Playing around

Today’s flower is a chive


I went with my golfing partner Arthur to Peebles today to play in a 6 man team competition. We got there in plenty of time after a pleasant drive along the beautiful Tweed valley and enjoyed a bacon roll and a cup of coffee before we started. I was very nervous because I haven’t played in a competition away from Langholm since 2006 and I thought there was every chance of making quite a big fool of myself. However, because of our advanced age and general infirmities, the organisers allowed us to hire a buggy and play in the same threeball. The benefits of not having to lug the clubs round as you play were enormous and I not only played quite well but I didn’t finish a round of golf absolutely exhausted for the first time in many years. The sun came out, there was little wind, the company was good, the course was in tip top condition for late September and only a recalcitrant bunker at the sixteenth spoiled the day at all.  We didn’t win the competition but Arthur and I were by no means the worst of our group so we drove home in great contentment.

diggingWhile I was away enjoying myself, Mrs Tootlepeadal had been doing great works in the garden and I got home to find that she had finally finished clearing out the bed on front of our pond. Into this she dug a bag of the farm manure we got yesterday so it should be in good condition for the new planting.


On the 5th September I featured a climbing nasturtium as flower of the day but since then it has really come on magnificently and I show it as it is today. Unfortunately I haven’t quite managed to get the camera setting sorted out to show red flowers at their best but the picture does give some idea of the charm of these tiny nasturtium blossoms.

I have discovered that the gearing on my Orange bike which I recently got back from the menders doesn’t work as it should. I can only access nine of the fourteen gears so it looks as though it will have to go back to the shop again. As a result of this problem, I took the road bike for a quick ten miles after I got back from Peebles. It was another of those west windy days with a 12mph outward five miles and a 20mph whizz back down the hill.

coal titWe bought some niger seed at the garden centre yesterday and I have put it out to see if it attracts different visitors to the feeders. Ironically two new coal tits were in the garden this afternoon but not feeding on the new seeds. coal titI grabbed a couple of quick shots of them but the light was rather low and they are not great pictures. I hope to improve on them if they return to feed.

The day was rounded off by a scrumptious dish of raspberries. They are continuing to fruit well.

Wild life

No flower photo today as there is a gallery instead.

We had a leisurely breakfast that morphed into elevenses and then I made a quick trip to the High Street to buy spare inner tubes after yesterday’s puncture. Armed with one of these, a few tools and a snack, we put the bikes in the Kangoo and drove to Dumfries. There we parked in the Dock Park car park alongside the River Nith at the upper limit of the tidal part of the river.

We set off through the park and along the river bank on a very well made cycle path down to Kingholm Quay where we struck off inland up towards the top of the hill which stretches along the estuary. Climbing up from the river, we passed the farm that used to be part of the Crichton Hospital. This was a very advanced hospital for the care of the mentally ill which was well ahead of its time when founded.  We climbed over the ridge and cycled down a gently sloping road with fine views across the Lochar Moss and down towards the Solway. After 8 miles or so we turned off to cycle the mile and a half to the WWT reserve at Caerlaverock where there is a very pleasant Fairtrade cafe. Here we had toasted teacakes and a couple of lattes. (I enquired before ordering these to see if they had a kettle but as they didn’t, I left the tea alone.)

There is a large screen in the cafe showing a live feed from the local osprey nest. However, since the ospreys seem to have left home, the pictures were more soporific and relaxing that interesting.

We left the cafe and cycled on, catching a glimpse of Caerlaverock Castle over a hedge as we went down towards the Nith estuary and our road home. We had been well sheltered from the westerly wind by the hills on our right as we cycled out and now, as we cycled back, the trees lining the road sheltered us on our return but gave us ample opportunities to admire the beauty of the river as we went. We stopped at Glencaple for a photo opportunity but soon found ourselves back at Dumfries, returning by the excellent cycle path back through the Dock Park. The  distance was just under 21 miles but it had been a painless ride because of the generally flat tearrain, the nice cafe stop and the beautiful views.

On the way home, we stopped at a garden centre and purchased four large bags of farmyard manure. Mrs Tootlepedal’s day was now perfect.

Not up in the air

Today’s flower is not a flower. It shows a cotoneaster in front of some zebra grass. Mrs Tootlepedal is very fond of grasses.

cotoneasterThe back was much better today so bicycling was back on the menu. Dropscone is busy preparing to go on holiday in France and take his youngest daughter off to university so I waited for Mrs Tootlepedal to finish a short session at the Health Centre and off we went. I was hoping to ride the bicycle that had just come back from the bike shop but when they had put the tyre back on the wheel on its return from Germany, they had nicked the tube and it was punctured. So it was out with the road bike and down to Canonbie for lunch, going round the morning ride the “wrong way” to get the benefit of the North Westerly wind.

We were eating some tasty scrambled eggs and bacon in the tearoom by the bridge, when the infant class from Canonbie School trooped past the window on their way to play in the park opposite. Among the leaders was the lady who was school secretary when I was teaching there so after lunch, we went across the road to chat. She introduced us to a man who was helping to look after the children and he turned out, to our astonishment and total lack of instant recognition, to be Ben, Alistair’s best friend from primary school. It seems that after many adventures abroad, he is thinking of training as a teacher.

butterflyWe had a very pleasant pedal home and after a shower, I was able to get out and mow a lawn or two. By this time of year the garden should be teeming with colourful butterflies but for some reason or other, possibly the very cold winter, we have had very few this year. Today I could only see this single visitor.

Our neighbour Mike came round to tell me that he had asked a neighbour of his to look out for old mowers from a scrap metal man who visits him regularly and that a mower had arrived. He kindly helped me change the inner tube on my bike and we went round to fetch the mower. I have been looking for a back up mower for the lawn because you cannot buy a roller push mower of quality today because, as they say, there is no demand for them.

crumbleMrs Tootlepedal went out to give the Scouts some helpful advice on weeding a community flower bed and while she was out, I picked a small bowl of blackberries from behind our drying green. When she returned, she used her skills to turn these and some apples from our tree into a delicious apple and bramble crumble.

It disappeared in short order.


Today’s flower is the seed head of a Danish Flag poppy from which Mrs Tootlepedal has retrieved enough seed to cover most of Langholm with poppies next year.
danish flag

Still no cycling because of back troubles. They were less this morning because of the treatment yesterday but because they were less today, I promptly did things that I hadn’t been able to do before which made them worse again. In the words of the old song, “When will he ever learn?”

At lunchtime, Dropscone came with some purchases he had made on our behalf while in Carlisle for a golf lesson. bikestandIncluded among some useful winter biking clothing was this excellent bike stand, at an amazingly moderate price from Aldi, which lets me stack the bikes up in the garage saving a lot of space.

The bikes you see are my new and old road bikes. I keep the old one for using on an indoor bike trainer in icy or snowy weather in the winter.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), in order to make space for the space saving bike stand, I had to throw away lots of stuff which I had been keeping “just in case”. Luckily Dropscone was prepared to take some of my unwanted old golf stuff just in case he could find a use for it but I still had to throw away a great number of old clubs. Included in the chuck out were also two lawn treatment hollow tine devices which in the end proved less viable than a simple garden fork when it came to spiking the lawn.

Anyway, after Mrs Tootlepedal had thrown in a load of unwanted plants which she had dug up as part of her latest garden remodelling scheme, we had enough in the back of the Kangoo to visit our local dump.

Living in the country as we do, this involves a thirty mile round trip and is rightly regarded as a splendid outing. dump1In theory, every time we throw away a battery, we should go to the dump but like everyone else they just go in the bin unless we have a good collection of stuff like today.

The dump gets more sophisticated every time we visit it and it now has separate bins for almost everything. Mrs Tootlepedal is seen on the left throwing garden rubbish into the garden rubbish container. (In fact, like many press photographs, we couldn’t take the pictures while were actually throwing the stuff in so this is a posed photo taken after the event.)

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre for an hour or so of indexing and then on to the Douglas Hotel for our customary research into beer quality in Langholm. It was very good.

Rather them than me

Today’s flower is especially pleasing to me as it the second of the two fuchsias which were flattened by the frost and one which looked as though it was dead as a doornail. Even when it showed a bit of growth, it never looked as though it would flower so this is a real bonus.

The wind was still very strong and the day started for our B&B End-to-end guests by Mick having to mend the fifth puncture of their journey so far. That would test the patience of a saint. Perhaps the huge weight of luggage they are carrying between them accounts for the punctures. On their website they say it weighs over 77lbs.

You can see it on the bikes as they pedal off heading for Peebles on what is likely to be a pretty tough day’s cycling.

Dropscone and I decided to give our morning ride a miss today because of the heavy wind and my continuing bad back but he was kind enough to make some of his  eponymous drop scones and bring them round for a cup of coffee. dropsconesmart He had complained to me that the picture of him that I had posted recently was insufficiently flattering so this gave me the chance to catch him photographically when he wasn’t jiggered by riding twenty miles first. I think you will agree that it is a great improvement. Included in the picture is a plate of his very fine drop scones.

After his visit, I went off to Powfoot to see my physiotherapist who gave me some traction for my back which I hope will show some benefit tomorrow. Then I did some more work on the oral reminiscence recordings for the Heritage Trail, made some mince for my tea, swallowed some painkillers and went off to Carlisle with Dropscone’s talented daughter to play recorder. We were joined in a quintet by Heather, who had just come back from walking hundreds of kilometres on the pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain and who looked very well on it indeed. The highlight of the evening’s playing was a very agreeable arrangement of two movements of a Telemann viola concerto (and the choccy biscuits afterwards).

A quiet day

Today’s flower is an Astrantia


There was no blog yesterday as we attended our neighbour’s funeral in really gloomy wet weather and there didn’t seem to much to add to that.

Today dawned much brighter and I started the day with a quick visit to the dentist to check on the well being of my recent extraction which was giving me some pain. He gave it the thumbs up and put an iodine pad in the crater which has soothed the pain in a most satisfactory way.  Mrs Tootlepedal spent the morning preparing for B&B cyclists tonight and then went to work.

I had fetched my Orange bike from Palace Cycles after the funeral yesterday. The Rohloff hub gear had been sent back to Germany as it was making a rather ugly grinding noise. It had returned with a note to say that they were sorry I had had to send it back and it was working perfectly well now and they hoped I would have fun with it. There was no indication that there had been anything wrong that needed repairing so I was a bit worried that it would be just the same. I tried it out by cycling first to the dentist and then up to the town to purchase my weekly mince. The result was a tribute to German efficiency. The gears worked perfectly and with not a whisper let alone a grind. They were quieter than they have ever been since I bought it. I am waiting for the heavy winds to subside a bit and  my back to feel a bit better and then I will give it a good go.

chaffinchWhile Mrs Tootlepedal was at work, I spent some time trying to photograph some of the birds on the bird feeder.  I caught this one waiting for its turn in the pecking order. chaffinch

The nuts seem to attract the chaffinches, tits and sparrows. The sunflower seeds we bought have all disappeared in a moment but the peanuts are more durable so I think I will stick with them for the moment.

Our B&B cyclists arrived in very good order considering how windy it has been but sensibly they had only had 50 miles to do which certainly helps in weather like we’re having at the moment. They had been cycling up and down rivers rather than roads the day before, they said.

The evening was fine if windy so I took the opportunity to give the lawns a quick mow. There is still plenty of growth in the grass.

Bad knee

Today’s flower is a sunflowersunflower

I went round the morning run with Dropscone again today for the fourth time this week in probably fractionally the quickest time of the four. He was unsatisfied with his picture in the blog yesterday so I will have to capture him again in a more flattering pose.

sunflower seedsWe recently bought a sunflower seed dispenser from Lidl and it has proved a big hit with the chaffinches. It took them about five minutes to get the hang of it and a day to eat the entire contents. I see that this cheap purchase is likely to cost us more than peanuts. The birds have eaten all of them too.


Mrs Tootlepedal has some fine sedums which are just coming into flower and they are a magnet for bees at the moment.When they are fully out we should see a lot of butterflies too but at present there is only this one about but it does oblige with several different poses. butterfly

The weather is forecast to be foul for most of next week but after that I hope for the change of photographing a butterfly storm.


In the afternoon I watched a little of the Formula 1 on the telly and cut up a few of the many logs Mrs Tootlepedal keeps providing from her dam clearances. I also picked more than a handful of brambles from the corner behind our washing green where there is a fine crop this year. Mrs Tootlepedal later converted them to a tasty bramble and apple crumble so that counts as well worth the occasional thorn in the hand.

NickOur B&B visitor Nick, who is doing the end to end, rather unexpectedly arrived by car. You can see him explaining to Mrs Tootlepedal that his knee had given him such aggravation that he had had to swap places with the team driver. The driver is now bicycling while he does the driving. chrisA few moments later the cyclist arrived as well. He turned out to be Chris, Nick’s brother. He is cycling with Nick’s son who is staying elsewhere in the town as we only have space for two people.

A short while after all this excitement, I captured Mrs Tootlepedal going out to the shops to get stuff for their breakfast. I was pleased to get her in focus as she is usually going too fast for the camera to

Not off my trolley

Today’s flower is one of the few sweet peas to make it this yearsweet pea

trolleyIt was the first day at work today for my new golf  trolley and it certainly won’t be the last. I went up in the morning and I played much better than usual and finished a lot less tired so I definitely think that it was money well spent. I managed to break a hundred today with what  might almost be called nonchalant  ease (4 shots) if one was exaggerating. Of course this is still miles worse than my handicap but it is a step in the right direction.


After lunch, I welcomed Anthony, Marianne and Tash to the house. Anthony had been measuring up a job in the district and dropped in on his way home with his two dogs. After they had had a cup of tea and a bowl of Stilton and celery soup as a snack, we went out onto the lawn to play with the dogs. They are both young and full of beans and had great fun leaping and catching rings and tennis balls. After admiring my wormery, the visiting party left at about 4pm. I had noticed, as you will see from the pictures below, that the grass was a bit long so I mowed the lawns before Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the day on an Embroiderer’s Guild outing and came in laden with elegant cards and bits and bobs which she purchased on the way just in time to welcome our visitors for the night. The man is a professional viola player and you don’t get one of those in your house every day.

I was wondering what to have for my tea when I discovered that I had some mince ready cooked and waiting in the refrigerator. What could have been more fortunate than that?



Tamara Drew us to Carlisle

Today’s flower is the frost affected Fuschsia in full bloomfuchsia

Although the weather was wet, after a telephone consultation, Dropscone and I embarked on the morning ride. Apart from being nearly drowned by the bow wave of a passing lorry on the A7, it wasn’t too bad. dropsconecoffee However, we were wet enough at the finish to require a complete change of clothes before meeting for our usual cup of coffee. A reader of the blog has asked me for a picture of Dropscone and so I took this photo of the great man with his coffee in hand.

choresWhile I was doing this, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked in passing that if Dropscone’s usual way of passing the time in our kitchen was having a cup of coffee, hers was busying herself with a B&B keeper’s many chores. I therefore append this rather blurred picture of her rushing in and out in pursuit of her work. I couldn’t get her to stop still long enough for an in focus shot.

Shortly afterwards, she went to work at the Health Centre and before she came back, I went to do my stint in the tourist office (1 visitor). When I got back, we decided to got to the cinema in Carlisle to see Tamara Drewe, the film of Posy Simmond’s graphic novel. It was thoroughly enjoyable and the pleasure was added to by the purchase of black pudding and chips on the way home. That was just for me, of course. Mrs Tootlepedal exists on the occasional lettuce leaf.

Talking the talk

Today’s flower is a yellow crocosmia


Dropscone came round this morning to help me test my back on the morning ride. The weather was cool with a light wind, ideal for a gentle run. We took it steady up the steep little hills and didn’t rush down the downhill and did the trip a minute faster than we had done on Monday when we had been trying really hard. There is a message there somewhere but I can’t quite work out what it is.

gretnaIn the afternoon, we went shopping. I was after a light pull trolley for the golf as I suspect carrying my clubs round may have contributed to the bad back. We went to Gretna Gateway for this. Mrs Tootlepedal always likes a visit here as they have a M&S outlet and many nice things can be purchased at a very reasonable price. She was also after a neat frame for Ali and Clare’s wedding photo. She was succesful on both fronts and I found my trolley in the EWM golf shop. Retail happiness.

lidlWe went on into Carlisle to Lidl which, after John’s corner shop in Langholm, is my favourite shop. They always have something different every time you go in and this time I picked up a very cheap battery radio to act as a replacement when my bedside radio gives up the ghost which it will do shortly. Mrs T went for a giant packet of washing powder so we both left well contented.

In the evening we went to the Ewes WRI meeting to give a talk on our cycling holidays. It was to be accompanied by suitable photographs and I borrowed the Archive Centre digital projector and linked it up to Mrs Tootledal’s netbook for a trial. It just wouldn’t work and I remembered that you had to alter a setting on the netbook  to make it work but unfortunately I couldn’t remember what to change so we had to take my old laptop instead. The trouble with the old laptop is that it is always liable to crash and sure enough, just as I was called on to speak, it crashed. However, the audience was very forgiving and after a reboot we got going and it seemed to go down well. Anyway, we had a nice cup of tea and a scone with jam and cream to follow so it was well worth while going.