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Posts Tagged ‘Buccleuch Centre’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sydney correspondent Stephen.  As he came out of the Sydney Opera House after a performance of Carmen yesterday, he saw this striking tribute to the many volunteer firemen who have been battling the blazes in Australia.

sydney opera house firefighters

After a restless night disturbed by strong wind and heavy rain,  we got up to a continuing gale and more rain.

It was so dark at midday that this was the best that the camera could do when peering out of the window.  The fact that the feeder was swaying madly didn’t help.

siskin in gale

It was a day fit for nothing outside but perfect for making marmalade indoors.

I made marmalade.  If it turns out well, a picture may follow tomorrow.

The wind calmed down as the afternoon went on and the light improved enough to enable the camera to get a glimpse of some hardy birds who had defied the conditions and made it to the feeder.

feeder afetr gale

But making marmalade is a lengthy business so I wasn’t bored.

Our friend Gavin ventured out while there was still some light and took this picture of the Wauchope Water just sneaking under the Kirk Brig to join the Esk.

gavin's wauchope in flood

Luckily, the rivers didn’t get any higher than this and the rain stopped in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fry up of black pudding, liver, mushrooms and tomatoes with a side order of mashed potato for our tea, a suitably cheerful meal for a rotten day.

And then the day got better.

It was warm and dry as we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre for our annual treat, the appearance of the RNSO, Scotland’s national orchestra.  This is not some mini outreach programme  for the provinces but the full orchestra of 60 players on the last leg of their national (Perth, Inverness, Dumfermline, Langholm) new year tour with a Viennese Gala.

RNSO 2020

You can take it from me that getting to hear a 60 piece symphony orchestra in a packed 300 seater hall  is quite something and I sat in the back row beside Mrs Tootlepedal with tears of joy running down my cheeks as they played Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna to get the concert rolling.

And roll on the concert did, with popular orchestral favourites interspersed with songs from the Richard Tauber repertoire sung by a very pleasing tenor.  As he sang “You are my heart’s delight” while I was sitting beside Mrs Tootlepedal, the programming couldn’t have been better planned.

Tinayi Lu, the conductor, took some of the pieces along at such a speed that you feared that the whole hall might explode with the accumulated energy generated.  I am not a great fan of the modern tendency to play everything as fast as possible but the acoustic in the Buccleuch Hall is so clean that you can hear every note no matter how fast they are played.  And it was decidedly exciting.

She also introduced the audience to an ingenious Chinese pun and a very delightful musical dialogue between Chinese  tunes and western orchestral style by a composer called Bao Yuankai.

By the time that we came out of the concert and strolled home, the terrible weather of the day was just a fading memory and all was peace and harmony.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons but I wonder if this goldfinch was as happy as we were by the end of the day.

soggy goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She and Joe took Evie to the children’s zoo at Battersea Park but as Evie fell asleep, Joe and Annie did most of the animal watching for her.

annies animal

I started the day with a visit to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre where I made purchases of fish, honey and meat and ordered a capon for Christmas.  While I was there, I turned down a kind offer of a cup of coffee from Mike Tinker on the grounds that I was going cycling and had no time to spare.

Having spurned the coffee, I had no alternative but to turn my words into action so I wrapped up well when I got home, and went of for a twenty mile pedal round my well worn Canonbie route.

It was grey but dry and the brisk wind was coming from the best possible direction and it helped me more than it hindered me as I went along.

I kept an eye out for trees along the way and saw several.

These are the remains of an old hedge.

3 trees raehills

And this one has seen better days.

blasted tree

This one lives on the edge of the first hill after the Solway Plain and as a result knows the local south westerly wind very well.

tree chapelhill

It wasn’t a day for views and I  could hardly see England at all.

view from Tarcoon

My final tree was this impressive specimen at Woodhouselees near Canonbie

Woodhouselees trees

The recent rain had lent impetus to a little tributary of the Esk at the Hollows….

spout at Hollows

…but it has been pretty dry recently after a prolonged period with an easterly wind, so there was not a great deal of water coming down the river.

esk at Hollows

There was enough though to keep the Archimedes Screw at the mill turning over sweetly, making green energy with little fuss.

archimedes screw

W hen I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had dug up the Christmas tree ready to be brought into the house when Christmas Eve comes for another festive scene .

Christams tree dug up

I had timed my bike ride well as the weather  got steadily worse as the day went on and by the time that we went to Carlisle in the afternoon for the first of our two choir concerts it had turned into a horrible day.

Luckily, as is often the case, the weather in Carlisle itself was better and we were able to get a little shopping done before going to the warm up and concert performance.  We usually have a primary school choir performing with us and this tends to add good numbers to our audience.  Unfortunately on this occasion the children weren’t able to be there as their conductor had suffered a family crisis and was called away.

Nevertheless we got a good audience (i.e. more than there were singers in the choir and we are a big choir) and they received our singing enthusiastically.  St Cuthbert’s Church is a good place to sing and as it is the custom of our choir directors to have short concerts, both the audience and the choir members left the church in a very good mood.  The choir are going to do it all again tomorrow afternoon in a different venue.

The Christmas lights outside St Cuthbert’s Church, which have been silver angels in previous years, are golden kings this year.

St Cuthberts Kings

I counted them and I think that there are three.

I think that the brisk wind must have kept the birds away from the feeder today as I hardly saw any birds at all, let along a flying bird, so a greedy goldfinch, trying to get a big beakful of seeds, is the non flying bird of the day today.

goldfinch

The weather forecast is terrible for tomorrow, Sunday, but we might get a bit of sun on Monday. 

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I have a rich seam of guest pictures at the moment, so thank you to all who have contributed.  Today’s comes from my sister Mary.  She went up towards the Greenwich Observatory and looked back behind her on the way.

greenwich view

The slight warming of our weather continued today and there was no need to use the handy pre-heating facility on the Zoe before we drove down to Longtown for a visit to the opticians.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was answering difficult questions about the comparative readability of this…or this…or this…or this…

…I went down to the riverside to have a look at the bridge over the Esk.  Some weeks ago we heard a rumour that the bridge had fallen down, but this turned out to be an exaggeration.  This was lucky as we had crossed it to get to our appointment.

I passed an extremely severely pollarded tree on my way to the river.

lopped tree Longtown

No compromise with beauty there.

As you can see the bridge is still standing with all its arches intact…

Longtown bridge

…and fortunately the section that fell down was underneath a pavement on the approach to the bridge and not under the road itself so traffic has been able to keep crossing in a single lane on the far side.

Longtown bridge collapse

The arches themselves look well enough constructed to last for another hundred years at least. Longtown bridge piers

I learn from the Undiscovered Scotland website that “the Reverend Robert Graham inherited the family estate of the Grahams of Netherby. He began by building Longtown Bridge, which crosses the River Esk on the line of the Edinburgh to Carlisle road in 1756. The bridge was widened and strengthened in 1889 and again more recently.”  It has stood the test of time.  I take it that it was the recent alterations that have fallen down.

I walked up onto the bridge approach and looked down at the damage.  Quite a bit had fallen off.

Longtown bridge rubble

Then I went and had my turn with the difficult questions.  My eyes are so different that I can read the very small bottom line of the opticians chart with one eye and only the very big letter at the top with my other one.  However, I get good glasses from Mr Hagen so I don’t bang into things too much, though this may explain why I was hopeless at sport when I was young.

The most important thing is that my eyes were passed as perfectly fit for driving.

We drove back to Langholm and I dropped Mrs Tootlepedal off at home before taking the Zoe into the local garage to get a slow puncture fixed.  This was a nervous business for me as there is no spare wheel and no jacking points on the car and the battery lies flat along the bottom of the frame.   The garage was equal to the task of getting the wheel off without electrocuting themselves and an intrusive nail was removed and the tyre satisfactorily plugged.

I got back to find our ex-minister Scott having a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal.  I was deeply surprised that his scone radar had not told him that if he had come yesterday, he would have got a teacake to go with it.

It was good to catch up with his news.

When he had gone, I looked for birds on the feeder.  They were few and far between.  I captured a lone siskin and that was it for today.

SISKIN

We had lunch and then I went out for a walk as it had got too late for a cycle ride by this time.

December is supposed to be the official start of winter, and I think it is fair to say that my walks have definitely become wintery.

beechy plains december

I passed reminders of last summer..

seed heads murtholm

…and hints of next spring…

buds murtholm

…as well as a selection of trees, both complicated…

tree skipperscleuch

…and straightforward.

tree on track to kernigal

The track took me into a spruce plantation with no views…

kernigal track

…but further along, the spruces have been felled and there were prospects of hill…

whita from kernigal

…and town.

town from kernigal

And of course, there is always moss.

moss in kernigal

The writing was on the tree trunks…

script lichen on trunk

..in the form of script lichen.

script lichen

I finished my walk with two bridges, one natural which I went under..

fallen tree hungry burn

…and one reflective which I crossed.

reflective park bridge

Early in the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to do front of house volunteer duties and after I had had a bit of choir song practice, I went along to see the show.

The occasion was not the usual entertainment at all but a recording of two programmes for Gardeners’ Question Time, a long standing and much loved BBC Radio 4 series.

The audience were asked to submit questions in advance and mine was among those chosen.  Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that my question related to plant photography and the panel gave some very good answers.  But whether it will feature in the programme when it is broadcast is unclear, as they almost certainly recorded more material for the two programmes than they needed.  The programmes will be broadcast in January next year.

Kathy Clugston was in the chair and the expert panel were Matthew Wilson, James Wong and Christine Walkden.  Ms Clugston was very composed and charming and the panel were extremely knowledgeable and helpful so it was a treat to be there.  Radio is a marvellous medium and the lack of fuss and egos throughout the recording was very marked.

The team had come to Langholm at the invitation of the Langholm Chilli Club, a very enterprising group which grows huge amounts of chillis in the town and surrounding neighbourhood.  You can find out more about them here if you want.

My friend Sue Toon kindly sent me this picture of the panel which was taken by Roddy. of the chilli club.

GQT

None of the panellists have wings but this is the flying bird of the day!

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Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my Australian correspondent.  He says that it is easy to see the effects of the bush fires raging in the Blue Mountains while walking the streets of Sydney, especially as the sun comes up behind the haze at dawn.

sydney ash

We were hoping for some sun here today and we did get a slightly warmer day but sunshine was strictly rationed and we got only a very small glimmer now and again.  In spite of the grey skies, our visitor Patricia thought that a walk would be useful after her long sit on the train yesterday so we got in the car and drove down to the Hollows where we set out on foot to visit the Fairy Loup.

This 1.7 mile circular walk starts by going along the old A7, which was closed to traffic after a landslip about 40 years ago. One half of the carriageway remains and it is used occasionally by a local farmer as you can see from the tracks between the layer of beech mast which covered the rest of the road.

old a7 Byreburn Mrs t and Pat

There was interest along the way, with a flourishing crop of vetch and some colourful bramble leaves…

vetch and bramble

…as well as a selection of mosses on a wall….

moss on A7 wall

…and ferns and script lichens as well.

fern and script lichen

The winter months are the best for actually seeing the waterfall at the Fairy Loup but even without the leaves on them, the tree branches are growing so much that a clear view is impossible.

fairy loup November

We have had a dry spell lately and there was really very little water going down the Byreburn.

above the fairy loup

We passed a sensational crop of fungus on a pile of wood chippings.

fungus beside byreburn

Our direction of travel round the walk was well chosen because when we came out of the shelter offered by the Byreburn valley, we found that the nippy wind was behind us as we walked back down the road to our car.

There was even a little sunshine to light up the gates that we passed…

two gates gilnockie

….though it came and went and the clouds were back as we walked through these well clipped beech hedges near the old station.

neat hedge gilnockie

The sun came back to light up the last few yards of our walk and picked out some broom…

broom Gilnockie

…and the trunks of the trees beside the road…

trees byreburn wood

…as well as a thin string of ivy climbing a substantial tree…

ivy byreburn

…and the white lichen making a twisted tree trunk positively shine.

tree byreburn

We didn’t go directly home after our walk but stopped at the Buccleuch Centre for a light lunch in their excellent foyer coffee bar.

I had a look at the bird feeder when we got back after lunch, but there was very little avian traffic and the light was poor again, so I put my bird camera in the bag on the back of my slow bike and pedalled down to the river to see if I could see a bird or two there.

I saw several gulls perched on the electricity wires beside the Esk but they stayed stubbornly put as I watched so I left them to it and cycled over the bridge and on to the Kilngreen.

gulls on wire

There was  more movement here.  A large flock of ducks came rushing down the river towards me as soon as i got near the river, mistaking me perhaps for someone with bread in his pocket.  When no bread was forthcoming, they circled around and headed back up river muttering morosely.

ducks hoping for bread

One late-coming duck flew up at great speed.

swift duck

There were plenty of gulls about and they lifted themselves off the rocks where they were perched and took to the air from time to time.

two gulls

It was chilly so I didn’t spend too long watching them.

When I got home, I put on my cycling gear and went out into the cold garage and cycled on the bike to nowhere for half and hour.  Listening to the radio helped to lessen the tedium of looking at this view.

garage view

In the evening, I took Patricia and Mrs Tootlepedal out for a meal as a premature celebration of my birthday which is tomorrow.

As I have had a persistent feeling all year that I am a year older than I actually am, tomorrow is not going to be a big day as nothing will change….except of course that I might then start to think that I am another year older than I actually will be. For the record, I will be 78 tomorrow and I only hope that if I live to be 90, I will still be able to walk round the Fairy Loup with as much zest as our 90 year old guest Patrica demonstrated today.  She is a wonder.

The flying bird of the day is one of those Kilngreen gulls looking for a handy rock.

gull landing

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I was looking through my files when I found today’s guest picture.  It shows a Liverpool gull hoping to get Bruce to open his hotel window and give it a snack.  It was taken before Bruce went off to Helsinki.  He gets about a lot.

Liverpool gull

It was sunny and windy here today but as there was no rain all day, we liked the sun and ignored the wind as far as we could.

I had a generally relaxed day with coffee and conversation in the morning, a battle between bicycle and breeze in the afternoon and some top quality blues music in the evening.

The coffee and conversation was in the company of Dropscone who had brought some treacle scones with him in a traditional fashion.  He had been playing golf yesterday but as he missed a one foot putt rather carelessly at one point, he was not as happy about that as he might have been.

When he left, I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see a bee visiting.

october bee

The butterflies have gone but there are still occasional bees.

I picked up quite a lot of walnuts.  They are not hard to spot.

walnut on ground

Then I sieved a little compost and while I was in the vegetable garden I dug up a good sized leek and took a picture of a chive…

chive flower

…and I looked up to see a starling on the holly tree,  I like the way that starlings look as though they are covered in hearts.

hearty starling

I went to inspect the middle lawn and noted the number of fuchsia flowers still waiting to come out in the bed beside the lawn.  We have got another week before a frosty morning is forecast so they still have time.

potential fuchsia

The middle lawn looked as though it might need a cut as the grass has started to grow again after I thought that it had decided to stop for the year.  A sparrow caught my eye as I went to get the mower out…

sparrow behind twig

…and there turned out to be enough grass to make it worthwhile to mow the lawn.  I sat on the new bench and admired the result.

mown lawn october

As I sat there, a bee visited a nicotiana beside me but it got stuck in so thoroughly that there was no trace of it when I looked.  It came out too quickly for me to catch but then flew down on to the ground in front of me and posed for a picture.

nicotiana and bee

There is a small but colourful corner next to the bench.

colourful corner lawn

I went in and used the leek to make some soup for lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal had made some wholemeal bread yesterday and it went very well with the soup and some cheese.

After lunch, I went out for a cycle ride.  I had ambitions for a ride of thirty or thirty five miles in the sunshine but after spending half an hour battling into a wind gusting up to thirty miles an hour, I turned left and headed down to Canonbie for a twenty mile circuit with the wind mostly across or behind.

This was a good choice as it took me 31 minutes to do the first five miles and 64 minutes to do the next fifteen.

I was too busy pedalling to take pictures until I got the wind behind me at Canonbie.

Canonbie road

Apart from the breeze, it was a lovely day for a pedal and the trees along the Esk at Byreburnfoot looked very seasonal.

Esk below hollows

There is a little patch of grass where I stood to take the picture above and for some reason, it is a great place for fungus every year.

fungus at byreburnside

I often wonder what is buried beneath it.

My Canonbie route takes me along two sections of the old main road.  This section at Hollows was by-passed when half of the road fell into the river nearly forty years ago.

old a7 hollows

And this section at Auchenrivock was bypassed more recently when another section of the road slid into the river.  I took a poor picture of it but have put it in anyway to show local readers that they are cutting trees down here and the tarmac is seeing the light of day for the first time for ages.

old a7 irvine house

The tree felling is near Irvine House.

irvine house october

I stopped at Skippers Bridge and thought that the steps that the Langholm Walks Group put up for Walk 7 looked very inviting..

steps at skippers

…but I didn’t walk any further than down to the waterside to look through the bridge at the old distillery.skippers and distillery

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal grappling with a very intractable website which required several codes to be entered to gain access to it.  Unfortunately, however many she put in, none seemed to be able to unlock the door so she gave up in despair and made me a cup of tea (and a slice of wholemeal toast) instead.

I went out for look round the garden and decided that the front lawn might need a mow too, so I mowed it.  It turned out that it didn’t really need a mow as it get less of the sun as it gets lower in the sky than the middle lawn and I didn’t get much grass off it at all.

I took a picture of one of our most long lived flowering plants, the ornamental strawberry which has been in flower since the beginning of June…

tame strawberry

…and then went in to have a shower.

After a meal of ham and eggs, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to watch Gardeners’ World and walked down to the Buccleuch Centre to attend a concert of mostly blues music sung and played by Maggie Bell and Dave Kelly, veterans of the British music scene.

It was a most enjoyable evening and I especially admired Dave Kelly’s guitar playing.  (You can hear a sample of his work here if you wish.   It sounded much better when he played it live tonight but it gives you an idea of his skills and style.)

The flying starling of the day is not showing off its wings for once.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent Highland tour.  He and his daughter came upon an art deco tidal swimming pool near Banff.  They didn’t go for a dip though as it was closed.   Money is being found for repairs so maybe next time?

Outdoot swimming Tarlair near banff

I woke to a heavy cold and some heavy rain to go with it.  The rain suited the situation perfectly and I was easily able to while away the hours until the rain stopped by hanging around and feeling sorry for myself.

As the weather improved, I felt better and I was able to potter round the garden just before lunch and admire the sedum, Rosy Cheeks and a clematis in the colourful section…

sedum rosy cheek clematis

…and Japanese anemones, feverfew and the phinal phlox of the season in the white goods department.

anemone feverfew phlox

The undoubted champion of surviving the rain was the fuchsia under the walnut tree.

fuchsia

Talking of walnuts, I was able to pick up half a dozen more walnuts and Mrs Tootlepedal had them as part of her lunch menu.

A chaffinch visited the plum tree and the picture shows that it won’t be long before the leaves have fallen.

chaffinch in shabby plum tree

The holly leaves will not fall (we hope) and will continue to provide shelter for starlings and a place for them to perch as well.

single starling on holly

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we might drive up onto the Langholm Moor so that she could collect some bracken to lay on her vegetable beds over the winter.

I had recovered enough to welcome a little outing and the weather had recovered from the morning rain too, so we were able to enjoy the view up the Ewes Valley…

ewes velley october

…and over the moor, when we had got past the White Yett.  The moor is brown as you can see and there was plenty of bracken to collect…

across Langholm Moor october

….but once we had filled the boot of the car, we crossed the Tarras water and went up the hill on the other side.  The little burn that chatters down the hill beside the road there was well worth stopping for.

Langholm Moor burn

The rain meant that there was plenty of water flowing over the many steps as it comes down the hill…

Langholm Moor burn cascade

…and the underlying peat gave the water a rich colour.

Langholm Moor burn view

Although it is only a miniature landscape, it is one of my favourite spots…

Langholm Moor burn with tree

…especially as I like cascades.   I liked this one so much…

Langholm Moor burn tributary

…that I took two pictures of it.

Langholm Moor burn tributary cascade

We were hoping to see some goats as we drove back over the Tarras bridge…

tarras brig copshaw road

…but on this occasion, all our goats were sheep so we ignored them and headed home.

Where I found a butterfly.

butterfly

Why they are avoiding the sedums is a mystery.

I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and then we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening of a live recording of a celebration of Placido Domingo’s 50 years of performing at the Arena in Verona.

I had seen a performance of Nabucco at Verona in 1962 (I think) so I was interested to see the arena again.  By coincidence, the all Verdi programme tonight started with a selection from  Nabucco.  The staging was very well done, including a chorus of what looked liked hundreds singing the famous Va Pensiero.  In the first half, the Nabucco selection was followed by a bit of Macbeth, so although there was some outstanding singing, there weren’t many laughs.

The second half was devoted to Simon Boccanegro, an opera that I have never seen.  Judging by the excerpts, it looks as though I have been missing a good thing.  It had some wonderful ensemble singing and a touching finale.

I have said it before but I will say it again, the Buccleuch Centre is a real asset to the town.  The fact that we can wander down the street and see great venues and hear fantastic singing on our doorstep for a very moderate fee is a privilege that we really appreciate.

I was too quick for yesterday’s flying starling of the day, but I was too slow for today’s.  I will try to get it right tomorrow.

flying away starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..

Apple EV charging

We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all.  People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.

It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme.  I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat.  I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.

When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.

I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.

three butterfly panel

The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….

galdiolus and mallow

…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos.  It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.

cosmos

I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.

For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…

pastoral scene

…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen.  This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.

ragwort and insect

My route took me down into England.  There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.

Some are tall and thin…

pine tree harker

…and others, shorter and stout.

pine tree 2 harker

After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home.  It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.

It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…

cliff cliff

…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat  landscape

river lyne at cliff

Looking  from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze.  The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.

longtown windmills

Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress.  On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.

My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.

netherby hall

On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home.  The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by  my legs on the lines of,  “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”

I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.

hawkweed and convolvulus

I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles.  Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off.  Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).

Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.

So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn.  When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.

The verbena is looking very fine.  I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself.  I like that.

verbena

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.

gentian

The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.

sedum and insect

As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things.  The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.

starling on wire

The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…

greenbottle on mint

… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..

There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.

sparrows on gutter

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea.  It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.

Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.

The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one.  It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.

helicopter

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