Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin. He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..
We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all. People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.
It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.
Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme. I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat. I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.
When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.
I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.
The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….
…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos. It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.
I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.
For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…
…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen. This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.
My route took me down into England. There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.
Some are tall and thin…
…and others, shorter and stout.
After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home. It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.
It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…
…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat landscape
Looking from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze. The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.
Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress. On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.
My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.
On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home. The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by my legs on the lines of, “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”
I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.
I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles. Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off. Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).
Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.
So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn. When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.
The verbena is looking very fine. I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself. I like that.
Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.
The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.
As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things. The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.
The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…
… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..
There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.
Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea. It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.
Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain. The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.
The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one. It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.