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Posts Tagged ‘Ewes Valley’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She went to the Haynes International Motor museum in Yeovil with her friend Venetia, and her eye was caught by this shiny Morris Oxford 6 saloon from 1930.

haynes motor museum

I got up intending to have a quick breakfast and go cycling but like so many of my good intentions, this one was unrealised.  In the end, I had a slow breakfast, did the crossword, waited for a rain shower to pass, checked on the butterflies in the garden…

more butterflies

….and then finally went cycling.  By this time the wind had got up and was blowing pretty forcibly so I reduced my intended route distance from 30 miles to 12 and even then had quite a hard time cycling the six miles up hill and  into the wind to my turning point.

The grass is pointing to my way home.

 

blowing grass

I was freewheeling along a flat section at 25 mph with not a breath of wind in my face at one time on my way home, and that gives some idea of the briskness of the breeze.  Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased to have managed even 12 miles.

While I was out, Mrs Tootlepedal had done some serious lawn edging.

edged lawn

I had another walk round the garden and was pleased to find that lots of flowers had survived the four inches of rain that we have had during the week…

six garden flowers

…and that bees were busy visiting some of our newer blooms.

two bees

After lunch, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to do some more gardening in the sunshine, I drove down to Canonbie to visit the flower show there.

As well as jams, jellies, needlework, art, flowers and vegetables, there are always other attractions at the show and this year, there was a modest display of falconry.  It was slightly hampered by the very strong winds but a couple of patient birds sat on their perches taking an interest in what was going on.

This is a Harris Hawk..

harris hawk

…but I can’t remember what this striking bird was.

falcon canonbie

There are usually some static engines on display and this fine oil engine was the star of the show this year.

static engine canonbie

Some more mobile vehicles were to be seen as well.

two tractors canonbie

When I went into the hall to see the photographs, I was surprised to find that I had managed to acquire two first prizes and a second ticket from my twelve entries.  Sandy had been in the prizes as well and we shared  a trophy with yet another exhibitor for most points in the coloured photo classes.  We all had had a first and a second.

There were a lot of pictures on display and quite a number of different people had caught the eye of the judge.  This is very satisfactory and should bode well for the entries next year.  I would like to thank Linda for taking my pictures down to show and putting them up for me.

After a tour round the flowers and vegetables, I went for a walk along the river.  As I crossed the bridge, I saw a dipper below.

dipper in esk canonbie

A started my walk at the church and was pleased to find sheep safely grazing in the glebe fields.

sheep canonbie church

I felt that I was being laughed at as I took the path down to the river but it was only a conifer covered in strange fruit.

pine fruit

It was very peaceful walking along the grassy bank of the Esk…

esk at canonbie

…although a little waterfall splashing down the banking further on showed how wet it has been.

waterfall at canonbie

I was going to walk along the river for a good bit but the path became very muddy and as I didn’t have suitable footwear, I had to turn back and go back to the hall by the route that I had taken on the way out.

I met Sandy there and he kindly offered to bring my pictures back after the show had ended, so I was able to drive home and find out what Mrs Tootlepedal had been up to in my absence.

She had lifted the onions.

onions 2019

We had a cup of tea and then we drove up to the White Yett and walked up the track to the monument on Whita Hill.

It was still very breezy but the sun was shining, so I expected to get some good views.  Once again my expectations were unrealised as it was pretty hazy, but when the sun shone in the right place, views of some sort were available.  This is the Ewes valley.

ewes valley august evening

There is a plan to put a lot of exceedingly tall wind turbines on the top of these hills and although I am a supporter of wind power, we think that this is a step too far.  We can already see about 60 turbines from the monument but they don’t impinge on the views too dramatically,  These huge turbines would overwhelm the valley altogether.

They are several times the height of our monument.

monument sugust evening

When we arrived at the monument, we were being buffeted by the wind to such an extent that we didn’t stay for long.  I did look over the wall and down onto the Solway plain which stretches between our hills and the English hills which you can just see though the haze in the distance.

view of Solway plain from whita

When the sun came out from behind the clouds, the monument cast a long shadow over the moor.

shadow of monument

As we turned to go back down the hill, a patch of sunlight played on the top of Castle Hill across the valley.

castle hill august evening

As we went back down the hill to the town in our car, we passed several notices calling for care and warning of sharp bends and sudden steep sections.  When I checked, I found that there is a cycle sportive coming this way tomorrow from Hawick.  I just hope that the wind drops a bit or it will be hard work for the cyclists.

After a busy day for us both, we were refreshed by corned beef hash and rhubarb crumble with custard for our tea.

The falconer at Canonbie was able to fly an owl over a very short distance in spite of the wind so I have got quite an unusual flying bird of the day today.

flying owl canonbie

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who went to the Taunton Flower Show.  You can read about her adventures here. Sad to say, her favourite arrangement in the ‘At the Garden Gate’ class was disqualified for using artificial grass.

Taunton Flower show

We had quite a lot of rain and wind overnight and it was raining very heavily after breakfast when I had to go up to the Town Hall to inquire about getting a replacement bus pass.  It was a fitful sort of day though, and by the time that I came back, the rain had stopped.  That set the pattern for the day.

Dropscone dropped in with traditional treacle scones to go with a cup or two of coffee. He told me that he had been at a golf tournament earlier in the week and had only managed to get six holes in before the competition was called off because the course was flooded.  The dry spell earlier in the summer seems a distant memory now.

When he left, I looked out of the back door across a rainy garden to see the robin at the far end of the lawn…

sparrow at end of lawn

…and two birds on opposites sides of the great Brexit debate on a neighbour’s rooftop.

two birds not speaking

Badly painted blackbirds are all around…

badly painted blackbird

…though the painter’s work is improving.

better painted blackbird

When the rain stopped, I went out to have a look round and was impressed by Mrs Tootlepedal’s large lily.

bif lily

There are still new flowers coming out and the yellow crocosmia has just started to flower.

yellow crocosmia

The phlox has done so well, undaunted by wind and rain, that Mrs Tootlepedal plans to have even more  next year.  Who could blame her?

fiery phlox

A late honey suckle has come out on the vegetable garden fence.

late honeysuckle

I went back in and made some leek and potato soup for lunch with a leek and potatoes from the garden.  Together with a tomato and feta cheese salad (not from the garden), it made a tasty meal.

After lunch, it looked as though there might be a window in the changeable weather that would allow me to go for a short cycle ride, so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping, I set out to go as far as I could without getting wet.

It was sunny when I started but there was plenty of water running across the road up the Wauchope valley after the morning’s showers, and plenty of water in the little streams rushing down to join the Wauchope Water

bigholms burn

The powers that be have mowed every road verge in the district and there are now no wild flowers to look at, so my camera took a wider view today.

I went to the top of Callister and looked down the other side.

callister panorama

Click for the bigger pic (I may have put this one through a heavy filter.)

The dark clouds coming up from the left told me that it was time to turn and go home.

When I looked back towards the town from the top of the Wauchope Schoolhouse brae, I could see my sunny weather disappearing up the valley

Wauchope view

When I got back to the town, I thought of stopping while the going was good, but it was warm enough and it hadn’t started to rain, so I pressed on and crossed the town bridge and headed north.

 

three arches flood on Esk

I had walked under the near arch dry shod on Common Riding day when I wanted to cross the road which was full of horses.

I kept thinking of those grey clouds that I had seen on Callister and feeling that it would be wise not to go too far, but the road is well surfaced and it was still dry so I went a few miles up the road….

ewes panorama

Another clickable bigger picture.

…and the view is always worth looking at…

ewes view

 

…but I left it a fraction too late to turn round and within a mile of home, the heavens opened and I got wet.  As soon as I got home though, the rain stopped again. Those weather gods like a laugh.

The dry spell gave me a chance to have another walk round the garden.  I was hoping to catch a flying bird…

starlings on wire

….but the starlings stayed rooted to the electricity wire while I watched them and then all moved off in a body as soon as I turned my back for a moment.

A young dunnock tried out the fake tree but sat there quietly.

dunnock on fake tree

I gave up and went in to have a shower.

As we sat down for our tea, the sun came out and it was a glorious evening.  We agreed to go for a walk after our meal but of course, it started to rain again when the time came, so we stayed in.  Then the sun came out as the rain continued and to emphasise what a patchy day it was, when I looked out of the window at the back of the house to try to see a rainbow, I found that it wasn’t raining at all on that side of the house.

I went out into the garden and it wasn’t raining as I went out of the door but it was raining quite hard on the lawn only a few yards away.  I don’t think that I have ever seen quite such local rain.

We have two more days of this sort of weather to come and then, according to a reliable forecast, it is going to get cooler but drier.  It will be nice to be able to plan a day’s activity with confidence.

The flying bird of the day is the dunnock that we saw before.  By the time that I saw it again, it had flown up into the rowan tree.

dunnock in rowan

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and makes the point that we are not the only ones with buddleias and butterflies.  The painted ladies did not stop at Langholm and have continued north.

ant's butterflies

As she went off to sing in the church choir this morning, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that when seen from an upstairs window, the front lawn looked good.  I checked.

front lawn diamonds

I like to mow in a different direction every time.

We had another lovely day today and the butterflies were about bright and early.

three butterfly panel

We had a walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church and I liked the delicate colours of a hosta flower and the salvias.
hosta and salvia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rose has settled in very well.  It is a pretty flower and the only thing wrong with it is its name, Rosy Cheeks.

rosy cheeks rose

Although I did not go to church, I did have a religious moment during the morning (religion – definition: a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion) when I mowed the middle lawn for the first time after giving it a dose of the fertiliser with alleged magic moss eating properties.  The fertiliser part certainly works well and I feel that the moss eating has worked too but we will see whether it has done lasting good when the winter comes.

middle lawn after buck up

I then edged the lawn to complete the effect.

We were having a cup of coffee after our walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal surprised me by asking if I felt like a ten mile cycle ride on hilly roads with some rough tracks to negotiate on the way.   This is not her usual choice of parcours.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon but we had time to get round before it was due to arrive so I agreed, and we got our bikes out and set off, having fortified ourselves with a cheese toastie before we left.

It was warm and sunny and we went up the hill to the Moorland Feeders at the Laverock Hide in good order.  We didn’t stop at the hide, even though Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a woodpecker as we cycled past, but continued on along the narrow but well surfaced road that took us down to the bridge across Tarras water.

road to Tarras

There were things to see as we went along, including some of the first heather in flower, insects on ragwort and wild mint.

wildflowers broomholm road

Once we had crossed the bridge (which we did when we came to it), we cycled along the flat beside the river for a bit and I kept an eye out for a patch of horsetail which I knew grew somewhere beside the road.  When we got to it, it was hard to miss.

horsetail clumb

It was in very fine form.

horsetail detail

When we got to the end of the short flat, we had a steep hill to climb to get up to Cronksbank but we were rewarded with good views of the Tarras Valley…

view near Cronksbank

…and we could soon look down at the little farmhouse on the other side of the river.

Rashiel

Passing through Cronksbank and then Perterburn, we descended very carefully down a bumpy track to the Tarras Water.  This time there was no bridge for us to cross and Mrs Tootlepedal fearlessly led the way across the ford.

perterburn ford

Local readers may well realise that the picture above is slightly unsatisfactory as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearly cycling back towards Perterburn.  This is true and the picture is staged as I missed the first crossing and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to cycle back and re-enact the crossing.

The road up from the ford has some fine pine trees beside it.

pines at Middlemoss

The track from Middlemoss up to the tarmac road across the moor was in much better condition than we expected, and we were able to cycle most of the way up it.

Middlemoss road

It is steep in places though, and I was happy to stop to take a picture of bee hives, probably put out in anticipation of the heather flowering soon.

bee hives on moor

The heather is looking quite healthy at the moment but when we stopped to talk to a local naturalist and his wife who were walking on the hill road, he showed me a clump of heather that had been affected by the dreaded heather beetle…and he showed me the larva of the beetle which he shook from a dying plant.

heather beetle larva

It was interesting to see something about which I had read a lot but which I had never seen before.

It looked as though the forecast rain might be on its way, so we didn’t stay chatting for long but pedalled on towards the White Yett…

wall at white yett

…and the welcome sight of the road down the hill back home.

road down hill to langholm

In fact, the forecast rain didn’t arrive until later on in the day and our ride was a great pleasure.

We were not on mountain bikes (Mrs Tootlepedal was on her shopping bike and I was on my road bike) so progress on the bumpy tracks was slow and cautious and the narrow roads on the downhill sections called for a careful approach too, so we took some time to make the circuit but we were still pleased with our progress and thought that we had certainly earned our cup of tea when we got home.

Luckily we were able to watch the Ride London pro cycling event on the telly when we had had our cup of tea and that gave us a good excuse to do very little for the rest of the day.  They went a lot faster than we did.

A panorama of the Ewes Valley, taken from the White Yett is the metaphorical flying bird of the day.

 

ewes valley panorama

Click on the pic for a wider view if you want.

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest picture is a very strange aperture in the clouds sent to me by our son Tony. Perhaps the weather gods had opened their kitchen window to see what he was up to down below.

hole in cloud

We had a second sunny day running here today.   Once again, it was quite chilly after breakfast so I had a cup of coffee, watched the birds…

two chaffinches

…did the crossword, bought some spinach from our corner shop and only then, set off.

I decided to go in a different direction today and started up the main road through the Ewes Valley, which was looking very inviting in the morning sunshine.

Ewes valley from Terrona

Wafted up the gentle hill by a favouring gale, I reached Fiddleton Toll in no time and turned off to go over the hill and down into Liddesdale.

This quiet road has recently been resurfaced and was in very good condition so I pedalled along in a very cheerful mood…

hermitage road nesar foddleton

…which persisted even when I came to the steep hill up to Carrotrigg.  It may not look very steep in the picture but I needed to use my lowest gear to get up it without putting too much strain on my tin knee.

carrotrig hill from bottom

I took the precaution of stopping after a while on the excuse of looking at the view behind me.  It is one of my favourite views so it was a good excuse.

looking back into Ewes valley at Fiddleton

The road ahead doesn’t look too bad either and there can have been few people in the world who felt more blessed at that moment than I did.

road up carrotrig hill

As I rode along the Carrotrigg hogsback, looking at the hills around me, I was metaphorically, and almost literally, for a moment at least, on top of the world.

hills at carrotrig

I went down the steep hill on the far side with extreme caution.  It was a bit of a waste of all the height that I had had to work so hard to gain but I was happy to get to the valley bottom in one piece and be able to enjoy this little bridge…

bridge below carrotrig

…and this neatly maintained circular sheep pen…

circular bield

…before arriving at Hermitage Castle (closed for the winter months)…

hermitage castle

…the last stop before I got onto the road south which follows the Liddel Water through Liddesale, visits Newcastleton and then drops down to Canonbie.

The nature of my pedal changed here as now I was cycling into the sun and the steady breeze which had been so helpful in pushing me up the hills so far.

It was not only this tree that was feeling the strain.

leaning tree steele road

Still, the road to Newcastleton from Hermitage is gently downhill so even into the wind, I was making reasonable progress and passing interesting things….

alpaca grazing

…until I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of my mobile phone ringing in my back pocket.

It had stopped ringing by the time that I had stopped pedalling and when I got it out, I found that the missed call had come from Mrs Tootlepedal.  I noticed that I had also received a text message from Sandy.  Intrigued, I rang Mrs Tootlepedal back and was appalled to find that she was at the Archive Group’s annual lunch, a lunch which I should have been at too.  We had both forgotten about it completely and Sandy had gone to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal who had been hard at work in the garden.

With twenty hard miles to go to get back to Langholm, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the lunch so I pedalled on in rather a chastened mood.

Still, what was done was done, and there was nothing for it but to enjoy the rest of the ride as best as I could.

I stopped before I got to Newcastleton to take a picture of this railway bridge over a disused section of the old Waverley Line from Edinburgh to Carlisle.

railway bridge Copshaw

The northern half of this line has been re-opened in recent years and there is a strong push to get the southern half reinstated as soon as possible.

It would be nice to see this happen but it will need a lot of good will, hard work, excellent planning and pots of money, all of which seem to be in short supply at the moment.

I stopped in Newcastleton itself, and sat on a handy bench while I ate a banana and a finger of chocolate wafer.  Opposite me, the village’s two hotels, sitting side by side in the main square, looked to be keeping quite busy.

Grapes and Liddlesdale

Outside the hotels, there is a spot where free drink has been available in times past.

copshaw fountain

I had a real battle against the wind as I toiled up the three long hills which lie between Newcastleton and Canonbie.  Although this section of the route is slightly downhill overall as it follows the river, it never seems like that to me.  This is probably because the uphill sections are long and gradual and the downhill sections are short and sharp so I spend a lot more time going up than down.

I turned off just before I reached Canonbie and took a back road along to the Hollows.  This meant passing a sign with two words which by themselves fill my cycling heart with misgivings and together make me very worried.

windy hill

A nearby tree made the hill and the wind seem not so bad.

bare tree windy hill

When I got home after just under 40 miles, I was welcomed by the crocuses…

open crocuses

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from the Archivists’ Lunch.

Not unsurprisingly, the archivists had managed to have a very good time  with no help from me and both the food and the conversation had been thoroughly enjoyable.  Nancy, the organiser, was very gracious when I rang up to apologise for my incompetence.  She was rather relieved in one way because if I had appeared on cue, it would have meant thirteen people sitting down for lunch, a number which she regards as very ill omened.   Perhaps it was for the best after all.

I had got home from my ride at a good moment because our day turned from bright and sunny into very gloomy and rainy in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye.  Some of the gloom may have come from another very uneven performance by the Scotland rugby team which lead to a sound defeat by the French.

I used the spinach that I had bought in the morning to make a meal of  baked eggs on a bed of spinach with a rich cheese sauce for our tea.  It went down well as I had missed my lunch!

I didn’t have long to look out of the window today but a passing chaffinch appeared at the right time to become the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can find details of my route by clicking on the map below.  I did thirteen miles fewer today than yesterday but climbed 100 feet more so it was not surprising that I was a lot slower.

Garmin Route 23 Feb 2019

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Today’s guest picture comes from Canada.  Lucie, who sent it to me, is scratching her head as to why she can’t find people anxious to share a cup of tea with her on her patio when there are such comfortable looking cushions to sit on.

Lucie's snowy pergola

At least Lucie has had some sunshine.  We got another grey day today but not as windy as it has been for which we were grateful.

The sunshine in my life was metaphorical in the form of Sandy who came round for a coffee in a very cheerful mood.  His foot is a lot less sore and he has been sleeping exceptionally well so no wonder he was smiling.

As well as Sandy, we had plenty of other visitors today and I had to fill the feeder twice, a rare occurrence this year.

The siskins have wasted no time in making their presence felt as can be seen by this picture of a diminutive siskin blowing an incoming chaffinch away.

chaffinch blown away by siskin

A chaffinch did manage an unimpeded landing a little while later.

elgant chaffinch

Meanwhile the siskins took to creeping round the feeder to surprise goldfinches.

siskin sneaking past feeder

After Sandy left, I decided to go for a cycle ride as the forecast offered a few dry hours before the rain came.   It was still pretty breezy with gusts of up to 20 mph so I took things easy as I went round my customary Canonbie 20 mile circuit and kept my eyes open for things to photograph…

…like trees shaped by the prevailing wind…

bare tree chapelhill

…and more trees with some branched pruned by the passing winds…

bare tree Canonbie road

…and even more trees, this time standing in a relatively sheltered spot.

bare tree neat Canonbie

When I came to bridges, I stopped.

This is the Canonbie Bridge, low and wide…

Canonbie bridge

…and this is the Hollows bridge a mile or two up the road, high and handsome.

hollows bridge arch

Landowners grossly neglect their responsibility to provide uninterrupted views of river bridges for passing photographers as you can see from the Hollows bridge and this picture of another good looking bridge, a mile or two up the road which is almost submerged in trees and bushes, whereas….

old A7 bridge

…this ugly road bridge a few yards away is as clean as a whistle (and they have been cutting down more trees near it).road bridge

There is no justice….

…and bridges are not the only cause of photographic dissatisfaction.  Road furniture is a pest too as you can see from the junction at Canonbie where a lovely bank of snowdrops has been overwhelmed by clutter.

snowdrops and road signs

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop so I took a look around and noticed that she has got the Christmas tree out of the greenhouse and is getting it acclimatised for life in the garden.

christmas tree in garden

In the ‘signs of spring category’, new life on a rose was encouraging.

rose leaf

I went inside where I had a late lunch, battled with the crossword and did a little bird watching.

The stalk of the sunflower makes a convenient stopping place for birds waiting for a vacant perch on the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

Some birds didn’t wait but made straight for the feeder…

horizontal chaffinch

…while others did their best to remove those who had got there first.

chaffinchs attack

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from a very busy session at the coffee shop and had a restorative cup of tea.  It must have been strong tea because as soon as she had downed it, we went off for a short expedition by car to the White Yett and then by foot up the track to the Monument.

Even on a dull day, the Ewes Valley is worth a look…

ewes valley

…and on any day at all, the lichens on the boulders beside the track and what I think is algae on the monument itself are very eye catching.

lichen and algae

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought her binoculars with her and took a moment at the summit to scan the skies for interesting birds…

Mrs T bird watching on whita

…in vain.

I looked down on the town, eight hundred feet below…

Langholm from Whita

…and then we went back down the track to the car before we got caught in the rain which was threatening to arrive.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of a performance of Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet company while my friend Susan arrived to take me to Carlisle where we had an excellent evening of tootling.  The ballet was very good too, Mrs tootlepedal reported.

It was raining lightly as Susan and I drove down to Carlisle and it was very wet as we drove home so I was lucky to get my cycle and walk in before the rain arrived.  Sometimes the weather goods relent and give a man a break.  However, it does say that it is going to rain all day tomorrow so it was just a small break.

Another horizontal chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a skate which our son Tony found stranded on a beach.  He was on a family walk and one of the family bravely picked it up and returned it to the water.  It swam off.

Tony's skate

We left the fleshpots of London today and returned by train and bus to our quiet home in Langholm.

Although we had had a richly entertaining time in the south and we are very grateful to all those who helped enjoy our visit, it is always good to be home.

Our friend Mike Tinker told me that it had been very cold at night while we were away, being as low as -8°C which is uncommonly chilly for us so we did well to miss that.  By contrast, when we finally got home in mid-afternoon today, the sun was out, it was reasonably warm and any trace of snow had vanished from the garden…

lawn wth no snow

…and from the hills.

monument from garden

There was a good spread of snowdrops instead.

snowdrops by path

One of the things that we missed when we were away was the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  This was bad because I like to visit it to top up my supplies of local honey, fish, meat and cheese.  Luckily I had a personal shopper in the shape of Alison, my customary Friday night musical associate, who very kindly did some useful purchasing on my behalf so all was not lost.

I went round to collect the shopping from her and then thought that it might be a good idea to give the car a little exercise as it had been sitting unused for a week in those low temperatures.

Although the sun was beginning to sink in the sky, it was still a lovely evening so I went to see if there was a view left.

Ewes valley late Feb day 2

I was half an hour too late.

Ewes valley late Feb day

But the colour was beautiful even if most of the hills were in shadow and the car was grateful for the little outing so it was time well spent.

Hillhead woods

The evening passed quietly and although I hope to get back to reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, I may possibly fall asleep before I manage many so I apologise to any writers of immortal prose and takers of beautiful pictures that I miss.

Normal service should be resumed tomorrow I hope.

I was thwarted in my plan to get a flying or indeed just a perching bird by a visit from a sparrow hawk just before I got my camera out.  It cleared the garden of any birds very successfully.

In the place of a flying bird of the day, I have a snowdrop.

snowdrop flower

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