and tomato bake from my big book of potato recipes for our evening meal, and while it was cooking, I had a last walk round the garden.  It had rained again while I was inside but the rain clouds had temporarily disappeared and some pleasant evening sunshine illuminated the flowers.

rambler rose evening

The sunshine had picked out the nasturtiums by the back fence in the morning and now, to even things up, it shone on the nasturtiums against the wall of the house in the evening.

nasturtiums on front wall

I liked this little trio by the back door.

three nasturtiums

The threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms seems to have been lifted but cooler showery weather is on the way so in spite of the need to swap bikes, I was pleased to have got my 32 miles in today, especially as it took me over 2000 miles for the year.  This is much less than I had planned to do at the beginning of the year, but quite a bit more than I feared I might be able to do when my feet started playing up, so I am quite content.

The flying birds of the day are two homing pigeons at their evening exercise.

two pigeons

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a Book Cafe but found that reading one of their books might be tricky.  He tells me that he didn’t bolt his coffee and cake though.

book cafe

This morning couldn’t have offered a greater contrast to yesterday’s summer weather.  The clouds were clamped down on the hills, the town was engulfed by gloom and there was a persistent drizzle.  The drizzle did fizzle out though and I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast to do some archive group  and camera club business.

I had hoped to have a cup of coffee with Dropscone when I got back, but he had a golfing engagement so I went out to check the garden.

It was warm enough, but the results of the drizzle could be seen hanging about on dahlias….

dahlia with droplets

…and in a hundred neat pockets along the front hedge.

hedge with jewels

I had several goes at capturing the beauty of the water filled webs…

triple panel droplets

…and this was my favourite as I thought that it caught their jewelled nature best.

web with drops

Since it wasn’t a gardening moment, I went in and made half a dozen pots of plum jam, using early plums which we had picked that were not suitable to eat yet.  Our jam thermometer is a bit like the jam maker himself, old and unreliable, and I may have overcooked the jam a bit, but I had a test helping on some new bread in the evening and it wasn’t too bad.  We are researching digital jam thermometers and if any reader has had a good experience with one, we would be pleased to learn about it.

After the jam making was finished, I went out into the garden and was happy to find that the clouds had lifted and the rain had cleared away altogether.

I had a walk round to admire the late colour.

lily, crocosmia, astilbe and rose

…and noted that sometimes, one plant gets overtaken by another as these two clematis flowers, peeking out through alien foliage, show.

two lonely clematis

Elsewhere, clematis has a clear run.

clematis on fence

I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to collect embroidery exhibits, the work of her local group, which have been on display in Hawick.  I went back out into the garden where the sun was now shining and found myself ducking to avoid being mowed down by hordes of butterflies and sparrows which were circling the garden.

Although it was pleasantly warm in the sun, it was not as hot as yesterday and the butterflies all had their wings wide open.

red admiral, two peacocks, white butterfly

Once again, there were far more peacocks about than any other sort…

peacock butterfly wings spread

…though the whites came a close second.

white butterfly

The large family of blackbirds are still around at various stages of development…

young blackbird on ground

…and they and the resident starlings and sparrows were joined by a tuneful thrush today.

starling, thrush and sparrow

There were so many butterflies about that I had to persuade them to shift over to give me a bit of room on the bench to sit….

two butterflies on bench

…and enjoy a small plum snack.

four plums on bench

It had dried up enough to let me mow the middle lawn and then I got my bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was a good day for a cycle ride…

view over Bloch

…with the country looking at its most benign.

view down wauchopedale

Farmers had been busy cutting grass in every corner of their fields.

tree with cut grass

All new deciduous trees seem to be planted in plastic tubes these days and this view as I climbed the hill over the Kerr seems to show that it is a good idea, with a flourishing little forest well under way.

successful tree tubes

As I came back home along the Esk valley, there was more evidence of grass cutting to be seen.

grass cut at grainstone

I would have liked to have had time to have gone a bit further but there was the front lawn to cut and my flute pupil Luke to welcome.

I did find time when i got home to watch a blackbird in the rowan tree.  It was eyeing up the berries and bending to check on them, but the big question was, would it pose for the ‘money shot’?

blackbird panel in rowan

It did.

blackbird with berry

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived safely back from Hawick, and while my flute pupil Luke and I practised, she made a delicious cauliflower cheese, garnished with beans and courgettes from the garden for tea.  We ate it with a side dish of beetroot which our friend Nancy had given us and i had cooked earlier.  She has grown so much beetroot on her allotment this year that she can hardly face eating any more.

We rounded off the day by watching the highlights of the Vuelta, the cycling tour of Spain.  It took our minds off the political situation.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the last big poppies.

flying bee with poppy

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the very impressive flight of locks at Caen Hill on the Kennet and Avon canal.

Caen Hill Locks

We had another fine and sunny day today, with the temperatures well up into the mid twenties (80F) so it was quite pleasant to go into the cool of the church to sing with the choir in the morning.  The service was led a Langholm man who has led a remarkable life both in Britain and America.  He gave an interesting address and chose excellent hymns, so I enjoyed the whole thing.

When  we got home, the garden was awash with butterflies.  We could count about forty on a buddleia at one point but curiously, they all sat and sipped with their wings tightly closed as you can see in the shot below.

four butterflies

What was most surprising, as we are used to seeing the butterflies with their wings spread out, was the unanimity with which all the butterflies behaved.  I couldn’t get a decent open wing shot at all.  It doesn’t matter so much for the painted ladies who look quite nice with the wing shut or open….

painted lady wings shut

…but the other butterflies are very dull when closed.  Luckily, there were other insects to watch, like this moth on the red buddleia…

moth on buddleia

…and the mint was covered with small flies of a colourful nature.

flies on mint 1

I wish that I had a steadier hand to do these little charmers justice.

flies on mint 2

There was a good variety.

flies on mint 3

I didn’t do a lot of gardening, just some quiet dead heading and wandering around looking at sunny flowers.

sunflower heart

It was just too hot to do much and like this dahlia, I often went in to get a bit of shade.

secret dahlia

The dead heading is worthwhile though and if you dead head the Icelandic poppies, they keep coming for the whole summer and beyond…

icelandic poppy in sun

…and the calendula repay a bit of attention too.

bright calendula

There are still some flowers to come and I liked this low hanging spray of fuchsia showing promise…

fuchis hanging about

…and the sedum is warming up too.

sedum coming

Late in the afternoon, when the sun was getting lower in the sky, I finally got out on my bicycle for a short ride.

I was very pleased to see a metaphor come to life as I passed a farmer making hay while the sun shone.  (In fact he was making silage but I shall ignore that.)

making hay Bloch

I like the way that this bull, in a field covered with grass, chooses to stand in a muddy patch.  It is a creature of habit, I suppose.

bull at wauchope SH

I cycled up to the far end of Callister and when I stopped and turned, I recorded the new road surface which makes cycling so much more of a pleasure than bumping along worn and potholed roads.

new surface on callister road

I had a friend with me as I cycled back.

shadowy cyclist

When I got to Langholm, I took the road along the river bank.  Birds were standing on either two legs or one leg as the mood took them.

gull and mallard by Esk

I clocked up a modest 17 miles but as it took me over 300 miles for the month with a few days still in hand, I wasn’t unhappy….and I was quite hot enough as it was.

Mrs Tootlepedal had gardened sparingly through the day but she had attacked a patch of wild growth and brought another metaphor to life as she had firmly grasped the nettle.  In fact, quite a lot of nettles.

dead nettles

She also cooked a delicious meal of pasta alla norma for our tea.

We were able to watch the totally unexpected highlights of a dramatic cricket test match  in the evening and this rounded off a pleasantly warm and gentle day.   Looking at the forecast, this might well have been the last day of summer.

I spent quite a lot of it wrestling with the intractable prize crossword and in the end I had to ring up my sister Mary for help.  She was very helpful and between us we have got down to the last clue.  It will have to wait.

I did find a single peacock butterfly kind enough to open its wings and pose for a moment…

peacock butterlfy on buddleia tip

…and the flying bird of the day, a young starling,  is ruminating on life among the rowan berries before taking to the air again.

young starling in rowan

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