Posts Tagged ‘cycle outings’

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Bruce.  He had ventured as far as Aberdeen where he saw this pillar box.  Reading the crest on the front which says Edward VII,  he reckons that it has been standing there for over 100 years.

aberdeen postbox

After some slightly warmer weather, we reverted to type and it  struggled to get over 5°C and because the air was quite damp and the wind was coming from the north east, it felt quite chilly all day.

But it was dry and the wind was light so I got out the fairly speedy bike to have a last ride on it before it went in for its service.  We had plans for the afternoon so I rather boringly went round my customary short 20 mile run through Canonbie.  Since the route was familiar and the skies were leaden, I didn’t intend to stop to take pictures but I almost always carry my camera and I couldn’t pass these characters at Canonbie without stopping for a snap.

canonbie cow

canonbie cow

And my favourite….

canonbie cow

…there is an eye there if you look very closely.

I had just arrived home when the minister, with his coffee radar in perfect working order, arrived.  He told us that he had done a 60 mile sportive in Yorkshire on Saturday and considering that he has done hardly any miles on his bike this winter, he was very pleased to have got round in good shape and at a decent speed.  Kudos to him.

When he left, I had to clean my bike to make it respectable enough to go to the bike shop and then I cleaned the bird feeders and then took a moment or two to look around.

However, the light was so poor and the flowers in such a sulk that there was nothing to see so we went off for our outing.  We combined dropping off the bike at the bike shop with a visit to a garden centre for lunch and then a bird feed emporium to buy more seed.

I took the opportunity to buy a new helmet when I was in the bike shop.  I tried many helmets on but they didn’t fit at all well and woggled about on my pointy head.  In the end, the only one that fitted well and was light and comfortable was also among the most expensive.  I bought it anyway because a comfortable and light helmet is worth a lot

When we got home, I had another look around and this time there were many frogs to be seen.


And a lot of frogs spawn.


Mrs Tootlepedal embarked on some gardening work and I tested the compost in Bin D to see if it would sieve.  It did and I was able to spread a little about on one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new beds.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that the sparrowhawk had paid three visits to the garden in the morning so it was not surprising that there weren’t a lot of birds about today.  One blackbird caused a stir when it flew up on to the kitchen windowsill and stuck there, frozen into immobility.  Even the arrival of the window cleaners couldn’t persuade it to move and in the end Mrs Tootlepedal went out and shifted it by hand.

blackbird on windowsill

On a nearby bench, another blackbird expressed concern.


I don’t know what had happened to it.  It wasn’t trembling and I wonder if it had seen its own reflection in the window and was baffled about what was happening and where to go.  It flew out of Mrs Tootlepedal’s hand so it wasn’t fatally injured.

The few male chaffinches which came to the feeders were looking very bright.

chaffinch and siskin


But they were not as bright as some gaudy primroses which Mrs Tootlepedal purchased the other day and which are waiting to go into the garden.


The colour will be very welcome.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a good time playing a Haydn sonata.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and although as Isabel put it, we had some room for improvement, we enjoyed the playing a lot.

The absence of birds and the gloomy light made finding a flying bird of the day very hard and this was the best that I could manage.

chaffinch and siskin








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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie’s recent working trip to Berlin where she spotted a familiar landmark.


Aided by temperatures just above freezing and some overnight rain, the snow continues its retreat from the garden.

lawn with snow melting

I had to go to the dentist after breakfast but it was only for a check up and I was passed fit for duty and no work was required.

I had look round the garden when I got back. There are signs that given a bit of sunshine, the crocuses may have survived the snow…


…and there was a clump of what looked like fresh frog spawn in the pond.

frog spawn

It was a drizzly sort of morning but it was enlivened by a large flock of siskins which invaded the garden.

They sat on top of the walnut tree and made a fearful racket with their chattering…


…they flew down and filled the plum tree…


…and they crowded together to pick up fallen seeds below the feeder.


There are always plenty of fallen seeds when siskins are about as they are messy eaters.  It is not necessarily their fault as they are tiny birds and the sunflower hearts are quite big.

busy feeders

There were a few chaffinches and goldfinches about too but the vast majority of the visitors today were siskins.  I counted over fifty of them at one time.

They did some steady eating in the rain…


…and a lot of quarrelling…


…and were not afraid to put the boot into a much larger goldfinch if one stood in the way.

siskin attacking goldfinch

Sometimes the goldfinches fought back…

goldfinch attacking siskin

…but there were also moments of ecumenical avianism.

busy feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop over lunch so I hoped for the best weather wise and went to see if the Wauchope road was snow free on my fairly speedy bike.

The road was clear but the weather wasn’t…

Callister road

…and after five miles up to Callister in the rain, I got fed up and went home and had lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the Buccleuch Centre and when we took a turn round the garden, it was plain that the rain had stopped so rather to my own surprise, I got my bike back out and went off and did another ten miles up to Callister and back in grey but dry conditions.

Loyal readers may remember that the rear view mirror fell off my slow bike on a ride a few days ago before the snow came and I was unable to spot it in the grass beside the road on my way home.

I was hopeful that the snow might have flattened the grass enough to make the mirror visible as I went up today and my hope was justified.  I saw the mirror lying on the verge.

I was pleased with that fact that I had spotted it but less pleased to find that a car had run over it and it was broken beyond repair.  I have ordered a new one.  Thanks to general decrepitude, I can’t bend my head round to look behind me without falling off my bike and a mirror is thus a necessity.

The bridge builder had been busy all morning on the the dam bridge repairs and by the afternoon, the bridge was open to traffic.

dam bridge repairs opening

We are still waiting for some new railings but that is merely cosmetic so it seemed only right to have a grand opening ceremony.

I hadn’t heard anything from the Queen in London and the Scottish First Minister is busy arguing about Brexit so we had to make do ourselves…

….and you can see what an impressive occasion it was.

The two nymphs of Wauchope Street, Mrs Tootlepedal and Mrs Ewart held the ceremonial ivy while the Queen of Wauchope Street, Mrs Margaret Hogg did the honours with the kitchen scissors.  Riley, the terrier, kept a watchful eye on proceedings to see that protocol was fully observed.


The ivy was cut and Liz presented Margaret with a grand bouquet of flowers…

dam bridge repairs opening

…before the procession moved off over the bridge…

dam bridge repairs opening

…in pursuit of a nice cup of tea and a biscuit in Wauchope Cottage.

We may have to do it all again when the new railings come.

After this excitement, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some more helping out at the Buccleuch Centre and the rest of us had a much needed rest.

It looks as though we are going to avoid any more serious snow for the next few days but with light rain almost every day and temperatures no higher than 7°C until the middle of the month, we are not stocking up on sun tan lotion just yet.

The flying bird of a rather gloomy day is one of the many siskins.







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To make a change from endless pictures of moss, my guest picture of the day is a moose The picture came from Venetia, who saw the moose in Grand Teton National Park.

moose, in Grand Teton National Park

The wind is in the east at the moment, which often means sunnier days for us and this was the case today.

It also means cold mornings.

The frogs disappeared because of the cold morning but a daffodil appeared.


And we did have wall to wall sunshine so after the frosty start, the temperature went up to a pleasing 7°C and this combined with a very light wind, opened the day to many possibilities.

After breakfast, the light was good enough to encourage bird shooting through the kitchen window.  Not all my efforts were entirely successful…

flying chaffinch

…but some were better than others…

flying chaffinch

…and some were quite action packed.


After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal turned to gardening and I took my walking poles in hand and went to the top of a hill and came down a again.

I had my camera with me for once.

I liked the contrasting colours as I walked up Meikleholm Hill…

View from Meikleholm Hill

…and I was surprised to see how much of the ground that I trod on was made up of mosses.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

You may think that the green hill on the right of the fence is grassy but in fact the pale grey patches are grass and almost all the green is moss.  Far from walking up a grassy hill, I was climbing a moss covered boulder.

moss on Meikleholm Hill

There was even a patch of moss clinging to the side of the concrete trig point on the top of Timpen Hill at 326m.

moss on timpen trig point

The view from the top was good.  That is the River Esk curling up the valley.

Esk from Timpen

On the far side of the Esk, I could see another example of tree felling followed by some very neat tidying up.

tree felling Longfauld

To the north, the Ettrick hills still had a little snow on their tops.

Ettrick Hills in background

Coming back down the hill, I stopped to admire the moss in one of the boggy patches.

bog moss

And of course, it is illegal to be out on the hill on a fine day and not take a picture of the town.

Langholm from Meikleholm

It is a very rewarding route for a walk of well under three miles.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in delving mode when I got back and while we were chatting, we noticed a bird singing away in a very forceful manner.  We followed its flight on to the silver pear and I was very surprised to see it was a dunnock.

dunnock on pear tree

I usually see these creeping about silently in a very unobtrusive manner under the bottom of hedges so I can only assume that love must be in the air already and either mates are being attracted or rivals discouraged…..or both.

On my way round the garden, looking for exciting mosses, I saw these instead…


…and Mrs Tootlepedal told that they are liverworts.

After a pause for recovery and lunch, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

They took me to the top of Callister Hill (223m) and back down again.  I was going to put some additional miles in when I was waved down by a passing motorist who turned out to be a friend who wanted my opinion on the reprehensible behaviour of our local landowner.

This led to an interesting and lively discussion, conducted while aeroplanes overhead combine to drag clouds across the sky….

con trails and cloud

…and left me with just time to get home as the sun went down and the shadows lengthened.

cycling shadow

Secretly, I was not at all upset to lose a mile or two from my trip as the morning’s hill walk had taken a little stuffing out of my legs.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden again when I got back and we went out to admire the work on the dam bridge repair.

dam bridge repairs
It is looking very neat and tidy with a waterproof membrane now stuck on top of the concrete beams and the sides of the bridge completed.   We are waiting for the pavement edge to be re-installed, a bit of fill to be added to each edge of the bridge and then the final tarmac can be laid.

I still haven’t heard from the Queen regarding the Grand Opening.

In the evening, I took my third trip of the day.

Sandy arrived and he drove us down to Canonbie, where he and I delivered an illustrated talk on the work of the Langholm Archive Group to the Canonbie Tractor Club in the Cross Keys Hotel.   We followed the talk by a showing of the Langholm Heritage DVD on the mills and railway in Langholm which members of the group made a few years ago.

This must have gone down quite well as I sold six copies of the DVD (all I had brought with me) to members of the audience after the showing.

Everything went very smoothly.  This was by no means a given considering that we were using a laptop, a projector, a screen, a sound bar and the visitors’ wi-fi connection of the Cross Keys Hotel, any of which might have been in a contrary mood.

It was a day which has been firmly entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was passing Tamworth castle the other day when the sun came out.

Tamworth Castle

We had another cool morning here but with added sunshine and the day soon became suitable for gardening and cycling.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and had to duck as a low flying aircraft passed by.  I got the camera out as quick as I could and caught it just as it got framed in electricity wires.


Looking at the picture above, you may think that I am exaggerating about having to duck but it really was low.



Sandy came round for coffee in the morning which gave me a good excuse to delay cycling until the things warmed up a bit.

After he left, I had another garden wander.  I was pleased to see crocuses looking perky…


…and surprised to see and early bee about.  The forecast is for chilly days ahead so it might well have to go back and hide.

bee on crocus

The first daffodil also appeared and it was unfortunate that it was growing in the middle of a bush so it was not easy to capture its full beauty!

first daffodil

However, the moss was looking wonderful in the sun.


I would never have believed that moss could look like this before I started this mossy chapter in my photographic journey.

Like the bee, the frogs in the pond may find that things are too chilly for them soon but this one seemed quite happy for now.


After the sunny garden stroll, I did think of trying to have both a walk and a pedal during the day but looking out of the window and seeing a brisk wind coming out of the north west and making the walnut branches wave about persuaded me that just cycling might well be enough.

I was right, as the windy was strong and cold enough to make sure that my average speed stayed quite low so it took me some time to get round a 31 mile circuit.

I got my fairly speedy bike to check whether it had been harmed by the accident.  It looked all right and I gave it a good wash and brush and oiled the chain before I set off. I wasn’t going to hurry though, just in case.   In addition, after the recent frosts and snow, the roads are beginning to crack up so I kept my eyes fairly firmly on the road ahead, not wanting a repeat of the unplanned flying dismount so soon after the last one.

As a result I decided to stop every 5 miles and take a picture both of the road I was cycling along and whatever was there.  I also hoped that this might give readers unfamiliar with our area, a picture of a typical cycle ride for me.

5 miles:

callister and buzzard

The road up Callister and a passing buzzard: a two lane minor road

10 miles:

Between the waters and gair road

The road to Gair and a local farm: single track road

14 miles:

I made an extra stop as i crossed it to show the M74, the main road between Carlisle and Glasgow.


While I was taking the picture, a car drew up and the lady inside asked me if I was Tootlepedal.  She had seen the blog and recognised the ski goggles that I was wearing.  She is a relative of our neighbour Liz and her son and our older son had met at the Lauder Common Riding last year so we had a good chat before going our separate ways.

15 miles:

I stopped a mile later on the old A74, once a dual carriageway but now returned to single carriageway and used as a service road for the motorway and very handy for cyclists.

Old A74

This was an interesting place to stop as there was history all around.

(Clockwise from top left) The old road which replaced the original coaching road, Robgill Tower, Burnswark, a site of both Roman and iron age forts and, coming bang up to date, a wind farm in the distance.  And I had the motorway on one side of me and the mainline railway on the other.  People have been passing this spot for thousands of years,

20 miles:

Glenzier road

In farming country near Chapelknowe.  Still a minor road but a slightly more busy one.

25 miles:

Broadmeadows road

The back road to Canonbie.  I am in the Esk valley now…..with a nice gate.

30 miles:

A7 bike track

The end of the bike path where it joins the A7, the road from Carlisle to Edinburgh and the A7 itself just before Skippers Bridge.

And to complete the picture, here is the route itself.

garmin route 20 Feb 2018

Click to see the route details

Because I am supposed to avoid big hills with my new knee, these quiet unadventurous routes are just my cup of tea.

As you can see , it was a sunny ride so I enjoyed it in spite of an unhelpful breeze.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, making the most of the warmer weather.

The frogs had gone but there was a colourful bunch of crocuses to catch the eye.


I hadn’t had any time to watch birds earlier in the day so I took a moment when I got in to stare out of the kitchen window but the light was a bit too far gone to be ideal….


…so I was pleased to see a robin in posing mood.


I was ready for a cup of tea and a quiet sit down by this time.

Later in the day, I made the mistake of ringing up a software company to sort out a problem and when the lady had asked several times for me to produce an email confirmation of sale for a product which I bought in 2012 and I had replied patiently each time that I didn’t keep emails for 5 years, she then asked me if there was any one else in the house she could speak to who might be able to understand what she was talking about.  I was mildly offended to say the least but we didn’t get anywhere with our conversation after that.

In the absence of a flying bird of the day, I can only put up a bird that was very nearly flying.


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Today’s guest picture shows the delightful Obelisk Thatched Cottage at Hopetoun, South Queensferry, near Edinburgh.  It was spotted by our son Tony.

Thatched cottage

In spite of trying to get some high quality relaxation in the last two weeks and not actually doing very much on many days, there has been enough excitement to keep me feeling a little less than 100% so I took the opportunity of vast quantities of Winter Olympic fun on the telly to have a very quiet morning in today.

I did look out of the kitchen window at lunchtime to check on the birds.  The usual suspects were about.

goldfinch, siskin and chaffinch

There were a good number of siskins on the feeder at one time and I was impressed by the tenacity of one of them when there was no official perch available.


After lunch, I decided that the day was too good not to go for a cycle ride, the first for a fortnight.  The thermometer showed 6°C so there was no danger of ice and after a heavy shower in the morning, the weather looked reasonable.  I haven’t checked out my fairly speedy bike yet so I got out the slow bike. This was probably a good idea anyway under the circumstances.

As you are not supposed to re-use a bike helmet after it has been banged in a crash and my special biking spectacles were ruined, I had to wear my old mountain bike helmet and some ski goggles.    No one laughed as I set off but that was only because no one saw me go.

selfie ski mask

I was grateful for the protection of the ski goggles because there was a strong and very nippy wind blowing in my face as I went up the Wauchope Road and the goggles certainly keep you very snug.

The sunshine was very welcome but there was enough snow left on the distant hills to remind me that the recent chilly weather had only warmed up a little bit.

view of wauchopedale

The goggles didn’t help when I was taking pictures so I don’t know what I was intending to shoot when I took this one…


…but I liked the result in a strange sort of way when I saw it on my computer.

I think that I was trying to take this picture….

view of wauchopedale

…to show the cloudscape. Luckily the clouds stayed away and I got round dry.

I cut my customary 20 mile Canonbie circle down to 16 miles.  This was more than enough on the slow bike and a windy day.  I seem hardly to have cycled at all in the last three and a half months so I am by no means pedal fit.

I was quite happy to stop for a photo op  or two when I got down to the Esk Valley.  This is Hollows Mill….

Hollows Mill

…which has got both a  working water wheel and an Archimedes screw, thus getting the best out of traditional and more modern technology.

A few hundred yards further on, I stopped at Gilnockie Tower….

Gilnockie Tower

…a fine example of a peel tower.  It has recently become the home of the Armstrong Clan Association and the interior has been extensively restored, with work still ongoing.

Although not fully finished, it is open to the public and I was given a brief tour by Miriam, the helpful guide.

Gilnockie Tower Miriam

As you can see from the external windows, the tower has four upper floors.  The ground floor was used as a store for cattle in the event of a raid.

The first floor is the main hall and has now got a modern stove whihc was keeping the place a lot warmer than it would have been in previous centuries.

Gilnockie Tower

The floor above has been restored as a bedroom.  It has an original discreet privy…


…and a newly made four poster bed.


I went up as far as the third floor, which will be a children’s activity room, and admired one of the new windows.  This gives an idea of the thickness of the tower walls…

Gilnockie Tower

…and also offers a splendid view of the Esk.

Gilnockie Tower view from window

As my distaste for heights makes the joy of climbing up narrow spiral staircases lessen considerably after several flights, I didn’t go to the top floor but you can see a piper who didn’t have my phobias if you visit this link.

There is a very entertaining video on the site which shows the castle and its site to the best advantage.

Leaving the tower, I cycled on past Irvine House….

Irvine House

…and so came home  at the dazzling speed of exactly 10 mph.  But at least I didn’t fall off.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden working on the new plans for the middle lawn and flowerbeds.

lawn improvements

When I got in, I spent a moment or two looking at the birds.  Greenfinches fly in a gloomy sort of way even on a sunny day…

flying greenfinch

…and they don’t look much more cheerful even while they are enjoying a free meal.


My various cuts have healed up so I was able to enjoy the luxury of a shower which was very welcome.   All I need now is some light winds and warm days and I will be back in full cycling mode.   Mind you, I am well behind my targets.  I should have done at least 400  miles by this time of year (I did 570 by the end of February last year) but I have only done 200 miles so far.  I may have to do what the government does when it fails to hit its targets.  Change the target.

In the evening, I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea so all in all, in spite of a slow start, it turned out to be quite a good day.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin



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Today’s guest picture comes from Anna, a former B&B guest of ours.  She was visiting Costa Rica when she met this unusual towel rabbit.

Costa Rica rabbit from Anna

We had another lovely sunny day today and with the temperature just above freezing, I was happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee until the day got warm enough for cycling.

As it was Friday, I was expecting treacle scones but owing to a slight failure of his milk purchasing department, Dropscone arrived with a packet of biscuits instead.  They went down very well.   His car has still not been fixed so instead of golfing, he went for a walk yesterday and I hope to show a picture from his walk tomorrow.

Bright sun in winter is not always the most helpful thing when looking at birds on the feeder so I got a lot of shots of chaffinches like this…


…but even more like this.


I did see some greenfinches in the shade.,…


…and one in the sun later on.


I don’t know where the goldfinches and siskins were today but they weren’t in our garden.

I had an early lunch not long after Dropscone left and as the the thermometer had hit 5 degrees, I set out on the fairly speedy bike.

The sun is now high enough in the sky to give a bit of warmth so I had a very pleasant time as I cycled up the Esk Valley to Bentpath…


…and on to Bailiehill, passing fine individual trees….

tree at Craig

…and strips of commercial forestry up the Meggat valley.

Meggat valley

The trees on our hills are almost all commercial planting, the results of government grants to encourage home grown timber.  It has led to some odd patches among the fields.


I feel that there is no call for this signpost to make insulting remarks about the age of cyclists using the Cycle By-way.

prehistoric trail sign

I passed more planting as I headed cheerfully up the hill to Bailiehill….


…but the frozen pond at the junction at the top made me take a bit of care as I went over the hill and down to Paddockhole.

pond at bailliehill

There were plenty of still frozen puddles beside the road….

frozen puddle

…but the road itself, warmed but the sun, was dry enough and I pottered on carefully but safely.

Bailliehill road

This is one of my favourite routes as the road winds along beside the Water of Milk…

Water of MIlk

…though the appearance of a strengthy looking cloud over the hill made me wonder if bad things might happen before the end of the ride.


The road passes the new Ewe Hill wind farm and a  closer look showed….

Ewe Hill windfarm

…that I wasn’t very far from the snow line.

Ewe Hill windfarm

Still, the clouds stayed away, the sun warmed my back and I was enjoying myself so much that I decided to add a few more miles to my ride by taking a diversion to Waterbeck.   This was a step too far and I should have remembered that I was still recovering and I had climbed a hill or two already.

The back road to Waterbeck is used by quarry lorries and has a very poor surface in places.  Although I knew this very well, I rather vainly thought that having dodged the ice coming over the hill, I could easily dodge the potholes in the valley.

This proved to be mistaken.

crash test dummy

I misjudged my line through a little maze of potholes and was tipped slowly but thoroughly onto the tarmac.   My cycling glasses banged into the side of my face and i found myself dripping with blood.  By happy coincidence, a quarry lorry came round the corner just as I had got to my feet and cleared myself and my bike off the road.  He stopped to see how I was and I discovered that quarry lorry drivers carry round the softest, strongest, most absorbent paper towels that I have ever met.  The driver kindly gave me a couple to mop myself up.  I weighed up this kindness against the fact that it is the quarry lorries that make the potholes. That is not the driver’s fault so the kindness won.

Anyway both the bike and I were sound enough for me to cycle the eight miles home (I didn’t go to Waterbeck) surprisingly happily and I even stopped for one more picture on the way.


Mrs Tootlepedal inspected the damage when I got home and took me off to the health centre where they patched me up in quick time.  After consultation with a doctor, it was felt that a visit to the A&E in Carlisle would be a good idea in case I had fractured my cheek bone which had taken a fair old dunt.

Mrs Tootlepedal drove me down and in spite of a lot of stories about delays in A&E, I was seen, x-rayed, tidied up a bit more and sent home with a clean bill of health in under three hours.  For my American readers, I should add that I had to fill in no forms and will receive no bills.

I might claim from British Cycling for a new pair of glasses though.  I have just renewed my sub fortunately.

To cheer ourselves up and because we were a bit behind schedule, we visited the chip shop in Langholm for a carry out on our way home so the day ended a great deal better than it might have.  I was going at a cautiously slow speed and wearing many layers of clothing when I hit the pothole which helped.  Also, I fell on the opposite side to my tin knee and previously broken elbow so that was another blessing.

There may be a few aches and pains to come and Mrs Tootlepedal took a portrait shot of me which is standing (sitting) in for the flying bird of the day.

It shows a crash test dummy.

Crash test dummy

Bang goes my Mr Universe entry money

I shall use it to remind me not to be so careless again.

Three cheers for the National Health Service which takes all the worry out of being an idiot.  And Mrs Tootlepedal too of course, still a vital resource after all these years.




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Today’s guest picture shows the River Severn in good form at Worcester.  My brother Andrew was there yesterday celebrating his birthday on an outing with two of our sisters.

river severn at Worcester

I was a bit tired after a busy day yesterday and so I was very pleased to have a good excuse not to go rushing out in the morning in spite of some dry weather.

The excuse arrived for coffee bringing some of his excellent treacle scones.  Dropscone had walked round as his car is getting repaired.

After he left, I spent a little time looking out of the window but cloudy weather and several intermittent and unsuccessful fly-throughs by a sparrow hawk limited my chance for taking photographs.

I settled for a couple of portraits of sitters.



Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help serve the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre and I considered life for a while but eventually got up the energy to ignore a strong wind and grey skies and go out on my fairly speedy bike.

With the breeze gusting at over 20 mph into my face, my progress up hill for the first five miles can best be described as very steady and I was pleased to have the excuse to stop and take a picture of my favourite winter tree.

tree at Bloch

There is just something about its shape and position which really appeals to me.

It was quite a battle to get down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass but at least the wind stayed consistent and helped me back to Langholm.

I was more than a bit disappointed when it started to rain but unlike yesterday, the weather gods were just having a joke today and it stopped without really getting me wet at all.

I was able to enjoy a fine clump of snowdrops at the road side near Canonbie…

snowdrops in Canonbie

…and it shows what a few miles south and a small drop in height will do as some of them were fully out unlike ours at home.

It was too grey to take landscape pictures but I did take one more tree shot on the old A7 near Auchenrivock.  I liked the contrast in styles.

trees on old A7

After she had served the lunches, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone to a screening about a Cézanne exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre.  Dedicated to the portrait work of Paul Cézanne, the exhibition opens in Paris before travelling to London and Washington so she was lucky to be able to get a peek at it here.

In her absence, I had a walk round the garden.

It was cheering to see the leaves coming out on the honeysuckle…


…and I was interested to see that a new plant, a sarcococca, is in flower.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it has a very fine scent.

I did think of going for a short walk as it was still dry but it was so gloomy outside that I discarded the idea and did some pro relaxing instead.

I managed to stir my stumps enough to put an edition of the Langholm Parish Church newsletter of 1966, scanned and formatted by Sandy, onto our Archive website and I also put in some much needed learning practice on our Carlisle Choir songs.

Regarding the Archive Group website, I was interested to receive a report from Google today on our performance.  There was a pleasing number of clicks for such a specialised interest but some of the stuffing was knocked out of my modest pride when I checked for the search terms which  had brought visitors to the site.

I am not sure that the person who was searching for “second hand cars in Langholm” will have found what he wanted!  Some of the other search terms made me wonder why our website had turned up in the search results at all.  Still, some of the people who had arrived were definitely looking for answers that we could provide so not all was lost.

It is still cloudy as I write this in the evening and the forecast for tomorrow is terrible, full of wind and rain and snow so I don’t think that we are going to be able to see the much talked abut “blue moon” tomorrow night.    I shall keep an eye out just in case there is a break in the clouds.

No flying bird in the gloom today so a robin is sitting in instead.



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