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Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who took it while  flashing past Stonehenge on a double decker bus.  There was no time to stop as she was off to London for a march to demand a second referendum.  One of my sisters, my brother and his two sons also attended the march so it was an important affair.

stonehenge

It was a bright and calm morning here today but it was also decidedly chilly and I was in no hurry to get my bike out until the temperature reached at least 7°C.  This gave me time for coffee and the crossword as as it was after eleven o’clock before the target was reached.

Mrs Tootlepedal advised me that blackbirds were bathing in the dam behind the house and there might be a photo opportunity.  I went to check but found a blackbird that was waiting on the edge but not willing to take the plunge.

blackbird by dam

I put on a great many layers of cycling clothing and finally got going.  When I got to ten miles and stopped for a drink of water, I noticed that a tree which had had leaves last Friday but which had lost them now.

tree no leafs

But it was a fine day and as you can see there was so little wind that the turbines at Minsca were not turning at all.

still windmills

I had a lot of clothes on and just turning my legs over was quite a task in spite of the still conditions but I plugged away and passed trees with leaves on near Eaglesfield….

trees with leafs eaglesfield

…and stopped for a buttered roll with honey under the cavernous motorway bridge near Kirkpatrick Fleming (my bike ignored the no parking sign)…

motorway bridge KPF

…and paused for a smaller bridge near Gretna.

bridge over burn near gretna

The bridge’s arch was framed with bright red berries.

red berries

As I got back on my bike and was just getting going, another fairly elderly cyclist passed me without stopping for some civil conversation.  Just to annoy him, I caught him up and pedalled along silently a few yards behind him.  He knew I was there and occasionally pushed a bit harder to try to shake me off but he couldn’t and in the end I passed him …with a few civil words about the lovely weather.  I could see him in my mirror, hanging on about twenty or thirty yards behind me even when I pushed a bit to try to shake him off.  Mercifully we took different routes at the first junction we came to, and we could both relax.

I had taken my route in the hope of seeing migrating geese near the border and a loud honking directed my attention to a big flock foraging in a field.

geese at Englishtown close up

There were a lot of them.  I think that they are greylag geese

geese at Englishtown

I waited for a while, hoping that they might take off and give me a flying shot but they remained firmly on the ground.  Resisting the temptation to say boo to a goose, I pedalled on home.

The wind had got up enough to make the wind turbines at Gretna turn very slowly but it was mostly behind me by this time so I was able to do my 40 miles with two minutes in hand before the three hour mark arrived.

I had put a mixture into the bread maker earlier in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal had taken it out while I was pedalling.  The bread maker had done a fine job and some vintage plum jam was on hand if needed.

bread machine triumph

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy gardening so I heated up a mug of celery and Stilton soup and went out to see what was going on while i drank it.

In spite of the chilly morning, the roses were going on very well.

Crown PrincessRosy Cheeks

A rudbeckia was looking a little part worn but as it has been looking like that since it first started flowering several weeks ago, I think it deserves credit for trying.

rudbeckia

I saw a dunnock…

dunnock on edge

…and nearly caught a flying dunnock of the day but it was too sharp for me.

flying dunnock

Honeysuckle berries and nasturtiums caught my eye…

honeysuckle and nasturtium

…and the perennial wallflower and the lamium look as though they will never go over.

perennial wallflower and lamium

My flute pupil, Luke turned up and mindful of the truth that if a pupil is having difficulty with something, it is the fault of the teacher, I upped my game a bit and we made some serious progress in counting.

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting where Sandy helped me to set the projector and screen up.

Once again we had a rather small but very select group of keen photographers and once again we had some most enjoyable images to look at.  With pictures from a royal palace in St Petersburg and raptors from a park in Keswick, local wild life and memories of our trip to Beamish in the summer, we were well supplied with things to enjoy.  One of our members had been having a very creative time with his photo editor and he produced results which defied belief.  All in all, it was a satisfactory meeting and we agreed to meet again next month, with the hope of a few more members turning up.

The flying bird of the day is that reluctant swimmer.

flying blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is another from Simon and this time shows the inside of the covered bridge between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  I do not know whether the light at the end of the tunnel is in Switzerland or Liechtenstein.

swiss bridge

After yesterday’s extremely gloomy weather, we enjoyed a bright and cheerful day today, although it was a bit colder than we have become used to with the thermometer unable to creep into double figures.

As a result I put a pair of gloves on before cycling off to church with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We had a ‘Songs of Praise’ service today with favourite hymns chosen by members of the congregation.  Fifty hymns were suggested and the Worship Team had chosen the eight most popular for the service.  That amounted to quite a lot of singing but as they were tuneful hymns, it was no hardship.

The sun was still out when we got home so after a look round the garden…

fuchsia, marigolds, verbena, rose

…where I was pleased to see an insect on nodding acquaintance with the Crown Princess…

rose with insect

…Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out for a short three bridges walk to enjoy the day.

There is colour about but much of it is already on the ground.

tree at suspension bridge

The lonely gull that haunts the stretch of the River Esk between the Suspension and the Town bridge was in its regular place again today…

lonely gull

…And as we watched the gull, a flash of blue speeding up the river turned our heads.  A kingfisher had flown past us at speed.  It was far to quick to catch on camera so we walked up to the Town Bridge to see if it had stopped nearby.

tree at meeting of waters

There was no sight of it unfortunately but a look back down the river was quite rewarding.

church and poplars from town bridge

We crossed the bridge and walked down onto the Kilngreen.  It was a good morning for a walk.

looking at Timpen

We were not the only ones taking advantage of the day and when we reached to Lodge Walks we could see other walkers…

lodge walks 20 Oct

…in every direction.

Lodge walks 20 oct (2)

Although we have long thought that the trees along the Lodge Walks are all beeches, looking at the trees on recent walks have shown us that some of them are hornbeams.  Although their leaves  are different to beech leaves, their trunks are so similar that it is not too surprising that we have only just noticed.

There is still no sign of all out autumn colour but the variety of shades among the trees across the Castleholm is still very attractive to me.

 

castleholm trees 20 Oct

And the felling of the conifer plantation at the far end has made the walk more scenically enjoyable.

view over pheasant hatchery

We didn’t walk far and having passed under this well established fungus near the Lodge…

old fungus duchess bridge

…we walked down the leaf covered track to the Duchess Bridge and headed home…

leafy tarck to duchess bridge

…pausing to enjoy the view from the bridge…

river esk from duchess bridge

…and also the glint of sunshine on moss covered fallen branches in the dark wood on the far side of the river.

moss in wood besode esk

When we got back, I was impressed by how vigorously the Weigela is producing a second flush of flowers after its first flowering in June.  Looking at my records, I see that it also flowered in October in both 2018 and 2017 but the last time before that was in 2011.

weigela oct 20

An insect was exploring a rather bedraggled dahlia.

insect on dahlia oct 20

Like the fuchsias in the flower beds, the ornamental fuchsia in the chimney is also enjoying the season.

pot fuchsia oct 20

We went in and I made some celery and Stilton soup for lunch which we ate with enjoyment, and then there was just time to sieve a little compost and practise a song or two before we set off for Carlisle and the Community Choir practice.

Our conductor, who is based in Glasgow, has organised a musical weekend for us in the city next week, including a joint concert with one of her other choirs so we had a good solid practice today in preparation for the jaunt.

Not surprisingly after eight hymns in the morning and a good sing in the afternoon, my throat feels as though it needs a bit of cossetting this evening.  Our conductor says there will be even more singing next weekend and we may need a lie down after it.

I had made a pasta sauce in the slow cooker in the morning and we were quite ready for a reviving meal when we got home.   There was a beautiful sunset as we drove back from Carlisle but after the clocks go back next weekend, we will be returning from Carlisle in darkness, a signal that the long winter months will be upon us.

The flying bird of the day, a black headed gull, was asleep at its post and not flying at all..

gull on post

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He is a great walker and recently walked with his walking group through a wood.  The substantial size of the trees can be gauged by noting the size of the walkers who can just be seen at the bottom of the frame.

Andrew's wood

I had another poor night’s sleep and it was raining again when we got up so I was doubly happy to have a quiet morning in.  For want of anything better to do, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping in the car, but it had stopped raining by the time that Dropscone arrived to brighten my morning coffee break with conversation and the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He told me that there are signs of toadstools appearing on the golf course.  I will have to go up and investigate.

In the meantime, I went out into the garden after coffee to see what I could find there..

The temperatures, both day and night, are remaining very constant at the moment so flowers are quite happy to keep flowering.

rudbeckia, campanula, dahlia and poppy

This calendula was the brightest star this morning.

calendula

There are no feeders out at the moment but there is no shortage of birds in the garden.

The starlings love the top branch of the holly tree and take it in turns to perch there.  The rowan tree is popular too, in spite of the fact that all the berries were eaten long ago.  The sparrows peck busily at the branches so there must be insects to be found.

starling, dunnock, sparrows

When the sun comes out, the sparrow families like to rest on the felt roof of our neighbour’s sheds, though the youngsters find the slope a little challenging.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back in time for lunch and scattered a few crumbs from our bread tray on the lawn.  This immediately attracted a gang of jackdaws, but most unusually they were joined by a black headed gull as they strutted round the crumbs today.

gull and jackdaws

We very rarely see a gull in the garden.

It rained lightly over lunch but soon cleared up and as it was a calm day, I got my bicycle out and went for a pedal.

My bike camera is old and tired and it found it hard to pick out the red haws against the brown background of the hillside along the Wauchope road, but there were plenty of haws about…

 

haws on wauchope road

…even though some of the hawthorns were almost totally bare.  It has been a very uneven year for the hawthorns as they were all well covered in blossom in the spring.

When I got to a point where the was route choice, I considered the weather.  The rain clouds were behind as I looked back towards Langholm….

clouds down wauchope

…and a safe distance away as I looked north…

clouds and turbines

…so, as it looked potentially sunny to the south,…

sunny road ahead

…I headed that way and went round my Canonbie route.

The wind was very light and for once I didn’t have to start a ride by battling up hill and into the wind so I enjoyed myself and kept pedalling as fast as I could for as long as I could without stopping.

In the end, a monkey puzzle tree at Canonbie looked so inviting that I stopped…

monkey puzzle

…and I stopped again a few hundred yards later to check on the autumn colour beside the Esk.  I fear that it is going to be a disappointing season as the colour is just not developing and trees seem to be going straight to brown on the whole.

esk at byreburn brown trees

There was more colour in a garden on the other side of the road.

garden at byreburn

While the sun was out, which was most of the time, it was warm and pleasant, but in shady spots when the sun went in and the roads were still damp, it felt quite autumnal.

old a7 damp

I like the way that the roadside vegetation is slowly reclaiming the old main road here where very few cars use it.  It won’t take too long until it is only wide enough for a cyclist.

The sun came out again and I propped the bike up against a fence and walked down to the river bank to enjoy the view of Broomholm Island.

broomholm island esk

It was a delightful place to spend a few contemplative moments.

esk near broomholm island

When I got back to the road, I took a picture of the mixed broad-leaved and conifer planting that the road builders put in when the built the new road…

trees on new A7

…and pedalled home as fast as I could.

That is not very fast these days but the near windless conditions let me get round the twenty miles at over 14 mph, a heady speed for me and nearly seven minutes faster than my last effort on Wednesday.  I would ask for more windless days but our electricity supplier uses a lot of wind generated power so I had better just put up with the breeze when it comes and keep my head down.

One of the things that Mrs Tootlepedal bought this morning was a supply of builders’ sand and while I was out cycling, she cleaned and refreshed her cold frame and we put the sand into it to make a clean base when I got back.

cold frame witrh sand

While we were out in the garden I picked a couple of the Charles Ross apples…

big apples

…and we ate them baked and stuffed with sultanas and brown sugar for afters at our evening meal.

I had another look round and was pleased to find a new daisy out, together with a flourishing Sweet William, some yew berries and a very out of season foxglove.

daisy, sweet william, yew berries, foxglove

But once again, the star of the afternoon floral display was Crown Princess Margareta.

Crown princess margareta rose

Whenever we are out in the garden, we try to pick up more walnuts.  They are falling from the tree in a steady stream and Mrs Tootlepedal is making a jolly good effort to eat them all.  They are mostly in good condition this year.

walnuts

According to the Norwegian weather forecasters, the present spell of reasonably warm but changeable weather now seems set to extend to the end of the month, so be warned that there may be a lot of flowers pictures still to come in future posts.

I don’t suppose that I will be able to find many more gulls to be the flying bird of the day though.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo.  She escaped just in time from the Manitoba snow storm and arrived in London to find that it was raining a lot instead.  In the end the rain stopped for long enough for her to visit Kew Gardens where she encountered these  splendidly prickly plants.

kew

After our short spell of better weather, the weather gods had decided to bring us back down to earth today and it was raining heavily when we got up.   Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off in the rain on business after breakfast while I did the sensible thing and stayed at home and arranged to have coffee with Sandy and Dropscone.

Dropscone brought his usual supply of good scones and we sconed, sipped and chatted away as the rain fell.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the town and we squeezed another cup from the pot for her.

After coffee, I had time to do the crossword and start a tarte tatin off before we had lunch,  After lunch, the rain finally eased off and I was able to get out into the garden.

There were birds posing for me all over the place.

The rather scruffy male blackbird is looking better…

blackbird improving

…even though the female doesn’t think much of him yet.

fierce balckbird

The sparrows often have a bath in the dam behind the house and then, like this one, flit up up onto the lilac to have a flutter and a shoogle to get dry again.

fluffy sparrow

A bird skulked in the shadows on the fence…

dunnock on fence

…before flying up into the rowan tree to reveal that it was a dunnock or hedge sparrow.  It is obviously a bit slow in learning the difference between a fence, a tree and a hedge.

dunnock in rowan

As you can see, the sun had come out by this time, so I took a quick look at some clematis…

two clematis

…and a fuchsia which is coming out ridiculously late for the first time this year, together with a dahlia which is hanging on very well after looking as though it was well past it.

fuchsia and dahlia

Then, as it was too good a day to miss by now, I got my bike out and checked to see how my legs were feeling after two busy days.

It turned out that they were feeling fine and they carried me round my customary twenty mile Canonbie circuit slowly but without complaining.

There is a spot along the way where the grass always turns golden brown at this time of year.

brown hillside Kerr

I didn’t stop for many pictures as this is a well documented ride already but I needed a breather after 15 miles so I took a look up stream from the Hollows Bridge…

view from hollows bridge october

…and a bit later on was much struck by the golden colour of some bracken on the old A7

bracken old A7

The sun is getting low in the sky all day now and the trees on the far bank were casting interesting shadows on the old distillery building as I crossed Skippers Bridge.

Distllery from Skippers october

When I got home, I turned out the tarte tatin and while Mrs Tootlepedal made a pot of tea, I cut a couple of slices of the tarte to go with it.  I added some ice cream to my slice and in my view, it would be hard to find a better after-ride refreshment.

I was so refreshed indeed that after I had had a shower, I went out for a short walk.  I was motivated partly by the tarte, partly by the lovely evening light and mostly by the fact that my physio has told me to walk more.

It is not long until the clocks go back so evening walks at this time of day will disappear for some months so I was pleased to able to enjoy such a beautiful light today.

The shadows were falling fast but I had time to enjoy some gentle autumn colour on my way.  The pictures speak for themselves, I think.

tree at church

Esk in evening light

looking up esk

trees by A7 kilngreen

lodge october evening

By the time that I had crossed two bridges and was approaching the third, the sun was ready to sink behind the hill and the shadows were lengthening…

castleholm october evening

…until the monument was in the sun but most of the New Town was in the shade.

Whita in sun town in shadow

I swept  a lot of walnut leaves off the front lawn when I got home.

We had courgette fritters for tea and then I went to sing with the Langholm choir.  Because of some illness going round, we had a select turnout, but we had a most enjoyable sing all the same.

As the sun went down on my walk in the afternoon, it began to feel a little chilly and I was wondering if we would have a frost tonight.  However, it was still quite warm when I walked home from the choir and when I looked at our thermometer a moment ago, it said that it is 9 degrees C.  The forecast claims that it won’t get lower than 5 degrees overnight.  We have been very lucky to have kept our flowers for so long and it looks as thought they may still be there tomorrow.

No flying bird of the day today but I was happy to see a starling back perching on the holly tree again.

starling back on holly

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who noticed that some keen guerrilla gardener had embellished one of the trees in her street.

20191004_142951

The forecast was for light winds and a dry, cloudy day here today, so I formulated a more realistic plan than yesterday.  It had exactly the same result.  I went out cycling at about eleven o’clock having disposed of a leisurely breakfast, the crossword and some coffee.  I like it when a plan comes together.

I also added to my plan a slightly less challenging route than yesterday.  The downside of that was less scenery as I was ploughing a familiar furrow.  However, it was a good day for cycling as there was not enough breeze to get the wind turbines turning.

When I stopped after ten miles for a banana and a swig of water, I thought that the bare tree, the grey clouds and the power lines made for a somewhat gloomy picture…

P1190075

…but a look in another direction from the same spot brought a little more colour into the day.

P1190076

Every now and again, there was a touch of genuine colour to enjoy.

P1190077

As you can see in the picture above, the verges and the hedges have been thoroughly trimmed so there is not a lot to see there and the only bit of flower colour that I passed was on the edge of the motorway between Gretna and Carlisle.

When they  built the new motorway and the service road that runs beside it which I use, they planted a lot of shrubs and sowed many wild flowers.  As a result it is often more colourful than some of the long established country roads.

P1190082

I paused at the old Toll House at Gretna and fuelled up on a plate of egg and chips and a latte.  Thus refreshed, I cycled down into England and enjoyed this little scene at Blackford before I crossed the main road and began my journey home.

P1190085

I stopped at the bridge over the River Lyne at Cliff for a tuna sandwich and tried to catch a reflection of the birds flying above the water to use as flying bird of the day.  I didn’t capture a flying bird but I quite liked the reflections of the trees anyway.

P1190088

And bridge parapets are often interesting places…

P1190092

…if you look closely.

P1190094

My final stop was only a few miles from the end of my ride.  I took this picture to show the continued tree felling at Irvine House.  The road will look quite different when they are finished.

P1190096

Then I turned and headed over the bridge and back to Langholm.

P1190097

I was overcome by decimal fever when I got to the town and pedalled on through it for  a couple of miles to bring my total for the day up to 55 miles and the total for the last two days up to 100 miles.  This seemed a good round number.

Thanks to the flattish nature of my route, I was able to maintain a better average speed today than yesterday.  I was aiming to do the first forty miles in under three hours which is par for the course for me these days and I achieved this target by the handsome margin of ten seconds.  Rather to my surprise, I kept the same average speed up for the rest of the journey, helped by the fact that the breeze had strengthened a bit by this time and was pushing me up the hill.  As I left Longtown on my way home, the wind turbines were just creaking into action.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal taking tea and shortbread with our neighbour Liz and her dog Riley.  Liz had very kindly brought over a tin of shortbread as a present from Riley for looking after him for a few days last week.  He is a thoughtful dog.

After tea and biscuits, I went out to see if I could find a flying bird in the garden.  There were still plenty of flowers (and a colourful leaf) about…

_DSC5173

…and even a bit of interesting fungus on a fallen branch…

_DSC5176

…but the birds were keeping their distance…

_DSC5183

…so I was just thinking of getting Mrs Tootlepedal to throw Mr Grumpy’s wooden cousin up into the air for a trick shot…

_DSC5182

…when fortunately a flying bird passed overhead in the nick of time.

_DSC5187

Here is a map of today’s outing and those interested can get further details by clicking on the image.

garmin route 15 Oct 2019

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Today’s guest picture, like yesterday’s, comes from Canada but shows a different view of Thanksgiving Day there.  Langholm exile Joyce sent me this view from her window in Ontario.

Canada scene

We had an altogether better day today here as far as the weather went, with not even a hint of a raindrop about.  My plan was to make the best if the day by leaping up early and bicycling madly all day.

In real life, I got up rather late, had a leisurely breakfast and did the crossword and only then felt strong enough to get my bike out. For some reason, I am feeling a bit tired in general at the moment and far from bicycling madly about, I kept to a very steady speed indeed, especially when it came to going up hills.

And my route today had plenty of hills compared with my usual flattish outings.  I headed north out of town and aimed for the county boundary twenty miles away at the top of a hill.

There were plenty of excuses to stop along the way to take pictures.

I liked these poplars….

poplars near Craig

…and there was an amazing crop of crab apples on a tree beside the road.

crab apple beside road

I followed the Esk to the point where the Black and White Esk rivers meet.  (I stopped just so that I could take a Black and White picture in full colour.)

Black and White Esk meeting

I then cycled across the bridge over the Black Esk and followed the White Esk to its source.

black esk bridge

The road to Eskdalemuir up the west bank of the White Esk is one of my favourites.  It is quiet, well surfaced and has gentle gradients.

Castle O'er road

My route took me through the village at Eskdalemuir and past the Tibetan monastery, where the stupa was sparkling in the sunshine.

samye ling

The road climbs steadily to just over 1000 feet…

seismic station road

…so my bike was happy to have a rest while I ate a tuna roll at the county boundary.

county boundary

I ignored the charms of the Scottish Borders and after a ten minute break, I pedalled back home through Dumfries and Galloway.

I took the same route home as I had taken on the way out as the alternative route down the east bank of the river has a very steep hill which my knees were not anxious to face,

On one of my stops for refreshment and rest, I looked back up the Esk valley.  It appeared to be very benign in the gentle sunshine but it can be a harsh place in the winter.

looking up Esk valley

Although there was quite a bit of cloud about, it was so thin that the sun shone through it it all day.

My route took me along the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I stopped at one of the sites while I ate a banana.  There are information boards at the sites and some of the boards are more informative than others.

This one is unusually honest.

prehistoric trail board

This is the natural amphitheatre.  One of these days I am going down the path to try out the acoustics.

prehistoric trail over rig

It has been a very good year for cones and these trees along the Esk at Bailliehill were dripping with them.

 

pine cone glut

There was a little autumn colour here and there along the route and this tree beside the graveyard at Bentpath was the best.

 

autumn colour Westerkirk graveyard

I walked down to the river at the Bentpath Bridge but there are so many trees in front of the bridge that I couldn’t get a shot of the whole bridge and this glimpse through one of the arches was the best that I could do.

benty bridge

I pottered on gently and got home after 45 miles at very restful 11 mph.   As I had climbed over 2000 ft on my way, I was quite happy to have got home at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal had organised an exhibition of her Embroiderers’ Group work in the Welcome to Langholm office in the morning, and she had done some good gardening in the afternoon, so we had both had a full day.

After a cup of tea, I wandered round the garden.   Some plants were complaining that I had left them out of my review yesterday.

The most surprising is this hosta.  It has sent up flowering stems from some very brown leaves.

late hosta

The Icelandic poppies are still flowering in spite of poor dead heading from me.

two icelandic poppies

And the lamiums haven’t stopped at all since March.

lamium

Another little rose has taken advantage of the continuing warmth.

red rose

The fuchsia by the back gate has produced a large crop of berries.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that they might be edible but we are not going to try them.

fuchsia seeds

My flute pupil Luke came and we put in some heavy work on developing his counting skills.  It is obviously an area where I need to hone my teaching skills!

The flying bird of the day is a blackbird having a rest before a big night out on the tiles.

blackbird on tiles

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I was looking through my files when I found today’s guest picture.  It shows a Liverpool gull hoping to get Bruce to open his hotel window and give it a snack.  It was taken before Bruce went off to Helsinki.  He gets about a lot.

Liverpool gull

It was sunny and windy here today but as there was no rain all day, we liked the sun and ignored the wind as far as we could.

I had a generally relaxed day with coffee and conversation in the morning, a battle between bicycle and breeze in the afternoon and some top quality blues music in the evening.

The coffee and conversation was in the company of Dropscone who had brought some treacle scones with him in a traditional fashion.  He had been playing golf yesterday but as he missed a one foot putt rather carelessly at one point, he was not as happy about that as he might have been.

When he left, I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see a bee visiting.

october bee

The butterflies have gone but there are still occasional bees.

I picked up quite a lot of walnuts.  They are not hard to spot.

walnut on ground

Then I sieved a little compost and while I was in the vegetable garden I dug up a good sized leek and took a picture of a chive…

chive flower

…and I looked up to see a starling on the holly tree,  I like the way that starlings look as though they are covered in hearts.

hearty starling

I went to inspect the middle lawn and noted the number of fuchsia flowers still waiting to come out in the bed beside the lawn.  We have got another week before a frosty morning is forecast so they still have time.

potential fuchsia

The middle lawn looked as though it might need a cut as the grass has started to grow again after I thought that it had decided to stop for the year.  A sparrow caught my eye as I went to get the mower out…

sparrow behind twig

…and there turned out to be enough grass to make it worthwhile to mow the lawn.  I sat on the new bench and admired the result.

mown lawn october

As I sat there, a bee visited a nicotiana beside me but it got stuck in so thoroughly that there was no trace of it when I looked.  It came out too quickly for me to catch but then flew down on to the ground in front of me and posed for a picture.

nicotiana and bee

There is a small but colourful corner next to the bench.

colourful corner lawn

I went in and used the leek to make some soup for lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal had made some wholemeal bread yesterday and it went very well with the soup and some cheese.

After lunch, I went out for a cycle ride.  I had ambitions for a ride of thirty or thirty five miles in the sunshine but after spending half an hour battling into a wind gusting up to thirty miles an hour, I turned left and headed down to Canonbie for a twenty mile circuit with the wind mostly across or behind.

This was a good choice as it took me 31 minutes to do the first five miles and 64 minutes to do the next fifteen.

I was too busy pedalling to take pictures until I got the wind behind me at Canonbie.

Canonbie road

Apart from the breeze, it was a lovely day for a pedal and the trees along the Esk at Byreburnfoot looked very seasonal.

Esk below hollows

There is a little patch of grass where I stood to take the picture above and for some reason, it is a great place for fungus every year.

fungus at byreburnside

I often wonder what is buried beneath it.

My Canonbie route takes me along two sections of the old main road.  This section at Hollows was by-passed when half of the road fell into the river nearly forty years ago.

old a7 hollows

And this section at Auchenrivock was bypassed more recently when another section of the road slid into the river.  I took a poor picture of it but have put it in anyway to show local readers that they are cutting trees down here and the tarmac is seeing the light of day for the first time for ages.

old a7 irvine house

The tree felling is near Irvine House.

irvine house october

I stopped at Skippers Bridge and thought that the steps that the Langholm Walks Group put up for Walk 7 looked very inviting..

steps at skippers

…but I didn’t walk any further than down to the waterside to look through the bridge at the old distillery.skippers and distillery

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal grappling with a very intractable website which required several codes to be entered to gain access to it.  Unfortunately, however many she put in, none seemed to be able to unlock the door so she gave up in despair and made me a cup of tea (and a slice of wholemeal toast) instead.

I went out for look round the garden and decided that the front lawn might need a mow too, so I mowed it.  It turned out that it didn’t really need a mow as it get less of the sun as it gets lower in the sky than the middle lawn and I didn’t get much grass off it at all.

I took a picture of one of our most long lived flowering plants, the ornamental strawberry which has been in flower since the beginning of June…

tame strawberry

…and then went in to have a shower.

After a meal of ham and eggs, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to watch Gardeners’ World and walked down to the Buccleuch Centre to attend a concert of mostly blues music sung and played by Maggie Bell and Dave Kelly, veterans of the British music scene.

It was a most enjoyable evening and I especially admired Dave Kelly’s guitar playing.  (You can hear a sample of his work here if you wish.   It sounded much better when he played it live tonight but it gives you an idea of his skills and style.)

The flying starling of the day is not showing off its wings for once.

flying starling

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