Posts Tagged ‘cream tea’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on the Isle of Arran.  Unlike me, he saw a squirrel at breakfast time.

Arran squirrel

Our spell of good weather continued with a pleasantly warm and often sunny day.  At the moment we are getting some sunny days without it getting too hot for comfort and the only thing lacking to make things perfect is a few overnight showers to save the need for watering the vegetables.

I had time before going to sing in church to have a quick walk round the garden.  It was worth it.

poppy, lily, courgette

Perhaps the biggest and most flamboyant flower in the garden at the moment is in the vegetable patch but the courgette (bottom left in the panel above) looks quite at home.

We have got some very nice white foxgloves on the go among all the colour.

whiute foxglove

The hostas are covered with flowers,  They are doing well this year.

hosta with flowers

Our church organist has been elected cornet so he has been very busy attending common ridings in neighbouring towns lately, but he found time to come and play for us today and it was good to have him at the organ.

After church, there was time for another garden wander and some dead heading.  I noticed the last of our lupins…

new lupin

..and took a general view of the borders on the front lawn.

front lawn border

The front lawn is much better than it was, but it is still a bit patchy.  I did think about photoshopping the brown patches out but restrained myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys a bright red perlagonium which she rescued from a ‘past its best’ tray at a garden centre last year.  It has repaid her care.  I like it too, but it is so bright that it frightens the camera.

geraniums red

I went inside to have coffee and had a look at the birds.

There is a lot of blackbird activity in the garden and this looks like a growing youngster.

young blackbird

A siskin looked as though it was being distracted by an arriving sparrow from the threat from another siskin behind it.

sparrow landing

Later on, two siskins got very up close and personal.

mixed siskins

After lunch, we went off for a cycle ride.

During the ‘sit and stitch’ session at the producers’ market yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal had been reminded by one of her embroidering friends that members of the Waterbeck village hall committee serve cream teas every Sunday afternoon in July.  Waterbeck is ten miles away from Langholm so a ten mile bike ride seemed a good way to work up an appetite and the ten miles back seemed like a good way to work off the calories acquired.

We went at a leisurely pace and kept an eye out for orchids.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted some on the way out and some more on the way back…

two orchids

…and in the end, she saw so many that she stopped pointing them out.

As well as wild flowers, we saw animals pondering on life…

three bulls

…and a busy sand martins’ nesting site…

sand martin nests

…though my pocket camera couldn’t capture any of the sand martins which were flitting in and out of the nest holes.

The verges have not been mown recently and are very lush with waving grasses.

waving grasses

We encountered a small stream of old cars on a group outing but I only managed to get my camera out of my pocket by the time that they had almost all passed us.  This was the last in the queue (with a modern car behind it).

old car

We arrived safely at the hall and enjoyed an excellent cup of tea, a cream and strawberry scone and a delightful plate of cakes as well.  I would have shown you the scones but they had all mysteriously disappeared in no time at all.

waterbeck cream tea table

There was a light breeze in our faces on the way home and the hills are steeper going towards Langholm than on the way out, so we didn’t rush back in spite of being well fuelled with scones and cake.  We had time to stop and look at more flowers.

The vetch and the yellow bedstraw were very striking…

four wauchope wild flowers

…but the more subdued meadowsweet and two active red soldier beetles also provided photo opportunities.

The most surprising stop of the trip was to photograph a hare on the top of Callister.  It thought that the best way of hiding from me was to stand very still in full view.

hare on Callister

More animals should adopt this scheme.

We made a judicious pause half way up the steepest hill to admire the view.

view from Callister

Mrs Tootlepedal did the trip on her shopping bike.  It is the one that has been recently serviced and now has a fully functioning ‘granny gear’ on it.   The hills gave it a good test and it passed well.

An evening meal consisting of a fry-up of liver, bacon, egg and mushroom rounded off a very satisfactory day and we sat down to watch a recording of the team time trial stage of the Tour de France after we had had one last walk round the garden.

The evening light was delightful.

poppy bobbie james delphinium philadelphus

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that one of the many Iceland poppies which spring up in the garden had developed some rather fancy petals.

ragged iceland poppy

I liked the steely gaze of the delphiniums.


According to the forecast, we have one more good day to go before the weather changes and it starts to rain for several days, so I am pleased to have had the opportunity to cycle a few miles and have had so many pretty flowers to look at during this past week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch heading up to the feeder.

chaffinch flying


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Today’s guest photo shows a bird which my brother met on a visit to Tiritiri Matangi Island near Auckland in New Zealand Tiritiri Matangi Island Aug 2014 - 8After the rain showers of yesterday, we enjoyed a day without any rain at all today and very welcome it was too.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir after breakfast and I took a walk round the garden.  I could hardly hear myself think at the poppy bed such was the throng of insects visiting the poppies.

poppy with bumble beeIt seemed that every poppy had it own visitor.

poppy with hoverflyThere are many quieter berries in the garden at the moment.

garden berriesIt was too good a morning to stay in the garden so I took the slow bike out and went for a gentle ride down to the Kilngreen and up the Lodge Walks.

The ducks on the Kilngreen eyed me up in the hope of food….

mallard….and black headed gulls flew past in effort to feature as flying bird of the day.

black headed gullOn the Castleholm I could see the first tree foreshadowing the coming of autumn leaves.

autumn treeIt was a pleasure just to be outside on such a sparkling morning.

When I got back home, I watched a coal tit visit our feeders, the first that I had seen for some time.

coal titMrs Tootlepedal returned safely from church and after a cup of coffee set about mowing the drying green combined with a little more clearing out of plants that were now surplus to requirements.

This sort of thing is too strenuous for me so I got some sour dough bread on the go while she was working. 

Then it was time for an early lunch.  We were going to take advantage of the fine weather and light winds to visit Middlebie, twelve and a half miles away, where kindly people were serving travellers with cream teas.

The road to Middlebie is hilly and we left ourselves plenty of time so that we could enjoy the scenery as we went along.

When you get near Middlebie, the country opens up and the Solway plain lies in front of you.

view of Solway plainMrs Tootlepedal remarked that if you woke up to a view like this every day rather than the view of the surrounding hills which greets us in Langholm, you might well have a very different view of the world.  She is probably right.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen some bright orange fungus in a tree when she had pedalled along this way a fortnight ago and I was looking forward to seeing it but in the intervening time, it had turned white and when I tried to photograph it, the Hotts Burn got in the way and I couldn’t get close enough to it for Pocketcam so I photographed the Hotts Burn instead.

Hotts BurnThe hall at Middlebie has a modest frontage….

Middlebie Hall…but like the Tardis, it is much bigger inside.  These cream teas are very popular though and even at half past two, it was nearly full and we we were lucky to find  two empty seats to squeeze into.   The scones and cakes were tasty and just what was needed half way through a twenty five mile ride.

We didn’t stay long and were soon on our way home, caressed by a favouring wind.

As I say, the route is undulating…

Mrs Tootlepedal cycling

Mrs Tootlepedal going downhill and Mrs Tootlepedal going uphill.  There was little chance to snap he on the flat.

…and we stuck to a very steady speed.  This was just as well, as I have had quite a heavy week of cycling and my legs were asking plaintively if there was any chance of a little sit down soon.

As always when the sun is out and the wind is from the west, the last few miles home from the top of Callister were an unmitigated cycling pleasure but on this occasion it was even more pleasant to sink into an armchair and relax when we got in.

We made a pizza for our evening meal and considered that the weekend had been a great success.  Even the sourdough bread turned out particularly well.

Among all the black headed gulls that I saw in the morning, a lone herring gull took the honour of being elected flying bird of the day.

herring gull






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Today’s guest picture is a shot of camel racing.  My daughter Annie sent it, having come across it, as one does, at a country fair in a south London park.  The things that you see in a big city!

camel racing

Like yesterday, I spent quite a lot of time sitting down again today but unlike yesterday, most of it was spent sitting on a bike saddle.

In total I spent 4 hours 40 minutes pedalling and when I checked the results of today’s Tour de France stage, I saw the the winner there had spent 4 hours 56 minutes in the saddle.  The difference was that I had cycled 60 miles in the time and he had managed 140.  These men are heroes.

My sixty miles was spilt in to two rides with a pleasing mathematical relationship.  In the morning I did 40 miles down a flat main road and back at just under 17 mph and in the afternoon, I did half that distance over hilly back roads with Mrs Tootlepedal at more or less exactly half the speed.

I had a banana on a bench at half distance in the morning ride and a delightful cream tea in Waterbeck Village Hall at half distance in the afternoon ride.

The sun shone all the time, the temperature was hot but bearable and the wind was light.  Who, as the song says, could ask for anything more?

My morning ride was enhanced by meeting a cycle race going the other way down the Brampton road as I cycled home.  I put my nose down and pedalled harder as the speedy cyclists flashed by me.

There was less than an hour between the morning and afternoon rides and I just had time to admire a glowing bunch of Phlox in the garden…


…before setting off to Waterbeck.  We passed lots of local cyclists pedalling back towards Langholm as we went along, including Sandy who was on a short ride and declined our invitation to join us on the cream tea trail.

The hall at Waterbeck was packed when we got there.  The cream teas raise money for the local church and whether for that reason or the excellence of the scones, they had attracted a very good turnout. We sat next to a lady who told us that they will be doing cream teas in Middlebie Village Hall in August so I can see another trip coming on.   Mrs Tootlepedal likes nothing better than a ride with a cream tea in the middle of it.

When we got back, I found time between watching bits of the final round of the Open Golf to mow the middle lawn and take some pictures in the garden.  Colours were looking strong in the sunshine.

cosmos, poppy and marigold



Even the normally rather dull lime green nicotiana was singing.


The broad beans are flourishing….

broad beans

…but rather to Mrs Tootlepedal’s annoyance, although she planted several rows at different times, they all seem to be beaning simultaneously.  We had beans for tea yesterday, we had beans for tea today and, more than likely, we will have beans for tea tomorrow.

I tested the blackcurrant jelly that I made yesterday and it seems to have set quite well which is a relief.  The possibility of bramble jelly is now looming up.


While I was mowing the lawn, I heard the sound of the Town Band marching along Henry Street, so I picked up Pocketcam and nipped down to take a picture.

Town Band

They just had enough room to squeeze between the parked cars.

Town Band

Sound and fury

They were leading a procession of masons to a service in the church.  The irreverent refer to this as the ‘Pinkie Parade’.


A pinkie is your little finger. You have to have strong group loyalty to march down the road linked like this.

After the masons had passed by, a couple walked across the road to greet me.  They were the Elliots, Langholm exiles now living in South Africa and for some curious reason, regular readers of this blog.  Pocketcam obligingly took a record of our meeting through the good agency of Charlotte, one of our neighbours.


I am hoping to persuade Tom to send me more guest pictures from South Africa when they go home.  It was very nice to meet these far flung readers and I was much touched by the fact that they enjoy this link with their old home town.

Back in the garden, I tracked down one of the bees that make such a noise among the privet blooms…

bee on privet

…and took a picture of a variegated phlox just to enjoy the leaves before it blooms.


Mrs Tootlepedal was still full of energy after her twenty mile bike ride and suggested a trip to the moor to look for owls and hen harriers.  I was a little tired for some reason but fell in with her scheme and we drove up to see what we could see.

We did see both a harrier and several owls with our binoculars but they were too far away for the camera so just to prove that I was there, I took pictures of an impressive cloud….


…and the view down Little Tarras valley.


By eight o’clock, the light had faded and my stomach was muttering about the need for food so we left two other enthusiasts still bird watching and went home.

Owing to the distance, I couldn’t catch a flying owl of the day so I am signing off with a sitting bird of the day today.  If you look very carefully you can just see a hen harrier on the skyline.

hen harrier




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Today’s picture, in the absence of any contributions from friends and family, is a geometrical delight from our garden.

sunflower head

The day started tentatively on my part as I tested out my fragile back while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir.  I was able to walk about the garden and take pictures so the back couldn’t be said to be too bad.


The things that you see when you look at a flower closely continue to delight me.

clematis and poppy

You don’t have to get too close to enjoy these eye poppers though.


The bees were as busy as ever.

A multicoloured blackbird entertained me for a while.


Possibly two different birds glued together.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and we booked some railway tickets to go to Skipton by the Settle and Carlisle railway line (a great scenic treat on a fine day) at the end of September.  The purpose of the trip is to visit a yarn fair there.

As well as looking at the flowers, I had dealt with a couple of items of business from the in tray while Mrs Tootlepedal was out so I was feeling pleased as we took another stroll round the flowers.

I was even more pleased when I saw a peacock butterfly.  The contrast between the top and bottom view of its wings is striking.

peacock butterfly

There were more bees of course.

bee on cosmos

I like the contrast between the enormous bee and the tiny fly.

I must have a word with Santa about the need for a macro lens at Christmas.

I made some lentil soup for lunch and fortified by this, we got our bikes out and set off to cycle the ten miles to Chapelknowe where there was a cream tea to be had.

I was more than a bit worried about my back but, as often happens, I felt a lot more comfortable on the bike than off it.

By coincidence, shortly after we had left home, we met a couple of friends cycling the other way.  We stopped to chat and they revealed that having read about the re-opened bridge further up the road on the blog, they had felt moved to go and inspect it for themselves.  It had been almost as exciting as their recent visit to the World Athletic Championships in Moscow (but not quite).

We pedalled on and as we turned off to go over the Kerr road, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a line of birds on the telegraph wires.  At first she thought that they might be swallows preparing to leave….

birds on a wire

…but after a closer look, we think that they are starlings getting ready for the big winter gatherings to come.

We cycled up to Solwaybank through peaceful upland farming country….


…before heading down the hill to Chapelknowe.

It was a really lovely day by this time and after an hour in the saddle, we were ready for our cream tea.

Chapelknowe Hall

The function was to raise money for the upkeep of the hall

Chapelknowe Hall

It was very well attended.

Unusually for a village hall, the chairs were really comfortable.  The supply of scones, jam and cream was inexhaustible although Mrs Tootlepedal did her best to exhaust it.


I just caught one before it disappeared.

We had several cups of tea and a lot of cheerful conversation with friends and strangers and felt that it had been well worth the ten mile trip.  Our return took us back by a different and more scenic route.  (Click on the map for details if you like.)


We headed through the village and took the road up to Kennedy’s Corner.   It runs gently uphill and gives fine views back towards the Solway.  Here we see Mrs Tootlepedal whizzing up the hill, having just passed a couple of cars that were holding her up.

Road to Kennedy's Corner

The slightly hazy conditions mean that the camera doesn’t do any justice to a pleasantly sunny, still day.  It would have been hard to find a nicer day or a better bit of country for cycling after a cream tea.  We got to the top of the ridge and sailed down the other side to Falford where I stopped to take a picture of the bridge.

Falford Bridge

I stopped again to take a picture of my favourite view half way up the hill.

View of Winterhope

By this time, Mrs Tootlepedal was away up the hill in a style reminiscent of Vincenzo Nibali.


I caught her up with difficulty and we enjoyed the swoosh down the other side of Callister.  It really was a lovely day for cycling….



The road home

…and basically all downhill to home by this point.

The ride ended up at just under 24 miles so we felt that we had probably done enough to earn the scones and cakes.

I resisted the temptation to mow any lawns when we got back, being more than pleased that my back had stood up to the cycling.

We were able to relax and watch the final miles of the Vuelta (the Spanish equivalent of the Tour de France) on the telly as we ate our evening meal.

Although my back is still quite sore, I was very pleased to find that cycling doesn’t make it worse and I hope to get out again tomorrow while the weather remains good.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch


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