Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who found himself walking along the bank of the River Derwent yesterday.
We had another dry but grey morning here today. It was rather gloomy at first . . .
. . . but it was pleasant enough after breakfast as we cycled to church to sing in the choir. We were a bit worried as our organist Henry had sent a message to say that he was a victim of covid and was self isolating. It was with some relief that we found that he had managed to organise a substitute organist, and we were able to sing our hymns with gusto.
The minister told us that he was going to base his next set of sermons on explaining the gospel of Mark. He added that he expected this to last for about two years. As he spent today’s sermon entirely on chapter one, verse one, this may well turn out to be true.
We had coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal adopted the role of Attila the Gardener, while I took my part as Onegesius, Attila’s chief lieutenant. We strode out into the garden to do battle with a hedge of willow, brambles, holly and beech which had grown too big for its boots. By the end of the day, Attila had showed that hedge who was boss.
I only helped as far as lunchtime, but even by that time we had produced three boxes of shreddings for the compost heap.
The birds were about in the garden as well, perhaps inclined to visit after a quiet spell because the temperature had dropped a bit and rain was threatening.
The sight of a greenfinch on the fake tree reminded us that after two years, the fake twigs are looking a bit part worn . . .
. . . and the plan is to replace the old twigs with some new shoots cut from the hedge today.
On the feeder, a greenfinch did some light moaning . . .
. . . but greenfinches are amateurs compared with siskins when it comes to being unpleasant.
Greenfinches are up for a fight though, and when one loomed up behind the feeder, the sitting tenant did not give up without a struggle.
It started to rain lightly just before lunch, so we left the hedge demolition and came inside. A greenfinch on the feeder summed up the day.
After lunch, we watched the final stage of the Tour of Britain which had a dramatic ending as Wout van Aert appeared as if by magic just in time to nip past Cavendish, win the stage and claim the victory for the whole tour.
A robin appeared to celebrate Wout’s victory . . .
. . . and gave me a very hard stare when I complained about it sitting behind a twig.
Inspired by the professional cyclists, I went for a cycle ride myself. I might have been inspired but I wisely limited myself to a fifth of their distance and only achieved about a half of their speed. My enthusiasm was slightly dampened by a light shower of rain just as I crossed the Hill Mill Brig, but I pedalled on and the rain stopped.
I had intended to go up the main road to Mosspaul against the wind and come back with the wind behind me, but when I got to Fiddelton Toll, the wind whistling through the narrow valley was strong enough to make the prospect of grinding up the the last two fairly steep miles to Mosspaul unattractive. I turned right and went along the flatter road towards Carrotrig. It is more scenically interesting too.
All the same, it does have a sting in the tail and to get up to ten miles, I had to do half a mile up a very steep hill which the camera flattens out most unfairly. I was happy to look back . . .
. . . and to my side . . .
. . . before turning and cycling rather carefully back down the hill to join the main road.
The weather was fine as I cycled back down the valley . . .
. . . but looking ahead, I could see that the rain had not gone away.
In fact, the rain was waiting for me at exactly the same spot where it had been on my way out, and it stopped as soon as I got over the High Mill Brig. It was noticeably colder in the rainy patch so perhaps a little wrinkle in the air pressure must have trapped the rain just outside Langholm. It certainly had not been raining on Attila the Gardener as she finished the destruction of the hedge while I was cycling.
And it didn’t rain while I took a wander round the garden. It was fairly damp though.
I found insects on dahlias in spite of the dampness. You have to look quite hard to see the tiny fly on the pink flower.
There were plenty of flowers with no bees and among the pretty dahlias, I was pleased to see a late foxglove and the Lilian Austin rose fully out.
While the hedge work was going on, we got an unexpected bonus. It turned out that the wild brambles had quite a number of ripe blackberries on them. There were enough in the end for me to put them in with some apples from the garden, and to have stewed apples and blackberries with custard for pudding after our evening meal. This was a good way to end the active day.
The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch with its eye on the prize.
Footnote: A reader asked recently if Mrs Tootlepedal used seeds from her salvia. She hasn’t done so before but the enquiry sparked her curiosity, and we looked to see whether our salvias were producing usable seeds. They are. The seeds pods are to be found on the stem below the flowers and the seeds are easy to shake out. You can actually see a seed in a pod in the right hand picture of the panel below. Mrs Tootlepedal is going to try growing the seeds. Our friend Mike Tinker says that he has successfully grown his salvia seeds.