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


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.


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


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.

A nice cup of tea (red bush) and a slice of cake

No flower today as I forgot to take the camera into the garden and the flowers are disappearing because of the cold nights anyway. I might have to start having a bird of the day soon.

aussie girl I had a very quiet day today what with it being Sunday and myself being somewhat tired. In the end I got up in time to make soup for lunch, watch the Grand Prix on the telly and cycle up to Mosspaul for the second day running. I am still keeping off the side roads because of hedge cutting and the A7 is quiet quiet at weekends. The wind was gentler today and I enjoyed both up and down hill and finished with a respectable speed for me of over 16 mph.

I was not long back before our end-to-end visitor appeared. She turned out to be an Australian girl who lives in Lincoln. She is very fit and has done the Col du Tourmalet for fun but was still finding the grind of the end to end quite hard on the mind. She is doing it in a group and the pressures of not being in charge of her own destiny, and the loss of two of her friends from the group who had had to leave at Gretna this afternoon because of  of work commitments had made her rather gloomy. Mrs Tootlepedal cheered her up with several slices of banana and walnut cake and cups of Red Bush and you can see the ladies enjoying a joke over a cup of tea in our kitchen. She was pleased to meet two people who could at least appreciate what it means to do long multiday tours and share a little of her pain although she was doing the trip much more quickly than we had done.

Show time

Today’s flower is a late blossoming rose. The leaves are looking a bit spotty to say the least.

We are moving up in the world, as last night’s visitor turned out to be the assistant of our local MP getting to know the constituency. I took the opportunity to let him and the MP, as he dropped him off,  know that the important political decision of the moment relates to Mr Murdoch’s current attempt to get a complete hold on the British media. Nothing else matters very much. They both agreed with me of course. Politicians are so nice.

photos In the morning I took five photos up to the Langholm show to enter them in three photo classes. It was not a good omen when Mrs Tootlepedal reported that the photo entries were up by 100 this year. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to hang about waiting to collect my prize money after the show but my efforts were not noticeably worse than most of the others so I am encouraged.

Mrs Tootlepedal was judging a set of handcraft classes at the show so while she did that, I battled with the crossword for a while and then got on the bike for a short jaunt up the main road. I stuck on the main road because of the hedge cutting activities on the minor roads round about us. It was very windy again so I adopted my usual tactic of pedalling into the wind and uphill for ten miles very grumpily and then turning round at Mosspaul and whizzing back laughing like an idiot.


After a shower, I went up to the show field to find Mrs Tootlepedal and see who had won the photo classes.

drivingShe was watching the driving class where the people she meets at Hoddam every week through the summer show off their skills. They looked extremely smart as they trotted their traps round the ring.

the judgeShe is seen here at the driving ring sensibly wearing wellies because although the day was fine, the ground is always muddy when it has been trampled by people, horses and all sorts of other animals.

On our return to the house, I had time to mow one of the lawns but it was so cold last night (3 degrees C) that there was not much growth and the time for constant mowing may have come to an end. Then I spent some time dealing with four photographs of a local family which a very nice lady from Australia has sent the Archive Group. I sent her one back in return. In the evening we watched a DVD of the Beiderbecke Affair by Alan Plater. This has a gentle pace pace which is most refreshing after the frantic cutting and music of most current TV. It’s grand to be an old fogey. It gives one a purpose in life.

The Ewart family

Thorny problems

Today’s flower is a geranium

Dropscone is still in France so I went round the morning run with Mrs Tootlepedal today. Because of the heavy wind, we went round in the “wrong” direction and this turned out to be a wise decision and we got the best of the conditions. view It was a beautifully sunny, clear day as the picture on the left shows but it was the coldest day of recent months by a long chalk and I was well wrapped up. boring

As we went down to the A7 from Glenzier we passed these two rigs drilling in a field. We think they are part of the great gas production scheme which is set to start production in this area. The rural appearance of the country here hides the fact that we are sitting on a substantial coal field.

As well as the drilling, the other activity that was going on was hedge cutting. This is a nightmare for the passing cyclist and sure enough, Mrs Tootlepedal picked up no less than three thorns and by the time we got to Canonbie, she had a puncture. puncture We had a spare tube with us but the tyres she has on are so tough that I could not get them off the rim. We had a pump so we pumped up the tyre and it lasted for a couple of miles or so. Then we pumped it up again and it got her home. I shall have to get one of these gadgets which squirt foam into your tube and pump it up and seal the puncture at the same time.

In the afternoon, I went to the Kilngreen to do my tourist office stint and I was visited by three tourists all of whom I was able to help. I felt quite pleased. I also had time to do two crosswords and a sudoku so I wasn’t too busy.baskets

As I left the office, I came across Margaret who was marking the turning of the seasons by taking down the hanging baskets round the tourist office and the toilet block. Change and decay all around I see. We were visited by the Tinkers in the evening and I enjoyed a pleasant recorder play with Alison at the keyboard. We played Loeillet, Williams and Handel and then we had a glass of wine. Let the autumn and winter come, we are ready for them.

Off to see the Glasgow Boys

Today’s flower is a butterfly-less sedumsedum

Being woken up by the sound of rain hammering down on the Velux window is never pleasant but on this occasion the fact that I wasn’t intending to cycle today made the pain more bearable. Our plan was to pick up our friend (and fellow archivist and embroiderer) Jean and drive peacefully up to Glasgow to see the Glasgow Boys art exhibition at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, have a little light lunch at their superior cafe , meet daughter-in-law Clare and return satisfied both artistically, spiritually and in the stomach.

Things went smoothly so far…we picked up Jean and drove peacefully up the motorway, avoiding the worst of the rain while the signs warned us of downpours and floods. We were thus feeling on top of the world until we hit the traffic jam on the M8. Nearly an hour later, we left the M8 and found the traffic very light on the Great Western Road. Things were looking up. Going down Byres Road was not a good experience and when we finally got to Kelvingrove, it was obvious that we were not the only ones going to the exhibition today. The car park was full so I dropped the ladies at the entrance and left the museum and found a parking space not far away.

queueWe had noticed a bit of a queue while I was dropping the ladies off. They were still in the queue when I returned having gone twice round the car park, back out into the street, found a space, bought a ticket and walked back to the art gallery.

After a while they came out to find me with the tickets. They had been told that they could rejoin the queue after they had had a meal as it was now too late to do the exhibition before eating. We went to the cafe. A kind lady told us it would be be twenty to twenty five minutes before we could get a table. lunch

At this stage, the needs of the inner man took precedence over the wish for good food and we went out to the aptly named Al Fresco cafe and had a bacon roll and a cup of coffee in the brisk wind. Mercifully it was not raining. We rang Clare to tell her that the arrangements were off and went into the exhibition. This made everything worthwhile. There was another queue to get in but there were plenty of pictures and they were very interesting and often beautiful to look at and inside the exhibition the crowds were not too bad and it was possible to see the pictures.

After we came out, we got a cup of tea and a slice of cake without having to queue and then set off home. Owing to my ignorance of the best way to drive about Glasgow, I made a mistake at Charing Cross and ended up going round in circles round Renfrew Street for what seemed like a very long time before we finally found our way back to the motorway and home. Mrs Tootlepedal had bought a very reasonably priced framed print in the museum shop and the contemplation of this cheered her up considerably as we drove home through more rain and spray. Even with all the delays, we all agreed that it was a thoroughly worthwhile trip.

In the evening I went out archiving with Sandy (but not Jean, who by this time was having a little lie down) and enjoyed a couple of beers in the Douglas afterwards.