Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo’s trip to the Rockies. She took this fine view from the road as they drove along.
Today’s post is the wrong way round as I want to start with the most important part of the day and that was the evening. I caught the 5.20 bus into Carlisle and had time to wander past the castle and the Cathedral as daylight faded. . .
. . . before meeting up with Susan, Sue and Jenny at an event held to honour the memory of our fifth recorder group member, Roy. Roy died during the first strict lockdown, and his funeral was only attended by three family members. Today was the earliest opportunity that his son and daughter had been able to gather many of his friends and his wider family together to remember him. We met in Roy’s favourite cafe, and raised our glasses in a toast to his life and ‘absent friends’.
Memories are unreliable these days but we calculated that we have been playing recorder music with Roy for decades so this was a little bit of history passing. We are pleased and privileged that we who remain can keep playing together. Susan kindly drove me home, and we will meet and play quartets with the others in a couple of weeks.
The more routine part of the day started with some chilly sunshine after more rain showers during the night. I dawdled about indoors until the temperature had warmed up a little, and after an early coffee, I had a look round the garden.
Rudbeckias are short of a petal or two . .
. . . but new lilies seem to come out every day . . .
. . . and the little red rose continues to flourish . . .
To tell the truth, the garden is over for the year, but as long as a single flower shows up, I will try to snatch a photograph of it, and we are still waiting for the first real frost of the dark months.
There was a brisk wind blowing from the west as I set out on my bicycle and in spite of the sunshine, I was pleased to have a good many layers of clothing on to protect me from the chilly blast. The forecast was a bit uncertain, but the Meteorological Office thought that I should be all right as long as I stayed away from England. The BBC wasn’t so convinced. I risked going into England for a mile.
The sun is low in the sky these days, and it doesn’t have the heat or the brightness of summer any more, but it can still pick out a golden leaf when it wants to.
The leaves were all pointing in one direction and I was pedalling in the other, so it was a struggle to get up Callister. I was happy to take a photographic rest at the half way point.
I struggled on and reached the top of the hill at a miserable 8 mph for the second outing running. The wind stayed in my face as I battled over to Middlebie, and here a handy bench gave my bicycle somewhere to rest as I admired the church and found a strange figure giving me a hard stare.
The last time that I came along this road, I was pedalling west to east and I remarked to myself then that it seemed to have a lot more uphill than down going in that direction. I was therefore looking forward to today’s ride, but strangely, the same thing seemed to be true even though I was going from east to west. The laws of physics are confusing. I worked out as I pedalled onwards, that although the amount of distance going up and down hill in a round trip must be the same, the amount of time spent going uphill will always be a lot longer than the time spent going downhill so perhaps this explains the phenomenon.
I headed on to Ecclefechan, and then took the old main road south to Gretna Green, where a somnolent coachman was waiting to pick up a happy couple.
From Gretna Green, I took the back road towards Corries Mill, anxious to see if the Southern Uplands ranger had finished the new steps at the Black Sark bridge.
He had made a grand job of them . . .
. . . and I walked down them to take a picture of the bridge and the new steps side by side.
The ranger had told me that he had seen otters here while he was working, so I stood on the bridge for a while and looked hopefully . . .
. . . in both directions . . .
. . . without any luck.
The wind was more helpful by this time, but my legs had been so jiggered by pedalling into the wind for nearly two hours that they weren’t able to take full advantage of this assistance, and my progress could politely be described as stately.
I gave up worrying about the pedalling, and occupied my mind by writing letters to the newspapers of such excoriating brilliance that had I been able to remember them when I got home and had they been posted and published, the course of history would have undoubtedly been changed.
When I started to concentrate on cycling again, I found myself at Irvine House . . .
. . . and in the presence of autumnal cattle.
My cycle computer ticked over to 40 miles just as I rolled through our front gate (which would have been more impressive if I hadn’t had to make a small diversion in Langholm to bring up the half mile that I was missing when I had first cycled past our road end). As it also brought up 3800 miles for the year so far, I was happy enough in spite of the slow progress, especially as Mrs Tootlepedal told me that there had been several rain showers in Langholm while I had been out pedalling in the sun.
A very late lunch and a cup of tea left me with a moment to look at the birds before my shower. The birds were not being co-operative.
The forecast for the next three days is awful, so I am even more happy to have got a good ride in today in spite of the strength sapping wind which really made me feel my age.
The non flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.
Footnote: The pictures of the cathedral were very appropriate as Roy had been a chorister in York Minster when he was a boy.