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Posts Tagged ‘cycle outings’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Oban.  He found a sunny moment among the clouds to visit Dunstaffnage Castle.

Dunstaffnage Castle

We had a reasonable day today, breezy at times but with no rain until late in the evening.  However, we were not able to make the best use of it as Mrs Tootlepedal was struck down by a bug and had to spend the day in bed.

This meant that I thought it best to spend quite a lot of time hovering about trying to look as though I might be useful.

I did get out for a short pedal in the morning and because of a combination of the brisk wind and a desire not to get too far away from the patient, I stuck to my outdoor gym and went three times up and down the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse. This gave me an undemanding twenty one miles without ever being more than three and a bit miles from home.

A break in the clouds let the sun light up a green field as I got near to Wauchope School.

green field

I  kept a fungus eye out as I pedalled and looking at the verges, I saw these…

fungus

fungus

…and these…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and this…

fungus

…and these

They were hard to miss.

On my third go up, I stopped to look at some fence posts, as one does.

fence post lichen

There seemed a lot of interest (to me) on the first one that I looked at so I looked at the next one along too.

fence post lichen

Those little spots of red caught my eye so I looked at the next one along….

fence post lichen

…and it was covered in them.

British soldiers lichen

They look like British soldiers lichen to me, an army of them.

The next post didn’t have any of them on it at all…

fence post lichen

…and the last post was mainly moss.

fence post moss

All this was within ten yards.

I must stop and look at fence post more often.

I was joined by the minister on my second run back to the town.  He had done a longer, hillier circuit and had found the wind very hard work so I was pleased to be skulking about in the valley bottom where the wind was quite strong enough for me.

I made some soup when I got home and had to eat it by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t in eating mode.

I hung around in the afternoon in case I was needed and fitted in the crossword, some dead heading, some compost sieving and a little bit of Archive database work, topped off with a look at a couple of choir songs.

I did take the camera out into the garden but the wind had got up a bit and it made taking pictures quite tricky.

There was colour to be seen…

rudbeckia, buddleia and orange hawkweed

The last of the rudbeckia, a second bloom on a buddleia and the second flowering of the orange hawkweed

…and the temptation of another fuchsia shot was too great to resist.

fuchsia

The sharp eyed will see a bee on the right hand flower.

It went up there.

bee in fuchsia

There were plenty of poppies to deadhead but there are still many, many more waiting to come out.

poppy

They may look a bit fragile but they are obviously pretty tough.

Sadly, the bug meant that Mrs Tootlepdal could not go off to see Matilda, as her custom is on a Thursday but she was well enough to be happy to snooze in bed while I went off to play recorders in Carlisle in the evening.

Susan drove me down and all six of the group were present tonight.  Roy, our librarian, had put together a really good set of six part pieces from his extensive library and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The good weather couldn’t last and it was raining heavily again as Susan drove me home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was slightly better which was heartening although I don’t think she will be running a marathon tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a hoverfly, helophilus pendulus (as far as I can see), on a daisy.

hoverfly

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is volunteer Venetia’s current favourite exhibit at the Somerset Museum of Rural Life, a mechanical vacuum cleaner.

mechanical vacuum cleaner

I had a very traditional Sunday today, courtesy of the favourable weather.  If the weather is kind, I like to cycle along our main roads on a Sunday because they are largely lorry free and have the advantage of being the least hilly of any of our local roads.  This means that I can put my nose as near the front wheel as I can get it and pedal steadily along without interruption.

And that is what I did this morning.  It was occasionally sunny, 11°C and with a light crosswind.  I couldn’t expect better conditions in October.   Because of choir practice in Carlisle in the afternoon, I was time limited though and settled for a familiar jaunt down to Newtown on the Roman Wall and back, a distance of forty miles.

I stopped at Newtown for a breather.

Newtown bench

A bike, a bench, a banana and a bottle of water, all the ingredients of a Sunday morning ride.

I have had a bit of difficulty getting really motivated to get my bike out recently.  Once out on the bike, things are fine but getting started has been hard.  This has partly been down to the poor weather in the summer months but it occurred to me as I was pedalling along today in good conditions that the other reason is my ever decreasing average speeds.

I took up regular cycling very late in life and as a result was able to set myself targets for speed and distance as I got fitter but the reality is clicking in now and I have to come to terms with the fact that there are no more improvements to made  and I can only get slower each year.    I shall just have to learn to look at cycling a bit differently.  Still, I managed 15 mph today so I am not dead yet.

I had time for a look round the garden when I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was already out there having got back from singing in the church choir.

The mild weather has let a campanula have a second go…

campanula

…and the revived sweet rocket had attracted a customer.

sweer rocket and hoverfly.

The bees and hoverflies have given the poppies a good going over….

poppy

…but have ignored the Japanese anemone nearby.

Japanese anemone

Perhaps the smell is wrong.

Not all the poppies have been thoroughly trashed.

poppies

…but they almost all seem to have been visited.  That is probably why the dahlias now seem to be popular with bumble bees and honey bees alike.

bee and bumble bee

I like hoverflies because  their sharp patterns make them very visible to the camera.

hoverfly on poppy

From a photographic point of view, smaller flies, although quite interesting in close up…

fly on marigold

…can spoil the bigger picture.

Pot Marigold

Once again, I asked myself, “Can you have too many fuchsia pictures?”  Once again, the answer was, “Not as far as I am concerned.”

Fuchsia

One of the ones which Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted this year and which have done well

P1030846

A new one which she bought as a treat for me.

The clematis are surviving well.

clematis

I had time for a last look at an outstanding dahlia….

dahlia

…and something in the vegetable garden that Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is Pak Choi…

Pak Choi

…before I had to go in to make some soup and have a shower.

For many years, I have been mashing up my vegetable soups through an old plastic hand powered Moulinex rotary masher which we bought on a trip to France.  Lately I had become a bit concerned that with wear and tear, I might be mashing in more plastic with the vegetables than is desirable.  With that in mind, we bought a modestly priced electric masher when we were in Edinburgh on Thursday and I gave it a test run today.  It certainly mashed the vegetables and the resulting soup was very good.  Obviously not every modern invention is the work of the devil.

After lunch, there was another moment in the garden…

dark nasturtium

The inner workings of the dark nasturtium from yesterday’s post

…and another red admiral butterfly.

red admiral butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was listening to a program on the radio about what astonishing travellers red admiral butterflies are and they certainly fly round our garden at great speed before finding just the right flower to settle on.

The choir practice in Carlisle was a very hard working session.  Because our first two practices of the season were devoted to the pieces for the concert with the Phoenix Choir, we have less time to prepare for our Christmas concert and Andrew, our conductor, is driving us on.  More homework is needed.  Luckily the pieces are enjoyable so a bit of hard work doesn’t go amiss.

The flying bird of the day is my current favourite among the poppies.

poppy

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who went back to the low countries after our visit to Marseille.  He was surprised to find a local pipe band in Ghent.  They are wearing McKenzie tartan kilts, our mother’s clan.

ghent pipe band

The forecast was for a calm and often sunny day.  I made a plan to pedal based on the forecast.  The forecast turned out to be correct and my plan came to fulfilment.   Two unusual things on the same day.

Before I left, I printed out a copy of yesterday’s guest picture of the day for our neighbour Liz.  She is entering it in an informal competition so I hope it does well….

…and then I had a quick look round the garden.

The internally lit dahlia is still giving its best…

dahlia

…and it has a little competition.

dahlia

The insects were out in force again today.

hoverfly and bee

This was the destination of choice.

poppy with bees and hoverfly

Not quite as many as yesterday but still impressive.

I finally ran out of cycle avoidance excuses and set off with a plan to see how my legs were doing after a very light cycling month.  I chose a route that started out over the hills and then headed down towards England and the coast.

It was sunny but hazy….

view near gair

…and there were signs of autumn both in Scotland…

Sprinkell trees

…and England.

Rockcliffe trees

Regular readers will know that I like a tree tunnel…..

near Rockliffe

…and this one, near Rockliffe, is one of my favourites.

The wind was light but persistent and I found it quite hard work cycling into it so I was happy to stop after 30 miles to visit a pub for a half pint of draught beer (very good) and a plate of egg and chips (absolutely excellent) at the Drover’s Rest in Monkshill.

The road that the pub is on was closed, though I was able to pedal through the works quite easily, so I was the only customer.  In a sign of the times, cooking the egg and chips, which were not on the menu, was no problem but finding out how to record the sale on a computerised till, which didn’t have egg and chips on it, caused a lot of head scratching.

The Drover’s Rest had an interesting notice in the bar.

state management notice

I hadn’t realised that the state management of brewery and pubs had stretched out of Carlisle.

I pedalled on down to the Solway shore.  I had the intention of showing readers a lovely scene of the Solway sparkling under a blue sky but this scheme didn’t go well for two reasons.

  1. The sun went in
  2. The tide was out

I settled for some marsh cattle grazing peacefully.

marsh cattle

You can see the Scottish shore in the background but no sign of the Solway in between.  Drovers who knew what they were doing were able to walk across to Scotland in the old days.

The cattle were finding the marsh grass very much to their taste…

marsh cattle

…but I could definitely have done with a bit more water than the trickle that was available.

Solway shore

More of a river than the sea

Further along the coast, when I had passed through Bowness on Solway, a flash of white caught my eye.

little egret

It was at the limit of the Lumix’s capabilities but I stopped because I don’t think that a little egret has appeared on the blog before.

It had friends close by.

lapwing and gull

The bird in the left is a lapwing.  We used to see lots of them in the fields round Langholm when we first came to the area forty years ago but we hardly ever see one now.  I don’t know what sort the gull is.

Out on the mudflats far beyond the egret, a group of curlews was calling and scratching…

curlews and heron

…and a heron flew lazily past.

A good pair of binoculars  and a long lens would have been useful.

After a last look at the little egret….

little egret

….I pedalled on round the radio station at Anthorn and came into the estuary of the Whampool where a large flock of lapwings was sitting in the shallows.

lapwings

I do know this gull. It is a black headed gull like the ones on our Kilngreen.

The skies had clouded over a lot and the River Whampool was looking mean, moody but not quite magnificent.

Whampool River

I had done 50 miles by this time and the issue of getting home before dark was raising its head so I gave up thoughts of 100 miles, which would have required an earlier start to the day, and settled for a fairly direct route home.  Unfortunately this required cycling straight into the light wind for the first part and then some steady uphill work for the last part so the camera stayed in my pocket as I concentrated on getting home.

I was feeling a bit feeble and I stopped at Springfield for a delicious ice cream and then battled my way back by Milltown of Sark and over the Bloch.

I was unusually tired when I got home and  a visit to the scales showed that I had lost 2kg on the trip which means that I had not managed to get a balanced food and liquid intake on the ride (the first time this year on the longer rides) and that would explain the fatigue.

I did have the energy to take a picture of the Virginia Creeper on the fence at the end of the drive, which is very striking….

virginia creeper

…and I went to check on the bees’ favourite poppies.

poppy

The bees had been busy

poppy

Very busy

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy too,  helping at the Buccleuch Centre when I got home but she soon returned and made me a nourishing evening meal for which I was extremely grateful.

When I had helped her out with her accounts yesterday, she assured me that she would love me for ever but a remark or two today after certain humorous efforts of mine indicated that there might be a conditional element in this.

She has been considering major improvements to the flower beds round the middle lawn and I want to put it on record that I regard any such plans as being a really good thing.

Anyone interested in details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 26 Sept 2017

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Sandra who lives on the opposite side of town.  She has a fine crop of fungus on a tree stump on her drive.

IMG_5219

It was Sunday so, as is traditional, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I prepared a venison stew for the slow cooker.

Before I started the cooking though, I took some time out to see how the garden had been doing during the absence of the gardener.

The nerines have thrived.

nerines

The sedum is out and attracting business.

sedum with bee

The dahlias badly need dead heading but there are a lot still going well, both neat…

dahlia

…and rather shaggy.

dahlias

There were a lot of takers for dahlia pollen.

dahlia with bees

The poppies also need dead heading but there were still a good number of them too which was gratifying…

poppiespoppies

…both for us and for many insects.

Some had given all they had to give though.

poppies

Other flowers are doing well as we don’t seem to have had much in the way of cold mornings while we have been away.

fuchsia

clematis

Japanese anemones

cornflower

There a lot of poppies still to come.

 

The large lily and the rudbeckia area bit past their best.

lily and rudbeckia

There is even a new flower, Leycesteria formosa…

Leycesteria formosa

…commonly known as Himalayan honeysuckle and which can be quite a pest.   It looks very nice though so I hope Mrs Tootlepedal lets it some of it stay.

All in all, things don’t look too bad although there is a lot of tidying to do.

I went in and made the stew and then came out to give the greenhouse grass a light mow before finally getting into my cycling gear to see if I still remembered how to use a bicycle.   I have hardly done any cycling this month for one reason or another so although I didn’t have a lot of time, I thought it was a good idea to do a few miles.

I went for a shortened version of my customary Canonbie circuit which worked out at 16 miles and this was quite enough for a gentle reintroduction to the art of pedalling after two days of sitting in trains.

The country is gradually turning brown….

Bloch

…and some of the trees are following suit.

Chapelhills

…so I stopped for a couple of riverside shots on my way.

Hollows Bridge

The view from Hollows Bridge

Irvine House

Irvine House

Skippers Bridge

The view from Skippers Bridge

It was warm, the wind was light and my legs worked reasonably well so I enjoyed my ride. I didn’t have long after I got back before it was time for a quick lunch and a trip to Carlisle for a Carlisle Community Choir practice.

We are taking part in a concert in the Cathedral next Saturday with a celebrated Glasgow Choir and as a result we had a very hard working session.  I am happy to say that with two exceptions, I was nearly able to remember both all the words and the tenor parts for five of the seven songs we are singing from memory at the concert.  There will have to be a lot of work on one in particular of the other two before Saturday.  I only wish that I liked this particular song a bit more and then the work wouldn’t be quite as hard. It is our conductor’s favourite though so I will try to do it justice.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting a poppy.

bee and poppy

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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 another from my daughter’s working trip to Venice.  After the storm had passed, she got a better view out of her office window.

venice

We woke to a brilliantly sunny morning and I got up into my cycle clothes, ready for a pedal in the sun.  A look at the thermometer, which was showing a meagre 7°C, suggested that a leisurely breakfast and a good read of the morning papers might be a good idea.

I did get going when the the thermometer hit 9° but it still seemed quite chilly even in the sun.   I couldn’t complain about the views today though….

Cleuchfoot

…but the one of the locals seemed a bit miffed by me standing in her line of vision.

Bloch cow

I cycled an extended loop, taking in Kirkpatrick Fleming and Gretna on my way to Canonbie.  I didn’t stop too often for photos as I had a busy afternoon in mind but the call of this little stream was too much for me….

The Black Sark

…especially as it had a nice bridge over it with some convenient steps so that an elderly photographer could get down on to its bank with ease and dignity.

Black sark Bridge

Every bridge should have such a set of steps.

Black sark Bridge

The reason for cycling an extended Canonbie loop was twofold, first because it was such a beautiful sunny day, with big blue skies….

Gretna road

…and secondly because the 34 miles took me over 500 miles for the month, a total which I consider a minor triumph these days.  One of the best things about being retired is that I can make good use of whatever sunny moments there are in a day so in spite of the rotten August weather, I managed to get out fifteen times during the month and hardly got rained on at all.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and she was literally surrounded with butterflies at times.  There must have been more than twenty peacocks and red admirals flitting about and it was a great sight to see them fill the air above the flowers.

I found a peacock on a calendula….

peacock butterfly on calendula

…and a red admiral on a Michaelmas daisy.

red admiral butterfly

And the shining dahlia had visitors all afternoon.

dahlia with red admiral butterfly

There were poppies and bees again but I noticed a Welsh poppy which I thought compared very well with the Shirley poppies…

Welsh poppy

…and not all the insects were bees.

hoverfly on cosmos

A hoverfly on a cosmos

I do like the Shirley poppies when they have just come out and still have that crumpled paper look.

Shirley poppy

Among the poppies, the cornflowers are a bit overshadowed but they are always well worth a look.

cornflower

There is a single salvia among the phlox but it is looking better every day.

salvia

Oddly, the camera sees it as much more purple and less blue than my eyes sees it but it is still a pretty flower.

salvia

Among all the flowers, the seed pods of the tree peony are rather subdued but quite impressive at the same time.

tree peony pods

The main business of the afternoon was a shopping trip to Carlisle, where many necessities were purchased. These included three big bags of farmyard manure, three small bags of coffee beans from around the world (Rwanda, Malabar, Java) and four smaller bags of tea leaves from India and Ceylon.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have different views of what a necessity is.

It is wonderful to get such treats in a very small city tucked into the far north western corner of England but although you may think that Carlisle might be a little provincial and perhaps even dull, I can report that for today at least, it was a very hip place indeed.

hips

Seen beside the road to the station

I had to wait in the car for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal visited a shop, no hardship in a car park with this fine view of the city walls…

City walls and carlisle cathedral

…and I was almost as surprised as she was when she came back to the car and revealed that she had been into a clothes shop and actually bought some clothes.

We rounded off our shopping with a visit to a discount supermarket and arrived home, tired but happy.  For the first time, I used my phone to pay for our parking time in Carlisle and I must say it is a useful thing to know exactly how long you have left on the virtual meter as being even a minute over time can incur a substantial fine in these days of cash strapped councils.

We passed though brief showers of rain both on the way down and the way back but the sun was shining brightly when we got home and the butterflies were still flitting about.

I ignored them though and took a picture of two nicotiana catching the evening rays.

nicotiana

We had a refreshing cup of Broken Orange Pekoe tea when we went in.

My body was somewhat tired by the end of the day but my spirit was refreshed by the sunshine.

No flying bird of the day today but its place is taken by a fine display of rolls made from scratch by my son Tony.  He tells me that they reminded him of the rolls he used to buy from Dropscone’s bakery when he was a boy.

Tony's rolls

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who is in Venice working.  She caught La Serenissima in a less than serene mood.

Venice storm

A bright start to the day here soon faded to grey but at least it didn’t rain.  It was decidedly chilly for the time of year and I was pleased to have a visit to the dentist after breakfast to keep me off my bike.

When I got back, I watched blackbirds for a bit.  A small group were eating our plums but were not grateful enough to pose properly while actually pecking the plums.

blackbirds on plums

In a neighbouring back yard, another set were devouring rowan berries but I got my camera settings wrong and messed up a couple of ‘beak and berry’ chances.

blackbirds

There are plenty of berries left….

blackbirds

…so I hope to get another chance.

I looked at two good clumps of flowers at the back of the garden before I went back in.

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia

Japanese anemones

After coffee and a slice or two of bread and marmalade, the lack of rain made even a chilly day too good to resist and I got my fairly speedy bike and set off.  It was cold and grey, I was cycling into the breeze and the distant hills were so shrouded in mist that it looked as though I was heading into a rain shower.

My spirit was very weak and I nearly turned for home.

Luckily my spirit may have been weak but my legs were surprisingly strong and drove me on regardless.  In the end, I had a dry and enjoyable 43 mile ride, though it was so grey that I didn’t stop for any pictures of wild flowers or views.

I did stop at Gretna Green for a snack though and noticed a mound next to the car park which I hadn’t seen before.  It had been spiralised…

Gretna Green mound

…so I followed the spiral until I attained the summit and looked at the view.

Gretna Green view

Not very inspiring.

On the other side, inventive entrepreneurs had constructed a courtship maze…

Gretna Green maze

…though why they think that anyone should want to come to a car park in a rather dull and  flat corner of Scotland to do their courting is a mystery to me.  They probably know best though.

Of more interest to me was a small flock of birds on wires nearby.

birds at Gretna Green

Normally if I see birds like this, I assume that they are starlings but on this occasion there are clearly two different sizes of perchers perching.  I have decided that the larger ones are starlings and the smaller ones, sparrows.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I had a wander round there too.  She has been using a bit of compost to improve the soil here and there so I sieved a couple of buckets to top up the supply.

I checked out the new clematis…

white clematis

…and a late burst of flowers from Lilian Austin.

Lilian Austin

There are three in the picture although you can hardly see the two behind.

We have had an excellent crop of plums….

plum

Almost the last of the crop

…and for once we got exactly the right amount.  Usually with plums it is glut or starvation but this year we got a steady supply of sweet ripe plums to eat every day for a couple of weeks, with just enough surplus for a plum crumble last week and today’s special, an oat, ginger and plum bake.  It was delicious.

Cosmos, dahlia and poppies are doing their best to cheer us up….

poppy, dahlia , cosmos

The dahlia is sensational

…and I even saw the very last lupin and some late astrantia too.

lupin and astrantia

I dead headed the poppies and cornflowers and anything else that I could get my snippers on  and took a final look round before going in for a cup of tea and a slice or three of the oat and plum bake.

There are still more flowers to come.

sedum

The sedum is waiting for a bit of sunshine.

Salvia

A salvia looking promising

It was time for a shower after the cup of tea and cake and then, as things still looked rather gloomy outside, we sat and looked at the telly in amazed horror at the amount of rain that has fallen on Texas.   It made our month of August, the coldest for thirty years, look positively benign.

We are getting quite excited here as we are promised some sun tomorrow.

 

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