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Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from long time reader, Zyriacus from Solingen in Germany.  His peace has been interrupted by the loud calls from some visiting birds, Psittacula krameri, better known here as the green parakeet.

Psittacula krameri

We had a quiet and sunny day today.  It took some getting used to.

I should have been up early and out on my bike but after getting a bit of a shock cycling in the Saharan dust a couple of days ago, I thought it best to fortify myself with some treacle scones before setting out and luckily Dropscone was available for a cup of coffee and kindly brought some with him.

He had no tales of missed putts or unfortunate adventures among the trees to tell because the golf course is so soggy that he hasn’t been able to play recently.

After he left, I managed to waste a bit more time before getting the fairly speedy bike out.  I had a look at the garden first.  There was nothing much to see as flowers were hanging their heads after heavy overnight rain but the nasturtiums leaves looked quite cheerful in the sunshine.

nasturtium leaves

I took a moment to look at birds sitting in the plum tree….

Birds in the plum tree

…and finally got going.

It was a glorious day for a pedal, reasonably warm for the time of year, pretty calm and sunny for most of the ride.

Autumn is here though as a look back down Wauchopedale showed.

Wauchopedale

Not to mention several bare trees. This was my favourite today.

Bare tree

I pedalled down to Gretna across country and then came home by main roads, stopping near Canonbie to admire these Highland cattle.

Highland cows at canonbie

The smoke from a cottage chimney at Byreburnfoot underlined the autumnal feeling.

Byreburn

And a look up the River Esk confirmed it.

Esk at Byreburn

I could see a dot in the middle of the river and a closer look showed that it was an angler.

Angler in Esk at Byreburn

A brave man.

The old A7 as I was getting near home was my last photographic stop

Old A7 near Langholm

It was a most enjoyable ride and without trying very hard, I covered the thirty miles at an average speed of about two  miles an hour faster than my dusty pedal on Wednesday.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was still at work in the garden and that was a relief too as it shows that she is getting a little better every day.

I had a look round the garden to see if things had perked up after a sunny day.

They had.

The poppies had their heads up and a bee was busy.

poppy and bee

The Fuchsias continue to delight me.

Fuchsia

Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted this fungus on the stump of a cotoneaster.

Fungus on cotoneaster

She almost thinks it must have grown in a day because she doesn’t remember seeing it there yesterday.

Fungus on cotoneaster

I went inside and started to look out of the window while there was still a bit of light left.  The birds didn’t seem to worry about the presence of the gardener still hard at work.

The goldfinches were very put out to find that a greenfinch was in their place on the feeder.

goldfinch and greenfinch

I refilled the feeder and when the goldfinches and greenfinches took a break, the chaffinches came flying in.

flying chaffinches

They were soon followed by more goldfinches and quite a few sparrows too.

flying goldfinch and sparrow

I had a very enjoyable time watching  a good deal of bickering and pushing and shoving as blue tits, greenfinches, goldfinches, sparrows and chaffinches all battled to get a seed or two.

A greenfinch took a dim view of the rowdy behaviour.

greenfinch

The feeding frenzy continued but I retired for a shower and by the time that I came back downstairs, the light had gone.

Our landline is in a very poor state and our phone has given up entirely.  The internet is still going but in an “off and on” sort of way so using the computer requires a good deal of patience but thankfully it has stayed on long enough to get this far on tonight’s post so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will let me publish.

If you don’t get to read these words, you will know that it has failed again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, having survived  a very wet holiday in Oban, and in spite of missing a week’s practice, Alison and I had a very rewarding time playing Loeillet and Telemann with a bit of Nicolas Chedeville thrown in.

The flying bird of the day is not technically the best flying bird picture that I took today but catching a flying greenfinch is rare for me.

flying greenfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who is on holiday in Yorkshire.  It shows a pub at Robin Hood’s bay than which you can go no further.

Robin Hood's Bay pub

Ophelia passed up by in the night, huffing and puffing but not blowing the house down….or anything else much.

There wasn’t even a lot of rain so this was one event where we were more than happy to find out that it didn’t live up to its advance billing.

It was still grey and pretty windy in the morning so after a quick visit to the High Street, I was happy to stay in and drink coffee with Sandy.

Mrs Tootlepedal signalled a step in the direction of a full recovery by cleaning the oven.

When Sandy left, I got out my new lens and pointed it out of the kitchen window in the hope of seeing some visitors to the feeder.  I was not disappointed.

The first arrivals were a small flock of goldfinches…

goldfinch

…which monopolised the feeder for a while.

When a gap appeared it was filled by a pair of blue tits…

blue tits

…and a house sparrow who bit off more than he could chew.

sparrow

There was a good deal of coming and going…

goldfinch and sparrow flying

…though the chaffinches were holding back.

This one sat in the plum tree watching. When he turned, you could see the force of the wind.

chaffinch

On the ground below the feeder, a dunnock or hedge sparrow inspected the new tray and a robin took advantage of some fallen seed which had collected in it.

dunnock and robin

It was just like old times and I spent a happy hour staring out of the window in between making some lentil, carrot and red pepper soup for lunch.

It was still pretty breezy after lunch so Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat and watched an interesting programme about the painters Peter Lely and Mary Beale before we ventured out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal got to work on tidying up the vegetable garden while I looked about.  The strong winds in the night had left plenty of flowers in full bloom.

poppy

The poppies were still in fine form

Lilian Austin

And Lilian Austin was looking lovely

Time was getting on and as the forecast was for the wind to continue to drop as the afternoon went on, I popped out for a quick walk before going for a short bike ride.

I walked down to the river where I was delighted both by finding Mr Grumpy standing on one leg and seeing a luminous willow nearby.

willow and Mr Grumpy

The fungi on the bank of the Wauchope below the church wall are getting ever more various.

fungus

The grey ones may well be oyster mushrooms and edible but I will leave that for others to test out.

I walked through the park and along the river side.  In spite of a good layer of fallen leaves on the path….

Beechy Plains

…there are still a lot of leaves on the trees in every shade of green, yellow and brown.

autumn colour leaves

I walked to the end of the beechy plains and turned back up the hill along Easton’s walk.

The sun came out as I got to the top of the hill and the town looked very peaceful below me.

Langholm view

In fact, everything looked very mellow and we have been very lucky to avoid the worst of Ophelia which seems to have tracked past to the north of us, though a football stadium was damaged in Cumbria to the south of us.

View of Meikleholm Hill

It was a delightful day for a walk.

Eastons Walk

I came down to the path beside the mossy park wall….

Park wall

…but I ignored the moss when I saw a good crop of what I think is some more cladonia lichen on top of the wall.

Pin lichen

When I got home, I was very impressed by the growing power of Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure in the beds which had potatoes in them earlier in the summer.

green manure

I left Mrs Tootlepedal talking to out neighbour Ken.  He overtook me yesterday when I was out bicycling on his way to clocking up his 5000th mile of the year.  As he is the same age and weight as I am, I can only doff my chapeau and admire his prodigious energy.

I  haven’t got to 4000 miles yet but I got twenty miles closer today as I pedalled up and down the road three times in a mix of light rain, crisp breeze and a little sunshine every now and again.  I was pushed for time as the light was fading so I didn’t stop for any more pictures on my way and in the end, I just got back in before the time when I would have needed lights on my bike.

I have a choice of flying bird of the day today, either a traditional flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…or a skein of geese which flew overhead this afternoon.

_DSC7931

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s sunny visit to Bath.

From canal towpath looking towards the boatyard

We got up to another grey and miserable morning here although once again it was unseasonably mild.

Mrs Tootlepedal is partially recovered but by no means back to full working order.   She is very touched by the good wishes expressed by readers of the blog.

The grey morning was much improved by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee and his already excellent scones were improved in my case by adding some of Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam to them.  In my view, Dropscone’s plain scones and saskatoon jam are a match made in heaven.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about getting to the bottom of whatever it was that had made our phone line go dead and our internet flicker intermittently. By using our powers of deduction and a small screwdriver, we found the problem and cured it, probably just in time for the town’s power supply to be knocked out be the coming storm Ophelia.

Ophelia has been wreaking havoc in Ireland but it was extremely calm here in the morning and early afternoon.   Our neighbour Liz popped into to ask if we had seen the sun.  We went to have a look.

It was very odd.

The camera found it hard to record the clouds and the sun both in the correct shade but this is definitely how the sun looked.

red sun

It kept changing colour as the cloud of dust passed and I had several goes….

red sun

…until finally it got too bright for both me and the camera to look at.

red sun

It was sufficiently striking to make the news later in the day and the experts say that it was either Saharan sand or Portuguese wild fire particles or both that had provided the film of rusty colour.

After lunch, I had a look round the garden.  The light had improved and the bees and hoverflies were back on duty again.

bees and hoverflyhoverfly on poppy

A late astrantia has come out to join the poppies.

astarntia and poppy

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma add a delightful feminine touch.

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make more of the ornamental strawberry next year.

ornamental strawberry

But the most exciting thing in the garden is the new tray under the bird feeders which means I can start feeding the birds again.

feeder tray

It is a heavy duty plastic cement mixing tray and Mrs Tootlepedal drilled the neat hole in the centre of it to let the feeder pole fit through.

It was warm (66°F) and fairly still so I took the opportunity to go for a short cycle ride in my outdoor gym and stopped for pictures on my way.

It was rather gloomy as I came back to town on my first lap….

Manse Brae

…but I headed down to Skippers Bridge to take a couple of pictures because I feared that if the storm is as windy as predicted, there may be few leaves on the trees when it is gone.Skippers BridgeLangholm Distillery

On my second lap, there were a few drops of rain and then the sun came out.Glencorf burnHawthornBlochburnfootAuld Stane Brig

Nowadays, the gloomy predictions of storm and tempest are often worse than the reality so keen are the weathermen for us not to be caught unprepared for bad weather so it will be interesting to see what scenes like these will look like in a couple of day’s time.

I looked round the garden when I got back.  I found some more colour.

charles ross applesclimbing hydrangea

…and then went in to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was.  She had been well enough to do a little work in the garden while I pedalling but she is still a bit fragile.

Although the light was fading, I looked at the bird feeders through the windows.

sparrow and blue tit

A gloomy sparrow and an astonished blue tit consider the sodden pink pellets

blue tit

A blue tit sits and thinks

A sparrowhawk flashed through the garden without it catching anything or me catching it.

It astonishes me how quickly birds find out that food of one sort or another is available.  I said to Mrs Tootlepedal only yesterday that I hadn’t seen a sparrowhawk about for weeks.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  He played at a practice of  our local orchestra yesterday and felt that he had been able to play quite a bit of the music.

In the evening, I went to the Camera Club meeting.  Ten members turned up and we were treated to a very interesting and varied selection of photographs from winter scenes to remind us of what is coming, through stunning local wildlife portraits and action shots and striking black and white studies to a record of a recent African safari, complete with lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants.  We were very well entertained.  One member had brought in some very beautiful large prints which led to a lot of discussion.

The flying bird of the day is having a rest.

chaffinch

It is blowing hard as I write this. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Oban.  He found a sunny moment among the clouds to visit Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle

We had a reasonable day today, breezy at times but with no rain until late in the evening.  However, we were not able to make the best use of it as Mrs Tootlepedal was struck down by a bug and had to spend the day in bed.

This meant that I thought it best to spend quite a lot of time hovering about trying to look as though I might be useful.

I did get out for a short pedal in the morning and because of a combination of the brisk wind and a desire not to get too far away from the patient, I stuck to my outdoor gym and went three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse. This gave me an undemanding twenty one miles without ever being more than three and a bit miles from home.

A break in the clouds let the sun light up a green field as I got near to Wauchope School.

green field

I  kept a fungus eye out as I pedalled and looking at the verges, I saw these…

fungus

fungus

…and these…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and these

They were hard to miss.

On my third go up, I stopped to look at some fence posts, as one does.

fence post lichen

There seemed a lot of interest (to me) on the first one that I looked at so I looked at the next one along too.

fence post lichen

Those little spots of red caught my eye so I looked at the next one along….

fence post lichen

…and it was covered in them.

British soldiers lichen

They look like British soldiers lichen to me, an army of them.

The next post didn’t have any of them on it at all…

fence post lichen

…and the last post was mainly moss.

fence post moss

All this was within ten yards.

I must stop and look at fence post more often.

I was joined by the minister on my second run back to the town.  He had done a longer, hillier circuit and had found the wind very hard work so I was pleased to be skulking about in the valley bottom where the wind was quite strong enough for me.

I made some soup when I got home and had to eat it by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t in eating mode.

I hung around in the afternoon in case I was needed and fitted in the crossword, some dead heading, some compost sieving and a little bit of Archive database work, topped off with a look at a couple of choir songs.

I did take the camera out into the garden but the wind had got up a bit and it made taking pictures quite tricky.

There was colour to be seen…

rudbeckia, buddleia and orange hawkweed

The last of the rudbeckia, a second bloom on a buddleia and the second flowering of the orange hawkweed

…and the temptation of another fuchsia shot was too great to resist.

fuchsia

The sharp eyed will see a bee on the right hand flower.

It went up there.

bee in fuchsia

There were plenty of poppies to deadhead but there are still many, many more waiting to come out.

poppy

They may look a bit fragile but they are obviously pretty tough.

Sadly, the bug meant that Mrs Tootlepdal could not go off to see Matilda, as her custom is on a Thursday but she was well enough to be happy to snooze in bed while I went off to play recorders in Carlisle in the evening.

Susan drove me down and all six of the group were present tonight.  Roy, our librarian, had put together a really good set of six part pieces from his extensive library and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The good weather couldn’t last and it was raining heavily again as Susan drove me home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was slightly better which was heartening although I don’t think she will be running a marathon tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a hoverfly, helophilus pendulus (as far as I can see), on a daisy.

hoverfly

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who has recently been playing golf in Girona in Spain.  Clearly, there was no rain in Spain while he was there.

Spain

There was no rain here today either but not quite as much sun as Dropscone has been enjoying.

I had to take the car to the garage early in the morning to get its brakes fixed.  The view from the suspension bridge as I walked back was a marked contrast with yesterday’s mist.

View from suspension bridge in autumn

It was a little chilly when I got home so I dawdled about and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal before finally setting off to make the most of a good day.

I had a bit of a moan after my ride on Sunday about losing speed on my cycle runs thanks to increasing age.   Many well intentioned readers advised me to stop moaning, live with the years and just enjoy cycling and taking pictures without bothering about average speeds.

I always take good advice so I pottered about today for the first twenty five miles and took many pictures on my ride.  Of course, it may have been the brisk wind in my face rather than the sheer enjoyment of going slowly that made me take so long but I was very content to stop and take pictures as I went.

I should say that I had a bit of time on my hands in the evening and some of the photographs from the ride may have been enhanced by the use of filters.   I don’t usually do much of this but the light was rather flat today and the pictures came out as less attractive than they were in real life.  I may have gone a bit further than real life with some of them.

Churches were my first subjects.

Johnstone Church

The Johnstone UP Church, Ecclefechan

This very fine set of hinges caught my eye as I turned onto the road to Hoddom in Ecclefechan.

Not far away, I came to the ruins of the church at Hoddom Cross.

Hoddom Cross

The church was destroyed by fire in 1975 and stands as a picturesque ruin in a graveyard that is still in use.  In the old part of the kirkyard, I found an ivy covered mausoleum.

Hoddom Cross church

The ivy is covered in flowers and will be of great interest to bees when the flowers come out.

My interest turned from churches to bridges and I went under an unusual one as I cycled on towards the River Annan….

Tree Bridge near Hoddom

…followed by something more traditional when I got to the river.

Hoddom Bridge

I cannot find out when this bridge was built but it is obviously of some age and has lasted very well considering that….

Hoddom Bridge

…things like this go over it every day.

I crossed the Annan using the bridge myself  and cycled down towards Brydekirk, where I crossed back over the river.

River Annan bridge at Brydekirk

This bridge was built in about 1800 and is one of several fine bridges that cross the River Annan.

Not far from the bridge, I came across a splendid gateway to a fine house.

Near Brydekirk

No filters were used on this picture. It really did look like this.

I turned off the road from the bridge onto a side road.  I had hoped that a beech hedge along this road would be worth a look but it was disappointingly green still…

Brydekirk road

…but the hedge did serve the useful purpose of sheltering me from the brisk cross wind along this stretch.

Once I had turned left when I met the road from Annan to Eaglesfield, I had the wind behind me and I did the next fifteen miles in 55 minutes of cycling time without having to try very hard at all.

I did stop on the way to admire a different kind of bridge though.

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

The viaduct carrying the West Coast main line crosses the valley of the Kirtle water….

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

…which I crossed on a more modest bridge.

Kirtle bridge

I had crossed the Kirtle Water near its source much earlier in my trip and I had now crossed both the Kirtle Water and the River Annan twice.

I felt the need for some refuelling so I headed down the old main road from Kirtlebridge to Gretna where I stopped for egg and chips at the Old Toll Bar.   A couple of raindrops landed on my head as I left the cafe and nearly made me regret my stop there but it was only a couple and the rest of my ride was dry and easy with the encouraging wind giving me a friendly push and keeping me going.

I went home by way of Longtown and Canonbie, meaning that I was following the course of the River Esk now and before I got home, I had crossed the Esk no less than six times.

The Esk was looking quite autumnal when I stopped at Byreburnfoot.

Byreburnfoot River Esk

And at my feet as I took the picture was a good crop of fungus which grows out of a patch of grass beside the road.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

I stopped as I crossed Skippers Bridge to note the contrast with yesterday’s misty shots.

Langholm Distillery in autumn

When I got to the town centre, I found that I had done 47 miles and I was seized with decimal fever and pedalled on through Langholm and out the other side, crossing the High Mill bridge and going half a mile up the road beyond it.

There I turned for home and having crossed the Canonbie, Hollows, Skippers and High Mill Bridges already, I crossed the High Mill bridge again and finished by crossing the Langholm Bridge which joins the Old and New Towns of Langholm.

While I was crossing rivers. Mrs Tootlepedal had been immersed in canals as she had been in the Buccleuch Centre at a screening of a film of the current Canaletto exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

It was hard to say which of us had had the better time.

There was enough time left in the day for Mrs Tootlepedal to do some gardening and for me to collect the car, mow the middle lawn and take a flower picture or two.

October daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal has borrowed one or two of the thousands of October daisies from the river bank which appeared in yesterday’s post and they have settled in very well in our garden.

perennial nasturtium

The perennial nasturtium or tropaeolum is still flowering

Japanese anemone

The bees seem to have discovered the Japanese anemone

red admiral butterfly

The red admiral butterflies keep coming.

Before the screening, Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping in the cafe in Buccleuch Centre over a very busy lunch time so we didn’t spend too long in the garden and retired inside for a well earned rest and a nourishing evening meal.

The good weather is not going to last and we are promised heavy rain overnight and tomorrow morning so I am glad to have got some miles in while the going was good.  My moaning and the subsequent good advice which I received seems to have purged my cycling melancholy and I really enjoyed today’s pedal.

The flying bird of the day is two of our more delicate poppies.

two poppies

Anyone interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

Garmin route 10 Oct 2107

 

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Today’s guest picture is volunteer Venetia’s current favourite exhibit at the Somerset Museum of Rural Life, a mechanical vacuum cleaner.

mechanical vacuum cleaner

I had a very traditional Sunday today, courtesy of the favourable weather.  If the weather is kind, I like to cycle along our main roads on a Sunday because they are largely lorry free and have the advantage of being the least hilly of any of our local roads.  This means that I can put my nose as near the front wheel as I can get it and pedal steadily along without interruption.

And that is what I did this morning.  It was occasionally sunny, 11°C and with a light crosswind.  I couldn’t expect better conditions in October.   Because of choir practice in Carlisle in the afternoon, I was time limited though and settled for a familiar jaunt down to Newtown on the Roman Wall and back, a distance of forty miles.

I stopped at Newtown for a breather.

Newtown bench

A bike, a bench, a banana and a bottle of water, all the ingredients of a Sunday morning ride.

I have had a bit of difficulty getting really motivated to get my bike out recently.  Once out on the bike, things are fine but getting started has been hard.  This has partly been down to the poor weather in the summer months but it occurred to me as I was pedalling along today in good conditions that the other reason is my ever decreasing average speeds.

I took up regular cycling very late in life and as a result was able to set myself targets for speed and distance as I got fitter but the reality is clicking in now and I have to come to terms with the fact that there are no more improvements to made  and I can only get slower each year.    I shall just have to learn to look at cycling a bit differently.  Still, I managed 15 mph today so I am not dead yet.

I had time for a look round the garden when I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was already out there having got back from singing in the church choir.

The mild weather has let a campanula have a second go…

campanula

…and the revived sweet rocket had attracted a customer.

sweer rocket and hoverfly.

The bees and hoverflies have given the poppies a good going over….

poppy

…but have ignored the Japanese anemone nearby.

Japanese anemone

Perhaps the smell is wrong.

Not all the poppies have been thoroughly trashed.

poppies

…but they almost all seem to have been visited.  That is probably why the dahlias now seem to be popular with bumble bees and honey bees alike.

bee and bumble bee

I like hoverflies because  their sharp patterns make them very visible to the camera.

hoverfly on poppy

From a photographic point of view, smaller flies, although quite interesting in close up…

fly on marigold

…can spoil the bigger picture.

Pot Marigold

Once again, I asked myself, “Can you have too many fuchsia pictures?”  Once again, the answer was, “Not as far as I am concerned.”

Fuchsia

One of the ones which Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted this year and which have done well

P1030846

A new one which she bought as a treat for me.

The clematis are surviving well.

clematis

I had time for a last look at an outstanding dahlia….

dahlia

…and something in the vegetable garden that Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is Pak Choi…

Pak Choi

…before I had to go in to make some soup and have a shower.

For many years, I have been mashing up my vegetable soups through an old plastic hand powered Moulinex rotary masher which we bought on a trip to France.  Lately I had become a bit concerned that with wear and tear, I might be mashing in more plastic with the vegetables than is desirable.  With that in mind, we bought a modestly priced electric masher when we were in Edinburgh on Thursday and I gave it a test run today.  It certainly mashed the vegetables and the resulting soup was very good.  Obviously not every modern invention is the work of the devil.

After lunch, there was another moment in the garden…

dark nasturtium

The inner workings of the dark nasturtium from yesterday’s post

…and another red admiral butterfly.

red admiral butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was listening to a program on the radio about what astonishing travellers red admiral butterflies are and they certainly fly round our garden at great speed before finding just the right flower to settle on.

The choir practice in Carlisle was a very hard working session.  Because our first two practices of the season were devoted to the pieces for the concert with the Phoenix Choir, we have less time to prepare for our Christmas concert and Andrew, our conductor, is driving us on.  More homework is needed.  Luckily the pieces are enjoyable so a bit of hard work doesn’t go amiss.

The flying bird of the day is my current favourite among the poppies.

poppy

 

 

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