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A day out

Matilda had invited us to accompany her (and her parents) on a visit to an enchanted forest at Pitlochry.

We drove up from Langholm in leisurely stages and stopped to visit the Wallace monument in Stirling.

This was mainly so we could see an elaborate tiled embroidery of the tower which is on display there.

Mrs Tootlepedal was personally responsible for the seventh tile up in the second row from the left.

We got some splendid views.

The drive from Stirling to Pitlochry by the scenic route was heart stopping beautiful and my phone recorded it so badly that I am not using any of its efforts here.

We met up with Matilda and family and thoroughly enjoyed our walk through the enchanted forest.

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I reduced my family contacts to just the three sisters today (without a cherry orchard in sight) and after a cup of tea with sisters Mary and Caroline, my sister Susan took me off to the National Gallery….

… for a lunchtime lecture on Samuel Courtauld, the art collector and philanthropist.

It was very interesting and after fortifying ourselves with a bowl of soup, we went to look at a small exhibition of pictures that he had found interesting.

We found them interesting too.

He seems to have bought or caused to have been bought every famous impressionist picture I learned about at school.

He took his work home with him.

His sitting room.

… but gave a lot of it to the nation when he died.

I fitted a bit of sightseeing into the day and enjoyed this tiny 17thC church behind the gallery…

… and the views from beside the Thames as I walked along the south bank.

I struggled to find a view of St Paul’s which didn’t have a crane I’m front of it…

… but close by in a crowded field, there were any amount of contestants for the silliest building in London.

After my stroll along the river, I caught the train home from Blackfriars Station which sits on a bridge directly above the river.

The day ended with a meal with Susan and Mary as Caroline had gone back home.

I am going back to Langholm tomorrow and I will miss the excitement of the big city. It is very expensive down here though. I hadn’t been here for much more than a day when bang went two pounds just like that.

I did find a sitting bird of the day beside the Thames.

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My day in London was brightened greatly firstly by some welcome sunshine and secondly by encounters with four more relatives.

Before the relatives appeared, I didn’t have a meeting with a friend of my sister Susan. She is in the habit of meeting this friend in Regent’s Park on a Sunday morning to have a cup of coffee while my sister Mary plays tennis nearby.

My sister Mary wasn’t playing tennis today and the friend was poorly and not fit to go out but we went to Regent’s Park anyway and had the coffee all on our own.

The park is always worth a visit on a fine day.

We need an entrance like this for Wauchope

The park was full of flowers.

The roses were still very fine

My sister Mary has sent me several pictures of this pond over the years.

Susan strode out vigorously as we got near the cafe.

We headed off after coffee to meet my stepmother Patricia and my nephew Emre for lunch and had a very sociable time catching up on news.

Then I ventured south of the river to visit our daughter Annie, just back from a working trip to Zurich.

She took me to her allotment where things had been growing well in spite of her absence.

When we got back to her house we were joined by her partner Joe and that completed my family collection for the day.

I crossed back over the river to attend a sung evensong service at my sister Susan’s regular church (she read a lesson).

The day was rounded off with a tasty meal provided by Susan.

I am very fortunate to have so many interesting people to meet when I visit London.

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It was a day for more relatives today as Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to Marlow where Mrs Tootlepedal is going to stay with her mother (aged 102) for a couple of weeks.

I came back to London with Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother and his wife who kindly gave me a lift to the station as they were catching the train to London too. They were off to visit their latest grandchild who was born yesterday.

When I got out of the train, the rain, which had been coming down since the morning, came down even more but since I had bought an umbrella before going to Marlow, I was not discouraged and walked along the canal back to Camden. I took a picture or two with my phone in the gloom.


one of the many bridges

My next house purchase (when my boat comes in)

A canalside restaurant

Camden Lock

I arrived at my sister Mary’s house in good time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast with her and my sister Caroline.

Then I went up the road to my sister Susan’s where I am lodging and we went out for a sourdough pizza before I collapsed into a chair for there rest of the evening.

One of the best things about the south of England is the plentiful supply of good quality family members.

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Seeing stars

Just a brief note today to say that we are in the deep south and the stars that we saw were my three sisters.

As well as the sisters, I saw the very impressive Virginia creeper at the bottom of my sister Mary’s garden.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce.  He was struck by this pieces of street art in Sheffield, the work of Pete McKee. a local painter and commercial artist .

sheffield street art

The mornings are getting cooler now and we were well down in single figures today.

Mrs Tootlepedal was up early and started the day by taking four items up to the Castleholm where the Langholm Show was taking place.  She was hoping to catch the judge’s eye in three classes.

It took me quite a long time to feel strong enough to get my bike out even though it was a dry day with a good forecast.

Cycling in the cold is just a matter of the right clothing but after a warm summer for once, I am finding it hard to face up to the march of the seasons.

Still, I did get going after coffee and enjoyed a good run down to my favourite bench at Newtown on the line of Hadrian’s Wall…..

newtown bench and bike

…and back.  It is a pretty flat route and in spite of a cross wind, I kept up a good speed for me, with my nose well down over the front wheel.

I did stop for a snack and a quick breather on my way home as I crossed the border.  The picture shows why I like cycling on our main road at the weekend.  It has everything a road needs in the way of signs and lines but very little traffic.

A7 at border

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy on the back bed in the vegetable garden.  Over the past weeks our Christmas tree, a blackcurrant bush, a compost bin and a lot of rhubarb have disappeared and now a brand new bed has appeared, ready to be mulched and planted with three trees that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at a bargain price at the last Producers’ Market in Langholm.

new bed with three trees

She is hoping that they will get established before the next gale comes along.

I noted that Lilian Austin was developing well….

lilian austin

…but the white Japanese anemones are looking a bit tired now.

japanese anemone tatty

After a change of clothes and a quick snack for me, we cycled up to the show ground to see what was going on.

There was everything you would expect from an agricultural show.

black nose sheep at showyellow dipped sheep at showpair of cows at showdrivers at showriders at show

And when we looked in the industrial tent, we found that Mrs Tootlepedal had caught the judge’s eye.

Mrs T's prizes

Our neighbour Liz was second in the marrow for weight class.

She had put two entries into the embroidery class and had come first and second…

winning embroidery

….but the icing on the cake was a handsome rosette for the best exhibit overall in the section.  The winning picture came from a photo showing her mother and aunt when children and long time followers of the blog will recognise Matilda stamping on sand castles in North Berwick in the other work.

She was presented with a handsome trophy.

Mrs T getting cup

I noted the approach of autumn being recorded in the trees along the Lodge Walks..

autumn colour at show

…and went home to rescue some bread from the bread making machine.

It was a really beautiful evening by this time and the garden was full of butterflies again.

red admiral on buddleiasmall tortoiseshell on buddleia

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, she went off to do some shopping and then we shelled enough of our walnuts to get 50 gm of usable kernels with which Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make a walnut pesto, following a recipe kindly sent to us by our Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.

I didn’t get the chance to take a flying bids of the day today but I did see several very unusual perching birds of the day at a demonstration at the Cattle Show.

birds of prey at show

Mary Jo’s rain gauge recorded just over 6 cm or 2½ inches of rain this week.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s holiday on Arran.  He saw not only good views but some mighty fine rose hips.

arran rosehips

A brief report today as we have had another long day in Edinburgh.  This time we were visiting Matilda and her parents and we caught an early train and walked up Cockburn Street from the station…

cockburn street

…where we found a quiet pub and had lunch.

It was my intention to go up to the High Street after lunch and observe some of the fun and games there in connection with Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The city fathers close the High Street to traffic and all sort of street performances take place.

Unfortunately, several thousand other people had had the same idea and it was so crowded that we soon gave up and walked quietly down the high Street into the Canongate.

We couldn’t help noticing that unique taste of Scotland that the visitors come to Edinburgh to enjoy as we went along.

high street cafes

We peeped into the White Horse Close which does give a taste of Old Edinburgh.

White horse close

When we got to the Scottish Parliament at the foot of the Royal Mile, I glanced up at Arthur’s Seat…

arthurs seat

…and thought that it looked a bit like our bird feeder on a busy day.  I just hoped that there wasn’t any siskin-like pushing and shoving on the top as it is very steep.

We passed the old Calton Graveyard…

Old calton graveyard

…and soon found ourselves at Matilda’s.

We briefly met her other grandparents before they went off to a show and then while her parents talked house buying business with an adviser, we took Matilda on the bus to Portobello beach…

portobello beach

…Edinburgh’s riviera.

Matilda was very excited to see a swan swimming in the sea…

swan at portobello

…and as always, I enjoyed the characteristic shape of North Berwick Law further down the coast.

north berwick law

We could look across the Forth to the Fife shore and imagine that we could see our older son’s house there.  We stood there last week and looked back to where we were now.


It wasn’t particularly warm but people were having fun in a subdued sort of way…

portobello beach 2

…and I rolled up my trouser legs and ventured into the water for a paddle with Matilda.  I could swear that it was colder in the sea today than when we were paddling at North Berwick in May but that must just have been my imagination.

Some gulls looked on…

gull family portobello

…and a brave paddle boarder kept his feet well out of the water as he passed along the beach.

paddle boarder

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda put a lot of effort into building a sand car and Matilda jumped in and announced that she was going to drive to America to see Mr Trump.

Ally and Matilda at portobello

We stopped her just in time.

Mrs Tootlepedal saw a lady bird on a piece of wood and Matilda was very happy when it crawled onto her arm and wandered about.

ladybird portobello

The sun stayed behind some clouds so we adjourned to a beach side cafe and had cakes and ice cream and then caught the bus home.

Once there we offered a helping hand to Matilda’s parents.  Mrs Tootlepedal did some indoor tidying as they are preparing to sell their house and it needs to be got ready for viewing and I did some lawn care with the same thought in mind.

Then we had pizza for tea and caught the train home.

There was no time for a flying bird of flower of the day today.


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