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Posts Tagged ‘bees’

Today’s guest picture is volunteer Venetia’s current favourite exhibit at the Somerset Museum of Rural Life, a mechanical vacuum cleaner.

mechanical vacuum cleaner

I had a very traditional Sunday today, courtesy of the favourable weather.  If the weather is kind, I like to cycle along our main roads on a Sunday because they are largely lorry free and have the advantage of being the least hilly of any of our local roads.  This means that I can put my nose as near the front wheel as I can get it and pedal steadily along without interruption.

And that is what I did this morning.  It was occasionally sunny, 11°C and with a light crosswind.  I couldn’t expect better conditions in October.   Because of choir practice in Carlisle in the afternoon, I was time limited though and settled for a familiar jaunt down to Newtown on the Roman Wall and back, a distance of forty miles.

I stopped at Newtown for a breather.

Newtown bench

A bike, a bench, a banana and a bottle of water, all the ingredients of a Sunday morning ride.

I have had a bit of difficulty getting really motivated to get my bike out recently.  Once out on the bike, things are fine but getting started has been hard.  This has partly been down to the poor weather in the summer months but it occurred to me as I was pedalling along today in good conditions that the other reason is my ever decreasing average speeds.

I took up regular cycling very late in life and as a result was able to set myself targets for speed and distance as I got fitter but the reality is clicking in now and I have to come to terms with the fact that there are no more improvements to made  and I can only get slower each year.    I shall just have to learn to look at cycling a bit differently.  Still, I managed 15 mph today so I am not dead yet.

I had time for a look round the garden when I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was already out there having got back from singing in the church choir.

The mild weather has let a campanula have a second go…

campanula

…and the revived sweet rocket had attracted a customer.

sweer rocket and hoverfly.

The bees and hoverflies have given the poppies a good going over….

poppy

…but have ignored the Japanese anemone nearby.

Japanese anemone

Perhaps the smell is wrong.

Not all the poppies have been thoroughly trashed.

poppies

…but they almost all seem to have been visited.  That is probably why the dahlias now seem to be popular with bumble bees and honey bees alike.

bee and bumble bee

I like hoverflies because  their sharp patterns make them very visible to the camera.

hoverfly on poppy

From a photographic point of view, smaller flies, although quite interesting in close up…

fly on marigold

…can spoil the bigger picture.

Pot Marigold

Once again, I asked myself, “Can you have too many fuchsia pictures?”  Once again, the answer was, “Not as far as I am concerned.”

Fuchsia

One of the ones which Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted this year and which have done well

P1030846

A new one which she bought as a treat for me.

The clematis are surviving well.

clematis

I had time for a last look at an outstanding dahlia….

dahlia

…and something in the vegetable garden that Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is Pak Choi…

Pak Choi

…before I had to go in to make some soup and have a shower.

For many years, I have been mashing up my vegetable soups through an old plastic hand powered Moulinex rotary masher which we bought on a trip to France.  Lately I had become a bit concerned that with wear and tear, I might be mashing in more plastic with the vegetables than is desirable.  With that in mind, we bought a modestly priced electric masher when we were in Edinburgh on Thursday and I gave it a test run today.  It certainly mashed the vegetables and the resulting soup was very good.  Obviously not every modern invention is the work of the devil.

After lunch, there was another moment in the garden…

dark nasturtium

The inner workings of the dark nasturtium from yesterday’s post

…and another red admiral butterfly.

red admiral butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was listening to a program on the radio about what astonishing travellers red admiral butterflies are and they certainly fly round our garden at great speed before finding just the right flower to settle on.

The choir practice in Carlisle was a very hard working session.  Because our first two practices of the season were devoted to the pieces for the concert with the Phoenix Choir, we have less time to prepare for our Christmas concert and Andrew, our conductor, is driving us on.  More homework is needed.  Luckily the pieces are enjoyable so a bit of hard work doesn’t go amiss.

The flying bird of the day is my current favourite among the poppies.

poppy

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working hard in Zurich at the moment but found time to admire this trio of trees ageing differentially.

Zurich trees

Yesterday we had a sunny morning and a grey afternoon (and by the time that we went to bed, the inevitable rain had returned).  Today we had a grey and drizzly morning which was extremely depressing but by the afternoon, the clouds had broken and a cheerful sun appeared.

As a result, we spent a quiet morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal engaged in domestic tasks while I went off to the producers’ market and made some judicious purchases of fish, honey and a variety of beef, lamb and venison for slow cooked stews over the next month.

To hold my purchases, I had taken along a very stout store bag which Mary Jo from Manitoba had given to us when we met in London and I was quite surprised when a lady at the venison stall said, “I know where that comes from.”  And even more surprised when it turned out that she did know where it came from as she had spent time in Canada and in Manitoba itself.  It’s a small world, as they say.

I put the bad weather to good use when I got home by practising choir songs and putting another one into the computer.  Because I don’t play the piano, the computer gives me a lot of help when I meet a new song.

We had a good lunch and then, as the day had brightened, we went out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal set about improving her new path and I did some dead heading and shredding before I got my camera out.

bees on dahlia

The honey lady at the producers’ market had told me that the bees are very hungry at the moment and they were tucking in at the dahlias as soon as the sun came out.

The poppies and cornflowers were quieter.

poppy and cornflower

The absence of really cold mornings has allowed the cream coloured potentilla in the garden to keep flowering and has encouraged the Ooh La La Clematis to have a second go.

clematis and potentilla

A butterfly was to be seen clinging to the back of a dahlia, presumably to get some sun on its wings.

red admiral

It was looking in good condition

The weather seemed to be set fair so I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

My confidence in the steady state of the weather turned out to be misplaced and I soon found myself pedalling through a curtain of drizzle.  There was still plenty of sunshine about though and I had the wit to stop and look behind me.

rainbow over wauchopedale

The rain subsided and I pedalled on until I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse where I considered my options.  I had planned to do a triple Cleughfoot recycling route and the weather looking back to Langholm appeared fair enough…

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking east

…but behind Cleughfoot things looked very threatening.

black clouds

I decided to risk sticking to my plan and pedalled as  fast as I could uphill and into the wind towards the black clouds, stopping briefly to admire a combination of sloes and haws….

sloes and haws

…before turning at the top of the road and whizzing back downhill and downwind as fast as I could, hoping to outrun any rain.

The sloe photo opportunity proved my downfall though as I was caught by the shower and had to stop to put my rain jacket on to protect my camera.  Still, it was only just the edge of the rain and I was soon back in sunshine and when I got to Langholm, I stopped in our garden where Mrs Tootlepedal said it had hardly rained at all.

I decided to let the shower get well past before going up the road again and this gave me a chance to admire the nasturtiums and calendula at the end of the drive….

nasturtiums and calendula

…and an unusually dark solo nasturtium flower beside the new path.

nasturtium

The sedum shone so brightly…

sedum

…that it seemed to be giving me the all clear so I set off on my second lap.  In spite of some gloomy looking clouds, it stayed dry and I was enjoying myself when I went over a slight bump in the road and my water bottle fell out of its cage.

I had to stop and retrieve the bottle from the verge and when I realised that I was within a few yards of my favourite cascade, I took this as a sign and clambered down the bank to have a look.

Wauchope cascade

There was not as much water going down the river as I had expected but it is still a lovely spot.

Because I had been delayed by the rain, I was a bit behind schedule so I abandoned the third repetition and only did enough to bring up twenty miles.  I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine to go for a walk so I got changed quickly and set off to walk round the Becks before the sun went down.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had done a hard couple of hours work on the path, thought that a cup of tea was a better option so I went by myself.

The difference between the miserable morning and the sunlit late afternoon was chalk and cheese.

Whita Hill

It was a pleasure to be out and about.

Becks track

Warbla

I walked down through the woods and across the Becks Burn, keeping an eye for fungus in dark places.  I saw this crop of tiny fungi on a dead branch.

Becks fungi

They were smaller than my fingernail

I was pleased to come out into the sunshine though as it was muddy underfoot in the woods and there were many opportunities to put a foot wrong and end in an undignified position.

As I walked down the hill towards the Wauchope road, the Auld Stane Brig caught the last of the sunshine.

Auld Stane Brig

I was very surprised to see an umbellifer in flower as I walked along the road, but bearing in mind the hunger of the bees, I was less surprised to see that they had spotted it too.

umbellifer with bees

The bee keeping lady told me that the bees are waiting for the ivy flowers to come out to provide them with a last big feed before shutting down for winter.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t really approve of garden owners who let their plants impinge on the public highway but there can’t be any objection when it is a magnificent fuchsia like this one.

fuchsia

There was just enough light left when I got home to let me enjoy a last look at the spiky dahlias.

spiky dahlias

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to volunteer at a concert in the Buccleuch Centre and I sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing and admired the relentless energy of the professional dancers.

I am hoping that the weather is kind and that it will let me out for a morning ride tomorrow.  A ride tomorrow would make this a good week for cycling and go some way to making up for my poor efforts in September.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo. She is currently on holiday in England and came across this fine gate in Salisbury.

Mary Jo's gate

Mrs Tootlepedal has been wanting a bit a manure to get her garden off to a good start for the next growing season so she had a word with a friend yesterday and early this morning, this arrived at our front gate…

Manure

…but even with the expert assistance of our neighbour Liz, the tractor was just too big to get itself turned round enough to back the trailer into the drive.

There was no alternative.

manure

What fun.

Luckily, Alasdair who had supplied the muck , was kind enough to stay on to help and with good teamwork….

manure shifting

…with Al and Liz filling barrows at one end of the drive and Mrs Tootlepedal creating an artistic muck heap at the other, the situation was soon saved.

manure shifted

I ran the shuttle service.

It wasn’t done in a few minutes but it was done just before Dropscone arrived for coffee and we sat down to a well earned rest, although some in the party didn’t think that they were getting a fair share of the scones.

Riley

This was the moment to test whether Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam was the correct additive for a Langholm scone and after eating two of his scones with the jam on, Dropscone agreed that the jam passed the test with honour.  I must say that I thought that it went very well with a scone or two too.

After Liz and Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a happy hour trying to erase any sign of manure other than that in the neat pile at the end of the drive…

manure

…and thanks to expert work by Mrs Tootlepedal with a teaspoon and a toothbrush, things were left looking pretty tidy.  Mrs Tootlepedal is looking forward to spreading the muck about generously in the coming months.

I once gave Mrs Tootlepedal a half load of manure for a Christmas present.  It was a very successful present as it sat outside our kitchen window for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal often remarked that every time that she looked at the great heap of muck, she thought of me.

The garden is still reasonably colourful for the time of year….

garden late Spetember 2107

…and the insects keep coming.

insects on dahlias

The dahlias were very popular today.

hoverfly

It was pleasantly cool while we were muck shifting, which was good, but the sun came out shortly afterwards and it was a great pleasure to be out in the garden.

Special Grandma looked particularly pleased.

special grandma

I made some potato and carrot soup for my lunch and then went off for a quick stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was quite breezy so I was not unhappy to have had too little time for a cycle ride.  September has been a very poor month for cycling with bad weather at the start and too much to do at the end of the month but luckily, I am well ahead of my schedule for the year and with some good weather in October, I should still reach my target by Christmas.

I had very good weather for my stroll and enjoyed the peaceful look of Wauchope Churchyard as I passed.

Wauchope Churchyard

In spite of the sunshine, the brown and swirling waters flowing under the Auld Stane Brig show just how much rain we have had over recent weeks.

Auld Stane Brig

The ground is sodden and the rain showers seem to be very heavy when they come so we may expect a bit of a flood if it rains for a long time soon. All this water came from some rain last night.

I kept my eyes open as I walked and enjoyed this large fungus….

fungus

…and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if the white rim round the edge means that it is still alive and growing.

I did see other fungus and lichen but the light was too poor or too bright so I didn’t get very good pictures.

fungus and lichen

I thought that an oak might be showing autumn colour but it turned out to be caused by the galls on the back of the leaves.  Some of the oaks are covered in these galls.

oak galls

Some peering about on the internet tells me that they may be spangle galls.  If this is true we should be in for a plague of gall wasps as there are hundreds of these galls about.

Some of the oaks are free of them and I liked this perky acorn further along the walk.

acorn

I resisted the temptation to sit on a handy bench provided so that elderly walkers can sit and look back across the river at the Wauchope Churchyard and think dark thoughts about mortality and enjoyed the open views further on instead.

Meiklholm Hill

Grey clouds were looming over Meikleholm Hill.

A curious sheep looked back at me.

stubholm sheep

I didn’t dawdle too much and I just had time to check out a battered butterfly when I got home….

red admiral butterfly

…before jumping into the car with Mrs Tootlepedal and driving off to Eskdalemuir to collect the Camera Club photos which had been on exhibition at The Hub there.

Thanks to the good curation of the exhibition by Sharon and the other volunteers at The Hub, our club members had sold quite a few of the pictures and I was modestly very pleased to find that three of mine were among those that had found buyers.

It had rained a little as we had driven up but we did most of the journey in sunshine and I wish that I could have had time to stop to take a few pictures.  Of course, I would have had to remember to bring my camera with me and as I hadn’t, the lack of time wasn’t quite so painful.

The reason for the rush was a concert at the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.  This was given by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who are absolute masters of the art of providing a congenial evening of traditional music and amusing commentary.   Their musicianship on fiddle and accordion is superb and the commentary in between the numbers can make your ribs hurt at times. Even if a lot of the tunes and stories may have made their appearance in former concerts, you greet them with all the enthusiasm you would greet a much loved old friend who has returned after some time abroad.

They have played together for forty years and have supreme and justified confidence in their own ability so they have no need to pester us with questions about whether we are having a good time or to play very loudly or to jump around and stamp to prove that they are trying.  They just sit there quietly and pour out a stream of magic and we are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is sitting on the hedge prior to taking off.

blackbird

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.

pheasant

I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well

blackbird

A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.

cotoneaster

The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.

crow

I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.

Goosander

It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture most unusually comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She took this picture of our neighbour Liz hard at work in the dam.

Liz in the dam

Unlike yesterday, I hardly stirred from the house and garden all day.  I did pop up to the town after breakfast to oversee the transfer of some unwanted stacking chairs from the Archive Centre to the Langholm Initiative.  As this involved merely opening the door and watching as two strong young men whisked the chairs out into a van and then locking the door again, it wasn’t very taxing or time consuming.

Once I got home, the day became all action.  It was dry and warm, even if it was cloudy, and too good a day not to get busy around the garden.

Because some work was being done elsewhere, the sluice to our dam was shut and this gave our neighbour Liz the chance to get busy cleaning out the part of the dam that runs along her garden and when I say busy, I am understating the case.  When she had finished, with a little help from Mrs Tootlepedal….

Dam cleaned

…the dam was auditioning for the role of Langholm’s first deep water port.

When most of the work was done, I made coffee for the workers and Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were joined by another neighbour, Margaret and between us, we cured many of the evils that are besetting the world at the moment.  It is just a pity that no local or world leaders were present to take our sage advice.

I hadn’t been entirely idle while the waterworks were going on and had managed to mow a patch of grass or two….

middle and front lawn

…trying my best to ignore signs which may indicate that Attila the gardener has plans to mangle my sward.

lawn works

Then I dead headed a lot of dahlias, calendula and poppies.  The poppies are still looking a fresh as when they first appeared….

poppy

…or even fresher.

poppy

One poppy had something that was not a bee on it and I was curious and took a closer look…

poppy

…without being much wiser as to what it was.

 

Perhaps because it wasn’t sunny, the poppies were not being pestered by bees to the same extent as they have been recently but there were still quite a lot about…

poppy with bees

…and on the dahlias as well.

bumble bees on dahlia

The large bumble on the left loves this dahlia and stayed on it for hours today.   There are so many different kinds of bumble bee that I can’t identify this one.

***Spoiler alert***

Infantile humour arriving.  Beware!

One I can identify, thanks to my knowledge of Rachmaninov, is this one….

bee

…which is of course, the bum of the flightlebee.  (Sorry)

***normal service has been resumed***

The Special Grandma rose, which is well sheltered from the elements, is going bananas.

Special Grandma rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz started on the dam behind our house on our side of the road and I did some more mowing….

green house grass and the drying green

….with the flymo…

….checked out a red admiral in profile and full wing…

red admiral

It is hard to recognise these pictures as the same butterfly

…..and then set about trimming the hedge along the road.

Before….

hedge

…and after.

hedge

As I explained to a passer by, I wasn’t aiming for geometrical precision.  Having just been to the south of France where the post impressionist painters worked, I told her that I had been inspired to create a post impressionist hedge, a hedge which didn’t look exactly like a boringly real hedge but a hedge which gave an impression of a hedge as an artist might see it, possibly while slightly drunk.  She seemed to think that I had succeeded admirably.

When I had finished the hedge, I went to see what the workers were doing.  Attila had her team beautifully regimented…

Dam team

…and their work rate was impressive.  The plan was to cut back the potentillas and thin out the dead wood until the side of the dam was clear, leaving the possibility of some variety next year. The plan was comprehensively executed….

potentilla clearing

…as were the potentillas.

I helped by barrowing away the prunings and offering helpful advice wherever it was needed….

fuchsia

…though I took time out to admire the fuchsia on our back wall….

bee and butterfly

…and celebrate the peaceful sharing nature of bee and butterfly on a sedum while I was dropping off a barrowload of branches.

 

There were innumerable barrowloads of clippings and I was happy to pause again to admire the nasturtiums and cosmos at the front gate on one of the trips.

nasturtiums and cosmos

In the end, even the indefatigable Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal proved human and work was stopped for the day.  To celebrate, I provided a large pot of tea and made some toast.  The toast was all the better for being eaten with some Saskatoon Jelly.  This had been very generously given to me by my Canadian correspondent Mary Jo when she met us in London at the weekend.

It was delicious.

Interestingly, although I had never heard of Saskatoon Jelly, it turns out to come from the plant Amelanchier alnifolia and Mrs Tootlepedal thinks there is a variety of Amelanchier  growing in a neighbour’s garden.

Throughout the day, I was keeping an eye out for walnuts which had fallen from our walnut tree.

walnuts

In spite of, or perhaps because of,  our cool summer, the are plenty of nuts around and quite a lot of them are full of nutty goodness.  Jackdaws pick them from the tree and then often seem to drop them so that neighbours quite a distance away sometimes come upon walnuts in their own gardens.

There was a certain sagging at the end of a busy day but I was sufficiently refreshed by the last of the venison stew to get myself out for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  It was very well attended and as the music was varied and enjoyable, I was pleased to have made the effort.

During the day, I visited Liz to check out her electric lawn mower.  It seems both efficient and easy to use.  I am thinking of declaring our Flymo past its use by date and her mower looks like a good type of replacement.  As well as the mower, I couldn’t help noticing a very pretty rose growing on a trellis on her wall and it is the flying bird of the day.

Liz's rose

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who went back to the low countries after our visit to Marseille.  He was surprised to find a local pipe band in Ghent.  They are wearing McKenzie tartan kilts, our mother’s clan.

ghent pipe band

The forecast was for a calm and often sunny day.  I made a plan to pedal based on the forecast.  The forecast turned out to be correct and my plan came to fulfilment.   Two unusual things on the same day.

Before I left, I printed out a copy of yesterday’s guest picture of the day for our neighbour Liz.  She is entering it in an informal competition so I hope it does well….

…and then I had a quick look round the garden.

The internally lit dahlia is still giving its best…

dahlia

…and it has a little competition.

dahlia

The insects were out in force again today.

hoverfly and bee

This was the destination of choice.

poppy with bees and hoverfly

Not quite as many as yesterday but still impressive.

I finally ran out of cycle avoidance excuses and set off with a plan to see how my legs were doing after a very light cycling month.  I chose a route that started out over the hills and then headed down towards England and the coast.

It was sunny but hazy….

view near gair

…and there were signs of autumn both in Scotland…

Sprinkell trees

…and England.

Rockcliffe trees

Regular readers will know that I like a tree tunnel…..

near Rockliffe

…and this one, near Rockliffe, is one of my favourites.

The wind was light but persistent and I found it quite hard work cycling into it so I was happy to stop after 30 miles to visit a pub for a half pint of draught beer (very good) and a plate of egg and chips (absolutely excellent) at the Drover’s Rest in Monkshill.

The road that the pub is on was closed, though I was able to pedal through the works quite easily, so I was the only customer.  In a sign of the times, cooking the egg and chips, which were not on the menu, was no problem but finding out how to record the sale on a computerised till, which didn’t have egg and chips on it, caused a lot of head scratching.

The Drover’s Rest had an interesting notice in the bar.

state management notice

I hadn’t realised that the state management of brewery and pubs had stretched out of Carlisle.

I pedalled on down to the Solway shore.  I had the intention of showing readers a lovely scene of the Solway sparkling under a blue sky but this scheme didn’t go well for two reasons.

  1. The sun went in
  2. The tide was out

I settled for some marsh cattle grazing peacefully.

marsh cattle

You can see the Scottish shore in the background but no sign of the Solway in between.  Drovers who knew what they were doing were able to walk across to Scotland in the old days.

The cattle were finding the marsh grass very much to their taste…

marsh cattle

…but I could definitely have done with a bit more water than the trickle that was available.

Solway shore

More of a river than the sea

Further along the coast, when I had passed through Bowness on Solway, a flash of white caught my eye.

little egret

It was at the limit of the Lumix’s capabilities but I stopped because I don’t think that a little egret has appeared on the blog before.

It had friends close by.

lapwing and gull

The bird in the left is a lapwing.  We used to see lots of them in the fields round Langholm when we first came to the area forty years ago but we hardly ever see one now.  I don’t know what sort the gull is.

Out on the mudflats far beyond the egret, a group of curlews was calling and scratching…

curlews and heron

…and a heron flew lazily past.

A good pair of binoculars  and a long lens would have been useful.

After a last look at the little egret….

little egret

….I pedalled on round the radio station at Anthorn and came into the estuary of the Whampool where a large flock of lapwings was sitting in the shallows.

lapwings

I do know this gull. It is a black headed gull like the ones on our Kilngreen.

The skies had clouded over a lot and the River Whampool was looking mean, moody but not quite magnificent.

Whampool River

I had done 50 miles by this time and the issue of getting home before dark was raising its head so I gave up thoughts of 100 miles, which would have required an earlier start to the day, and settled for a fairly direct route home.  Unfortunately this required cycling straight into the light wind for the first part and then some steady uphill work for the last part so the camera stayed in my pocket as I concentrated on getting home.

I was feeling a bit feeble and I stopped at Springfield for a delicious ice cream and then battled my way back by Milltown of Sark and over the Bloch.

I was unusually tired when I got home and  a visit to the scales showed that I had lost 2kg on the trip which means that I had not managed to get a balanced food and liquid intake on the ride (the first time this year on the longer rides) and that would explain the fatigue.

I did have the energy to take a picture of the Virginia Creeper on the fence at the end of the drive, which is very striking….

virginia creeper

…and I went to check on the bees’ favourite poppies.

poppy

The bees had been busy

poppy

Very busy

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy too,  helping at the Buccleuch Centre when I got home but she soon returned and made me a nourishing evening meal for which I was extremely grateful.

When I had helped her out with her accounts yesterday, she assured me that she would love me for ever but a remark or two today after certain humorous efforts of mine indicated that there might be a conditional element in this.

She has been considering major improvements to the flower beds round the middle lawn and I want to put it on record that I regard any such plans as being a really good thing.

Anyone interested in details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 26 Sept 2017

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz.  She enjoyed this misty view on one of her morning walks recently.

Mist on Whita

There were no views at all when we woke up this morning, as the hills were shrouded in clouds and a fine drizzle was falling.  Luckily I had a stint in the Welcome to Langholm office to do so the miserable weather didn’t trouble me.

I was kept very busy putting  data into the Archive Group database while entertaining Dropscone, who had news of a recent golfing triumph to pass on and John, another friend, who was recovering from a visit to the physiotherapist nearby.  What with golf and creaking joint talk and two visits from tourists seeking a welcome and the computer work as well, the two hours passed in a flash.

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but  I found Mrs Tootlepedal engrossed in the tricky matter of balancing some accounts rather than gardening.  After we had had a cup of coffee with our neighbour Liz, I foolishly offered to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with her accounts and the afternoon was well under way by the time that the figures on both sides of the ledger had obediently fallen into place.  Although it is very annoying when columns don’t add up, it is very satisfying when they finally do.

Still, a lot of quite good weather had gone by unused which was a pity.  We went out into the garden and while Mrs Tootlepedal got down to work, I looked around.

nasturtiums

A couple of cheery nasturtiums beside the front gate

Cardoon

A last look at a cardoon before Attila the gardener gives them the chop soon

I did a little much needed dead heading and upset a good number of bees and hoverflies who were looking for pollen.  At one moment, almost all of them chose the same poppy.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

We stood for some time watching the crowd, our mouths open in astonishment.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

After all, it was quite an astonishing sight.

Because my flute pupil Luke was due in the early evening, I didn’t have time to go for a cycle ride but it was such a pleasantly warm and calm day by now that I left Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work and went off for a short walk.

Beside the river I stopped to enjoy a wagtail wagging its tail and a dipper dipping.

Wagtail

The dipper was in all action mode, disappearing under the water for ages at a time and dabbing about vigorously when it emerged.

dipper dipping

It did pose for me for a brief moment though.

dipper

At the Kilngreen, I saw a lonely herring gull….

herring gull

…and some restful ducks.

ducks in the grass

This was my favourite.

duck

Occasional sunshine brought out the colours which are beginning to appear all around.

Esk

Although there are plenty of fallen autumnal looking leaves about….

autumn leaves

…there are still many more on the trees.

leaves

The combination of many greens and some red and yellow meant that there was always a delight for the eye as I walked along.

early autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholm

I kept my eyes open for other smaller things.  This fungus on a tree stump interested me greatly.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it before.

tree stump fungus

They growths are tiny and I thought that they were sprinkled crumbs when I first saw them

It was a really pleasant walk and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to be out longer.

When I got back to the house, I reflected that it was lucky that we don’t shut the front gate very often…

nasturtiums on front gate

Our friend Mike Tinker was chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and she was telling him of great plans for improvements for next year.  I look forward to photographing the results.

I had a last look round…

fuchsia

…and was pleased to spot a red admiral butterfly on a rudbeckia.

red admiral butterfly

We read in the paper this morning that it has been an exceptionally good year for red admiral butterflies and we have certainly seen a great many in our garden in the last few weeks.

Then I had to go in to get ready for the flute lesson which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was quite pleased to have no further obligations for the day as I am feeling a little tired after dashing from end to end of the continent last week.  Somehow sitting in down in trains, although it is very enjoyable, is also quite tiring.

An early night won’t do me any harm.

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