Archive for the ‘Knee replacement’ Category

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.


It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.


Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….


…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow



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The second of the ‘trip to London’ pictures shows “Topaz”, one of the elegant Pullman coaches pulled by the steam engine which we saw at Carlisle station.  I like the little lamps with shades at every table.

Pullman coach

We had a rare outbreak of summer today with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze from the north in case it got too hot.

I started the day off by going up to check on the Camera Club exhibition and making arrangements for visitors to purchase prints if the mood comes upon them.  While I was there, the volunteer custodian and I got our pictures taken by the local paper which was publicising the event for us.

I then went home and promptly had to come back up to the town again as I had forgotten to buy a Common Riding tie to wear when our little choir songs at the concert on Wednesday.  It is a quirk of the Langholm Common Riding that it has different colours each year, taken from the colour of the silks worn by the jockey of the winner of the Derby.  This means that there is a different tie every year.

All this excitement and a bit of shopping thrown in, meant that I needed a sit down and a cup of coffee when I finally got home.  Then I needed a lettuce and marmite sandwich to provide fuel so it was not until after midday that I managed to get going on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a few garden pictures before I left.

sunny flowers

Once on the bike, I soon discovered that my legs were in go slow mode so I didn’t push them and I was happy to stop for pictures as I went along.

There was plenty to see in the verges….

umbellifer with red soldier beetles

Every umbellifer seemed to have at least one red soldier beetle on it.   I saw a stem hosting nineteen insects of various sorts on its flower heads later in my ride.

The road side verges are recovering after the mowing and I liked this display of hawkbits on the road up Callister.

hawkbits on Callister

Whether they are ‘lesser, ‘autumn, ‘rough’ or some other hawbits I cannot tell but they were good to look at as I puffed up the hill.  I have no idea what the little birds in the middle of the road further up the hill were doing.

I had to cross a couple of recently gravelled sections of road on my journey but there has been sufficient traffic to make them quite safe for cycling which was a relief.

I went as far west as Paddockhole and then turned north, uphill and into the wind to get to Eskdalemuir via Bailliehill and Castle O’er.  This took me past the new windfarm at Ewe Hill and I tried to get a picture that took in all the 22 turbines…..

Ewe Hill wind farm

…and failed.  The turbines are so stretched out and alternately low and high that my camera couldn’t cope at all.

There are now so many wind turbines in Scotland that on a day of good wind and low demand, they can provide just about all the energy that is needed for the whole country.  What is required now is serious work on developing storage for renewable energy and it does seem that people are paying attention to this.  I live in hope.

I pedalled on up the valley of the Water of Milk, crossing bridges when I came to them.

little bridge on Bailliehill road

When I arrived at Bailliehill, I had crossed the col between the water of Milk and the Esk Valley….

Esk valley at Bailliehill

One of my favourite views of the Esk

…and I was soon passing the spot where the Black Esk meets the White Esk….

Black Esk meets White Esk

…and I had to cross the Black Esk…..

Black Esk bridge

…to continue up the west bank of the White Esk to Eskdalemuir.

When I got there, the northernmost point of the trip, I crossed yet another bridge…

Eskdalemuir bridge

Electricity and phone wires are everywhere I go.

…to continue my journey back to Langholm down the east bank of the river.

After pedalling the last ten miles uphill and into the wind, I was hoping for a good push from the breeze to get me back to Langholm but it was fitful and flighty and often seemed to come from the side and even into my face a bit instead of wafting me home.

Still, it was a glorious day to be out in the country so I didn’t mind too much and just pedalled along in a very stately manner admiring the views.

There are prehistoric monuments along the way.  This is a stone circle, The Girdle Stanes, half of which has been swept away by the river.

Girdle Stanes

The fields really were those colours.  The whole outing was a visual treat.

I had to pause on the Crurie Brae to let my tin knee rest as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills.  While I paused,  I looked north.  I could see the road that I had come up on the other side of the valley.

Looking back from Crurie Brae

Soon afterwards, I got my reward for the climbing I had done…..

Shaw Rigg

…as I whistled down the long straight road of the Shaw Rig.

I was soon pedalling along the back road past Georgefield, through banks of wild flowers….

Georgefield road

…until I crossed the Esk again at Bentpath by the bridge below the church….

Bentpath bridge and church

…which I see has got the builders in.

Westerkirk Church

Although the road from Eskdalemuir is theoretically downhill as it follows the river, it never seems that way when I am cycling along it. It undulates a lot and I was grateful to get to the last climb of the day.  I stopped for a breather and a final view from my ride.

View of Esk valley at Potholm

I would have taken a picture of the good crop of raspberries at the top of the hill but I inadvertently ate them before I thought of getting the camera out.  Wild raspberries are delicious.

I did 34 miles which is not far but as you can see from the elevation profile below, it was an up and down sort of ride with long uphill and short downhill sections so not very restful.  It was the slowest ride I have done for ages but also one of the most enjoyable.

Garmin route 24 July 2107

Click on the map for more details of the ride if you wish


When I got home, I had another wander round the garden….

poppy and roses

…edged the lawn and picked some beetroot which I then cooked.  I made a loaf of bread (with water) and went upstairs to have shower.  The front lawn looked so good from the bathroom window that I went back downstairs and got a camera.  I often say to Mrs Tootlepedal that all the work that I do on the lawn through autumn, spring and early summer is to make it look good for at least one day later in the summer.

I think that this might have been that day.

the front lawn looking good

When I came down a little later, there were forty sparrows pecking the lawn to bits.  Ah well.

Still the evening sunshine lit up a poppy very nicely so that soothed my ire.

poppy in sunshine

And a very cheery clematis at the front door completely restored my good humour.

front door clematis

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we played through our trio and that rounded off a very good day indeed.

After tea, I picked the very last of the blackcurrants and I hope to find time to make a pot or two of jelly tomorrow.

The flying birds of the day can’t make up their minds and are sitting on the fence for the time being.


Oh all right, it’s a hedge and not a fence.  Perhaps they are hedging their bets.


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Today’s guest picture is the town hall of Ripon.  My brother, who was visiting,  was much taken with the inscription.


We had a day of pleasantly cool but sunny weather today and if I hadn’t had quite a strenuous pedal yesterday, I would have been out on my bike.  As it was, I spent a quiet morning in the garden checking out insects.

The bees have been joined by hoverflies.


Mrs Tootlepedal has some very pretty sunflowers coming out…


…and they are real insect magnets.


I was busy with a little dead heading when the garden was suddenly invaded by a team of expert rose clippers.

rose pickers

They attacked our ramblers with ready secateurs and in no time they had a crate filled with blooms.  When they left, I followed them on my bike and trailed them to their lair.  They were part of a gang which was hard at work in a shed.

The crown

The object of all this activity is the ceremonial crown which will be carried through the town among the other emblems as part of our Common Riding procession on Friday.  It is an honour for our roses to be part of it.

Once the roses are trimmed and prepared, the crown maker Les binds each one individually to the framework which has been precovered with moist sphagnum moss to keep the roses fresh.

Les making the Crown

This is the most painstaking work, taking many man and woman hours and I shall look at the crown with new respect when it is paraded  round the town on Friday.

When I got back home, Attila the gardener was starting the job of taking down a small tree which is steadily dying and I helped out by shredding the branches.

After lunch, I printed out some more pictures to go on cards which will go on sale in the town. They raise funds for the Archive Group and the last lot sold quickly which was pleasing.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to Carlisle for some shopping and I took advantage of the continuing sunshine to go for a walk.

My plan was to walk along the ridge between Castle Hill and Potholm Hill and then descend to the road for the return journey.

It had rained quite a lot last night and I wondered whether the going might be a bit too soggy for fun but the hill was in very good condition and I followed my plan to the letter (well almost).


There was no chance of waving at Mr Grumpy on my way as the Kilngreen is given over to the shows for the next few days so I went straight up the hill.

Castle Hill

The hill was covered with wild flowers…

Castle Hill

…and the walking was delightful.

The views weren’t bad either.

Panorama from Castle Hill

You can click on this panorama to get the bigger picture.

I soon got to the summit of Castle Hill and the ridge stretched out in front of me.

Castle Hill

I walked along the ridge…

Ridge from castle hill

…looking to the left….

Esk valley

The Esk valley

…and the right…

Ewes valley

The Ewes valley

…and sticking to the wall as I went.

Castle Hill ridge

As well as the views, there were things of interest closer to hand.

fungus and heart's ease

Fungus making use of a handy drop of dung and Heart’s Ease sheltered against the wall.

I got to the end of the wall and there was a handy stile to get me onto the next part of my route.

stile on Potholm Hill

All was going well until I got to the top of the next summit and  spotted a group of cattle grazing further along on my route.  I don’t like to get too close to hill cattle so I cunningly dropped down the side of the hill and contoured along with a view to reaching the fence and then walking up it to the next gate, having bypassed the cattle.

My plan was not very successful.  I dropped down out of sight of the cattle quite successfully but the cunning beasts knew what I was up to and when I looked up the hill, they were cantering along the ridge and soon formed up in front of the gate I was hoping to get to unobserved.

I wasn’t going to argue with them so I changed tack and followed the fence downhill until I came to a second gate which gave me access to the track which I would have joined in the first place so all was well.  I took a look at the very picturesque cottage at Henwell…


…and then went down to Potholm Bridge and walked home along the road.

I ate wild raspberries from the hedgerows and clicked away as I went but there have been too many pictures already so I will just put in a sign of the times that I passed.


Crops starting to ripen in the fields

…and a chaffinch that was hopefully looking for seed in the garden when I got home…


…and that will wrap up the day nicely.

It was a walk of just under 6 miles and it is a tribute to both my new knee and the exercises which the physio gave me for my troublesome hip that I could do it at all.  Two or three years ago I was quite certain that I would never be able to walk over the hills again so I count this a great blessing.

The chaffinch wouldn’t fly to order so there is no flying bird of the day but Rosa Wren more than makes up for this deficiency in my opinion as it appears as flower of the day.

Rosa Wren







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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk that my brother did last month.  He remarks, ” If you choose to close your teashop at 4pm, I can’t think of a nicer way to tell thirsty ramblers.”

Andrew's closed sign

We had another fine and windy day here with occasional showers, very fine and very windy.  It was pretty chilly when I went to get the newspaper after breakfast but as the day went on, it warmed up nicely.

I had a quiet morning while various members of the group walked round the town or went to the beach to dig sandcastles.

After lunch, Matilda went for a nap and I went for a walk along the Fife Coastal Path with my wife and son (Ally and Alistair, hence the ‘et al and et al’ of the title).

We walked eastwards towards Crail, the next village along the coast and this had the advantage of giving us thewind and sun at our backs, ideal for walking and snapping as we went along.

Fife coastal path

There was lots to see on the way.  New ducks…

Common shelduck

Common shelduck

Old friends.

eider and oyster catcher

Eider and oyster catcher

Very small birds

wagtail and lark

Wagtail and lark (descending)

White stuff beside the track, sometimes vegetable….

dead nettle and white flower

Dead nettle and an unknown (to me) plant

…and sometimes mineral.


A shell beach

The most surprising thing that we saw was a kestrel, which rose up from the beach and obligingly hovered a short way off for quite long enough for me to get the camera out.


The least surprising was large quantities of celandine and lichens…

celandine and lichens

…but they were very welcome all the same.

We did see a very strange boat which passed on its way along the Forth.

Forth boat

The Isle of May looked like a huge whale riding the waves.

Isle of May

We were walking along flat ground on the very edge of the seashore until we came to a large and unexpected outcrop of rock.

Fife coastal path

The weathering was wonderful.

Fife coastal path

For a moment it felt as though we were in one of those canyons that appear in Westerns…but not quite on the same scale.

Fife coastal path

We could have spent some time there but we walked on and finally got our first glimpse of Crail.


It is undoubtedly a picturesque spot.

Crail harbour

As you can see, the town is built up a cliff and as we climbed up towards the town, we could look down on the harbour below us.

Crail harbour

We had arranged for Clare to drive Matilda to meet us when she woke from her nap.  The times for Matilda’s nap and our four mile walk fitted very satisfactorily and not long after we got to Crail, we were joined by the chief guest.

Matilda at Crail

We walked down to the harbour (not very interesting and with the light in the wrong direction anyway) and then walked a bit back up the hill…


…to find a small art gallery which had an outside tea room with an excellence view.

Crail tea room

.It was breezy but just warm enough to sit outside with pleasure (and a coat) so we had a cup of tea and a slice of cake or two between us.  While I was settling the account, Alistair borrowed my camera and took a picture of the chief guest.


After our tea, Clare drove Alistair and Mrs Tootlepedal back and since there was only room for four in the car, I walked back the way we had come.

I was really pleased to have this opportunity, as the walk was as good going back as it was coming and although the wind was still brisk and in my face this time, it wasn’t strong enough by this time of the day to spoil a good four mile walk.

All in all, I walked eight miles, which is the furthest that the new knee has gone in one day.  As it took no hurt and my other leg seemed to have benefited from the exercises, I can see no reason why some more good walks should not be on the menu if we get some good days this summer.  Considering that I was struggling to walk two miles a couple of years ago, this is a tribute to the National health Service.

Just a note here for those interested in hydration and feeding when taking exercise.  I needed no less that two cups of weak tea, a slice of lemon drizzle cake and three small pieces of tablet to sustain me for the two and a half hours of exercise.  Of course I carefully balanced my limited hydration by employing ancient mystical methods of reducing evaporation as I went along.  I walked nice and slowly.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked us an excellent tea to round off the day and we were all pleasantly tired by the end if it.

The flying bird of the day is that obliging kestrel.

flying kestrel

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Today’s composite guest picture is a celebration of Matilda, who has just reached the age of two, sent by her parents.  She is being very helpful in the garden now that she is so old and the weather is nice.


There was hardly a cloud in the sky again today and even more importantly, it was warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to wish Matilda a happy birthday (a day late) and I tried to do useful things at home.

I started by putting a heavy week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  It was a heavy week because it had all the names of those who had attended various functions in Langholm and nearby to celebrate the wedding of the eldest son of the Duke of Buccleuch in 1893.  It didn’t do not to be respectful to the Duke so there was a very good turnout which gave me and the data miner who had compiled the index a great deal of work.

After that, I went out to look at the flowers.  I don’t know if I have mentioned that the tulips are out.


I mowed the front lawn and sieved some compost and then I put some buck-u-uppo on the worst parts of the front lawn in an effort to encourage a blade or two of grass to push through the moss.

It should have been a good day for taking bird feeder pictures….


…as there was plenty of light about but unfortunately, there were hardly any birds about.  Whether it was that the warm day had tempted them to go elsewhere or perhaps that they have finally had enough of the frequent sparrowhawk visits but for one reason or another, visitors to the feeders were very scarce.


This blackbird was enjoying the peace and quiet.

The dogtooth violets are beginning to show their dancing feet.

dogtooth violet

…but the cool mornings are keeping new flowers from arriving.

After lunch, I went out for a short ride just to test out some new cycling shorts I have recently bought.  The temperature was at a mellow 15°C (60°F) and it was the first day this year when I hadn’t needed to be well wrapped up against the chilly air.  It was a treat not to have to spend several miles getting my muscles warmed up and I enjoyed a twenty mile circular tour.

I stopped to look at a fine display of wood anemones near Canonbie…

wood anemones

…and got home in a very cheerful mood.

Alert: Skip the next picture if you are of a nervous disposition.

Several passers by received a very nasty shock when they saw my bare knees flashing past them and who can blame them…


…I got a shock when I looked at them myself.

I had a look round when I got home.


There were still very few birds to be seen.  There were one or two tulips open.


And then I went off on a short walk to see if there were any nuthatches to be seen.  A friend told me that a friend had told him that he had seen the nuthatches emptying the nest  and we wondered if the nest has been abandoned.  I certainly didn’t see any sign of nuthatch ctivity and walked on after a while.

The downside of the lovely weather was the number of other people enjoying it too so I didn’t see much else as I walked round.  A sheep entertained me by peering out from behind a tree and saying,”Boo.”

castleholm sheep

Two oyster catchers flew overhead, calling loudly.  I thought I heard an echo as they passed but it turned out to be these two other oyster catchers shouting back at them.

oyster catchers

They really are noisy birds.  These two soon flew off complaining loudly as they went.

oyster catchers

When I got back to the garden, I noticed that the magnolia bud had survived the morning frosts but only just.


The pond was busy with skaters…

pond skaters

…and showing some pretty marsh marigolds (with added insect).

marsh marigold

I saw several butterflies, both coloured and white in the garden during the day and passed quite a few more when I was out bicycling but none of them when I had a camera to hand.  It is a bit of a false dawn for them as the temperature is going back down again tomorrow and the wind was coming out of the north east by the time that I had finished my cycle ride.

Still, even one really nice day is always welcome and we have had a good spell for the last few days.  The farmers must be very relieved as the fields are full of new born lambs.

Before Mrs Tootlepedal got home, Susan came and picked me up to go Carlisle for our usual recorder group meeting.  We had a hard working play and I was grateful for a cup of tea and biscuit when we finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned safely by the time that I had got home and she told me that she had had a very pleasant time with Matilda in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is of the few chaffinches about today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He passed a prominent landmark on a recent cultural trip to the capital.

St Pauls

I would have enjoyed a quiet day of rest today but medical matters intervened and I had to drive to Dumfries in the morning to see a specialist about my hip. It has been giving me modest pain for a number of years and I was hoping that getting a new knee would improve my walking enough to stop it hurting.

My walking has improved but my hip pain hasn’t so I went to see what was what.

I had a moment to look out of the window on another cold and grey day before I went.


A chaffinch looking a gift seed in the mouth.


You don’t think of birds arguing but these two chaffinches are taking the Brexit debate very seriously and if you look closely, you will see that one is putting his foot down most firmly.

When I got to Dumfries, a very nice doctor gave me the once over, was flatteringly amazed by my youthfulness and bendability (you might well worry about his judgement) and assured me that whatever else I had, I didn’t have arthritis in the hip joint and that no surgical invasion of my body would be needed.

This was quite a relief but did leave the question of what is giving me the gyp.  He was less definite about that, counting out a number of possibilities on his fingers and writing me a prescription to see a physiotherapist.  So, no arthritis and no cure.  I call that a 1-1 draw.

I was going to do a bit of sight seeing on the return journey but a smir of rain and a biting wind, coupled with the fact that I had carelessly come out without coat, hat or gloves, persuaded me that home was the place to be and I was back in time for lunch.

We had been promised rain but it hadn’t arrived by the time that lunch was over so I popped out for a walk to stretch the legs after all the sitting around yesterday.

I had the oyster catchers in mind and there was a pair at the meeting of the waters but they were very uncooperative.  When I was on one side of the river, they were on the other and when I crossed over to get closer, they crossed back.

oyster catcher

Distant views

Pairs of birds are noticeable now and both the oyster catchers and the mallards were keeping company.

oyster catcher and mallard

I was idly trying to take the perfect flying gull picture (not easy in the poor light)….

black headed gull

…when I got a multiple choice option, not just once…

black headed gull

…but twice.

black headed gull

I don’t know what had disturbed them  It certainly wasn’t me.

I crossed the Ewes and walked round the new path.  Life is on hold during the cold spell and exciting developments are hard to find..


I strolled on up the Esk, first on the riverside path…

Riverside path

Looking back down the path. There is not a lot of colour in the scenery just now.

…and then following the path that climbs up the slope beside the river on the way north.

Walk 2

This track was carefully cut into the steep slope many years ago and has survived remarkably well.  The cold, dry spell has made walking conditions very good for the time of year.

I did try to creep down to the waterside for an arty bridge shot on my way but I slipped over in a most undignified manner and got a very soggy spot on the seat of my trousers so I desisted.

Once I got to the road, I was going to walk back along an open hill track but a suspicion of rain made me think better and I scurried home along the sheltered road as best as I could.  In the end, it didn’t rain properly until the late evening so I could have taken my time.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived back and she drew my attention to horticultural mathematics in action, kale fractals.


Instead of a long awaited phone call from the power company with whom I am in dispute on behalf of the Archive Group, I received a letter today.  This was quite exciting until I read it. It says, “I am sorry that you recently had to raise a complaint with Scottish Power. Unfortunately it is taking longer than anticipated to resolve your complaint.”   It didn’t specify why this should be.  In spite of the doctor’s kind remarks this morning, I am ageing fast.

I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and felt better.

My flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up even more with some excellent playing.

The flying bird of the day is a departing duck.

flying duck



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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s Bristol trip and shows the cathedral there.  Two of his sisters sneaked into the shot.

Bristol Cathedral

In a recent post, I asked for a small ridge of high pressure to give us a break from the rain and today my request was granted.  We woke to blue skies and they continued for almost all of the day.

I might have thought of cycling after breakfast but two things intervened.  The first was an outside thermometer  showing a temperature of 1°C, which is too cold for me to cycle. I, along with the other patients at the time, got such a fierce warning about not falling off our bikes and ruining our freshly installed new knees that any hint of icy conditions is enough to keep me off the bike.

The second factor was the wish of Mrs Tootlepedal on such a promising day to get in the car and go somewhere for a walk, preferably somewhere new.

I was happy to go walking but as I also wanted to go cycling, we didn’t drive far, merely to the top of Callister but we did attempt a new route.  I had recently walked along the forest track there with Sandy and then back again the same way.  We had wondered whether there was a circular route.  Today Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to see if we could find one.

The map told us that we might find a helpful forest ride which would take us to the far end of the track.  We found the ride….

Kirtleton Forest ride

…and set out to see if it was walkable.

Kirtleton Forest ride

It was but it was mighty hard work.  There was no path along it and the mossy tussocks were substantial.

Mossy tussock Kirtleton Forest ride

You can see that there were still a few scraps of snow left about and the cold weather made the going a little less boggy than it might have been but it was still tough going.

Luckily, we only had to plough on through the rough stuff for about half mile until we met the forest track and after that, all was plain sailing.

The forest, which is a commercial plantation, has been partly felled and partly replanted and this gives a short walk some good variety.

You can see all three stages in the next picture, clear felled at the front, newly planted trees in the middle and a mature plantation at the back.

Kirtleton Forest

It isn’t all as neat as that though because where the trees have been felled, the exposed plantations are very liable to wind blow…

 Kirtleton Forest wind blow

…which  is a nightmare if your route takes you through it.

Luckily ours stuck to the forest track and our way was clear.  The felling has opened some extensive views over the Kirtle Water valley.

Kirtleton Forest

We soon reached the top of the track….

Kirtleton Forest

…and returned to the car feeling that we had had a good adventure and very ready for a cup of coffee when we got home.

It was quite  warm enough to cycle (4.5°C) by the time that I had had my coffee but the tramp along the tussocky ride had taken a bit of the oomph out of my legs so I sat and did a crossword and had some baked beans on toast for motive power before setting off on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a moment to stare out of the window before I started pedalling.


A redpoll had bitten off more than it could chew..


..and had to let a seed drop before turning back for seconds.

redpoll and chaffinch

It soon found itself in company with the chaffinches.

I was cycling into a noticeable west wind when I set out and normally that would mean a warm breeze but the weather in general is coming down from the north and the wind was far from kindly.  My back hurt and I had a slight headache as I battled up the hill to where we had started our walk earlier in the day but once again good old Dr Velo worked his miracle cure as time went on (aided by a downhill section of road) and I was soon pedalling along without a care.

Although it was still a very sunny day and the gorse was in bloom…


…there were now a few clouds to my left….

View from Gair

…and some slightly more menacing ones behind me as I climbed up to Gair.

View from Gair

Luckily the windmills showed that the wind was now behind me.

I am not at all fit at the moment for so I settled for a 32 mile circular route down to Kirkpatrick Fleming and back by Canonbie and hoped to beat the oncoming clouds.

I nearly managed it but was overtaken by a light shower when I was four miles from home.  It didn’t last long but I was feeling quite chilly without the sun shining and was glad to get in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast to warm me up.

I made a dish of baked eggs and spinach smothered in a cheese sauce for tea and it was good enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to have a helping (and to be seen scraping the bowl afterwards).

After tea, I went up to the Archive Centre by myself as Sandy was having a day out  in Edinburgh.  I had hoped to get a little work done but the internet connection was not working so I came home again.  (I should have done the work when I got home but the combination of the morning walk and the afternoon pedal made me feel that a little rest might be quite attractive so I have left it for another day.)

Once again the better weather gave me several flying bird opportunities.  There were wings closed….

flying chaffinch

…and wings down….

flying chaffinch

….but I ignored them and went for wings up.

flying chaffinch

Some of you may be wondering why I have hardly mentioned that it was sunny today.  The fact is that we are so used to sunshine now that it hardly seems worth a mention.

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