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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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Today’s guest picture is another of Tony’s seals among the seaweed.  That looks like an eider duck in the background.

another tony seal

Apology: There are far too many pictures in today’s post.  If you like garden pictures of flowers, birds, bees and butterflies scroll rapidly through to the end and if you like views start at the beginning and miss the finish.   For some inexplicable reason I was a bit tired when it came to sorting the photos out and I couldn’t summon up the energy to throw many away.

After another rainy night (2cms), the morning was grey but dry and importantly from my point of view, the wind was a great deal calmer than of late.

The church choir is still on holiday and I am resting my rather ragged voice so while Mrs Tootlepedal cycled off to sing, I got my bike out.  The forecast rather improbably suggested that if I set off cycling north, I would find the wind behind me but by the time that I had got to Hawick, 23 miles away, it would have come round and would blow me back south again.

I set off northwards with hope in my heart but a considerable degree of scepticism in my mind.

The ride started well with a view of a large family of goosanders just above the Langholm Bridge.

goosander family

The wind did indeed help me up the hill to Mosspaul and crossing the watershed there improved the weather too.

Mosspaul

Looking back in some welcome sunshine at the grey clouds that I had left behind

The helpful wind didn’t quite last all the way to Hawick and it was evidently doing what the forecasters had suggested and coming round to the north so I had to push a bit harder for the last five miles.  The recent rains have got the rivers flowing now, and there was plenty of water rushing down the Slitrig Burn in the middle of the town.

Slitrig Burn

The nearby sculpture….

Hawick sculpture

…looks strangely out of place in a borders town but celebrates the moment when the Turnbull family got its name.  (By turning a bull!)

The ride up to Hawick had been very enjoyable and the changing of the wind was very encouraging so instead of just turning round myself and going back by the same road, I decided to follow the Slitrig Burn and come home by the scenic route.

garmin route 19 Aug 2018

Up on the left and back on the right

The journey back by Whitrope summit and Liddesdale has much the same shape as the journey up over Mosspaul but as you can see from the elevation profile above, it is slightly longer and the the hill is bigger, topping out at about 1100 feet.  However both parts of the journey have very steady gradients and very little gratuitous loss of height so with the wind behind, as it was both ways today, they offer no great challenge to the elderly cyclist.

I saw some things as I cycled along the valley bottom beside the Slitrig burn.

mill wheelpig

Once up in the hills, there are extensive views…

view at Shankend

..with added viaduct.

Shankend viaduct

If the campaign to extend the Borders railway is successful, we might once again see train crossing the Shankend Viaduct.

Further on, I looked back northwards.  An information board told me that I was looking at the Catrail, a large and very long ditch.  Wikipedia tells me that: It is not known when or by whom the Catrail was made, or for what purpose. However, since it is not substantial enough to be an effective military barrier, it seems likely to have been a territorial boundary marker, possibly dating from the Early Middle Ages.

Since I couldn’t actually see the ditch, I enjoyed the splendid view instead.

catrail

From the same spot, I could see an excellent example of the modern land use….

forestry

…and a faint reminder of its former use.

sheep fold

A cycle sportive based in Hawick was taking place today and as I was going up the hill to the summit, I passed many cyclists going in the opposite direction to me.  As they were cycling into the wind and I wasn’t, I didn’t mind.  I had my wind assisted downhill still to come.

A small group of enthusiasts have preserved a mile or two of the old railway at the summit and I passed several parked items of rolling stock

Whitrope railway

Although the stock is a fine sight, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the road south.

Whitrope road

It is my favourite piece of road, especially on a day like today, sunny and with a light following wind and the knowledge of ten miles of gentle and continuous descent ahead.

The road and stream go down the hill together…

whitrope burn

And at this point the road crosses the stream by this fine bridge…

bridge and waterfall

…at the same time as the stream rushes across a small cascade.

As an added bonus, the bridge carries both moss and lichen for the delight of the discerning passer by..

moss and lichen

It became obvious that I was cycling a bit too fast down towards the village of Newcastleton as there were ominous black clouds ahead and the roads were getting progressively wetter so it was clear that I was catching up with a rain shower.

With this in mind, I sensibly stopped in a cafe in the village to have a cup of coffee and a toastie.  I would have had a rock bun too, which I had paid for, if they had given it to me but I got fed up with waiting and left unbunned.  I didn’t make a fuss because by the time that I realised that it wasn’t coming, I had spent too long sitting down and needed to get my legs working again.

The ten miles down to Canonbie, along the valley of the Liddle Water were the most undulating of the whole trip but the views are often delightful…

Liddesdale

…and the general trend is downhill so with the wind still behind me, I kept up a reasonable speed.

I was expecting that the last six miles back to Langholm would be hard work into the wind but the road is well sheltered and it was easy enough.

I stopped at the Hollows Bridge to admire the rush of water coming down the Esk..

Esk from Hollows

…and pedalled home very happily.

Full details of the ride can be found by clicking here.

I did more climbing today than I have done in any ride this year but thanks to the gentle gradients and the excellent selection of low gears on my new bike, I managed to keep my tin knee turning over very sweetly and the whole ride was unalloyed pleasure.  With only one or two short rough sections, the road surfaces were pretty smooth and pothole free which makes cycling so much more enjoyable than when you have to keep your eyes stuck to the road surface ahead.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre when I got back so I had gentle potter round the garden doing some dead heading and flower watching.

The theme was pink.

These are pink Japanese anemones, new in the garden last year.

pink Japanese anemone

You might think at first sight that I was in the vegetable garden but these are dicentra seeds with Lords and Ladies in the background.

dicentra

And this is the dahlia of the day with added bee.

dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal had lifted the onions while I was out cycling and I found them hanging on the greenhouse to dry out.

onions

Just as I got over Skippers Bridge on my way back into town on my bicycle, I had passed a lady looking at a big buddleia.  “Any butterflies?” I asked.  “Masses,” she replied. So I looked at our big buddleia.  There were a lot of butterflies on it too.

Peacock Butterfly pair

Some even posed for the camera.

Peacock Butterfly at full stretch

And among the peacocks, there was a lone red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…which wouldn’t pose properly for me.

The Michaelmas daisies beside the buddleia had lots of bees

bee on daisy

I went in to have a cup of tea and set the bird watching camera up.  The calmer weather had brought them back into the garden.

There were several blue tits about.

_DSC6538

And the usual sparring sparrows.

_DSC6548

The very white sparrow is getting some colour…

_DSC6555

..and there was a white feathered jackdaw about too.

_DSC6557

The jackdaws take a good portrait.

_DSC6558

Mrs Tootlepedal finally got back from a long screening at the Buccleuch Centre where she had been helping with front of house duties and we rounded off the day with a tasty liver casserole followed by nectarines and cream on a meringue base.  (The meringue bases come in packets of eight so we get four treats from a packet.)

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting close up and personal.

_DSC6556

Sorry about the over length post but it was such a treat getting a good day after all the drizzle that I couldn’t help myself.

 

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Thanks to all those who have sent guest pictures.  I start with these two exotic encoutnered by Jim and Sandra who certainly haven’t been on holiday in Blackpool.

jim and sandra

Hamilton Island                                         Komodo Island

After a sub zero night, it warmed up briskly and there was no hint of frost to be seen.  The temperature didn’t get above itself though and remained safely in single figures all day, not wanting us to get too optimistic about spring.

The fact that it was the vernal equinox today was neither here nor there apparently.

The better weather meant a very much worse attendance at the feeders today but this gave the dunnocks some space to shine.

dunnock

_DSC2436

There were several about, intent on giving each other a hard time.

Other visitors appeared from time to time.

dove, robin and greenfinch

The round robin shows that it was still pretty chilly.

I was pleased to see two blue tits but they too were intent on chasing each other off so I only got a fleeting glimpse of them.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a dentist’s appointment in the afternoon and kept her mind off it by indulging in a whirlwind round of household tasks in the morning and I had to look pretty sharp to avoid being tidied away into a cupboard under the stairs.

At midday, she went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and I had a very early lunch and got the slow (currently my only) bike out and went for a pedal.

The snow has almost all disappeared but in the shade of a wall here and there, the remains of drifts can still be seen.

snowy wall

The temperature was about 7°C and the wind was chilly but luckily the sun stayed out for the duration of the ride and I was well wrapped up so it was a good day to be pedalling.

I stopped near Waterbeck to admire the handsome bridge over the Kirtle Water…

kirtle water bridge

….its good looks are slightly spoiled by a fallen tree branch and a tatty sheep catcher.

I looked around while I was there and got three trees for the price of one…

Trees at Waterbeck

…and noticed an extensive stretch of white race track fences which indicate a horsey establishment.

Albie stud

I have cycled over the bridge many time without ever noticing them before.

The slow bike lived up to its name and for the first ten miles, which are quite hilly and into the wind, I needed an hour and three minutes.  The next two sets of ten miles took 50 and 51 minutes respectively, helped by some down hill and a bit of wafting from the now favouring breeze.

I enjoyed the views as I went.   Some were extensive like this one over the fields to Gretna with  the English hills beyond…

view of english hills

…and some more intimate like this little valley near Chapelknowe where two stream meet.

view near chapelknowe

The marks in the field in the foreground were made by a tractor spreading fertiliser and I was able to see him homeward plodding his weary way.

tractor leaving

As I got near to Canonbie, I passed this inviting farm sign

Mouldyhills

You might think that it would need a very optimistic farmer to take on this place but of course the  “mould” of mouldyhills has nothing to do with being mouldy, but is instead an ancient English word for loose earth or turned-over soil.

As I went along the old road to Canonbie, I passed Canonbie’s Caledonian coos again

canonbie cows

I showed the picture of the one with the fetching fringe from the blog of a week ago  at the camera club last night and a member piped up, “That’s one of my sister-in-law’s cows.”  It turned out that she had been given a Highland cow for a Christmas present after saying that she particularly liked Highland cattle.  She found it in the garage tied up with a pink ribbon on Christmas Day.

I should perhaps mention that I particularly like Ferraris.

One can live in hope.

Nearer Langholm, I stopped for a look at the fishermen’s steps at Broomholm.

fishermen's steps at Broomholm

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was at the dentist so I parked the bike and took a picture of two of the best things in life, a bicycle and and a large heap of manure.  Who could ask for anything more?

bike and manure

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the dentist in a very good mood, having had some painless treatment.  Meanwhile I had taken a short walk round the garden.

The crocuses had appreciated the better day….

crocus

…and other promising signs were to be seen.

spring flowers

I failed to take a sharp picture of an opening blackcurrant bud but quite liked the result which I thought summed up our hesitant approach to spring quite well.

blackcurrant leaf

A honeysuckle had a rabbit hiding behind its leaves.

honeysuckle leaf

The low sun and a blue sky overhead made for an interesting frog picture.

blue frog

At least the days will be longer than the nights now and that always lifts the spirits which considering the news in general certainly need a little lifting.

The flying bird of the day is like spring, rather elusive.

flying blue tit

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found plenty of sunshine when she went to visit the Limehouse Cut Canal a couple of days ago.

Limehouse Cut canal 27.10.17 008

We had some pleasant sunshine here today as well but as it came with a brisk and chilly north wind, I thought it better to go for walk after making a venison stew for the slow cooker rather than venture out on my bike.  I have had a bit of a froggy throat for a few days and with a choir practice coming up in the afternoon, it seemed more sensible.

After my walk with Sandy up to the monument on Friday, I headed for the opposite side of the valley today and walked up Warbla.

I kept an eye out for fungus and lichen at the start of my walk and saw both.

lichen and fungus

There is some autumn colour left….

Autumn colour

…but there are more leaves on the ground now than on the trees on general.

I wasn’t following a yellow brick road as I climbed up the hill but I did have an emerald green grassy track to guide me to the summit…

warbla track

…and plenty of views if I needed an excuse to catch my breath for a moment.

Becks Farm

It wasn’t as windy and cold as I feared it might be when I got to the top of the hill and I stopped for a while and had a good look around.

Larches lightened up a wood on the far side of the river.

view from Warbla

There was a mixture of sunshine and cloud and I enjoyed this view of the monument just catching a bit of the sunshine.

monument from Warbla

There was a well sheltered spot below.

View from warbla

And the play of light and shade up the Ewes valley was good to see, both in close up…

View from warbla

…and in the wider view.

View from warbla

In spite of the chilly wind, I found myself in company at the top of the hill.

warbla trig point with family

There was no question as to who was the king of the castle but they all had fun.

warbla trig point with family

I left them them to it and walked back down the track until I dropped down the side of the hill and into the Wauchope valley.

Wauchope valley

I often cycle along the road in the picture and you can that it is very well sheltered which is why I use it as my outdoor gym on very windy days.

The hawthorns in the foreground are very bright and cheery with their red berries but as you can see most of the other trees are bare now.

One good thing about this is that it gives me a better chance of taking bridge pictures.

Becks burn bridge

A cow took a dim view of me as I walked past when I got to the road.

wauchope cow

After a last picture….

manse brae hedge

…I arrived home just as Mrs Tootlepedal got back from singing in the church choir.

She got to work on her path and I enjoyed the flowers.

poppies

roses

There are fewer every day but the survivors are still looking good.

Then it was time to go in and have lunch and, of course, to set up the camera at the kitchen window.

In spite of the sunshine, or perhaps because of the sunshine, there weren’t many birds about today and they were coming and going to the feeder for very quick visits so I didn’t get much satisfaction.

dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow

A dunnock, chaffinch and sparrow not visiting the feeder.

A neat blue tit did arrive.

blue tit

The blue tits often find the sunflower seeds a bit too much of a mouthful

After lunch there was time for more work on the path and I did a bit of slightly pointless dead heading and was impressed with the hardy nature of a red admiral butterfly which was haunting the dahlias but unfortunately not posing for pictures.

Soon it was time to go to Carlisle and sing.  My croaky throat just lasted the course but I will need to find some soothing mixture for it tomorrow.

The forecast is for slightly frosty weather overnight but then a return to warmer nights again so it will be interesting to see what survives in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, concentrating hard as it approaches the feeder.

chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who failed to get to a windfall quickly enough.

apple with slug

In spite of a better forecast for the day,  it was raining at breakfast time.  I made good use of the time indoors by making a lamb stew for the slow cooker and by the time that I had finished, it had cleared up outside and we got out into the vegetable patch sooner than had looked likely.

We dug up the rest of our potatoes today and although we got a satisfactory crop, several slugs had got there before us and not all the potatoes will make their way to our table. Still, considering what a very soggy summer it has been, we were quite pleased to find the majority of the crop was untouched.

With the potatoes laid out to dry, there was time for a look round the garden.

poppy

Wet or dry, this is currently my favourite of the poppies

carder bumble bee

I think that this is a carder bumble bee. Its favourite flower today was a dahlia

Then it was indoors for coffee and a quick whizz through a very easy prize crossword before I got the cycling gear on and set out on the fairly speedy bike.  I had waited a bit in the hope that the temperature might rise but it was only a rather cool 14°C when I left the house.  On the plus side, the wind from the north was very gentle.

The weather map had shown rain clouds to the east, the west and the south but indicated that there might be a  channel of sunshine to the north so forsaking my usual gentle routes to the west, I set off north towards Eskdalemuir and the hills.

I am not supposed to pedal up steep hills with my tin knee and my chosen route had quite a few today.  I solved the problem by pedalling up any steep hills that I came to so slowly that my knee didn’t notice and I also took the opportunity to stop and admire the view whenever I kneeded to.

The Gates of Eden

My first stop was to admire the Gates of Eden

Whether Eden is on this side of the gates or the other depends on your point of view.  Naturally I think that it is on this side, at least on a relatively sunny day like today.

I stopped again, about an hour later to look across the Esk when I had nearly reached Eskdalemuir.

Esk valley

The fields were gleaming with fresh growth after a crop of silage had recently been taken off them.

Looking north up the Esk valley, I could see the big hills in the background.

Ettrick Pen

At this point, much to my surprise and disappointment, the sun disappeared and it started to rain heavily.  The wind got up and it turned very chilly but luckily I had my rain jacket with me and I soon put it on.  In addition, I was nearly at the turning point of my trip so I shortly had the added advantage of getting the rain on my back and not in my face.  All the same, I was just resigning myself to getting very wet when the rain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

I stopped as well, this time to look back across the river at a stone circle…

stone circle

…or rather, half a stone circle as the rest has been swept away by the river over the years.

With the wind behind and some occasional sun about again, I pedalled south cheerfully, stopping to admire a cascade of crab apples….

crab apples

….a favourite bridge over the Black Esk….

Black Esk bridge

…and a cascade in the Esk below the bridge just after the junction of the Black and White Esks.

Esk cascade

Shortly after climbing the hill away from the river, I came to the precise middle of nowhere…

Bailliehill

…and took the Lockerbie road over the hill and down the valley of the Water of Milk.

It is very pleasant for a cyclist to see windmills turning….

Ewe Hill wind farm

…because at least it lets you know that the wind which might have been holding you back is producing something useful.   I was slightly worried by the dark clouds behind the Ewe Hill Wind Farm as that was the direction that I would soon take.  However, the wind, as well as producing electricity also blew the clouds away before I got there so I felt doubly blessed.

Once I got to Paddockhole, I stopped going towards Lockerbie and headed towards Langholm.  I was on familiar territory and concentrated on pedalling.  Thanks to going at a very steady pace though, I was able to spot an inconspicuous fungus or two beside the road.

fungus

I stopped to take a view of our hills beginning to turn brown but got distracted by the top of a concrete fence post instead.

moss and lichen

Who knew concrete could be so fertile.

And I couldn’t miss a hawthorn with more berries per square inch than any other tree.

hawthorn

I finished my 34 mile journey over some rather wet roads so those clouds had obviously been moved on just in time.  My average speed was low but my tin knee was pain free so that was fair exchange.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting when I got back so I spent time turning the potatoes over to help them dry out and sorting out the slugged ones and then I had a look for butterflies in the sunshine.

They were not hard to see.  The dahlias were a big attraction to them as the buddleias are almost over.

peacock on dahlia

A peacock butterfly with good colour matching skills

peacock on dahlia

It was hard to resist taking pictures of it.

red admirals

A Red Admiral tries the same dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal returned after an enjoyable meeting.  Not only was there a good turn out of regular members but a new member had arrived, having found out about the group at the stitch-in at the Buccleuch Centre last Saturday.  This was very satisfactory.

I will still full of energy after my ride so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  The grass was rather long as it has not been mowed during the recent rainy spell and the going was rather soggy so by the time that I had finished, all my energy had finished too.

We went in for a cup of tea and a slice of bread.

The lamb stew turned out well.  Shoulder of lamb and a slow cooker are made for each other.

The day was rounded off by a double dose of virtual cycling as we watched highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  Our admiration for the bravery and fitness of professional cyclists is unbounded.

The flying bird of the day is a questioning cow.

cow

I append the map of my route today.  You can see from the elevation that it was much more hilly than my customary routes hence the slow speed but it had better views by far.

garmin route 9 Sept 2017Click on the map if you want.

 

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Today’s guest picture is possibly the last from our daughter’s Devon jaunt.  She visited the celebrated garden at Knightshayes and thought that I might enjoy a view of some handsome grass.  I did.

Knightshayes

I had no commitments so I was able to ease through the day at a gentle pace.  It was fortunate that it was a day of better weather, still breezy but almost entirely dry and occasionally even sunny in the afternoon.

I mowed the middle and front lawns in the morning and that was the most energetic thing on my programme.  For the rest of the time, I enjoyed the garden, a cup of coffee and a crossword until it was time to make some lentil soup for lunch.

Before coffee, I took a camera out with me.  The peonies were at their best today.

peony

peony

The tropaeolum tadpoles are turning into flowers.

tropaeolum

There is no shortage of colour.

sweet william, campanula and Lilian Austin

After coffee, bees became the focus.  For the first day this year, there were really a lot of bees about and it wasn’t a matter of finding one to photograph so much as not being able to choose which one to shoot.

The pale blue lupin was a popular spot.

lupin with bee

But lots of other flowers had their admirers.

allium, iris and weigela

The peonies and lupin in the vegetable garden joined in.

lupin and peony with bee

It was very cheering to see so much activity.

I took a couple of pictures of a more general nature….

orange hawkweed

We like the orange hawkweed a lot

kitchen window colour

Mrs Tootlepedal has provided a rich tapestry of colour to enjoy when looking out of the kitchen window.

…and went in to cook the soup.

After lunch (the soup turned out well and there was a good selection of cheese to go with it), I got the fairly speedy bike out and went out to face the wind again.  Although there were some very heavy gusts as I started which nearly tempted me into hugging the valley bottom, I stuck to the task and took to the open country and was rewarded when the gusts calmed down and later in the ride, the sun came out.

The downside of the trip was that the council had been very busy mowing the verges so there were no wild flowers for me to see.   This blatant pandering to the supposed needs of motorists is reprehensible and I had to find other things to use as an excuse to pause and catch my breath from time to time.

Middlebie Church

Middlebie Church

A virgin train sweeps across the little viaduct over the Mein Water

A Virgin train sweeps across the little viaduct over the Mein Water near Middlebie

Mein Water Bridge

This is the road bridge that I crossed. In spite of the recent rain the water is very low.

When I got to the old A74, I was so cross about the verge cutting that I got off my high horse and stopped to take a picture of it…

A74 and orchid

…and was glad that I  did so because right on the edge of the long grass was an orchid, the first that I have seen this year.

Now that I had my eye in,  as I went on down the road towards Kirkpatrick Fleming, I saw dozens more orchids in the long grass.

orchids

This was the moment that the sun chose to make its appearance and as I was no longer cycling into the wind, I stopped muttering grumpily and started to really enjoy the outing.

Once I had the wind behind me, I was going too fast to look at the verges carefully, whether they were  mown or un-mown and it needed something bigger to attract my attention.

Gretna Windmills

As you can see, two of the newly installed Gretna wind turbines were not going round.  This is disappointing when there was plenty of wind to be harvested.  The dark clouds soon passed over.

I stopped one last time to admire a neatly scalloped roadside fringe of bird’s foot trefoil on the old A7 near Irving House.

bird's foot trefoils

Fortunately the council had not got to this verge with their mower yet.

My trip came to 36 miles and although it took me a long time, thanks to the wind in my face for the first and most hilly 12 miles, I enjoyed the outing.  After not cycling at all for the first six days of the month thanks to unhelpful weather, I have managed six outings in the last eight days which is a bit better.  If only the wind would drop, I would be very happy.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been trimming a Forsythia while I was out and she wondered if any knowledgeable reader can tell her what this curious growth is.

forsythia growth

It was on many of the branches.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fish pie for our tea and then went off to watch a live screening from the Royal Ballet, leaving me to have a restful time at home.  I admire the skills employed in ballet but the fact that it takes ten minutes to say something as simple as “Ooh, you look nice,”  taxes my patience beyond its admittedly small limits.  Also my joints hurt when I look at the performers.  I feel their pain.

The flying bird of the day is visiting the peonies and is not a bird.

flying bee

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was half way up Snowdon in Wales when he saw this view yesterday.  He says that the best thing about climbing Snowdon is that you can get a cup of tea at the top but the view is pretty good too.

Snowdon

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today with both more sun and more wind than yesterday.  It seems a long time now since we had any serious rain.

The garden is enjoying the weather and doesn’t seem to be needing rain yet though.  It is hard to beat a sight like this when I went out into the garden after breakfast.

apple blossom

It is apple blossom time.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s front beds don’t get the sunshine until a bit later but the mixed tulips were quite bright enough without any help.

tulip beds

I had intended to go for an early bike ride but I wasn’t feeling very perky, probably because my asthma was playing up a bit and definitely because the wind seemed to be very strong so I idled quite a bit of the morning away before I finally chased myself out of the house.

I was glad to be out.  It was a sparkling day and the wind blew me up the hill and made the start of my ride very easy.  Because of the stiff breeze, gusting at well over 25 mile an hour at times, I decided to use my valley bottom ‘outdoor gym’ and cycle 25 miles by repeating the four mile trip up to Cleughfoot and back three times.

The wind was so strong that I took more or less exactly the same amount of time to cycle up the hill as I did to cycle back down again and on the third iteration of the route, I set my fastest ever time for the three uphill miles from Pool Corner to Wauchope School.

I also stopped for photos, as my modest speed let me keep an eye for points of interest like these bright things on a conifer.

Spruce flower cones

Spruce flower cones

I couldn’t miss the gorse which is as good as I have ever seen it this year.

gorse

There were lambs bleating in every field.

lambs

And the blackthorn blossom at one point was sensational.

blackthorn

My favourite cascade on the Wauchope has been reduced to a mere trickle…

Wauchope cascade

…but this did let me appreciate just how bent the rocks beside it are.

bent rocks

Our peaceful countryside has been the subject of some powerful forces not so long ago.

I had another look at the apple blossom when I got back to see if there were any bees about.

bee on apple blossom

Good work.

The bird seed was going down at the usual speed.

redpoll, siskin and goldfinch

A redpoll looks rather disapprovingly at a goldfinch tucking in

Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping out with the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre so we had a late lunch when she got back and while she had a well deserved rest, I pottered around the garden, dead heading yet more daffodils and some of the early tulips.

I roused Mrs Tootlepedal and we drove down to the animal feed shop south of Longtown where I get my bird seed.  I bought a big bag of seed which I got free, courtesy of a generous bribe from BT in the form of a prepaid card which they gave me when I changed my internet supplier to them recently.   I may well repay them by changing to another supplier when my cheap first year runs out.

We stopped in Longtown on our way home and I took a quick walk along the river.  The bridge of many arches was looking good in the sunshine.

Longtown Bridge

In fact it was looking so good that I thought I might try taking three pictures and merging them using Photoshop, a technique I learned at the last Camera Club meeting.

This was the result.

Longtown Bridge 2017 photomerge

You can click on the picture for a larger view.  The technique works pretty well. I couldn’t see the joins.

The river looked inviting….

River Esk at Longtown

…so I strolled down the riverside path…

Longtown path

…and in the shelter of the trees, it was a beautifully warm day.

I was delighted to see an orange tip butterfly and even more delighted when it thoughtfully posed for me.

orange tip butterfly

A small tortoiseshell was not so obliging.

There were wild flowers on view as well.

nettle and silverweed

Some sort of dead nettle and the aptly named silver weed

umbellifera

Various umbellifera which I should be able to identify but can’t

Between the cycle ride, pottering about the garden and the riverside walk, I took far too many pictures today but the weather is due to be fine again for the next two days so I will have plenty of opportunity to take many more.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Archaeological Society meeting and I went to sing with the Langholm Community choir.  When I came out, there was a very beautiful sunset to round off an enjoyable day.  Luckily I didn’t have my camera with me as I think that the 80,000,000 pictures of lovely sunsets already on the internet are probably more than enough….but it was a particularly good one.

The title of the blog today refers both to the wind, which was hard to beat when I pedalled against it in the morning, the beautiful river views at Longtown in the afternoon which were looking as good as I have ever seen them and finally the speed at which our conductor in the evening took one of our pieces.  A beat that I found it was very hard to keep up with.

I didn’t have much time for flying birds today and this goldfinch, threading its way towards the feeder, was the best that I could do.

goldfinch

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