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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.

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Today’s guest picture is the last of the Derby insects sent to me by my brother Andrew.

derby hornet

I am irresistibly reminded of my favourite limerick.  I remember it as:

There was a young man from St Bees,
Who was stung on the knee by a wasp.
When they said, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
Thank goodness it wasn’t a hornet.”

But I see that the original was by W S Gilbert who wrote:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet.”

With the greatest respect to WS, I think my version is snappier.

But I digress.

Dropscone recently took a boat trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam, coming back on what should have been the final day before Brexit and he dropped in this morning on his way back from the gym to have a cup of coffee and tell me about it.  His main impression was that Amsterdam is a very easy place in which to get run over by a cyclist.

I had resolved to have a very quiet day today as I was feeling far from my peak so after he left, I constrained my activity to a brief walk round the garden.

The cold and wet weather of the last week has put new growth on the back foot again and there are few developments but some flowers are doing well in spite of frost and rain.

wallflowers, dicentra, cardamine

And the fritillaries are fabulous.

fritillary in sun

There were sunny spells in the morning and these four chaffinches looked very cheerful in one of them.

four happy chaps

The blossom on the plum tree is just waiting for a warmer day to break out fully.

chaffinch in plum buds

The sunshine didn’t keep everyone happy as this study of a lady chaffinch giving a little siskin a kicking shows.

chaffinch kicking siskin

However, the siskin had the last laugh because it stayed in the perch and the chaffinch had to retire in confusion.

For the first time this year, we had several redpolls on the feeder at the same time and although they are small, like the siskins they are tough little birds and not afraid of anything.

three repolls

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself to visit Matilda in Edinburgh (and her other grandparents who are visiting too). Matilda is basking in glory as she came second in her first ever dance competition yesterday and got a medal!

I stayed at home and mooched around in some showery weather until the skies cleared and I thought that my foot might benefit from a little walk.  I don’t want to seize up altogether and I have been severely limiting my exercise for five weeks now so it is important to keep moving, even if very slowly.

I walked up onto the Meikleholm hill and looked back to see the town bathed in sunshine while Whita Hill in the background was still under a cloud.

sunny town cloudy whita

Six minutes later, the town was in shadow and the hill was sunlit.  It was that sort of day, with a very brisk and chilly wind.

sunny whita cloudy town

I had intended to do a Grand Old Duke of York and go to the top of the hill and then come down again but I found a herd of cows in my way and thought better of it and went back down and continued my walk by going along the track to the Becks Burn.

I stopped and had a chat with Stan from the camera club who was walking  his dogs.  He told me that he has already sold a picture from the exhibition at Canonbie so that was good news.

I walked further along the track with one of the smallholders who have fields there.  There was no need to ask which were his sheep because as we approached his field they careered down towards him in the justified hope of some food.  He has already got some traditional spring lambs…

lamb oanel

…and there were other more exotic ones in a neighbouring field.

There were white things to see as I went along…

white things on walk

…and plenty of new growth in the hedgerow when I had crossed the burn and was walking down the road on the other side.

hedge buds

I crossed the Becks Burn again by this bridge which carries the Wauchope road back into the town.

becks bridge at Wauchope

In spite of the recent rain, there is still very little water in the stream after our dry spell in March.

As is so often the case, where there is a bridge and a wall, there is lichen.

Becks bridge lichen

I had thought of a slightly longer walk at this point but my foot put its foot down and told me to go straight home so I did.

When I got to Pool Corner, I lifted up two of the little squares of roofing felt which a nature lover has put there and underneath them, I found two baby slow worms and an adult.

slow worm and mat

Just before I got home, I passed a man with an unusual hedge.

quince fence

It is a quince hedge and he told me that when the fruits come, people pick them and bring him a jar of jelly in return.

When I got back, I found that there were more redpolls about…

redpoll pair

…and they weren’t averse to trying to establish a pecking order…

redpolls beak to beak

…though the one on the top right seems a bit astonished by the bad behaviour of the other two.

repolls flyting

I was cooking some ginger biscuits when Mike Tinker dropped in and I was more than a bit embarrassed to peer into the oven and to see no biscuits at all.  The little round balls of dough that should have melted out into flat biscuits were still little round balls of dough.  When I took them out of the oven (after Mike had gone), I found that they were dry, tasteless and inedible.

A bit of brain racking ensued (as far as I still have a brain to rack) and a second look at the recipe told me that I must have forgotten to put the sugar in.  I made a second batch, hoping not to miss out some other vital ingredient this time.  I must have got everything in because I got some undeniable biscuits out of the oven and they tasted quite good.  I am going to have one or two with a cup of tea when I finish writing this post.  Or even three.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a very quiet evening in.

The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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I would like to thank kind readers for sending me a positive flood of potential guest pictures and I have chosen one from Venetia’s African odyssey to start off.  It shows a gemsbok which appealed to me as it appeared in a recent crossword as an answer to a cryptic clue.  It is good to see what one actually looks like.

Oryx aka gemsbok,

We were slightly worried about the weather at the start of the day as Mrs Tootlepedal was due to go to London on family business and the the forecasts regarding Storm Gareth were quite alarming.  As it turned out, we avoided the worst of the overnight weather and things looked like this in Langholm this morning.

quiet after storm

In the event, both bus and train ran to time and Mrs Tootlepedal is safely ensconced in the south as I write this.  Doubtless she is relaxing under a palm tree and enjoying a beaker of the  blushful Hippocrene  with beaded bubbles winking at the brim.  I believe this is the standard practice down there.

After Mrs Tootlepedal left to catch the bus, I went to the dentist on my bike and discovered that I am going to have to have two small fillings.  As I am grateful to still have some teeth to fill, I shall not complain.

On my way home I passed a goosander checking to see what was under the surface.

ducking goosander

It stayed pretty sunny all morning and I was a bit sad that a sore foot kept me housebound, although the strong and chilly wind would have kept me off my bike anyway.

I looked out of the window at the daffodils which have come to join the hellebore under the feeder.

hellebore and daffs

Up above, the was plenty of action.

busy feeder

I made some multicoloured lentil soup for my lunch and I felt strong enough to have a wander round the garden.

The first scillas are in flower…

scilla

…and a couple of frogs had arrived in the pond.

march frog

I was just settling down for a rather boring afternoon when providentially Sandy arrived bringing our shared mount cutter which I will need to prepare pictures for our forthcoming camera club exhibition.  We had a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and then when I expressed a wish for a short outing in the car to at least get out out of the house, Sandy suggested a trip up the hill to see if we could see a wild goat or two.

The sun had gone in and there was a hint of drizzle but the call of the wild was strong.

We actually saw three goats but when we stopped and got out of the car, they scurried over a bridge (no doubt going ‘trip trap’) and made off up the hill.

goat near bridge

This was the bridge that they crossed.

tarras bridge

It has Sandy on top of it and no trolls underneath.

Slightly disappointed with this small sighting, we continued up the road towards the county boundary, seeing no goats as we went along.

Deprived of goats we looked at the Black Grain Burn instead.  It winds its way down the hill beside the road…

copshaw road burn

…making sudden sallies and sparkling among the ferns as it bickers down the valley…

It has a multitude of little cascades of….

small copshaw road waterfall

…various…

middle copshaw road waterfall 2

…sizes.  I took two shots of the middle sized one because I liked the spangled curtain of peaty water.

middle copshaw road waterfall

This was the biggest.

copshaw road burn down

It is a little gem of a place and we intend to come back later in the year when things are greener, the sun is out and a picnic might be in order.

copshaw road burn with tree

It is a magical spot and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it has a bank where the wild thyme grows.

We drove on to the county boundary and saw nothing of interest in the wild life category…well to be truthful, we saw no wildlife at all.

We didn’t stop long as the chilly wind was fairly whistling past us.

We were peacefully driving back down the hill when we were brought to a sudden stop by spotting a good number of goats just by the road.  We must have passed them without seeing them on our way up.

The Langholm Moor feral goats are a fine sight with immensely shaggy coats and notable horns.

solo goat

They got a bit fidgety when we got out of the car and made their down the road ahead of us…

crowd of goats

…but not without a bit of headbutting and prancing on the way.

leaping goat

They stopped soon after and let us take some more pictures.

goat profile head

We took the opportunity gratefully.

goat profile left

The light was fading so we drove on with one last stop to let me take a quick snap from the car of the first lambs that I have seen this year.

first lambs

It was an excellent outing and I was grateful for Sandy for giving me an excuse to get out of the house.

I made an enormous bowl of cauliflower cheese for my tea and surprised myself by eating it all.  I had to let out a notch in my belt afterwards.

In the middle of more parliamentary mayhem in the evening, I listened to a conservative MP talking soberly and sensibly while outlining a perfectly sensible cross party plan of action which as he said would satisfy most of the 52% leave voters without insulting the 48% remain voters.  He was so sane and reasonable that I fear that he has no future in politics.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving the world a sideways look in the morning sun.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another captured by our son Tony’s new camera, showing that it (and he) can take close ups as well as the larger picture.

oznor

It was bright and chilly when we got up and after breakfast, I went out to look for the lost perch from the feeder.  I found it easily enough and screwed it back in place and then sat back and waited to see some obliging bird land on it.

I waited in vain.

empty feeder

It was a very quiet bird day indeed and I had to look hard to see a single chaffinch in the plum tree.

lonely chaffinch

In the end, I gave up bird watching and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went out bicycling.  The thermometer had scraped up to 5°C but the wind was light so I took a more adventurous route than usual and headed up the road to Bentpath.

This involves a sharp climb at the start of the ride but does provided some excellent views like this favourite, looking towards the Gates of Eden just after the first climb.

gates of eden

Our hills are generally rounded and smooth but there are occasional outcrops and those who know tell me that if I was patient enough, I might see a peregrine falcon on this crag near Bentpath.

crag at benty

I continued on through the village and headed up the Esk valley towards Bailliehill.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of the tree planting tubes which the foresters use to protect deciduous trees when they plant them and I was interested to see how well they do their job.  Almost every tube in this group seemed to have a healthy tree sticking out of it.

new trees in tubes

Conifer forestry was very evident too as I cycled up the river and I took this shot to show the impact that farming has on the view.  Where there is a flat place by the river, a ‘holm’ as it is called round here, there is always a field on it, usually with added sheep….

filed beside esk near king pool

…but where there is no holm , the uncultivated ground runs right down to the river and is often planted with spruce and/or larch.

esk looking back to lyneholm

I took these contrasting two shots from the same spot, looking first up and then down the river.

When I got to the top of the hill at Bailliehill, I turned south to go over the watershed between the Esk and the Water of Milk.

I stopped at a cattle grid for a drink and a banana.

cattle grid

The cattle grids are necessary to keep stock in the right place on unfenced roads and they can fairly rattle your teeth if you go over them too fast.

There were no cattle about today so I didn’t have to worry about bumping into one on the road but I had to keep an eye out for potholes, though the road was in better condition than this view back along it makes it look.

road from bailliehill

Although it looks a bit desolate on the top of the hill, I had not gone more than a mile further before the countryside had changed and I was cycling among pleasant green pastures and there was enough water about to make the Water of Milk recognisably a river in the making.

water of milk

I was able to look across at the Ewe Hill wind farm and check the wind direction.  Happily it showed that I would be helped home by the breeze.

ewes hill windfarm

I left the Water of Milk when I crossed the bridge at Paddockhole….

paddockhole bridge

…and headed back towards Callister Hill and Langholm.

I stopped on the way up Callister at a spot where a good view up towards Winterhope and a chance for a breather on a steep climb are equally welcome.

view from back of callister

I was now looking at the wind farm from the other side.

The last time that I took this route was on a cold and sunny day early last year and on that occasion, I made a choice to extend my trip by taking a diversion from the direct route home, met an ice filled pothole and hit the deck.

Under the circumstances, I thought long and hard about taking another diversion this time but as the temperature was a couple of degrees higher, the roads were drier and my legs were very cheerful, I risked turning off three miles short of Langholm and going over the hill to join the main road at Canonbie, adding ten miles to the journey.

Needless to say, I hadn’t gone far along my diversion before the sun ducked behind some clouds….

looming clouds

…although it was by no means as gloomy as the camera makes out.  All the same, once the sun went in, it felt a lot colder so I didn’t hang about taking any more pictures but pedalled steadily on.

The ride added 35 miles to my skimpy total for January but as I had done the last 15 miles in just under an hour, I was quite satisfied with both the views early on and the pace towards the end.

There were still no birds about in the garden when I got back but the sun came out as soon as the bike was safely put away in the garage and the sky was full of fluffy pink clouds.

fluffy pink cloud

In the absence of interesting birds and garden flowers, I took a picture of the bowl of hyacinths which our friend Liz had given Mrs Tootlepedal at the new year.  They are flourishing.

hyacinth in flower

Although the days are just beginning to get noticeably longer, they are still don’t last very long so I lit the stove in the front room and settled down to putting two of the Carlisle choir songs onto my computer so that I can start learning them.  Learning words and music is a protracted and sometime painful process, full of small steps forward and giant leaps backwards.

The flying bird(s) of the day are the only two chaffinches which approached the feeder when I was looking out of the window before cycling so I feel very lucky to have captured them at all. They have been carefully balanced for gender and left and right tendencies in the pursuit of political correctness.

two flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest pictures shows an original use for an old pallet.  Our son Tony made the coat rack and sent me the picture.  We hope to see it in real life tomorrow.

clothes hanger

This is an early post as we have a full evening ahead of us with a concert in the Langholm Church involving Langholm Sings and the Church Choir so we are both in action.  Immediately after the concert, we are setting off north to visit our son Tony and sample the delights of East Wemyss.   On Sunday, we are going across to attend a performance of the Messiah in Glasgow led by the ex-conductor of our Carlisle Choir so all in all, it will be a busy weekend.  As the forecast for Saturday includes blizzards, freezing rain and heavy snow. all this may be weather dependant but we are hoping that the weather will be reasonable while we are travelling.

Fingers firmly crossed.

It was a cold and frosty morning here and as the temperature never got above 2°C all day, there was no thought of bicycling.

I spent the morning getting organised for concert and travel and only had a moment to glance out of the window.

blackbird below feeder

In spite of the frost, the ground was remarkably ice free though so I went for a walk after lunch.

To check that the car was in working order, I drove down to the Hollows and started my walk along the old A7.

old A7 Hollows

The wind  had dropped from yesterday and in the sunshine, walking was a pleasure.  I passed some of the greenest moss in the world…

very green moss

…before I got to the track through the woods along the Byreburn.  I had hoped that this might be a good day to see some hair ice (or frost beard as it is sometimes known) as this track is a place where the fungus Exidiopsis effusa has been busy in the past.

The temperature was just right for hair ice formation and there was any amount to be seen all along the path.

sdr

It occurs in dead branches…

hair ice (3)

…and is a constant wonder to me.

hair ice (2)

I lifted my eyes from the hair ice for long enough to notice that I was passing the Fairy Loup waterfall…

fairy loup (2)fairy loup

…and soon found myself at the bridge at the top of the track.

byreburn bridge

I took the road for my route back to the car, passing Gilnockie Hall…

Gilnockie hall

…and many sheep, intelligently grazing just beyond the long shadows cast by the low winter sun on the trees.

Gilnokcie field

A short diversion took me along the old railway track past the site of Gilnockie Station..

gilnockie station

…and I walked down through a field so that I could enjoy the golden light of the sun through an old railway bridge.

gilnockie railway brodge

When the foresters fell the spruce and larch woods, they leave the pines…

byreburn woods (2)

…and the deciduous trees…

byreburn woods

…so there is still plenty for the walker to enjoy.

The light had faded by the time that I got home and I settled down to a crossword and looking through my pictures.

There is no flying bird of the day today, just a small perching chaffinch.

sunny chaffinch

For those who are interested, Wikipedia has an article on hair ice here.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.

partridge

It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.

 

Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….

P1130964

…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She set herself up with this splendid view with the intention of enjoying the Red  Arrows display team as they flew towards her.   Unfortunately, owing to a failure of communication, they appeared from behind her and were past before she could get a good shot.  Still, the  countryside is lovely.

somerset view

We had dawn till dusk sunshine today (with the occasional cloud) and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside.

I was going to go cycling in the morning but Mrs Tootlepedal had asked if I could clean the tray which catches the fallen seed below the bird feeder so while she went off for a meeting, I did that.  Bird poop and soggy seed are difficult to get off so this took me some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and it was such a  fine day that it seemed like a really good time to dig up the remaining potatoes and let them dry before storing them.

There were quite a lot to raise.

potatoes on bed

Some of them were definitely not small potatoes.

big potato

And the haulms needed chopping up and putting into the compost bin.

compost bin full of haulms

And I couldn’t spend time in the garden without looking around a bit.

yellow bee

three poppies

two reggae

And after all this, it was suddenly time for lunch and I still hadn’t gone cycling.

After lunch, I checked on the butterflies.  There were a lot about and as the buddleia blooms are going over, it wasn’t surprising to find a peacock and a red admiral sharing one of the ones that is still out.

peacock and admiral butterflies

I finally got cycling and soon found out that although the sun was out, there was a brisk wind to go with it so it was warm but hard going.  I set off to go over Callister but found that the loose gravel merchants had been at work there very recently so I turned back and took a diversion.  At one stage, this entailed going along a narrow road with a very poor surface, gently uphill and  straight into the wind.  I was pleased to take a rest and nibble on a bramble in a hedge…

bramble

…and make up for the recent lack of gates in the blog.

gate

I passed several farmers in the process of getting a second cut of grass for storage.

grass cutting in field

They must be pleased because when the cold wet spring was followed by a drought, things didn’t look very promising.

In spite of the constant verge cutting, some (short) wild flowers are showing again beside the road as I pedal along.

wild flower

For one reason or another, my legs were in a very uncooperative mood and the wind was coming from a rather unhelpful direction so my progress would have made a snail feel quite comfortable.

I needed a few stops to let the legs recover and I took one of them at this small bridge over a little burn a few yards from the border with England.

bridge near Springfield

It was a pretty spot…

path at bridge near Springfield

…with a lot of Himalayan balsam about.

balsam at bridge near Springfield

I took my last breather, about three miles from home and was impressed by the seediness of the area.

rosebay willowherb seed

seed head

In spite of my lacklustre legs, I managed 43 miles and found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.  She had collected up the potatoes…

potatoes in barrow

The ones in the bucket are damaged and have to be eaten first.

…and sorted out the bed.

potato bed

She is going to sow green manure in the bed now.

I checked on the butterflies and saw five peacocks at once….

five butterflies

…and then went in for a cup of tea and a look at the birds among the plums on the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing a home made pizza for our tea (our breadmaking machine makes a very good dough for pizza bases) and while she was doing this, I had another check on the butterflies….

four butterfleis and a bee

Four butterflies and a bee on the same flower head this time.

…before going off for a shower and coming down to eat the delicious pizza.

We are taking a keen interest in La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain cycle race) and I was very envious of the beautifully surfaced roads that they were cycling along today though I was happy not to be going down the final hill with them at 76 kph.  My nose starts bleeding at 48 kph.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow threatening the position of a greenfinch.

incoming sparrow

 

 

 

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