Posts Tagged ‘Eskdale Prehistoric Trail’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who met Aethelflaed, (daughter of Alfred the Cakes Burner), Queen of the Mercians standing in front of Tamworth Castle. He tells me that she led the successful military assault on Derby in 917, which was so decisive, that it resulted in Mercia being fully recovered from the Vikings.


It was generally a rather grey, drizzly and miserable morning here which wasn’t made any better by the departure after breakfast of Mrs Tootlepedal on a two day visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I was cheered up by some bright flowers in the garden…

three raindropped flowers

…and the arrival of Sandy for coffee.  We exchanged news, sympathised with each other’s foot problems (his are worse than mine) and talked Archive Group business.

When he left I was motivated by our archive talk to go and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This took some time because the edition was unusually full of content.

Before I sat down at the computer, I had a look at the birds.  The rain came and went every few minutes as I watched the sparrows.

sparrow on nuts

There are several sparrow families on the go at the moment.

sparrow feeding on feeder

This sparrow, using a sunflower as an umbrella, hadn’t noticed that the rain had stopped again.

sparrow with umbrella

I made myself some scrambled eggs for lunch and after listening to the news (nothing about Langholm on it today), I went out into the garden to check on the weather.

It was raining sparrows.

They rose from the ground in a cloud when I went into the veg garden and settled on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.

sparrows on Betty's roof

This was just a fraction of the flock.

The weather looked set fair for a bit and the forecast was good so I decided on a cycle ride.  The was a blustery wind coming from ENE and as my usual route starts by going west, this would have meant cycling home into the wind.  I therefore decided to head north today, hoping that getting a crosswind in both directions wouldn’t be as bad as pedalling straight into the wind for half my trip.

This proved to be a sound decision as the bends and twists in the roads gave me a nicely varied diet of cross, behind and ahead breezes and added variety to the journey.

I still went very slowly though as it is quite a hilly route…

Road to benty

…but going slowly can be a good thing if you want to look at the view and keep an eye on the verges,



The ride is not short of views…

meeting of the Esks

The junction of the Black and White Esks

…and includes my favourite bridge, not so much for the bridge itself, which is neat but modest, as for its setting in the surrounding countryside.black esk bridge

Once over the bridge, I cycled along one of my favourite roads.  It has a reasonable surface, no traffic, gentle gradients, fine trees…

road to castle O'er

…and verges rich in flowers and with snacks available every so often.

Castle oe'r verges

The route is part of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail and I passed three hill forts as I went along, Bailiehill, Castle O’er and Bessie’s Hill, which are all worth a visit if any local blog reader has not visited them before.

I didn’t have time to stop and visit today and I pressed on through the village of Eskdalemuir until I came to our little bit of Tibet in Dumfriesshire.

It comes as something of a surprise when you first see the statue of the god Nagarjuna in the garden of the Kagyu Samye Ling Centre but you soon get used to it.

statue at Samye Ling

There were some lovely water lilies in the pond surrounding the god.

lily at Samye Ling

And the stupa was as impressive as ever.

Stupa at Samye Ling

I had a close look at one of the flags beside the path.  Research on the internet tells me that the flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space.

tibetan flag at Samye Ling

There was plenty of wind today so perhaps we should put out more flags.  We need a lot of goodwill and compassion at the moment.

On my way up to Eskdalemuir, I had followed the west bank of the Esk so on my way home, I decided to cross the bridge at Eskdalemuir….

bridge at Eskdalemuir

…and follow the east bank back to Bentpath.

I was a little tired by this point on my journey as it was quite a hilly route, but I was nothing like as weary as this lot, flat out in a field beside the bridge.

tired sheep

I had a last look north along the Upper Esk valley…

views upper esk valley

…and headed south.

I stopped near Georgefield for this view of the river…

esk near Westerhall

…and had a final stop for some guava jelly and a drink at Bentpath.  I was very impressed by the lichen on the wall…

lichen at benty

…and this use of an old wheelbarrow.

barrow at Benty

I was aiming to do thirty miles to bring me up to four hundred miles for the month and ended up doing thirty two miles so I was very pleased with my ride.  Even a little shower of rain in the last mile or so did not dampen my spirits.

The rain didn’t last and I was able to mow the front lawn when I got home and pick yet more sweet peas.  A reader asked for evidence about the great number of sweet peas I claim to have been picking, so here is the current collection.

sweet peas

Many bunches have been given to neighbours and many vases have been emptied and the dead flowers thrown away so this represents only a fraction of this year’s crop.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I am having a very quiet night in.

The flying bird of the day is being shouted at in a very rude manner.

flying sparrow (with siskin)

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In the absence of any guest pictures, I am repairing an omission for which I was rebuked by a reader after my Common Riding post. This is a shot of the Chinook helicopter which flew low over the town to check what was going on in the middle of the proceedings yesterday .

chinookLife was at a rather slower tempo today after the excitements of the Common Riding but we didn’t entirely waste a day of pleasant sunshine.

I started off by going to the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and stocking up with fish, meat, cheese and honey.  I was surprised to get the honey as I thought that our local beekeeper and her bees might have been struggling in the recent poor weather but she had plenty of fresh stock and was in a cheerful mood.

There had been some tremendously heavy showers of rain as I went to bed last night and I fully expected to see the flowers in the garden battered to the ground this morning.  Apart from the David Austin roses and the delphiniums, which were definitely the worse for wear, other flowers were still standing up well.

lilies and nasturtiums

poppyNext, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to Eskdalemuir to collect the pictures from our photographic exhibition at The Hub there.  On a sunny day like today, it is hard to distinguish Eskdalemuir from Shangri-La…

Eskdalemuir…but on a more normal day (when it it raining and the wind is blowing) there is no such difficulty.

We collected the pictures (and the money for several that had been sold) and stopped for a coffee.  A group of Harley Davidson riding motor cyclists from Yorkshire on a tour were also having coffee and they allowed me to take a picture of one of their beautifully shiny machines.

motorbike at the HubAs The Hub had already catered for a large party of cyclists on a 300 km Audax ride from Galashiels to Alston and back, they were having a busy morning for a place in the middle of nowhere.

Because it was such a nice day, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a walk through the woods to Bessie’s Hill forts would be a good idea.  I visited this spot with Sandy in spring but Mrs Tootlepedal has never been there.  It is one of the sites on the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.

By a stroke of good fortune, the Forestry Commission had sent someone out very recently to strim the trail through the woods….

Bessie's hill…so the going couldn’t have been better.

The short walk through the mossy woods was delightful…

Bessie's hill…and the view from the top was as good as ever.

Bessie's hill viewThere are two forts and from the surrounding mound of the upper fort you can get a good view of the lower one.

Bessie's hill fortOddly enough, when you walk onto the summit of  the lower fort, which we did, you don’t get any feeling of being above the ramparts and ditches or of the shape of the ground at all.

As well as the forts, there was much else to enjoy on the walk.

Bessie's hill nature

There were elusive butterflies and tiny moths everywhere we walked

Bessie's hill nature

There was moss in clumps and in mounds

Bessie's hill nature

And sprouting

Bessie's hill nature

The first signs of heather coming into flower

Bessie's hill nature

Insects of all sorts and lichens too

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eyes spotted fungi, some quite large and some really tiny as we neared the end of the descent back to the car.

Bessie's hill fungusWe took a last look back up towards the ramparts of the lower fort…

Bessie's hill fort

You would have to be a fit person to attack up that hill.

…and drove quietly home.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the garden and I sieved some more compost, did some shreddding and a little tidying up under the bird feeders as well.  The mess that the birds make, especially the siskins who perpetually drop seed onto the ground, is the downside of the pleasure that I get from watching the birds feeding.

I walked round with my camera too.

phlox and buddleia

A variegated phlox and the new buddleia were glowing.  No butterflies on the buddleia yet though.

After that, my legs started complaining so I went inside, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal still working, and enjoyed what I thought was a well earned sit down.   Later in the evening, I converted a couple of pounds of our blackcurrants into a few pots of blackcurrant jam.  There are a lot left on the bush so if everything goes well, I shall make some blackcurrant jelly next.

All in all, I didn’t get much time to look out of the kitchen window so this was the best flying bird of the day that I could manage.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s double guest picture comes from Langholm exile, Tom, in South Africa and shows his niece Laura, who is visiting from Langholm, watching the Cape Epic mountain bike race  together with a slice of action from the event itself.

Cape EpicThe day started with glorious sunshine and it would have been a perfect morning for a cycle ride if I hadn’t had to pay a visit to the doctor after breakfast.  The visit itself would have left me with plenty of time for a pedal but it involved an injection into my sore shoulder.  This requires a whole 24 hours of rest and in spite of telling the doctor that cycling is as good as a rest any day, it was banned.

Holding up heavy cameras was not recommended either so I put up a tripod at the kitchen window and sat down with a cup of coffee in one hand and the remote camera control in the other.  The light was good, the set up superb and all that was needed was some birds.  There was one.

chaffinchIt was very frustrating.

Sandy came round for coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders (and sitting in the new hide) and we arranged to go for an outing in the afternoon.

Desperate for bird action, I shredded a suet ball on the lawn.  This attracted a jackdaw.

jackdawAnd that was the sum total of the garden bird watching today.

The flowers were more co-operative. There was a new one out today…


A scilla

…and the first bee too.

the first bee of the yearI couldn’t resist yet another crocus shot.  They looked so sharp in the sun.

crocusLuckily the afternoon excursion was more interesting than the morning bird watching.  I had enjoyed cycling past the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail sites yesterday so I suggested to Sandy that we could drive round them today and stop at the only one that I have never visited.  He agreed and acted as chauffeur as Mrs Tootlepedal had taken the car to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

As on my tour yesterday, our first stop was to look at the meeting of the Black and White Esks.  It is a beautiful spot on a sunny afternoon.

White Esk at King PoolWe drove on until we arrived at the final trail site on the west side of the valley, Bessie’s Hill Fort and Enclosure.

A helpful sign stimulates the imagination….

Bessie's Hill..but the reality is slightly less dramatic.

Bessie's Hill

On the trail of a lonesome pine.

We followed a well marked and well maintained path up through the woods…

Bessie's Hill…until we arrived at the top of the ridge.

Bessie's Hill

The fort is in what might well be called a commanding position.

In spite of the hazy day, the view north was very satisfying.  We walked up to the settlement first and were able to look back down on the impressively defended fort with its triple earthworks and double ditch.

Bessie's Hill FortThe settlement or enclosure was obviously built in more peaceful times…

Bessie's Hill Enclosure…and is unusually square for prehistoric sites in this area.

We walked round and battled through tussocks and past vivid moss…

Bessie's Hill moss…and across the ditch that surrounds the earthwork…

Bessie's Hill ditch…to get a view across the site and the valley below.

Bessie's Hill enclosureWith the delightful precision customary in looking at early sites, the author of the leaflet for the trail notes that, “Field archaeologists have suggested the possibility of from two to seven round timber-built houses.”  We took their word for it.

Having walked right round the enclosure, we descended towards the fort.

On the way, a glimpse of colour caught my eye and a tree stump revealed a hidden garden.

lichenI have never seen a sight like this before and it was the icing on the cake of a very interesting day out.

The fort was impressive from the outside…

Bessie's Hill fort…but didn’t offer any great photo opportunities when we were on the mound itself.

We walked back down the hill, remarking on the many coniferous trees that were fully living up to their name.

spruce conesWhen we got back to the car, Sandy drove us on up the valley.  We stopped at Watcarrick churchyard and first looked back up to the ridge which we had just left…

Bessie's Hill fort…and then walked round the ancient burial ground.  I liked the ornate carving on the back of this eighteenth century stone.

Watcarrick stoneA very early example of a smiley if I mistake me not.

We drove on until we got to the bridge over the Esk at Eskdalemuir and, as I had done yesterday, came back along the other side of the river.  We stopped for a brief walk to another of the Trail’s sites, the Louping Stanes Stone circle.

This is not the most impressive monument in the world but it has its charm.

Louping stanesIt is suggested that the circle got its modern name from the tendency of young men to show their prowess by leaping from one to another of the two impressive stones that make up the entrance to the circle.

Louping stanesSandy and I thought about having a go but worried in case it would look as if we were showing off and walked back to the car instead.

On our return we had a cup of tea and agreed that the visit to Bessie’s Hill and the whole drive had been well worth the effort.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back safely, having had an entertaining time entertaining Matilda.

In the evening Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre and this time, we agreed that our trip was not worth the effort at all as the internet connection worked brilliantly for a heady three minutes and then went into a terminal sulk and wouldn’t work again.  We went home in disgust.

The flying bird of the day is a fleeting glimpse of the jackdaw leaving after eating all the shredded suet.


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Today’s guest picture comes from the camera of Mrs Tootlepedal and shows that Matilda, as well as being the world’s greatest baby, has tremendous colour sense.

matilda (2)My day started in helter skelter mode as both the Scott, the minister, and Dropscone appeared for the morning pedal.  It proved hard for the peleton to keep together on the road to Gair and back with constant breakaways forming and being brought back.  We had finally managed to get organised as we approached Langholm when the minister, in what I can only describe as a very unchristian manner, left Dropscone and me for dead as he sprinted for home.

Still, the result of all this activity was an excellent time for a hilly ride and a fine appetite for Dropscone’s girdle scones ( with plum jam in one case).  As both Dropscone and Scott took away some plums with them, it was a very satisfactory morning.

After all this excitement, I had a gentle wander round the garden admiring both the many clematis plants which are still in flower…

garden clematis…and the berries which are to be found on every side.

garden berries (2)Those raspberries go very well with some cream.

We are in the Michaelmas daisy season and we have some but they are not very impressive this year.

garden michaelmas daisiesOur occasional butterflies seem to prefer the phlox to the sedum at the moment.

peacock butterfly (2)After lunch, Sandy came round and he and Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a drive round the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.  We only visited two of the sites, both hill top forts.  Our first stop was at Bailliehill.

esk from bailliehill

Looking back at the Esk as we climbed the hill to the fort, one of my favourite views.

There is not much to see at the fort, apart from a defensive ditch or two…

ditch at bailliehill…but the views are wonderful.

I had my phone with me and it likes this sort of bright day.

bailliehill view

Looking over the ditch round the fort

bailliehill view (2)

The Black Esk to the left and the White Esk to the right

I had pocketcam with me too.

tanlawhill bridge (2)

Looking down towards the Black Esk. The Black and White Esk meet just below the bridge out of shot to the right.

We walked back down the hill to the car and drove on a short way until we came to the next fort on the ridge at Castle O’er.

A helpful sign showed what we might have seen about 1500 years ago.

Castle O'erThis was what we did see.

Castle O'er (2)The top was rather overgrown and it was hard to make out the shape of the fort but once again the surrounding ditches were clear enough….

Castle O'er ditch…and the views made the climb well worth while.

Castle O'er view of Bailliehill

Looking south back to the hilltop fort site at Bailliehill

Castle O'er view

Looking up the valley to the north

The walk back to the car was enjoyable in itself with many wild flowers, bugs, mosses and heathers to please the eye.  The mosses were particularly colourful.

Castle O'er mossWe drove on up to Eskdalemuir and returned to Langholm by the road on the opposite side of the White Esk. 

There is not much to see in the way of archaeology or structures at the hill top fort sites which we visited but they are in such commanding places that it is not hard to feel the history there and imagine waiting and watching for possible enemies to arrive below.

In the evening, Susan and I went to Carlisle for the penultimate practice with our recorder group for our concert appearance on Saturday.  At the end of the practice we played a new piece and it was very heartening to find that it didn’t sound nearly as good as the pieces we have been working on.  It made us feel that our work over recent weeks has paid off.

The flying bird of the day is a distant buzzard seen from Bailliehill Fort.



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Today’s picture is just to prove that there is a tiny bit of colour in the garden even it is rather biassed towards blue.

garden flowers

There was not much colour as Dropscone and I cycled round the morning run but it is slowly getting a bit warmer and today the wind was in a kinder direction so we didn’t mind too much.  Dropscone had noticed a good show of daffodils near Canonbie which had cheered him up.  I was feeling a lot better than in recent days and with the favourable wind, we zipped round the circular ride much faster than I have managed for ages.  We munched on our scones in mellow mood.

The garden bird scene has not altered yet and the feeder is as busy as ever.  The waiting room in the plum tree was busy too.


And the siskins were still in fighting mood.

chaffinch and siskin

I had to go to our corner shop for some bacon and on the way back, I checked up on our local ducks.


Duck pilates

A siskin was on the feeder when I came back into the garden and wasn’t going to let me interrupt his seed eating.


A blackbird equally stood its ground.


Siskins and blackbirds are the least likely of our garden birds to move off when I come near them.

I made myself a nourishing pot of lentil soup for my lunch and then I went and picked up Sandy and we set off on another circular tour, this time by car.  As usual, we were hoping to catch a photo opportunity or two as we went.  In spite of the fact that we drove through scenic countryside on quiet back roads for the most part, the weather was hazy, the sun remained behind the clouds and the country was washed out as far as colour goes so good shots were hard to find.

We took a picture or two of one of the prehistoric stone circles that we passed on our way to Eskdalemuir.

The Loupin Stanes

The Loupin Stanes, so called because brave young people leapt between the two biggest of them in more modern times.

This was the view of Eskdale vanishing into the haze from the same spot.

Upper Eskdale

We stopped the other side of Eskdalemuir to marvel at the striking juxtaposition of Scottish scenery and Tibetan religious architecture at the Samye Ling monastery.


This is a stupa I am told.

Front gate

This is the ornate front gate

And this is Buddha meditating under the protection of Mucalinda.


There is a very highly decorated temple on the site but we didn’t visit it today.  We drove on up into the hills and crossed the county boundary at 1000ft before descending to Ettrick.

Although the scenery is beautiful, the washed out colour didn’t tempt us to stop and we turned off at Tushielaw and continued on the road to Hawick before a small bridge caught our eye.

Bridge on B711

Now we were climbing again and this was the road behind us.


I love these unfenced hill roads.

Our main target was the Alemoor reservoir, where we were hoping for a good selection of bird life to watch.  Our first sight of the water was encouraging with a heron flying lazily off as we approached…


…but further inspection only provided us with a pair of coots and two swans…


One of the swans

…and two mallards which immediately flew off.


…and that was it.

The road crosses a bridge through the middle of the reservoir so we pressed on to see of the other half would be more productive…

looking south from the bridge

Looking south from the bridge.  Not a bird in sight.

Looking north from the bridge

Looking north from the bridge. Still nothing doing.

The weather was grey and the day wasn’t quite warm enough to tempt us to stay very long so we drove on down towards Hawick until we were stopped by a traffic lights at the bridge over the River Teviot just before we joined the main road back to Langholm.  A vast construction greeted us.

Bridge tunnel

They have built a tunnel over the bridge.  They are going to work on the bridge and the road that we were on will be closed for a time.  This will be massively inconvenient for the residents along the road so they are obviously ensuring that the work on the bridge won’t be interrupted by bad weather.

Once across the bridge, we headed for home having enjoyed our tour but rather disappointed that it hadn’t yielded better photographs.

In the evening, I went to the church where Mrs Tootlepedal and her choir were rehearsing for their concert tomorrow.  I was there to check that there would be room for our recorder group to play.  This was satisfactorily resolved and I went off to join Sandy in the Archive Centre.  Here we went round in circles again as we had the greatest difficulty in getting both computers connected to the internet and thus a good deal less work was done than should have been.  We went to console ourselves with a drink in the Eskdale only to find that our beer of choice was not available.  This rounded off a day that had started very well but which had gone gently downhill since then.

A chaffinch duly takes it place as flying bird of the day.





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Today’s picture shows another building block in the grand scheme to populate the entire world with the sons and daughters of Langholm.  This is the son of my younger son’s oldest friend. The child is resident in the USA and has the inestimable benefit of being called Thomas.


It was a Sunday morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I lazed about looking from time to time out of the kitchen window.  This is what I saw.

resting chaffinches

Two chaffinches were taking it easy.


Two goldfinches weighing up the scene


Two greenfinches bickering

There were familiar visitors.

coal tit

A coal tit

And a new autumn arrival.


The first brambling for some time.

My peanuts go down very slowly and looking at this great tit pecking at them, you can see why.

Great tit

The grid looks too small for comfortable nibbling

I took Sandy’s camera out to see whether there was anything to see.


I took a close look at an astrantia. (More practice needed.)

Six hours of sitting in comfortable dining  chairs yesterday turned out to be more wearing on the joints than six hours sitting on a bike would have been so in the end, I was quite happy that the crank had fallen off my speedy bike yesterday as it stopped me from going on a planned 70 mile ride today.  Instead, after Mrs Tootlepedal had come back from singing in the church choir, we set off on a leisurely pedal to Enzieholm Bridge.  Half a mile from home, we noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had a very soft rear tyre so we headed back, pumped it up and started again.

Enzieholm bridge crosses the Esk eight miles north of Langholm.

Enzieholm Bridge

Enzieholm Bridge

The size of this bridge which carries the B709 over the Esk can be seen from this second picture which includes Mrs Tootlepedal waving to give a sense of scale .

Enzieholm Bridge to scale

The industry and skill of the engineers who built the roads and bridges through this sparsely populated countryside is a never ending source of amazement to me.

At Enzieholm Bridge, Mrs Tootlepedal and I parted amicably as she headed back to Langholm and I headed on to Bailliehill and Castle Oe’r.  I was following the route of the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail which highlights a small fraction of the many, many prehistoric sites in Eskdale.  The first site that I passed was Bailliehill Fort, an iron age hill top fort which I visited in July.  I didn’t stop this time but I did stop a mile or two further on to look at the site of Castle O’er Fort.  Sadly, owing to my fumbly fingers in cycling gloves, the simply splendid picture I took failed to come up to standard but I will try again, next time I go past.

The ride up the west bank of the White Esk is a real treat, with the road recently resurfaced and running now between woods and now in open country. At Eskdalemuir, I crossed the river again and turned for home down the east bank.

Eskdalemuir bridge

Possibly the bridge with the most electricity and telegraph poles in the world.

I was able to see another two of the prehistoric sites from the road as I passed.  These were the two stone circles, The Loupin’ Stanes (top) and the Girdle Stanes (bottom).

stone circles

Soon afterwards I passed the bottom of the Crurie Brae, where in a moment of idiocy a few years ago, I fell off my bike and broke my wrist while coming down the hill in the opposite direction far too fast.  Oddly, this was the start of my real enthusiasm for cycling because before that I was playing in a lot of old people’s golf competitions and doing a bit of cycling but after the accident, I couldn’t hit the ball well enough to keep playing tournaments and I took to cycling in a big way to fill the gap.

I stopped for one last look at a prehistoric site at Boonies on my way home.  This is the sign for the site…


…and this is the rather less exciting reality.


You need a lot of imagination to enjoy prehistoric sites.

In spite of the threat of rain and a few actual drops, I got home dry and happy.  It had been a really nice day for a pedal and the slow bike had given me plenty of opportunity to enjoy the views.  I have put a map of the 30 mile route here for anyone who might be interested in following the prehistoric trail.  There are cyclists instructions for the route on the cyclelangholm website (route 6)

Once home, it was time for a very late lunch and a bath.  I did notice a bird outside while I was waiting for my fish cakes to cook.

blue tit

A rare glimpse of a blue tit at rest

And the usual flurry of chaffinches.  They were finding the goldfinches rather hard work.

chaffinch and goldfinch
chaffinch and goldfinch

In the end they started picking on each other.
flying chaffinch

The nerine beside the feeder seems to put on more flowers each day.


And the pink rose makes a mockery of my view of a couple of weeks ago that its flowering season was over with constant new efforts.

pink rose

I am pleased to have been proved wrong (again).

We were very pleased in the evening to find out that Victoria Pendleton has survived the first cut in Strictly Come dancing as she is one of our sporting heroes and we didn’t want to see her humiliated.

The flying bird of the day is a frustrated starling who could find no way into the fat ball fortress.

flying starling

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