Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who found this very striking plant in a garden on one of her walks round her neighbourhood in London.
I’d like start this post with a word of thanks to reader Derrick who spotted that three pictures were missing from yesterday’s effort and was kind enough to notify me. Although this was my fault for not checking carefully enough, it was also thanks to WordPress who whimsically would not let me load pictures into the post from my media library where I had carefully put them. This would not have been too bad but it only happened sporadically and with some of the pictures. In the end I had lost track of what was happening. I am adopting other means tonight and hope that all goes well. (I have put the missing pictures back into yesterday’s post.)
With no threat of thunderstorms in the offing, we had a lovely summer’s day here today, and after breakfast and the crossword, I had a look round the garden.
Things were sunny.
The Queen of Denmark has arrived. (There should be a Handel march to accompany her.)
I took a general view to try to give a flavour of the garden as a visitor might see it.
We had the neighbourhood coffee morning in our garden today and we were slightly distracted by a series of bubbles floating across above our heads.
It turned out that a visiting grandchild over the fence was having fun with a bubble creator.
As we put the chairs away after coffee, Liz and Margaret were surprised to see that a siskin stayed happily on the feeder even though we were only a few yards away.
I wasn’t so surprised as I know that siskins are the least flighty of our small bird visitors and show very little fear of people.
I should have been out cycling already but I wasted a little more time looking at Goldfinches, not the birds but the roses….
…and I spied on a blackbird having a bath in the dam.
I went to say good bye to Mrs Tootlepedal and found her tending to a bed of grasses. There are occasional flowers among her grasses and you gain great credit if you can recognise this one from a close up.
It turns out to be common clover.
I did finally get going sometime after 12 o’clock. I had hoped for a long flat ride but the wind was coming from the north east and was a bit stronger than I expected, so a long flat ride would have meant cycling a long way home into the breeze. I didn’t fancy that, and I opted to take my pain early instead as I headed up the main road north out of town.
It was hard work going gently uphill into the wind and my average speed was only ten miles an hour when I got to the head of the Ewes valley and looked back.
My favourite valley doesn’t look so attractive from the top, with the pylons marching relentlessly down, but this shot does show how flat the valley bottom is.
I turned off the main road at Fiddlelton Toll and cycled along the valley of the Carewoodrig Burn.
It was pretty as a picture.
The sun was out, the road surface was smooth and life was good…for a while.
Just ahead lay a steep hill and I was happy to pause as I went up it to take a look behind me.
I distracted my legs from complaining about the gradient by telling them to enjoy the views as we went up.
The steepest part of the hill is only about three quarters of a mile long but it climbs nearly three hundred feet so it was hard not to feel that the worst was behind me when I got to the ridge.
But I hadn’t reckoned with the wind. I had been protected from the breeze as I climbed the shoulder of the hill. Now I was on the top, I was exposed to its full force in my face. I had to pedal flat out to go down the slight hill at 8mph at the start of the ridge.
And I had forgotten that that there was still another two hundred feet of climb left before I could look back from a height of 1000 feet at a job finally done.
It was hard work and the average speed of ten miles an hour to Fiddleton had been severely dented by the time that I came to the county boundary and began the descent to Hermitage and Liddesdale.
It had been a punishing eleven miles but the worst was over now, although the hill down to Billhope Bridge…
…is so steep and twisty that my speed didn’t really pick up until I got over the bridge and into the valley, where a well maintained sheepfold or stell caught my eye….
…and even here, as you can see in this look back, the mean road builders had managed to find another little hill for me to climb and descend before I got to Hermitage Castle.
The castle in sunshine made the hard work worthwhile.
From then on, with the wind behind me, I flew down the road to Newcastleton, unwilling to stop for more pictures now that I was making progress, though I did make an exception for some roadside roses, typical of many that I had passed…
…and some interesting livestock in a farm field.
With the wind still behind me, the ten undulating miles to Canonbie from Newcastleton, usually a tedious pedal, were most enjoyable. I was a bit worried that when I turned for home at Canonbie Bridge, I would be back to struggling with the wind, but I was well sheltered as I cycled up the banks of the Esk and I got home feeling extremely cheerful. My legs were feeling cheerful too and I was able to sneak in a couple of extra miles without complaints when I got back to the town to bring my ride up to a neat 40 miles. (I may be a bit decimally fixated as I see from my records that no less than eight out of my ten last rides have ended with a 0)
I finished my day by mowing the middle lawn, having a nice cup of tea, Zooming with my siblings with Mrs Tootlepedal, and polishing off some fishcakes and spinach for the evening meal.
What with bubbles floating past the coffee morning, lovely flowers, lots of sunshine but a perfect temperature, a route that I haven’t cycled for 16 months, and finally spinach for tea, no one could possibly doubt that this was a day to be entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.
The only downside was that I couldn’t find time to get a really convincing flying bird of the day.
It’s fairly fuzzy greenfinch time again.
Those interested can click on the map below to get further details of the ride.