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Posts Tagged ‘cycle outings’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She is visiting the Netherlands for singing purposes, and saw this fine selection of bridges crossing the river Waal at Nijmegen through the tinted windows of her coach.  The Waal is a distributary* of the Rhine.

Nijmegan bridges

We had a fine day here today.  Indeed, we are promised a week of fine weather.  This will be very welcome after our recent very changeable conditions.  The temperature is due to rise steadily until Sunday when it will start to rain again.

A bit of warmth will be very welcome as it was definitely felt autumnal as I cycled about the town on various errands after breakfast.   I almost felt as though I should have been wearing gloves. However, it soon warmed up and Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough from her cold to have a wander round the garden and do some light work.

I did some dead heading and clearing up of fallen plums and, of course, looked around as I did so.

After a very slow start, the fuchsias in the garden are beginning to make a better effort…

garden fuchsia

…and together with the second flowering of the red astrantia….

red astrantia

…they are bringing some late colour to the garden.

An Icelandic poppy and a cosmos were doing a grand job of providing for insects.

insects on flowers

The most striking thing about the garden though was not the flowers, but the butterflies on them.  There were red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

on buddleia and sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and peacocks on both blue…

peacock butterfly

…and red buddleia.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

They were joined by the usual collection of white butterflies too.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a very curious white butterfly with odd yellow wings fluttering about.  It was so unusual that we tracked it carefully as it flitted from plant to plant.  Finally, it rested long enough to be caught on camera and it turned out to be not one butterfly but two butterflies engaged in the business of producing more butterflies.

white butterflies mating

We politely left them to it and went off to a admire a lone small tortoiseshell completing our butterfly collection for the day.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I went back indoors and spent some time getting things ready for the first camera club meeting of the season, testing the projector and making sure that the laptop that we use wasn’t suddenly going to demand an update at an inconvenient time.

After lunch,  I was finally ready to go for a cycle ride.  The wind was supposed to be quite light but turned out to be quite brisk and gusty at times so I had a battle over the first eleven miles to get to the top of a hill on this little used road at Kennedy’s Corner.

Kennedy's Corner

From then on though, it was almost all downhill with good views over the Solway to the Lake District Hills 25 miles to the south

view of solway from Kennedy's corner road

…and looking back I could see Burnswark Hill just behind me where forts have guarded the route north from iron age and then Roman  times.

view of Burnswark from Kennedy's corner road

To the west, I could just make out Criffel on the far bank of the Nith Estuary, 20 miles away.

view of vriffel from Kennedy's corner road

It is an airy spot and I enjoyed the swoop down the hill to Chapelknowe, with the now helpful wind giving me an extra push.

Some time ago, I had been sent a guest picture of some Korean pine cones at Half Morton church and I remembered to have a look for them as I passed the churchyard today.  There are none so blind as those who will not see and I was quite impressed that I had managed to cycle within a few yards of these wonderful trees…

korean pine tree Half Morton

… many, many times without ever noticing them especially or the astonishing crop of cones right under my nose.

korean pine cones

The fact that the church lies at the top of a small hill and I am always slightly puffed when I get there might explain it.

While I was there today, I also noted the the stone steps laid into the wall which enabled people to approach the church without opening the gate and letting the minister’s sheep, which grazed the grave yard,  out onto the road.

half morton church wall

I stopped for a drink of water just before the final little hill on my route and can tell you that there is a stone wall under this jungle of ferns.

ferny wall

I got home after 27 miles in time to have a cup of tea and a slice of bead with plum jam followed by a shower, before my flute pupil Luke arrived.   Our hard work on improving our breathing is beginning to pay off and we are progressing steadily.

When Luke left, I enjoyed an excellent evening meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to set up for the camera club meeting.

We had rather a thin attendance and I would have been disappointed except for the fact that the members who came produced such an interesting selection of images that the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile.

The meeting was short though and we didn’t need a half time break for tea and biscuits.  This left me with an unopened packet of bourbon biscuits and a temptation….into which I have happily fallen while writing this post.  I don’t know how many calories my cycle ride used up but I am perfectly sure that they have all been replaced now.

The flying bird(s) of the day are a small bunch of swallows.  They were sitting on a wire as I passed on my bicycle and I stopped, meaning to take picture showing swallows getting ready to depart when they suddenly departed.

swallows disturbed

* A distributary is a river which, instead of joining like a tributary, has split from the main river as it enters the delta at an estuary.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Camera Club member Simon who was at work in Winson in Germany when he found himself being observed.

simons caterpillar

After a rather wild and wet night while Storm Dorian had its last faint fling over Scotland, we had a generally dry and occasionally sunny day today so we got off pretty lightly.

It was still breezy but that didn’t discourage the birds and the garden was fully occupied by feathered friends all day.

When I went out to have a look around in the morning, I spotted this little dunnock looking askance at a blackbird which was stretching its wings in a flowerbed.

dunnock and blackbird

As well as birds, there was a considerable number of red admiral butterflies about too, and I found one on Michaelmas daisy.  I got too close to it though and it flew off, leaving a bee to enjoy some peace and quiet.

butterfly and bee on daisy

I stood for some time watching stream of blackbirds and some starlings feeding on the rowan berries.

Unlike Mrs Tootlepedal who has picked all the low hanging fruit from the plum tree…

plums in bowl

…the birds have eaten all the topmost berries from the rowan and are now having to look at lower fruit, often on the end of branches.

stretching for a berry

I was surprised to see how often the birds dropped a berry before being able to swallow it, but all the same, a lot of berries went down a lot of throats today.

A starling posed for me…

blackbird and rown berry

…and any number of blackbirds were too busy eating to mind me pointing a cameras at them.

four berry and blackbird panel

Sometimes when they had pecked a berry off the very end of the branch, gravity was too much for them and they had to fly off with the berry or risk being pushed off by the  next customer.

three blackbirds on rowan

Underneath the rowan tree, a snowberry was a haven of peace for a visiting insect.

snowberry

In the garden, many flowers had survived the night of wind and rain.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes to point out that all the sunflowers in the shot below came from the same packet of seeds, advertised as short sunflowers.  Quality control at the seed merchants looks a bit lax.

contrasting sunflowers

The Japanese anemones are not discouraged by anything.

japanese anemones bunch

In the middle of the day, I made some plum jam with some of the plums that we have picked.  A number of things conspired to make the result unsatisfactory.  The plums were too ripe, it has been raining a lot recently, I didn’t have proper jam sugar, and I was probably too impatient.  As a result, the jam didn’t set properly and I had to give it a squoosh of lemon juice and a second boil later in the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal stewed a lot of the rest of the plums.  They will be frozen.   There may well be more chutney in the offing too.

In the afternoon, I got my bike out, and after having another look at blackbirds in the rowan tree…

shady blackbird in rowan

… I went for a short ride.  There was evidence of the recent rain.

water running on Wauchope road

We had a very good dry spell earlier in the year but the persistent rain has finally got things soggy again and the water is running off the hills and onto the roads in several places.

A cow kept an eye on me as I photographed the puddles.

cow spectator

The forecast was for a gusty wind.  Usually round here it is hard to tell if the wind is gusty because it just blows all the time, but today it really was gusty.  One minute I would be pedalling along merrily, whistling a happy tune, and the next minute I would have my head down, battling to make any progress at all.

Still, I got to the top of Callister and back and stopped as I pedalled through the town to salute our lonely gull on its regular rock.

gull on rock

Although it was not in flood, there was enough water coming down the Esk to create a fine back ripple.

big ripples in Esk

As I crossed the Langholm Bridge, I could see that the cormorant was back at the Meeting of the Waters, so I parked my bike at the Kilngreen and walked along to get a closer look.  It was drying its wings.

cormorant at meeting of the waters

I looked up from watching the cormorant and enjoyed the view of the hills.  The mixture of blue skies and heavy clouds summed up the day.

view of timpen and esk

I only got rained on for a very short time during the ride and got home after 15 miles in good order.  I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.  For the first time for a few months, I thought that the rate of growth in the grass had slowed down.  It has stayed quite warm recently, around 15°C most days, but the shorter days are getting noticeable now.  We are only ten days away from the autumn equinox and facts are facts.

As the flowers and leaves are showing.

creeper and sedum

The starlings were lined up on the electricity wire as I went in to have my evening meal.

starlings on wire

As well as plums, we are beginning to get quite a lot of apples from our espalier trees.  I have been picking up the windfalls and we decided to take a step into the unknown and convert some of them into a Tarte Tatin.  We were handicapped by not having a suitable pan for the job but we battled on and the result was good enough to eat even if it definitely would not have won even second prize in a beauty pageant.  I am going to try again soon.

As the blackbirds had taken my advice to try to pick berries from above their heads rather than below their feet, there was no shortage of flying birds today so here is the genuine flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin who was in California recently seeing his son and grandchildren when he visited the Capitola Pier.

capitola pier

We had another grey morning here with the occasional threat of drizzle which didn’t come to much.  It was enough though to persuade me that coffee and a tricky  crossword and some light shopping at our corner shop could fill up the time satisfactorily.   The wind was light and I ought to have been out making the most of a reasonable cycling day but I didn’t feel guilty enough to do more than walk round the garden.

I was hoping to see blackbirds in the rowan tree again but they were too quick for me today and flew off as soon as they saw me coming.

I looked at a shy dahlia instead.

shy dahlia

The last of the poppies are far from shy.

deep red poppies

And once again, the red admirals were about.  This one was resting on a sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and this one on a buddleia was showing off its goggle eyes and its antennae.  The antennae look as though they have LEDs on them.

red admiral butterfly close up

At noon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and I finally got organised and took my bike out for a pedal.

We are being threatened with the arrival of the last gasp of Storm Dorian but the rain isn’t due until the evening and although the wind was expected to speed up during the afternoon, it was still going to be pretty reasonable.  I planned a route which would take advantage of the strengthening wind to blow me back home.

These things don’t often work out well but today everything went to plan.  I cycled westwards into a gentle breeze as the sun came out.  On one of my refreshment pauses, I looked up to see a hefty crop of beech nuts on the branches above me.

beech mast

My turning point came after 20 miles when I arrived at Browhouses on the Solway coast.  I took a few minutes to eat half a banana and enjoy the views.

The tide was well out and although there were some sea birds about, they were well out of range of my cycling camera.

seas birds at browhouses

A group of swans and some of a large group of gulls with some oyster catchers behind them.

Looking westward, I could see the English shore across the shining levels of the Solway…

shining solway

 

…and looking eastwards, I could see the estuary of the River Esk rather than any sea.

esk estuary browhouses

In the distance, I could see the wind turbines at Gretna…

gretna windmills

..and at Longtown and unlike my last ride, this time the direction of the blades showed me that I would get my wish of windy support on my ride home.

longtown windmills

I noticed that one of the few wild flowers to be seen was attracting attention…

yellow flower browhouses

…and then set off to do the twenty odd miles home.

I went back by a different route to my outward journey, missing out Gretna Green which I had passed through on my way out, but going through all the other places on this neatly painted signpost which is in England in the  county of Cumbria.

cubbyhill signpost

It still carries the name of a county council which was abolished in 1974, the year in which we came to live in Langholm….

cubbyhill signpost detail

…and it is good to see that no-one thought it necessary to go to the expense of making new signposts when the old ones were in such good shape.

In the hedge beside the post were some bright rose hips.

rose hips cubbyhill

At Englishtown, the farmer had been busy cutting grass and there were bales on every side as far as the eye could see.

filed near Englishtown

Thanks to the favouring breeze, which had strengthened noticeably after I had turned for home, I did the first 20 miles down to the seaside (net elevation loss 250ft) in 1 hr 33 mins and the slightly longer return 22 mile journey to Langholm (net elevation gain 250ft) in 1 hr 27 minutes.  This is the way that well planned bike rides for the elderly should always work out.  To complete the picture, I should add that I took 23 minutes of rest and refreshment stops along the way.
 A map and details of the ride can be found here by anyone interested.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a very busy day and was working hard at some business arrangements when I got home.  I left her to it and walked round the garden after I had had a cup of tea.

The ornamental strawberries are having a late burst and look very good at the moment.

tame strawberry

Crown Princess Margareta is trying her best but will need a couple of kind days if she is to come to anything.

margareta rose

And the blue clematis at the front door continues to produce small but quite elegant flowers.

front door clematis

I picked some more plums and stewed some of them and ate them as a dessert with some ice cream after our evening meal.  Garmin (which records my ride on a nifty bike computer) claims that I used 2289 calories on my ride so that should have put most of them back.

No flying bird of the day today but another of the many young blackbirds in the garden stands in for it.

young blackbird

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Today’s guest picture was very kindly sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He quite rightly felt that we all needed cheering up on account of the political situation, and thought that there could be no more cheerful sight than the riverside gardens at Tamworth.

Tamworth gardens

After yesterday’s miserable day of wind and rain, we got a duplicate wet and windy day today.  As a result, I was more than happy to let breakfast and the crossword drift gently into coffee and a biscuit.  At this point, I was rescued from gloomy torpor by first, the arrival of Sandy looking to borrow the Archive Group projector, and then by Dropscone, who turned up with great expectations, having read in yesterday’s post that there was a chance of biscuits as well as coffee.

We did indeed enjoy the recorder group’s biscuits with some Guatemalan coffee.  The rain fell steadily outside.

When the coffee klatch disbanded, I thought about cycling down to Longtown on my borrowed bike in order to  hand it back and collect my own bike from the bike shop and ride it home.

I thought about it and I looked at the rain and then I thought again.

But then I remembered the Rules of the Velominati, the invisible hand that guides the cyclists of the world along the truth path of enlightenment.

Their mission statement is this:

The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.

There are many rules, many of the only apply to more serious cyclists than me but I like Rule 12 which says:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1 where n is the number of bikes that you already own.

Today I particularly thought of rule 9 which states:

If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

And the best rule of all, Rule 5:

I cannot reprint what Rule 5 says in this blog for reasons of taste, but suffice it say that the general tenor of the rule is:

“Stop Crying”

So I stopped crying and put my waterproof gear on and cycled the 15 miles down to Longtown by back and sometimes bumpy roads on my borrowed bike (which has a very upright riding position) into a stiff wind and with rain battering into my face for most of the way.

I enjoyed it.

Once you are wet, you can’t get any wetter and it was reasonably warm so there was nothing to complain about.

I enjoyed coming back by a straighter route on my own much more comfortable bike, with the wind behind me and the rain reduced to a drizzle even more for some reason.

My bike was in the repair shop because of a persistent and annoying noisy vibration, probably coming from the belt drive.  I say probably because the best brains at the bike shop are baffled and although their efforts have led to an amelioration, they have not led to a complete cure.  Further trial and research is in order.  Meanwhile the bike is riding pretty well so I am fairly happy.

When I got back, I had a look round the garden in the drizzle to enjoy what colour I could find.

rudbeckia

The bad weather had not put a small insect off visiting the zinnia.

zinnia with insect

And a cosmos smiled shyly at me through the gloom.

cosmos

Lilian Austin keeps producing more late flowers…

two lilians

…and most surprising of all is this clematis at the front door, as this is the third time is has produced flowers this year.

very late front door clematis

I had time for a shower and a late lunch and then I set off to Carlisle (in the rain) but this time by car.  I was heading for the station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.

Quite by chance, I saw this fine steam locomotive, 45699 Galatea, waiting at platform 3 to haul a steam excursion down the line.

Galatea 45699

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train was punctual to the very minute, indeed it might even have been a fraction early, so I had to leave the steam engine and go to meet her.

It wasn’t raining in Carlisle but it was raining in Langholm when we got back.  There are disadvantages in living among the hills on the edge of the Solway plain.  After several sunny days in London, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on them.

There is no flying bird of the day, but I did take a short and wobbly video on my phone of Galatea pulling out of the station.  I have turned the sound down considerably as it was a noisy affair.

I don’t need to say it but I will anyway, it is surpassingly good to have Mrs Tootlepedal home again.

You can find the very extensive list of the Velominati rules here if your interest has been roused.  They are for a specialised taste though and probably not very funny if you are not a cyclist.  My tan lines are very disappointing.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Haynes International Motor Museum.  This is a 1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon and very nice too.  They keep the exhibits very well polished.

1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon

The day started much as yesterday had finished, windy and grey. I wisely spent so much time over breakfast that by the time I had finished my porridge and tea, it was time for coffee and an iced bun (or two).

Then I had a look round the garden where I was astonished to find a red admiral butterfly at full stretch.

red admiral butterf;y

I was so astonished that I had to go inside and sit down again.  I made some vegetable soup and while it was cooking, I popped out and mowed the front lawn.  In spite of quite a lot of rain during August, the ground is still reasonably dry and the lawn mowed very well.

I had a look round the garden to see what had survived the strong winds and was pleased to find a lot of flowers still looking well.

lilian austin rose

As I looked, there was a break in the clouds and some sun peeped through.

phlox, red flower, fuchsia, anemone

All things considered, I thought that the garden looked not too bad.

border in august

I wasn’t at all confident that the rain had actually gone away so I frittered some time away after I had had my lunch by watching some rowing on the telly for a while.  Then I consulted the forecast.

You would think the the forecasters would be able to tell you what might happen in the next hour even if the the next day’s weather was still a mystery to them, but having consulted several forecasts, I had a choice of anything between a 0% and  a 70% chance of rain.  I chose to believe the 0% forecast (though I did pack a rain jacket) and set off for a pedal on my borrowed bike.

The wind was still blowing briskly, but a look around showed a lot of blue sky…

vew from Bessie Bells

…so I was happy to stop on my way and take some pictures.

I visited my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope…

Wauchope cascade

…and had another look at the landslip further up the road.

Wauchope lnad slip Aug 31

There is a set of traffic lights here which lets motorists (and cyclists) use half the road , but I would imagine that the road will have to be closed when they try to make the banking safe.  I also imagine that they will not be rushing to do the repair.

I cycled on and picked a route that kept any pedalling straight into the wind to a minimum.  As a result, I had a most enjoyable 18 miles, especially as some threatening clouds soon cleared off, leaving a lovely afternoon.

view from Bloch

I was happy to see that the cut silage had all been safely gathered in.

silage bales bloch

There was some colour beside the road as I went along.

four roadside views

And as I hadn’t stopped while passing over it for some time, I stopped today and took a picture of Skippers Bridge as I neared the end of my trip.

Skippers Bridge

It really was a fine afternoon by the time that I got back to Langholm

Whita from castleholm

When I got home, I took a picture of the plum tree just to settle any reader’s worries about whether I had given Dropscone too many plums yesterday.

many plums

We threw away literally hundreds of unripe plums as they were developing to stop them breaking the branches, we have made plum jam and plum chutney, I stewed some more plums and have been eating them with cream (someone has to do it), I gave some to our neighbour Liz, I eat fresh plums all the time and pick more and eat them every time I pass the tree, and still the branches are weighed down with countless more.  It has been, as Ken Dodd would say, a plumptious year.

And now the apples are ripe enough to start eating them too.

I had another walk round the garden to look for butterflies and on my way, enjoyed a new flower on the rambler rose.

rambler rose

There were one or two butterflies about but there were a lot more bees so I looked at them instead.

insect on Michaelmas daisy

I liked this cool one with dark glasses on.

insect on Michaelmas daisy 2

I was thinking about going for a short walk but somehow time slipped by again and I had to cook my tea, so I settled for my bike ride.  As the 18 miles took me to just over 400 miles for the month, I was pretty content with that.

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal in the evening and found that she is having an enjoyable time down south.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few butterflies that I saw in the garden today.

peacock buttefly

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She visited the Haynes International Motor Museum with my sister Mary and saw many wonderful motor cars, including this 1900 Clement Voiturette.

1900 Clement Voiturette

When you look back at them, there are some days which seem to rather slip through your grasp and you never really get a grip on them.  This was one such day.  Although we did quite a lot, nothing much seemed to happen.  As a result, if this post is somewhat disjointed, it will match the day very well.

We had a slow start after breakfast but then we drove down to the bike shop in Longtown to recover my set of car and house keys, which were still in my bike pannier along with my rain jacket.  My bike won’t be ready until Friday at best so we drove quietly back home, giving a lift to a local man who had just left his bike for repair at the bike shop and was intending to catch the bus back.  As he would have had to wait half an hour before the bus came, he was quite grateful.

It was a rather grey and gloomy day but still reasonably warm so we had a walk round the garden when we got back.  A blackbird on the fence caught my eye.  It had picked up a fallen rowan berry from the ground.

blackbird on fence with berry

It was just as well that it hadn’t been tempted by these St John’s Wort berries near by and they are poisonous to livestock and probably not very good for birds.

st john's wort berreis

Most of the Sweet Williams are past but this one, lurking in a vegetable bed, still looks rather attractive with its dainty blue boots.

sweet william

The honey suckle on the vegetable garden fence is doing well.

honeysuckle

I went in and put a grey day to some use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, making a small dent in my backlog.

Mrs Tootlepedal occupied herself in making some plum chutney.  She tells me that we won’t be able to sample it for six months.

In the afternoon, I considered the weather and the forecast and the threats of heavy rain, and then went out for a short ride on my borrowed bike.

It was a day for cloudscapes…

cloudscape wauchope 1

…and no matter where you looked, there were plenty of clouds to see.

cloudscape wauchope 2

I had gone about four miles, when the view behind, with a hint of sunshine, looked a lot better than the view in front, and as it started to rain, I decided to race the rain back home.

cloudscape looking back to langholm

Although it continued to drizzle on me, the wind was coming from behind, so I didn’t get very wet at all. It was dry when i gt home.

I put the bike under cover and walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has recently put down some grass seed to grow as green manure on the now empty potato bed, and this is of great interest to the sparrows who lurk in every convenient tree and hedge…

two sparrows

…and eat the seed whenever our backs our turned.

When  we came out, they flew up in a great cloud and some of them settled for a while on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  This is just a portion of the flock who were pecking at the grass seeds.

sparrows on betty's garage

I had a look at some flowers.  The lobelias round the chimney pot are in fine fettle…

lobelia at chimney

…and the late Lilian Austin rose, featured yesterday, has been joined by two more blooms.

three Lilian Austin roses

I tend to look at the phlox as a cloud of colour but this single flower was worth looking at by itself, I thought.

phlox blossom

After a while, the clouds seemed to have passed over, so after a last look at these zinnias, one with a miniature garden at its heart….

two zinnias

…I set off to complete my intended mileage for the day.  It started to rain almost as soon as I had left the house but I had my rain jacket with me, so I put it on and pressed ahead.

This was a good plan because the rain soon stopped and in spite of some impressive clouds over Callister…

callister cloudscape

…it turned into a sunny day as I came home from the top of the hill.

callister view

Although there was a break in the middle, I aggregated the two rides into one and recorded 20 miles for the day in my mileage chart.

When I got home, I walked round the garden for a final time….

striking nastrutium

…and then went in to print out some pictures for our camera club’s forthcoming exhibition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked an excellent evening meal and we rounded off the day by watching an exciting stage of the Vuelta.

The flying bird of the day was standing very close to me on the lawn before it flew off.

blackbird on lawn

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a Book Cafe but found that reading one of their books might be tricky.  He tells me that he didn’t bolt his coffee and cake though.

book cafe

This morning couldn’t have offered a greater contrast to yesterday’s summer weather.  The clouds were clamped down on the hills, the town was engulfed by gloom and there was a persistent drizzle.  The drizzle did fizzle out though and I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast to do some archive group  and camera club business.

I had hoped to have a cup of coffee with Dropscone when I got back, but he had a golfing engagement so I went out to check the garden.

It was warm enough, but the results of the drizzle could be seen hanging about on dahlias….

dahlia with droplets

…and in a hundred neat pockets along the front hedge.

hedge with jewels

I had several goes at capturing the beauty of the water filled webs…

triple panel droplets

…and this was my favourite as I thought that it caught their jewelled nature best.

web with drops

Since it wasn’t a gardening moment, I went in and made half a dozen pots of plum jam, using early plums which we had picked that were not suitable to eat yet.  Our jam thermometer is a bit like the jam maker himself, old and unreliable, and I may have overcooked the jam a bit, but I had a test helping on some new bread in the evening and it wasn’t too bad.  We are researching digital jam thermometers and if any reader has had a good experience with one, we would be pleased to learn about it.

After the jam making was finished, I went out into the garden and was happy to find that the clouds had lifted and the rain had cleared away altogether.

I had a walk round to admire the late colour.

lily, crocosmia, astilbe and rose

…and noted that sometimes, one plant gets overtaken by another as these two clematis flowers, peeking out through alien foliage, show.

two lonely clematis

Elsewhere, clematis has a clear run.

clematis on fence

I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to collect embroidery exhibits, the work of her local group, which have been on display in Hawick.  I went back out into the garden where the sun was now shining and found myself ducking to avoid being mowed down by hordes of butterflies and sparrows which were circling the garden.

Although it was pleasantly warm in the sun, it was not as hot as yesterday and the butterflies all had their wings wide open.

red admiral, two peacocks, white butterfly

Once again, there were far more peacocks about than any other sort…

peacock butterfly wings spread

…though the whites came a close second.

white butterfly

The large family of blackbirds are still around at various stages of development…

young blackbird on ground

…and they and the resident starlings and sparrows were joined by a tuneful thrush today.

starling, thrush and sparrow

There were so many butterflies about that I had to persuade them to shift over to give me a bit of room on the bench to sit….

two butterflies on bench

…and enjoy a small plum snack.

four plums on bench

It had dried up enough to let me mow the middle lawn and then I got my bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was a good day for a cycle ride…

view over Bloch

…with the country looking at its most benign.

view down wauchopedale

Farmers had been busy cutting grass in every corner of their fields.

tree with cut grass

All new deciduous trees seem to be planted in plastic tubes these days and this view as I climbed the hill over the Kerr seems to show that it is a good idea, with a flourishing little forest well under way.

successful tree tubes

As I came back home along the Esk valley, there was more evidence of grass cutting to be seen.

grass cut at grainstone

I would have liked to have had time to have gone a bit further but there was the front lawn to cut and my flute pupil Luke to welcome.

I did find time when i got home to watch a blackbird in the rowan tree.  It was eyeing up the berries and bending to check on them, but the big question was, would it pose for the ‘money shot’?

blackbird panel in rowan

It did.

blackbird with berry

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived safely back from Hawick, and while my flute pupil Luke and I practised, she made a delicious cauliflower cheese, garnished with beans and courgettes from the garden for tea.  We ate it with a side dish of beetroot which our friend Nancy had given us and i had cooked earlier.  She has grown so much beetroot on her allotment this year that she can hardly face eating any more.

We rounded off the day by watching the highlights of the Vuelta, the cycling tour of Spain.  It took our minds off the political situation.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the last big poppies.

flying bee with poppy

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