Posts Tagged ‘Chapelcross’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Taunton Flower show.  They really know how to enjoy a good time there.

Taunton flower show

Unfortunately, Sandy’s new bike did not arrive on schedule so with nothing better to do, I set out on a solo ride, hoping that the good weather that had greeted the day would last.

There was plenty of evidence of the wet weather of the weekend to be seen as I left the town.  Above the Auld Stane Bridge, trees were scattered casually around, high on the river bank…

washed up trees auld stane brig

…and a mile or two further along the road, I had to stop at a traffic light to get past this landslide.

landslip wauchope road

We seem to have had the worst of the flooding though because after that the roads were dry and clear.

At least they were dry until I got caught in a rain shower which started at ten miles and lasted for the next three miles.  I was fairly confident that it wouldn’t last long and was able to look back it from a sunny spot before I got too wet.

clouds behind me

I had a good rain jacket with me and since I was wearing shorts and my legs are pretty waterproof, I was able to take a little rain without crying.

This was lucky, because after passing the ex nuclear power station at Chaplecross where the demolition continues at a snails pace (unsurprisingly)…

chapelcross demolition

…I encountered another rain shower at twenty miles and this too lasted for three miles.

The rain had stopped by the time that I got to Powfoot, a little village on the shore of the Solway Firth, but another shower was hiding England from sight on the far shore.

solway with england obscured

The contrast couldn’t have been more clear; gloom in England and sunshine in Scotland.

white row powfoot

Looking further down the firth, I could see another shower on our side but I decided to pedal on anyway.

next rainstorm solway

There has been a lot of verge mowing so I didn’t see many wild flowers but I liked this one on the shore at Powfoot.

wild flower powfoot

Since I had encountered rain at ten and twenty miles, I was fully expecting to meet some more at thirty miles but although I passed some large puddles in fields…

large puddle near ruthwell

The verges here were thick with Himalayan balsam

…the sun was still shining as I got to my turning point at the Brow Well, famous as a place where Robert Burns came to drink the waters shortly before his death.

brow well

I didn’t drink the waters but I did stop on the handy bench and ate an egg roll.  I needed the sit down as I had been cycling into the noticeable wind for thirty miles by this time.

I had taken the back road out but took the inland road back.  This involved crossing under the Annan to Dumfries railway a couple of times.

railway bridge near powfoot

With the wind behind me and the sun shining, I whistled along the road through Annan pretty cheerfully.  I stopped for a banana near Eastriggs, and some of my good cheer evaporated when I turned my head to the left and looked across the fields.

rainstorm off eastriggs

Still, the rain was on my left and the wind was coming from the right and behind so I reckoned that the clouds would be blown away safely.

However, I must have cycled too fast and the road must have changed direction a bit because when I got to Longtown, the heavens opened and in seconds the road was awash.  As I was on the main road by this time, I wasn’t only getting rained on from above, but I was getting a good soaking from the passing traffic as well.  I therefore decided to turn off and take the slightly longer but much quieter route through Canonbie, and in spite of having to pedal through a large puddle on my way, this was a good choice.

large puddle north lodge canonbie

It became an even better choice when the next shower turned out to consist of hail stones which gave me such a good pinging that I was forced to take shelter under the trees at Byreburnfoot.  I would have been very exposed on the main road.

I got going again when the hail turned to rain and rode the five miles home in a series of fitful showers which rather annoyingly stopped as soon as I got to Langholm.

My jacket stood up to the weather very well and I arrived home relatively dry and quite cheerful.  Riding through the rain had been quite tiring though, so I was very glad of the cup of tea that Mrs Tootlepedal made for me.

I had a walk round the garden in the sunshine after my cuppa and enjoyed a fine sunflower in the back bed.

sunflower back bed

We both like the pure white flowers on this hosta.

white hosta flowers

There was quite racket of birds in the garden, most of it coming from starlings perched on our new electricity wires.

convocation of starlings

The loudest of them all though was a lone starling sitting on top of the holly tree. Perhaps it was complaining about the prickles.

starling on holly

I was standing on the lawn looking at the starlings when I was nudged out of the way by this blackbird hunting for worms.

close blackbird

I gave way gracefully and went in, passing a rare unnibbled dahlia on the way.

good dahlia

Because of the rain, my feet had got a bit cold and my legs had got a bit stiff so I retired for a hot bath before our evening meal.  This was a feast of vegetarian sausages accompanied by peas, runner beans, carrots, courgette and new potatoes all from the garden.

The temperatures have dropped a lot now and there was distinctly autumnal feel about the morning and the garden is beginning to lose its summer glow.

One of the starlings on the wire rose to the occasion and is the flying bird of the day.

flying starling

Curious readers may find out more about my very slow pedal by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 13 Aug 2019

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was driving past the Silk Mill in Derby and thought that it might be the sort of picture that I would enjoy.  On reflection, I think that he was right.

silk mill Derby

We were promised a cooler, cloudier day today but when we got up, it was as sunny as ever.

I was intending to go for a bike ride and once again found it hard to get going so I was happy to enjoy a stroll round the garden and admire the sunlit garden flowers after breakfast.

garden flowers

The strong light took some of the darkness away from the ‘black’ iris.

The sun didn’t last for long and by the time that I had had an early cup of coffee, the skies had clouded over.  It was still pleasantly warm though and with a light wind, it looked like a perfect day for pedalling.

In the end, I ran out of excuses and got my new bike out and set off, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal toiling in the garden.

It was a perfect day for pedalling.

For some reason which is obscure to me the road verges seem to attract different wild plants in different spots even though the growing conditions look very similar.  There is a section of the road just before the top of Callister that is perennially home to a very fine collection of curly dock (as always my naming of plants is open  to correction).

curly docks

It grows elsewhere of course, but this section of about fifty yards has the best collection by far.

I thought that you would be interested to know that.

Once over Callister, I set my course for the flatter lands of the Solway coast as my tin knee has been a bit creaky lately and I wanted to give it kindly treatment today.

I crossed the Kirtle Water for the third time as I got near Eaglesfield.

Eaglesfield bridge

My route then took me past Chapelcross, a retired nuclear power station which is being (very) gradually dismantled.  Each time that I pass it, a little more of it has disappeared.


August last year

Chapelcross 2018


The power station sits on a hill looking over the Solway and looking down, I thought that for once the sea might be on duty…

Solway view

….and I was pleased to find when I got to Brow Houses, that I was right.

Brow houses

I paused and had my lunch and a little walk among the wild flowers on the grassy slope down to the water’s edge.  There were plenty to enjoy.

Brow houses wild flowers

This was my favourite.

Brow houses flower

The farms are cultivated as near to the edge of the Firth as possible and the cows were interested in what I was doing.


Brow houses cow

Refreshed by an egg roll and a banana, I pressed on to Gretna and then into England.

I had to stop and let a train go up the main line….

TP Express

…before I could cross the level crossing and head down to Rockliffe and then by way of the new Carlisle by-pass start heading home through the lanes of North Cumbria.

One of the lanes had a wonderful hedge of roses….

roses beside road

…which were a delicate shade of pink.

hedge roses

As I was going up the main road from Longtown to Langholm, I took a break from the traffic and visited Kirkandrews-on_Esk, where there is a neat church and an old tower, still lived in as a family home today.

Kirkandrews on Esk

The church, as its names implies, sits on the bank of the River Esk and there is a bridge to allow the churchgoers on the other side of the river to get to the services and a sundial to tell them if they are on time.

bridge and sundial Kirkandrews

I took the picture of the sundial at just about 3 o’clock BST which is two o’clock GMT so the sundial is still keeping pretty good time after 100 years.

It is a picturesque spot….

Kirkandrews on Esk (2)

…and the river was looking beautiful in the little bit of sunshine which had come out to brighten the day.

Kirkandrews on Esk (3)

The bridge is a delicate construction and sways alarmingly when you cross it.

Kirkandrews on Esk bridge

It didn’t take me long to get home and by dint of sprinting through the town as fast as I could pedal, I just managed to keep my average speed for the 61 miles to 14 mph, a tribute to the warmth of the day, the flatness of the route and the kindness of the light winds.

Mike Tinker was taking a cup of tea in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal when I arrived home and he remarked that he and his wife had seen plenty of lightning yesterday.  This was very odd as Mrs Tootlepedal and I had looked hard and seen none and he only lives about 100 yards away.   Maybe we just weren’t looking in the right direction.

I had another look round the garden when Mike went and was able to admire the very neat lawn edging which Mrs Tootlepedal had done while I was out.  She had done quite a lot of other things too.

I had my camera in my hand of course and was spoilt for choice.

garden flowers in afternoon

in the garden

When we went inside, we could watch a small flock of wood pigeons being disagreeable.


In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and added weight to my suspicion that he has been secretly practising.  We did a lot of good work.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetable garden is looking very healthy and she was able to pick more spinach to go with a second helping of the slow cooked sausage stew for our tea.  Considering how much I disliked spinach when I was a child, it is amazing how much I like it now.

The flower of the day is the first look at my favourite peony, taken in the early evening.


Note: I received a message from our health centre while I was out cycling and I rang the doctor when I got home and was very happy to hear that my chest x-ray had come back clear of any problems.



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture involves an elaborate play on words.  Whereas a recent guest picture showed a links in Spain where Dropscone played golf and photographed, today’s guest picture shows a lynx in Spain which Venetia saw and photographed.


We had another dry and sunny day today, the third without rain in a row.  We are beginning to worry that something has gone wrong with the weather.

For once, a sunny and clear morning was accompanied by proper low autumn temperatures and there was a touch of frost about when we got up.  There are still a few leaves left on the plum tree where this pigeon was perching.


It was too cold for cycling but ideal for walking so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for her monthly coffee morning with ex work colleagues, Sandy and I had a coffee at home and then set off for the White Yett and a walk up to the monument.

It was the sort of day when you might expect a little early morning mist in the river valleys  and as we got up the hill, there was a hint of some here and there.

Hint of mist in Esk valley

But it didn’t amount to much and the sky was crystal clear as we took the track up to the monument.

Track to Monument

The sun obligingly provided the monument with a halo as we drew near.

Monument with halo

We enjoyed the sunny view over Langholm.


A sheep was enjoying the view too.

sheep enjoying view

However, there was a bit of mist to the west and as we got near the top of Whita Hill, we could see the remains of the nuclear power station at Chapel Cross looming up through it.

Chapelcross in mist

Further to the west, Criffel could just be seen above a strip of cloud running up the Nith estuary.


And when we got to the top of the hill, we could see the Lake District hills in the distance across a whole sea of mist covering the Solway plain.

Solway covered in mist

The camera can’t do justice to the scene at all.

To the south,  banks of mist shrouded the hills beyond the Tarras valley.

Eden valley in mist

I took a couple of pictures to try to convey the sense of a brilliant white sea lapping at the rising ground towards us.

police mast and mist

We walked past the police mast and looked down from the edge of the hill.

Mist over Canonbie

It was a splendid sight and we were very pleased to have been in the right place at the right time to see it.

Even as we stood there, the mist was beginning to lift.

Mist lifting

And turning back, it was a different day…

Monument in sun

…with Langholm below us bathed in sunshine.

Langholm from Whita

As you can imagine, we took a lot of pictures and I had a very hard time picking out a few for this post and I am fairly sure that there are quite a few others which might have been better than ones that I have used.  The trouble is that when I have too much choice, my brain goes to mush and I make bad decisions.

Still, I liked this picture of the McDiarmid Memorial as we came back down towards the car.

McDiarmid memorial

And you can’t go wrong in my view with a couple of lichen pictures to round a walk off.

lichen boulderlichen boulder

I had a look at the garden when I got home to see if any flowers had survived the cold morning.

garden flowers

It was lunchtime by this time and once again, I put the camera up at the kitchen window to see what was happening at the feeder both while I was preparing the meal and relaxing after it.

A goldfinch and a great tit sized up the possibilities…

goldfinch and great tit

…and then came down for a snack….


…while once again any amount of flying chaffinches whizzed to and fro.

flying chaffinches

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to continue working on her new path and I put on a good many layers of clothes and cycled off into a eager and nipping wind.

For the first time for several months, I thought that it was worth putting my overshoes on because cold feet can be a big problem when cycling.

Still, it was delightfully sunny even if it wasn’t very warm….

Bigholms road

…and I enjoyed a thirty mile ride, particularly as the wind behaved itself and after punishing me for the first twelve miles, stayed in position and blew me home for the next eighteen.  You can see that I had made a sound route choice.

I had time to go over a few songs for our Carlisle choir before tea so I felt that I had made good use of the day.  I am only sorry that because we were shooting into the sun, I couldn’t properly convey the spirit raising joy of the brilliant white sea of mist that greeted us on our morning walk.  The scene will remain in my memory for some time.

Alison, my Friday evening orchestra, was not well so there were no sonatas today but I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in as the last few days seem to have been quite busy.

The flying bird of the day is one of the flotilla of chaffinches at full stretch.

flying chaffinch



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who has recently visited Whitby and took this excellent picture of the town.

The other side of Whitby, taken from halfway down the stairs

We were promised a nice day today and although it had rained again over night, it wasn’t a bad morning even though it was cloudy and rather chilly again.  I was in no rush to get going on my bike as I was disappointed that the weather was not better but after a quick look round the garden…

poppies and clematis

The new clematis finally making an appearance along with the usual damp poppies

…I finally got going, armed with a banana, a honey roll, some dates and guava.

I was in a bit of a grumpy mood as I pedalled up the hill to the top of Callister, into a cool wind with grey skies overhead.   There have been far too few sunny, warm summer cycling days this year and although compared with Texas we are in a very good place, I still felt the lack of warmth on my back quite keenly.

The wild flowers are going over which didn’t help my mood.

ragwort and willowherb

Still, once I was over the hill and heading south there was extra food by the road side….


…and some interesting buildings to look at….

Eaglesfield Church

A curious looking modern church in Eaglesfield


The ex nuclear power station at Chapelcross being slowly and steadily dismantled

…and the occasional break in the clouds to cheer me up.

I also like trees so I enjoyed this row of four of them marooned in the middle of a field near Eastriggs.

Eastrigg trees

I was intending to visit the Solway shore when I got down to the coast but a quick look showed me that the tide was so far out that I could almost have walked across to England so I didn’t bother and went to Gretna where I had egg and chips for my lunch while people got married in the marriage room attached to the cafe.

Cheered up by all this, I headed further south into England after lunch.  There was a patch of pink nettles that caught my attention near Rockcliffe…


…and I had a look at the River Eden from a high bank.

River Eden

It was quite  a clear day even though it wasn’t sunny and I could look across the Eden towards the Lake District hills.

Lake District hills

The television mast at Caldbeck shows up very clearly.  We used to get our telly pictures from there via a relay on the top of a local hill but now we have entered the satellite age and get digital pictures from the sky.

I pedalled down to Harker, where I passed a major node on the National Electricity Grid.


I am amazed that I can pedal so close to so much power and not feel a thing.  It always seems a bit daring to go past the station.

I pedalled quietly along the back roads of north Cumbria, passing the church at Kirklinton…


A truly pastoral scene

…and shortly after passing the church, I stopped at a little stream because the sun had come out and I thought it was worth a picture…

Kirklinton stream

…and it had a nice bridge too.

Kirklinton bridge

My route took me back through Longtown and as it was such a nice day by now, I made a little diversion to Corries Mill on my way home which let me stop to eat my honey roll at another little bridge and stream.

Near Corries Mill

The stream may be in danger of being  blocked though as one of the large trees beside it has an ominous fungus growing on it.

fungus on tree

I was going to continue my diversion but some grey clouds looming up made me settle for a direct route home so I headed down to the A7 from Cubbyhill and had the great pleasure of a wind almost directly behind me to help me over the final two hills.

Because of my grumpy mood at the start, I had adopted a very gentle pace for the ride and although I speeded up a bit when I found the wind behind me, it was very relaxing trundling through the countryside and I finished the ride in a lot better mood than when I started.

Even having to stop to put my rain jacket on for a shower just as I got to Langholm did discourage me.

I ended up doing 63 miles in about five and a half hours including all the eating and photo stops so it was a good way to spend the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in the garden while I was out and as the rain had stopped, we had a walk round when I got home.

Special Grandma has produced a late flower….

Special Grandma

…and the poppies and wild eyed dahlias looked good.

poppies and dahlia

I had hoped that the new clematis would be fully open by this time but it was still rather tentative.  It should look very good when it does open.


I looked down at less showy plants which I should not ignore.

lobelia and viola

Lobelia and viola which flower faithfully for many weeks

I had enough energy to mow the drying green but not enough for the middle lawn which was on my to do list.  I had a shower and cycled up to the High Street to buy some milk to make custard to go with a plum crumble which Mrs Tootlepedal was cooking for our tea.

On my way back, I took a picture of some late sun which was brightening up the suspension bridge.

Suspension bridge in the evening sun

And that, apart from eating the plum crumble, concluded the business for the day.

No flying bird of the day but my son Tony’s friend Robbie has taken a remarkable picture of Tony’s two dogs enjoying a choral moment so here is that instead.

dog choir

‘Full throated’ is the correct description I think.

Those interested in the bike route can click on the map below for more details.

garmin route 26 Aug 2017


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Tony & Co’s visit to Cephalonia.   They had some high spots in their holiday and this is one of them.


My get up and go had no option but to return today as the first business of the day was to get up and go to Carlisle.   I was acting as chauffeur for Mrs Tootlepedal who was off to spend a day at the Gardeners’ World Flower Show in Birmingham in company with our daughter, who was coming up from London to meet her there.

Everything went well, Mrs Tootlepedal caught her train and I got home safely.   I had a quick walk round the garden before I went in.

The coral peonies were still curled up in the cool of the morning….

curled peonies

… but by the end of a sunny afternoon, it was another story altogether.

uncurled peonies

That’s what I call the wow factor.

The roses are getting better every day.

lilian austin and rosa complicata

Lilian Austin and Rosa Complicata

I looked at the birds when I went in.

busy feeder

They were so busy that I felt quite tired and had to have a sit down.

My morning plan was to drink coffee, do the crossword and watch Scotland beat Japan at rugby on the telly.

It worked well, though the Scotland win was far from convincing and I didn’t finish a rather tricky crossword until later in the day.

After lunch, the weather looked set fair and the wind not too bad so I checked on the tropaeolum….


It was very red.

…and the daisies….


They were very white

…and went off for a pedal.  It is the Muckletoon Adventure Festival this weekend and as part of it, there is a hilly cycle sportive tomorrow so I thought I would see if my legs were in the mood for such a challenge by giving them a gentle run over a flattish route.

I enjoyed my 44 mile ride a lot but my legs let it be known that a longer and hillier ride was not on their to do list so I will have to give it a miss.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands can see the details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 18 June 16

As you can see, Garmin adds a weather condition to the route details and on this occasion it was pretty inaccurate because it was well above 60°, the sun was shining and the wind was quite brisk at times, especially when I was coming back.  I did the 7 flat miles from Annan to Gretna at an average of 19.5 miles an hour and I certainly couldn’t have done that with a wind of only 3 mph behind me.

I went to Annan through Eaglesfield and came back via Gretna and passed two sources of local employment on my way (note the sunny day).

chapelcross and gretna

Many cross people write to the papers to complain that windmills don’t provide power when the wind doesn’t blow but they seem to forget that the Chapelcross nuclear power station (on the left above) has not been providing any power for several years as it is shut but there is still a large crew working on taking it down and making it safe and they will be working (but not producing any power) for many, many years.  On the other hand there seems to be a never ending supply of people wanting to be married at Gretna.

It was a good day for pedalling and the wind had changed and was coming from the west today which might account for the sunshine after a rather grey spell in recent days with the wind in the east.  The sun had brought the hedge roses out.

hedge roses

One of the things that I like about the back roads on the Solway plain is the way that individual trees in the hedges punctuate the views.

Springfield road

As you can see, the verges are looking very lush with plenty of grasses at the moment and there is some colour among the grass too.


I stopped to eat a final banana at Tarcoon and enjoyed this mother and child gathering there with the Whita Hill and the  Monument in the background.

cows at Tarcoon

While I was nibbling, I took a look back down the road that I had just come up and you may see why I thought this was a good spot to stop for a moment or two.


I soon got going again but I was stopped in my tracks further on by this belted Galloway’s hard stare.

Belted galloway

When I got home, I had time to finish the crossword, have  a shower,  look at the peonies, make a loaf of bread and cook and eat my tea before I had to go back to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up off the train on her return from Birmingham.  She and Annie had had a very enjoyable outing among the flowers but she was pleased to be back home when we got there.

I hope to have some pictures of the event to show here soon.

The flying bird of the day is a composite of two siskins and a sparrow.

sparrow and two siskins flying



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent and shows her daughter Hannah with a square blue tit nest from their square blue tit nest box.  Earlier in the year some square blue tits had nested in it.

HannahIt was a warm and pleasant day with light winds and no threat of rain so it seemed like a good day go cycling.  It took quite a bit of mental effort to get my body to agree but in the end I managed to get mind and body united and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to go where my fancy took me.

Mrs Tootlepedal is a public spirited woman and she had noticed that one or two of the road signs which she passes when on her way back from catching the train to visit the world’s greatest baby were rather dirty and hard to read.  As a result, on the last occasion that she had passed  the signs, she had stopped the car and got out the handy cloth and bottle of water that she just happened to have with her and gave the signs a good clean.

It seemed only fair to cycle that way and record one of the shiny signs.

clean road signI had to stop and look behind me to see the signs but I was feeling quite perky so I turned forward again and kept on going towards Lockerbie. 

View near paddockholeThe route goes across the grain of the country so there is a lot of up and down but the views are always a consolation for the hard work.

We had driven along this road yesterday and when we were quite near Lockerbie, we passed a small unsignposted side road and Mrs Tootlepedal had idly asked, “I wonder where that goes?”

We though that it might go to Castlemilk and when I took it today, I found that this was the case.   It wasn’t very long but it is always a pleasure to find a new road to cycle along.

trees turningThe trees beside it are just beginning to turn, led by the horse chestnuts.

I followed the old A74 south for a few miles but then turned west until I got to the decommissioned nuclear power station at Chapelcross…


It seems as though it will take almost as long to demolish it safely as it spent producing power.

…where I stopped for a banana and a small piece of chocolate.   I had done 25 miles by this time and was looking at about another 25 miles for my route home.  The lovely weather had tempted me to take a longer route than I had planned and I knew that I might be going to be  a bit short of food.

garmin 31 Augu 2014As a result I went home via Eastriggs, Gretna and Canonbie at a very stately speed and with the help of a single energy gel and another little piece of chocolate, I lasted the course.

The route was well chosen as the first half of the loop had the wind against and a good deal of climbing but the second half, along the shore of the Solway and up the Esk valley was much less demanding and helped by the wind.

In a moment of good fortune, the distance clicked over to fifty miles just as I turned into our drive.

Dropscone tells me that he went out earlier in the morning determined to do his longest ride of the year but miscalculated and missed his target by two tenths of a mile.  He’ll just have to go out again.

I didn’t stop for many photographs as getting on and off the bike is still a bit of a pain but I did enjoy these swallows at Tundergarth getting ready to leave.


Musical readers will appreciate that the stave shows that they are leaving in B flat major.

And four tall trees standing by themselves near Eastriggs caught my eye. Perhaps they are part of a hedge that got out of control.

four treesAs usual, a click on the map above will bring up the route details.

I gave the speedy bike a little rest in the sun when I got home….

bike in garden…and after a pause for refreshment, I mowed the front lawn and picked some raspberries.

Mrs Tootlepedal has got plum consumption on her mind so she made six pounds of plum jam while I ate as many as I could without making myself ill but we still have a large number left.   It seems churlish to complain but the plum tree produced no plums last year and far too many this year.   We are expecting a poor year again in 2015.

The sunshine had brought the sedum on and the sedum had attracted a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly…which was soon joined by a bee….

peacock butterfly and bee…but then Mrs Tootlepedal passed by and inadvertently frightened them off and left an unflappable insect as the sole visitor.

insect on sedumI watched the birds on the feeder from time to time and I regret to say that the sparrows seem to have been learning bad behaviour from the siskins.

sparring sparrows


sparring sparrows

And pushing and shoving.

As well as the Shirley poppies, there are a few opium poppies scattered around the garden which appear from time to time.  The latest one is a very delicate purple…

poppy…with the usual intricate centre.

poppy centreAlthough I have been doing a lot of complaining about sore hips, the fifty miles that I cycled today brought up exactly 500 miles for the month which was very satisfactory all things considered.  As a reward I treated myself to  a large dob of ice cream on the tasty bramble and apple crumble which Mrs Tootlepedal had made for our tea.  It rounded off another good day (though I am creaking a bit when I walk).

One of the sparring sparrows turns up as flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow





Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows the rather brilliant moon that greeted me when I looked out of the window as I got up.


It was a lovely day with little or no wind but sadly with the temperature dangling in that dangerous area around 2° which makes it seem possible to go out but also all too possible to hit icy patches.  Discretion got the better part of valour and Dropscone and I arranged to have coffee instead of cycling.  We were joined by Arthur and a sociable time was had by all. If you can’t go cycling, a cup of good coffee, conversation and some of Dropscone’s girdle scones are a very good way of taking your mind off your loss.

Once the again the birds were in very short supply in the garden with only this robin on the go early on.


The sight of the sparrow hawk perching on the bird feeder provided a clue.  It only stopped for a second and once again flew off and lurked in a dense part of the walnut tree making it difficult to photograph.

sparrow hawk

If it is going to scare off my feathered friends, the least it could do would be to pose for the camera.

Seventeen minutes later a goldfinch appeared.  They seem to be the readiest to return after the sparrowhawk has left.  Perhaps they know why it isn’t called a goldfinchhawk.


This one was very fierce in its own right and kept off all comers so vigorously that in disgust one of the others lowered itself to nibble peanuts instead of niger seed.

goldfinch on peanuts

It stayed as king of the castle for a good few minutes.  The finch on the right is going backwards, not forwards.

goldfinch backing off

By the time we had finished our coffee, things on the feeder were back to normal.

goldfinch flapping

There have been no new visitors lately at the feeders.  I caught a glimpse of a brambling in the walnut tree…

brambling in walnut tree

…but it didn’t venture down.  Even though we have had a few siskins, we haven’t had anything the like the flocks we had last year yet.

affronted siskin

This one looks a little taken aback to be talked to like that

A few chaffinches arrived at lunch time and here they are under the supervsion of a blackbird.

blackbird and chaffinches

I was just saying to Mrs Tootlepedal that the sparrowhawk seemed to have scared off all the sparrows, when this fellow appeared.  He was the only sparrow that I saw all day.


The leeks in the vegetable garden have done very well this year and I was able to dig up a couple to make leek and potato soup for lunch.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some work at the Health Centre and since the temperature had now reached 4°,  I got the slow bike out and pedalled off towards Callister.  This was uphill and into a breeze and my breathing showed how wise I had been to stick to flat routes at the weekend.

I opted to go at a slow rate rather than hurt my chest and I stopped at the Bigholms to watch an infernal machine at work.

tree eating machine

This wonderful machine picks up trees and spits them out in pieces.  For those with time to waste, I took a half minute video of the machine in operation.

Dropscone told me that he had difficulty in playing the videos on the blog.  You won’t be able to see them if you are reading this in your mail program.  You will need to open it in a dedicated browser page.  You may still have scripts blocked. 

I was not sure how far to go as rain looked a possibility but it held off and I went over the top of Callister and on to Grange Quarry at ten miles.  From the top of Callister I could look down to the Solway and see the chimneys of Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station (deceased) silhouetted against the water in a patch of hazy sunshine.


At the quarry, it started to rain lightly, so I took the hint and turned for home.  The rain stopped and the wind blew gently from behind and everything was all right with the world.

In the evening, I had a short lesson with Luke, my flute pupil, because he was going on to a school concert.  I thought that he was very good to come at all under the circumstances and I was encouraged that he had not made this an excuse to miss the lesson.  He continues to make progress.  If he goes on like this, soon he will need a proper teacher.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had bought breakfast food for the B&B visitors who never came last week, I helped out  by having bacon, eggs and fried bread for my tea.  I felt very sinful.

Read Full Post »