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Posts Tagged ‘dahlias’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who encountered this elegant pedal powered equipage in Malton.

Malton tricycle

The morning dawned, as is customary, with grey skies and a persistent drizzle which sometimes veered into downright rain.

Under these circumstances, to linger over breakfast and the newspapers for long enough to slide imperceptibly into coffee and scones with Dropscone was the best policy and I followed it.

Dropscone’s scones were masterpieces of the baker’s art and went well with the last of Mary Jo’s saskatoon jam.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre’s coffee shop over lunch and I was left by myself to stare out of the kitchen window.  As usual, there was quite a bit to stare at.

Flying chaffinches were ten a penny.

flying chaffinches

And fighting sparrows weren’t hard to find.  I liked the way this incoming lady casually one handedly brushed off the male who stood in her way.

fighting sparrows

Siskins watched from above, waiting for a perch.

siskins

And a dunnock gleaned fallen seed below.

dunnock

The highlight of the day was this tousled blue tit who defied appearances by being able to fly and land very nimbly.

ruffled blue tit

I had a slice of melon and a sardine sandwich for my lunch and by the time that I had finished these, it had stopped raining.  As it was quite warm (14°C) for the time of year and the forecast was optimistic about the rain having passed over, I got the fairly speedy bike out and ventured off on a ride.

I had a think about the brisk wind that was blowing and chose a route which I hoped would make the best of it.  Instead of heading west as usual, I headed off north on a roughly rectangular route, hoping for sheltered crosswinds on legs one and three, an even more sheltered headwind leg two and a fine run downwind leg four to finish the trip.

I was mightily surprised when things worked out according to plan.

My route took me up the Esk valley where I stopped for my favourite view….

gates of Eden

… the Gates of Eden, which look lovely whatever the weather.

A look down the road from the same spot gives a better idea of the time of year and the weather.

Craig road

I think that the autumn colour is a write off this year and I didn’t see much better than this view near Hopsrig.

Autumn colour

Bentpath looked very subdued under the clouds.Bentpath in October

My leg two into the wind was uphill but I was well sheltered for most of it by the fine line of trees beside the road you can see in the picture below..

Esk from bailliehill

I was more exposed to the crosswind as I cycled across the moor and down to Paddockhole…

Paddockhole bridge

….but by using a sensibly low gear and imagining that I was going at 20mph into a 10mph wind rather than going at 10mph into a 20mph wind (exactly the same amount of effort being required) which I was, the miles passed quite kindly.

Once I had crossed the bridge at Paddockhole, the wind was behind me for the final ten miles and when I had got to the top of Callister, the combination of wind and gravity let me do the last six miles home at an average of 20mph.

And to make things even better, the sun came out.

Craig windmills from Wauchope road

The road home looked inviting.

Wauchope road

This route is 26 miles, roughly the same distance as a marathon and has well over 1000ft of climbing in it.  I was therefore pleased to complete it in 1 hour 59 minutes and 58 seconds.  As the fastest marathon runners in the world, in a set up event in a sheltered stadium, with pacemakers, wearing fancy springy shoes and with top class nutritionists and sports trainers at their beck and call couldn’t manage to run a marathon in under two hours this year, it is a fantastic tribute to the bicycle that an old man of 75 can give them a run for their money.  In fact it calls the whole idea of running into question.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I had a look around.

october flowers

Hellenium and campanula join the poppies today

dahlias

Dahlias glowing in the sun.

it was very good to see the sun and we had a quick cup of tea and drove up to the Moorland bird feeders so that Mrs Tootlepedal could look for hen harriers on the moor and I could look at smaller birds from the hide.

It was still breezy.

coal tit

great tit and blue tit

The feeders were mostly empty but I enjoyed watching a busy set of coal tits, great tits and blue tits for a while.  There are always pheasants about too but they were looking a bit gloomy today at the lack of fallen seeds to pick at.

pheasant

Sadly, the sun didn’t last and almost as soon as we got to the hide, it was overtaken by clouds so we didn’t stay long but Mrs Tootlepedal was quite content as she had had a couple of hen harrier sightings.

By coincidence, just as we got home we met fellow camera club member Andy at our gate.  It was not his skill with the shutter than we needed but his expertise as a forester.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been worried about damage to our walnut tree and Andy kindly agreed to have a look at it and give an opinion.

Andy and Mrs T

They emerged from the inspection in good humour as Andy’s view was that the damage seemed to have been long standing and not recent and the tree was in no danger of imminent collapse.

Andy took a tour round the garden while he was here and was impressed by the appetite of some caterpillars which were eating our turnip leaves.

caterpillars

I am no caterpillar expert…that is an understatement….but a little research on the internet suggested that these might possibly be Red Admiral butterfly caterpillars.  This would be very unusual so I would welcome an identification from knowledgeable readers.

In the evening, we went the Buccleuch Centre where we enjoyed a fine performance by four young singers from Scottish Opera who were on a tour to bring culture to far flung corners of Scotland.

Rather than just singing popular arias in turn, they put together a miscellany of solos, duets, trios and quartets within a specially created dramatic framework of love and jealously among the performers themselves.  I found this very satisfactory as it added some real emotional vigour to the singing but Mrs Tootlepedal could take it or leave it alone.

The singing was splendid however, particularly by the baritone, and the musical selection ranged from Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten with many stops in between so it was a very satisfactory evening for us both.

The flying bird of the day is a double look at great tits in the garden.

great tit

For those interested, further details of the bike ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 23 Oct 2017

 

 

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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 our daughter Annie.  She is working hard in Zurich at the moment but found time to admire this trio of trees ageing differentially.

Zurich trees

Yesterday we had a sunny morning and a grey afternoon (and by the time that we went to bed, the inevitable rain had returned).  Today we had a grey and drizzly morning which was extremely depressing but by the afternoon, the clouds had broken and a cheerful sun appeared.

As a result, we spent a quiet morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal engaged in domestic tasks while I went off to the producers’ market and made some judicious purchases of fish, honey and a variety of beef, lamb and venison for slow cooked stews over the next month.

To hold my purchases, I had taken along a very stout store bag which Mary Jo from Manitoba had given to us when we met in London and I was quite surprised when a lady at the venison stall said, “I know where that comes from.”  And even more surprised when it turned out that she did know where it came from as she had spent time in Canada and in Manitoba itself.  It’s a small world, as they say.

I put the bad weather to good use when I got home by practising choir songs and putting another one into the computer.  Because I don’t play the piano, the computer gives me a lot of help when I meet a new song.

We had a good lunch and then, as the day had brightened, we went out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal set about improving her new path and I did some dead heading and shredding before I got my camera out.

bees on dahlia

The honey lady at the producers’ market had told me that the bees are very hungry at the moment and they were tucking in at the dahlias as soon as the sun came out.

The poppies and cornflowers were quieter.

poppy and cornflower

The absence of really cold mornings has allowed the cream coloured potentilla in the garden to keep flowering and has encouraged the Ooh La La Clematis to have a second go.

clematis and potentilla

A butterfly was to be seen clinging to the back of a dahlia, presumably to get some sun on its wings.

red admiral

It was looking in good condition

The weather seemed to be set fair so I got my cycling gear on and set off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

My confidence in the steady state of the weather turned out to be misplaced and I soon found myself pedalling through a curtain of drizzle.  There was still plenty of sunshine about though and I had the wit to stop and look behind me.

rainbow over wauchopedale

The rain subsided and I pedalled on until I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse where I considered my options.  I had planned to do a triple Cleughfoot recycling route and the weather looking back to Langholm appeared fair enough…

Wauchope Schoolhouse looking east

…but behind Cleughfoot things looked very threatening.

black clouds

I decided to risk sticking to my plan and pedalled as  fast as I could uphill and into the wind towards the black clouds, stopping briefly to admire a combination of sloes and haws….

sloes and haws

…before turning at the top of the road and whizzing back downhill and downwind as fast as I could, hoping to outrun any rain.

The sloe photo opportunity proved my downfall though as I was caught by the shower and had to stop to put my rain jacket on to protect my camera.  Still, it was only just the edge of the rain and I was soon back in sunshine and when I got to Langholm, I stopped in our garden where Mrs Tootlepedal said it had hardly rained at all.

I decided to let the shower get well past before going up the road again and this gave me a chance to admire the nasturtiums and calendula at the end of the drive….

nasturtiums and calendula

…and an unusually dark solo nasturtium flower beside the new path.

nasturtium

The sedum shone so brightly…

sedum

…that it seemed to be giving me the all clear so I set off on my second lap.  In spite of some gloomy looking clouds, it stayed dry and I was enjoying myself when I went over a slight bump in the road and my water bottle fell out of its cage.

I had to stop and retrieve the bottle from the verge and when I realised that I was within a few yards of my favourite cascade, I took this as a sign and clambered down the bank to have a look.

Wauchope cascade

There was not as much water going down the river as I had expected but it is still a lovely spot.

Because I had been delayed by the rain, I was a bit behind schedule so I abandoned the third repetition and only did enough to bring up twenty miles.  I wanted to take advantage of the sunshine to go for a walk so I got changed quickly and set off to walk round the Becks before the sun went down.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had done a hard couple of hours work on the path, thought that a cup of tea was a better option so I went by myself.

The difference between the miserable morning and the sunlit late afternoon was chalk and cheese.

Whita Hill

It was a pleasure to be out and about.

Becks track

Warbla

I walked down through the woods and across the Becks Burn, keeping an eye for fungus in dark places.  I saw this crop of tiny fungi on a dead branch.

Becks fungi

They were smaller than my fingernail

I was pleased to come out into the sunshine though as it was muddy underfoot in the woods and there were many opportunities to put a foot wrong and end in an undignified position.

As I walked down the hill towards the Wauchope road, the Auld Stane Brig caught the last of the sunshine.

Auld Stane Brig

I was very surprised to see an umbellifer in flower as I walked along the road, but bearing in mind the hunger of the bees, I was less surprised to see that they had spotted it too.

umbellifer with bees

The bee keeping lady told me that the bees are waiting for the ivy flowers to come out to provide them with a last big feed before shutting down for winter.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t really approve of garden owners who let their plants impinge on the public highway but there can’t be any objection when it is a magnificent fuchsia like this one.

fuchsia

There was just enough light left when I got home to let me enjoy a last look at the spiky dahlias.

spiky dahlias

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to volunteer at a concert in the Buccleuch Centre and I sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing and admired the relentless energy of the professional dancers.

I am hoping that the weather is kind and that it will let me out for a morning ride tomorrow.  A ride tomorrow would make this a good week for cycling and go some way to making up for my poor efforts in September.

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Today’s guest picture shows Puffin Island off Anglesey.   My brother took the picture on a visit to Anglesey in May.

Puffin Island

We were offered a bright and breezy morning and I took the opportunity to gird up my loins and get out on the fairly speedy bike for the first time in October.  Because it was breezy, because there was always the possibility of rain and because I couldn’t think of anything else, I did three repetitions of the nine mile round trip to Cleughfoot and back.

My internet acquaintance known to me as Quercus pointed out recently that cycling on a familiar route could be considered recycling so I suppose that cycling three times on a familiar route might even be rererecycling.

I had my camera in my back pocket but a brisk wind in my face inclines me to keep my head down and not notice anything and whizzing along when the wind is behind means that I have passed anything interesting before I have registered it.

I did stop, because I had to, at my turning point and couldn’t avoid noticing a brilliant display of haws on a hawthorn…

haws

…and I did notice, because I was specially looking out for them, a really fine crop of healthy sloes on the Cleughfoot road.

sloes

I don’t think that I have ever seen such a good crop before.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden when I got back.  She had just moved a delightful orange flowered potentilla with a view to finding a place where it will not be as crowded as it was this year.

Potentilla

I gave it a good watering in and then went to look at the poppies.  They are still very good value…

shirley poppies

…though the rather cold air seemed to have discouraged any bees from visiting today.

My favourite poppy of the day was floating above the pond.

poppy

The colours are just as they came out of the camera.  I have not improved them in any way.  Indeed, I think that it might be impossible to improve on such a lovely flower.

The dahlias were worth a look too.

dahlia

You can see that hoverflies seem to be more weatherproof than honey bees.

We went in for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to do more gardening while I finished the crossword.   I then went out to cut back the blackcurrant bush and when I had shredded the clippings, I went to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was doing.

lawn shifting

She was cutting, shifting and stamping bits of turf at the end of the middle lawn as part of her new project for better beds, better paths, better space and better everything in this area next year.

It is a task that needs a lot of supervision so I selflessly took on the role.

Soon a round corner had become square….

new middle lawn

…and a curved edge had become straight.

new middle lawn

It will all look very neat and tidy by next spring.

(Notice that indispensable tool of the gardener, a piece of string, in action here.)

After the lawn work was finished, I sieved a bucket of compost but finding it a bit soggy after the recent rain, I stopped and wandered round taking pictures.

That great gardener Christopher Lloyd is very dismissive of Leycesteria in his garden shrub guide but I like it a lot even though it is invasive.

Leycesteria

We have two sorts of jasmine on the go at the moment.  Winter jasmine and jasmine officinale.

jasmine

The very last of the geraniums are looking pretty.

geranium

A late daisy.

daisy

And the sweet rocket has produced a second flowering.

sweet rocket

It was chilly working in the garden and there were one or two feeble efforts at rain over lunchtime but the relatively mild nights are keeping the supply of flowers going in a very satisfactory way.

We were quite ready for a cup of tea by the time that everything was cleared away.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a screening of La Bohème but as Puccini’s music generally leaves me cold, I stayed at home and did the washing up.

While the lawn works were going on, there were several sightings of the gardener’s friend….

earthworm

…and we were not the only ones interested.

blackbird

Robin

In spite of these two handsome birds, the flying bird of the day is not a bird at all but the sole big bumble bee that I saw today.  It was really getting stuck into the dahlia pollen.

búmble bee

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo from Manitoba’s London visit.  This time she met one of the celebrated Tower of London ravens.

Tower of London raven

Our changeable weather is evidently tricky to predict so in spite of forecasts of gales and heavy rain, it was not a great surprise to wake up to merely a brisk breeze with dry spells.

One of the dry spells let me go up to the town after breakfast to pay in a cheque from the railway company to cover the fare for our delayed journey from London last weekend.  I would like to think that this repayment came either from a deduction from the company directors’ own pay packets or a reduction in the dividend to shareholders but I fear that that is wishful thinking.

I dropped in on the data miners at the Archive Centre, took a meter reading there and then booked the car into the garage for a look at its brakes and got home just as it started to rain once more.

After that, I stayed in, did the crossword, made some soup and grumbled.  I didn’t go out again until lunch time when it had brightened up a bit.  I took a look at the garden.

There were plucky flowers smiling through their tears to be seen.

nasturtiums

poppies

Thanks to relatively warm mornings, there are still plenty of colourful sights about, some more vibrant….

sedum, creeper and clematis

…than others.

poppies and anemone

As you can see from the anemone on the right, there was even a hint of sunshine.

The fuchsias are loving the weather, whatever the other flowers think.

fuchsia

Bees were few and far between but I did find a hoverfly on a dahlia.

dahlia with hoverfly

I was delighted to find that Lilian Austin was still in business in a modest way.

Lilian Austin

I went back in to eat my soup for lunch with no great hope for the afternoon but the sun was still out by the time that lunch was over so I set out for a walk, hoping that any clouds would blow past in the brisk wind and not rain on Langholm.

Things looked promising as I went through the park…

Park in October

There was a great heap of logs at the exit from the park….

felled trees in the park

…and it was apparent that two large trees had been felled and cut up.  I couldn’t tell whether the trees had partly fallen first and then been cut up or whether the felling was precautionary.

I walked on through the wood along the river and came out onto the track along the Murtholm…

Murtholm

…which led me to Skippers Bridge, where I went down the bank to look back at the bridge…

Skippers Bridge

….and then, trusting that the good weather would hold, I took a short diversion up the hill through the oak wood…

Oak wood

…to the Round House.

Round House

If I hadn’t been in a bit of a hurry, I might have sat on the bench there in the sunshine and enjoyed the view over the town.

Langholm from the Round House

As it was, I pressed on, enjoying the golden colour in the bracken beside the track…

bracken

…and stopping when a striking crop of fine black berries caught my eye.  When I showed the picture to Mrs Tootlepedal later on, she thought that they might be St John’s Wort….

st John's Wort

…and as I had seen some of these flowers nearby, I expect that she is right.

The river looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth when I came to cross the suspension bridge on my way home.

Esk in October

I waited for a moment or two to see if the dipper was around but it was not to be seen so I took an arty pictures of some leaves…

autumn leaves beside Esk

…and went home.  I couldn’t resist a few pictures of flowers enjoying the welcome sunshine.

daisy, calendula and dahlia

I didn’t have long to wait in as I had an appointment to get my flu jab at the health centre as well as my three-monthly vitamin B12 injection so I was soon out and back across the bridge, this time by bicycle and returned home thoroughly needled….in both senses of the word as it started to rain as I left the health centre.

Once back, I received a visit from a camera club member who had come to collect his photos from the exhibition.  He was very cheered to find that he had sold a couple of them.

Then it was time for a visit from my flute pupil Luke.  He has been practising again and it showed.  He told me that he had played with our local orchestra yesterday and found it a ‘learning experience’.  Orchestral flute playing is very tricky.  I tried it for a bit and didn’t enjoy it much so I hope he does better than I did.

After an excellent tea which had been cooked for me by Mrs Tootlepedal consisting of mince with bashed tatties and neeps from the garden, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.   We had a most enjoyable play and found once again that Mozart is a cure for many ills.

When I got home, we watched a weather forecast which showed that the jet stream is currently crossing the Atlantic in a series of beautifully shaped waves, each one containing a high or a low so the changeable weather looks like a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future.  I will just have to look out my wet weather cycling gear and grit my teeth.

The flying bird of the day is in pre-flying mode.

blackbird

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo. She is currently on holiday in England and came across this fine gate in Salisbury.

Mary Jo's gate

Mrs Tootlepedal has been wanting a bit a manure to get her garden off to a good start for the next growing season so she had a word with a friend yesterday and early this morning, this arrived at our front gate…

Manure

…but even with the expert assistance of our neighbour Liz, the tractor was just too big to get itself turned round enough to back the trailer into the drive.

There was no alternative.

manure

What fun.

Luckily, Alasdair who had supplied the muck , was kind enough to stay on to help and with good teamwork….

manure shifting

…with Al and Liz filling barrows at one end of the drive and Mrs Tootlepedal creating an artistic muck heap at the other, the situation was soon saved.

manure shifted

I ran the shuttle service.

It wasn’t done in a few minutes but it was done just before Dropscone arrived for coffee and we sat down to a well earned rest, although some in the party didn’t think that they were getting a fair share of the scones.

Riley

This was the moment to test whether Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam was the correct additive for a Langholm scone and after eating two of his scones with the jam on, Dropscone agreed that the jam passed the test with honour.  I must say that I thought that it went very well with a scone or two too.

After Liz and Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a happy hour trying to erase any sign of manure other than that in the neat pile at the end of the drive…

manure

…and thanks to expert work by Mrs Tootlepedal with a teaspoon and a toothbrush, things were left looking pretty tidy.  Mrs Tootlepedal is looking forward to spreading the muck about generously in the coming months.

I once gave Mrs Tootlepedal a half load of manure for a Christmas present.  It was a very successful present as it sat outside our kitchen window for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal often remarked that every time that she looked at the great heap of muck, she thought of me.

The garden is still reasonably colourful for the time of year….

garden late Spetember 2107

…and the insects keep coming.

insects on dahlias

The dahlias were very popular today.

hoverfly

It was pleasantly cool while we were muck shifting, which was good, but the sun came out shortly afterwards and it was a great pleasure to be out in the garden.

Special Grandma looked particularly pleased.

special grandma

I made some potato and carrot soup for my lunch and then went off for a quick stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was quite breezy so I was not unhappy to have had too little time for a cycle ride.  September has been a very poor month for cycling with bad weather at the start and too much to do at the end of the month but luckily, I am well ahead of my schedule for the year and with some good weather in October, I should still reach my target by Christmas.

I had very good weather for my stroll and enjoyed the peaceful look of Wauchope Churchyard as I passed.

Wauchope Churchyard

In spite of the sunshine, the brown and swirling waters flowing under the Auld Stane Brig show just how much rain we have had over recent weeks.

Auld Stane Brig

The ground is sodden and the rain showers seem to be very heavy when they come so we may expect a bit of a flood if it rains for a long time soon. All this water came from some rain last night.

I kept my eyes open as I walked and enjoyed this large fungus….

fungus

…and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if the white rim round the edge means that it is still alive and growing.

I did see other fungus and lichen but the light was too poor or too bright so I didn’t get very good pictures.

fungus and lichen

I thought that an oak might be showing autumn colour but it turned out to be caused by the galls on the back of the leaves.  Some of the oaks are covered in these galls.

oak galls

Some peering about on the internet tells me that they may be spangle galls.  If this is true we should be in for a plague of gall wasps as there are hundreds of these galls about.

Some of the oaks are free of them and I liked this perky acorn further along the walk.

acorn

I resisted the temptation to sit on a handy bench provided so that elderly walkers can sit and look back across the river at the Wauchope Churchyard and think dark thoughts about mortality and enjoyed the open views further on instead.

Meiklholm Hill

Grey clouds were looming over Meikleholm Hill.

A curious sheep looked back at me.

stubholm sheep

I didn’t dawdle too much and I just had time to check out a battered butterfly when I got home….

red admiral butterfly

…before jumping into the car with Mrs Tootlepedal and driving off to Eskdalemuir to collect the Camera Club photos which had been on exhibition at The Hub there.

Thanks to the good curation of the exhibition by Sharon and the other volunteers at The Hub, our club members had sold quite a few of the pictures and I was modestly very pleased to find that three of mine were among those that had found buyers.

It had rained a little as we had driven up but we did most of the journey in sunshine and I wish that I could have had time to stop to take a few pictures.  Of course, I would have had to remember to bring my camera with me and as I hadn’t, the lack of time wasn’t quite so painful.

The reason for the rush was a concert at the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.  This was given by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who are absolute masters of the art of providing a congenial evening of traditional music and amusing commentary.   Their musicianship on fiddle and accordion is superb and the commentary in between the numbers can make your ribs hurt at times. Even if a lot of the tunes and stories may have made their appearance in former concerts, you greet them with all the enthusiasm you would greet a much loved old friend who has returned after some time abroad.

They have played together for forty years and have supreme and justified confidence in their own ability so they have no need to pester us with questions about whether we are having a good time or to play very loudly or to jump around and stamp to prove that they are trying.  They just sit there quietly and pour out a stream of magic and we are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is sitting on the hedge prior to taking off.

blackbird

 

 

 

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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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