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Today’s guest picture features one of our visitors today and just goes to prove that we are not the only recent grandparents about.  This is Dropscone taking the grandparenting business with Emily very seriously.  I am afraid that I don’t know who took the picture.

baby Little

We had a dry but grey morning, rather cooler than it has been, and with the ever present threat of rain and even thunderstorms about.  Like yesterday, if I wanted a dry cycle ride I would have needed to be prompt but unlike yesterday, I was not prompt at all so I didn’t go for a pedal, even though the rain held off for all of the morning and some of the afternoon too.

Luckily, there is always dead heading to be done and the garden to wander around.

The dead heading is keeping a constant flow of poppies on the go…

poppy broadcast

…and the Sweet Williams are lasting very well.

pink sweet william

A new clematis has sprung up along the back fence which is very satisfactory.

new clematis back fence

I had another go at the fancy clover and got a bit more detail without quite getting it right…

better fancy clover

…but the feverfew is easy to catch.  It has done so well that I am thinking of calling it the fevermany.

lots of fever few

I had a close look at a three things.

The back of a fern was packed with interest…

fern sporangia

….there is more to the black dot in the middle of an argyranthemum than first meets the eye….

heart of argyranthemum

…and the salvias have hidden depths too.

close up salvia

The first of the Sunny Reggae dahlias has come out but it is looking as though the slugs have spotted it.  Keen eyed readers will notice the shoe of the photographer at the back of the picture.  Because the dahlia was facing the ‘wrong way’, I had to lean over the top of it and photograph it upside down and then correct the result in the editor later.

sunny reggae dahlia

We had just gone in for coffee, when Scott, our former minister with his finely tuned coffee radar working well, popped in for a visit.  We were pleased to see him and caught with his news and shared ours with him.

After he left, we went back put into the garden to pick sweet peas and look around.  We have a lot of blackbirds, so doesn’t take a lot of looking to see one in the garden at the moment.

blackbird on fence

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex colleagues from the Health Centre and I looked around as the sun made a brief appearance.

The ligularias are attracting bees…

bee on ligularia

…as are the rambler roses.  They have come out in force over the past few days.

swathe of rambler rose

The blackbirds will soon have a fine crop of rowan berries to eat but they will have to wait for a little while before they are ripe.

lots of yellow rowan berries

I went in for a light lunch and then came back out and sieved some compost.  I was still thinking of a bike ride as it hadn’t started raining but I made the mistake of switching on the telly to see how the Tour de France time trial was going and I was still snoozing on the sofa when first Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and then we were joined by Dropscone.

He had missed coffee in the morning because he had been playing golf.  He had been beaten on the final hole but was remarkably cheerful all the same.  To cheer him up even further, we loaded him down with new potatoes and rhubarb when he left.

After that the sofa called (the time trial was quite exciting to be fair), and apart from picking a few peas, I didn’t go out again.

This did mean that I had some time to watch birds.

Siskins were busy as usual.

siskin st seed

There was hardly a dull moment.

siskins beak to brak

A blue tit was more reflective, perhaps wondering whether the siskins would go away and leave some space for other birds.

blue tit on wire

The blue tit popped up onto the peanuts but before I could record it, a sparrow came and stood in front of the camera.

sparrow on nuts

Later in the afternoon,  a pigeon took a lofty view of life from our new electricity wires.

pigeon on electricity cable

In the evening, our trio of visits was completed by the arrival of Mike and Alison, and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights, Alison and I played music for an hour which was a good way to end the day.

The light was pretty bad by the time that I sat down to watch the birds so this rather fuzzy siskin was the best that I could for a flying bird of the day.

flyimng siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Fountains Abbey.  As well as some impressive ruins, it has a lovely garden.

Fountains Abbey garden

We had a very nice summer day here today, warm and calm and often sunny.  It might well have been a good day for a pedal but the recent travelling about and some  emotional expense around the arrival of a new granddaughter led me to think that a quiet day at home might be the thing.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busier than me with the business of the proposed community buy out of our local moor giving her a lot to do, but I had a quiet day.  I started with a walk round the garden to see if the dead heading of poppies yesterday had encouraged growth today.

It had, and this was my pick as poppy of the day.

poppy of the day

New flowers have appeared including the first phlox (the phirst flox?)…

phlox

…and a pollen laden lily.

lily pollen

In the shade behind the greenhouse, a hosta dangled flowers like jewels from a necklace…

hosta jewels

…and nearby, the orange hawkweed looked as though it might be reaching the end of the line.

ornge hawkweed seed

In fact, when Mrs Tootlepedal started some gardening later in the day, the orange hawkweed did indeed meet the end of the line.

cut orange hawkweed

Meanwhile, I sat outside the kitchen window on a handy bench and watched the birds.

The siskins were are disagreeable as ever…

sparrow shouted at by siskin

…with this one actually taking to the air in mid nibble to make its point to a slightly shattered sparrow.

flying siskins

Another siskin used the old sunflower stalk as a staging post on its way to the seed…

siskin on sunflower stalk

…and I am happy to say that Mrs Tootlepedal has a new one growing nearby for next year.

new sunflower

I was happy to welcome another visitor to the garden when Sandy came for coffee.

sandy arriving

He told me that his feet were still stopping him from going for walks but he is hoping that an operation in October will sort his problem out.  I hope so too as I have missed our walks this year.  On the other hand, he has tried out a friend’s electric bicycle and was so taken by the experience that he is thinking of getting one himself.  That would mean that we might substitute cycle outings for walks which would be fun….though he would have to learn to wait for me at the top of every hill of course.

When he left, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and did some light work.  This included more dead heading and picking the enormous number of sweet peas that had appeared overnight.

I also kept an eye on a family of young blackbirds which were lurking near the compost bins…

two young blackbirds

…while trying to catch a swirling flock of swifts circling over head.

two swifts

Two of our buddleias have come out and I kept an eye on them to see if any butterflies were attracted by their flowers.

Several small tortoiseshells arrived on cue.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 1

The two different plants were both in the butterfly magnet business.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2`

We dug up another of our early potatoes and were very pleased to find that it had produced 17 new potatoes, a very good return  we thought.  We ate several of them, along with some lettuce from the garden for our lunchtime salad.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a meeting and I didn’t go for a cycle ride.  I thought about it quite a lot, but that was as far as  got.  I did do some compost sieving and greenhouse grass mowing instead but I did quite a lot of sitting down as well.

I admired the roses on the fence…

rambler rose on fance

…and the berries that have appeared on the tropaeolum flowers…

tropaeolum berries

…and I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when she got back from her meeting and then, finally, I got so embarrassed about wasting such a glorious day that I did get my bike out at last and cycled 14 miles.

By this time the wind had got a bit frisky and I did the first five miles up the gentle hill and into the wind at 9 miles an hour and then did the second five miles down the gentle hill and with the wind behind me at 19 miles an hour.  I might have gone a little faster if a lad driving a tractor while talking on his mobile phone hadn’t driven out of a side road in front of me and forced me to a halt.  He gave me a cheery wave though.

My route took me out of the town past some hawkweed rich verges…

hawkweed beside road

…with a lot of bird’s foot trefoil about…

bird's foot trefoil

…until I got to the top of the first straight on Callister after five miles…

callister with verges

…where I turned round and cycled back through the town and then went for two miles out of the other side…

ewes valley in evening

It was tempting to go further on such a lovely evening, but the evening meal was waiting

…before heading for home.

Some more of our home grown potatoes went into one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fine fish pies for our tea.  It was garnished with turnips from the garden and followed by rhubarb and custard for a pudding.

As we also had picked, cooked and eaten some beetroot, it was a good garden-to-mouth day.

The weather looks as though it might be a bit more changeable over the next few days  so I might regret my poor cycling efforts today but it can’t be helped, I just didn’t have the get up and go.

The flying bird of the day is a bee.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was spotted by a deer on one of his walks.

ant's deer

It was another grey day today but although it promised to rain for quite a lot of the day, we got nothing worse than a few spots every now and again.

I went off to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and was very disappointed to find that neither the  fishmonger nor the cheesemonger were present.  I made do with some stewing steak and honey and made my way home again.

As it wasn’t raining, I mowed the front and middle lawns and was pleased to find a fair amount of grass growing on both.  Then, following up a suggestion from the gardener, I went into the greenhouse to check on the argyranthemum.  It was a surprise to me to find that it has such a cheerful flower.

argyranthemum

I look forward to seeing it out in the garden in due course.

Things were generally looking quite cheerful in the garden in spite of the cloudy weather and the two and half inches of rain which we have had this week.

six flowers

I went out to look at the hedge along the road and found that it need trimming.  While I was there,  I looked back into the garden and saw the view which the passer by gets.

garden from road

I looked at some of the paler flowers…

four yellow and white flowers

…and went indoors to look at the birds and have lunch.

A pigeon was taking time out on a garden seat…

pigeon ion chair

…while the sparrows rushed busily about.

two sparrows incoming

After lunch, we went to a recital by our church organist Henry, seen here consulting with his page turner.

henry at the organ

He played the recital which he used for his degree examination recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal had heard him play it in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh last month but it was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recital is part of a series held to raise money for the restoration of the church organ.  I hope that they succeed in raising the substantial funds required as the organ is a delight to listen to, very clear and mellow in tone so that the audience doesn’t get the battering that some of the bigger cathedral organs administer.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and some dainty cakes after the performance and then we went home.

Once home, I spent some useful time practising the songs for our Carlisle Choir concert which is coming up next week and then I checked the weather forecast as I was thinking about a cycle ride.  Unfortunately the forecast was very gloomy, promising heavy rain shortly so I gave up the idea of pedalling and sieved some compost instead and had another walk round the garden.

A rhododendron which has been threatening to flower for some weeks, has finally got its act together.  It was worth the wait.

late flowering rhododendron

And on every side, hostas are growing.

four hostas june

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t  rain so I decided to put a brolly in my pocket and go for a walk until it started.

The recent rain has put a little water into the rivers but they are still pretty low as this view of the Kirk Brig shows.

daisies beside Wauchope

Beside the Esk, I spotted a pair of ducks.  The male was looking very calm while the female was making a big splash.

drake and duck

I crossed the river and walked along the Kilngreen under the supervision of a black headed gull.

black headed gull on post

The clouds were well down on the hills round the town…

cloud on Timpen

…but on the Castleholm, a cricket match was in full swing.

cricket in prgress

I didn’t stop to watch the game and turned to admire an ornamental horse chestnut tree instead.

red chestnut

I continued round the new path and enjoyed the new growth all around me, both looking up..

cones and wildflowers castleholm

…and down.

It was gloomy in the corner by the two noble fir trees and female and male fruits had an air of mystery about them.

noble firs castleholm

There were flowers beside the path including a lot of crosswort…

wild flowers castleholm

…and an unknown (to me) yellow flower and a superb hawthorn.

As I walked over the Jubilee Bridge and round the Scholars’ Field, the trees were full of interest…

tree fruits castleholm

…and there was lots to see at ground level too.

four wild flowers scholars

When I got home, I was amazed at how many pictures I had taken on such an unpromising day.  I have bunged a lot of them into the panels in spite of the poor quality of many of them just to show what I saw.

I was also rather annoyed to find that as time went on, there was no hint whatsoever of any of the forecast rain and much as I had enjoyed my walk, I could easily have gone for a decent cycle ride which would have done me more good.

Still, the lawns are cut, the compost buckets are full and I saw a lot of interesting things on my walk so I should regard it as a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life even it didn’t have a pedal in it.

The poor light made getting a good flying bird picture tricky so I have put in a gender balanced pair of sparrows today.

twi flying sparrows

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz.  She has been going through her photographic archives and found this very odd picture from 40 years ago of me pushing her late husband down the street in a wheelbarrow.  Our strange expressions may be because we have large moustaches painted on our faces.  Memories have  faded but the feeling is that we must have been getting ready to take part in a charity fancy dress wheelbarrow race.

dav

It was a miserable day here today and it didn’t stop raining until the late afternoon.  At times it was very windy too, so I was happy to idle about indoors doing the crossword, making soup and looking out of the kitchen window…

…where there was a lot of action all day.  The sparrows like the fat balls and the little shelter keeps the food and the eaters dry.

sparrows on fat balls

Other birds were soggier like this pigeon…

soggy pigeon

…and this starling…

soggy starling

…and this goldfinch…

soggy goldfinch

Somehow blackbirds seem to be more water resistant than the other birds and the raindrops roll off their backs.

damp blackbird

None of the birds looked very happy…

greenfinch and sparrow in the rain

…until this collared dove turned up looking very calm and dry.

collared dove on ground

The starlings are very busy feeding their young and this little fellow was waiting patiently while its parent collected some seed from the feeder.

baby starling

After lunch, we went off to get some more bird food and pay a visit to a popular DIY chain store  in Carlisle where we hoped to buy a decorative lampshade.  Mrs Tootlepedal knew what she wanted so we looked on the internet before we left and found that our local branch of the store had 20 in stock.  This was good news.

The bird food purchase went smoothly and we also got some straw for our strawberries so we were in a good mood when we got to the store.  Our smiles turned down a little when we searched the lampshade section and could not find the shade we had in mind.

We summoned assistance.  “I don’t think we’ve got any of them,” she said, “but I’ll have a look.”

She looked and she couldn’t find them either.

“They’re not in stock,” she said.
“Your computer says you’ve got 20 in stock”, I replied.
“Hmmm.”

She consulted the computer and it did indeed say that they had twenty in stock.

“Ah,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean that we actually do have twenty in stock. They often say that they are sending us stuff, put it on the computer but don’t send it.”
“Ah” we said,
“Sorry,” she said…

…and we went on our way, sadder but wiser.

Still, we had other shopping to do nearby and that went well so we got home happy enough and found that the rain had stopped at last.

jackdaw going nuts

After a cup of tea, I went out and did some more compost shifting and sieving and then as it was very grey and windy, I went back in and resumed looking out of the kitchen window.

I thought that these sparrows were just doing the usual shouting at each other…

sparrow feeding 1

…but it turned out to be…

sparrow feeding 2

… another feeding experience.

sparrow feeding 3

The young are very demanding….

sparrow feeding 4

…and the parents have a very busy time…

sparrow feeding 5

…indeed,

sparrow feeding 6

In the evening it started to rain again but the gloom was lifted when Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed playing Telemann, Parcham and Rameau duets before joining Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike to catch up on all the news.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in the rain.

flying sparrow

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As well as seeing beautiful river scenes, Bruce has also met St Aidan of Lindisfarne on his Northumberland break, and his statue is the guest picture of the day.

St Aidan of Lindisfarne

There was an infernal racket in the garden this morning and anyone who extols the calming and peaceful nature of bird song has obviously not heard young starlings asking to be fed.

It was raucous.

starling parent and child

And sometimes the parents looked fed up with the demands for food.

two starlings

Young starlings grow quickly but they don’t develop the patterned feathers of the adult so it was easy to tell that this was a youngster waiting for a grown up to appear…

yoiung starling

…which it did in short order, carrying a beakful of worms…

starling bringing food

…which were gratefully received.

starling feeding child

I took a look at the burgeoning clematis flowers along the garage…

garge clematis

…and went off to help Mrs Tootlepedal distribute the wood chips that we collected yesterday on to the vegetable garden paths.

We laid down an impermeable lining and then added the chippings.  The result looked quite satisfactory.

chipped paths

There are more chips to be collected and more paths to be covered so it is ongoing work.

Beside the back fence, a small wild area added colour….

buttercups

…while further along, a transplanted clematis has flowered to Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight.

back fence clematis

I had a wander round, passing my favourite astantias…

two astrantias

…and noting the first flowers on the wiegela…

wiegela

…before stopping to check on the azalea which has been badly affected by lack of rain.

The recent wet weather has encouraged it to open some of its buds after all and…

thirsty azalea

…as it is due to keep raining for some days, all may not be lost.

The waxy leaves of lupins and hostas held the evidence.

two waxy leaves

The clematis by the front door is beginning to look a bit bedraggled so I took a picture of it while it is still looking stunning.

front door azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal is easing the frost bitten but recovering fuchsia out of the greenhouse day be day..

fuchsia out of greenhouse

…and I hope to see it in position in the garden soon.

When I had finished wandering, I set about doing a little more shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C.  The sieved bits are looking good.

buckets of compost

It was reasonably warm in the garden and there were threats of rain but it kept dry for the morning and only started to rain in earnest as we left to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

The train was even later than usual but as one disgruntled passenger pointed out as we arrived at Waverley Station 28 minutes late, this was two minutes too early for us to be able to claim part of the fare back.  Ah well.  And it was pouring with rain when we got out of the station so it was not our finest travelling day.

Matilda was in excellent form when we arrived.  Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly welcomed as she is making a dress for Matilda to wear at a school performance and had brought her measuring tape with her to get the size right.  After the measuring had been done, we played Go Fish and Beggar My Neighbour with Matilda and all I can say is that I didn’t catch many fish and I was utterly beggared by both Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal.  I have always had characteristically bad luck at cards.

The journey home was delayed too and it was still raining as we drove home so it was good to get back to a warm, dry house.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings returning to our neighbour’s holly tree where they are roosting.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on a break in Northumberland, where he took this picture of a bridge over the River Breamish.

River Breamish near Ingram village

It was a grey and faintly drizzly day here today so it was good to have a spot of indoor brightness supplied by the  charming flowers that Sue had brought when she came for coffee on Monday.

sue's flowers

Sandy came for coffee today.  He is suffering from sore feet too and we have been unable to go for a walk for several weeks so it was good to see him and catch up with his news.

When he left, I checked to see what the birds were up to and found a brisk demand for fat balls among the sparrows.

fat ball feeder with sparrows

The sparrows are eating anything they can get their beaks on at the moment and….

four sparrows

…they are monopolising the feeder for a good part of the day.

four sparrows (2)

I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal dispose of some of the surplus soil which we had removed from the lawn when we did the returfing. It was amazingly dry and dusty so we mixed it with some composted shreddings and Mrs Tootlepedal spread it on the front beds.

I did some shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C and then had a wander around to admire the azaleas.  Some of them have suffered badly because of the long cool spell and the lack of rain and have not been able to develop their buds into flowers but others have put on a fine show.

orange azaleared azalea

And the alliums don’t seem to have been affected by the lack of rain at all.

four alliums

We have had an inch of rain recently but it has only been enough to dampen the top layer of the soil in the flower beds and if Mrs Tootlepedal digs down to plant out something new, it is still dry as dust below.  Looking at the forecast though, we may be about to get a persistent spell of light rain over the next few days.  Unhappily, this may turn out to be light enough to be annoying without being useful.

All the same, new flowers are appearing and the Scotch rose is developing well…

scotch rose

…and a little patch of cornflowers appeared as if by magic.  One minute it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was fully formed.

cornflower

The sparrows were interrupted on the feeder by the arrival of a starling…

starling on feeder

…which I noticed as I was making some lentil soup for our lunch.

In spite of a forecast of a 60% chance of a long spell of light rain in the faternoon, I managed to get onto my cycling gear and get out for a pedal while it was dry.

The hillsides are bright with hawthorn blossom on every side.

hawthorn on hill

I passed one of the busiest trees that you will ever see.  It had growth bursting out of every twig.  I think that it is a Norway Spruce.

busy spruce tree

The forecast was looking likely to be ominously correct as a drizzle started up before I had gone far.  I pedalled on though and was cheered up by the sight of some late bluebells on a bank bedside the road.

late bluebells

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at too…

yellow wild flowers

…and  hawthorns and lambs made the day seem nicer than it was.

hawthorn and lambs

I had a good waterproof jacket on and the drizzle was very light so I pressed on to the top of Callister in the hope of seeing some developments in the wind farm that is being built there.  There were sounds of working but nothing to see yet.

The drizzle didn’t last very long, and it turned out to be a good day for cycling with a light wind, so when I came back down the hill into Langholm, I decided to go through the town and out again to the south to see if the new road at the Tarras landslip was open for cyclists yet.

It was.

A lot of work has gone onto making the steep banking below the road stable…

landslip repaired tarras

..and the road itself was a pleasure to cycle down with a beautifully smooth new surface.

new road tarras

I was intending just to visit the road and then turn back for home but having swooshed down the new road and got to the bottom of the hill and crossed the bridge over the Tarras Water, it seemed a pity not to go on, so I cycled along a road that I haven’t used for three years or more.

old road tarras

This took me down the east side of the River Esk and having passed a splendid broom bush…

broom

…I crossed the river by the Hollows Bridge and returned to Langholm up the west bank.

The bus stop at the Hollows, is a garden in itself.

bus stop hollows

The rain stayed away and I got home warm and dry after a very enjoyable 25 miles.

As it was dry, Mrs Tootlepedal and I then took the opportunity to go and collect some more woodchips for her vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t have time to spread them on the paths as it was now time to cook our evening meal.  I left this task in the capable hands of Mrs Tootlepedal and went and had a little sit down and rest.

My cycle mileage for the month has been very poor and I have only managed half the miles that I had originally planned to do by this time of the year, so I am hoping that June brings some very cycling friendly weather and I can make some progress.  I am still quite optimistic that the worst has passed as far as my feet are concerned although I haven’t tried a good walk yet.  Time will tell.

The flying bird of the day is one of our flock of sparrows.

flying sparrow

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