Busy doing nothing

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. He was up at the crack of dawn today with his dogs to see a typical East Wemyss day in the making.

On the other side of the country, we had a different picture when we got up (several hours later than Tony) with mist covered hills after some genuine overnight rain. It had rained enough to save Mrs Tootlepedal the task of watering the flowers, but not nearly enough to make any difference to our low reservoirs.

For obscure reasons, but probably to do with my neglect of regular back exercises lately, my legs were on total strike today, and they flatly refused to go further than a quick cycle round to the corner shop for supplies. When I got back, I took a picture of the sweet peas and went inside.

I made the best of it though, and managed to put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database. This was the only useful thing that I did all morning.

I didn’t pick up a camera again until after lunch, when I looked out of the window at the bird feeder. The birds were more active than I was. Sparrows checked out the situation . . .

. . . and found siskins being as unwelcoming as ever.

There were a lot of blue tits about today, and I took several pictures of them. They are frisky little birds and the gloomy day made it hard to get good shots as they popped to and fro from the feeder. Their beaks are too small to eat the sunflower hearts so they have to pick up a seed and then take it away to peck at it rather than swallow it whole.

After a quiet afternoon watching the last half of the second stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race, I prepared a liver and onion stew and roused my legs enough for a walk round the garden. The sedums are nearly out . . .

. . . and they should be attracting insects soon.

There were no butterflies to be seen today but catching a dahlia without other insects on was quite a task. I found this one . . .

. . . but when I looked again a moment later, it had a marmalade hoverfly visiting

Other dahlias had other smaller insects . . .

. . . and a Michaelmas daisy had a small one too.

We run an ‘open insect’ garden and insects of all sizes are welcome on the same flower at the same time.

Surprisingly, the colourful heleniums seemed to be be insect free.

I noted that our phlox are coming to the end of their season, and they are phading phast.

They have done very well, so we can’t complain.

I took a look at the little tomatoes in the greenhouse . . .

. . . which have been providing tasty snacks for some days now, and then we just had time to dig up Mrs Tootlepedal’s main crop potatoes . . .

. . . before our regular Zoom with my brother and sisters.

The potatoes could perhaps have stayed in the ground a bit longer, but blackbirds have been scrabbling at the soil and leaving the top of the crop exposed to the air, so it seemed a good moment to have them up. The crop is not bad, and it is totally clean and slug free which is a real bonus, probably down to our very dry weather this summer.

The day of rest seems to have done my legs good and as I write this, they are complaining a lot less than they had been in the morning. A serious set of back exercises tonight should get them in a good mood again tomorrow. We are in for a few much warmer days with light winds, so I hope to be able to take advantage of this with a couple of cycle rides (if the forecast is correct).

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

An outing with Mrs Tootlepedal

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia. She had left Somerset for the extreme west of the country when she was surprised by the Tour of Britain leaving from Penzance. She tells me that all the riders had passed her in four seconds, so it was a brief encounter.

We woke up to a delightfully sunny morning here and cycled off to sing in the church choir without the need for coats.

When we got back, we went across to our neighbour Liz’s garden for coffee and a delicious lemon drizzle cake. Between the choir and the coffee, most of the morning had slipped away, so we only had a short while in the garden before lunch. I didn’t even to have go out into the garden though to spot my first butterfly of the day. It had come in to the house . . .

. . . but there were plenty more outside when I looked. There were a good number of hoverflies and bees about too . . .

. . . and you can see that the sun was so bright that a honey bee had put its dark glasses on.

After lunch, I asked if Mrs Tootlepedal would care for an outing, and she suggested a trip to the Solway coast. We decided on a visit to Browhouses, about 18 miles away, on the far side of Gretna. There was another car parked when we got there, but it drove off and we had the seashore to ourselves.

We stood and looked around and the first thing that was saw was a butterfly on a fine clump of mint . . .

. . . and we wondered if we had really needed to have left home to see that.

However, it didn’t take us long to see birds that we don’t have in the garden when we spotted a little egret and a lapwing.

Although the day was warm and fairly bright, the light was not very good for taking photographs. It was rather hazy and the birds were further away than my cameras could easily manage. I have got a bigger and better bird lens but it has become too heavy for me to carry about on walks these days. As a result, I took a lot of bad pictures while we walked along the shore, and I have put many of them in this post. I apologise.

The Solway coast between Gretna and Dumfries is flat.

Flowers and insects were easier to catch than distant birds.

The hoverfly is probably a dangling marsh lover or Helophilus pendulus. I have no idea what the flower seed head is.

Often when I am on a cycle ride and stop on the shore for a look about, I don’t see anything of interest, but today we saw a lot of shorebirds and waders.

Oyster catcher and black headed gull . . .

. . . and a family of goosanders.

And we walked through a treasury of grasses and wild flowers. The grass in the top left frame of the first panel is marram grass, Mrs Tootlepedal tells me.

There were a lot of gulls making a lot of noise, both up in the air . . .

. . . and down near the water.

But there were other more interesting birds too that made me wish I had a better lens with me.

And some birds were just too far away to get a decent picture at all, but we could say that we had seen a curlew and a cormorant.

As you can see, it was a remarkably calm day . . .

. . . and it was very peaceful when we sat on a handy tussock and stared across the water.

There was no chance of seeing the Lake District hills today.

Indeed, we could only just see the shore of the English side of the firth, and it needed the camera with the lens fully extended to pick out the houses from the trees.

It was quite hard work walking along the tussocky grass which comes down to the muddy foreshore . . .

. . . so we didn’t go far before we had our rest and then turned back. We saw a cormorant stretching its wings . . .

. . . and ducks flew low over the water . . .

. . .as the ebbing tide exposed more sandbanks.

We saw a final lapwing . . .

. . . and walked a little way past the car onto land grazed by farm animals . . .

. . . before driving back to Gretna and on to Langholm.

It was only a three hour excursion but it felt like a genuine outing and we were quite content to get home for a cup of tea.

I had neglected the garden flowers so I took a token dahlia photo just to show that I hadn’t forgotten them.

The forecasters say that it might rain overnight and if it does, that will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a Solway heron.

In the doghouse

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz. She found a fine robin’s pin cushion on a wild rose when she was out walking today. It is a gall caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp, Dipoloepis rosae.

We had another grey cool day today, but it was pleasant enough for a walk round the garden before coffee with Margaret. . .

. . . and calm enough for us to sit out in the garden when Margaret came.

From where I was sitting and sipping, I could see the back of a geranium and I thought that it made a good picture.

Liz showed me her rose gall picture when she got back from her walk in time to join us for coffee, and she brought her dog Riley with her.

Riley is in the doghouse because he spilt a full two litre can full of expensive paint all over several rugs yesterday when he jumped up and knocked it off a shelf. It had not even been opened so you can imagine that Liz was not best pleased with him. However, she had forgiven him enough to take him on her walk today, and he looked suitably penitent (or perhaps hangdog).

After coffee, I did quite a lot of dead heading and sieved another batch of compost while Mrs Tootlepedal did a fair bit of watering to try to keep things going until it rains.

Starlings played jokes on me. They came and sat in the rowan tree . . .

. . . but didn’t peck at any berries unless I had put down my camera and picked up my secateurs. We had several goes at this joke before I gave up and looked at flowers, which don’t run away, instead.

Both the red and pale astrantias are having a second go at flowering, the clematis by the front door has put out a lone blossom, and the Roseraie de L’Hay has got an unexpected runner in the last rose of summer stakes. The bees keep coming but there were very few butterflies today.

Before I went in for lunch, I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and enjoyed a number of blue tits visiting the feeder . . .

. . . but they were too nippy for me to catch a good shot of them flying between the feeder and the plum tree.

When I went inside and looked out, they were still about . . .

. . . but the feeder soon got busy with other birds.

A greenfinch arrived and threw its weight about.

I made some lentil and carrot soup for lunch and wasted time before getting up the energy to put on my cycling clothes and go off for a pedal.

I took the easy way out of Langholm, and headed down through Canonbie using the old main road. I joined the main road proper and got to Lontown before I made up my mind where I was going to go. My legs were anxious to avoid any steep hills, so I headed east out of the town towards the little windfarm . . .

. . . which has been plunked down on an old airfield. My route took me along the top of the windfarm and then back westwards along the far side. I like the north Cumbrian back roads as they are usually well surfaced and very quiet.

I kept going west and crossed over both the Longtown to Brampton road and the Longtown to Carlisle road until I found myself on a very minor road whch has two nice bridges on it. The first crosses a small brook . . .

. . . and the second crosses an old railway line which in a better conducted world would be part of a cycle path from Langholm to Carlisle and not a farm track.

It is a substantial bridge . . .

. . . but I haven’t found a way to get down to take a photograph of it so I leaned over the parapet and did my best.

The hedge beside the bridge was full of white wild flower. They turned out to be white campion and dead nettles.

Just before I got back to Longtown, I stopped to admire Arthuret Church. There has been a church here since the sixth century but this one was built in 1609 by royal command. It has an ancient graveyard on one side of the church . . .

. . . and a modern very well tended one on the other side.

I didn’t fancy cycling back up the main road so I headed across country back to Langholm, eating a few blackberries from the hedges for added energy, and ended up with 38 miles to add to my yearly total.

The day brightened up a lot as I cycled the last few miles home and I found Mrs Tootlepedal sitting in the garden enjoying the evening when I got home.

She made baked plums on toast for pudding for our evening meal so the day worked out pretty well for another grey day.

The icing on the cake for Mrs Tootlepedal was seeing the hedgehog in the garden when she went out to smell the nicotianas as dusk fell. The hedgehog had scurried under the plants in a border by the time that I came out so there is no picture of it. I looked up and snapped a passing military helicopter instead.

The flying bird of the day is an aspiring siskin.

Fade to grey

Today’s guest picture comes from Manitoba, where my correspondent Lucie has grown a fine sunflower (with added friends).

After yesterday’s brilliant sunshine, it was a disappointment to wake up to a very different day here today. It started grey, it ended grey, and in between, it was grey.

It was neither warm not cold, but it was quite pleasant for working in the garden. I was happy to pick sweet peas, and do some compost sieving and dead heading between breakfast and coffee.

After coffee, Attila the Gardener got into action, so there was any amount of shredding to keep me busy. I found time to look about though.

The dahlias provide a colourful contrast to the weather. There were not quite so many bees about today and not a butterfly to be seen

The little red poppies are amazing. They keep coming up with new flowers long after all the other poppies in the garden have gone to seed. Today’s flower was really red.

I took a last look round just before I went in for lunch.

The lamiums have been rather overlooked, perhaps because they have been out for so long that I take them for granted.

The first lamium picture of this year appeared in a post in March.

I especially liked the last look round that I had before going into the house for lunch.

After lunch, I had a quick garden tour and found a sunflower with no friends. . .

. . . and the mint very busy with bees.

Then I went off for a cycle ride. The forecast suggested that the clouds might clear away as I went along, but the forecast was wrong. It was a grey ride.

And at the request of my legs after yesterday’s hilly walk, it was a slow and fairly flat ride. I went on a gentle circle, out over Callister to Middlebie, and back by way of Kirkpatrick-Fleming and Glenzier. This gave me a chance to look at verges on the old A74 which were dotted with wild flowers . . .

. . . and examine the Korean pines in Half Morton churchyard. They were exuding resin and looked as though they had been iced by an inexpert cake decorator.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got home. Since the use of garden hoses is frowned upon because of our lack of rain, she has had to do a lot of hand watering to keep drooping plants looking perky again.

I wandered about and saw a dahlia with a friend . . .

. . . and a handsome clover flower among her green manure.

When I went in, I took a moment to look out of the window to see if there were any birds at the feeder.

It wasn’t easy to see clearly in the gloomy light, but my camera could just make out a goldfinch and a chaffinch among the willows surrounding the feeder . . .

. . . and a siskin waiting for its moment.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for music and conversation. Alison and I played three recorder and keyboard pieces by Telemann, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal exchanged news and views over a small glass of beer. It is good to be taking some cautious steps back towards normal life, but the recent upsurges in cases is making us all quite nervous about taking bigger steps.

It was hard to catch a flying bird of the day today because every time one came near the feeder, it got shouted at . . .

. . . so to brighten up the end of a gloomy day, here is a selection of snapdragons . . .

. . . and five smiling flowers in row.

Getting fairly high

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Simon from Canonbie. He works all over Europe, and noticing an interest in bridges in recent guest pictures, he has kindly sent me a picture of two fine bridges taken from a third bridge at St Gallen in Switzerland.

We had another fine, dry day here, with almost continual sunshine. As I couldn’t stand the heat outside, I spent the morning in the kitchen. I started by preparing a loaf for the bread making machine, and then baked a batch of ginger biscuits.

Our fan oven is broken at the moment and I found that using the top (non fan) oven was a tricky business. The finished biscuits were no works of art. Sandy came round for coffee and a catch up, and fortunately we found that the biscuits passed the taste test even if they didn’t look very good.

After Sandy left, with some runner beans and plums, I set about stewing some more plums, and by the time that I had finished, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from another session stuffing envelopes for a mail out from the Buccleuch Centre.

I did find a moment to sneak out into the garden to check on the butterfly situation.

It was good to see a mixed bag of visitors. The hoverfly was having a drink in the pond.

I noticed that there was a good deal of starling activity . . .

. . . and they were particularly interested in the rowan tree. I went and got my bird camera and wasted quite a bit of time trying to get a a decent ‘beak and berry ‘ shot . . .

. . . but the birds were not very cooperative and either swallowed berries very quickly or hid behind branches.

After lunch, I went out into the garden again and saw many more butterflies about . .

. . . and some bright yellow bees which are probably carder bees. The last roses of summer are continuing to do well.

Mrs Tootlepedal, having had a busy morning, had a busy afternoon too, this time on Langholm Initiative business, so I went for a walk.

My plan was to go for a gentle low level walk, taking in any birds that I passed, and hoping to see some fungus. It started well . . .

. . . but there were people throwing stones into the Ewes water to encourage their dogs to go for a swim so any chance of good wagtail shots disappeared.

I looked at trees on the Castleholm as I walked up the Lodge Walks and past the pheasant hatchery instead.

When I got to the North Lodge, I decided that I would go ’round Potholm’ as it was such a lovely afternoon and set off along the Langfauld track. (Click on a picture in the gallery for a larger view.)

I felt so cheerful that I revised my route plans as I went along. The road back from Potholm to Langholm is not the most exciting part of the walk (unless you are particularly interested in lichen on walls), so when I got to Potholm farm, instead of going down to the river and crossing the bridge, I went a little further along the track and took to the open hill. I looked back down as I went up.

I had a look around and there were no cattle to be seen, so this gave me the opportunity to walk back to the town along the splendid ridge, taking in Potholm and Castle Hills.

The camera flattens the route out a bit but in real life, it is quite steep in parts, so I was glad to stop every now and again to take a picture, or two, or even three.

This is the first mini summit.

And there are always curious sheep on the hill, wondering what I am doing.

The ridge separates the Esk and Ewes valleys. This was the view up the Ewes valley . . .

With pictures in the press of queues of walkers waiting to climb up the path on Snowdon, with reports of severe erosion of popular paths in the Lake District, and with questions being asked about limiting access to Ben Nevis because of overcrowding, it seemed almost to be selfish to be able to stroll along this wonderful ridge on such a day without seeing another soul.

Looking ahead:

Looking back:

And a gallery of looking around:

That last frame shows a small copper butterfly. I didn’t want to disturb it and I didn’t have my butterfly camera with me so I couldn’t do it justice, but I was pleased to see one and record the meeting.

At the end of the ridge, I came to the literal and metaphorical downside of my excellent outing as I had to proceed very carefully and slightly painfully when it came to lowering myself down the track back to the Kilngreen. The difficulties of going down steepish hills are quite hard to bear as I used to love bounding down hill in my more athletic days (long ago).

I took a picture of the town bridge to celebrate my safe arrival at the bottom of the hill.

I got home to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had watched a bit of cycling and finished her work.

We had the stewed plums with custard for pudding after our evening meal. I am going to have a ginger biscuit before going to bed. All in all, it has been a very satisfactory day.

I even managed to catch a flying bird of the day on my walk.

A song cycle day

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Caroline. She found this extravagantly yarn bombed tree when out for her walk today.

We had another dry day here for which we were only moderately grateful, as a spell of overnight rain would be really useful. We are getting warnings to be careful on our use of water because reservoirs are getting rather too low for comfort.

Still, I was pleased with the dry, warm conditions when I had to cycle round to the Langholm Initiative office after breakfast to have a chat with Jenny and Angela, the two ladies who have the responsibility for making everyone’s dreams about the development of the Langholm Moor into the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve come true. I went in my capacity of interim LI newsletter editor, and the results of our conversation will appear in the next edition of the newslette. They should be of interest to anyone who contributed to the community buy out.

The ladies were very generous with their time, and after visiting our corner shop on my way home, I found that it was lunchtime. I did just have time to make two pots of raspberry jam with some good looking Scottish raspberries which I had picked up in the shop before tucking into a cheese and tomato toastie.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also had a busy morning stuffing envelopes with brochures at the Buccleuch centre. This is tedious work, but it is good that the Buccleuch Centre is able to get back to offering a programme of concerts at last.

I picked up a camera after lunch and looked at the birds. I was happy that a blue tit had found a spare perch . . .

. . . at quite a busy time.

When I look at birds’ claws, I am often surprised that they manage to get a firm grip on these thin metal perches and don’t just swivel round and hang upside down.

I put down my camera, picked up my bike, and went off for a short ride round my familiar Canonbie route. There were hints of blue sky about, but as is so often the case, the sun was over there, and not ever here where I was.

All the same, the dry weather has let farmers take a second cut of grass.

When I was taking the picture of the oak tree and the cut grass, I noticed that the field has a wonderful patch of mint growing along the fence.

I thought that this was a little tactless considering that there are often sheep in that field.

I chased around my route, seeing fleeting glimpses of the sun, and finally caught up with it when I got to Hollows tower.

It had turned into a lovely afternoon . . .

. . . and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my ride up the river back home. I even managed quite a respectable speed.

I had a walk around the garden when I got back, and did a little dead heading as well as looking around. I liked the sight of this sparrow pretending to be dangerous hawk as it sat on top of the holly tree.

I thought I might see a few coloured butterflies coming back into the garden because of the sunshine, but I only saw this one small tortoise shell.

As usual though there were plenty of bees and hoverflies around, and I saw two visiting Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite dahlia.

She likes this dahlia so much that she’s going to dig it up when the time comes, and keep it safely indoors over the winter so that we can enjoy it again next year.

Other flowers were enjoying the sunshine as much as I was.

While I was looking at the bees on the pink dahlia, more butterflies turned up on other dahlias.

It is interesting to see that a butterfly can still flutter by with severely damaged wings.

When I came back out into the garden after watching a bit of the Vuelta with Mrs Tootlepedal, I found that there were a lot more butterflies about . . .

. . . and the sparrow on the holly tree had turned into a starling.

There were lots of white butterflies flying about in every direction. I spent a bit of time trying to capture one of them in flight and this was my best effort.

I went back in and cooked some mince for my tea, and after our regular zoom with my sisters, I ate the mince with some home grown tatties. Once again kings and princes wept in frustration at the simple pleasures of life that they are denied at their fancy banquets.

That wasn’t the end of our day though. For the first time for a long time, we went out in the evening to take part in a communal activity. This was a choir practice for the parish church choir.

We were a bit thin on the ground for one reason or another, but it was a great treat to have a chance to sing together and improve our sound, especially as there was a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit involved too.

It was a beautiful evening as we walked home. Normally, a beautiful evening at this time of year might easily come with a pretty chilly morning the next day, but looking at the forecast for the next week, there are no chilly nights to come and only warmer and sunnier days. We are going to get into trouble if it doesn’t give us some of our usual summer rain soon.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

A stay at home day

Today’s guest picture is a second from my brother Andrew’s trip to King’s Lynn. He passed through Peterborough on his way, and sent me another nice bridge shot.

I had a very uneventful time here today where it was cool under grey clouds for the most part. There was a little burst of sunshine in the afternoon, but it didn’t tempt me out for a walk or a cycle ride.

I spent quite a lot of time indoors doing the crossword, reading the papers, having coffee with Margaret and Mrs Tootlepedal, and finally catching up with entering into the Archive Group database two weeks of the details that had been dug up by the data miners of the Archive Group from the microfiches of ancient editions of our local paper .

Among the entries in 1902, I noticed that the district committee of the county council were offering free vaccinations against smallpox to anyone in Langholm who wanted one. Modern anti-vaxxers must imagine that smallpox disappeared in this country by magic.

To give myself a break from indoor activities, I occasionally went out into the garden and looked at insects . . .

. . . of which there were many about in various shapes and sizes.

Dahlias were a favourite haunt.

I made several excursions during the day.

I was sad not to see any of our colourful butterflies about. I presume that it was a bit too cold for them.

The buddleia was given over to bees.

There were other flowers attracting customers too.

And other dahlias of course.

I did look at other plants, and I am always interested in things that I might be able to eat.

Talking of eating things, if our pink strawberries produced fruit, I would never be short of a treat. They keep flowering all summer long.

I tried to take in the bigger picture too.

I did a little dead heading while I was out, and sieved another batch of compost. Bin A is filling up and I will need to get Bin D sieved and cleared soon, so that I can start the process of moving the compost down the line again.

Mrs Tootlepedal had some sunflowers last year that grew far taller than the seed packet suggested. She was not caught out this year and has grown a lot of decidedly small sunflowers. I didn’t need to stand on my tip toes to look down at this bunch.

A lone delphinium has flowered in the vegetable garden and a late campanula has appeared too. I thought that they made an decorative panel with the fresh Michaelmas daisies and a sweet pea.

On the rose hip front, the Roseraie De L’hay has produced a lonely red hip . . .

. . . but to counterbalance that, the little rose hips which were reddish have got a lot darker with age.

In between putting in the weeks of the newspaper details, I watched a half stage of the Vuelta with Mrs Tootlepedal in the afternoon.

When I had finished the second week, I went back out into the garden and sniffed the mint.

The biggest physical effort that I made all day was bending down to take a picture of a very low flying dahlia which I might have been ignoring because of its lowly stature and habit of hanging its head.

We have a relatively busy day ahead tomorrow, so it was no bad thing to have taken things easily today.

The flying bird of the day is a collared dove flying over the garden in the short sunny spell in the afternoon.

A cycle (and an occasional walk) on the wild side

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He was on his way to Kings Lynn when he came to a bridge at Stamford. Knowing that I like a bridge, he took a photograph of it.

It was another dull day here, and to suit the weather we had rather a dull morning with only coffee with Margaret to liven us up.

I looked at a few flowers just before she came. To show what a cool, dull day it was, very few bees tried to photobomb my dahlia pictures today.

Along with the dahlias, Japanese anemones are still doing well.

I cycled round to the shop, and was disappointed to find that there was no sign of the suspension bridge opening, and no sign of any work being done.

Perhaps because there are plenty of berries and seeds in the wild just now, our feeder has been pretty quiet lately, and today was no different. I was lucky to find a busy moment . . .

. . . but we did have a surprise visit from a starling who dropped and soon flew off again.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a cycle ride round Whita, passing through a lot of the proposed Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, the area recently purchased in the community buy out.

From a photographic point of view, it would have been a better ride if the sun had been out as there was a mass of heather on the hillside . . .

. . . but it was cloudy and the views were not up to much as a look down the Esk valley as we passed the bird hide shows.

I looked at wild flowers instead. As always, if you want a closer look at an individual picture, click on the gallery.

I took a few views as we went along in spite of the gloom.

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the price of timber has risen a lot recently which may explain the large number of forestry operations I have been passing on recent cycle rides.

Mrs Tootlepedal whizzed fearlessly across the ford when we came to it . . .

. . . though we were a bit more cautious on the other side of the river when we had to pass between some busy bee hives and the heather that the bees were busy visiting.

We did come across a little patch of sunshine, but unfortunately, it was over there . . .

. . . and not over us.

We passed this group of horses taking an interest in a youngster at Middlemoss.

The ride is not long, but there are some steep sections and some very rough tracks and we we walked up these, so it took us a good time to get round the ten miles. However, the last three miles are on good roads and with a kindly wind and a lot of downhill to help us here, we got home in very good spirits.

I had time to have another look at the garden . . .

I also went to look at the dam behind the house to record the potentilla on our side of the bridge which has finally started to look as though it is enjoying life, the fine rose hips on our neighbour Liz’s side, and the many growing fish swimming in the shallow waters of the dam itself.

The day ended with a sibling zoom. Our evening meal not only had roasted kohlrabi as part of the main course but baked plums on toast with cream for a pudding. In spite of the dull weather and cool temperatures, it was not a bad day.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch threatening a siskin . . .

. . . and I have added a tiny frog spotted by Mrs Tootlepedal in our garden today for extra interest.

Suspense

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who, after his otter yesterday, met an European eagle owl today. It is very exciting living in East Wemyss.

We had a calm and cloudy day here today, but we didn’t get wet when we cycled to church this week.

We had an extremely select choir of five but less choral chaos than last week. However, the sight of our organist creeping around mid service issuing new sheets to sing from did not inspire a great deal of confidence. All the same, we are starting midweek practices next week and our organist is encouraging more people to come and sing, so things make be looking up.

We had coffee and went shopping after church. I took a couple of dahlia pictures in the garden . . .

. . . and then we had lunch.

The seed in the bird feeder was going down very slowly today, but when I looked after lunch, there was a short burst of action. A small flock of greenfinches turned up and a lone siskin got a look in too.

There was a modest amount of bad behaviour.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting in the afternoon, while I checked on the garden flowers and found poppies and astrantia lasting very well, the last remaining contestant in the last rose of summer stakes, and some up and coming yellow crocosmia . . .

. . . as well a few good rose hips.

I only wish that more of our roses would take the hint and get hip too.

Then I went for a cycle ride.

As it was Sunday and the main road should be quiet, I started off by going south out of the town along the A7. The traffic was indeed quiet and the combination of a kindly wind and the gentle downhill gradients got me ten miles down the road at a very speedy 16mph.

Here, I turned off onto quiet back roads and began the process of heading back home into the wind and up the slope. As you can see from the route map and elevation chart . . .

. . . the climb from the lowest point of my ride up to the highest is pretty steady and my my average speed went downhill as my bicycle went uphill. However, with the wind coming from the north east, I was only heading straight into it for two brief spells so I enjoyed my outing a lot.

I stopped on a little bridge to show that the water underneath the bridge is so low and slow that pond weed is growing in mid stream.

. . . but the dry weather has let the farmers get on with their work.

As I came back across the hill towards the Wauchope valley, I spotted a buzzard sitting on a pole beside the road. Inevitably, it spotted me just as I got my camera out, and flew off to a much more distant pole where it hid.

Having taken a broader view of the heather beside the road on the last occasion that I came this way, I took a close up today.

It is odd that the individual flowers always look a lot more pink than the famously purple whole plants look from a distance.

The rowans have enjoyed the weather as much as any this summer and my journey was dotted with bright berries.

I was greeted by a very odd looking pigeon at our front gate when I got home.

A look at its legs showed me that it was a homing pigeon, perhaps trying to hitch a lift from a passing motorist.

Mrs Tootlepedal had got back from her meeting before me, and we watched the last few kilometres of the Vuelta stage on catch up while I had a restorative cup of tea and a slice of toast.

Although the late afternoon was rather gloomy by this time, I had a last look round the garden where the flowers did their best to cheer the day up.

Sometimes, plant breeders make flowers so fancy that they don’t attract bees any more, but this cheery dahlia . . .

. . . definitely has pulling power.

I couldn’t see any bees on the dark dahlias though, even though they have come out of hiding.

Some pink phlox has escaped the chop from Attila the Gardener . . .

. . . and the snapdragons keep producing more and more flowers.

Mrs Tootlepedal is already reading the seed catalogues as she thinks of next year in the garden, and snapdragons and dahlias are on her mind.

As far as we could understand him, the minister seemed to say in church today that a fault has been found in one part of the suspension bridge and it still needs repair. Perhaps it will not be opening tomorrow after we all. We will just have to wait and see. Perhaps that is why it is called a suspension bridge.

I didn’t get a very good flying greenfinch of the day today . . .

. . . so I have called up one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite dahlias to finish this post off. It shines even on a dull day.