Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my younger son Al, who visited the Enchanted Forest near Pitlochry with his family earlier this week.  They saw some wonders.

wicker lighthouse

As Mrs Tootlepedal is nearly but not quite back to 100% fitness, I went by myself to visit Edinburgh today.

I started early and after waving goodbye to the dahlias and catching a train at Lockerbie, I found myself in a coffee house opposite the tram stop at Haymarket Station…

trip to Edinburgh

…where I had a cup of coffee and a good chat with our older son Tony.  He kindly stopped work for a while to meet me.  He is in the process (if all goes well) of selling his current house in the middle of the city and buying one with a good garden suitable for dogs rushing about out in on the other side of the Forth.  It is a nerve-wracking business.

After we parted, I had a stroll round Edinburgh and took a few pictures as I went along.

As our internet is behaving very badly due to a fault on our phone socket, I will keep the commentary to a minimum and hope to get this posted before our connection fails again.

I passed St Mary’s cathedral where a boy from Langholm used to sing in the cathedral choir.

St Mary's Cathedral

It looked more cheerful from the side.



St Mary's Cathedral

I took a wide view across the Water of Leith…

A wide view across the Water of Leith

…and then peered down on to the river from a couple of bridges which I had walked under on my last tour in this area.

Water of Leith from above

Water of Leith from above

The Dean Bridge on the right crosses a deep chasm  and it made me nervous to look over the parapet of the bridge.

The New Town has many fine façades…

New Town facade

…and many modest back lanes behind them.

New Town rear

There is any amount of interesting detail.

New Town  balconies

I left the New Town and walked up to the end of Princes Street where I came across this architectural hodgepodge.

Ghillie Dhu

I crossed Princes Street and walked along Castle Terrace, so named because it is a terrace and it lies in the shadow of the castle…

Edinburgh Castle

…and it has a car park.

There was some nice autumn colour here and there.

Castle Terrace

I walked down some steps onto Kings Stables Road (I don’t know why it is called that) which sits right under the castle…

Edinburgh Castle

…and entered the Grassmarket.  This was a dark and gloomy place of ill repute when we were students but it has been severely gentrified now and is a very pleasant place to visit.


I had hoped to catch a flying city bird but they were sightseeing too.

city bird

I left the Grassmarket by Victoria Terrace….

Victoria Terrace

…and climbed up through a narrow wynd….


…onto the upper level of the street whence I could look down on the way that I had come.

Victoria Terrace

Another narrow entry took me up to the High Street where I had some very upmarket haggis for my lunch.

After lunch, I left the High Street and headed down to Princes Street, viewing the Scott Monument on my way…

Scott Monument

It is purely its position opposite the castle that makes Princes Street a tourist attraction. Its buildings are very indifferent.

…and passing both the National Gallery…

National Gallery

…and the Scottish Portrait Gallery….

Scottish Portrait gallery

…which have contributed to Edinburgh sometimes being referred to as the Athens of the North.

From Princes Street, I caught a bus down to Easter Road where I joined Matilda and her father for an afternoon of fun.  After practising kicking the ball with both feet, a most important skill if Scotland is to take its rightful place in the world, I spent some time getting thrashed at both Pelmanism and Snap.  Then fortunately we turned to other amusements which passed the time most pleasantly until Clare arrived back from Glasgow  and preparations for the evening meal began.

I didn’t stay for this and left to catch an earlier train home than usual.  The journey was uneventful and the rain once I got out at Lockerbie was unrelenting on my drive home.

I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was another step forward on the road to recovery so it has been a most enjoyable day.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who was in Edinburgh yesterday and was comforted by the up to date police protection afforded to its citizens.

Edinburgh Police

I had much better weather for my trip to the Moorland Feeders today and it was only a pity that the birds stayed away in great numbers.  I suspect that a sparrow hawk must have been in the vicinity.

The pheasants aren’t frightened of anyone or anything, being hand reared.


…and occasional chaffinches popped up here and there.


A  single woodpecker paid a flying visit…


…and that was about it so I didn’t stay long.

I saw a crow on the top of the walnut tree when I got home and my new lens made light of the distance.

crow in walnut tree

I didn’t have long to look round the garden but I was happy to see that the sunshine had brought the bees back…

bees on poppy

..in force…

bees on poppy

…and a butterfly or two too.

red admiral butterfly

This one was looking a bit ‘end of season’.

The reason that I didn’t have long to garden wander was that I wanted to get a quick pedal in before lunch.

The wind was a bit lighter today so I went over the hill…

View from tarcoon

The view from Tarcoon

…and down to Canonbie and then back along the banks of the Esk….

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…which had plenty of water in it after yesterday’s rain.

I chose this spot to take the river picture because in previous years I have seen a lot of fungus there…

fungus at Byreburnfoot

…and they have come back again this year.  There were dozens of these fungi sprouting on a plain patch of mown grass.

I had been blown down to the bottom of the by-pass by a friendly breeze so the journey back to Langholm was a bit more like hard work and as I was under some time pressure, I didn’t stop for more pictures.

I went  fast enough to have left time for another quick look round the garden after a shower and lunch.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta has made a welcome reappearance


This poppy had given the bees all it could give.

I saw another butterfly…or perhaps the same one revisiting,  It was hard to tell at this angle.

red admiral butterfly

Then I drove off to Lockerbie with Mrs Tootlepedal to catch the train to Edinburgh.

I admired a fine set of faintly nautical looking hinges on a doorway in Lockerbie opposite the spot where we parked our car.

Lockerbie hinges

Lockerbie station has two just platforms, up and down, with a passing line behind the down platform but looking south from the bridge, It must have been busier at one time.

Lockerbie station

The train was late again but only mildly and the countryside looked lovely as we swept past so all was forgiven.

When we got to Edinburgh, Matilda was in splendid form and gave me a very even match at Pelmanism before trouncing me at Snap.  There was more fun before tea time when we were terrorised by a monster….

matilda monster

…who surely can’t have been related to this studious little girl studying her miniature cow.


All too soon it was time to catch the train back to Lockerbie.  The bus arrived so promptly and drove so swiftly that I had time to look around at Waverley Station and enjoyed this circle of ornamental youngsters round the skylight in the waiting room.

Waverley station

Our drive home from Lockerbie was illuminated by a brilliant moon.  I tried my new lens out on it when I got home and was pleased with a quick hand held shot from an upstairs window.


There was not much choice but I managed to get a flying bird of the day at the Moorland Feeders this morning….just.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to Arran where he visited the Machrie Moor Stone Circles.

Machrie Standing Stones

Just to put it on the record, we had a day without rain today. We were pathetically grateful.

I started the day off with a cycle ride.  This would have been quite a bit longer if I had been a bit more gung-ho about getting up, getting breakfast and getting going.  Leisurely was a more appropriate word than gung-ho to describe my activities but I got out before coffee time at least.

I was just pedalling up one of the early hills when my neighbour Ken whizzed past me.  As he is the same age and same weight as me, the only way he can cycle faster than me is by trying harder so I was stimulated into trying harder than I usually do myself and I kept him in sight until he stopped for a drink near Canonbie.  I stopped too and we had a chat…


I wouldn’t have caught him up if he hadn’t been feeling his back a bit but he was very cheerful all the same.

…and then set off on the road back to Langholm…

Woodhouselees road

It was a lovely day for a cycle ride

….with one or other of us setting the pace.  As a result, I managed a much better speed than I would have done if I had been on my own but I was also quite a bit more puffed out when we finished.

We were going to see Matilda in Edinburgh in the afternoon but I had time to look round the garden after the pedal.  The sun was really trying its best and the white flowers glowed.

Cosmos and Japanese anemone

Cosmos and Japanese anemone

poppies with hoverflies

The poppies were popular with hoverflies today


After all the pale flowers, I couldn’t pass the pink poppies without my finger clicking!


There really were hoverflies, flies and bees everywhere, enjoying the sunshine just as much as I was.

daisy with flies

Some ox eye daisies drew the flies

dahlia with hoverflies

A dahlia had pulled in hoverflies with another coming up to join in

bees on the Michaelmas daisies

There were three sorts of bees on the Michaelmas daisies

I had a close look at a bee.

bee on Michaelmas daisy

And an even closer look at another.

bee on Michaelmas daisy

I keep on resolving to get my tripod out and use a little patience on these close up shots but I keep on taking hand held ones and then doing something else so this may be the best that I will get.

The something else that I did today was to go to look for a butterfly…

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and I am glad that I did because it is a treat to see a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

I had to go inside in the end and have a shower and some lunch and then we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was such a good day that the town hall at Lockerbie looked like a Disney castle when we got there.

Lockerbie Town hall

On the down side, the train was late yet again.  It is a most unreliable service.

We got to Edinburgh a quarter of an hour late and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy some lampshades, I caught the bus to Matilda’s.  Because of roadworks my bus was diverted and I got a much better view from its window than I expected.

Arthur's seat chapel

Matilda was baking a cake when I arrived presumably because she knew that we were coming.

I read a book with Matilda until Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and then we sat and chatted and played until it was time for tea.  We enjoyed a pizza with trimmings and then we got to eat the cake made by Matilda and her dad and enhanced with some jam and cream by her mother, so a proper family affair.  It was delicious, a credit to then all.  We were allowed to take some home with us in a box.

All too soon it was the moment for Matilda to go to her bath and for us to catch the bus back to the station.  The train was on time and we got home safely.

We looked up at the sky when we got out of the car and for once, we could see the stars very clearly in spite of the street lights all around.  This was tempting so I got my camera out, stuck it on a tripod and pointed it hopefully at the sky.  I was impressed by how many more stars it could see than I could with my naked eye.



If we get another clear night, I will go out of town to find a darker spot and have another go.  There are obviously a lot of stars to photograph out there.

The flying bird of the day is a sweet pea ignoring the recent rains and reaching for the sky.

sweet pea


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who met this hirsute gardener doing a little watering  in Regent’s Park this morning.


We had a very untypical Sunday today with no church choir, no Sunday bike ride and no slow cooker.  In fact I only had time for a very brief look at the garden before we had to leave the town.


We are an equal opportunity bee employer.

clematis and lily

Clematis and lily bring fresh life to the garden.

The reason for our early journey out of town was an assignation to meet with Matilda and her parents for lunch in North Berwick on the other side of the country.

The weather was benign and the 80 mile drive was largely traffic free and a real pleasure in itself.  After coffee and a teacake in a handy garden centre near North Berwick, we arrived at the station in good time to meet the midday train.

North Berwick station is literally the end of the line.

North Berwick station

It has a well kept station sign on one side of the track and a large selection of black berries behind the platform.

North Berwick station berries

Matilda’s train rolled down the hill into the station…

North Berwick station train

….bang on time and it wasn’t long before we were enjoying a good lunch with Matilda, Al and Clare in a cafe on North Berwick’s busy High Street.  While we were there, Mrs Tootlepedal bought a quite large mirror.

After lunch, we went down to the beach.  There was a lot of sand about and sadly some of it was obviously in the wrong place and needed to moved.

Matilda at North Berwick

This was a big task but I managed to tempt Matilda down to the edge of the sea to do a little light paddling instead and I left the photography to the Carlyle Place Community Camera Co-operative (Al and Clare) while we had fun.

Matilda at North Berwick

Picture courtesy of the Clare section of the CPCCC

I think that this is a quintessential portrait of the British having fun at the seaside.

There was a bit of splashing involved but that didn’t discourage Mrs Tootlepedal who came to join us.  Though you can’t see it in the pictures, which give an impression of an idyllically calm day,  the waves were very big to a small person and needed a lot of leaping over when they came in.

Matilda at North Berwick

Picture courtesy of the Al section of the CPCCC

While we were paddling, Al allowed his attention to stray out to sea where a Border Force vessel was cruising up and down.

Border Force

Quite what it was doing was a mystery.

I saw other vessels during our stay on the sand.

Some big….

DFDS Vessel

…and some small…

sailing boats at North Berwick

….and usually with some of North Berwick’s little islands as a backdrop.

Craigleith island

That is the island where we saw puffins when we visited North Berwick earlier this year

When we had had enough fun on the beach, we went off to taste some of North Berwick’s celebrated ice creams and found a bench in a little public garden to sit on while we enjoyed them.

ice cream at North Berwick

Picture courtesy of the Clare section of the CPCCC

There were some beautiful dahlias in the garden.

north berwick dahlias

It had clouded over by this time so instead of going back to the beach, we walked along to the harbour and took the path along the rocks…

Matilda at North Berwick

…from where we could see the Bass Rock….

Bass rock

…home of the gannets.

We had all taken the boat trip round the Bass Rock in May and Matilda and Clare and sailed round it more recently but today we didn’t have time so we watched the boat speeding back from the rock…

bass rock boat

…and inching carefully through the narrow harbour entrance.

There was just time for Matilda to have a ride on a roundabout….

North Berwick roundabout

….acknowledging the waves from her family as she passed us by by ringing a bell….

North Berwick roundabout

Picture courtesy of the Clare section of the CPCCC

…before it was time for Matilda, Al and Clare to catch the train back to Edinburgh.  What with paddling, looking at boats, ice cream and a go on a roundabout, it had been a perfect seaside outing.

Our drive back went very smoothly and was enhanced by a visit to the chip shop in Hawick for some sustenance to help us get home at the end of a long but very worthwhile day.

I did some see some hips on our walk down to the town from the station but the wind was blowing quite a bit so the flying bird of the day today is an example of the hippy hippy shake caught in action.


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is the last from my sister Mary’s visit to the Thames riverside and shows more usual boats in their parking places.

St Katherine's Dock 14.08.17 012

It was another moist morning here and the poppies were doing well to hold their heads up at all…

 St Katherine's Dock 14.08.17 012

…let alone look so pretty.


Mrs Tootlepedal’s vision of a garden full of poppies is working out well in parts…


…and the cornflowers are growing well too.


The forecast spoke of more showers but it looked not too bad so I nipped out on my bike to do a 20 mile Canonbie tour and got the timing perfectly right as I missed two heavy showers in Langholm while I was out and got back just as the second one stopped.

I didn’t spend any time stopping to take pictures as I was anxious to avoid getting caught in the next shower.

I got back in time for a cup of coffee, a hot shower and a light lunch before it was time to go to Edinburgh to meet Matilda.  There were a few minutes spare for me to walk round the garden before we left and I was happy to see a butterfly enjoying the sunflower….

red admiral butterfly on sunflower

…and two more on the buddleias.


The bed at the end of the drive is turning into a fine colourful corner with calendulas, crocosmia, Michaelmas daisies and buddleias all contributing…

End bed

…and elsewhere the stargazer lily is showing its final flower and the unprotected sweet pea is looking very sturdy and producing flowers.

sweet pea and stargazer lily

The train journey to Edinburgh was enjoyable as the sun came out soon after we left Lockerbie and the sun continued to shine while we were in Edinburgh.  Matilda took us to the play park where she had fun of all sorts.

She takes having fun very seriously though.

Matilda in the park

We came home to a tasty evening meal and a very competitive game of snap.

We said goodbye….


…and caught our train home safely.  It was raining a bit when we got out at Lockerbie so we were grateful for the metaphorical and literal sunshine we had had in Edinburgh.

A reader asked how the topiary chicken was progressing after its severe trimming.  The answer is not badly and here it is as bird of the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal is about to start shaping it.

topiary chicken

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited the south coast of England  yesterday and saw the not quite so famous white cliffs of Brighton.

The white cliffs of Brighton

After the excitements and activity of yesterday, today was very restrained.

The only noticeable activity of the morning was eating some iced buns which Dropscone kindly bought with him when he arrived for coffee.  Dropscone had plenty to relate as he has had a busy time lately, playing golf, refereeing a golf tournament, organising a golf tournament of his own  and visiting the science museum in Glasgow.  He had survived all this very well but I was quite exhausted just listening to his adventures.  He certainly gets about.

It rained heavily while we sipped and chatted but it stopped when it was time for him to go home.

I went out to look at flowers just once in one of the sunny spells.


The only activity in the afternoon was a drive to the council dump at Annan to get rid of our old dishwasher.  This was made even more exciting than a normal visit to the dump by the fact that we had to pass through several torrential downpours with added thunder and lightning on our way there.

It was fortunate that the downpours were reasonably brief, as in the space of a minute on each occasion, the roads turned into rivers and driving became quite dangerous.  Happily on each occasion, we soon found ourselves back in bright sunshine…although we could see the next shower coming towards us at speed quite clearly.

With heavy showers and bright sunshine alternating rapidly, it wasn’t a day for cycling, walking or gardening so I took the opportunity to give my back a really good rest.

The ironic sunflower is progressing well in spite of the rain…


…but the theme of the day was summed up by this large puddle outside the back door.


It was our younger son’s birthday today and Clare, his wife, sent me this picture of him being terrified by his birthday cakes.  It is acting as the flying bird of the day.

Al birthday cakes

It is the Canonbie Flower Show tomorrow and we are hoping for some better weather.

Read Full Post »

A wet welcome home

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who tells me that she recently went to hear a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, all 30 of them. They were played on this magnificent instrument.  She said that it sounded as good as it looked.


This is today’s post today.  (Mercifully few pictures after the glut from Keswick.)

I had a quiet day, partly put of choice and partly because it rained a lot.

I had to get ready for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from the deep south so I made a sauce for a spaghetti in the slow cooker, prepared a loaf of bread in the breadmaker, did a load of washing and tidied up the kitchen a bit.

I went out into the garden and sieved some compost, dead headed anything I could see and hoped that I hadn’t killed too much in  the greenhouse.

I meant to take some pictures of poppies while it was still dry but I left it too late and things were a bit depressed by a rain shower by the time that I got the camera out.

white poppy

This poppy had looked beautiful an hour earlier.

white poppy

Battered but unbowed

white poppy

There was one still able to attract a friend.


This one was sheltered by other plants

The dahlias are not doing well which is a pity as they were very good last year and we were hoping for another good show.


Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit gloomy when she saw how little they had progressed while she was away.

Even the Japanese anemones, which are well sheltered by the walnut tree, are looking rather less than joyous.

Japanese anemones

We could really do with a spell of dry and warm weather or the summer flowers will just give up altogether.

In spite of the rain, my personal sunshine arrived on the train safely at Carlisle and I picked her up and drove her home.

The garden looked in a sad state and although it was more the fault of the weather than mine, I couldn’t help feeling rather guilty about the whole thing.

Still, the spaghetti sauce was very tasty so it wasn’t all doom and gloom, even if I had managed to deal the Sweet William seedlings in the greenhouse a mortal blow.



Read Full Post »

Older Posts »