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Archive for May, 2020

Today’s guest picture comes from my cycling reader Paul. He lives in Lancashire and he sent me this picture of a reservoir to show that we are not the only ones having a dry time just now.

I am starting today’s post with a picture from yesterday. I almost always only use pictures in a post which I have taken that day as this blog is a daily diary, but I had this one ready to put in yesterday’s post when the new block editor made me forget about it. The blackbird had made such a good effort to pose nicely for me that I thought that it would be a sin not to reward him.

Back to today.

It was another day of wall to wall sunshine but with a brisker breeze to keep things a little cooler.

Neither of us had slept well in the heat last night so we had a quiet start to the day. Then, instead of street coffee, we enjoyed Zoom colour bingo event curated by our granddaughter Matilda. Through the wonders of technology, it involved all four of her grandparents, two of her aunts, a cousin, and her own parents (and three of the four countries of the United Kingdom). The rules were simple enough for even me to grasp and the method ensured the games ended in good time so we had space to chat and catch up as well as play.

After Zooming, we went out into the garden, where Mrs Tootlepedal did useful thinks and I wandered around, a bit at a loss to find something to do. In lieu of anything more productive, I looked at flowers.

There are new arrivals, an orange hawkweed…

…the first of many Sweet Williams…

…a beautifully dark pansy…

…and the first bud on a rose.

I was passing the bird feeder and noticed that a greenfinch was ignoring me. I didn’t ignore it and got the benefit of photographing a bird on the feeder in good light and not through a window.

I was happy even if it it was not.

Our neighbour Kenny, who gardens the far bank of the dam, has produced a really lovely lily there…

We went back in to have lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal took the sensible view that it was a good afternoon to sit quietly indoors out of the heat. I was restless and split my time by being bored indoors and doing nothing useful outdoors. As usual, when left with nothing better to do, I pointed cameras at things. The bright light was a problem so I looked for shady corners with Welsh poppies…

….ranunculus…

…and musk.

And I found an ornamental onion.

At one stage, I went for a shady sit down on our new bench and was joined for some quality time by a blackbird on a nearby hedge.

I checked to see what had captured the bees’ fancy today. It was chive diving.

I went back in to get set up for my second Zoom meeting of the day and while the computer was warming up, I looked out of the back door at the dam to see if any birds were cooling off there. Starlings were making use of the facilities…

…but they flew off in a huff when I got too close.

The afternoon Zoom meeting was the weekly Carlisle Choir virtual rehearsal with our energetic leader Ellen. Once again she was well prepared with a really good grip on the technology. All the same, the current technology will still not let everyone sing at the same time so it was more of a chance to get together and keep the spirit of the choir going than a great singing experience. About 50 members signed in and I enjoyed it.

There was another gap in the day now, with nothing much to do so I made a batch of 30 ginger biscuits as the last lot of 30 biscuits has mysteriously disappeared.

Then I had to time to check to see if there were more birds swimming in the dam. There were none but a white clover by the back door caught my eye instead…

…and I had to look out of the front window to see some birds. The feeder was half full and the bottom layer had been taken over by three greenfinches…

…who weren’t going to let any other bird get a look in. This led to some wistful flying birds, hoping for a perch but not succeeding in dislodging the incumbents.

And then it was time for the third Zoom meeting of the day, the usual get together with my siblings. My brother was absent but my sisters were in good form. I didn’t stay for the whole meeting as I wanted to get out for a cycle ride in the comparative cool of the early evening and still be back in time for our evening meal.

it was 25°C but the sun was down in the sky a bit and a cooling breeze kept conditions ideal for the elderly cyclist. I headed north up the main road out of town, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road and that the wind would be helpful as I headed uphill.

Both hopes were fulfilled. There was hardly any traffic and the wind was not only helpful up the hill but by some fluke of meteorology, helpful to me on the way back down again. As a result, I was home in plenty of time for a delicious meal of liver and onions prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I took two pictures just to show that I had been out. The first was soon after I had set off, and shows the Ewes valley at its best…

…and the second was at the head of the valley as the shadows were closing in on the road to Mosspaul.

I was passed by two cars in the ten miles back home. Cycling heaven.

Looking at my cycling spreadsheet when I got home, I see that I have cycled 15 times this month and covered 450 miles, my best month this year by a good distance. As I have gone for a walk on the other 16 days, it has been an excellent month for exercise.

The flying bird of the day is a duck who was passing over the garden while I was wandering about.

Footnote: As an experiment because I am using the new block editor, I have put the pictures in at a larger size than usual. I don’t know if this will make any difference but if it does for good or bad, I would be grateful for any feedback.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bill, a blog reader, who was pleased that we enjoyed his creative poppy plantation on our recent walk. Nature got a helping hand! He has sent me this picture of a ceanothus which rivals the cotoneaster as a bee magnet.

Our spell of dry, warm and sunny weather continued today, and it was, if anything, warmer than it was yesterday. On the hand, there was a stronger cooling breeze available so we were all pretty happy.

Our neighbour Margaret, the senior citizen in our socially distanced street coffee morning set, was the beneficiary of the slight loosening of the lockdown when her son and daughter-in-law visited her for coffee today, bringing their own seats with them. Mrs Tootlepedal and our other morning coffee neighbour Liz joined them but I, thinking that five was a crowd, went off to have coffee with Sandy instead.

He had acquired a new cafetiere so we sipped good coffee together and watched a pair of very industrious blue tits bringing food for the family to the nest box on his shed.

Judging from how busy the parents were, there must be quite a few nestlings in the box.

The skies have got busy too lately, and we watched a plane leaving quite a trail as it passed overhead.

Sandy has a handy flight tracking app on his phone and he was able tell me that this was an Airbus jet going from Aberdeen to London.

When I got home, the street coffee morning was just breaking up, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the garden.

There was aerial activity there too, but this time it was two young starlings pestering a fed up parent for food.

A check on a rose that appeared in yesterday’s post showed me that the pink tinge was in fact the proper colour for this rose…

…and it was the early white flowers that were non standard.

Mrs Tootlepedal has discovered a single plum on the plum tree that was not killed by the frost, but we are keeping its location secret for security purposes. She is very pleased to see new shoots on the plum tree after the quite severe pruning we gave it.

I mowed the middle lawn and the weather has been so kind that I was able to run the mower over the grass without using the collecting box. This is good for two reasons, the mowing is quicker and easier and the grass cuttings act as a mulch to improve the health of the lawn.

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, again without the box on, and then we had a sit down on the new bench in the shade.

There was more starling action as a youngster perched hopefully on the top of the holly tree looking this way and that for someone to come and feed it. There were adults about but they didn’t seem interested in helping this particular youngster.

I filled the pond and while it was filling, I checked on the bees on the Limnanthes. They were diving in.

The tadpoles were very happy with the new water level.

The temperature was up to 25°C (77°F) by this time but the breeze was frisky enough to suggest that a walk might be good thing. Mrs Tootlepedal however felt that it was an afternoon for staying in, so I went for a walk round the Pheasant Hatchery by myself.

As I left the house, I noticed that more of the big red poppies had appeared along the dam.

There was a tremendous disturbance when I got to the suspension bridge. It turned out to be oyster catchers objecting to people coming to close to their nest. Further up stream, another oyster catcher was much calmer.

There were more people about than there have been lately, which not surprising considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, but it meant that I couldn’t hang about waiting to see wagtails on the Kilngreen and I crossed the Sawmill Brig and headed up the Lodge Walks towards the pheasant hatchery without delay.

The felling of trees along the Lodge Walks in recent years mean that it is no longer quite such an attractive scene for photographers but the trees on the other side of the Castleholm are always a treat at this time of year…

…so I took them instead.

Once I had got round the pheasant hatchery, the walk back along the bank of the Esk was delightful…

…with small pleasures on one side…

…and large ones on the other.

There is a good still pool in the river beneath the Duchess Bridge and I thought that I ought to be able to get a nice reflective shot but the banks are steep and tree lined so I could see half the bridge and half a reflection…

…or more of the bridge and no reflection…

..or more of the reflection and none of the bridge.

It was very frustrating. I needed a drone camera.

The picture above is a bit confusing but I am looking down past a tree straight at the river. You can see the tree and the stones on this side of the river at the bottom of the frame but all the rest is reflections in the water.

In the picture below, you can see the stones on the far bank and trees on the near bank. In between is the river.

It was good to be out on such a day.

I got back in time for a cheerful Zoom meeting with my siblings and after our evening meal (slow cooked stew with spinach from the garden and bubble and squeak on the side), I got a special treat. Mrs Tootlepedal invited me to go with her to collect some horse muck from a stable at the Stubholm.

The temperature was perfect by this point in the day, and while Mrs Tootlepedal collected a couple of buckets of the good stuff, I counted trees.

As a bonus, I was allowed to carry one of the buckets of manure back home. The perfect end to the day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow heading past the feeder pole with sunflowers seeds in mind.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from cyclist and Lake District lover Paul. He sent me this picture to show that the sun doesn’t always shine on Buttermere.

The sun certainly shone here in Langholm today, and once again watering was needed in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted strange goings on on one of the paths off the middle lawn. Liverworts were up to something.

A bit of research told me that these umbrellas are female flowers of the liverwort. They are very tiny and credit goes to Mrs Tootlepedal for spotting them.

I just had time to check that the decking oil on the new bench had dried out over night…

…before it was time to join the street coffee morning. We had a busy time as we were joined by various passers by (at a safe distance) as we sipped and chatted.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went in to do some business on the computer and I had a traditional garden wander.

The usual suspects were enjoying the sunshine….

…and a variegated hosta caught my eye.

The state of the rhododendrons depends on whether they were flowering before the frost came. The pink one has one flower in action for every two or three killed by the frost…

…while the later deep red one, is pretty well untouched.

The less said about the poor azaleas, plums and apples the better. And the walnut tree suffered badly with all the early leaves blackened. We are keeping our fingers crossed that enough late leaves arrive to keep it healthy. (Late news: Mrs Tootlepedal came in this evening saying that she might have seen one surviving plum.)

I was so tired by my wandering in the hot sun, that I sat on the newly oiled bench and admired the view of our shady front door for a while.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted sunflowers on each side of the path. I look forward to photographing them in due course.

I went out to look at the poorly fuchsia against the back wall of the house but my eye was irresistibly drawn to those shocking poppies again.

Our neighbour Charlotte, who was nearby while tending the flowers with which she decorates a bicycle attached to our new bridge, suggested a that a shot of the centre of the flower would be good thing. I am always anxious to please.

After lunch, bacon, tomato and lettuce rolls again, we dealt with the fading fuchsia on the back wall, and nine tenths or more of the bush got the chop, leaving a few promising green shoots to carry on.

In spite of the hot sunshine, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy to go for a walk and we thought that a stroll up the road to the moor might be a good way to spend the afternoon. The thermometer by the house said that it was 66°F in the shade so we dressed appropriately, donned a hat and cap respectively, put a small bottle of water in my bag and set out hoping that we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew.

We were happy to spot an oyster catcher with its child on a rock in the river…

…surrounded by oddly green water. The river is very low still.

We walked along the Lamb Hill until we came to the Newcastleton road and then headed uphill at a very steady rate, cheered by a gentle cooling breeze as we got higher up the hill.

We passed a group of men erecting large scaffolding structures at each side of the road where the power lines cross it. By the time that we passed them again on our way back down, they had finished the structures and pulled a safety net across the road.

I hope that I am in the right place at the right time when they come to renew the actual power lines themselves.

We took advantage of two handily placed benches beside the road to have sensible rests as we climbed the hill. I liked this view of sinuous walls from the first one.

Although it was a sunny day, it was also a bit hazy and the light wasn’t at all good for taking landscape pictures, being very flat indeed, so although there were good views from the second bench, I didn’t take pictures of my favourite subject, the Ewes Valley.

When we got to the White Yett, we went on a few yards over the summit so that we could look down into the Little Tarras Valley in the hope of seeing interesting birds.

Our hopes were dashed and all we saw was bog cotton waving in the gentle breeze.

At my suggestion, we followed one of the Langholm Walks routes for a few hundred yards up the line of a wall to the north of the road…

…making for a minor summit in the hope of good views along the ridge. We got an interesting and unusual view of the track from the White Yett up to the monument when we looked back…

…but the minor summit proved to be very minor and the only view we got was of the next minor summit just along the ridge.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment on a convenient tussock with her binoculars in hand in the hope of seeing interesting birds….

…while I looked in the other direction to see if there was a landscape to be seen in the haze.

There wasn’t a landscape but there was an interesting bird, probably a short eared owl, hunting over the rough ground. Sadly the light was too poor to let my camera get a good focus on the bird against a dull background, however hard I tried…

…but we got a fine flying display for a while before the bird disappeared over the edge of the hill and we started for home.

I did see a more static bird on the way down but it was hiding behind some long grass.

The light breeze kept blowing and the haze thickened as we went back down the hill with the result that it wasn’t nearly as hot as we had feared. All the same, a five mile walk with a bit of climbing on a warm day is still quite hard work so we were more than ready for a cup of tea when we got home.

The most surprising and beautiful thing that we encountered on the walk was this bank of wild flowers beside the path from the Lamb Hill down to the Drove Road.

The yellow and orange colours were provided by Welsh Poppies. The orange ones were very striking…

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pocketed a few seed heads as we went past.

The day seemed to have been too hot for the garden birds and the level of seed in the feeder had hardly gone down at all by the time that we got home but a rook did its best to lower the level later in the evening.

According to the forecast, we are going to have a week more of warm, dry and sunny weather so I watered the front lawn while I was preparing the evening meal. It looks as though this will be a regular task, very unusual for May.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: While I have been writing this post, the lighting wizards have been lighting up the monument on the top of Whita Hill again. This is their version of clapping for the NHS. They are having fun.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s walks in his local area. The farmer has had to work round and old water tower to get his field planted.

There was a lot of noise in the garden this morning although as far as the weather went it was sunny and peaceful day. These tiny flowers were responsible for the racket.

They are on a cotoneaster and they were proving a big draw for bees. I had to crop the picture above just to take a picture of the bush with no bees in it.

I tried to get some decent bee pictures but I had the wrong camera in my hand so I went off to look for flowers instead. The latest rhododendron to flower has the reddest flowers in the garden I think (but see later in the post for a competitor).

There are also red astrantias coming out and doubtless they will soon be buzzing too as the insects like them a lot.

I stopped chasing flowers and went off to have socially distanced coffee with Sandy in his garden. The coffee turned out to be tea as there had been a cafetiere catastrophe earlier in the morning but it went down well as we chatted and watched blue tits busily flying in and out of the nest box on his shed.

Sandy’s foot is slowly improving after his operation and he has managed to go out for some short walks. He still has some way to go before he can go some way but he is feeling much more positive about life.

When I got back home, the street coffee morning was still going so I stopped and chatted there until I was distracted by the poppies beside the dam along the back wall of the house.

They are quite distracting.

There are other less conspicuous flowers along the wall too.

As you can see from the centre picture in the panel above, the fuschia is not in good condition at all but when I looked closely at it, I could see that there were some healthy flowers tucked away in it. A case for some severe pruning perhaps.

I went back into the garden, got out a different camera, and had another go at the cotoneaster. The resulting picture gives an idea of just how small the flowers on the shrub are.

There were so many bees that they were shoving each other out of the way.

Bumble bees were interested too.

I had a wander round, admiring old friends enjoying the sunshine.

New flowers are always arriving and today’s newcomer is an ox-eye daisy, the first of many all over the garden. It couldn’t attract a bee but it did have a small fly in its eye.

Other flowers were attracting other bees.

When I look back on my day today, thanks to a combination of old age and the warm sunshine the chronology has become rather blurred. I know that I mowed the middle lawn, made bacon butties for lunch, mowed the front lawn, edged both lawns and put decking oil on our new bench but I am by no means certain in what order these exciting events took place.

I also looked at our other cotoneaster and found that wasps were into cotoneaster flowers as well as bees.

The clock on my camera tells me that I took the wasp picture before lunch and this one of a young blackbird on our old bench at that time too.

It tells me that it was in the afternoon when I took this picture of the other contender for red flower of the day.

I do know that after all the activity, I sat on a seat to have a rest and was much entertained by a pair of pigeons on our power line. I don’t know much about pigeons but it seemed to me that this display of aerial acrobatics had more to with making love than making war.

It was the way that one of them sidled along the wire towards the other in a hopeful manner before the bursts of flying started that made me think that.

It was such a lovely day that in the end, I couldn’t think of a good excuse not to go for a short cycle ride in spite of feeling a little tired. It was a good decision with light winds and the temperature at 66°F.

The verges were full of cow parsley…

…sometimes mixed with buttercups.

After a couple of energetic days, my legs were not in full working mode today and showed a regrettable Achilles tendency to sulk in their tents instead of joining in the battle. The rest of me was in very good order though so I just pottered slowly along, enjoying the sun on my back and lots of beautiful green trees.

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that May 20th is peak spring so this is just about as good as it gets.

When I got home, I had missed my evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters but there is always another day for that.

I put the sprinkler on the middle lawn while we were eating our tea, and then had my first look of the day at the birds on the feeder in the evening light.

They seemed pleased to have a bit of peace after a busy day in the garden.

My twenty mile cycle ride took me over 400 miles for the month. This is a very satisfactory effort for me these days. May has been my best month for distance covered this year and with some good sunny days still to come, I hope to increase the mileage before the thirty-first.

The flying bird of the day is a late evening goldfinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. He sent me this picture of a fine East Wemyss fungus and then went back at my request to photograph the underside too.

The wind finally calmed down here and after a misty start, the skies cleared and we had a very acceptably warm but not too hot day. Mrs Tootlepedal had a Moorland business Zoom meeting after breakfast so I crept about trying to make as little noise as possible while getting ready to get out for the first cycle ride for six days.

After her virtual meeting, Mrs Tootlepedal went out for a real meeting with our socially distanced street coffee drinking neighbours, while I set off to get some easy miles in after my vigorous walk yesterday.

I headed down the A7, the main road out of the town, hoping that the easing of the lockdown wouldn’t lead to more traffic than was comfortable to ride among. There was more traffic but it wasn’t too bad and I pedalled along cheerfully enough until I came to Longtown where I stopped to admire the repaired parapet on the bridge.

I didn’t get the chance to see if they have repaired the hole in the other side of the bridge, but I am assuming that they haven’t done that yet because the traffic light one way system for crossing the bridge is still in place.

My next stop was at another bridge where I enjoyed a view of the peaceful River Lyne and the surrounding pastoral English countryside.

When I came to the bench at Newtown on the Roman Wall after 20 miles, I didn’t stop for a rest as usual but headed on to add a 10 mile loop to my trip.

This took me down over the River Irthing and into Brampton, up the hill out of the town…

…and back down to the River Irthing again, which I crossed by the new bridge. This gave me a view of the old bridge beside it.

It is called the Abbey Bridge because across the field from the bridge is Lanercost Priory…

The priory has an excellent tea room. It would normally have been hotching with visitors on a day like this. Today though, it was closed, so I had half a banana and a ginger biscuit beside the elegant abbey gate…

…and completed my loop back to Newtown by way of yet another bridge.

If there is a down side to a bridge, it is the fact that they tend to live at the bottom of hills. There were two substantial climbs for me to puff up before I got to Walton and headed back down to join the Newtown roa. There I crossed yet another bridge and had to climb back up to the village. In the course of five miles, I had crossed the line of the Roman Wall four times but I had seen no sign of it at all as all the stone must have disappeared into local buildings over the years before conservation became fashionable.

Just before I got to the main road, I passed this fine house set in its own grounds…

…and once again resolved to live in a house just like this when I grow up.

I was pleased to be back on the relatively flat main roads after my hilly loop, and happy to find that the cross wind was offering more help than hindrance as I headed back to Longtown, and even more help when I turned onto the A7 and pedalled home.

I made one stop before Longtown, my second of the day at the bridge over the River Lyne. Like Skippers Bridge, this bridge has been considerably widened to cope with modern traffic.

The farmers were mowing grass and collecting it up for silage all along my route and the recent rain must have helped them get a reasonable crop.

I saw two nice tree combinations on my ride.

It had been a perfect day for cycling but the traffic on the A7 as I headed home to Langholm sent me the message that peaceful days on main roads are probably over. A steady stream of cars and lorries was not dangerous but was enough to make cycling a noisy business. The almost complete lack of traffic has been good while it lasted but it would be selfish to hope that nobody ever went back to work.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got home so I wandered about while she toiled.

She is still fighting the endless war against the depredations of the sparrows in her vegetable garden but her broad beans must not be to their taste as they are looking really healthy.

We will be full of beans soon.

The peonies are coming on all the time…

…and they are being joined by new roses.

The Moyesii (on the left in the panel above) has been badly damaged by the frost and many of the exposed flowers are dead, but those that were protected by foliage are doing well.

There was plenty to see both new and old.

Among the new, a rhododendron which fortunately started to come out after the frost…

…and a nectaroscordum, one of those flowers which require the cameraman to lie on his back to get a shot of the flower itself.

Among old friends, a dancing dicentra…

…a pink aquilegia…

…and my current favourite, a pink lupin.

I didn’t get a chance to catch a decent flying bird shot today so this poor effort is all I have to show.

Footnote: After the recent welcome rain, we are back to a dry spell and have had to start watering in the garden again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent Venetia. She was visited by a greater spotted woodpecker the other day.

We had a pleasantly sunny morning here, with enough wind to ensure that it didn’t get too hot for the morning street coffee meeting. We were greatly entertained as we sipped and chatted by a flying display from a small flight of swifts. They whistled past us great speeds.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious work in the garden while I mowed the front lawn and then wandered about looking at things.

That final tulip is reluctant go, laughing at frost, rain and high winds and it has been joined by our first white rose, ever more geraniums and Jacob’s Ladders…

…and things that come in bulk.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to catch visitors to the alliums…

….and was pleased to see the some of the Solomon’s Seal flowers have finally come out properly…

…before I started to see double…

…twice.

I was privileged to watch our resident blackbird doing its keep fit routine…

…before going in to heat up some soup and make bacon sandwiches for our lunch.

After lunch, I put some serious consideration into going out for a cycle ride, even going so far as to head upstairs to put on my cycling gear. When I got upstairs though and looked out of the window, all I could see were leaves thrashing about on trees and bushes as they were pumelled by a 25 mph wind.

I put on my walking socks instead and went for a walk.

Recently I did the first half of a walk from the Langholm Walks booklet but came back by road instead of cross country, so I thought that I would do the second cross country half of the walk (in the wrong direction) today and once more come back by road.

I set off towards Becks Farm, passing some fine clover….

…a recent addition to our road side verges.

The view as I got near the farm was good…

…and I was soon high enough up to get a view back over the town towards Whita Hill.

Once past the farmhouse, I followed a good track between fields before coming out onto open ground. I had to alter my projected route a little to avoid cattle grazing on the hill and soon found myself in tussocky country surrounded by bog cotton…

…of which there was plenty around.

Luckily, in spite of the recent rain, the ground is still very dry and I was able to bound over tussock, moss and small streams without coming to harm. When I say bound, I might be exaggerating slightly, but it sounds better than totter, stagger and stumble.

I disturbed a deer which really did bound away in front of me but stopped for a look back…

…before disappearing over the skyline.

Although it seemed quite a long way as I was crossing the rough ground into the brisk breeze, it didn’t actually take me too long to meet the Glencorf Burn…

…and soon afterwards to find myself at Wauchope Schoolhouse, ready to walk back down the road to Langholm. I paused on the bridge across the Wauchope Water to watch an oyster catcher on the rocks.

The bird had plenty of rocks to choose from as there was hardly any water in the river and when I stopped a little further on to look at one of my favourite cascades, it was a mere trickle running sideways down a channel in the rocks….

….rather than leaping over them as it was when I took this picture in June two years ago.

The walk down the road with the strong wind now at my back, was most enjoyable, with hardly a car passing me as I strolled along looking at wild flowers in the verges…

…admiring trees clinging to the hillside…

…and noticing that the conifers also seemed to have suffered from the recent frost.

The afternoon had been cloudy and when the sun came out just as I was near the end of my walk, I was grateful for the clouds as I might have been too warm if the sun had shone on me all the way round the nearly seven miles.

I got home in time to make a cup of tea and a marmalade sandwich before enjoying the regular Zoom chat with my brother and sisters in company with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden so I hadn’t been able to watch the birds at the feeder before my walk, so I had a quick look after our evening meal. I found a goldfinch with a greenfinch who was carelessly dropping seed.

My walk had been a good substitute for a cycle ride. All the same, I am hoping that the forecast of a calmer day tomorrow turns out to be true as I haven’t been out for a ride for several days because of strong winds.

The flying bird of the day is one of the elusive swifts from our morning coffee. They were either too quick or too high for me and my camera and this was the best that I could do. They are elegant fliers.

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