Today’s guest picture comes from my South African correspondent, Tom, the Langholm exile. He came across this elegant track from a four foot long Liguaan lizard on one of his walks. They didn’t see the lizard itself.
We had another sunny morning here but with the wind coming from the north, it felt a little cool when the occasional clouds came over, so Dropscone and I had coffee indoors when he arrived bearing scones.
Before coffee, I took a turn round the garden and peered closely at flowers.
Dropscone had tragic tales of golf misfortunes to tell, including hitting his ball into the same ditch from two different directions on consecutive holes. I was suitably sympathetic. He also had a sad tale of a very long wait in hospital for routine treatment because of an administrative error. I was much more sympathetic about that.
After coffee, I went to the shop, helped the gardener when I could, and looked at the flowers again. I had another look at the nectaroscordums which are doing very well this year. You have to lie on the ground and look up if you want to see inside their flowers (or hold the camera upside down and hope, which is what I did).
I found a melancholy thistle dusted with icing.
Mrs Tootlepedal has been surprised by a white rose flowering under the silver pear tree. She didn’t plant it, and wonders if it might be a shoot from the pink rose on the opposite side of the path, but growing white as it is well shaded by the pear tree.
I like the variety in the geums round the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.
There were a few more buzzing insects about today, but still not very many. One obligingly settled on a poppy just beside me as I took a moment to rest on the new bench.
Yellow flowers are brightening up the garden.
After lunch, it clouded over but still remained dry and reasonably warm. It seemed like a good day for a pedal and as the wind was light and from the north, I set off up the main road going north with a view to getting gently blown back down the hill later in the ride.
I turned right at Fiddleton Toll after eight miles and took to the hills.
This meant that before I could get the advantage of the following wind, I had to go up this hill, which I photographed from near the top looking back . . .
. . . and then down the other side into our neighbouring region.
At the bottom of that hill, is a charming bridge over the Billhope Burn
Near the end of this road stands Hermitage Castle, foursquare and uncompromising.
It is perched on the banks of the Hermitage Water.
When I turned south at the end of the Hermitage road, my plan to be pushed along by the kindly wind came to fruition, and I enjoyed a very easy run down to Newcastleton, rattling along at such a speed that I only stopped for one picture on the way.
Normally, once I have got to Newcastleton, I can choose to take the ten mile hilly route back to Langholm across the moor, or use the main roads to go south to Canonbie and back up home, a sixteen mile trip. Today, there was no choice as the hill road was closed for repairs so I went the long way round, grateful for the continuing help from the wind over the two stiff climbs on my way to Canonbie.
I might add that the wind helped me break the speed limit as I pedalled through the village of Newcastleton, but as the limit is 20 mph and I only achieved 21 mph, I am not expecting to feel the heavy hand of the law on my collar.
I was getting a bit pushed for time by now, and my only photograph on this section was the peaceful River Esk taken from Hollows Bridge where I paused for a final snack and to check in with Mrs Tootlepedal to say that I was on my way.
I got back just in time for the regular sibling Zoom. It was a cheery affair, enlivened by a guest appearance of my nephew Jem, who was visiting his mother.
Before the zoom, I found moment to look at sparrows and siskins picking out the last of the seed in the feeder . . .
. . . and a blackbird who was contemplating higher things.
In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison for music and conversation. Alison and I played duets while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal conversed. This was not only good from the point of view of music making, but also because it signified a sort of return to normal life. This was most welcome. Considering how rusty we are from lack of playing, the music went very well and was a balm to the soul.
The flying bird of the day is a distant sparrow approaching the feeder . . .
. . . and the flower of the day is the latest addition to the ranks of the Sweet Williams.
Footnote: My 38 miles today took me over 2000 miles for the year so far. As my aim for the year is to cover 4000 miles, I am on track but not resting on my laurels. Winter months to come can bring low mileage totals and there is always the possibility of illness and injury throwing a spanner in the works.