Overcome by doubt

Today’s guest picture is another East Wemyss view from our son Tony.  They don’t don’t just do golden sunshine and handsome canines there, they do purple skies too.

east wemms purple

We were intending to catch one of the super duper 5 coach new trains from Lockerbie to Edinburgh today but having checked the early services and found them either late, starting from the wrong station, having only three coaches or cancelled  (or any combination of these), we cracked and decided to stay at home instead.

We might have considered driving the 80 miles to Tweedbank to get a more reliable service from there but the thought of driving home in the dark through the forecast heavy rain didn’t appeal either.

A generally slightly gloomy mood in the Tootlepedal household was not lightened by seeing a cat prowling around the garden chasing our birds so I was pleased to see that a dunnock had survived.  They are often to be found at ground level and are targets for feline predators.


The light wasn’t very good after some heavy overnight rain but a good quantity of siskins found their way to the feeder today.

siskin coming to feeder

At times they monopolised the perches.

siskin looking down

A blackbird with a bright yellow beak turned up as well.


Rather surprisingly, the skies lightened up a lot and instead of sitting around and having coffee and whingeing, I put a loaf in the bread maker and went for a bicycle ride.  I had given my knee a good twist and bump yesterday while getting up too quickly to answer the phone, so I was anxious to keep it moving today to stop it stiffening up.

It was a bit sore at first but it soon settled down, and it got no worse as I pedalled along.  It did mean that I had to adopt a very low gear for going up hills though and this resulted in a very slow pace.

For once, the wind was reasonably light and while the sun was out, it was a treat to be dawdling through the countryside.

I took this small tribute to the wind turbines and the pylons that make and deliver the electricity to our house that lets me write these posts.

Minsca wind farm

The turbines in the picture above are quite noticeable but they are nothing to a couple of proposed wind farms which are wanting to put 600ft high turbines on top of our small hills.  They may be more efficient but they will overpower our surroundings and we are hoping that they will not get permission.

Turning a little bit to the right after taking the wind farm picture, I managed to get a view of hills with no turbines on them.  If I had gone another degree or two to the right, more turbines would have come into view.

view towards ewe hill

Although my ride started brightly, there were lots of clouds looming up behind the trees…

gair road tree

…and most of my ride was in their shadow, though annoyingly it was one of those days when there always seemed to be a of blue sky where I wasn’t.

When we drove to Lockerbie Station last week, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that she could see two tower houses within a few hundred yards of each other from the old main road and wondered why they had been built so close to each other.

The two houses only become visible from the same spot when the leaves are off the trees.  I could see them both today.

tower house old A74 1
Robgill Tower: 15 century
tower house old A74 2
Bonshaw Tower: 16th century

Both of the original towers now have more modern houses beside them.

In spite of the light winds, I was far from my cycling peak today and pottered along.  After I had done the first fifteen miles, I spent most of the rest of the ride trying to ride above a continual rumble of complaints from my legs by conducting coruscating imaginary interviews in my head with prominent politicians, after which they all said that they were very sorry and promised to mend their ways.

I stopped from time to time to stretch and have a snack and tried to find something to photograph when I did so.

gaunt tree

An open gate and a track down from the road gave me an opportunity to get a good picture of the first bridge across the River Sark.  A few miles to the south, this mighty stream forms the border between England and Scotland.

sark bridge at Milltown

As I got near Langholm, mist was beginning to form in the fields beside the river…

mist on fileds at Auchenrivock

…and by the time that I got to Skippers Bridge, it had begun to thicken up both to the north…

Langholm Distillery mist

…and the south.

mist from Skippers Bridge

I managed 33 very slow miles but as they had kept my knee exercised and added a few more miles to my very poor annual total, I was tired but happy when I sank into a chair and had a cup of tea and some parsnip and sweet potato soup for a late lunch.

As Mrs Tootlepedal also made a delicious venison stew for our tea, I ended the day in a much better mood than I started it.  I wasn’t surprised to read in a newspaper this morning that Lockerbie has the worst record of any station in Scotland and the third worst in the whole UK for punctuality and reliability.  I wasn’t surprised either to find that the railway company are accordingly raising the fare to Edinburgh by 5%.

I didn’t have time to watch the birds a lot this morning and it was too dark when I got back so this siskin group will have to do as flying bird of the day.

three shocked siskins

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

28 thoughts on “Overcome by doubt

  1. It’s sometimes more enjoyable to cycle and just enjoy the ride
    I tend to get a bit obsessed with av speed,cadence,distance etc..
    I keep thinking of putting the Garmin in a pocket and checking it post ride.
    After saying all that 33 miles is a respectable ride in winter.ha.

    1. As I realise that basically every ride that I will manage to do in the rest of my life is going to be slower than pretty well every ride that I have done hitherto, I am less obsessed with stats than I used to be. Still, on the not dead yet basis, I like to try to keep a reasonable average speed. One of the sad things about getting older is that the same amount of time on a bike gets you far less distance than formerly. But as you say, over 30 miles in the winter is always a bonus, however slow.

  2. I think it would be a shame to cover your hills with wind turbines. The views probably bring in lots of tourists.
    I like the misty shots. you must have cold air above warm water or ground, or warm air over cold.
    It’s hard to wrap my mind around anything from the 15th and 16th centuries but I’d like to visit something man made that was that old.

    1. We don’t get a lot of tourists at all as being on the edge of the country, the local tourist broad never wanted to encourage tourists to visit our area in case they left the area altogether. And to be fair, there are areas of great beauty and more history near by.

  3. You had some nice moments of sun in those photos, even with the windmills on the hills. A storm blew in from over on the coast, and left us with relatively warm rain for this time of year, and it was quite windy. We were over on the coast yesterday evening, and the surf was high, wave breaking on the concrete retaining wall and splashing on the road.

    I can’t tell if the siskins in the last photo are cheering on the incoming bird, or warning him to stay away. 🙂

  4. I had never heard of tower houses before this, and the UK distribution map on the relevant Wikipedia article explains why.
    You have a vivid imagination if it allows you to contemplate politicians apologising. And as for promising to mend their ways…

      1. Oh, what a world that would be! (Also, thank you for overlooking my late night, Christmas chaos spelling of tongue. As a teacher, I bet you’re red pen was itching😂)

      2. I have corrected the original reply. I apologise for not doing that earlier. It is very annoying that WP doesn’t allow you to edit replies after you have sent them.

  5. Trying to get the balance with turbines is so hard. You know they do a good thing but they can really overwhelm landscapes. We have a huge number here and at night, you almost need sunglasses when driving through them.

    1. Off shore is a good way to go but they are relatively expensive compared with onshore. We feel that one are shouldn’t be battered to death by them though.

  6. I definitely share your misgivings about prowling felines as our neigbour entertains three of them which are very unwelcome in our garden. No more live any frogs or toads nor any newts, which were prolific before those cats appeared.

  7. If only those towers could talk…what history they have witnessed! Not sure our descendants will treasure the wind farms that are being erected…long save those beautiful hills.

  8. Of course they are raising their rates for terrible service! Fie!

    I do wish you could talk some sense into politicians on both sides of the pond.

    Love the foggy river photos.

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