The return of the bike

Today’s flower is a nasturtium

At last the call had come. My bike was ready. I got into the car and went off to Palace Cycles to collect it. When I got there, Joe, the mechanic, assured me that at last it was running well. In recognition of the wait I had had and the number of different things they had tried, he very kindly did not charge me for his labour. This was lucky as the new parts were dear enough. However, it did give me the opportunity to purchase a modest voucher for Dropscone as a thank you for the extended loan of his bike.

While I was in Carlisle, I took the opportunity to do some shopping. I was able to acquire two bags of coffee beans, four sorts of cheese, three bottles of French wine, two bottles of olive oil, some bread flour and a tub of double cream. I think you could safely say that nothing more could possibly be added to the list to make it better. Oh, I forgot. I got some mince as well. Retail heaven.

On my return, I immediately took the bike out for a test round the morning run and Joe had spoken the truth, it was running like a Rolls Royce in silent splendour. I did a very good time because the wind was friendly too.

big onionsIn the afternoon I had a couple of meetings which went well and also took into the greenhouse for drying the last of the onions. These were a particularly good lot which Mrs Tootlepedal had left out to dry over night. new clematis

I noticed that the clematis, which used to adorn the garage but which was completely clobbered by the frost in the winter, has made a good recovery and by next spring, weather permitting, it should be back to its former glory.

There was no recorder group in the evening because of too many of the players having other avocations.

…and there was wailing and gnashing of teeth

Just a short blog here because I didn’t get one written yesterday, to say that the Langholm Open Seniors Golf Competition took place without yours truly even threatening to be among the prizewinners. I was present on the course but my swing was sadly somewhere else entirely. There were some consolations as both Dropscone and my regular golfing partner, Arthur were among the prizes. Arthur, in addition, had the distinction of being the oldest golfer on the course and winning his class.

On returning to the house, I cut both lawns to cheer myself up.

Not much going on

Today’s flower is a rubeckia

It’s been a very grey day in Langholm today. Dropscone and I got round the morning run with only a few miles of rain but the roads are wet which means a constant spray as you go along. I had a not very good asthma day so I won’t count today’s run among one of my favourites. The weather was so dank all day that even the therapeutic joys of mowing the lawn were denied to me.

It was such a grey day that we actually did our tax and sent it off.

A lot of the day was spent doing Archive Group work. A  friend has been recording people in the town with something to say of times past and he brought his most recent recording round. It was from a lady who was a darner in two of the mills in the town. I put it on the computer and did some editing work on it and found it very interesting to listen to. I also sent a couple of printouts from the microfiches of the paper to someone who had e-mailed to ask for entries referring to his ancestors. It really cheers you up when the evidence is that the work of the indexers in transcribing the entries and the hour and a half I spent typing the entries into the index today is likely to interest someone somewhere.

I wasn’t able to take an interesting photo today but I notice that, owing to my well lubricated state yesterday, I failed to put in a couple of pictures I had taken which I had meant to include in yesterday’s blog so I might as well put them in today.

Castle HillThe picture on the left shows the glorious day it was that tempted Mrs Tootlepedal out on the bike.Mrs Tootlepedal

The picture on the right shows the lady herself on her return from her 15 mile jaunt.

The picture below shows a promising plum but it is my belief that the dratted sparrows will have eaten it before it gets to be fully ripe.  Time will tell. Tomorrow is the day of the Langholm Open Seniors Golf Tournament. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, I expect.

Mrs Tootlepedal strikes out alone

Today’s flower is an antique cosmos of which Mrs Tootlepedal is very fond
antique cosmos

Mrs Tootlepedal was up very early to make breakfast for two Land’s End to John O’Groats cyclists (picture on cycling page) but they took a little time to get going so I  didn’t start on my cycle run till 10 o’clock. This gave the day time to warm up which was lucky because it was quite parky early on. I went down the main road to Gretna, being Sunday with not much traffic, and then headed off to Eastriggs along the Solway coast with wonderful views of the Lake District to my left. At Eastriggs I crossed the Annan by-pass and took the Annan-Kirkpatrick road to Hollee. There I turned right on national cycle route 74 back to Rigg and Gretna and so home, a round trip of 44 miles, pretty well flat all the way. It was one of those days when cycling is an unalloyed pleasure, temperature just right, wind behind on the way home, not much traffic and the joints in perfect tune.

lawnMrs Tootlepedal had a busy day making the breakfast, helping with a youth production of The Boyfriend and then going to a best garden presentation for Bonnie Langholm so I didn’t see much of her. While she was out, I mowed the front lawn. I think if you look at the picture on the left, you might agree that it was time well spent. I had a pleasant sit in the garden waiting for Mrs Tootlepedal to return but between the cycling, the mowing and the flowers all around, the asthma got the better of me so when Mrs Tootlepedal said she was going for a fifteen mile ride round Enzieholm Brig, on this occasion I left her to it. While she was on her ride, a friend rang up to ask us out for drinks and when she returned we went off to see them and enjoyed a very pleasant evening, lubricated in my case by a bottle of French wine. These are the sort of friends you want.

New bread excitement

Today’s flower is a hydrangea. It is past its best but it still provides a home for what seems like a hundred birds.
hydrangea petiolaris

Since we had no B&Bs for Mrs Tootlepedal to provide breakfast, we enjoyed a small lie-in. After breakfast I went up to the town to purchase some kidneys and mince for forthcoming feasts. Enough meat for three meals and for less than £2. It seems a a bargain to me. When I got back, we went on a brief cycle ride to Wauchope Schoolhouse. Mrs Tootlepedal had considered going further but, as with yesterday, the wind was blowing at a tremendous speed so enough was enough.

In the afternoon while we waited for our visitors to come, Mrs Tootlepedal popped out to do some more community weeding and I mowed a lawn. As I always say, a day is not wasted if you have mowed a lawn. I do always say that.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from weeding, I went out round the usual morning run because the wind had dropped a bit. It was a run in three movements – moderato into the wind down to Canonbie – allegro with a cross wind up to the Kerr wood and then – prestissimo down the Wauchope road back home with the wind behind. Good fun.

ciabattaLast time I went to Lidl in Carlisle, I bought a small packet of ciabatta bread mix and in the evening I used the dough making facility on our bread machine to make two small ciabatta loaves out of some of this mix. It is the first time that I have used the dough facility and it worked very well. The loaves turned out  to look quite like ciabatta and they are certainly very tasty to eat.  This is lucky because I have enough of the mix to make two more lots of these loaves.

On a sadder note, I have still not heard any news of my bike repairs.

Grey Day

Today’s flower is night scented stock from just outside the back door where it, perhaps  unsurprisingly, gives off a pleasant scent at night
night scented stock

After a night of lashing rain, it was a great relief not to find the sitting room fireplace full of water. After trying this and that, we finally cracked recently and had the end wall of the house painted with water resistant paint and though we don’t like to feel too confident, at least it has passed the first test.

Dropscone and I agreed by phone that the usual morning run didn’t look too attractive as it was pouring with rain at nine o’clock so we cancelled. By ten o’clock the rain had more or less stopped so I sneaked out behind his back. It was still extremely windy and it looked as though it might rain at any time so I took the sensible way out and bicycled up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times, thus never getting far from shelter and never having to bicycle too far into the strong wind at one time. It may seem a little boring to do this but I fill the time with composing imaginary but very powerful letters to the newspaper setting the world to rights and this both passes the time and makes me feel good. One of these days I will actually write one and post it. Anyway, it added twenty miles to my year’s total.

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to work during the morning because the Health Centre has been forced to adopt a new and ‘better’ computer system. This, of course, means endless extra work for the receptionists and backroom staff. She would like very much to know who thought the change of systems was a good idea. It certainly wasn’t her.

In the afternoon I went off to do my stint at the tourist information point. As it was very grey and very windy, it was no surprise to find my total of visitors was exactly nought. The Guardian crossword, which I had saved to do to while away the time, was very iffy indeed  so it was not an ideal two hours.

wauchopeWhen I got home, I went up to photograph the River Wauchope because it had looked very dramatic when I cycled past it in the morning. Of course by the time I got to it, it had quietened down a lot but I took the photograph anyway.When I got back, I managed to find ten minutes to mow the front lawn. After spiking and sanding it during the winter,  it was very firm even after a night’s heavy rain.


I should have mentioned yesterday that my golfing companion, Arthur, had very kindly and rather surprisingly brought us a load of bracken for our compost heap. It should make useful compost as it is high in potassium if cut when green.  When not golfing, Arthur does a lot of gardening round the golf course helping to keep it neat and tidy.

In the evening, as is customary on a Friday, we were visited by our friends the Tinkers. With Mrs Tinker, who is known as the orchestra, at the keyboard we played sonatas by Handel and William Williams with varying degrees of success but with great enjoyment. I picture the orchestra at work below.orchestra

The keyboard may look a little substandard but it never needs tuning and can pretend quite successfully to be a harpsichord. Also it takes up very little room. Not ideal for the sensitive musician, I agree, but absolutely ideal for me.

Bike disappointment

Today’s flower is potentilla along the back wall of the house. A grand flower that starts flowering and then just keeps on going and going.

The usual morning run with Dropscone was slightly delayed by a sharp shower but we only had to wait ten minutes before we set off. Dropscone was not at his peak and as a result our pace was slightly slower than usual which meant that in turn I enjoyed the ride in spite of the wet conditions. When we returned, I rang the cycle shop to see where my bike was only to be told that the part needed had still not arrived (although the bike shop had been charged for it). This is very disappointing although Dropscone’s kindly nature has meant that I have been able to extend my loan of his bike for another day or two.

cloudThe weather has been sunshine and showers of late and in the afternoon I caught a glimpse of a wonderful anvil shaped cloud. As is always the case, by the time I had gone in to get my camera, the cloud had dissipated somewhat but I took the photograph anyway.  butterflies

While I had the camera in my hand I noticed these two butterflies resting on the car. We have had quite a lot of these white butterflies about lately but I haven’t seen any red admirals yet.


The rowans have been very vivid this year and this blackbird was enjoying a good peck about among them in the garden.

From a human point of view the fruit has not been great this year but that hasn’t stopped individual fruits looking quite good. plum

You can see one of the very few plums on our plum tree and one of the very few raspberries on the raspberry bush here.raspberry

In the evening I went to the Archive centre while Mrs Tootlepedal assisted the Big Society by watering the hanging baskets in the High Street. Last week the beer research element of the archivers had been served beer that was very much off and this week we were delighted to be offered a free glass of beer each as recompense. This is my idea of a good pub. We shall do more research here.

Another golfing tragedy

Today’s flower is a delphinium

I went off to play golf today determined not to repeat the fiasco of last week where I played well during the first nine holes and very badly the second nine. All went to plan as I played well for the first nine holes but unfortunately I played even worse for the second nine holes this week than last week. This is not progressive and with the Langholm Open Seniors tournament looming next week, I fear public humiliation. However, playing golf regularly over the years should have inured me to that by now.

Afternoon rainbow

The only good thing was that we had played in the morning because the forecast had said it would rain in the early afternoon and it certainly did rain so however badly we played we were a great deal happier than we would have been if we had played badly and got very wet. Mrs Tootlepedal went to Hoddam to help with the driving for the disabled and got very wet. On top of that the chain came off the bike she was riding so she didn’t have the best of afternoons but all was not lost as she went to Gretna on her way home and purchased some  shiny new teaspoons.

In the evening the recorder players came to play and we enjoyed a selection of early music quartets in front of the first open fire of the season. We particularly enjoyed three pieces by Thomas Morley.

In the archive group we having been saying for ages, in the way that one does, that we must get some of the old people in the town recorded so that the social history of the town is not lost. Until now we have been saying that a lot but doing nothing. Today however two of our members went and interviewed a local centenarian and this is now preserved for posterity. They enjoyed doing it so much that they have made a list of other townspeople to record so I think we can safely say that at last we are suiting our actions to our words.

On the wormery front, baby worms have been spotted which is an encouraging development. Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that I’ve got the compost too wet and she may be right. Time will tell.

Thereby hangs a tail

Today’s flower is aubretia flowering for the second time this year. Good value for money.

The weather continues to be kind as it rained overnight and dried up in time for the usual morning run with Dropscone. We had light winds and a good time, although there was a great deal of moaning about how hard it was from me as we went round. That is fairly normal though. When we got back, I rang up the bike shop and they are still waiting for a replacement part for my bike so it looks as though Dropscone’s kind loan will have to be extended.

In the afternoon I put a slightly grizzly video of a dismembered lizard’s tail continuing to wag in the absence of the owner onto YouTube for the Moorland Project Officer. I notice that this is quite a popular upload as there were remarkably similar videos already there. I also posted a packet of Archive Group DVDs and a graveyard booklet to a lady in Australia. I had posted three graveyard booklets to a chap in Ireland yesterday. It is nice to know that people look at our Archive website.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some public spirited weeding on a large public bed near the house and returned quite puffed out but still fit enough to pedal up to Wauchope schoolhouse with me. We had a look at the sloes up there with a view to future sloe gin but they had either been picked already or weren’t coming to anything. I mowed the front lawn when we got back to cheer myself up.

In the evening, as often, I entered a week of the E&L into the Langholm Archive index.

She knows her onions

Today’s flowers are dicentradicentra

Another lovely morning and another cycle jaunt round the morning run with Dropscone. There was no wind at all and an excellent time was achieved which made the coffee taste (even) better than usual. It was accompanied by some tasty cold beetroot slices. Dropscone has acquired a new mobile that takes photos and he took one of me. He obviously hasn’t mastered downloading the photos yet or you would see the result on this blog!


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a gentle six mile cycle run up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back and then we set about putting the onions on frames to dry before storage. She has got some really good looking onions this year and we just hope that they store well. She has been unsettled by reading something about onions with thick necks not storing well in a magazine article. I just hope the article displays the usual journalistic accuracy.

more onionsThe onions were left out last night to get a bit of preliminary drying but the forecast for tonight is terrible so we have put them in the greenhouse to continue the drying process. When they are ready, we will hang them in ropes in the garage. The wall of onions shown on the left is rumoured to be visible from space. We had to give some away to our neighbours and a passing plumber because we had more than we could cope with (and there are still some in the ground).

On the weather forecasting front, I want to complain about raised expectations. During the last months and weeks we have been told to look out for noctilucent clouds, strange lights in the heavens from solar radiation and showers of Perseids. We have looked out and what have we seen? Nothing. It is most disappointing. Perhaps living tucked in a valley beneath four hills doesn’t help.