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Posts Tagged ‘Ewes Valley’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent Highland tour.  He and his daughter came upon an art deco tidal swimming pool near Banff.  They didn’t go for a dip though as it was closed.   Money is being found for repairs so maybe next time?

Outdoot swimming Tarlair near banff

I woke to a heavy cold and some heavy rain to go with it.  The rain suited the situation perfectly and I was easily able to while away the hours until the rain stopped by hanging around and feeling sorry for myself.

As the weather improved, I felt better and I was able to potter round the garden just before lunch and admire the sedum, Rosy Cheeks and a clematis in the colourful section…

sedum rosy cheek clematis

…and Japanese anemones, feverfew and the phinal phlox of the season in the white goods department.

anemone feverfew phlox

The undoubted champion of surviving the rain was the fuchsia under the walnut tree.

fuchsia

Talking of walnuts, I was able to pick up half a dozen more walnuts and Mrs Tootlepedal had them as part of her lunch menu.

A chaffinch visited the plum tree and the picture shows that it won’t be long before the leaves have fallen.

chaffinch in shabby plum tree

The holly leaves will not fall (we hope) and will continue to provide shelter for starlings and a place for them to perch as well.

single starling on holly

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we might drive up onto the Langholm Moor so that she could collect some bracken to lay on her vegetable beds over the winter.

I had recovered enough to welcome a little outing and the weather had recovered from the morning rain too, so we were able to enjoy the view up the Ewes Valley…

ewes velley october

…and over the moor, when we had got past the White Yett.  The moor is brown as you can see and there was plenty of bracken to collect…

across Langholm Moor october

….but once we had filled the boot of the car, we crossed the Tarras water and went up the hill on the other side.  The little burn that chatters down the hill beside the road there was well worth stopping for.

Langholm Moor burn

The rain meant that there was plenty of water flowing over the many steps as it comes down the hill…

Langholm Moor burn cascade

…and the underlying peat gave the water a rich colour.

Langholm Moor burn view

Although it is only a miniature landscape, it is one of my favourite spots…

Langholm Moor burn with tree

…especially as I like cascades.   I liked this one so much…

Langholm Moor burn tributary

…that I took two pictures of it.

Langholm Moor burn tributary cascade

We were hoping to see some goats as we drove back over the Tarras bridge…

tarras brig copshaw road

…but on this occasion, all our goats were sheep so we ignored them and headed home.

Where I found a butterfly.

butterfly

Why they are avoiding the sedums is a mystery.

I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and then we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening of a live recording of a celebration of Placido Domingo’s 50 years of performing at the Arena in Verona.

I had seen a performance of Nabucco at Verona in 1962 (I think) so I was interested to see the arena again.  By coincidence, the all Verdi programme tonight started with a selection from  Nabucco.  The staging was very well done, including a chorus of what looked liked hundreds singing the famous Va Pensiero.  In the first half, the Nabucco selection was followed by a bit of Macbeth, so although there was some outstanding singing, there weren’t many laughs.

The second half was devoted to Simon Boccanegro, an opera that I have never seen.  Judging by the excerpts, it looks as though I have been missing a good thing.  It had some wonderful ensemble singing and a touching finale.

I have said it before but I will say it again, the Buccleuch Centre is a real asset to the town.  The fact that we can wander down the street and see great venues and hear fantastic singing on our doorstep for a very moderate fee is a privilege that we really appreciate.

I was too quick for yesterday’s flying starling of the day, but I was too slow for today’s.  I will try to get it right tomorrow.

flying away starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who is on a choir visit to the Netherlands.  In between singing , they were taken to see a parachute drop, part of the 75th anniversary Operation Market Garden commemorations in this area of The Netherlands.

parachutes

Our dry weather continued  today but it was rather misty when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Feeders after breakfast.

laverock hide road mist

I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is on holiday in Bulgaria and quite apart from the gloomy weather, there were hardly any birds about so we didn’t hang around after I had topped up the birdseed.

Instead, we drove back through the town and up the hill onto the Langholm moor to see if there were any swirling misty pictures to be taken.  There weren’t.

The clouds were just sitting on the tops of the hills, spoiling the view.

ewes valley misty hilltops

Even the tops of the turbines were hidden.

wind turbines in low cloud

We pottered back down the hill, putting the charge back into our car’s battery as we went and got home in time for coffee.

In the dam behind the house, birds were drinking and bathing.

starling and greenfinch

After coffee, I had a walk round the garden.

A grey headed blackbird was supervising affairs.

grey headed blackbird

Clematis, mallow and cosmos are still providing us with some rich colour…

three deep red flowers

…and red admiral butterflies could be seen on many different flowers.

three red admiral butterflies

We haven’t had any really cold mornings yet so there are still roses doing their best.

princess margareta rose

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with how healthy the whole of this new rose plant is looking.

new rose

She puts it down to good soil preparation and wishes that she had the time and energy to treat the whole garden so well.

She moved some nerines and was worried that they might not survive in their new location but they have not just survived, they are flourishing.

good nerine

As is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.  It has had  a couple of very poor years but after an inauspicious start to the summer, it has produced a lot of late flowers and is looking better than it has done for some time.

back wall fuchsia

Not bad for a very old plant that has been largely left to its own devices over the years.

back wall fuchsia blossom

Once again, the garden was full of butterflies in spite of the cloudy conditions.

A peacock stuck out its tongue for me.

peacock butterfly panel

And there were at least three small tortoiseshells about in varying conditions.

small tortoiseshell butterfly panel

Our visit to the garden was cut short by the need to go up to the town. Mrs Tootlepedal’s trip was to visit the bank which comes in a van for 45 minutes each week, and mine was to visit the health centre for a routine vitamin top up.

After lunch we went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents, and we were very shocked to find that our train was on time.

We  bought a new card game on our way to their house, and it turned out that Matilda has learned a new game herself as well.  She beat me at both of them.  I must remember never to play Matilda at cards for money when she grows up.

There was a stunning evening sky as we caught the bus back to the station after another delicious meal cooked by Alistair, but it was beyond the capacity of my phone camera to do it justice.  Instead I took a picture of the impressive array of cranes which are massed at the end of Princes Street for the rebuilding of the St James Centre.

burst

Our train home was also on time but the drive back to Langholm from Lockerbie was slowed by some foggy patches along the way.  This is not unexpected at this time of year but it was very unwelcome all the same.

Still, we got home safely.

The flying bird of the day, a fluffy young sparrow, is lying flat out on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  Flying is a tiring business.

plump young sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who has been visiting the Lake District where she enjoyed one of Ruskin’s favourites, the view of Derwentwater from Friar’s Crag.

Derwentwater from Friar's Crag

After our spell of cool changeable weather, we got back to a hot summer day today and I hardly like to say this, but it was too hot!

I started the day by going down to Canonbie with Sandy.  We met fellow camera club member Stan and between the three of us, we collected the photographs that had been on display at the Canonbie Church Cafe for the past months, packed them up and took them home.  The pictures will have a brief rest and then they will be off up to Eskdalemuir, where they will be on show for the month of September.

I had a cup of coffee with Sandy when we got back and when I had taken him home afterwards, I came back and had a look round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal had told me that when she went out into the garden before breakfast, there had been a lot of butterflies about.  They were still there after coffee.  I counted seventeen peacock butterflies on one of the buddleias.

There were a few red admirals and small tortoisheshells about…

red admiral and small tortoisehell butterflies

…and lots of white butterflies….

two white butterflies

…but peacocks were everywhere…

two peacock butterflies

…busy  feeding on buddleia flowers.

peacock butterfly

There were also a lot of painted ladies.  This kept Mrs Tootlepedal happy as they are her favourites.

painted lady butterfly

The buddleias attract bees too and I liked this little orange bundle of fun.

orange bee

Other insects were available.  Mrs Tootlepedal found a little moth clinging to her jeans…

moth on Mrs T

…and I spotted a tiny hoverfly on a leaf.

hoverfly on leaf

I had intended to go for a longish cycle ride but a combination of tiredness and the hot sun kept me sitting indoors staring at a difficult prize crossword long after I should have set off.  In the end, I did stir my stumps and went off up the main road to the north of the town.

I had a friendly wind behind me as I headed up the gentle hill to Mosspaul and I kept up a good speed.  I did stop from time to time to admire the views.  Although it doesn’t look like it from this picture…

hdr

…thin clouds covered the sun while I pedalled, and as a result, it wasn’t too hot for comfort.

It is very difficult to take a picture on this stretch of road without some electricity lines in it, as the main power line runs right down the middle of the valley.

hdr

When I turned at the top of the hill after ten miles, I was bit worried that the friendly wind that had helped me along so far,  might turn out to be a bit of a handful on the way home.  In the event, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, and gravity gave me enough assistance to get me home at an average of 14.8 mph for the twenty miles, a very good speed for me these days.

The sun came out just before I got home and let me have this nice view back over my route.  I had pedalled right up to those hills in the distance.

view up ewes valley from A7

I didn’t rest for long when I got home because Mrs Tootlepedal was keen on a walk.  The cycling had loosened up my joints, so I was happy to toddle along too.

Mrs Tootlepedal is looking for some new walks so we drove a few miles up the road to Bentpath, and then took the narrow single track road to Glendinning, up the Meggat valley.

Leaving the car at the car park provided for visitors to the Thomas Telford Cairn, we left the farm buildings at Glendinning behind us…

glendinning

…and walked up the track along the west bank of the Meggat Water.  There was a delightful little cascade to set us on our way…

glendinning waterfall

…and the Corlaw burn leapt down the hillside to join the Meggat Water.

side burn to meggat water

You can see the path that  we were following as it follows along the hillside above the Meggat.

walk from glendinning

It was pretty warm and we were pleased when we got into the shade proved by a stand of trees.

meggat valley

We walked up the track until we could see the large commercial forest that covers the ridge at the head of the valley.forestry above meggat

We had hoped to walk up to a bothy which has been refurbished and is a refuge for walkers and cyclists in these hills, but it was half a mile too far for us and we turned and walked back down the track.  On our way we passed a couple who were intending to stay overnight in the bothy.

The sun had dropped behind the hill and we walked in shade until we got near Glendinning again where the sun shone on us for the last part of our journey.

looking down at Glendinning

If you can’t get to Shangri-La, the Meggat valley on a beautiful August evening will do very well to be going on with.

We safely negotiated the single track road (with some reversing in the face of oncoming traffic) and arrived home, tired but happy.  Driving slowly on narrow roads has a very pleasing effect on the power consumption of the Zoe so it was an economical outing as well as good fun.

It is going to be even hotter tomorrow according to the forecast.  I shall take things easy.

The flying bird of the day is a zinnia enjoying the sunshine.

zinnia

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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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