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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s sunny visit to Bath.

From canal towpath looking towards the boatyard

We got up to another grey and miserable morning here although once again it was unseasonably mild.

Mrs Tootlepedal is partially recovered but by no means back to full working order.   She is very touched by the good wishes expressed by readers of the blog.

The grey morning was much improved by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee and his already excellent scones were improved in my case by adding some of Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam to them.  In my view, Dropscone’s plain scones and saskatoon jam are a match made in heaven.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about getting to the bottom of whatever it was that had made our phone line go dead and our internet flicker intermittently. By using our powers of deduction and a small screwdriver, we found the problem and cured it, probably just in time for the town’s power supply to be knocked out be the coming storm Ophelia.

Ophelia has been wreaking havoc in Ireland but it was extremely calm here in the morning and early afternoon.   Our neighbour Liz popped into to ask if we had seen the sun.  We went to have a look.

It was very odd.

The camera found it hard to record the clouds and the sun both in the correct shade but this is definitely how the sun looked.

red sun

It kept changing colour as the cloud of dust passed and I had several goes….

red sun

…until finally it got too bright for both me and the camera to look at.

red sun

It was sufficiently striking to make the news later in the day and the experts say that it was either Saharan sand or Portuguese wild fire particles or both that had provided the film of rusty colour.

After lunch, I had a look round the garden.  The light had improved and the bees and hoverflies were back on duty again.

bees and hoverflyhoverfly on poppy

A late astrantia has come out to join the poppies.

astarntia and poppy

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma add a delightful feminine touch.

Lilian Austin and Special Grandma

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make more of the ornamental strawberry next year.

ornamental strawberry

But the most exciting thing in the garden is the new tray under the bird feeders which means I can start feeding the birds again.

feeder tray

It is a heavy duty plastic cement mixing tray and Mrs Tootlepedal drilled the neat hole in the centre of it to let the feeder pole fit through.

It was warm (66°F) and fairly still so I took the opportunity to go for a short cycle ride in my outdoor gym and stopped for pictures on my way.

It was rather gloomy as I came back to town on my first lap….

Manse Brae

…but I headed down to Skippers Bridge to take a couple of pictures because I feared that if the storm is as windy as predicted, there may be few leaves on the trees when it is gone.Skippers BridgeLangholm Distillery

On my second lap, there were a few drops of rain and then the sun came out.Glencorf burnHawthornBlochburnfootAuld Stane Brig

Nowadays, the gloomy predictions of storm and tempest are often worse than the reality so keen are the weathermen for us not to be caught unprepared for bad weather so it will be interesting to see what scenes like these will look like in a couple of day’s time.

I looked round the garden when I got back.  I found some more colour.

charles ross applesclimbing hydrangea

…and then went in to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was.  She had been well enough to do a little work in the garden while I pedalling but she is still a bit fragile.

Although the light was fading, I looked at the bird feeders through the windows.

sparrow and blue tit

A gloomy sparrow and an astonished blue tit consider the sodden pink pellets

blue tit

A blue tit sits and thinks

A sparrowhawk flashed through the garden without it catching anything or me catching it.

It astonishes me how quickly birds find out that food of one sort or another is available.  I said to Mrs Tootlepedal only yesterday that I hadn’t seen a sparrowhawk about for weeks.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  He played at a practice of  our local orchestra yesterday and felt that he had been able to play quite a bit of the music.

In the evening, I went to the Camera Club meeting.  Ten members turned up and we were treated to a very interesting and varied selection of photographs from winter scenes to remind us of what is coming, through stunning local wildlife portraits and action shots and striking black and white studies to a record of a recent African safari, complete with lions, rhinos, hippos and elephants.  We were very well entertained.  One member had brought in some very beautiful large prints which led to a lot of discussion.

The flying bird of the day is having a rest.

chaffinch

It is blowing hard as I write this. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A better day

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  A primrose has just bloomed in her garden.  The world is turned upside down.

primrose

Our spell of warm but wet and grey weather continued today but with added wind, a precursor to a visit from Ophelia.

Mrs Tootlepedal was a little better in the morning but still felt it best to retire to bed after breakfast.  I considered cycling but felt the wind was too strong to make it anything else but a relentless slog so I went for a walk instead.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but by the time that I had got home, my shutter finger seemed to have twitched quite a lot.

Fallen leaves showed more colour than the leaves on the trees.

fallen leaves

Except this very colourful garden tree.

colour

The ducks were pleased to have calmer swimming conditions.

swimming ducks

A snowberry along the roadside.

snowberry

I walked to Whitshiels and followed the track through the woods, spotting fungus as I went.

Whitshiels fungus

And then got out onto the open hillside where I could see the first leafless tree of the season….

leafless tree

…a hawthorn nearly smothered in lichen…

hawthorn with lichen

…not much of a view up the Ewes valley…

Ewes valley in mist

…and a lot of brown hillside.

Whita in Autumn

I walked along the track from the Newcastleton road to the top of the Kirkwynd from which I could look down at Hillhead….

Hillhead

…and when I got the the Kirkwynd, I took a diversion across the golf course to see if there was any fungus there.

There was….

golf course fungus

…an amazing amount of fungus…

golf course fungus

…on every side.

The course was looking very well kept considering all the wet weather…

Langholm golf course

…but it was not surprising to find that nobody was playing as it was absolutely sodden underfoot.

Langholm golf course

It will take some really good days to dry it out.

Langholm golf course

I walked back down to the town, passing a blank eyed disused church…

EU Church

…the old Temperance Hotel, now happily selling drinks of all sorts…

Eskdale Hotel

…the Town Hall, now a shadow of its former self, a branch office of the district council with limited opening hours….

Town Hall

…and the turtle, now safely back on dry land and looking pretty well unharmed.

The turtle

There was time to admire two beautiful fuchsias….

fuchsiafuchsia

…before I went in to have a shower and a shave followed by a light lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.   This in turn was followed by  a trip to Carlisle by myself to go to the choir practice.

On my way, I bought a stout tray to put under the bird feeders to collect the fallen seed which otherwise drops to the ground and makes a soggy mess on wet days.

The choir practice was excellent and the homework had paid off so I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

When I returned. Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about and cooking fish pie for tea so things are looking up….

…except that our phone line has failed and I am having great difficulty preparing this post and Ophelia promises to bring us any amount of wind and rain over the next few days.

I don’t suppose that you can expect to have everything run smoothly though because, as they say, into every life a little rain must fall.

Another gloomy day

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce who saw these two brave (foolhardy) canoeists testing out the fairly fierce waters of the Esk yesterday.

Canoeists on Esk

It was another very grey day here, not helped by the slow pace of Mrs Tootlepedal’s recovery which meant another day in bed for her.

I was looking out of an upstairs window while offering her some sympathy when I realised that garden was full of birds.  I nipped off and fetched my camera and took an excellent picture of a robin.

At least, it would have been excellent if I had got the camera settings right.  The complete failure to do this has ended up with me having to present a rather arty version of what I saw.

robin stylised

Still,  it is always good to have a robin in the garden, even a badly exposed one.

There were lots of sparrows too.

sparrow

sparrow

And any amount of blackbirds.  It has been a good year for blackbirds breeding in and about the garden.

blackbird

Because of the number of birds about, I put out some pink pellets and I was delighted when a blue tit or two came visiting.  They have had a very poor year generally as it was very cold during their breeding season so it is good news that there are still some about.

blue tit

The pink pellets are a bit big for them  but they manage.

blue tit

And that concluded the excitement for the day.  I was going to go for a cycle ride or a walk after lunch but as soon as I made a move to get changed, it started to rain heavily and whenever I looked out after that, it was raining again.  This was to the benefit of the Archive database and song learning but hard on my need for some exercise.

It has stopped raining now.  Dry weather in the dark may be better than more rain but it is of no practical use at all.  On the up side, it does continue to be quite warm for the time of year  so the flowers should keep going, though a bit of light would help.

I am sorry about the short and dull post but it reflects a short and dull day.

 

 

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s recent visit to Bath with my two other sisters.  They had some good weather  when they visited the Abbey.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

We had some thoroughly rotten weather here.  It rained on and off all day and the thick cloud made it feel like the middle of winter as far as the light went.  The fact that it was pleasantly warm only made the whole thing more annoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit better today but still confined to bed for the most part.  Sandy came round for a late coffee and then I took Mrs Tootlepedal off to see the doctor.  She coincidentally had an appointment on other matter which was handy.

While she waited for the doctor, I took a stroll down to the river in the drizzle to see whether the turtle had survived yesterday’s minor flood.

Turtle

It is a very well constructed animal.

I had a look round while I was there.  It wasn’t a day for standing around and admiring the view….

River Esk in flood

…because there wasn’t a view to admire.

Mist on Whita

The trees beside the river were doing their best though.

Autumn colour on Esk

The goosander family, with some mallards too,  were lurking in a calm spot below the church for the second day running.

Mallard and goosander

This one was looking a little cheesed off with the weather.  Fishing must be tricky when the water is running so quickly.

goosander

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal and went home.  I cooked some soup for lunch and ate it by myself while Mrs Tootlepedal nibbled on a bit of toast upstairs.

I had a crossword to do and some more songs to look at and I nipped out to look at some flowers during a lull in the rain.  Although the garden is definitely beginning to look rather ragged, there is still a range of colours…..

Feverfew and nicotianaclematis and calendulanasturtiums

….but the drizzle returned and I went back in again.  Thus the afternoon was passing slowly when Sandy rang up and suggested a walk as it had temporarily stopped raining yet again.  By the time he had arrived though, it was back to raining heavily so we killed a little time considering some Archive problems with the database and then, as it had calmed down to a drizzle, we went out.

Sandy was impressed by the fungus and the goosanders and took a picture or two with his new camera.  I pointed the Lumix at the side of the church.

Parish Church

We walked along the Esk.  I was hoping to see the dipper again but we only saw fallen leaves.

fallen leaves

There were mallards on the Kilngreen, contemplating the rushing waters of the Ewes.

kilngreen mallards

This heron was standing in Mr Grumpy’s spot so I suppose it is Mr Grumpy but he looks a lot neater and more cheerful than when I last saw him.

heron

The Lodge gates looked gloomy.

Lodge gates

I had to use a flash to take a picture of these traditional toadstools beside the walk.

toadstools

As well as for these duller fungi a little further on.

fungi

It really was gloomy although it was only four o’clock and as it had started to rain quite heavily again, we didn’t dally any longer and headed for home.

Misty on the castleholm

Once indoors, I only ventured out as far as the shops to buy some stuff for my tea and otherwise, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a very quiet evening in.

There is rain on the Met Office forecast for every day for the next seven days except for Tuesday.  There is a gale warning for Tuesday.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons.

 

 

A slight dampener

Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Oban.  He found a sunny moment among the clouds to visit Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle

We had a reasonable day today, breezy at times but with no rain until late in the evening.  However, we were not able to make the best use of it as Mrs Tootlepedal was struck down by a bug and had to spend the day in bed.

This meant that I thought it best to spend quite a lot of time hovering about trying to look as though I might be useful.

I did get out for a short pedal in the morning and because of a combination of the brisk wind and a desire not to get too far away from the patient, I stuck to my outdoor gym and went three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse. This gave me an undemanding twenty one miles without ever being more than three and a bit miles from home.

A break in the clouds let the sun light up a green field as I got near to Wauchope School.

green field

I  kept a fungus eye out as I pedalled and looking at the verges, I saw these…

fungus

fungus

…and these…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and these

They were hard to miss.

On my third go up, I stopped to look at some fence posts, as one does.

fence post lichen

There seemed a lot of interest (to me) on the first one that I looked at so I looked at the next one along too.

fence post lichen

Those little spots of red caught my eye so I looked at the next one along….

fence post lichen

…and it was covered in them.

British soldiers lichen

They look like British soldiers lichen to me, an army of them.

The next post didn’t have any of them on it at all…

fence post lichen

…and the last post was mainly moss.

fence post moss

All this was within ten yards.

I must stop and look at fence post more often.

I was joined by the minister on my second run back to the town.  He had done a longer, hillier circuit and had found the wind very hard work so I was pleased to be skulking about in the valley bottom where the wind was quite strong enough for me.

I made some soup when I got home and had to eat it by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t in eating mode.

I hung around in the afternoon in case I was needed and fitted in the crossword, some dead heading, some compost sieving and a little bit of Archive database work, topped off with a look at a couple of choir songs.

I did take the camera out into the garden but the wind had got up a bit and it made taking pictures quite tricky.

There was colour to be seen…

rudbeckia, buddleia and orange hawkweed

The last of the rudbeckia, a second bloom on a buddleia and the second flowering of the orange hawkweed

…and the temptation of another fuchsia shot was too great to resist.

fuchsia

The sharp eyed will see a bee on the right hand flower.

It went up there.

bee in fuchsia

There were plenty of poppies to deadhead but there are still many, many more waiting to come out.

poppy

They may look a bit fragile but they are obviously pretty tough.

Sadly, the bug meant that Mrs Tootlepdal could not go off to see Matilda, as her custom is on a Thursday but she was well enough to be happy to snooze in bed while I went off to play recorders in Carlisle in the evening.

Susan drove me down and all six of the group were present tonight.  Roy, our librarian, had put together a really good set of six part pieces from his extensive library and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The good weather couldn’t last and it was raining heavily again as Susan drove me home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was slightly better which was heartening although I don’t think she will be running a marathon tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a hoverfly, helophilus pendulus (as far as I can see), on a daisy.

hoverfly

 

 

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows one of the greens on the golf course he was visiting last week in Spain.  Tough conditions out there.

golf course

We had far from Spanish weather here today.  It had rained heavily over night and it was still raining heavily when we got up.  It continued to rain all morning and only stopped in the middle of the afternoon.

Under these circumstances, I was very fortunate to have the company of both Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  An additional bonus was the treacle scones that Dropscone provided for the occasion.   Dropscone has been on holiday in Spain and Sandy in Portugal and they had both enjoyed excellent weather so the rain was a bit of a shock to their systems but they were bearing up bravely.

I put on some stout waterproof clothing after they had left and walked down to see how much of the rain had got into the rivers.

Wauchope and turtle

The Wauchope was flowing freely and the turtle in the Esk was learning how to swim.

Waterside birds were to be seen in spite of the rain.

gull and dipper

The dipper was very busy but taking care not to be washed away and the gull was standing very still on its rather precarious rock perch.

I looked down the River Esk from the suspension bridge.

River esk

To say that our weather is changeable at the moment is a bit of an understatement.

I didn’t stay out long and went home and did the crossword.

Once the rain had eased off to a drizzle after lunch, I went out for a second look.  The water had risen but we were far from a big flood…

Esk and turtle

…although the turtle’s need for swimming lessons seemed pressing.

I took the opportunity to visit a large crop of fungus on the bank of the Wauchope by the church wall.

fungus beside church

They are related to a tree that had to be felled because it had become dangerous.

Nearby, seven goosanders were resting on the bank of the Esk.  I couldn’t get them all in one shot so I settled for these three…

goosanders

…and this one which had gone for a swim.

goosander

I had a look up the Wauchope from the Park Bridge…

Wauchope in flood

…and then went home again and did some work on songs for both my choirs.  I was concentrating hard on the music and was surprised when I turned to the window and saw that the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  I shot out into the garden.

Crown princess margareta

Crown Princess Margareta is getting special care from the gardener and we hope that it will do really well next year.

Nasturtiums

A splash of colour against the wall of the house

poppy

A battered poppy doing its best

A young blackbird was taking advantage of the sunshine to have a bath in our pond…

blackbird

…watched from on high by a starling.

starling

I tried to contact Sandy with a view to going for a walk but when he didn’t reply (I found out later that he was busy at the Archive Centre), I went off by myself.

The sun went in almost as soon as I started out.

I visited the riverside.  Just where the dam comes out into the Esk, I came across a dipper busy in the long grass beside the Esk.

dipper

I walked along to the Town Bridge and once again marvelled at the sound construction which has let it withstand this sort of pressure…

Langholm Bridge in flood

… since 1775.

I looked back down river from the bridge…

River esk in Autumn

…and then walked over the bridge and onto the Kilngreen.

The Esk and the Ewes looked quite full when I got down to their level…

Esk and Ewes

…but they were safely contained within their banks.

As I walked towards the Sawmill Brig, a heron flew past me and when I was on the bridge, I could see another dipper on the rocks below.

Heron and dipper

By the this time, the clouds had come back but I walked on, hoping that all the rain that was in the clouds had already been discharged.

I walked up the Lodge Walks and enjoyed the trees lining the walks and those on the Castleholm and lower slopes of the hill beyond the river.

Lodge walks

Meikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill trees

I crossed the raging river by the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess bridge in Autumn

…and got home without seeing a drop of rain.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings choir practice and enjoyed myself more than I thought that I would when I found that the songs were a bit easier to get right than I had feared.  The “getting right” is still more potential than actual but then that is what practices are for.

I am hoping that the recent progression of rainy, sunny, rainy days will lead to tomorrow being sunny.  It would be only fair.

 

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone, who has recently been playing golf in Girona in Spain.  Clearly, there was no rain in Spain while he was there.

Spain

There was no rain here today either but not quite as much sun as Dropscone has been enjoying.

I had to take the car to the garage early in the morning to get its brakes fixed.  The view from the suspension bridge as I walked back was a marked contrast with yesterday’s mist.

View from suspension bridge in autumn

It was a little chilly when I got home so I dawdled about and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal before finally setting off to make the most of a good day.

I had a bit of a moan after my ride on Sunday about losing speed on my cycle runs thanks to increasing age.   Many well intentioned readers advised me to stop moaning, live with the years and just enjoy cycling and taking pictures without bothering about average speeds.

I always take good advice so I pottered about today for the first twenty five miles and took many pictures on my ride.  Of course, it may have been the brisk wind in my face rather than the sheer enjoyment of going slowly that made me take so long but I was very content to stop and take pictures as I went.

I should say that I had a bit of time on my hands in the evening and some of the photographs from the ride may have been enhanced by the use of filters.   I don’t usually do much of this but the light was rather flat today and the pictures came out as less attractive than they were in real life.  I may have gone a bit further than real life with some of them.

Churches were my first subjects.

Johnstone Church

The Johnstone UP Church, Ecclefechan

This very fine set of hinges caught my eye as I turned onto the road to Hoddom in Ecclefechan.

Not far away, I came to the ruins of the church at Hoddom Cross.

Hoddom Cross

The church was destroyed by fire in 1975 and stands as a picturesque ruin in a graveyard that is still in use.  In the old part of the kirkyard, I found an ivy covered mausoleum.

Hoddom Cross church

The ivy is covered in flowers and will be of great interest to bees when the flowers come out.

My interest turned from churches to bridges and I went under an unusual one as I cycled on towards the River Annan….

Tree Bridge near Hoddom

…followed by something more traditional when I got to the river.

Hoddom Bridge

I cannot find out when this bridge was built but it is obviously of some age and has lasted very well considering that….

Hoddom Bridge

…things like this go over it every day.

I crossed the Annan using the bridge myself  and cycled down towards Brydekirk, where I crossed back over the river.

River Annan bridge at Brydekirk

This bridge was built in about 1800 and is one of several fine bridges that cross the River Annan.

Not far from the bridge, I came across a splendid gateway to a fine house.

Near Brydekirk

No filters were used on this picture. It really did look like this.

I turned off the road from the bridge onto a side road.  I had hoped that a beech hedge along this road would be worth a look but it was disappointingly green still…

Brydekirk road

…but the hedge did serve the useful purpose of sheltering me from the brisk cross wind along this stretch.

Once I had turned left when I met the road from Annan to Eaglesfield, I had the wind behind me and I did the next fifteen miles in 55 minutes of cycling time without having to try very hard at all.

I did stop on the way to admire a different kind of bridge though.

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

The viaduct carrying the West Coast main line crosses the valley of the Kirtle water….

Kirtlebridge Viaduct

…which I crossed on a more modest bridge.

Kirtle bridge

I had crossed the Kirtle Water near its source much earlier in my trip and I had now crossed both the Kirtle Water and the River Annan twice.

I felt the need for some refuelling so I headed down the old main road from Kirtlebridge to Gretna where I stopped for egg and chips at the Old Toll Bar.   A couple of raindrops landed on my head as I left the cafe and nearly made me regret my stop there but it was only a couple and the rest of my ride was dry and easy with the encouraging wind giving me a friendly push and keeping me going.

I went home by way of Longtown and Canonbie, meaning that I was following the course of the River Esk now and before I got home, I had crossed the Esk no less than six times.

The Esk was looking quite autumnal when I stopped at Byreburnfoot.

Byreburnfoot River Esk

And at my feet as I took the picture was a good crop of fungus which grows out of a patch of grass beside the road.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

I stopped as I crossed Skippers Bridge to note the contrast with yesterday’s misty shots.

Langholm Distillery in autumn

When I got to the town centre, I found that I had done 47 miles and I was seized with decimal fever and pedalled on through Langholm and out the other side, crossing the High Mill bridge and going half a mile up the road beyond it.

There I turned for home and having crossed the Canonbie, Hollows, Skippers and High Mill Bridges already, I crossed the High Mill bridge again and finished by crossing the Langholm Bridge which joins the Old and New Towns of Langholm.

While I was crossing rivers. Mrs Tootlepedal had been immersed in canals as she had been in the Buccleuch Centre at a screening of a film of the current Canaletto exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

It was hard to say which of us had had the better time.

There was enough time left in the day for Mrs Tootlepedal to do some gardening and for me to collect the car, mow the middle lawn and take a flower picture or two.

October daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal has borrowed one or two of the thousands of October daisies from the river bank which appeared in yesterday’s post and they have settled in very well in our garden.

perennial nasturtium

The perennial nasturtium or tropaeolum is still flowering

Japanese anemone

The bees seem to have discovered the Japanese anemone

red admiral butterfly

The red admiral butterflies keep coming.

Before the screening, Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping in the cafe in Buccleuch Centre over a very busy lunch time so we didn’t spend too long in the garden and retired inside for a well earned rest and a nourishing evening meal.

The good weather is not going to last and we are promised heavy rain overnight and tomorrow morning so I am glad to have got some miles in while the going was good.  My moaning and the subsequent good advice which I received seems to have purged my cycling melancholy and I really enjoyed today’s pedal.

The flying bird of the day is two of our more delicate poppies.

two poppies

Anyone interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

Garmin route 10 Oct 2107