Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Arthuret Church’

Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony, who took this view of the old and the new Forth road bridges.  The new one, in the background, opens at the end of this month.

Forth bridges

Thanks to our visitors we had a untypical breakfast today as the vote went for bacon and egg baps instead of our normal porridge.  It was a good decision and our visitors, after an inspection of the garden with the gardener….

sara janet and ally

A completely spontaneous unposed shot

…went on their way in good spirits.  They had two more gardens to visit on their schedule and it was fortunate that the weather forecast was better than it has been lately.

After they left, we had a cup of coffee and a look round the garden…

the moss roses are the last of our roses still in flower

The moss roses are the last of our roses still in flower

…and then I got the fairly speedy bike out, armed myself with a couple of bananas and some raisins and set off to see where my legs would go.

After some pretty breezy days, it was good to find that the winds were much lighter today but I still took the precaution of heading down to the flat lands of the Solway plain to give myself an easy ride.

To make sure that I was eating and drinking properly (refuelling as the real athletes say), I stopped every ten miles for a minute or two to take on half a banana, some raisins, a morsel of guava jelly and a drink of water.  I also took a picture.

The Esk at Longtown

This is the Esk near Longtown

I circled round the quiet lanes of North Cumbria and my second stop was at Scaleby.  It has impressive bull rushes…

bull rushes

…a church with a tower….

Scaleby Church

…and some very fine lichen on the churchyard wall.

lichen

My next stop was at a church with a spire at Blackdyke.

Blackdyke church

It is a very small spire, I agree.

Keeping to the flat lands, I headed across to Rockliffe and as I left the village, there was willowherb on my left and Himalayan balsam on my right…

willowherb and balsam

…which made for a very pretty stretch of road.

Rockcliffe

The forecast had said that there might be some rain at three o’clock and it was bang on.  As three o’clock arrived so did a sharp rain shower.  Luckily I was protected by nature…

tree tunnel

…and by the fact that I had prudently packed a rain jacket for the trip.  The rain didn’t last for long and after a few miles, I was able to pack the rain jacket away again.  While I was doing this this, I noticed a small bridge nearby.

old railway bridge

This is an old railway bridge on the abandoned line between Longtown and Carlisle and in a better ordered world, I might have been cycling under it on a well constructed bike track rather than over it on a narrow road.

Still, the narrow road took me to my third church of the trip, the fine building of the parish church at Arthuret.

Arthuret Church

It has to be said that if you go round to the front of the church, it doesn’t look quite so impressive.

Arthuret Church

It is certainly not as wide as it is long.

Across the road from the church,  the corn was high…

corn

It is grown for animal feed.

…though perhaps not as high as an elephant’s eye.

As I pedalled back up the hill towards Langholm, I left the cereal fields behind and found myself among the heather on the hills.

cereal and heather

Thanks to the benign conditions and the flat route, I managed to keep my average speed up to 15 mph for the first 45 miles and only just slipped back to 14.8 mph in the last eight miles, where I was heading into what wind there was.

My knees were feeling a bit creaky when I stopped so before going in for a cup of tea, I walked round the garden to ease them off and enjoyed the first stargazer lily of the season which has come out to brighten things up. It’s a very handsome flower…

stargazer lily

…whichever way you look at it.

stargazer lily

The flying bird of the day is a little squirrel which held me up as it decided which way to go this afternoon.

squirrel

Those interested can find details of the bike ride by clicking on the map below.  You can see how flat the route was.

garrmin route 8 Aug 2017

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Gavin.  It shows him in front of an enormous hedge in the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh yesterday.  By coincidence, Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda were there too yesterday but they didn’t meet Gavin. Perhaps they were on the other side of the hedge.

gavin and hedge

I had a wonderful plan to leap up early and pedal 40 miles in the early morning sunshine before breakfast.  The alarm went off on cue, I woke up, the sun was shining, I rolled over and went back to sleep again.  Sometimes, as Robert Burns said, the best laid plans….

I was wandering round the garden after a late breakfast, taking pictures of a fine oriental poppy…

oriental poppy

…when who should appear on a bicycle but Dropscone.  He wasn’t cycling far though, merely crossing the town to pay a bill. Having discharged this obligation, he returned for a cup of coffee and a dainty biscuit.

He has been away for a few days acting as a golf referee at an international children’s golf tournament near Edinburgh.  He would have had a better time if he hadn’t had to spent eleven hours on the course in pouring rain and lashing wind on Wednesday.  He was very cheerful all the same.

When he left, I completed my tour of the garden.

rosa moyesii

The Rosa Moyesii is looking better by the day.

nectaroscordum

I would have to lie on my back to see the colour in these Nectaroscordum

allium and insect

I am not sue what sort of insect this is on an Allium

Burnet roses or Scotch briar

These are Burnet roses or Scotch briars

When I finished my tour,  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland bird feeders, as I had been asked to fill them today in the absence of the regular volunteer.  Mrs Tootlepedal was armed with binoculars and was hoping for a sight of a hen harrier on the moor behind the feeders.

She didn’t see a harrier but I was happy enough with a woodpecker and some spring cones.

woodpecker

I also liked this view of the woods on the other side of the Tarras valley.

Tarras woodland

We couldn’t stay long as I had an appointment to meet a lady from our camera club in Newcastleton who was bringing over some pictures for our photo exhibition which starts next week.  I just had time to mow the middle lawn before going up to find her. She was on time and will come over again next week to see the exhibition.

After lunch, I looked at another fallen walnut tree branch which Mrs Tootlepedal had tidied up in the garden.  The yellow lichen seems to like walnut…

lichen

…and then we put our bikes in the back of the car and drove the eleven miles down to Longtown.

The attraction of Longtown, an otherwise unremarkable town, to Mrs Tootlepedal is that it lies in the middle of the Solway Plain, a very flat piece of country.  We intended to ride a gentle fourteen mile  route but thanks to missing a poorly signposted turn, we managed to achieve a fifteen mile circle.  In the beautiful sunny weather, with a light breeze to keep us cool, we didn’t mind the extra mile at all.

I stopped from time to time to take a picture as we went along.

Longtown pines

There are some very striking pine trees in this part of Cumbria

buttercups verges

Many of the verges were lined with buttercups

The sharp eyed will have observed Mrs Tootlepedal disappearing into the distance in the two shots above.  She was in fine fettle and we kept our average above 10 mph for the journey.

Road side spectators watched us whoosh past with barely concealed amazement.

pony near Longtown

Near the end of our journey, we passed one of my favourite buildings, Arthuret Church, and I added yet another shot of this impressive edifice to my collection.

Arthuret Church

When we got home, we had a cup of tea by way of refreshment and Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do those things that a gardener does in the back border….

gardening

…while I mowed the front lawn.  Luckily, the two forms of physical exercise which I enjoy most, cycling and lawn mowing, are not much affected by my sciatica.  Leaning forward and taking your weight on your arms must be the secret.

I had another look round when I had finished mowing.

astrantia

The Astrantia is a treat whichever way you look at it.

Primula

The Primula by the pond was worth looking down on too.

Flag Iris

The Flag Iris at the end of the drive was in full flower after a sunny day

It was such a lovely evening that we decided to drive up onto the Langholm Moor and have another look for hen harriers.  This time Mrs Tootlepedal saw a male flying low over the hill as soon as we stopped and we had an entertaining time watching it swoop along the ridge.  It was well in binocular range but a little too far away for my camera.  At one moment we saw what looked like both a male and a female together.

harriers

I had time to look at Tinnis, my favourite hill….

Tinnis

…before we headed home for tea.

In the evening, I updated my cycling stats and found that this year I have done more miles by the end of May than I had by the end of June last year.  This is very satisfactory but may also explain why I feel a bit tired.  I am still working my way back to full fitness after the illness that laid me low two years ago and have to be careful not to overdo things.

The non flying flower of the day is another view of that pond-side Primula.

Primula

 

 

Read Full Post »