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Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  While I was playing recorders in Denholm last Saturday, he was watching a cycle event passing by further up the borders.

cycle sportive

It was another dry day today, although it seems to have rained later on when we were in Edinburgh.

After breakfast, I went for a look at the new anemone to see how it was doing.

anemone

I think it is probably the prettiest flower that we have in the garden all year.  The colours are so rich that it is hard to beat.

While I was out, I saw that I am not the only one interested in euphorbias.

fly on euphorbia

Every flower had a friend….

fly on euphorbia

I have said it before and I will say it again, they are the most extraordinary plants, obviously designed by a committee which wanted to get everything in.

It felt quite warm and the wind seemed light in the garden so I set out for a short cycle ride in good spirits.  The warmth was real but the calmness was an illusion and as soon as I got out of the shelter of the town, i found myself battling into a brisk wind as I pedalled the ten miles or so out to Paddockhole.

On the this occasion the wind didn’t play any silly tricks so at least I was given a good helping hand on the return journey.   My daughter Annie has sent me some Colombian guava energy bars and I gave one a try today.  It was very tasty but my legs didn’t seem particularly grateful.  The wind might have had something to do with that so I will give them another try,  They taste better than standard energy gels so that is in their favour.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and I had a look round too.

bergenia

The bergenia is flourishing

spirea

As are the spireas

A blackbird sat on the silver pear and sang a challenge to all comers….

blackbird

The jackdaws made a mess of my lawn again yesterday, almost as soon as I had finished mowing it…

jackdaws lawn pecking

They are not taking the moss away as I cleared a bucket of pecked moss off

…so it was looking a bit part worn today.  They may save me the trouble of scarifying it if they go on like this.

I didn’t have a lot of time to look at birds but I took a shot or two after I had had my shower….

blackbird

A blackbird checks to see who else is around as it lands on the feeder

redpoll

Once again there was no shortage of redpolls

…and then it was time to head to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

The train trip was very pleasant in the sunshine and we were much struck by the brilliance of this field of rape near Edinburgh.

rape near Edinburgh

Matilda and her parents were in good form and we spent some happy hours playing games, only interrupted by a trip to the shops.

I was just taking a sober picture of Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda going down the steps from the house….

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

…when there was a regrettable outbreak of media awareness.

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

They were joined by Matilda’s mum, Clare and walked along to the shops to cries of…

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

…one, two three, wheeeee!

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

It was a very cheery outing.

The train journey home was uneventful and we were surprised to see that it had obviously rained at Lockerbie although we had had a clear, fine afternoon and evening in Edinburgh.

I managed to catch a flying chaffinch at lunchtime.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who visited  Dulwich Park opposite the Dulwich Art Gallery in South London today.  It is an oasis of peace in a busy world.

Dulwich Park, opposite the Picture Gallery

We had another chilly morning followed by another dry day with a north wind.  More tulips fell under the heavy hand of the cold but some survived…

tulips

…and new tulips have come to join them.

tulip

I killed a bit of time while I was waiting for the thermometer to rise to 7°C by looking at sitting birds in the sunshine from an upstairs window.

goldfinch

siskins

… and when the temperature finally got there, I went off on the fairly speedy bike to test how strong the north wind was.   It was brisk but tolerable and blew me down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass at a very satisfying rate of knots.

Of course the  return journey, uphill and into the wind, wasn’t quite so carefree but it was far from being just a slog and I enjoyed my ride a lot.  I only stopped once, on the bridge at The Hollows, to show the gradual greening of the landscape.

River Esk at Hollows

Downstream

River Esk at Hollows

Upstream

The river level is very low, a testament to the dry spell that we have had lately.  A couple of warm wet days wouldn’t be entirely unwelcome.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden and after a shower, a quick lunch and a look out of the kitchen window….

redpolls

More redpolls seem to appear every day.

…I joined her.  I employed myself as usefully as I could by doing some dead heading of daffodils, which have suffered from the cold and are getting to the end of their lives anyway, some sieving of compost, which is needed for planting out the early vegetables, and mowing the middle lawn, which wasn’t really needed because of the chilly weather but I like mowing lawns.

And of course, I looked at flowers.

It was surprising to me how some flowers seemed untouched by the cold mornings.  This lamium is thriving….

lamium

…and a new anemone came out today…

anemone

…and the curious tulips seem unaffected by the frosts….

tulip

…though it might be a bit hard to tell.

We are getting very excited by a trillium which should be open soon.

I was pleased to see a bee or two about….

marsh marigold with bee

This one was on a marsh marigold in the pond

…because fruit flowers will need all the attention that they can get.

gooseberry and blackcurrant

The gooseberry has a wasp at work and the blackcurrant is producing flowers in spite of a bad attack of ‘big bud’

apples

The espalier apples are starting to flower

The cold weather has held plants back a bit but there are hopeful signs.

lupin

The lupins are looking healthy.

I spent some time trying to catch more sitting birds to please Mrs Tootlepedal who finds constant flying birds rather fidgety.  The next two pictures were taken with my Lumix while I was outside int he garden which is most unusual for me.  The birds were sitting on the feeders very calmly as I approached.

redpoll

siskins and goldfinch

When I went in, I looked out again.

redpoll

It was a redpoll heavy day today.

I put in a bit of time preparing an MP3 file of a tenor part for one of our Carlisle songs to send to a fellow singer.  It is a tricky number and there are fears that the conductor might try to make us learn it so a practice aid will be helpful.

I noticed a blackbird outside as I came through into the kitchen after emailing the music file.

blackbird

By now, it was time for tea and I cooked myself a nourishing corn beef hash with added onions and mushrooms and fortified by this, I then went off to sing with our Langholm choir.

 

It was one of those evenings when the songs we sang were songs that by and large I could sing and the three tenors in the choir were in good humour and sang well together as a team so that by the time the two hours were up, I was on a musical high and came home in a very cheery mood indeed.  Singing is wonderful when it is going well.

The flying bird of the day is looming more than flying.

flying chaffinch

Note:  A helpful correspondent pointed out that yesterday’s post came without a comments facility.  I don’t know how that happened and I will try to make sure that there is one today.  If there isn’t, I apologise.

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Today’s guest picture shows another fine waterfall seen by Dropscone on his holiday in Skye.

Skye waterfall

We had the second bright but slightly chilly day in a row and once again, musical activity got in the way of cycling.

I did get out for a morning ride but only after I had put a lamb stew into the slow cooker and time limited by the need to be back in time to go to choir in the afternoon.   I nipped round my standard 20 miles down to Canonbie and back and, as it was London Marathon day, I was pleased that I had managed to go a little bit faster than the elite runners even if I didn’t go quite as far.

I didn’t take my camera but got it out as soon as I got home to celebrate the brilliance of the tulips which were enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

tulips

tulips

tulips

tulips

I think that they were at their best today and as we have a week of chilly weather with north winds to come, I may not see them as generously open again for some time.

tulips

tulips

My favourite tulip of the moment is the Ballerina…..

ballerina tulip

…and they looked so good today that Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to buy some more and plant them out for next year.  I am in favour of that.

The tulips rather overshadowed the other flowers but this little pulsatilla did its best to get into the act.

pulsatilla

I filled the feeders when I got back from my ride and after lunch, I took a moment to watch the birds before we went off to Carlisle.

We have a steady supply of redpolls at the moment.

redpolls

This one stared rather haughtily at me when I took its picture but soon went back to eating

redpolls

They had an active day

siskins

As did the siskins

The feeders are always busy at the moment and my supply of seed is disappearing in double quick time.

busy feeder

Representatives of our present customer base, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin and redpoll

The choir rehearsal started badly, as our conductor and our accompanist were delayed on the train again.  The Sunday service from Glasgow is most unreliable.  However, they made up for lost time when they did arrive and we had an extremely brisk practice with a little extra time added on to the end.

We are working on a new modern song and it is one of those, as Mrs Tootlepedal remarked, where if you get to sing a note which is actually on the beat, it comes as a blessed relief.

Because of the extra time taken at the practice, we didn’t stop to take photographic advantage of the sunny evening as we went home but bustled on as quickly as we could and settled down to enjoy the lamb stew from the slow cooker when we got back.

While the potatoes were cooking, I watched some of my lawn care assistants at work on the middle lawn.

jackdaws

There should be no moss left at all soon, thanks to the jackdaws

I have still got a few miles to do on my bike if I am to keep up to my schedule for the month so I am hoping that there are a few kind days left in April.  This month is traditionally supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb but having seen the forecast for next week, I don’t think that this will be a traditional month at all.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for a few calm moments.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch in the best of the sun.

chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was at the sea side in Morecambe yesterday.  He was lucky enough to find the sea at home.

MorecambeThe forecasters promised us a coolish day with light winds and no rain and they got it exactly right.  There was a light frost when we woke up which caused the tulips to hang their heads in distress but didn’t appear to actually finish any plants off completely.

The chill meant that I was in no hurry to get out on my bicycle and in the end, I waited until eleven o’clock before the temperature crept up to 7.5°C and then I went out.

The sun was out and it shone on the siskins…

siskin

One wisely leaving before being awarded the order of the boot from another

…who were in a rather factious mood…

siskins

More evasive action

…but for all its cheerful brightness, it wasn’t doing much to heat the day up.

For a change, I decided to leave the town following the road up the Esk  rather than my usual route up the Wauchope.  This does involve a couple of quite sharp but short climbs as soon as you leave the town and as I am not supposed to cycle up too many steep hills with my new tin knee, I use this route sparingly.

I took it very gently though and arrived at Eskdalemuir in good order.

Bridge over the Esk

The bridge over the Esk there is guarded by many power lines and poles

I could hardly hear myself think because of the insistent baa-ing of sheep and lambs in the field beside the river.

Eskdalemuir lambs

The thrifty people who built the church at Eskdalemuir in the early nineteenth century didn’t waste any money on frivolous ornamentation.

Eskdalemuir church

I was in expansive mood though and popped into the cafe at the Eskdalemuir Hub in the old school for a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.  This gave me enough strength to head out over the hills to Lockerbie.  The route elevation….

garmin route 18 April 2017 elevation

…shows that the first part of my journey was quite hilly and annoyingly having climbed up a long hill to get to 900 feet before Eskdalemuir, it immediately drops sharply before leaving me with another climb of 400 feet or more to get back to 950 feet, the highest point of the trip.  These are not like Tour de France climbs but then I am not like a Tour de France climber and they were quite steep enough for me.

Once over the undulating plateau between Eskdalemuir and Boreland, there is some welcome down hill and the rest of the journey bobbed up and down over very gentle country.

Not all of our handsome stone bridges have survived modern traffic and this one over the Dryfe Water…

Dryfe Water bridge

…was so battered by a passing lorry that they gave up and put in a metal trough.

Once I was through Lockerbie, I was on the old main road south, now bypassed by a new motorway.  This is quite a dull road but it was brightened up a lot in places by a fringe of dandelions.

dandelions verge

It has a useful cycle lane on each side of the road.

I stopped to eat an egg roll near Eaglesfield and was reminded that this has been a busy place for many years.  In the foreground is a bridge over the Carlisle to Glasgow motorway and the flat topped hill in the background….

motorway and roman camp

…..was home not just to  a Roman camp but an Iron Age fort as well.

I didn’t stop for many pictures as the day had become quite dull and I needed to keep my mind on my cycling rather than looking for wild flowers in the verge.

In the end, I needed to go through the town for a mile and then back again to ring up exactly 60 miles on the computer as I swung into our drive.

I had enough energy left to walk round the garden and check that the frost hadn’t done too much damage.

hellebore, dicentra and dogwood

It hadn’t.

tulip, lamium and wallflower

One of the Euphorbias deserved a picture all to itself I thought.

euphorbia

There is no frost in the forecast for the next few days so perhaps we have escaped very lightly.

I filled up the feeders and in no time the siskins were back, taking every perch at both of  the feeders but behaving very sedately this time.

siskins

It was the goldfinches that had taken on the role of hooligans…

goldfinch kicking siskin

…though the siskins were not going quietly into the night.

goldfinch facing up to siskin

I was pleased to see a couple of redpolls keeping calm amongst the mayhem.

redpolls

I had time for a shower and then we welcomed my younger brother and oldest sister to the house.  They are spending a few days in the Lake District and came up to have a meal with us in the Douglas Hotel.  The meal and the conversation were both very good value and the evening was a great delight.

We arranged to see them again in the south in July and September.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

Those interested can find details of my cycle ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 April 2017

It was a pity that the sun didn’t last for very long.

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Today’s guest  photograph comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Skye.  He managed to take a rather clever picture of himself taking a picture of a rainbow.

Dropscone

After yesterday’s dull, drizzly day following a good forecast, we had a sunny, bright day today following a very gloomy forecast of frequent showers.  The general forecasts remain pretty sound but the detailed local forecasts are sometimes rather ropey.

Still, we were very grateful for a good day.

I took a couple of pictures of the effects of yesterday’s rain…

lupin and pulsatilla

A lupin holding a watery diamond and a battered pulsatilla

…and set off to cycle round my 20 mile Canonbie circle.   Although the temperature was in single figures and the sun wasn’t out, the lack of wind made it feel quite pleasant for cycling and I went round at a good speed. Since I wasn’t having to battle the breeze, I was much more in the mood to stop and take pictures so I paused for a primrose, waited for a wood anemone, dawdled for a dandelion and ran out of alliteration for a bluebell.

primrose, wood anemone, dandelion, bluebell

The dandelions and anemones were out in force near Canonbie.

anemones and dandelions

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to show that the trees are getting a welcome green tinge.

Hollows Bridge

By the time that I got home, the sun had come out so I mowed the middle and front lawns and took a lot of flower pictures.

violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

Dog tooth violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

tulip waving goodbye

Tulip dead heading will shortly be required

There were quite a few bees to be heard and I was very pleased to see some of them at work on the plum tree….

tulip waving goodbye

…though the forecast of a frost tonight might be too much for the blossoms.

I think that the tadpoles are far enough on to survive a cold night.

chaffinches

It was such a nice spring day by this time, although still not as warm as it should be on a sunny day in April, that I went into the house and took three shots of the garden from upstairs windows.

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds (and a glimpse pf the gardener).

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

This doesn’t show the beds along the front of the house and the small area to the right of the greenhouse.

The birds were pleased when I filled the feeders before I went cycling and by the time that I got back they had got the level well down again.

chaffinches

We wanted to do some shopping at Gretna so we took advantage of the continuing sunshine by packing the bikes into the car after lunch and going for a cycle ride before we did the shopping.

The advantage of cycling from Gretna from Mrs Tootlepedal’s point of view in particular is that the roads are mostly flat but this didn’t mean that we had a dull outing.

Todhills horses

Bridge of trees at Todhills

Mrs Tootlepedal passing under an arch of trees

We went south from Gretna and cycled round a 12 mile loop that took us through Rockliffe.  After passing through the village, we took advantage of a rough track to cycle down to the bank of the river Eden.  We were able to look back at the church where we took a walk a week or so ago.

Rockcliffe church

Which ever way we looked, up or down the river, the view was delightful.

River Eden

Up river

River Eden

Down river

And the bank itself was covered with a lovely little wood.

Rockcliffe wood

We were a bit alarmed by some very black clouds ahead of us as we cycled back to Gretna but they passed over to the north before we got back to the car and we enjoyed an excellent cycle ride.

The 12 miles had given us an appetite so a cup of coffee and a cake was necessary before we completed some satisfactory shopping.  (Slippers were the main thing on the list but quality prunes came into it too.)

We got home to find that the rain shower had missed Langholm as well.  This was lucky as we had had washing hanging out.  I had to fill the feeders again as they were quite empty by this time.

chaffinches

Cycling and shopping had taken up most of the afternoon and it wasn’t long before it was time for our evening meal and then I went out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We haven’t played for some weeks as Mike and Isabel have been busy on church matters over the Lent period and it was very good to get back to playing again.  The time off hadn’t got too much rust into the works so we enjoyed our playing a lot.

Sometimes, I can just push the shutter button in the nick of time to catch a flying bird and today was one of those times.

chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture is another from a visit that my brother Andrew made to the River Dove.  ‘Rock Cottage’ is set into the cliff beside the river and manages to look like a rock and a cottage at the same time.

rock cottage

We had another dry and breezy day here with the temperature struggling to get into double figures (10°C – 50°F) and the wind still on the chilly side so I had to wrap up well when I went out on my bike to do the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.  It was one of those days.  I thought that I was trying harder and going faster than the last time that I made the same trip but I still managed to take three minutes longer.

Of course I was three days older so that may have explained it.

The cold, breezy weather doesn’t encourage stopping for photos but I did stop once for a breather and a look at a couple of bare trees.

Irvine House trees

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden so I walked round enjoying the results of her work.

It was quite bright for a while and the tulips were looking good.

yellow tulip

tulips

Ballerinas dancing in the wind

tulips and daffodils

tulip centres

Two of my favourite centres. I think of the one on the left as ‘plums and custard’

The grape hyacinths are good at forming pools even if they don’t quite constitute a river.

hyacinths

The dog tooth violets are thriving….

dog tooth violet

…but are keen to turn their backs on me.  The cowslippy things are more polite.

cowslips

And I think that we could call this a colourful corner.

colourful corner

I didn’t have long to spend in the garden, although I did as much dead heading of daffodils as I could, because we had to set off to Lockerbie after lunch to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.

I found a moment to look out of the kitchen window while my soup was heating up.

flying goldfinch

A seed is wasted by disputatious birds

flying goldfinch

A siskin is unmoved by a hard stare from a goldfinch.

siskin and chaffinch

And another is more than ready to repel an invading chaffinch

I have mentioned Lockerbie Station a lot so here is a picture to show it in all its glory.  It has the air of one of those stations on a model railway layout.

Lockerbie Station

I wandered up the platform while I was waiting for our train, which was a little late, and was very taken by this lonely diesel locomotive which came shuffling down the track in the opposite direction.

diesel loco at Lockerbie

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and took the bus down to Matilda’s.  Some people might think that a city bus could be a little dull but this bus took a very scenic route.  I was fortunate to find a vacant seat upstairs and at the front.

view from the 104

view from the 104

Matilda was in good form when we arrived.  Her other grandparents were visiting too so she had no shortage of adults willing to give her their best attention.  In fact she found the attention a little too much and retired behind some very fashionable shades.

Matilda

Her ‘other’ granny can be seen in the background

Before you ask, I thought that everyone knew that specs are being worn upside down this year.  It is de rigeur.

We had a very good time and it seemed almost no time at all before it was time for us to leave and catch our train home.  The view from the bus was good again…..

The Royal Mile

…and the view from the bus stop in Prince Street was even better.

view from Princes Street

Our journey home was improved by sharing a portion of chips from the chip shop in Lockerbie.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch doing the breaststroke.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She was walking at Burrington Combe in North Somerset, when she saw this sight on the far side of the road.  It is the very crag which inspired the writer of the 1763 hymn starting: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself  in Thee’

Rock of Ages

We had another dry and mostly cloudy day today.  The dry weather was very welcome but once again the chilly and brisk wind took away some of the pleasure of being out in the garden.

After a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone, I spent a lot of time in the garden so felt the wind quite keenly.

I was finishing tidying up after the installation of the compost bins.  I sorted the old wood into ‘(possibly) usable’ and ‘totally rotten’ piles and then with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, I used some of the wood to improve the partition between Bins C and D.  It all looks very good now but I haven’t put in a photo of the finished set up because I have elderly readers and don’t want to over excite them two days running.  This is a responsible and caring blog.

In between the compost work, I mowed the two lawns and looked at the moss, which always seems more conspicuous after a cut, in a slightly depressed way.  I am waiting for some warmer weather to encourage grass growth before getting the scarifier out.

Mrs Tootlepedal has transplanted some hellbores and a fritillary as she thought that they were blooming rather unseen where they were and she has put them beside the other hellebore near the feeders….

hellebores

…where they will make up a new ‘spring corner’ if they survive the transplanting.

I couldn’t resist another look at the amazing euphorbia…

euphorbia

…although the brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky.

We are getting quite excited by the prospect of azaleas….

azalea buds

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is impressed by her rosemary beside the greenhouse.

rosemary

I find it a very difficult plant to photograph well as my camera sees the leaves much more clearly than the elegant flowers.  I will try again with the macro lens on a sunnier day.

I thought that I had found a nascent tulip afflicted by a dread disease….

fancy tulip

…but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a fancy variety and is supposed to be like that.  I look forward to seeing it when it is fully out.

The aubretias overhanging the side of the dam are thriving.

aubretias

In spite of having had quite an energetic time in the garden, I had enough oomph left to go for a short cycle ride late in the afternoon.  It was still very windy so I settled for a valley-bottom-hugging ride up and down the road beside the Wauchope Water to Cleuchfoot and back a couple of times with a bit added on to make up twenty miles.

I was rewarded for my get up and go spirit when the sun came out just as I started cycling

I saw a towering gorse bush…

aubretias

…and some very young lambs in a field.

cleuchfoot lambs

I went along the banks of the Esk in the town on one of the laps, hoping to see some interesting birds but had to settle for a small meadow on the bank beside the suspension bridge…

cleuchfoot lambs

The flowers that look quite white in the sunshine are in fact a very pretty purple when seen from closer in.

wild flower

Whenever I had a chance through the day, I looked out of the kitchen window.  It was not hard to spot birds lining up to try the new feeders.

goldfinch

siskin and chaffinch

Some customers got impatient though…

chaffinches

…which led to some unedifying moments. ..

chaffinch, goldfinch and siskins

…while off feeder, discussions on the value of a second Scottish Independence Referendum became heated…

chaffinches squabble

A goldfinch wished that all this bad behaviour would cease immediately.

goldfinch

All this bird action is very entertaining to watch but it leads to mess under the feeders and Mrs Tootlepedal is justifiably starting to complain about the smell.  My sense of smell is so poor that I don’t notice anything myself but I will have to put my mind to clearing up and disinfecting the affected area.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see some high class ballet being streamed to the screen in the Buccleuch Centre and but as I find ballet very impressive to watch from a technical and athletic point of view but painfully slow and repetitive from the point of view of advancing a plot or telling a story, I left her to go alone and did some catching up on blog reading.

There are two flying birds of the day,  a goldfinch absolutely delighted by the prospect of one of the new feeders….

goldfinch

…and a siskin.  Not a good picture but siskins don’t hover so getting a picture at all on a dull day is a bonus.

siskin

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