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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Today’s guest picture shows a real trouper from Manitoba.  Lucie sent the picture to me and tells me that on the day that she took it,  Manitoba was at -8c, and the little pansy was still going strong despite having been covered in four inches of snow and suffering several below freezing days

Lucie's flower

We had another frosty morning here but a generally sunny day so after coffee, while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to make some purchases relating to repainting our hallway, I brushed the leaves off the lawns, collected another good handful of fallen walnuts, checked out the floral survivors of the frosts…

four after frost flowers

…and went for a walk.

The falling of the leaves has let more light into the river bank near Pool Corner…

Wauchope above pool corner

…but there were still some bright leafy moments here and there along my walk…

manse brae tree

…although we are also well  into the ‘bare tree’ time for taking photos.

leafless tree

As you can see, there are some grey clouds in the background of the picture above and for a moment, a light drizzle threatened to spoil my walk.  It was a false alarm though and the drizzle fizzled out after only a minute or two, and the sun shone again.

It lit up a couple of characters who were as interested in me as I was in them.

balck cow

grey cow

The frosty mornings haven’t affected the lichens on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig.

lichen fence post

Why this particular fence post out of the thousands around here should have such a flourishing lichen garden is one of life’s little mysteries.

My stroll took me along Gaskell’s and Easton’s Walks.  There were fungi to be seen along Gaskell’s…

three gaskells fungi

…and the sun penetrated through the trees to light up the arrival of the Becks Burn into the mighty Wauchope.

becks burn meeting wauchope

I looked across at Meikleholm hill…

Meikleholm hill autumn

…before plunging through the autumn tunnel to the Stubholm and Easton’s walk.

stubholm track

It was definitely autumn in the Beechy Plains…

beechy plains

…but there was still plenty to look at as I went along.

acorn, script lichen and leaf

This fine bunch of daisies on the river bank at the park bridge made a cheerful end to my walk.

daisies by park brig late october

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Carlisle in time to have some for her lunch too.

The temperature had risen to 8°C by the time that lunch was over, so I wrapped up warmly and got my bike out of the garage.  I very nearly put it back again when I looked up and saw this.

rainbow from garden

That was the direction from which our weather was coming today.  I checked the forecast and it swore that it wasn’t raining in Langholm so in spite of the evidence of my eyes, I had faith and cycled off up the Wauchope road.

My faith was justified and it didn’t rain on me at all.  In fact it was more or less sunny the whole way.

There were no leaves left on the trees when I passed the Glencorf burn though.

glencorf burn october

I was doing an out and back ride, so I took this picture at the far end of Callister before I turned back towards Langholm

view over winterhope

…and this one at the other end of my ride, where in spite of some impressive cloud formations…

clouds up Ewes

…the top end of the Ewes valley was bathed in sunshine.

Ewes valley october

When I got home, after twenty gentle miles, I was greeted by these cheerful argyranthemums which had perked up in the sun after being rather droopy in the early morning frost.

last argyranthemums

Mrs Tootlepedal roasted a chicken for our tea and as I polished off the rest of the tarte tatin as pudding, any calories burned during my cycle ride were more than amply replaced by the evening meal.

Although the feeder has been out in the garden for two days now, no bird has visited it at all while I have been watching, so a dunnock is the standing in as flying bird of the day.

dunnock

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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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After yesterday’s glorious sunrise at Wemyss, today’s guest picture goes to the opposite extreme.  Lucie has sent me this scene as Canada’s Thanksgiving Day approaches in Manitoba.  She tells me that my regular Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo has wisely popped over to London to avoid this sort of thing.

Manitoba snow

We had neither a glorious sunrise nor a heavy fall of snow here today.  The day started out being very grey and got steadily worse as it went along.

It was dry enough to cycle to church where we had a modest choir turnout and  a vigorous and interesting visiting minister to lead the service.

Then it was still dry as we cycled home but that happy state lasted about half an hour before the drizzle started.

I nipped round the garden just to record the state of the flowers

The argyranthemums in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window laugh at rain.

argyranthemum

The sedums came out too late this year to be of much interest to bees and butterflies but they are still adding good colour to the flower beds.

sedum

The transplanted nerines obviously like their new home.

nerine

Begonias are soldiering on.  On our walk yesterday we met a lady whose entire stock of begonias had collapsed.  She lives a little higher up the hill and in an exposed position so we are lucky to be in the shelter of the town.

begonia

Rosy Cheeks doesn’t love the rain but can cope with it.

rosy cheeks rose

And the fuchsias seem to be totally waterproof.  They would like a little more sunshine though.

wet fuchsiasa

Calendulas glow whatever the weather.

calendula

Although they are hanging their heads a bit, these cosmos flowers continue to thrive.

cosmos

The red astrantias have given up completely, but the white ones seem to grow a bit more beautiful each day.

astrantia

I am surprised to see the honeysuckle on the fence still producing flowers…

honeysuckle

…but not so surprised about the nasturtiums.  They will keep flowering until the very last.

wet nasturtium

Crown Princess Margareta has not given up entirely but she does seem to have lost heart and colour a bit.

rose washed out

And the dahlias are getting depressed as well.

washed out dahlia

All the same, there are a lot of flowers still to enjoy so we are not complaining.

The leeks are not complaining either.

leeks

In the afternoon, we went to Carlisle to sing with the community choir and nearly suffered from a full car park for the second day running.  There was a lot of sports activity going on in the rain at the school where we meet and the car park was absolutely full.  Luckily, on this occasion I did find a spare space round a corner.

Our proper conductor was back in action and we had a good practice.

We had stopped on our way to the choir to stock up on cheese and I had made a slow cooked lamb stew after breakfast and some wholemeal bread so we were well supplied with nourishing food when we got home through the rain.

The flying bird of the day is a blackbird which looks as though it might not have the oomph to fly at all.  It did take off though, as soon as I had finished taking its picture.

dishevelled blackbird

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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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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She went to see a 70 year old friend abseiling down Wells Cathedral to raise £700 for the charity Sosafrica.  I can only say that it takes all sorts and rather her than me..

North tower of Wells Cathedral, raining some £700 for SOSAfrica

We had a dry day today with occasional sunshine.  This was very welcome after some wet and gloomy days but it would have been even more welcome if there hadn’t been a stiff and chilly breeze blowing.

I have been feeling a bit tired lately so it took me some time to get organised and make use of the good weather but I finally got out on my bike and pedalled up the hill to the Moorland Feeders.

I am told that the little wood where the hide and feeders are situated is going to be cut down as the larch trees are suffering from disease.  This will be a great pity as many people have come to the hide and enjoyed watching the birds.  Today, I saw a handsome work of art leaning against the hide but only about ten birds so it wasn’t the best day to be a bird watcher.

Lverock Hide october

There are many pylons passing along our valley and there is a great amount of maintenance work going on at the moment.  Just near the bird hide, a new road has been made across the fields so that workmen can get to the pylons there.

pylon and road

As there are hundreds of pylons, there is a lot of work going on all up and down the valley.  It is interesting to see that something which we largely take for granted is being looked after on our behalf.  Co-incidentally, I read an article today saying that there are going to be big precautionary power cuts in northern California because their pylon infrastructure has not been maintained well enough to withstand strong winds.

The ride up the hill to the bird hide had gone well enough to encourage me to pedal on to Canonbie before turning for home.

I passed a couple of glowing trees.

two colourful trees

The Cross Keys Hotel in Canonbie is an old coaching inn and looks very much the same today as it did a hundred years ago.  I didn’t stop for refreshment or a change of horses though…

cross keys hotel

…but headed down the old main road to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass, battling into the breeze.

I decided that the wind might be helpful enough on the way back for me to take the road past Glenzierfoot and Fauldie farms.  In days gone by Dropscone and I used to cycle along this road on many a morning before having coffee at Wauchope Cottage.  I had forgotten how steadily uphill it was though, and even with a generally helpful breeze, I found it was a lot harder work now than it was then.

The sun went in too and it was a bit bleak pedalling over the hill, past leafless trees…

bare tree mossknowe

…until I got to a point, nearly at the top of the hill.  The little green structure houses some water board equipment and looking at the signpost, I realised that this literally was a half way house.  I love it when a figure of speech comes to life.

half way house

The final four miles, downhill and with the stiff breeze now straight behind me, soon made me forget the toil of the uphill section and I got home after 22 miles, tired but happy.

I had a late lunch and went out to look at the garden.

The holly tree perch was host to two starlings today, working in close harmony.

two starlings together

There were 15 more starlings sitting on the power line.

many starlings

When the sun came out, Rosy Cheeks and Princess Margareta looked wonderful…

roses, nerine, sunflower

…and when the sun went in, nerines and sunflowers provided quite of cheerful colour anyway.

This is the most colourful bed in the garden at the moment, with nerines, calendula, nicotiana and some crocosmia peeping over the hedge behind.

colourful flower ded october

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to get her hair cut and I had a final look round the garden….

anemone, poppy, calendula, cosmos

…while picking up walnuts which the breeze had dislodged from the tree.

I spotted a robin in the lilac tree…

robin in lilac

…and some slightly worn but still pretty flowers…

clematis, viola, anemone, black eyed susan

…before going in for a shave and a shower.

I needed the shave and shower as I had an appointment with the doctor to get the results of a recent blood test.  Rather to my surprise, it turned out that I was perfectly well in every way.  Even my cholesterol, which had been concerning the doctor a bit, had mysteriously fallen to very satisfactory levels.  The downside is that there is now no excuse for feeling tired and I will have to pull myself together.  Ah well, you can’t have everything.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was in the mood to collect some more bracken for the vegetable beds so we drove up to the bracken mine, and while she wielded her shears, I had another look at the fungus in the wood.

I wondered if it would still be there or if it would disappear as quickly as it had come.

It was still there.

wauchope fungus again

In great quantities and many different varieties.

wauchope fungs clumps

It is mostly in in one short section of the wood…

wauchope brown fungus

…though I did see this lone toadstool as I walked further along.

wauchope toadstool

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal laid the bracken on two beds and we had a walk round the garden, enjoying the bright phlox…

late phlox

…and picking up more walnuts…

walnuts in bowl

…before we went inside.

In a break with precedent, Scotland played really really well today in a rugby match in the world cup in Japan and we are now in a situation in which either a passing tropical storm or a gallant but not quite good enough win in the last match will return us to normality.

The flying bird of the day is a jackdaw heading for the power line and a rest.

flying jackdaw

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