Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who met a grebe on her way home from her Highland holiday.
Rather surprisingly, we woke up to a brilliant summer day today. It was very welcome, especially as it stayed sunny all day.
Mrs Tootlepedal was extremely enthusiastic about the show of the accidental opium poppies in the greenhouse so I went to have a look. They were pretty good, I have to admit.
Just outside the greenhouse, the lupins were pretty good too.
Since I was out, I wandered about.
There was another poppy out in a flower bed, and with the weigela, rose and foxglove, the red pink spectrum was well catered for . . .
. . . though for big impact, Sweet Williams are the go to flower of the moment.
They carried a memory of yesterday’s rain.
My neighbour Liz had rung up to say that there was a cherry picker on stilts at the church. This seemed to be worth a look so I walked down.
She was right.
Beside it, scaffolding has been erected to give access to the bell.
I chatted to the man in charge of the repairs, and he told me that the bell is too heavy to remove from the bell tower so it will be hoisted up while work is done on the machinery below. When the bell is lowered back down, electrical devices will have been installed so that the bell can be rung at the push of a button rather than a heave on a rope.
When I got back to the garden, I found Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work, Beside her, resting on a hedge was a common carpet moth and at the other end of the garden, I noticed a bee on the comfrey. It was good to see them both.
I went in to make a pot of coffee and then we were joined by Margaret for our regular morning meeting. It was ironic that after being kept indoors by wind and rain recently, it was voted too hot to sit in the sun today, so we had coffee indoors again.
After Margaret left, I mowed the middle lawn and then helped Mrs Tootlepedal out by taking a saw and pruning the privet under the walnut. It had got a bit out of hand but it was easy enough to cut back. I then shredded the smaller branches and sawed up the bigger ones so both the compost bin and the log pile were refreshed.
A blackbird was feeling the heat . . .
. . . and so was I by this time. I went inside for some coolth, a bite of lunch and a chance to look at the birds on the feeder afterwards.
Once again, families of sparrows were very active . . .
. . . and only when they left, did a pair of siskins get a look in.
It took me some time, but I finally managed to get into my cycling gear and go off for a pedal while Mrs Tootlepedal, after a very busy morning in the garden, sat down to watch the racing from Ascot.
It was a perfect day for a pedal, warm but not too warm, with occasional clouds giving relief from the sun, and with a wind that was cooling but not offensive.
I gave myself a good start by pedalling down the old road to Canonbie and arriving at the bottom of the bypass with my average speed at 14 mph. That didn’t last for long as I turned up hill and into the wind and the next ten miles took me nearly an hour.
I was was happy stop at the top of a steep hill up from the by-pass to look at the plant in the ditch that might be hemlock. I was told be those who knew to look for purple marks on the stems but I couldn’t see any. I took pictures of the leaves and stems as best I could. Whatever the plant is, it is doing very well in this particular spot and was flourishing on both sides of the road.
And it was very popular with bees and other insects.
I found the back roads quite quiet today . . .
. . . and chose a route that would take me along roads I have used before but in a direction and combination that was new.
The route took me past the graveyard where the Korean pines grow. . .
. . . up a hill from Chapelknowe past sorrel and the first rosebay willowherb of the season . .
. . . and gave me a splendid view across the Solway plain over the wind turbines at Longtown and then off towards the north of England hills in the distance.
I had a 180 degree view but I didn’t have a camera (or the skill) that could do it justice and today’s header picture shows about half the view that I could see.
I left the wide open view and started to go down a twisty section of narrow road through trees. A burst of good sense suggested that I should go carefully and just as I slowed down, a delivery van swooshed up the hill and round the corner towards me. Had I been going faster, it would have been an awkward moment, but we squeezed past each other safely, although I think that the van driver got quite a fright.
I pedalled on up the hill and was very pleased when I got to Solwaybank and could turn for home with the wind now unequivocally behind me and more downhill than up in front of me.
I had one last stop to record some very bright meadow vetchling . . .
. . . but otherwise I kept my head down and tried to get my average speed back up to respectability. I didn’t quite manage 13 mph for the 31 mile outing but I did really enjoy it. As a bonus, my knee enjoyed it too, and gave me a lot less grief than it has been giving me lately.
It was a lovely evening, and after a cup of tea and a shower, I had another walk round the garden. The walnut tree looked pretty as the sun shone through its leaves . . .
. . . and a pink peony looked good as well.
It had been warm enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to decide that a little late watering in the vegetable garden was in order.
It got up to 22°C while I was out cycling, but it has cooled down nicely as I write this late in the day. We have been lucky as it has been far too hot lately in East Wemyss. Our son Tony was telling us of recent temperatures there in the high twenties for several days.
The flying bird of the day is a sparrow . . .
. . . and the flower of the day is a blue iris (but not with white lines round the petals).
Footnote: I would like to thank all the readers who added encouraging comments to yesterday’s post. I am encouraged.