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Today’s picture are two cows I met on my bike ridecows

I went out on my slow Orange bike today so that I could take my camera with me and take a few pictures as I went. Also, after a speedy run for me yesterday, I wanted a leisurely ride today. The sun was shining as I set off up the Wauchope road and I found the cows near Wauchope Schoolhouse. treesI went over Callister and stopped to snap this example of the new thinking in tree planting. Every new wood seems to have a fringe of these deciduous trees planted and they survive very well in these plastic tubes.

treesThe old style can be seen on the right.


millsOver the other side of the hill, my eye was caught by the Minsca windmills demonstrating very clearly that I was bicycling straight into the wind. This was good news for the ride home. Shortly after this, I went through Waterbeck, where my great uncle John was a minister for some time. The church had a good few cars parked outside as I cycled past.

After passing through Waterbeck, I turned right to Middlebie and Ecclefechan where I stopped for a banana and a few raisins.  Ecclefechan is, of course, the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the author of Sartus Resartus, the most difficult to read book I have ever tried. ecclefechan I took this picture of Ecclefechan centre while I was digesting the banana.

A74I followed the old A74 south past Eaglesfield where I took this picture of the road. The second carriageway, which is on the right, has been covered with earth and is now overgrown. You can just see where it went through the bridge. It makes for a quiet cycling road now, though the bike paths marked at the side of the road get covered with gravel because no cars go along them to sweep the gravel into the verge.

Station InnI stopped in the old railway village of Kirkpatrick Fleming, one of the many alleged sites of Bruce’s Cave,  and took this picture of the Station Inn. The trains don’t stop here any more of course, the Pendolinos just whistle through on their way to Glasgow or Carlisle.

I turned left at Kirkpatrick Fleming and really got the benefit of the wind for the rest of the ride home. The wind was actually stronger now when it was behind me than when it was in my face when when I set out. This is very rare.  chapelI stopped at Chapelknowe for a final top up of dates, prunes and raisins to keep me going. The old church is one of many round here that have been coverted into houses. This was used as a home for errant boys for a time but it is unoccupied at present.

buzzardI was within sight of home (or at least the Monument) when I caught sight of a buzzard posing on a telegraph pole. It waited patiently while I stopped, took the camera out of the saddlebag, took the lens cap off and adjusted the focus and as soon as my finger edged towards the shutter button, it flew off of course. They always do that.

EskAs I was going up the cycle path beside the new A7 road into Langholm, I stopped to take a view that was made possible by the landslide of two years ago which shut the road for two weeks in the middle of summer. This view would have previously been blocked by trees. While I was taking the picture, I met and an old teaching colleague who was testing a walk along which she is going to lead a group of walkers from Carlisle next week. It was very fortunate that I met her, because she agreed, in the course of our conversation, to take over the treasurer’s post for the Archive Group next year.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a rehearsal for her pantomime in the afternoon so I had a bath to recover from the 34 mile ride. When she returned, she suggested a visit to the pictures and we went to Carlisle to see The Social Network about Facebook. It was very enjoyable and it turned out that our son, Alistair, had been watching the same film at the same time in Glasgow. On our return, we bought chips at the chippy in Langholm, a thing we very rarely do.

Computer headache

Today’s flower is a wonderful bunch of Michaelmas daisies taken a day or two ago and maybe in danger of a sharp frost forecast for tonightdaisies

Dropscone was playing golf today and as my hip was not in condition to allow me to play, I went off on the bike by myself. Once again, the wind was light although I had to wait for some morning rain to clear before I went. This was contrary to the BBC forecast which is unusual as they are very good for the most part. Even as I looked at the forecast on the computer at 10am while the rain came down, it claimed that we were actually enjoying unbroken sunshine.

However, I went off and bearing in mind that the side roads might well have hedge clippings on them and seeing that it was a weekend, I stuck to main roads. I went down to Longtown and off on the Brampton road until I had done 16 miles. At this point, I turned round and went back again. With the advantage of the light wind behind and a slight downhill gradient most of the way, I managed 17 mph for the first 22 miles. The last ten miles back home were slightly slower but the whole journey went at 16.5 mph which was not bad with a sore hip.

In the afternoon Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the AGM of the local Embroiderers’ Guild and I battled with installing a new wireless router for our computers. The need for this has been occasioned by plans for new flooring in the hall. Mrs Tootlepedal has rightly decided that light green carpet is not the best for a place where dirty feet are often in evidence. We are going to replace it with serviceable vinyl flooring. This means that the 10m Ethernet cable from the old router to my computer has to go too. The new router is needed as it has a more powerful signal and will reach my computer without needing a wire.

The headaches came when I had set the router up successfully via a cable but when I took the cable out and tried to connect wirelessly, nothing happened. It took me all afternoon to work out that whatever I did, nothing was going to happen. In the end I borrowed a dongle from the Archive Group and that did the trick. I shall have to buy my own dongle now.

In the evening we went out to a concert at the Buccleuch Centre by a guitarist/singer called Martin Simpson. He was a good singer of committed left wing folk songs, traditional ballads and his own songs and a fantastic guitarist. The only trouble with the concert, which was very enjoyable, was that it was rather the same in feel throughout. There was not much to bring a smile or make you tap your toes.

The cold weather will reveal soon enough whether the bubble wrap I have put round the wormery in the garage will protect the poor worms. They are doing a very good job chomping the food waste at present so I hope they survive


Today’s photo was taken from Gilnockie Bridge with Dropscone’s camera while we were  on our morning ridebridge

dropsconeYesterday I had remarked as we were crossing Gilnockie Bridge that I wished that I had brought my camera with me. Today, Dropscone kindly brought his so we stopped to capture this delightful view. The picture on the left shows Dropscone waiting while I did my David Bailey impersonation.

guiltyWe pedalled on and crossed the A7 and headed up towards Glenzier. We had to pull over to the verge to aviod an oncoming car and soon afterwards, Dropscone realised that he had a puncture. We picture the guilty verge on the right with its neatly cut hedge. Although the road itself is clear of the thorns, the verge is not.  At this stage we were about half way round the ride and a long way from home so we called the MTRS (Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service) for help and she set  out at once. leavingMeanwhile I set off for alone on the bike, hoping to beat them home if I could.

Because she was waiting for a gas service engineer, Mrs Tootlepedal drove at great speed and got home before me and Dropscone appeared shortly afterwards having changed into proper clothes. We sat down to a generous plate of drop scones which he had brought round before we set off while we drank our coffee. Then Dropscone set off to Carlisle with his bike to get his gears fixed and his puncture repaired at Longtown on his way to do some shopping in Aldi and Lidl.

Mrs Tootlepedal waited in for the gas man and I showered and went to visit Bruce, the Archive Group treasurer, to get the accounts ready for our annual general meeting at the end of the month. He had them nicely balanced and we have a good reserve for next year’s operations. He has done an excellent job. On my return, the gas man arrived and serviced our boiler with no problems to report so that rounded off a varied morning in a very satisfactory way.

The afternoon was spent doing various dull but necessary tasks, writing minutes, posting minutes, e-mailing minutes, getting prescriptions, buying a new battery for my bike computer, banking Mrs Tootlepedal’s ill-gotten B&B gains and so on. The evening was enlivened by a visit from Dr and Mrs Tinker which led to a few sonatas and a bottle of wine… and so to bed as someone may have said before.


Gently does it

Today’s flower is an Icelandic poppy. They keep on flowering all through the summer and well into the autumn and must be counted as really top value for money. This picture was taken a few days ago.
icelandic poppy

It was another quiet day today because the hip gyp factor is still very high. I didn’t help it by walking into a door in the dark last night. This, oddly enough, gave a tremendous jar to the hip rather than hurting my nose. As a result, Dropscone and I held to a relaxed tempo going round the morning run, although the final time was quite satisfactory. After coffee, I had a bath to try to ease of the hip and then Mrs Tootlepedal took me out to lunch at the Buccleuch Centre. This, for me, took the form of soup and a sandwich and for her, a potato cake with ham and cheese.

tidying upIn the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal did some useful tidying up in the garden while I did footering about doing nothing in particular, though I did it very well (remark courtesy of W. S. Gilbert).

At one stage, I went out into the garden to speak to the gardener and she was completely hidden in a border. The picture on the left shows her emerging very like the Primavera but in this case, I suppose, more like the Primautumnia.

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre where Jean, Sandy and I spent a happy evening printing out a small picture on nine A4 sheets to make a big picture. You would not imagine that this would prove to be such a tricky task as it turned out to be. We are, however, modestly pleased with the result and if I can get organised, I will take a photo of the big picture and post it here. As you know, in this day and age it is very important to have a thorough grasp of the big picture.

After archiving we went as usual to conduct some beer research in the Douglas and on this occasion the research proved that the beer was off. However the landlord kindly put on a new barrel and the situation was saved.

Getting a lecture

Today’s picture  is another of yesterday’s finch visitors. They came again today so either the attractions of the other garden have worn off or they are sharing their favours.finch

The day started as usual with a cruise round the morning ride in chilly but still conditions. We were joined for a mile of our ride by Kevin McCartney, out for a spin before rushing home to see a tradesman. He chatted politely to us as we pedalled along and then shot off into the distance while we continued on our stately way pretending that we weren’t jealous. After the pedal and coffee, I went to the health centre and got a vitamin B12 injection and a flu and swine flu jab at the same time. Roll on the winter, I am ready for you.

In the afternoon I had a meeting of the Heritage Trail committee and I am glad to say that work is progressing steadily. It is a fidgety business trying to ensure that nothing is left out that should be in and nothing is in that should be left out.

RaspsAfter the meeting, I picked a few raspberries. As you can see, they are holding up very well in face of the 5 and 6 degree overnight temperatures. Saturday night looks to be a potential killer so I am going to pick all I can soon and make jam, if they are not ripe enough to eat.


In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to rehearse her pantomime and  I went to a lecture at the Buccleuch Centre under the auspices of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It was in two parts, dealing with the life and works of Thomas Telford in part one and the challenge to engineers of the future in part two. It was very unsatisfactory. Both parts were done in a rush, presumably so that one or other or both of the lecturers could get home. The presentation set up was very poorly thought out and lit and the lectures themselves were very perfunctory. At least it was free but it was a great disappointment all the same. I felt they were going through the motions of outreach to the rural areas without giving it the respect we deserved.


Shock to system

Today’s picture was sent to me by my sister Mary. It is of Kenwood in the early morning yesterday. If any other reader of the blog has an interesting photo that they think will enhance a post, please send it on.Kenwood

It was a cold, misty morning and I was well wrapped up for the morning ride with Dropscone. The hip was improved and so was our time in the light winds and even better was another late purchased perishable in the form of a lemony fruit loaf which went down very well with the coffee.

busyMore or less as soon as we had finished cycling, the weather took a turn for the better and the rest of the day was lovely. Although I managed to complete the spiking and sanding of one lawn in the afternoon, most of the day was spent quietly, resting the hip and so there was quite a lot of peering through the camera lens. The feeders have been very busy as you can see.

two finches

The goldfinches, repenting of yesterday’s disloyalty, returned in force today and at times there were three on the feeding tree at once, though I only managed to catch two in this shot.

finchThe book says that the male and female goldfinch look alike but I felt that this one had a ladylike air about it and the better weather enabled me to get a sharper picture which was very satisfying.


We have been visited by a robin lately but it doesn’t come to the feeder so I was pleased to catch this fleeting glimpse of him before he flew away.

winnowingMrs Tootlepedal went out to work again today and when she returned she took some oats which she had harvested from under the feeders where the birds discard them and winnowed the chaff from the seed by this time honoured method. She is hoping to make a little porridge with the oats she has harvested and a ceremonial drop scone or two with the wheat to go with the morning coffee. We are grinding the corn with an old hand driven coffee grinder and I eat the bran with my bedtime cereal.

The shock to the system was that after many years of playing recorder on Wednesday nights, today I went to Carlisle to play on a Tuesday. We managed very well and we are pleased that Sue, our group member, has got into the choir at Brampton. She has been thinking of joining for ages, she says, and now she has finally done it. By coincidence, Susan who usually comes with me to Carlisle had to work late (again) and wasn’t able to enjoy this novel experience. I hope she will be able to come next week.

Finally, it was such a lovely day last night that the insects came out in force and I took a picture that gives a slight impression of just how many there were around the house by the early evening.insects


Today’s bird is a sparkling sparrow in the sunshinesparrow

It was a lovely day from the start today and it was made better when Dropscone arrived and we went round the morning ride without any great pain in my hip. We took it gently and were rewarded at the end of the ride by our usual cup of coffee and some cut price gooseberry tarts and a couple of fine doughnuts which Dropscone had acquired from Hawick on his way back from golfing business up the borders on Sunday. He is an expert at arriving at Morrisons after the perishables have been marked down at the end of the day and before they have all been snapped up by other avid bargain hunters like himself.

bluetitAfter this early exercise, I took it easy for the rest of the day and pointed the camera at the bird feeder again. There was no visit by goldfinches today and I found out later that they had gone to a neighbour’s feeder. Not very loyal I see.

I did manage to do a very little gentle lawn spiking and I mowed the other lawn with the mower set at an autumn cut height. I also followed up an idea that had been put into my head by Susan, Dropscone’s daughter and looked for a googlemaps application that lets you plot a course on it. I found a good programme called Mapmywalk and plotted the morning ride on it and if you want to see the result you can go to and look for yourself using the link on the right side of this page. (Because I haven’t paid for a membership of the site yet, it takes  a bit of time before the actual map concerned comes up and you have to put up with some advertising.)

I also talked to my sister Susan about editing pictures with GIMP. I must say that her website goes from strength to strength. I noticed in the paper that they are selling the estate at Carskey in the Mull of Kintyre which at one time belonged to a distant relative of ours  (I learned that from her website) but unfortunately, looking at today’s price being asked, he sold it.

walkiesMrs Tootlepedal had to prepare the B & B for a guest tonight but then had time to go for a walk. While she was walking, she took time to take a few photos and you can find these on her page if you want to look at them.

In the evening I put  another week of the E & L index into the database and ate a large plate of raspberries and icecream. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the predicted cooling in the temperatures this week will not lead to an overnight frost. There are lots of rasps left on the bushes.

A day of rest

Today’s  flowers are  a pair of the very long lasting marigolds which are still going strong after three months.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that Sunday should be a day of rest and so I should be grateful that the sore hip prevents me from cycling or spiking the lawn. I suppose she is right…no, that is Mrs Tootlepedal speaking,…of course she is right but it is a bit hard to bear when the sun has come out for the first time for a few days and the gale has dropped a bit as well. On giving the matter a little thought, I expect it is the lawn spiking that has given me gyp in the hip. I am hoping that a day of rest will do the trick.

Mrs Tootlepedal went out in the afternoon to  a rehearsal for the community pantomime and, while she was out, I made an attempt at some soda scones as I had some slightly off cream to use up. All I can say is that I hope I can learn from experience as the result was not very satisfactory. They were very overcooked in the oven and I will do my next batch on a griddle instead. However, as Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out, it an unusual experience to have a biscuit and a scone simultaneously. They’ve all been eaten anyway.

I took the advantage of enforced idleness to do a bit more sound editing for the heritage DVD and things are progressing but at a snail’s pace because of my inexperience and the complications of the editing itself. Being at a bit of a loose end in the morning, I spent quite a lot of time peering through the lens at the bird feeder with medium results as you can see in the gallery below.

In the evening, I made ciabatta quite successfully and watched Scotland win a gold medal at the tennis in the Commonwealth Games so that rounded off a peaceful day in fine style.

A bit hipped

Just a glimpse of one of the last remaining clematis flowers still hanging in.clematis

It was another very windy day today and so I went for a gentle 10 mile pipe opener on the slow bike to start the day off. Then after an early lunch I went to play golf in the winter competition.

sixthWe had been promised a sunny day but, like yesterday, the clouds never lifted as you can see in this view looking down towards Carlisle from the sixth hole.

toadstoolsUp on the sixth hole there are some very fine toadstools and Dropscone had suggested that I might take a picture or two of them as I went round. Ever obedient, I borrowed Mrs Tootlepedal’s small camera and took a shot or two.

I played with Arthur Bell at the back of the field so that we could go round at our own pace. Considering the strong winds, the first nine holes went very well for me but on the eleventh I managed in no very obvious way to ping the trapped nerve in my hip and the rest of the round went to pieces.  pitchArthur did the reverse and managed a good score on the second nine holes. We see him here pitching to the sixth green on our second nine.

toadstoolAfter a couple of ginger beers (honestly) in the clubhouse I made my way rather gingerly home with a very sore hip. I am hoping that it won’t be too hard to cycle with but I might have to give the golf a miss for a couple of weeks. We shall see.

The B & B visitor who has been staying for the last week went this morning and we welcomed a returning couple this evening. Mrs Tootlepedal has been feeling quite busy with the breakfasts and the ironing and the cleaning. For my part, I have been talking nicely to the worms and have been giving them only the tastiest scraps.

Head in the clouds

Today’s flower is a very late blooming Michaelmas daisy. Mrs Tootlepedal has been disappointed in how long it has taken to bloom.daisy

Today was a complete contrast to yesterday in that the clouds never lifted for the greater part of the day and the hills were covered so the views on my bike ride were non existent. Dropscone was off at the doctor’s having his blood pressure checked so I went off on my own. Like the weather, I was a little under par so I didn’t get out until after elevenses when I had fortified myself with strong coffee and toast and raspberry jam. There was no wind in the town at all when I set off so I had hopes of going a decent distance but as soon as I got out of the town, I found there was a stiff breeze which would be in my face returning. This always has a negative effect on the mind when you realise that for every mile out that you do, there will be a penalty to pay into the wind coming back.

Anyway, I set off up the Wauchope road towards Lockerbie and after 13 miles I reached Tundergarth School, where I used to do some supply teaching. There I turned left and went over the ridge (from which there ought to have been a magnificent view) and swooped down through Middlebie to a few hundred yards  short of the Motorway at Eaglesfield. Before I got to the main road, I turned off on another of the little roads that I have never cycled along before. It comes out on the Waterbeck-Eaglesfield road just above Eaglesfield. From there I went past  Sprinkell to Chapelknowe and then back through Glenzier, this section all against the wind, and up the A7 cycle route into Langholm. The journey was 36 miles and I took a long time with the hilly start and the windy finish.

blue titWhen I had had my shower and a late lunch, I did some more spiking and sanding of the lawn. I have now done three quarters of one of the two lawns and am therefore nearly half way through the task.

Needing a little sit down after all this exercise, I looked through the photos I took yesterday and found this picture of a blue tit eyeing up his chance to get on a feeder.

I was picking a few raspberries when Mrs Tootlepedal returned. She had been at work, helping with a flu clinic among other things, and when she returned we had a walk round the garden and I photographed the flowers remaining in bloom. I expect you will see some of these in the next few days.

In the evening we went to the Buccleuch Centre to see and hear  a wind trio from the RSNO playing a programme of Mozart, Poulenc, Farkas and Ibert. They were two clarinets and a bassoon and hearing the bassoon fills me with regret that I never learned to play one, as they have the best sound in music for me. The more modern music was very entertaining and enjoyable and the bar service in the foyer was absolutely first class so the evening went well. (A member of the bar staff is an occasional reader of this blog so I am hoping for good service again next time I go to the Centre. )