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.

bracken

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.
potentilla

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.

rowan

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
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.

rainbow
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.
aubretia

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!

onions

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.

Another splendid day

Today’s flower is my fuschia. It has finally flowered and beaten the frosts. Hooray.flower fuschia

The weather was fine, the calendar was empty, it was a day for pedalling. I am still on Dropscone’s bike and I didn’t want to go too far as I have no inner tubes for spares so I went for a gentle tour by Wauchope Schoolhouse, Glenzier, Chapelknowe,  Cubbyhill and Canonbie. This amounted to 28 miles in ideal conditions as there was no noticeable wind at all. tea roomWhen I got back, I had a light lunch and then set off again with Mrs Tootlepedal, aiming for a cup of tea and a scone at the Bridge Cafe in Canonbie.  Once again we set off towards Wauchope Schoolhouse and then turned past the Kerr Wood and down to Canonbie where the tea and scone duly appeared. teaI am sorry to say that this was another occasion when the relationship between boiling water and tea had escaped the cafe’s notice but the scone was excellent.

tea

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed her cup of tea but my feelings were fortunately disguised by the extremely cool dark glasses which I was wearing. After refreshments, we headed back up the old A7 home completing a round trip of 16 miles.

Once home, we set about the garden. While Mrs Tootlepedal was doing those mysterious things that a gardener does to such good effect, I mowed the lawns which only takes 20 minutes for both lawns when the conditions are good and there is no need for the collecting box. onionAfter that we pulled the onions up and laid them out to dry because the overnight forecast is good. Tomorrow we will hang them on racks and they should last us for most of the winter.

After tea (mince and tatties, I told you it was a splendid day) I took the opportunity of Top Gear being on the telly to put in a week of the E&L Index for the Archive Group and update this blog.

Double delight

Today’s flower is a Japanese anenome. Mrs Tootlepedal says I could have taken a better picture of it, so perhaps I will try again.
Japanese anenome

In the morning, I waited in to see if the bike shop would ring up and tell me good news but none come. So after lunch I went out on my borrowed bike up the A7 past the Mosspaul Hotel. It was a pleasant day with a northerly breeze so it was quite hard work pedalling up the hill and into the wind but the reward was a terrific 12 mile pedal back to Langholm downhill and with the wind behind. Mrs Tootlepedal had been out giving herself a treat by visiting a garden centre but when I got back she was just preparing to go for a cycle trip herself.  She kindly allowed me to come with her and we set off in glorious late afternoon sunshine. My new cycling glasses came into their own and I must say that, after some initial reservations about them at first, I find that they work excellently.

green roadWe set off in the opposite direction to my earlier ride so we had the wind behind us as we went up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and turned left into the hills. After we had gone 5 miles we turned left again onto a green road back towards Langholm. I was fairly sure we would have to walk and carry the bikes but it turned out very well. As you can see from the picture on the right, the terrain was challenging but nothing deters Mrs Tootlepedal and we soon got to the top of the hill and looked down into the Esk valley.

the map

The road improved and we stopped to take in the view and look at the map and this is where the new glasses really scored because they are bi-focal which means that not only can I see where I am going but I can read the map as well. pennines

The view down to our right across the Solway Plain was magnificent and Mrs Tootlepedal’s camera can’t really do it justice but the picture on the right should give you some idea. In the distance you can see the northern end of the Pennines, south of Brampton.

new bypassAfter passing through the farm at Old Irvine, we plunged down an improved road under the new Auchenrivock Diversion of the A7 and took the cycle path back onto the A7 and at Skipper’s Bridge we went along the left side of the river, along Easton’s Walk and through the park and so home. Apart from the half mile on the A7, we had had a virtually traffic free ride of 10 miles in perfect weather. We think ourselves very fortunate. My thanks go to Dropscone again for the loan of his bike which made such a great day possible.

Just like old times

Today’s flower is loosestrife
Loosestrife

For the first time for ages, Dropscone and I went round the morning ride together (I am still borrowing his bike) and had  a sociable cup of coffee or two afterwards. The wind was pretty strong and there was no chance of a specially good time but the weather was otherwise kind.

lawnAfter coffee I had time to mow the lawns and in the evening Mrs Tootlepedal took her strimmer out and edged one of them and she always likes a neatly edged lawn and I must say that I like it too, especially when someone else does the edging.

TIC

In the afternoon I did my usual stint in the tourist information point at the Kilngreen. This was re-vamped in the great Langholm makeover by Ty Pennington last year and it looks very smart on the outside. TIC

One of the volunteers, Gunter, has taken a lot of trouble with the interior and it always impresses the visitors when they come in. I had two sets today so I wasn’t exactly rushed off my feet but I used the time to do the Guardian crossword and a Herald difficult Suduko so I was quite content.

In the evening, we entertained Dr and Mrs Tinker and I enjoyed a good tootle accompanied by Mrs Tinker which rounded off the week very well.

The heap reduced

Today’s flower is campanula persiflora alba (Mrs Tootlepedal says without a fantastic degree of confidence)campanula persifolia

I started the day on a good note as I went round the morning run by myself on Dropscone’s borrowed bike, which turned out to be a pleasure to ride, while he played golf at Peebles. HEAP1

When I returned, I set to work under the supervision and with the co-operation of Mrs Tootlepedal on shredding a huge pile of clippings. The shredder is a wonderful petrol driven beast and it can reduce a pile of clippings like that on the right to heap1donea handy pile of compostable shreddings as in the illustration on the left  in a quarter of an hour.

heap2After attacking heap 1, we set about heap 2 which had a large number of branches from the hawthorn tree which we had cut down a few days ago. In about another twenty minutes we had reduced it to this.heap2done It is most satisfactory to have a machine which works so well and produces such good results. It is almost worth the myriad scars on every part of one’s arms caused by the hawthorn thorns.

In the evening I went to the Archive Centre to do a little work and then retired to the pub for beer research with my co-worker Sandy. Unfortunately the research proved that the beer was off in a big way so I was forced to drink two large glasses of red wine instead. How we suffer but we never complain. (Sandy drank Guiness.)

shredder
The munching beast with Mrs Tootlepedal behind