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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who came upon this sprightly (spritely?) but rather unlikely fountain on one of her walks.  It makes me feel a bit nervous looking at it as it looks as though there is going to be a nasty crash in a moment.

fountain

We had another chilly day today with the temperature struggling to creep above 5° at best but once again it was dry and not very windy so there was nothing to complain about at all….except that I would have liked some better light for catching flying birds at work.

The morning was one of those that felt quite busy but in retrospect I can’t remember doing very much as I was probably operating in slow motion so that the simplest task took time.  I did make some potato soup with potatoes and onions from the garden.  The onions are nearly finished but there are still some potatoes to go so they have lasted well.

From time to time, I looked out of the window in the hope of seeing some interesting new visitors but things were very much as normal at the feeder.

goldfinch and chaffinch

A go9dfinch tucks in while a chaffinch keeps a wary eye out.

Pairs of chaffinches featured largely today.

chaffincheschaffincheschaffinches_DSC9019

The general motto was “Here’s looking at you.”

Some of the looks were sideways ones.

_DSC9011

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I girded up my loins with many layers and went out for a cycle ride.

I was a bit tentative as I hadn’t coughed all day and I didn’t want to set back my recovery by trying too hard but once I had got my legs warmed up and turning, I felt all right and managed a gentle 20 miles, mostly in the shelter of the valley bottom.

There were cloudscapes available….

cloudscape

…and traditional scenes….

Westwater

…capped by some glowing light on Meikleholm Hill just before I got home….

P1050476

…which caught a tree  on the other side of the road too…

P1050477

And the whole thing was finished off with a display of vapour trail and flying rooks when I got into the garden.

P1050478

There was no coughing after the ride so I feel that although my throat is still a little rough, the cold has finally given up and gone away.

Not the least satisfactory thing about the ride was that it brought up 4000 cycling miles for the year which was my plan A back in January.  With a few weeks still in hand, if the weather stays kind I may be able to reach the total for Plan B but I think the time off for my cold has scuppered any chance of Plan C.

Still, unlike the madder Brexiteers, I feel than any plan is better than no plan at all so I will be very happy with my 4000 miles even if it snows every day between now and Christmas and I can’t get back on my bike at all.

I had resolved not to watch the Scotland vs New Zealand rugby game on the telly as I thought that we were in for a hammering but in the end I succumbed to temptation and ended up watching a vastly entertaining match where we gave as good as we got or more.  We were only undone by making too many mistakes at vital moments, our besetting rugby sin.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see six singers do battle with the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook.   As is the fashion these days, they were vastly over amplified for our little theatre and this made their work rather less supple and sympathetic than the music deserved and at times we were being positively pummelled by the noise that they made.

Having said that though, the performers had plenty of pep and the songs have many really beautiful moments where the lyrics and melodies work together delightfully so it was an enjoyable evening.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches keeping a level head.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo, my Manitoba correspondent, and indicates that perhaps I should stop complaining about the weather here.

manitoba snow

In fact, we had a pretty good day here today with lots of sunshine in the morning and early afternoon.  This left me frustrated again by not being able to cycle on such an eminently suitable day for cycling.  Everyone I meet seems to have the cold too so there really is a lot of it going about.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a whole day embroidery workshop so I was left on my own to go to the Producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  To my great joy, a cheese seller has appeared so I was able to add cheese to my purchases of honey, fish, beef and venison.

I had a cup of coffee with Mike Tinker while I was there and he too is finding it hard to throw off a cold so we indulged in a little mutual sympathy.

I got home and downloaded the shopping and seeing that the forecast was for clouds later, I went out for a walk while the going was good.

I keep hoping that a bit of fresh air will blow the cold away but really, I just like taking a bit of exercise on a good day.

I walked along the river and Kilngreen without seeing anything to detain me and when I had crossed the Sawmill Brig, I headed up the hill past the estate offices.  There is a wall beside the road  that almost always has peltigera lichen and there was some there today.

peltigera lichen

Once I got out of the wood, the pattern of sunshine and shadow on a beech hedge made me look twice.

beech hedge

The hedge is completely smooth in spite of appearances.

I followed the track along above the rugby ground and dodged the soggiest bits while enjoying the strong contrast of light and shade.

Pathhead track

It has gates too.

Pathhead track

What I didn’t expect to come across on a sunny and dry day was this.

Rainbow on Pathhead track

It shows just how much moisture there is in the air when you can get half a rainbow without any rain.

Although I miss the autumn colour, I enjoyed the bare trees that I passed on my way.

trees on Pathhead track

There are still needles on the larch trees among the spruces.

Larch and spruces

This track took me about a mile and a half north of the town and when I got to the end of it, I turned back down to the main road, crossed the High Mill Brig…..

High Mill Brig

…and further downstream, I passed the more utilitarian modern bridge to the rugby pitch and caravan site.

Rugby Club Bridge

When I got back to the Sawmill Brig, I made my route into a figure of eight and crossed the bridge again and took the new path across the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge.

I looked up as I went.

Noble Fir and fern

Cones and a fern

And across.

ivy

Ivy

And down.

wild flowers on the scholars field

Three wild flowers round the Scholars’ Field.

I got home in time to have a look for garden survivors….

garden flowers november

…and have an excellent pie which I had obtained at the Producers’ Market for my lunch and then I found myself at a bit of a loose end.

I put the camera up and stared out of the kitchen window.

The sun came and went which didn’t help my camera settings but there were plenty of birds about today.

chaffinchpigeonchaffinch and greenfinchrobin

I had bought some mixed seeds as a change from endless sunflower hearts and put them out in a second feeder but there was no demand for them at all until quite late on when a single coal tit arrived and sampled the quality.

coal tit on seed feeder

We will have to wait to see if it tells its friends about this new opportunity or keeps it to itself.

We were threatened with rain showers in the afternoon but when none came. I went out and sieved a little compost and cleared up a pile of nettles on the drying green, the result of some recent garden tidying by Attila the Gardener.

As I was going out in the evening, I went back in and looked at the photographs that I had taken so far and by the time that I had finished doing that, Mrs Tootlepedal was back from a hard day’s embroidering.

We had a cup of tea and watched some rain.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a front of house manager at the Buccleuch Centre and I followed on to be a customer.  She went home when the show started but I stayed to enjoy an excellent concert by Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood.  Because we watched a recording of Strictly Come Dancing when I got home, it is too late to put a commentary on the concert here if I am to post before midnight so all I will say is that the programme was varied and enjoyed by a good audience.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches.

chaffinches flying

 

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Today’s guest picture shows some interesting ladybirds spotted by Bruce at Nunnington Hall.  Honestly, they are interesting….and spotted,  Bruce tells me that they are Harlequin ladybirds,  Harmonia axyridis,  that are not native to Britain and are sometimes called the “Halloween ladybird” because of the time of the year they flock to the UK.

harlequin ladybirds

Our brief spell of good weather ended today and it was grey and slightly drizzly when we woke up this morning.  This left us feeling a little low and we mooched around over a late breakfast and read the newspapers for as long as we could. Then Mrs Tootlepedal said that a trip to Edinburgh to see the Galloway Viking Hoard at the museum there would have been a nice thing to do on such a dull day and I said, “Why not?” and almost before we knew it, we were in the car driving to Tweedbank and catching the Borders Railway train to Edinburgh.

We did delay for long enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to have a cup of coffee before we left which gave me a moment to stare out of the kitchen window.

The goldfinches were in command of the feeder again.

goldfinches

It was too gloomy for good flying bird shots…

chaffinch

…and it was better to catch a chaffinch in te plum tree.

chaffinch

We got to Edinburgh safely and walked up the hill from the station to the High Street….

Edinburgh

…and then down the other side of the hill into the Cowgate which is crossed by two main roads,  known for some curious reason as The Bridges.

P1040685Edinburgh

Then we walked up Guthrie Street where Mrs Tootlepedal had her first lodgings as a student over 50 years ago and emerged into Chambers Street where we went into the National Museum of Scotland.

It is been greatly improved since our student days and we found ourselves in the crypt…

Scottish Museum

…having a late lunch in the Brasserie there.

The Galloway Hoard was discovered not far away from us and has been an object of great fascination to Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is interested in such things and has been to a lecture on the hoard at the Buccleuch Centre.

I was a little disappointed to find out that only a fraction of the hoard was on display as the whole thing is in need of lots of conservation and will be put on display in the the fullness of time.

What was there was interesting….

Galloway hoard

…and well explained…

Galloway hoard

…and beautiful.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite piece was among the objects on show.

Galloway hoard

A gold bird pin

There are more than a hundred objects in the hoard so the full exhibition when it arrives will be well worth looking at judging by the bits that we saw today.

We had time on our hands after admiring the hoard so we had a look round some of the rest of the museum. It is a very pleasant environment these days….

Chambers Street Museum

…although the main hall has a strong resemblance to a prison wing.

We wandered through the geology room and were pleased to be encouraged to touch one or two of the exhibits so that we could feel the smoothness of the stone.  There were some very interesting bits of rock to look at.

Chambers Street Museum

Those black circles are not fossils but just other bits of rock compressed into the main piece.

The museum has an eclectic range of exhibits, including old steam engines which I liked a lot…

Chambers Street Museum

…a painted wooden ceiling which was to Mrs Tootlepedal’s taste…

Chambers Street Museum

…and a lighthouse lens which we both liked.

Chambers Street Museum

We wandered around rooms of transport and a whole section on Scottish life through the ages but eventually the patience of our legs ran out and we moved on.

Another visit may be called for.

Leaving the museum, we walked back up to the High Street, passing through this close…

Edinburgh

…and battling the crowds of tourists as we passed this handsome house on our way to….

P1040701

…the castle esplanade.

Edinburgh castle

Even on a chilly day in October, there was plenty of tourist traffic.  We left the esplanade, pausing to enjoy the view over Princes Street and the Forth in the background….

View from Edinburgh castle

…before plunging down the hill, crossing the railway and  having a refreshing cup of tea and hot chocolate in the M&S cafe in Princes Street.

As we went along, I suggested that when she had finished her garden path, Mrs Tootlepedal might like to consider remodelling our front door on these lines.

 

Scottish Gallery

It would improve the tone of the neighbourhood, I think.

We caught a train back to Tweedbank and drove home in the dark, feeling that we had had a proper day out.

We ought to take more days out but the only trouble is that being a tourist is quite tiring.

The best flying bird of the day that I could manage in the short time and poor light of the morning was this chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who encountered this elegant pedal powered equipage in Malton.

Malton tricycle

The morning dawned, as is customary, with grey skies and a persistent drizzle which sometimes veered into downright rain.

Under these circumstances, to linger over breakfast and the newspapers for long enough to slide imperceptibly into coffee and scones with Dropscone was the best policy and I followed it.

Dropscone’s scones were masterpieces of the baker’s art and went well with the last of Mary Jo’s saskatoon jam.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre’s coffee shop over lunch and I was left by myself to stare out of the kitchen window.  As usual, there was quite a bit to stare at.

Flying chaffinches were ten a penny.

flying chaffinches

And fighting sparrows weren’t hard to find.  I liked the way this incoming lady casually one handedly brushed off the male who stood in her way.

fighting sparrows

Siskins watched from above, waiting for a perch.

siskins

And a dunnock gleaned fallen seed below.

dunnock

The highlight of the day was this tousled blue tit who defied appearances by being able to fly and land very nimbly.

ruffled blue tit

I had a slice of melon and a sardine sandwich for my lunch and by the time that I had finished these, it had stopped raining.  As it was quite warm (14°C) for the time of year and the forecast was optimistic about the rain having passed over, I got the fairly speedy bike out and ventured off on a ride.

I had a think about the brisk wind that was blowing and chose a route which I hoped would make the best of it.  Instead of heading west as usual, I headed off north on a roughly rectangular route, hoping for sheltered crosswinds on legs one and three, an even more sheltered headwind leg two and a fine run downwind leg four to finish the trip.

I was mightily surprised when things worked out according to plan.

My route took me up the Esk valley where I stopped for my favourite view….

gates of Eden

… the Gates of Eden, which look lovely whatever the weather.

A look down the road from the same spot gives a better idea of the time of year and the weather.

Craig road

I think that the autumn colour is a write off this year and I didn’t see much better than this view near Hopsrig.

Autumn colour

Bentpath looked very subdued under the clouds.Bentpath in October

My leg two into the wind was uphill but I was well sheltered for most of it by the fine line of trees beside the road you can see in the picture below..

Esk from bailliehill

I was more exposed to the crosswind as I cycled across the moor and down to Paddockhole…

Paddockhole bridge

….but by using a sensibly low gear and imagining that I was going at 20mph into a 10mph wind rather than going at 10mph into a 20mph wind (exactly the same amount of effort being required) which I was, the miles passed quite kindly.

Once I had crossed the bridge at Paddockhole, the wind was behind me for the final ten miles and when I had got to the top of Callister, the combination of wind and gravity let me do the last six miles home at an average of 20mph.

And to make things even better, the sun came out.

Craig windmills from Wauchope road

The road home looked inviting.

Wauchope road

This route is 26 miles, roughly the same distance as a marathon and has well over 1000ft of climbing in it.  I was therefore pleased to complete it in 1 hour 59 minutes and 58 seconds.  As the fastest marathon runners in the world, in a set up event in a sheltered stadium, with pacemakers, wearing fancy springy shoes and with top class nutritionists and sports trainers at their beck and call couldn’t manage to run a marathon in under two hours this year, it is a fantastic tribute to the bicycle that an old man of 75 can give them a run for their money.  In fact it calls the whole idea of running into question.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I had a look around.

october flowers

Hellenium and campanula join the poppies today

dahlias

Dahlias glowing in the sun.

it was very good to see the sun and we had a quick cup of tea and drove up to the Moorland bird feeders so that Mrs Tootlepedal could look for hen harriers on the moor and I could look at smaller birds from the hide.

It was still breezy.

coal tit

great tit and blue tit

The feeders were mostly empty but I enjoyed watching a busy set of coal tits, great tits and blue tits for a while.  There are always pheasants about too but they were looking a bit gloomy today at the lack of fallen seeds to pick at.

pheasant

Sadly, the sun didn’t last and almost as soon as we got to the hide, it was overtaken by clouds so we didn’t stay long but Mrs Tootlepedal was quite content as she had had a couple of hen harrier sightings.

By coincidence, just as we got home we met fellow camera club member Andy at our gate.  It was not his skill with the shutter than we needed but his expertise as a forester.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been worried about damage to our walnut tree and Andy kindly agreed to have a look at it and give an opinion.

Andy and Mrs T

They emerged from the inspection in good humour as Andy’s view was that the damage seemed to have been long standing and not recent and the tree was in no danger of imminent collapse.

Andy took a tour round the garden while he was here and was impressed by the appetite of some caterpillars which were eating our turnip leaves.

caterpillars

I am no caterpillar expert…that is an understatement….but a little research on the internet suggested that these might possibly be Red Admiral butterfly caterpillars.  This would be very unusual so I would welcome an identification from knowledgeable readers.

In the evening, we went the Buccleuch Centre where we enjoyed a fine performance by four young singers from Scottish Opera who were on a tour to bring culture to far flung corners of Scotland.

Rather than just singing popular arias in turn, they put together a miscellany of solos, duets, trios and quartets within a specially created dramatic framework of love and jealously among the performers themselves.  I found this very satisfactory as it added some real emotional vigour to the singing but Mrs Tootlepedal could take it or leave it alone.

The singing was splendid however, particularly by the baritone, and the musical selection ranged from Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten with many stops in between so it was a very satisfactory evening for us both.

The flying bird of the day is a double look at great tits in the garden.

great tit

For those interested, further details of the bike ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 23 Oct 2017

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo. She is currently on holiday in England and came across this fine gate in Salisbury.

Mary Jo's gate

Mrs Tootlepedal has been wanting a bit a manure to get her garden off to a good start for the next growing season so she had a word with a friend yesterday and early this morning, this arrived at our front gate…

Manure

…but even with the expert assistance of our neighbour Liz, the tractor was just too big to get itself turned round enough to back the trailer into the drive.

There was no alternative.

manure

What fun.

Luckily, Alasdair who had supplied the muck , was kind enough to stay on to help and with good teamwork….

manure shifting

…with Al and Liz filling barrows at one end of the drive and Mrs Tootlepedal creating an artistic muck heap at the other, the situation was soon saved.

manure shifted

I ran the shuttle service.

It wasn’t done in a few minutes but it was done just before Dropscone arrived for coffee and we sat down to a well earned rest, although some in the party didn’t think that they were getting a fair share of the scones.

Riley

This was the moment to test whether Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam was the correct additive for a Langholm scone and after eating two of his scones with the jam on, Dropscone agreed that the jam passed the test with honour.  I must say that I thought that it went very well with a scone or two too.

After Liz and Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a happy hour trying to erase any sign of manure other than that in the neat pile at the end of the drive…

manure

…and thanks to expert work by Mrs Tootlepedal with a teaspoon and a toothbrush, things were left looking pretty tidy.  Mrs Tootlepedal is looking forward to spreading the muck about generously in the coming months.

I once gave Mrs Tootlepedal a half load of manure for a Christmas present.  It was a very successful present as it sat outside our kitchen window for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal often remarked that every time that she looked at the great heap of muck, she thought of me.

The garden is still reasonably colourful for the time of year….

garden late Spetember 2107

…and the insects keep coming.

insects on dahlias

The dahlias were very popular today.

hoverfly

It was pleasantly cool while we were muck shifting, which was good, but the sun came out shortly afterwards and it was a great pleasure to be out in the garden.

Special Grandma looked particularly pleased.

special grandma

I made some potato and carrot soup for my lunch and then went off for a quick stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was quite breezy so I was not unhappy to have had too little time for a cycle ride.  September has been a very poor month for cycling with bad weather at the start and too much to do at the end of the month but luckily, I am well ahead of my schedule for the year and with some good weather in October, I should still reach my target by Christmas.

I had very good weather for my stroll and enjoyed the peaceful look of Wauchope Churchyard as I passed.

Wauchope Churchyard

In spite of the sunshine, the brown and swirling waters flowing under the Auld Stane Brig show just how much rain we have had over recent weeks.

Auld Stane Brig

The ground is sodden and the rain showers seem to be very heavy when they come so we may expect a bit of a flood if it rains for a long time soon. All this water came from some rain last night.

I kept my eyes open as I walked and enjoyed this large fungus….

fungus

…and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if the white rim round the edge means that it is still alive and growing.

I did see other fungus and lichen but the light was too poor or too bright so I didn’t get very good pictures.

fungus and lichen

I thought that an oak might be showing autumn colour but it turned out to be caused by the galls on the back of the leaves.  Some of the oaks are covered in these galls.

oak galls

Some peering about on the internet tells me that they may be spangle galls.  If this is true we should be in for a plague of gall wasps as there are hundreds of these galls about.

Some of the oaks are free of them and I liked this perky acorn further along the walk.

acorn

I resisted the temptation to sit on a handy bench provided so that elderly walkers can sit and look back across the river at the Wauchope Churchyard and think dark thoughts about mortality and enjoyed the open views further on instead.

Meiklholm Hill

Grey clouds were looming over Meikleholm Hill.

A curious sheep looked back at me.

stubholm sheep

I didn’t dawdle too much and I just had time to check out a battered butterfly when I got home….

red admiral butterfly

…before jumping into the car with Mrs Tootlepedal and driving off to Eskdalemuir to collect the Camera Club photos which had been on exhibition at The Hub there.

Thanks to the good curation of the exhibition by Sharon and the other volunteers at The Hub, our club members had sold quite a few of the pictures and I was modestly very pleased to find that three of mine were among those that had found buyers.

It had rained a little as we had driven up but we did most of the journey in sunshine and I wish that I could have had time to stop to take a few pictures.  Of course, I would have had to remember to bring my camera with me and as I hadn’t, the lack of time wasn’t quite so painful.

The reason for the rush was a concert at the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.  This was given by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who are absolute masters of the art of providing a congenial evening of traditional music and amusing commentary.   Their musicianship on fiddle and accordion is superb and the commentary in between the numbers can make your ribs hurt at times. Even if a lot of the tunes and stories may have made their appearance in former concerts, you greet them with all the enthusiasm you would greet a much loved old friend who has returned after some time abroad.

They have played together for forty years and have supreme and justified confidence in their own ability so they have no need to pester us with questions about whether we are having a good time or to play very loudly or to jump around and stamp to prove that they are trying.  They just sit there quietly and pour out a stream of magic and we are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is sitting on the hedge prior to taking off.

blackbird

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a new style of letterbox which my friend Bruce spotted while out in Langholm.  You have to get up very early to post a letter in that part of town.

new postbox

We got up quite early today as Mrs Tootlepedal and members of her embroiderers’ group were due to spend a morning sewing and chatting at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre to encourage knowledge about and interest in their group.  I took her along in the car with her box of stuff and when I had dropped her off, I continued on up the road to Bentpath to put my photographs into the tent at the Benty Show.

It was a delightfully misty morning.

Bentpath mistBentpath mist

As I got to the field, it looked as though the swallows might be getting ready to leave.

swallows on wire

I put my photos up among some quite hot competition and then went back to Langholm where I visited the Producers’ Market to buy fish, coffee, honey and venison…..and see what Mrs Tootlepedal and her gang were up to.

embroiderers guild

They were having a good time.  The little boy on the far left of the picture stayed and did three solid hours of needle felting.

He was the son of the venison lady.  She gave me quite a shock when,  as I went to buy my supplies, she said in a firm voice, “I want to have a word with you.”  I wondered what bad thing I had done but it turned out that she had been inspired by a conversation we had about cycling at a previous market and had subsequently got on her bike in a substantial way.  She is even making local deliveries of venison on her bike these days.

As a reward for being inspirational, she kindly gave me a gift of two venison sausages curled neatly up to look a bit like cycle wheels.  I was much touched.

If anyone else would like to be inspired, I am happy to oblige.

I drove off up the hill in the car after leaving the market in the hope that some of the early mist might still be lying in the river valleys but it was already retreating up the hills…

Ewes valley

…so I went home, mowed some grass, did a bit of dead heading and watched butterflies.

butterflies

On phlox, dahlia, buddleia and Michaelmas daisy. You name it, it had a butterfly on it.

I didn’t neglect the bees…

bee on poppy

…especially as I had just bought two jars of local honey.

And sometimes I could see butterflies and bees simultaneously.

butterfly and bee

The poppies were as gorgeous as ever….

poppies

…and the cornflowers and crocosmia are blending well….

cornflower and crocosmia

…but the star of the day was a newly opened lily of enormous size.

lily

It is some sort of lily longiflorum (well named) which Mrs Tootlepedal very untypically purchased over the internet in the middle of a sleepless night.  Buying stuff on the internet in the middle of the night is not recommended but this impulse purchase looks as though it is going to turn out very well.

After lunch, I went back up to Bentpath to visit the flower show and check on my pictures.  I had managed to get a second and two thirds so I was modestly pleased as the standard of the other pictures was really good.

The weather was very kind….

Benty show

The show field doesn’t slope down quite as much as it seems in the picture!

…and the show has a very beautiful setting beside the river…..

River esk

…with the village church….

Westerkirk Church

…and the fine bridge….

Bentpath bridge

…as a backdrop.

As well as photos, food, flowers and vegetables, there are sheep in a curly horn contest….

Benty sheep

…children’s and terrier races, a wood carving demonstration and two hound trails.

I like the hounds.  They are superb athletes.

The hounds follow a scented trail over the hills and come plunging down through the bracken, leap fences….

hound trail

… and when they come to it, they leap down the banking and dive into the river…

hound trail

…swim and run across the water, leap up the bank at the far side…

hound trail

…and sprint for the finish line.

hound trail

Or at least the leader did.  The following hounds took a more cautious view of the whole watery part of the race.

hound trail

Approaching with suspicion and then getting back out again on the same bank.

After a good deal of encouragement from their owners, they did finally get across and headed for the finish line…

hound trail

…though one or two laggards were still out somewhere on the hill.

hound trail

The hounds were followed by a fell race at an altogether more sedate pace….

Benty fell race

Rounding the marker flag at the top of the hill

…though rather disappointingly, the human runners use the bridge to get back to the show ground and don’t have to fling themselves into the river.  In the first hill race that I ever ran at Newtonmore in the Highlands, we had to wade through a waist high river just to get from the field to the bottom of the hill.

I made a final visit to the show tent….

benty show

Flowers, fruit and veg, baking, walking sticks and photos filled every corner

…and then made my way home.

It had been the very picture of a village flower show.  There was sheaf tossing and a barbecue still to come for those with stamina.

I was pretty tired by the time that I got back so although the weather was still very pleasant, I did nothing more energetic than walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had been very busy clearing and preparing flower beds for next year (she is always thinking ahead) before sinking into a comfortable chair and putting my feet up.

The flying bird of the day might have been a buzzard flying above the field at Bentpath but my hand was too trembly to catch it properly so it turns out to be the first few petals of the first cardoon flower of the year.

cardoon

 

 

 

 

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This is yesterday’s post today.  I didn’t get home until nearly midnight last night and I had many pictures to look through this morning.  The result is a post with too many pictures but I have tried to keep the commentary to a minimum to spare those long suffering souls who politely read to the very end of posts.

I had received a very kind invitation from an old friend to have a meal in Keswick and then go to see a performance of As You Like It at the Theatre by the Lake.  I was happy in three ways as I hadn’t seen the friend for a couple of years, I like a bit of Shakespeare and it is always a treat to visit the Lake District.

A check on the weather forecast revealed that there might be some dry weather about so after a long talk to BT customer services about why their WiFi app wouldn’t work on my phone and a quick quick look at the garden….

cornflower, honeysuckle and poppy

…I set off south at midday.

The drive was uneventful and I caught my first glimpse of the Lake District’s hills when I could see Blencathra as I drove down the A66.

Blencathra

The traffic wasn’t as heavy as I feared for a Saturday in August and I soon drove through Keswick and parked by the side of Derwent Water.

Derwent Water

It looks very peaceful in that shot but I was far from the only person enjoying the views and the lake.

Derwent Water

Other means of transport were available.

Derwent water

There was plenty of water in the lake.

Derwent water

I had driven through a heavy shower on my way and the weather couldn’t quite make up its mind to be a fine day but there were several sunny spells and no more rain as I walked about.

I walked along the waterside first and looked about.

Derwent water

Derwent Isle

It is hard to stop taking pictures when you are in the Lake District. I went as far as Friars Crag.

Derwent Water

A neatly accommodated tree

Derwent Water

The view across the lake

Derwent Water

They love a literary connection in the Lakes if they can find one

Derwent Water

A view from the Crag

Derwent Water

Looking down to the bottom of the lake from the crag.  It was rather gloomy down there.

Derwent Water

A sheep.  They are mostly responsible for the bare hills round the lake. Some see them as preservers of the landscape, others as vandals responsible for a eco wilderness.  Take your pick.

I wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud.

Derwent Water

Customers for the next boat tour of the lake

I had made a sandwich for lunch before I left home but as I had left it at home, I had lunch in a cafe near the lake instead and then walked through Hope Park….

Hope Park Keswick

It has a nice mixture of free…..

Hope Park Keswick

…and formal planting

…and into the town of Keswick.

It is a tourist hotspot and in spite of all the lovely hills waiting to be tramped over, the streets were crammed with visitors.

Keswick

There was a market in the centre of town..

Keswick

…and many other temptations for tourists

I crossed the River Greta on a fine iron bridge….

Greta Bridge

…and headed for the hills behind the town, crossing the park and cricket ground on my way.

Keswick

Skiddaw, a 3000ft peak looms over the town

Keswick

I walked up a back road through through woods and fields

Keswick

A lull in the traffic on the main road between visitors coming and going

Keswick

I got high enough for a good view back over the town

Keswick

The view away from the lake was also very beautiful

Keswick

Clouds sped across the sky

Keswick

Half farmhouse and half castle

Keswick

I think that this is the wonderfully named hill, Catbells

Keswick

The downside of being a popular walking destination – eroded tracks. I can count about 18 people on that path.

I walked back through the town and Hope Park.

Keswick

A typical slate building, now a guest house of course

Keswick

The slates come in smooth and rough

Keswick

I thought the pencil museum might be too exciting for me so I passed it by

Keswick

Lovely planting in the Park garden

I had time for a last look at the lake….

Derwent water

…in the sun.   Behind me, Blencathra….

Blencathra

…and Skiddaw looked most inviting.

Skiddaw

A well worn track led to the summit….

skiddaw

I took part in the Skiddaw Fell race in my younger days but we didn’t use that track.  It was memorable for the horrendous blisters I got from running back down the hill on a stony path.

It was time now to cease from contemplating the beauties of nature and turn to the pleasures of fine dining, interesting conversation and high culture.  They were all very good too so this was definitely a day firmly inked in on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a very haughty ram which was taking part in a sheep demonstration near the lake.

ram

 

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