Two rays of sunshine

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony taken in sunny East Wemyss.

It was a rather grey morning here with occasional drizzle so it was very lucky that a visit brightened it up a lot. Our son Tony stopped taking pictures in East Wemyss for long enough to come down to Langholm with his partner Marianne and have lunch with his sister and niece. This required a drive of over 100 miles each way so we were very pleased that they was able to come.

Evie was very pleased too and took Marianne out into the garden to show her where to find the flowers.

Tony made himself doubly welcome by mending one of our kitchen chairs before sitting on it to eat his lunch. As he loves to fix things, this was a treat for him as well as for us.

After lunch we went for a walk to the park with Evie. We were dressed suitably for a late summer day in Langholm…

…and it was just as well that we were because we hadn’t gone far before it started to rain. By the time that we got to the park, the rain had got heavier and a meeting of the Total Admiration of Evie Society had to be held under a large and sheltering tree.

The rain eased off to a drizzle after a while and we continued our perambulation of the park. stopping under another handy tree when the rain got heavier again for a few minutes. This gave me a chance to take a picture of the church….

…mainly to point out that it is opening again after a long lockdown closure, though there won’t be any singing going on.

We were soon able to resume our circular tour and passed some wild flowers as we walked along the riverside path.

Evie had conveniently fallen asleep for her afternoon nap during the walk and when we got to the park bridge, the company split up in the increasingly heavy rain after a meeting of another chapter of the Evie Admiration Society. Mrs Tootlepedal, Marianne and Tony headed home, while Annie and I pushed the snoozing society star down to the riverside again.

I was able to point out a dipper to Annie…

…and she spotted a family of wagtails popping busily along the rocky shore.

Evie was still asleep when we got home and we left Annie gently rocking the pushchair in the front room while the rest us enjoyed a cup of tea and some vigorous discussion in the kitchen. Tony has some very reprehensible views about cyclists but perhaps we shouldn’t blame him too much as he has to drive his work van round the busy streets of Edinburgh and city cycle commuters can be a pain.

Evie woke up in time to say goodbye to our visitors as they set off back to East Wemyss. (They sent a message later to say that they had arrived safely.)

I did take a few non family pictures during the day. I checked on the birds before our visitors arrived. There was hot competition for the right to be the fourth siskin on the feeder.

One siskin had learned the benefits of coming out of the shadows as a surprise manoeuvre.

A green finch smiled sunnily.

I also had time to look at the flowers with Evie.

She loves to pick a flower so it is a good thing that there are plenty of calendulas still growing.

I’ll have to teach her about dead heading as it is keeping the red poppies going splendidly.

I was struck by how good the astilbes are looking…

…and I always find it hard to pass a clematis without a twitch of the shutter finger.

I cooked some soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I stole a moment to watch a sparrow ignoring a hanger on.

The sparrow looked calmly triumphant when the siskin fell away. Siskin? What siskin?

After our visitors had gone, we were able to watch the last kilometres of toady’s mountain stage of the Tour de France. This turned out to be very exciting and I stopped to the end of the stage. Then I put my own cycling gear on and got my bike out.

Needless to say, it promptly started to rain. I waited for a few minutes and when the rain stopped, I set off. Within three minutes, it started to rain again and it got heavier by the minute, but I was wise to it by now and kept my head down and pedalled on. Sure enough, it stopped again after a couple of miles and I continued to the top of Callister…

…in damp and grey conditions but with no rain.

I might not have been quite so keen to run the risk of getting wet again if my legs hadn’t been in tip top condition. The six months of steady cycling are paying off and after my short rest, I feel up to pedalling uphill into a wind without crying. The wind was not strong but it was quite a noticeable wind and I see from my computer that I cycled five miles back down to Langholm at over 20mph again. I ended up doing 20 miles, 17 of them in the dry so I can’t complain.

Mrs Tootlepedal made us scrambled eggs for our tea and I made semolina and stewed rhubarb for afters, so all in all, it was a very satisfactory day, one firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life….

…except that in the hustle and bustle, I didn’t find a very good flying bird of the day. But then you can’t have everything. It did fly off soon after I took the picture.

Caught out

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who saw this impressive looking boat sailing under the Forth Bridges when he was dropping his partner Marianne off at her work this morning.

We had another day of brisk winds and variable weather here. When the sun was out, which it was from time to time, it was a pleasant day. When it rained, it was less fun.

Annie, Evie and I took a tour round the town after breakfast while we visited the chemist and the corner shop and found the High Street unusually busy. People politely made way for the pushchair so we managed our trip without incident.

We had an enjoyable coffee morning with our neighbour Margaret in the garden. We were quite surprised to find butterflies whizzing over our heads and when I looked around, there were many butterflies to be found on the various buddleias. Red admirals were the first to arrive…

…but small tortoiseshells and peacocks were not far behind.

After coffee, I walked round the garden with Annie and Evie, checking on the roses…

…which were looking good we thought.

A veronica is having a second go at flowering.

When Annie and Evie went in, I got out the secateurs and did some dead heading in the hope of keeping poppies and dahlias flowering. There were plenty of dead heads to dead head.

After lunch, I had a look at the birds and found that the feeder was busy…

…and competition was keen.

Traffic soon slackened off though and when I looked later on, only a wide eyed collared dove was to be seen.

I looked out at the strong wind and the possibility of rain and settled down to watch the Tour de France. I was rewarded for my idleness by a most exciting stage and only stood up again when it had finished.

I had an hour to spare before the sibling Zoom meeting and as the sun was shining, I thought that I would go for a short walk.

The morning butterfly shots had been taken on the ‘morning buddleia’ against our neighbour Hector’s fence, so I thought that I should look at the ‘afternoon buddleia’ against our neighbour Irving’s fence before I set out. This was a good idea.

And while I was looking, I saw a white butterfly on the verbena too.

The sun was shining when I got down to the river beside the suspension bridge and I saw both a grey wagtail…

…and a pied wagtail…

…on the stones beside the river.

The sun had gone in by the time that I had crossed the town and sawmill bridges and the leaves on the horse chestnut on the Castleholm, always one of the first trees to get autumn colour, were duller than they would have been a few minutes earlier.

Since several of the trees lining the Lodge Walks were cut down, it has been difficult to get a good picture of the walks as the contrast between the shade provided by the old trees and the light coming through the gaps confuses my camera…

…but a gap does let me have a good view of one of the old trees.

The sky was getting progessively darker as I walked along so I didn’t spend much time looking for interesting things, recording only some of the last of the rosebay willowherb flowers and a leaf that had been thoroughly attacked by something.

As I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

…rain was beginning to fall and by the time that I got to the Scholars’ Field, it was sweeping across the face of Whita….

…and on to my head. I sheltered under a tree while the heaviest rain fell and then scuttled home as quickly as I could.

I hardly need to add that the sun came out shortly after I got home and there was even a faint rainbow to be seen among the departing raindrops.

The weather gods do like their little jokes.

The sibling Zoom was interesting as two of my sisters shared old family photos that brought back memories and my brother showed us some good pictures of his walk today.

Our evening meal ended with strawberries and cream and that made up for getting caught in the rain.

The flying bird is two siskins. I couldn’t chose between them.

Footnote: The morning buddleia gets the sun in the morning and the afternoon buddleia gets the sun in the afternoon…but you realised that for yourselves of course.

Actual cycling

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows that herons in East Wemyss take a lofty view of life.

We had mixed weather here today with occasional rain, quite a bit of wind and some sunshine. If you were lucky, outdoor activities and the rain did not coincide. I was lucky. I went to the corner shop and the chemist after breakfast on my shopping bike and remained dry. Later, I walked up to Sandy’s in the dry, had coffee and biscuits with him while it poured with rain outside, and then walked back in the dry.

Mrs Tootlepedal was fortunate too as she went up to the town on moorland business in the morning and back again later on, keeping dry on both trips. Then it rained while she had lunch at home, and dried up just as she went back up to the town on more moorland business.

Annie and Evie popped out into the garden from time to time when it wasn’t raining too. On one of the excursions, we picked courgettes which Mrs Tootlepedal made into fritters for lunch.

Once again, I didn’t get the camera out until after lunch. I had a look at the birds on the feeder in rather gloomy weather. It was a sparrow day today.

…with a steady stream queuing to get a perch…

…and birds had to look hard to find a space.

A blue tit rested among the sunflowers while it waited its turn.

It rained heavily again so I turned on the Tour de France and watched for a while. Fortunately it was not a very exciting race moment so I was able to get a grip on myself and as soon as the rain stopped, I put on my cycling gear and did some actual cycling instead of just watching it.

As I went out into the garden, a blink of sunshine lit up Crown Princess Margareta doing her best to brighten the day…

…but there were still some ferocious looking black clouds about as I set off, and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy my ride much.

There was also a brisk wind in my face with gusts over 20mph but this was a bonus rather than a hindrance as it had blown the dark clouds away by the time that I got to Callister…

…and the prospects ahead were much brighter.

Fortunately the couple of days of rest had worked wonders on my legs and they were in a sprightly mood today and laughed in the face of the breeze as we went up the hill. We still went up pretty slowly but we went up cheerfully.

The farmer at Callister has collected his mown grass into those neat black packets that you can see in the picture above. By contrast, when I got to Between the Waters, the grass from the curved rows which I saw on my last ride had been swept off the field altogether…

…leaving the field free for cattle to have a snooze…

…and for me to enjoy this fine tree in the sunshine.

I didn’t want to stop to take too many pictures as I was all too aware of the fickle nature of the day’s weather, and I wanted to get home before the next shower. All the same, the clump of wild sedum beside the Solwaybank road had got such a deep colour that I thought that it was worth a picture…

…and the individual flower heads looked very fine..

There was no progress on the wind farm to report. Perhaps they are waiting for a delivery of turbine blades and they have found a note saying, “We called but you were out,” and as a result they have spent the last few days trying vainly to contact the turbine blade customer service hotline.

Dark clouds loomed up on my left so I pressed on home, but once again the wind was my friend, both helping me along the road and blowing the clouds away too. So helpful was the wind that I did the last three miles home at 20mph and felt quite like a proper cyclist.

Annie and Evie came out for a tour of the garden when I got back…

…and we looked at flowers together.

Lillian Austin caught Evie’s eye…

…but the sunflowers were a bit above her head.

We passed a clematis on the fence…

…on our way to the vegetable garden where we stood solemnly in front of one of the only three apples to beat the late frost this year.

I had been hoping to see a butterfly and we caught a glimpse of one but it flew off before I could focus. More in hope than expectation, we moved on to the other buddleia beside the drying green. There in the space of a few seconds, three butterflies appeared right in front of my nose and made my day.

Our local paper had printed a picture that I had taken of a peacock butterfly in its edition today, so it was a good butterfly day all round.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent most of the day in the company of a distinguished author called Caspar Henderson. He specialises in environmental matters and he was interested in the plans for the Langholm Moor. She had organised meetings for him with various people from the town in the morning, and in the afternoon the buy out group project manager had taken the author and her on an extensive tour of the moorland so she had had a busy and enjoyable day. She still had enough energy left to cook us a spaghetti Bolognese for our tea. Evie sucked up strands of the spaghetti with a disarming nonchalance.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to creep past all the sparrows.

A little spice on a dull day

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia and shows a delightful door at Babbs Farm, near Highbridge, Somerset, the object of her latest National Gardens Scheme visit.

As far as any day with Evie in the house can be dull, this was a dull day. This was not because of Evie, of course, but because of the weather. There was intermittent light rain in the morning and persistent heavier rain in the afternoon.

As a result, my morning fun consisted of a trip to our corner shop by myself and a longer trip to the Co-op with Evie and Annie while the going was still relatively good. Evie obliged by going to sleep in her pushchair and we had a very peaceful and productive shopping trip.

I followed that up by combining bits and bobs from the fridge to make a good chewing soup for lunch and then took my first picture of the day through the shelter of a window.

A goldfinch posed for me…

…and two siskins indulged in some aerial ballet.

I almost succumbed to the afternoon lure of the Tour de France live on the telly, but pulled myself together in the nick of time, put on my full waterproof gear and went out for a short walk instead.

I chose a sheltered route and walked up the steps from the park…

…and along the Stubholm track, marvelling as ever at the tenacity of this tree perched on the very edge of a steep banking.

I took the path up to the Kernigal wood, passing some fungus on the way…

…and getting a bit more rain when I reached a clearing.

The increased light in the clearing had encouraged a foxglove to stay in flower.

When I got to the end of the wood, I had a check and found that the rain had eased off enough to make a walk across the open hill a reasonable choice, even though there were no views to be had today.

I didn’t extend my walk when I got back down to the Wauchope road but headed straight home. I did stop though to admire the way this shrub flows over its wall….

…and the very pretty ivy leaved toadflax that spreads across the top of the low wall beside the river at Pool Corner.

My wet weather gear had done the job of keeping me dry pretty well, apart from slightly damp knees, so I was able to sit down to enjoy the final kilometres of the Tour stage when I got in.

And watch the birds during the advertising breaks.

There were a lot of siskins about today, sometimes looking shocked to find a chaffinch on the feeder…

…sometimes adding to the numbers already there…

…and sometimes filling all the available air space.

In a dull part of the bike race, I made a batch of ginger biscuits and to spice up the day, I added a little more ginger than I usually use.

When the stage finished, I put up an umbrella and went out into the garden to take a token flower picture or two.

Crown Princess Margareta is trying her best, but the weather may be against her.

A stachys is still showing some colour…

…and in spite of producing berries, the tropaeolum on the yew bush is still producing new flowers too.

The clematis at the front door gets marks for trying.

It was my middle sister Mary’s birthday today so we had a festive Zoom meeting to celebrate this.

Mrs Tootlepedal made kedgeree for our tea which went down well and that ended a rather uneventful day. We hope for better weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a horizontal sparrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal cuts the mustard

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who was able not long ago to have a cup of coffee on the banks of the same canal along which my sister Mary recently walked….with added geese.

We had a very tolerable day here with light winds, occasional sunshine and a temperature that made sitting out in the garden for coffee a very pleasant experience, neither too hot nor too cold.

However, as no-one had slept very well during the night for one reason or another, we didn’t make the best use of it, and the older members of the household spent quite a lot of time not doing very much.

I filled in some of the time by cooking breakfast, lunch and tea. The meals were porridge, squash and sweet potato soup and sausage stew so there was no danger of anyone mistaking me for a cordon bleu chef.

My only active moment in the morning was when I mowed the middle lawn to make it look respectable for our coffee gathering….and suitable for Evie to wander about on.

I didn’t take my first photograph until well after lunch when I recorded three siskins on the feeder.

There were a number of siskins about, both arriving at the feeder…

…and getting into arguments with greenfinches too.

I then went out and spent twenty minutes in the garden looking for butterflies and finding a small tortoiseshell which rather meanly hid behind a buddleia flower when it saw me coming.

There weren’t as many today as there were about yesterday, and I had to scratch around to find a red admiral and a peacock.

My bee of the day was visiting one of the developing sedum plants.

I had a look at the flowers while I was out and was surprised to see a bergenia indulging in a second flowering.

A visitor had dropped into the garden in the morning and had told Mrs Tootlepedal how well she thought the garden looked. Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit sceptical, as she thinks that the garden is over after late August, but I agree with the visitor. There is a lot still to enjoy.

Japanese anemones are thriving…

…clematis, roses and nasturtiums are full of colour…

…and the dahlias are going strong. (I meant to find nine to put in a panel but I miscounted so a calendula has sneaked into the bottom corner.)

There are still colourful corners…

…and two fuchsias which have been replanted after some poor seasons are showing their gratitude for Mrs Tootlepedal’s care…

…and inula and phlox are not done for yet.

And of course, if the flowers do pass, there are always berries of one sort…

…or another.

After this modest burst of activity, I went back indoors and joined Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie in watching the Tour de France while Evie had her afternoon nap.

I did think of stopping watching the cycling and actually going out and doing some in real life, but inertia overcame me and I remained glued to my chair.

After our evening meal, I did manage to stir my stumps enough to go for a short stroll round Gaskell’s Walk, a distance of about one and a half miles. My legs were pretty unhelpful about even this little effort so it was perhaps just as well that I hadn’t tried to go cycling. I have cycled two and a half thousand miles in the past six months. This is quite a lot by my recent standards, and I have done a fair bit of walking too, so perhaps my legs are sending me a message to have a rest for a day or two.

It was getting rather gloomy by the time that I went out, but I still took my camera and looked around as I went along.

It was a quiet evening and very peaceful as I passed the Wauchope graveyard.

There were odd bits of fungus here and there along the track.

The turning of the season is being marked by the rosebay willowherb….

…but there was wonderful display of flowers as I came up onto the Stubholm.

There was interest for gin drinkers…

…and some plants to avoid…

…before I took the track down to the park and went home.

I took a moment to enjoy our neighbour Kenny’s ever expanding garden along the dam before going into the house.

In the end when I looked back on it, I thought that it had been a rather confusing day. I hadn’t done anything much but I felt that I had been busy all the time. Watching the Tour de France live is a wonderful time filler as you feel that you are somehow taking a lot of exercise by just sitting there.

As I was cooking the tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden, saying as she went, “I am going to cut the mustard.”

When she came back in, she said in answer to an enquiry from me, “I have cut the mustard.” I wasn’t surprised. If anyone is capable of cutting the mustard, it is Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

A pedal and a push

Today’s guest picture, taken by our son Tony at quarter to six this morning shows the sunrise in East Wemyss. Not perhaps technically the greatest picture because of the low light but definitely one of the best sunrises.

I didn’t get up quite that early (to say the least) so I missed any Langholm sunrise but it was still a pretty nice day when I did appear so I wasn’t complaining.

It was my plan to get out early on my bike but domestic matters intervened and then I was detained by a small tortoiseshell butterfly…

…and some beautiful poppies…

…so it was nearly coffee time before I left.

It really was a lovely day for a morning pedal…

…so it was a bit of a pity that my legs were definitely not in the mood for fun. I had to adopt a low gear and go gently to coax them round my 21 mile Solwaybank loop. Still, once I had realised that I wasn’t going to break any speed records, I settled down to enjoy the scenery and the ride at whatever pace I could manage.

I met a huge agricultural machine taking up most of the road as it came round a blind corner so perhaps it was lucky that I was going slowly. It was part of a team that was making silage and I enjoyed the sinuous lines of cut grass that had been created here.

Skylines were often interesting in their own way….

…and although there were no fresh developments on the new windfarm to report, there was a fine clump of orpines…

…and a very small bridge to keep me happy.

I got home in time for a late lunch and a look round the garden for more butterflies. There were several to see today which is heartening with no less than four red admirals on the buddleia…

…to go along with insects large and small on the daisies below.

It is fair to say that the garden was buzzing today.

A plan had been formulated for a visit to the moor and a walk up the Tarras Valley after lunch and while preparations were being made, I looked for bright flowers….

…and active birds.

We drove over the moor and down into the Tarras valley. The heather on the moor was looking very good but the sun and I couldn’t come to terms. I always seemed to be driving when the light was good, and whenever I stopped, the light went. In the end I stopped worrying about taking pictures and just enjoyed the views.

We parked the car at the handy car park and we set out to walk along the road beside the river.

I couldn’t pass the much photographed cascade without taking a picture…

…but there were lots of other things to look at too.

Mrs Tootlepedal is interested in the heathers and we saw examples of three sorts on our walk.

From left to right they are Erica Tetralix, Calluna vulgaris (common heather) and Erica Cinerea

It is a beautiful spot….

…with a lot of wild flowers about.

You mustn’t think that I spent all the time taking pictures. I lent a hand in the engine room too.

Sharp eyed Annie spotted a large beetle just as we got back to the car.

I took a final shot of Tarras Water….

…before we got into the car and drove up to the county boundary in the hope of meeting some of the wild goats of the moor. Once again we had to make do with the views over the moor as the goats were conspicuous by their absence.

When we got home, I finalised my butterfly collection for the day with a peacock…

…and went to look at the birds but got sidelined by the oxalis on the windowsill instead.

Then it was time for a sibling Zoom and our evening meal. This rounded off an active day.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

A cold start

Today’s guest picture is another from Paul’s visit to the Lake District. He was looking down on the aptly named Little Town from Catbells when he saw this view.

The forecast was for a bright, chilly, and calm morning and the forecast was right. As I had a choir rehearsal in the afternoon, I thought that I should take advantage of the weather to go for an early bike ride and I set out soon after breakfast. With the temperature according to our thermometer at a rather chilly 6 degrees C, this required several layers of clothing, warm gloves and thick socks to be applied before setting off.

I pottered round my Canonbie circuit, stopping to record the lovely day as I climbed out of Wauchopedale…

…and enjoying the clear view over the Solway towards the Lake District Hills when I got to the top of my little climb.

The pottering was not entirely by choice as thanks to the early start and the chilly day, my legs took their time about joining in the trip enthusiastically. However, the sun got higher and the day got a bit warmer and I thoroughly enjoyed my excursion.

I liked this tree silhouetted against the sky….

…and it always a pleasure to see the Canonbie cows. They haven’t been near enough to photograph for some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie had been impressed by the scale of work on the new Canonbie sewage works when they passed them on a recent walk, so I thought I ought to give readers a taste of the works as I passed the the two sites today.

Evie had visited our local shop while I was out so we both had had fun.

I got back in perfect time to have a quick look round the garden before having coffee in the garden with Evie, Annie, Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Margaret.

There was a lone butterfly on the buddleia….

…and a bee on a cornflower. It had obviously been a busy bee looking at its pollen sacs.

I thought that the orange crocosmia was looking very colourful in the sun…

…and I saw that both of the variegated dogwoods had flowers in bloom.

My dahlia of the day was this one…

…and I had time to snap a selection of roses and white flowers before making the coffee.

After coffee, I made some soup for lunch and then I made the fatal mistake of turning on the live coverage of the Tour de France. Today’s stage would have been worth watching just for the scenery let alone some very exciting bike racing.

I tore myself away for long enough to check on the birds where a chaffinch showed just how tiny the siskins are by comparison…

…and a siskin showed that they may be small but they are not going to be intimidated by anyone.

I had to take another break from the Tour to take part in the virtual choir rehearsal. It was most enjoyable and useful. Evie joined in for a moment to a general chorus of aahs from the choir members. Our director Ellen says that the compiling of our virtual performance is coming along well and should be ready in a week or two. It ought to be possible for me to share a link to it if I consider it suitable for viewers of a nervous disposition.

After the choir, I had another look at the birds.

Siskins were arguing as they are wont to do…

…and a greenfinch was wisely approaching a siskin from behind this time.

There was plenty of coming and going…

…and I liked the plumage on this sparrow even though it turned its back on me.

We record the Tour coverage so that we can skip through the many advertising breaks at high speed and we were able to pause the final stages of the day’s excitement while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked our evening meal and we ate it.

I had time to go out into the garden again while the cooking was going on.

Annie and Evie came too and Evie enjoyed the doddering dillies a lot. I liked the clover and the mint too.

There were no butterflies to be seen so a bee on a daisy came in handy.

We dug up more potatoes…

…and some of them appeared in double quick time as roast potatoes with some delicious roast lamb at tea time.

I made some semolina for afters and then we settled down to watch a nail biting finish to today’s stage on the Tour.

It was another quiet lockdown day but looking back on it, it seemed to have been quite busy. Hosting a one year old toddler is a full time occupation.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow at full stretch.

A late tour

Today’s guest picture comes from Paul’s Lake District trip. He found the locals were looking at the visitors just as hard as the visitors were looking at the scenery.

We had a rather curious day here. It was dry and occasionally sunny but there was brisk north wind blowing and it was extremely chilly for the end of August so there was no real enthusiasm for being outside for any length of time. We did convene a garden coffee morning but we packed it in early, as sitting outside while gradually freezing was not really a lot of fun. Margaret pointed out that last year’s August Bank Holiday weekend had been the hottest on record and this year it looks as though it will be the coldest on record.

The poppies didn’t seem to mind the weather though and, rather surprisingly to me at least, they were in good form.

Once again, I didn’t see any butterflies so I found some bees instead.

Once back inside, the day drifted away with her mother spending a lot of time picking Evie up. Evie has mastered falling over as well as walking, and it will take a few days before she gets the hang of staying upright in the face of small obstacles.

This has been a curious year and the oddness continued as the Tour de France started as summer ended. We watched the first stage and were interested to note that the expert cyclists hit the ground even more frequently than Evie. It was not an easy stage to watch and we can only hope that the weather is kinder as the race goes on.

When the stage ended, I had a quick look at the birds. Like me they seemed to have decided that this was a good day to stay at home and there were not many to watch.

I made omelettes for everyone for tea and then, as the sun was shining and the wind had dropped a bit, I went out for a late walk.

I spotted a dipper under the Kirk Brig and a dog near the golf course….

…as I made my way across the suspension bridge, through the town and up the Kirk Wynd.

Clouds covered the sun and it was chilly, but looking up the hill, I could see that all was not lost…

…and I didn’t have to much further up the hill before I found myself walking in sunshine again…

…and after passing ageing rosebay willowherb in the shade, I found yarrow in the sun.

When I got onto the open hill, the sun picked out the shiny new power lines running from the pylons…

…and looking six miles to the west, I could see that the enormous crane had been re-erected at the new windfarm after the recent heavy winds. (The zoom on the Lumix is impressive.)

I went up as far as Whita Well and then took the track along the side of the hill to the Newcastleton road. Clouds intervened from time to time….

…but I was mostly in sunshine and in the low sun, it was a very pleasant evening to be out for a stroll.

When I got to the road, which you can see in the picture above, I did toy with the idea of extending my walk but sensibly, I stuck to my original plan and walked back straight down the road. There was a bit of traffic on the way…

…but I negotiated it safely.

I said good evening to a handsome horse….

…and came down to the main road.

I decided that as I had not crossed it on yesterday’s outing, I would cross the Sawmill Brig today, and I was very glad that I did. I was standing on the bridge in the hope of seeing another dipper when a movement caught my eye. I could see that a bird had landed on a branch of a tree on the Castleholm. Once again the zoom lens came to my aid as it could see what sort of bird it was.

The woodpecker soon flew off and I continued on my way home.

The light wasn’t very good when I was watching the birds, and as I said, there were not many birds to watch so this was the best that I could do by way of as flying bird today.

Continuous walking

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in Fife. He came across this splendid sea buckthorn on a recent walk.

We had another cool day here, with only one rain shower but with a brisk north wind blowing. I had a stroll round the garden before coffee.

The dark dahlia is putting out flowers at a great rate…

….and I liked the pattern on the leaves of this Rodgersia….

…whereas Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t so happy about it, as she tells me that it indicates a lack of something important in the soil.

There are still plenty of flowers to enjoy, even on a sunless morning.

We didn’t have a garden coffee morning but after an indoor cup, Evie went out to visit people in the town anxious to meet her, and I went for a walk. She took Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie with her, I went by myself.

I wasn’t quite sure where I would go when I set out but started off as though I was going to do a three bridges and this took me past a gull standing on one leg near the suspension bridge…

…and a dipper doing a lot of posing….

…on a little gravel bank just below the Sawmill Brig.

The rivers were quite full after the recent rain…

…but they were easily coping with draining the catchment area.

In spite of some rather gloomy looking weather coming down the Ewes Valley, I didn’t cross the Sawmill Brig but kept going up the main road until I came to the High Mill Brig…

…and I crossed the Ewes Water there.

Then I skirted a field and took the track known as the Baggra back to the town. There was a light rain drifting past the trees as I got to the track….

…and I was expecting things to be rather soggy, but the track was not too bad at all…

…and I had plenty of opportunity to look around as I walked along it.

It has a wall on one side of it that is home to many interesting lichens.

And hedges and ditches full of hips, flowers and berries.

The rain became a little more serious without getting too bad so I didn’t waste time taking pictures as I got nearer home, and contented myself with this ‘passers by’ view of the garden over the newly clipped hedge along the road.

The three ladies had got home just before me and we all sat down to an excellent lunch prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

After lunch, Evie went off for a well earned nap. She has discovered the joys of walking and thinks it much preferable to sitting so she spends nearly all her waking moments towing one or other of the adults round the house or garden.

While she and her mother were snoozing, I went out into the garden to find that the weather had improved a lot. Taking advantage of this, I photographed a female large white butterfly on the mint…

…and then mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass and the vegetable garden paths.

The sun had come out by this time and I kept an eye for coloured butterflies. I didn’t see any and took pictures of hoverflies on the Michaelmas daisies instead.

I went in for a while and watched the birds. I got as surprise when a hurly burly bunch of starlings showed up and after a shaky start…

…got stuck in to the seed.

I got my only glimpse of a small tortoiseshell of the day while I was bird watching…

…but like the starlings, it didn’t stay long and I was soon back to more regular customers like this pale siskin…

…a young blackbird…

…and a blue tit nibbling on a seed trapped under its toe.

I went back out into the garden to do some dead heading and spotted a dunnock having a bath in some water which had collected on the corrugated plastic roof of compost Bins C and D.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were at work in the garden when Mike Tinker passed by on his way home after checking on one of the Langholm Walks which he helps to look after. We invited him and Alison to come and have a cup of tea and meet Evie. I just had time to mow the front lawn before they arrived, bearing gifts of home grown tomatoes.

Evie stopped her endless walking for just long enough to meet them and walked off, coming back through the kitchen from time to time after that to greet them again in passing.

My day finished with a sibling Zoom and another excellent meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal. (I did the washing up.)

It is hard work being an infant perpetual motion machine, or her parent, or her grandparents, so we were all quite tired by the end of the day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

Shifty weather

Today’s guest picture comes from my Lancashire correspondent Paul who travelled to Cumbria for a break and found a fine day to walk round Crummock Water.

We had a half in half day here, half fine and the other (bigger) half rainy. The weather forecasters struggled to put their finger on the timing of the rain. The onset of the rain, which was originally forecast as 11 o’clock in the morning, finally arrived after lunch. The end of the rain, which was promised for four o’clock in the afternoon, never actually happened, and it is still raining as I write this in the evening.

The result of all this was a day of suspended animation. In the end we never got out of the garden. But the garden in the morning was not a bad place to be and we enjoyed coffee with Margaret while Evie fully explored the lawn.

As well as Margaret, we had several welcome visitors.

Some of them were even more welcome than others on account of their rarity this month.

There were just a few red admirals, small tortoiseshells and peacocks but there were lots of the customary whites.

There is no doubt that the garden is beginning to go over and finding perfect flowers is getting harder….

…. but I am not putting my flower camera away in spite of that….

…as even a part worn flower is better than none (in my opinion at least).

The most exciting part of the morning was being buzzed by a very low flying sparrowhawk while we were sitting on the old bench having our coffee. It made me duck in a hurry as it flashed past.

After lunch, as the rain set in, the only photographic subjects at hand were the birds. There were plenty of them again….

…busy competing for a seat at the table.

Other birds were available. The person responsible for painting the blackbirds black is not up to the task at the moment.

A fully painted robin appeared at the far end of the lawn, too far in the gloomy weather for a really crisp shot even with my long lens.

A dunnock came a bit closer.

I picked the second of our five plums and we had it as a pudding (plum pudding?) after lunch, carefully divided into four parts. Evie is fond of plums.

The third plum is ripening nicely.

We had a lovely Zoom meeting in the late afternoon where Evie was able to wave at Matilda in Edinburgh. Matilda had just got back from school where she had had a good time digging for worms. Whether this was part of the curriculum or private study, she did not reveal.

After our evening meal, the sparrowhawk returned to garden to have its evening meal. Annie spotted it on the lawn. It obligingly stayed there long enough for me to get my camera out.

It is always sad to lose a small bird to a predator but sparrowhawks must live too and I would rather see a bird lost to a sparrowhawk than to the cats that haunt our garden.

In spite of a lot of bird traffic, I didn’t manage to get a very good flying bird of the day in the gloom today, so I am putting two slightly less than satisfactory ones in to share the honour today.

The Tiny Potager

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