Levelling up

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She took this peaceful canal scene today just to show the rest of her family that she had been out and about.

The forecast was right, and it was a bit cooler today than the past two days. However, it was only a bit cooler, and as the sun shone for most of the day after some overnight rain, it was very tolerable weather for the time of the year.

I was feeling a little tired when I got up, so I was happy to idle away quite a bit of time after breakfast, aided by the newspapers, doing the crossword and listening to the radio. Margaret came round for coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into bike cleaning mode.

As part of the purchase of the new bikes, we had traded in the excellent Dawes machine on which Mrs Tootlepedal rode from Land’s End to John o’Groats in 2008. We are going to take it to the bike shop tomorrow so it needed a good clean today. My road bike is also going in for a service so that needed a clean as well. By the time that we had finished, we were ready for lunch.

I looked at the birds for a moment before tucking into a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ham broth.

At the feeder, a goldfinch was busy shouting at every other bird it could see, and when other birds ran out, it sat there shouting at itself.

My favourite moment was when a goldfinch and siskin locked beaks in battle.

After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and prepared soil in her second potato bed while I stayed inside and made a batch of sausage rolls. When they were safely out of the oven, I went out into the garden too. I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D, watched Mrs Tootlepedal work, and wandered around taking pictures for ten minutes.

The carder bee was back among its favourite pulmonaria and a small tortoiseshell butterfly flew in for a short stay.

Tulips glowed in the sunshine and dicentras and trout lilies caught my eye too.

A blackbird kept an eye on me.

Mrs Tootlepedal planted her potatoes and put the finishing touches to her potato bed. This year the potatoes have been daringly arranged in two long rows instead of the more conventional series of short rows across the bed. Can life get more exciting than this?

With over 60 potatoes planted now, we are hoping for a good summer with no slugs or blight to create storage problems.

With the garden task completed, we got out our electric bikes and went out for a ride. We are trying to find out how far we can go on a single charge. Mrs Tootlepedal’s bike is the key as it has a smaller battery than mine.

The batteries got a good work out today when we found ourselves pedalling into a strong wind gusting up to 20 mph straight in our faces while we went up the Wauchope road.

The battery strength indicator on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bike is a bit crude and after three miles it went down to showing a quarter left. We used power to whizz up the steep hill past Wauchope Schoolhouse and then thought it sensible to turn for home. Of course as soon as we headed back down the hill . . .

. . . the indicator went back to saying it was half full again.

Obviously it is not an exact measure, but a bit like our car, it tells you roughly how far you can go if you keep cycling in the way that you currently are. This is not as helpful as it could be. As it was, by the time that we got home, it was back to showing a quarter full. Mrs Tootlepedal had cycled 20 miles over the past three days but it is not clear how much further we could have gone up hill and into the wind today, and still got home with charge to spare. More experimentation is needed.

On the plus side, cycling uphill and into the wind was a pleasure and not a penance.

As we came round Pool Corner on our way back to the town, we noticed some bluebells out on the bank beside the road, so once we had put the bikes on charge, I went off to our nearest bluebell wood to see if the bluebells there were out too.

It was breezy but a grand afternoon still.

When I got to the wood, there were quite few bluebells out . . .

. . . but it was well short of a carpet of blue. If all goes well, I shall come back next week and get a treat.

In the meantime, there were plenty of distractions.

And the individual bluebells were very pretty.

A curious event occurred during the day. When we got home from cycling, we found a cauliflower on our back doorstep. Enquiries led to an admission from Dropscone that he had passed this cauliflower in a supermarket aisle, and as it had only cost 29p, he couldn’t stop himself buying it. We thanked him for his gift which we will put to good use tomorrow.

The speedy flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

29 thoughts on “Levelling up

  1. We’re following your ebike and car experiments with interest. Updating part of the Homestead fleet is a hot topic right now. As for a friend who knows a good cauli bargain when he sees it: a keeper, definitely!

    1. Dropscone just cannot resist a bargain. 🙂

      Early opinions on the electric bikes are very positive from both of us but time will tell if there are drawbacks too.

  2. You had an exciting day there from battling birds, expansive views and colorful flowers. The siskin was quite serious attacking the goldfinch’s beak like that. How often does that happen? Good catch!

    The cauliflower sounds like a good gift. There is nothing like nourishing gifts that can be put to immediate use. 🙂

    1. The cauliflower has gone to a good home! I think the birds clash beaks reasonably often as I have had pictures of this behaviour before but it is hard to catch.

      1. I freed a beautiful male starling that had become tangled up in netting today. He was trying to peck me while I was working on him, but I was able to cut the net around him so I could free the legs and feet. No damage to him, though it took a good 20 minutes. I was able to release him and he flew off.

  3. It was great to see the bluebells.
    If one of you rode the bike until it exhausted its charge and then called for the other of you to come to the rescue I would think that would give you a good estimate. Of course hills would come into play as well.
    I was hoping to see a greater stitchwort blooming here soon but we’re having some cold weather again.

    1. That is an interesting suggestion about the cycle but as you say, hills are the big unknown and as every journey will be different, we will have to get used over time to estimating the possible miles according to the nature of the terrain.

  4. The first year we did the big veg garden we ran the rows the long way, but it was just too arduous weeding such long rows. I know you end up covering the same distance, but you feel more of a sense of accomplishment by reaching the end of the row in a shorter time. Specious reasoning, but it gets you through the weeding!

    How are you going to get two full sized bikes to the bike shop?

    1. As it turned out, I only needed to get one there and it just fitted into the back of the car with the front wheel taken off. I don’t think that we have quite enough ground under potatoes for the weeding to be a major task. 🙂

  5. Am I the only one intrigued by today’s title? My only idea is that it refers to the mounds that are raised over the potato beds. Remembering potato cultivation from long ago, it seems like we used to raise the mounds around the potato plants once they had sprouted and were six of eight inches high. But perhaps my memory is faulty.

    1. The levelling up was an attempted joke referring to the level in the battery going down while we went up and then going up again when we went down. ‘Levelling up’ is also a phrase used by our present government which doesn’t actually mean anything (like much that they say).

  6. Now that’s the sign of a real chum…a present of a cauliflower! Exciting times with bike rides and views of bluebells- look forward to seeing more photos of the bluebells when they are in full flower.

  7. Cleaning my bikes is definitely not a popular chore for myself, so my poor Pioneer has only had cursory scrubs on an irregular basis. Actually, I find, potatoe planting very exciting. I hope to make several raised bed planters available in our back garden reconstruction. Her indoors has green fingers. The new bolts for my eccentric pedal arrived yesterday so, hopefully, I will have finished the SwytchBike conversion on my single speed and get a test run completed. I only have one concern, that is the fact that the tyres are only 32c and are not bombproof like those on my Pioneer. I have real concerns about punctures. Cheers.

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