That elusive goldfinch

Today’s picture was taken in a sunlit moment near the end of the afternoonlooking out

I was hoping to get a shot of the goldfinch but, once again, he did his best to frustrate me. The morning and early afternoon were  grey and wet so that is when he came. He perched behind the feeder again and only popped his head out from time to time. goldfinchIn addition I had left my tripod in the car and Mrs Tootlepedal had gone to Hoddam for the driving with it.  Once again the image is far from satisfactory but I will persevere. Of course as soon as the sun came out the bird disappeared.

The forecast hadn’t been too bad so I expected to get out on the bike early on, before the wind got up but in the event, every time I got ready to go, it started to rain so in the end I did some archive work first. Then I  had a quick cheese toastie with some excellent Hawick cheese and set off at about lunchtime. I went round the customary morning run but because I was by myself , (Dropscone was about golfing business up the Borders) I had intended to make an extension to add another ten miles or so to the trip. By the time I got going, the wind was quite breezy and when the time came to divert or not to divert, I remembered that I bicycle for fun and not to punish myself and went home by the usual way. I have done 110 miles in the last four days so I am well up to schedule.

lawnOn my return, I took a moment out to do a bit more spiking and sanding on one of the lawns. This is a really tedious job and so I do it a little at a time and I remind myself that the improved drainage makes it all worth while. When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, she kindly cut my hair and the cut hair went into the wormery, as I am led to believe that human hair is a tasty snack for a worm. We shall see.

In the evening, I went to Carlisle with Dropscone’s daughter Susan to play recorders. We were a quintet tonight because Sue, one of our members, was trying out for a choir in Brampton. If she gets taken on, it will mean changing our recorder night so we are interested to find out how she did. Meantime we played a selection of Byrd, Addison, Dowland, Brade and Holborne, leavened with an excursion into the woods to play a very smart arrangement of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. We played many pieces which alternated bars in 3/4 with bars of 6/8 (or rather, because we were playing early music, 3/2 amd 6/4). I find this quite a challenge but by the end of the evening, we were moving quite smoothly across the rhythms. The evening ended as always with conversation, tea and a dainty biscuit (in this case a mini Jaffa cake).

Two firsts

Today’s flower is a bird. I caught a glimpse of this goldfinch on the feeder but it deliberately kept hiding on the far side so I was only able to catch this one rather blurred image. I will get him again soon.finch

I started the day with the usual morning circuit with Dropscone. The wind had got up a bit and it rained heavily on us as we came down the Wauichope road. Nevertheless, we managed a reasonable time, though slower than yesterday. Dropscone had brought a second sample of French cheese from his recent holiday and it turned out to be delicious on a cracker with our coffee. He told us that we only got to taste it because the rest of his family had turned up their noses at it. I told him that he must go on another French holiday as soon as possible.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to the Buccleuch Centre for a patrons’ lunch to hear a talk from a Hawick teacher called Ian Landles. I had heard reports of him before but this was the first time I had seen him in the flesh. He was wonderfully funny and had a natural manner of delivering his material that made me inwardly cry with envy. Someone told me that when he gives a talk or speech, it never just comes from stock but he puts his heart into providing appropriate stuff for each occasion. Certainly he had us all in the palm of his hand today. It was a real treat to be there.

loomAfter lunch I went for a first visit to one of two mills left in Langholm. This is a small business employing 12 people which does short run and contract weaving for customers. I went with Arthur Bell, which was appropriate since they work in part of his old mill, to take pictures for the mill section of the Heritage Trail DVD. I was playing golf with Stephen Tweddle, the manger, at the weekend and he had said that we would be welcome. He showed us round and was most helpful. Currently they are weaving material for kilts as you can see.drove6

I changed some of the pictures to black and white to see what they looked like because all the rest of the photos from the Archive collection are in black and white.  I was impressed by the clarity of the black and white images. Photo editing programmes are extremely clever.

In the evening I made dumplings to put in my stew because there was an over-abundance of gravy in the pan. The result was very satisfying in every way. It’s early to bed tonight because our B&B visitor this week has breakfast at 7.15 every day which means a 6.30 wake-up call. I don’t actually get up myself of course because I don’t want to get under Mrs Tootlepedal’s feet while she is preparing one of her famous breakfasts but I feel very tired on her behalf.

Back in the old routine

Since I have shown you all the flowers that are blossoming at the moment, I have looked in the archives to find this picture from June 2006. Only another 8 months or so and we should be back to this.

Meanwhile Dropscone and I went out on a rather grey October morning to go round the usual morning ride. Although Dropscone has not been a lot on the bike recently, we did a very respectable time and, to make things better, the weather brightened up quite a lot as we went round. We followed the ride with our usual cup of coffee.

After my shower and shave, I went out and turned one of the compost heaps. This is a bit tedious but it pays off in speed of composting. After lunch Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work and I started to follow the Ryder Cup on the BBC text page. This became so nerve racking that I stopped watching it and went out and bought tickets to three forthcoming shows at the Buccleuch Centre instead. By the time I got back, Europe had won by a whisker and all was well. I was so cheerful that I went out a mowed the back lawn with the flymo.

I had the camera set up on the bird feeder and from time to time I took a shot or two.

Another day, another pedal

I found another rose lurking in a border

pink rose

We had Welsh weather in the morning so I got on with some work  entering the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser index. I had got behind with this last week because of the internet disappearance on Thursday but a couple of hours work got me back on track. R M Rome, chemist, purveyor of sheep dip and quinine wine, insurance and shipping agent and second editor of the E & L has just died (Dec 1876) so we are waiting to see who the new editor will be and what changes, if any, he will make.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the first meeting for this year’s community pantomime and I went for a pedal as soon as the weather cleared. There was a very light wind and it was pleasantly warm cycling along so I went for a medium ride. I went down the A7 to the roundabout at junction 44 of the M6 and then turned left onto the A689 and went past Houghton Garden Centre and left at the roundabout at the bottom, keeping on the A689 to Brampton. I used a cycle track alongside the road which took me through Low Crosby and then back onto the main road. The road narrows further on and to avoid this section I made a circuit of Carlisle Airport. This is a very nice section of road as it is kept in prime condition for the use of emergency vehicles for the airfield. From Brampton I took the A6071 to Longtown. They have resurfaced large sections of this road and it has gone from being a stinker to being very smooth. The light wind was behind me on the way back and as a result I managed the return journey a whisker faster than the way out. The whole thing was done at 16.8 mph which was a tribute to the flat nature of the terrain, the light wind, and the newly surfaced road.

The whole journey was just under 51 miles and I would have taken many interesting photos of exciting things along the route, had I remembered to take my camera.

sparrow
Can these be nuts?

In the morning, while I was waiting for the weather to clear, I set up the camera and caught some of the hundreds (lots anyway) of birds having a go at the feeders.

nuts
Yes, they are nuts. My nuts.

There are sometimes as many as ten birds on the feeders, sitting in the tree waiting their turn, pushing in, being pushed off or picking up the seeds from the ground below. It’s better than watching the telly by a long way….and no irritating music either.

The picture below shows our new niger seeds which are supposed to attract different birds altogether but the birds round here don’t seem to understand this.

niger
These are definitely not nuts

101 posts

Today’s flower is an late flowering  roserose

The day started with a visit to the producers’ market for the purchase of meat and fish. Some good cheese made in Hawick and some fine vegetables also made their way into the shopping bag so the visit was well worth while. Mrs Tootlepedal was showing one of  our B&B visitors round the garden meanwhile. He looks after the garden in a hospice in Carlisle and was anxious too see if there was anything in our garden which would improve his.

After an early lunch, I went to play golf in the first of the winter competition days. The winter competition lasts through the winter months and is played on a shorter course than usual which suits very short hitters like me. As a result I managed 36 points which is par for the day (with my enormous handicap taken into account of course) which was very pleasing.

charityIn the evening we welcomed yet another B&B visitor, this time a cyclist who is making his way from Edinburgh to Devon in aid of a charity. He had come from Edinburgh and had got a thorough soaking not far north of Langholm. We escaped the bad weather and enjoyed quite a pleasant day throughout.

After a very poor high season, the B&B has really picked up well in September and October and we have a single gentleman staying all next week which will keep Mrs Tootlepedal busy on the breakfasts.

The reason for today’s title, by the way, is that this is the 101st blog in this series which amazes me. I hadn’t thought it was anything like that. They have been very enjoyable to write and I would like to thank anyone who has been kind enough to read them. Here’s to the next 100.

Dropscone returns

Today’s flower is the other big burst of colour remaining in the garden

riot of colour2

It was an extremely wet morning today so there was no cycling.  The internet came on again which was a relief. You don’t realise how much of your life revolves around the internet until it disappears. My golfing partner Arthur came round and, with his textiles hat on, we went through sixty pictures of mill machinery from the Archive photo collection. He is going to select enough of them to make a picture of the mill processes in Langholm to put on the Heritage DVD and write a short commentary on each picture. He is a hero.

In the afternoon we went to Homebase to buy sharp sand for the lawn and smokeless fuel for the fire and then went up to Gretna to see if the M&S store in Gretna Gateway had any bargains. I snapped up a fetching pair of cords at a nice price and Mrs Tootlepedal got a pair of aprons from a cookery outlet.

dropsconeIn the evening, we were delighted to get a visit from a tanned and fit looking Dropscone who has returned from his golfing holiday in France. He says he played 322 holes of golf in 10 days as well as bicycling twice so he certainly didn’t waste any time while he was out there. He brought us rich gifts of shallots and cheese which were most appreciated. I hope to be back in our bicycling routine on Monday, weather permitting.

Following him, the Tinkers came for their Friday night of conversation and music. Mrs Tinker and I very much enjoyed playing sonatas by Parcham and Handel and a piece by Couperin in our own rough and ready way while Dr Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal moderately enjoyed cleaning up an inadvertent wine spill.All part of the rich tapestry of life.

I add below an exciting picture of the wormery in which the worms seem to be thriving. With the winter coming, there is every chance of worm death in the cold but for the time being they seem to be lasting well.worms

Better late than never

I couldn’t post the blog yesterday because we suffered from a complete internet failure. It only came back on-line this morning so I am posting yesterday’s blog today.

Today’s flower is one of the last splashes of colour left in the garden

MalcolmsWe had unexpected visitors two nights ago as we thought that they had only made an enquiry and they thought that they had booked. Luckily the room was ready and we didn’t have anyone else in. They turned out to be celebrating their golden wedding by doing a 400 mile cycling sweep around the borders from Sunderland at 50 miles a day. Mrs Tootlepedal and I were impressed.

After they had gone, I went off in lovely weather with a burst round the morning ride at a speed of above the magic 16 mph which got me off to a very good start to the day. I followed this up with some log sawing, compost sieving and the start of the annual spiking of the lawn. By this time I was ready for a sit down and an attack on the backlog of archive work that had built up but I was frustrated by the internet connection being off. I then spent two to three hours on the phone while everybody, mostly correctly, said it was nothing to do with them. It turned out, as I suspected, that it was down to BT. This ruined my usual Thursday evening work session in the Archive Centre as well, but I did manage to get to the Douglas Hotel for my usual two pints of research so not all was lost.

planting outDuring the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal did sterling work in the garden taking out the cosmos and marigolds from the front beds and planting next year’s wallflowers in their place. niftyShe put up a very neat defence against the westerly gales that come nipping round the corner of the house and blast the flowers to bits if unprotected. I have often felt the the first skill a gardener must have is the ability to bend over a lot. Mrs Tootlepedal is a master of the art.

Today’s bird is another reflective sparrow.

A social day

Today’s bird looking a little bedraggled

BIRD

The day started very wet and I didn’t go out for my usual morning ride. This was lucky because Arthur rang me up for a little computing assistance. I was able to help him out and in return he came down to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a session of recording commentary for the heritage DVD I am compiling. His thorough knowledge of the textile trade is invaluable and he is going to prepare a script to accompany a set of pictures of mill machinery on the DVD.

In the afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal left for Hoddam where she went out as a bicycle helper for the disabled drivers in spite of the rain. visitorsWhile she was out, I hosted a meeting of the heritage trail committee. It was still raining as the members arrived but our day was brightened by the good progress that was reported at the meeting. I showed an early rough version of the first 6 minutes of the DVD to general approval which was very encouraging. fire We are past the Autumn equinox now and a sign of this was the fire which was lit in the meeting room. (The work on the outside wall still seems to be keeping the rain at bay but we have not been severely tested by the weather yet.)

embroideryMrs Tootlepedal arrived home and, in another sign of the turning season, found time to do some preparatory work on what she hopes will be this winter’s embroidered work. Surprisingly, it is based on the driving at Hoddam.

I was just preparing for the second meeting of day when the doorbell rang and two cyclists appeared saying they were expected for B&B. They may have been expected but not by us so there was a slight panic. However we hadn’t anyone booked and the rooms were nearly ready so we welcomed them in. It turned out that they had enquired about a booking but had not confirmed it so it was lucky that we hadn’t booked in anyone else.

Anyway, we got them settled in and Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work and I hosted a meeting of the Culture and Heritage committee. This group, mainly consisting of Archive Group members, meets from time to time to discuss this and that. sunsetAfter they had left, I had time for a quick meal and a snatched photo of another sign of the season before leaving to pick up Susan, Dropscone’s daughter, for a trip to play recorders with our group in Carlisle.

We were a sextet tonight and Roy, our librarian, had a choice selection of early music for us to play. The evening finished with tea, conversation and figgy rolls. We all sympathised with one of our members who is increasingly pained by the fences being put up by a pheasant shooting proprietor in the woods where she walks her dog .

raspsI finished the day off with yet another seasonal offering, a plate of Autumn raspberries embellished with cream and Cream of Galloway ice cream. Altogether, it has been a day of good company, sound progress, treats to eat and lovely music. Who could ask, as the songs says, for anything more?

Weaving a web

Today’s flower is not a flower at all but Virginia Creeper and Cotoneaster making a lovely showcreeper

Another day and another morning ride. I went round the wrong way just for a change and enjoyed the different views. The hedge cutter had cut more hedges but had swept up brilliantly. I stopped to talk to one of my former teaching colleagues who was walking with her husband on the old A7 at Canonbie. He is going for a knee op. Is there anyone left apart from me with their own joints?

Mrs Tootlepedal went out to work and I mowed a lawn behind her back and waited for our visitor of the night to arrive. He came rather early and was very interested in some local family history. I took him to the Archive Centre and printed an article from the E&L of 1915 for him. He went off for a walk and I updated a page in the Langholm Moorland Education Project website for the project officer and then put some material on a local history website which I have created for the Middlebie Parish History Group. In the evening, I put in a week of the E&L into the Langholm Archive site so by the time I finish this blog as well, I will be square eyed.

sparrow

In the meantime I had the camera pointed at a bird feeder and caught this thoughtful sparrow and he pondered on the delights of having nuts yet again for lunch.

Today’s flower is a late primrose

primrose

The day started with a farewell to our end to end visitor, Jaquelyn who was off to Edinburgh. She had been greatly cheered up by staying with us and was looking forward to her journey. jaquelynThe mornings are beginning to become noticeably darker now but her smile was enough to light up the whole town. I hope her day went well.

Shortly after she left, I went off on my usual morning ride. I had had a hard pedal yesterday and that had stirred up my asthma so I went very slowly today. The man who had been cutting the hedges which had given Mrs Tootlepedal the puncture on Friday had done a very good job of sweeping the road because it was absolutely thorn free. I wish all hedge cutters were so conscientious.

When I got back I arranged to play nine holes of golf with Arthur in the afternoon but on getting to the course, I found he was getting a lift on a buggy with a third player. The result was that I walked round at a vigorous speed, trying not to hold them back, and this slightly affected the beauty of my swing. At least that is my story. I was keen to have a practice because the winter competition on a shortened course starts this Saturday and I hope to play regularly in this, if the weather permits.

twinsMrs Tootlepedal was at work in the afternoon when I returned.  In her absence, I wrote and sent out the minutes for a meeting which is going to be held on Wednesday and sieved a bucket of compost. This is material that was put in the heap in late spring and it has composted really well. During the afternoon, I was visited by the twin grandsons of my next door neighbour who were after some sponsorship for a 5 mile walk they are going to do. I obliged them in a modest way. Then I replaced the inner tube on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bike which had been attacked by the thorns. There were three thorns to get out of the tyre.

In the evening, I entered a week of the E & L into the index and wrote some very brief reports for the Langholm Initiative AGM.

It sounds like quite a busy day but there was plenty of time to do a couple of crosswords, drink coffee, eat toast and syrup and read two newspapers so I was by no means rushed off my feet. I never am, that’s what being retired is for.