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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Anne, wife of my cello playing friend Mike and shows the tall tower of Elgin cathedral….

Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower

…and if you look very carefully, you can see Mike and a grandchild peering over the very top of the tower.

image1(1)Mike and Alex at very top of Elgin Cathedral tower close up

I had a kind of slow motion day today in which nothing much happened very slowly.

In the morning, I pottered around the garden weeding, watering and dead heading, did a little compost sieving and mowed the front lawn.

I took a few pictures as I went along.

A gardening friend gave Mrs Tootlepedal a verbascum in the spring and it has come on really well.  The white flowers look a little dull until you have a closer look, when as so often…

new flower

… a little nosiness is rewarded.

new flower closer

The astilbe is flourishing without any watering from me…

astilbe

…and the bees love the privet which has just come out.   I could hear them buzzing all around me but couldn’t see one so here is a bee-less picture.

privet

I couldn’t miss the bees on the poppies though….

bee on poppy

…they were filling their pollen sacs at both varieties.

another bee on poppy

The most surprising thing in the garden to catch my eye today was  a walnut…or to be precise lots of walnuts.

walnuts

We are generally too far north to expect a lot of walnuts on our tree, although we always get some, but this year the conditions  are obviously favourable because there were clusters of well developed nuts on many branches.  I hope the weather stays good enough for them to ripen properly.

The Sweet Williams are doing well without much watering from me…

sweet william

…and the lily in the back border seems to add another open flower each day.

lily

But the star of that part of the garden for me is the moss rose.

moss roses

I have never seen it looking better.

The forecast held out a strong possibility of rain later which was why I mowed the front lawn.  It had much more grass on it than I had expected and I had to work hard to get the mower through it in places.  I did a lot of watering of the lawns as soon as the dry spell started and this seems to have paid off.

The rain however turned out to be a figment of the forecasters’ imagination and we had a cheerful sunny day from dawn until dusk.

Every time I look at the forecast, it says rain tomorrow but I fear rain tomorrow may turn out to be like jam tomorrow.

The supply of beetroot in the veg garden is very good this year so I had a beetroot and sardine salad with leaves for my lunch.

In the afternoon I went to the Health Centre for my regular asthma check up and as a sensible move to cut down prescribing costs, they are trying different treatment.  Since it will cut down my present two puffers to one, I hope it works.  The less puffers you puff, the better your throat is and anything that saves the NHS money is to be welcomed.

While I was on my way back home, I took a look at the Langholm Bridge.  The powers that be have cleared away the tree that had floated down against the bridge but today the bridge hardly needed one arch, let alone three so low was the flow.

Langholm Bridge

I cycled along the road beside the river to see if the oyster catcher family was still in residence.

It was.

oyster catcher family

The slightly darker beaks show two youngsters.  The other parent was out in the middle of the river keeping an eye on things.

oyster catcher

When I got home, I did think about a cycle ride but energy levels were low so I did some more pottering in the garden and then retired to watch the end of the Tour de France stage, followed by some Wimbledon.

I did watch some birds too.

greenfinch

A greenfinch wondered if this was its best side.

I picked a turnip from the veg garden and had that for my tea with yet more peas and beans and potatoes from the garden.  There is no danger of me losing any weight at the moment.

After tea, I went off to church for a church choir practice which was most enjoyable.  There is a special service for the Common Riding in a couple of weeks time and we are singing the Hallelujah  Chorus as the anthem.  As our choir is rather small even with a few reinforcements, this is going to be a challenge but we are up for it.

I got back in time to view the national tragedy that was the second half of the World Cup semi-final and was sorry to see ‘our boys’ going out as they had played and behaved well during the tournament.

The flying bird of the day is a semi circular chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She was in Glasgow on business a day or two ago and took this shot of a bridge across the River Clyde. (Actually the bridge was too wide for her camera and she sent me two pictures which my photo editor has stitched together.)

glasgow bridge

We had another fine day here with the temperature topping 30°C yet again.  I was content to leave my bike in the garage and have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone rather than doing anything more energetic.

I did mow the greenhouse grass and look round the garden before coffee though so I wasn’t entirely idle.

It was Mrs Tootlepedal who got me out into the garden with  cries of, “Look at the swifts!”

They were swooping through the garden and climbing over the roof at the very last moment in a great display of aerial skill.  They are too quick for my camera to focus on them when they are close so I had to catch them higher up to get a picture at all.

swifts

Watching the swifts is one of the delights of summer.

The sunny weather is bringing everything on.

delphiniums

Delphiniums developing

blue allium

The little blue alliums have finally come out properly

alstroemeria

Alstroemeria joining in

ginger syllabub rose

The ginger syllabub rose looking plumptious

runner bean flower

The runner beans are starting to flower

 

The treacle scones were well up to standard and the coffee, a blend of Old Brown Java and Ethiopian, went down well with them.  Dropscone had been playing golf at Innerleithen yesterday and had found it a bit too hot for comfort but he had survived.

Mrs Tootlepedal saw an unfamiliar bird on the feeder and i took a picture for a closer look.

young greenfinch

The speckled breast means that it is a young greenfinch, I think.

After lunch, no soup just a salad, Mike Tinker appeared with the promise of great excitement if I took him to a certain spot.  I drove him down, parked the car and went for a stroll.  As we walked along, he suddenly said, “There it is.”

This is what was there.

bird's nest orchid 3

It is a bird’s nest orchid.  This is not a common plant and it is hard to spot as it isn’t green at all.  Mike told me why and I found this paragraph on the internet to describe it:

Completely lacking chlorophyll, it looks more like a dead or decaying plant, and is entirely saprophytic which means it parasitizes other plants for nourishment, although the word myco-heterotrophs is now known to be technically more correct, since the plants actually parasitise fungi which are feeding on nearby plants, rather than on nearby plants directly.

I learn something every day.

The seed heads of the plant may still be seen a year after the flowers and there were some nearby.

bird's nest orchid 2

Because it likes deep shade, not needing any light for chlorophyll, it was a bit hard to get a good shot of it and I had thoughtfully brought a bit of green card with me to help get a clearer background.

bird's nest orchid

Mike has told me where another set of these orchids may be found and I am going to have a walk there soon to see if I can find one by myself, without needing expert help.  I am not overconfident about my chances.

While we were out, we walked a bit further and Mike was able to point out some wild flowers for me to enjoy.

golden rod

Golden rod

hairy tare

The improbably named Hairy Tare

figwort

I spotted this Figwort.  I had seen some on our fern walk./  Mike had to tell me what it was called though.

woundwort

I thought that this was a nettle but Mike tells me that it is Woundwort

We walked along the banks of the Byreburn and hidden among all the greenery, we could see the ruins of an old house.

old byreburn house

Finally we found a bench, handily provided for old age pensioners to have a rest on a very hot afternoon…

fairy loup track

…and we enjoyed the view for a while before walking back to the car.

Walking with Mike was once more both a pleasure and an education.

We had a cup of tea when we got back and then Mike went home and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the vegetable garden to consider whether we could find anything  to eat there.

We could.

home veg

There were peas, beans and the first potatoes and we had these with some added turnip and spinach for our tea.

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to visit her mother for the next two and bit weeks so I will have to do some serious vegetable eating in her absence if we are to avoid a glut and subsequent waste.  Mind you, if it doesn’t rain soon, maybe everything will dry up and the crop will be rather sparse.

The hot weather has brought the rambler rose out earlier than usual…

rambler rose

 

…and we are worried that the flowers will be over before it is time to make the Common Riding Crown…

Langholm Common Riding Crown

Some of our roses were in the crown last year.

…at the end of July.

I was pleased that after a couple of idle days, I managed to get organised enough to put another week of the newspaper index in the Archive Group’s database.

I am going down to London with Mrs Tootlepedal tomorrow but only for a few days.  We are just hoping that the garden will survive both the dry weather and my unassisted care when I get back and  Mrs Tootlepedal is still away.

Rather than cart cameras and computers about in the hot weather, I am going to rely on my phone for pictures and posting while I am away so I have got my fingers crossed that I can remember how to do it….and that I remember to take my phone with me.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the poppies.  (Well it is flying, even if it isn’t a bird.)

bee and poppy

 

 

 

 

 

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I do have a guest picture today as my sister Mary sent me this shot of a herd of art loving geese rushing to see Christo’s work in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park 21.06.18 008

While we were having our last spell of good weather a few weeks ago in late spring after a miserable few months, nobody dared to say that it was too hot.  Now we are having another spell of good weather and mid summer day has passed so I can confidently say about today that for me, it was too hot.

Still, it was a lovely day so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to arrange an exhibition of her embroidery group’s work in the Welcome to Langholm space and I took a walk round the garden.

On one side of the garden, roses were glowing…

two roses

…the day lily was gleaming…

day lily

…and my favourite iris was shining.

iris

On the other side of the garden, there were sparkling roses, Ginger Syllabub and Goldfinch…

two roses (2)

…and lots of bees on the cotoneaster.

bee on cotoneaster

The lupins were badly battered by the wind and rain and Mrs Tootlepedal cleared the main shoots away.  Now, the smaller side shoots have come into their own.

lupin

I put my camera down and picked up a mower and mowed the drying green and then welcomed Sandy in for a cup of coffee.

I haven’t seen him for a bit as he has been building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend so it was good to catch up with him.  He was busy again in the afternoon so when we had finished coffee, we put on sensible headgear and went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill, hoping that there would be a breeze to take the edge of the heat.

We were looking for orchids.

The down side of good weather is pollen and there was plenty of evidence of grass seeds as we went up the track to the hill.

grass with seeds

We enjoyed the cool avenue of trees just before the track goes on to the open hill….

gate onto hill

…and the views once we got onto the hill were compensation for the effort of getting there.

view fromMeikleholm Hill

And there was a light breeze.

Sadly, views were all we got as there were very few varieties of wild flower to be seen and only one or two scruffy orchids.  There was plenty of tormentil, buttercup and hawkbit which the sheep must not like.  The sheep had grazed off all the rest.

Still, the views made the walk well worth while for its own sake…

View from Hunters Gate

…and we will have to find orchids elsewhere.

As we came back down the hill, I really liked this little tree with a big view…

little tree with big view

…and well protected from the sheep by bracken, a foxglove poked its head up to give a little colour.

foxglove on Meikleholm Hill

We saw more colour on the walk down the track past Holmwood than we did on the whole of the hill.

herb robert and cornflower

rose beside track

It was a good walk but warm work and I was happy to get back into the cool of the house.

I did consider a bike ride after lunch but felt  that the walk, short as it was, was probably enough exercise for the hot day so I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.

After that, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her exhibition work and needed some supervision in the garden so I sat in the shade while she shifted and levelled some paving stones. I stopped supervising and did a little compost sieving but as it was about 30°C in the sun, we didn’t stay out too long and were happy to pause and have a cup of tea with Dr Tinker who appeared wearing a very sensible hat.

Then my flue pupil Luke came and we continued to make steady progress.  He has left school now and has just got a job but I hope that he will continue to come and play.

Next,  it was time to start watering the middle lawn and the vegetable garden and that took some time and completed our activity for the day.

I was going out to move the hose at one point when a strident shrieking from over head told me that swifts were about.  There has been a lot of talk about how scarce swifts are this year so I was happy to see a small flock swooping about over the house.

swifts

While I had the camera in my hand, I looked at our Scotch rose…

Scotch rose

…which always turns out to have a little black fly or two on it when I try to take a picture.

Nearby, the very first flowers on the delphiniums appeared today.  I hope that  they don’t get damaged by strong winds as often happens.  Mrs Tootlepedal has tried to get them in  more sheltered places this year.

delphinium

The flower of the day is a blue allium.  They have been sitting outside promising to come out but not actually coming for what seems like weeks.  One got knocked over by the recent winds and has found living indoors in a vase is more to its taste.  They are small flowers, about the size of a ping pong ball.

blue allium

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was on a bus crossing Waterloo Bridge when she came over all Wordsworth and admired the view.  (I know, I know; he was crossing Westminster Bridge but that is not far away).

View from bus window while crossing Waterloo Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:

After rain overnight, we had a fine and occasionally sunny day today so Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it and toiled away in the garden morning and afternoon with a break for a committee meeting after lunch.

I went out for a look around after breakfast and saw Mrs Tootlepedal’s least favourite bird sighting , a sparrow in the vegetable garden looking for vegetables to destroy.

sparrow in veg garden

Sometimes when we got out there are twenty or more sparrows lurking about among the plants.  This one didn’t stop long though.

flying sparrow

I noticed that a young bird was lost in the greenhouse and looking pensive….

sparrow in greenhouse

…but it found its own way out in the end.

It was quite damp as you can see but it soon dried out and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass rather carefully.  We keep the grass there quite long so I even took the trouble to get the grass rake out first and make sure the grass was standing up to meet the mower.  In an uncooperative way though, quite a lot of the grass lay down again between me putting the  rake away and getting the mower out.

I had a look at the gooseberry bush to check for sawfly….

gooseberry bush

…and was pleased to find that there were none about.  The Solomon’s seal is being eaten by sawfly so the gooseberry may well be next.

I then got some lawn feed out and finished feeding the middle lawn.

While I was at work, our neighbours Liz and Ken walked over to see what was going on and I was telling them about my fern walk yesterday.  I lifted up the leaves of one of the ferns in our garden and they were impressed by what lay behind.

fern

So was I.

After all this excitement, I went in and watched the birds.

I saw a blue tit, an infrequent visitor…

blue tit…and several regulars too.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went to her committee meeting and I got the new bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I checked to see if all the recent rain had put a bit more water into the Wauchope….

Wauchope Water cascade

…and found the little cascade was busy but not overflowing.

The grass beside the river was full of these little yellow spikes.

yellow wild flower

I need help in identifying them

Not long after I set off,  I became a bit worried about the weather, both behind me…

bloch view

..and in front…

bloch road view

…but the grey clouds passed me by and I had an enjoyable ride with the brisk breeze being more helpful than not.

When I got into the Esk valley, it was easy to see by the river that it had been raining quite a lot.

River esk at hollows

I said confidently to a reader the other day that there was lots of yellow rattle about but since then it has been hard to find so I was pleased to find a good sprinkling about beside the old A7 today.

P1110652

And there was a lot of knapweed there too…

knapweed

…and a mini meadow of daisies, knapweed and meadow vetchling as well.

wild flowers old A7

Thanks to the helpful wind, I got home in good time and found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her meeting and busy improving the back border.

I mowed the front lawn.  It is showing the benefit from the feed that I gave it last week and now definitely has more grass than moss on it.  I regard this as a minor triumph considering that earlier in our very wet and cold spring, I was seriously thinking about digging the whole thing up and starting again .

Then I went to sieve compost as Mrs Tootlepedal is using it by the bucket to improve the soil in the back border.

I checked and found that the bees are still finding pollen on the astrantias.

bee on astrantia

This concluded my outdoor activity for the day except for a few minutes of thinning out the gooseberries.  I stewed the thinnings and had them with cream in the evening.

Following my new schedule, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before tea.  I am trying not to take too many photographs so I don’t have to spend so much time looking through them but it is hard.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, taken in the morning when things were still damp.

martagon lily

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  As he was busy house hunting, he sent me this charming squirrel portrait in lieu of a Father’s Day card.

ant's squirrel

The Muckletoon Adventure Festival had a better day for their events today.  The road cyclists were offered 30, 60 or 90 mile sportives and I would have liked to have had a go at either the 60 or the 90 but there were too many steep hills involved for the well being of my tin knee so I got up promptly and went for a gentle 45 mile ride instead.

I chose quiet and gently contoured roads for my trip…

road near KPF

…and once again slipped into England before crossing the border on my way home.

welcome to Scotland

It was a grey, cool and breezy day and I needed to be home for cooking duties so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures on the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal was home from church when I got back and needless to say, was hard at work in the garden.

I had a look round and the sun came out to brighten up the roses.

P1110484

I went in to make a stew for the slow cooker and kept an eye on the birds while I did so.

Once again, the feeder was busy….

goldfinches at feeder

…and there was keen competition for perches.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, a small flock of greenfinches turned up.

greenfinch posing

It may have been a family because there was certainly at least one youngster in the plum tree looking for food.

greenfinch and young

…and occasionally getting it.

greenfinch feeding young

Mrs Tootlepedal did a little more work in the garden while I looked for new flowers…

P1110500

…and found this blue campanula.

 

The hydrangea seems to have an endless supply of pollen because it was still buzzing with bees today.

P1110507

This one has a stripy jumper on.

We didn’t spend much time in the garden though as I wanted a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted to go somewhere different so we got into the car and drove over the hill to Newcastleton.  We went through the village and up the hill on the opposite side of the river where we found a Forestry Commission car park.  We parked the car and went for a walk in the forest there.

There was a selection of routes to choose from and having made out choice, we strode bravely off along this track…

Newcastleton forest

…which turned out to be the wrong direction.

However, more by luck than good judgement, we managed to finally get back on the right track and had a most enjoyable stroll.

We passed spacious forest planting…

Newcastleton forest (2)

…some very impressive ferns…

P1110512

…and any amount of wild flowers.

P1110514

Ragged robin, tormentil. marsh thistle and ajuga

P1110518

Foxglove, dock, red clover and birds-foot trefoil

Many interesting creatures

P1110529

A slug, an unknown moth on a grass and another on Mrs Tootlepedal’s boot which Anna Marett tells me is appropriately called a Red-necked Footman.

And several mountain bikers.

mountain biker

The two in the background were pushing their bikes up the hill.

There are some well used mountain bike routes in the forest and the Forestry Commission has gone to some lengths to provide good facilities for cyclists and walkers, planned so that they don’t get in each others’ way.

The second half of our walk, once we had found the right way to go, was on a neatly mown grass path.

P1110531

And this led us safely back to the car.

We will definitely return to this area as it was a pleasure to walk there.

Our timing was good too as we got back to Newcastleton village in time for a cup of tea and a fancy at the Olive Tee cafe.  Our more usual outing policy is to arrive at cafes just after they have shut.

The drive home over the hill wasn’t quite as good as the rest of the outing though as it was raining and the cloud was so low that we had to put on our fog lights on the single track road.  No chance of any scenic views.

Still, we made it home and the slow cooked stew went down very well so it was a good day all round.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, still carrying a little of yesterday’s rain.

P1110502

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who enjoyed the view at Buttermere on her recent flying visit to the Lake District.

buttermere

Our fine weather continued unabated today and there were gardening and cycling opportunities as a result.  Mrs Tootlepedal seized the gardening opportunities with both hands (and a trowel)  while I rather let the cycling chances slip through my fingers.

I still had a mysteriously croaky throat when I woke up so I was happy to try to soothe it with coffee and treacle scones.  The scones were accompanied by Dropscone and came with additional agreeable conversation.

I went up to the town before coffee to replenish my stock of coffee beans and was pleased to find that a local shop had been able to source a good quantity of organic beans from Sumatra and Ethiopia.  We tried the Sumatran beans today and they were very good…though we failed to detect the overtones of apricot promised by the blurb on the packet..

When Dropscone departed, I wandered round the garden, an easy thing to do on a sunny spring morning.

The blackbird, who has been very busy feeding demanding young, was looking a bit tired, I thought….

blackbird

…and had paused for a moment before diving into the compost heap looking for worms.

The alliums are finally coming out and one or two are getting near having the perfect globe…

allium

….with all that goes with it.

allium closer

The brilliant azaleas, both red….

azalea red

…and yellow….

azalea yellow

…caught the eyes of our neighbours Liz and Ken, the pig transporters, when they stopped to exchange a few words over the garden hedge.

Liz and ken

The delights of the geums….

 

geum

…bergenia…

bergenia

…and astrantia were harder to see from the road.

astrantia

I did a little work and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting out needs.

Mostly though, I took things easy and only got my new bike out well after lunch.  The new bike is a delight to ride and I had an enjoyable hour and a half pottering round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Yesterday, I took pictures of both cows and trees and to save time today, I took a picture featuring both subjects in the same shot.

cows and tree

Nearer home, I stopped to look at some ‘Jack in the Hedge’…

Jack in the hedge

…although it was actually alongside a wall and not in a hedge at all.

I had a cup of tea sitting on the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back but it was hard not to jump up and take more pictures.

Tulips get some added colour as the flowers mature.

tulip

The rhododendrons just get brighter.

rhododendrons

The first pink tinged flowers have appeared on the white potentilla in the garden.

potentilla

The clematis at the back door is heavy with buds and a few flowers are giving a hint of what is to come.

clematis

And the bees were busy visiting the dicentra again.

bee on dicentra

After an early burst of visits from honey bees when it was still pretty cold, there have been hardly any in the garden during the good weather.  We must have had some blossom available when there was not much elsewhere but presumably, the bees are spoiled for choice now.   As you can see from the bumble bee in the picture above, there is plenty of pollen available here.

We are going on holiday for a week beside the sea with Matilda from tomorrow so patient readers will get a break from incessant garden flowers for a while.  There may be sand castles and sea birds instead.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good time renewing our acquaintance with some pieces which we haven’t played for some years.  It was hard work but worthwhile as the pieces were good.

Mike and Alison are kindly going to look after the greenhouse and keep an eye on the vegetable garden while we are away and Liz is going to fill the bird feeder so all should be well at Wauchope Cottage.  Whether there are any blog posts will depend on the wi-fi in our holiday cottage.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with a background of the very last of the daffodils..

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from another inveterate traveller.  My Somerset correspondent Venetia has been eyeing up some tasty chocolates in Toulouse.

toulouse chocs

It was a day that would have been familiar to fans of Waiting for Godot….except that in this version, Godot finally turned up.

While I was waiting for the call from the bike shop to come, a perfectly wonderful day of sunny weather with light winds was just begging for some bicycling.  The garden offered consolations and I sieved some compost and chatted away while Mrs Tootlepedal worked at some of the many tasks a gardener faces in spring.  We also tested the new bench again.

There was a lot of colour about in the sunshine.

New on the scene was this anemone….

anemone

…and the first of the azalea flowers to open.

azalea

There was a colourful corner, entirely of tulips with a hint of grape hyacinth in the background…

colourful corner tulips

…and some individual flowers to admire as well.

tulip

Particularly this one.

tulip

The spirea is at is best.

spirea

And on the back wall of the house beside the dam, the first potentilla flower of the year was to be seen.  I expect to still be able to see potentilla flowers in autumn.

potentilla

More unusually, I found our neighbour Charlotte’s dog cooling its heels in the dam.

kenny's dog in dam

Charlotte was sitting in the sun nearby but resisted the temptation to jump in too.

There was fauna as well as flora.

A rook flew overhead…

rook

…a bee buzzed about…

bee

… a baby blackbird looked indignant (they always look indignant).

baby blackbird

…and a frog basked in the pond…

frog

…with what looks like a tadpole hanging from its lip.

The most interesting visitor to the garden though was human.  Our friend Bruce arrived on his electric bike…

bruce

…with news that he had not only heard a cuckoo on his bike ride but seen it as well.  Seeing a cuckoo is a very rare experience so he was quite excited.  His electric bicycle looked very exciting too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a sparrowhawk collecting its breakfast from the feeder early in the morning and while we were eating our lunch, presumably the same sparrowhawk returned for another meal….

sparrowhawk

…but this time in vain.

After sitting in the tree for a while, it suddenly flew to the ground and started prowling about among the flowers.

sparrowhawk

I have never seen this behaviour before but I suspected that it was after one of the baby blackbirds which tend to lurk in the undergrowth there so I went out and shooed the hawk away.

It went reluctantly, circling round the garden for several minutes getting higher on each turn before it flew off.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting and I killed a little time until the phone finally rang and I drove off to collect my new bike from the bike shop in Longtown.

Levi at the bike shop fitted the pedals of my choice, I paid him a king’s ransom and then, putting the slow bike in for a service at the same time, I drove home with my prize.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from her meeting shortly afterwards and got her bike out and came with me for an inaugural ride up to Wauchope Schoolhouse.  Then she returned and floated back downhill and downwind to Wauchope Cottage while I completed the twenty miles of my usual Canonbie circuit.

She took this picture before we set out.

new bike

The bike may not look much but it has sealed bearings, a belt drive, a 14 speed internal hub gear, mudguards and a rack so it is dirt proof and needs no day to day maintenance at all and is in every way suited to the needs of an elderly cycle tourist.  I say nothing about the state of the cyclist.

It was still a beautiful day, although the clouds were beginning to build up….

Cloudscape

…and as a day to test a new bike, it couldn’t have been better.

I kept an ear out for Bruce’s cuckoo as I went across the hill but there was no sight or sound of it and I had to be content with seeing both  a fox and a hare crossing the road in front of me (but not at the same time).

The sight of a rain shower developing to the south made me keep pedalling rather than stopping for photo opportunities though and the new bike couldn’t have been more co-operative.  It is light, firm and comfortable with the feeling that every bit of power that I was putting through the pedals was being put to good use on the road.

The 14 speed hub gear has a ratio for every occasion and I was able to drift up any little hills with an ease and grace far removed from the inelegant puffing occasioned by striving to get the slow bike up any incline.

For those with a motoring interest, it was like driving a Lotus 7 (but quite a bit slower).

I did force myself to stop a couple of times, the first to note the leaves arriving on my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead…

trees at Grainstone head

…and the second to pay tribute to fine bunch of primroses at Irvine House.

primroses

I arrived home having done 17 miles at 15 mph, a very satisfactory speed for me these days and on a real high.  I had been worried that I might have found the new bike not to my taste and would have regretted the money invested but it turned out that Levi had been quite right when I first visited him after my old bike needed replacing.  He said then that he had just the bike for me in mind and it turned out that he was quite right.

Now I hope for some good weather and the chance to give it a real workout.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrowhawk as it circled above the garden after I had disturbed it.

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