Posts Tagged ‘Gates of Eden’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has visited Paris and thought she would take a picture of the Place de la Concorde as she thinks we all could do with a little concord at this time.


We had another sunny morning here, but once again the day was sprinkled with showers and predicting when they would arrive was tricky.

I went out into the garden in a sunny spell after breakfast and found that the rowan tree was a busy place.

A starling was having a look round…

starling in rowan 1

…and having weighed up the situation…

starling in rowan 2

…it got tucked into the berries.

starling in rowan 3

Other birds looked on…

thrush in rowan

…and a blackbird got in on the act…

blackbird with rowan berry

…and soon everyone was at it.

three birds in rowan

Still, there are plenty of berries to go round.

Rain was forecast for midday so after an early cup of coffee, I set off to do a few miles on my bike before the rain came.  Once again, there was a very brisk wind blowing, and as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my slightly suspect knee, I settled for 17 miles with the wind behind me for the section with the most climbing.  I didn’t stop to take pictures as I wanted to be sure to be back before the rain started which I was.

As well as the rowan berries, there was more eating going on in other places in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal, on her way out to a social lunch engagement, noticed that the nasturtiums by the back door were getting thoroughly nibbled and she spotted the guilty party, a cabbage white caterpillar.

cabbage white caterpillar

While she was out, I mowed the greenhouse grass and then took a walk round the garden to enjoy the colour…

six garden flowers

There was more berry action in the rowan tree.

starling with berry in beak

…and I went in and had a baked potato for my lunch as watching all the eating had made me feel hungry.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and immediately went off for a business meeting and I stayed indoors because one of the forecast rain showers arrived.

By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned, the rain had stopped so we had a look at  the sky and went out for a walk.  We hadn’t gone more that a few hundred yards before it started to rain again.  However, we didn’t cry and as it looked as though it might pass quickly, we kept going and were rewarded by blue skies soon afterwards.

We were headed for Meikleholm Hill as there are no cattle or sheep on it at present so I was hoping to find some wild flowers about.

We saw fungus on the way up to the open hill and a rabbit when we got there (it couldn’t keep up with us)…

two fungus and a rabbit

…and we were soon high enough up to get a good view back over the town.  The rain clouds were disappearing over the back of Whita.

view of langholm from Meikleholm

My hope for wild flowers was realised and there were scabious…

scabius meiklholm


yarrow meikleholm

…and a host of things that might well be hawkbit.

wild flowers meikleholm

There was any amount of tormentil (which my camera can’t photograph at all well), as well as an interesting pink flower, lots of heather and an occasional fungus.

wildflowers and fungus meikleholm

I took a panoramic view when we got to the col at the back of the hill….

meikleholm panorama

Click to get te fuller picture.


…and a closer look at the Gates of Eden

gates of eden from meikleholm

..before we took the mountain bike trail back down the hill.

cycle track down meikleholm

The trail was steep and slippery in places, so we had to go very carefully as our days of skipping down hills like mountain goats are long past, but we got safely back onto a good track in the end.  As we hot the track, it started to rain and and we expected the worst, but in a few minutes we got the best instead.

meikleholm rainbow panorama

Another click will get a larger view.

As it turned out that the foot of the rainbow was obviously lying smack in our garden, you can expect Mrs Tootlepedal to be keener than ever on digging over the beds.

meikleholm rainbow

Once again, we were passed by some light traffic…

horse of meikleholm

…and as we came back down off the hill, there were more flowers and fungus to be seen.

fungus and knapweed meikleholm

We got back to the house just as it started to rain again.

Although it was only just over two miles, it seemed a lot longer with so much to enjoy on the way and with quite a bit of climbing and descending as well.  We felt well rewarded for our efforts.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit and Alison and I played a cheerful selection of music while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal sorted the world out.

There are still quite a lot of peacock and red admiral butterflies in the garden, sitting for their portraits….

peacock and red admiral on buddleia

…but I was pleased to catch a white butterfly in flight and although it is not the sharpest picture in the world, I am still more than happy to use it as the flying bird of the day.

flying white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture is another captured by our son Tony’s new camera, showing that it (and he) can take close ups as well as the larger picture.


It was bright and chilly when we got up and after breakfast, I went out to look for the lost perch from the feeder.  I found it easily enough and screwed it back in place and then sat back and waited to see some obliging bird land on it.

I waited in vain.

empty feeder

It was a very quiet bird day indeed and I had to look hard to see a single chaffinch in the plum tree.

lonely chaffinch

In the end, I gave up bird watching and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went out bicycling.  The thermometer had scraped up to 5°C but the wind was light so I took a more adventurous route than usual and headed up the road to Bentpath.

This involves a sharp climb at the start of the ride but does provided some excellent views like this favourite, looking towards the Gates of Eden just after the first climb.

gates of eden

Our hills are generally rounded and smooth but there are occasional outcrops and those who know tell me that if I was patient enough, I might see a peregrine falcon on this crag near Bentpath.

crag at benty

I continued on through the village and headed up the Esk valley towards Bailliehill.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of the tree planting tubes which the foresters use to protect deciduous trees when they plant them and I was interested to see how well they do their job.  Almost every tube in this group seemed to have a healthy tree sticking out of it.

new trees in tubes

Conifer forestry was very evident too as I cycled up the river and I took this shot to show the impact that farming has on the view.  Where there is a flat place by the river, a ‘holm’ as it is called round here, there is always a field on it, usually with added sheep….

filed beside esk near king pool

…but where there is no holm , the uncultivated ground runs right down to the river and is often planted with spruce and/or larch.

esk looking back to lyneholm

I took these contrasting two shots from the same spot, looking first up and then down the river.

When I got to the top of the hill at Bailliehill, I turned south to go over the watershed between the Esk and the Water of Milk.

I stopped at a cattle grid for a drink and a banana.

cattle grid

The cattle grids are necessary to keep stock in the right place on unfenced roads and they can fairly rattle your teeth if you go over them too fast.

There were no cattle about today so I didn’t have to worry about bumping into one on the road but I had to keep an eye out for potholes, though the road was in better condition than this view back along it makes it look.

road from bailliehill

Although it looks a bit desolate on the top of the hill, I had not gone more than a mile further before the countryside had changed and I was cycling among pleasant green pastures and there was enough water about to make the Water of Milk recognisably a river in the making.

water of milk

I was able to look across at the Ewe Hill wind farm and check the wind direction.  Happily it showed that I would be helped home by the breeze.

ewes hill windfarm

I left the Water of Milk when I crossed the bridge at Paddockhole….

paddockhole bridge

…and headed back towards Callister Hill and Langholm.

I stopped on the way up Callister at a spot where a good view up towards Winterhope and a chance for a breather on a steep climb are equally welcome.

view from back of callister

I was now looking at the wind farm from the other side.

The last time that I took this route was on a cold and sunny day early last year and on that occasion, I made a choice to extend my trip by taking a diversion from the direct route home, met an ice filled pothole and hit the deck.

Under the circumstances, I thought long and hard about taking another diversion this time but as the temperature was a couple of degrees higher, the roads were drier and my legs were very cheerful, I risked turning off three miles short of Langholm and going over the hill to join the main road at Canonbie, adding ten miles to the journey.

Needless to say, I hadn’t gone far along my diversion before the sun ducked behind some clouds….

looming clouds

…although it was by no means as gloomy as the camera makes out.  All the same, once the sun went in, it felt a lot colder so I didn’t hang about taking any more pictures but pedalled steadily on.

The ride added 35 miles to my skimpy total for January but as I had done the last 15 miles in just under an hour, I was quite satisfied with both the views early on and the pace towards the end.

There were still no birds about in the garden when I got back but the sun came out as soon as the bike was safely put away in the garage and the sky was full of fluffy pink clouds.

fluffy pink cloud

In the absence of interesting birds and garden flowers, I took a picture of the bowl of hyacinths which our friend Liz had given Mrs Tootlepedal at the new year.  They are flourishing.

hyacinth in flower

Although the days are just beginning to get noticeably longer, they are still don’t last very long so I lit the stove in the front room and settled down to putting two of the Carlisle choir songs onto my computer so that I can start learning them.  Learning words and music is a protracted and sometime painful process, full of small steps forward and giant leaps backwards.

The flying bird(s) of the day are the only two chaffinches which approached the feeder when I was looking out of the window before cycling so I feel very lucky to have captured them at all. They have been carefully balanced for gender and left and right tendencies in the pursuit of political correctness.

two flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s recent Lake District trip, It shows Ullswater.

Ullswater again

We were blessed with a whole day of lovely weather from dawn till dusk.  I didn’t quite manage to be up and about by dawn but I did get onto the bike about ten o’clock.  I was a bit delayed in starting my ride by trying to deal with an ominous creaking sound which has appeared recently.

I thought that it might be my saddle so I took it off and gave it a good clean and then put it back on rather nervously,.  It is all too easy to get the settings for the saddle position wrong resulting in posterior agony.  In the event, the saddle was positioned correctly to my relief but it turned out not to be the source of the squeak.  I may have to seek professional help.

I started out feeling a bit tired and cranky but the pedalling worked its usual magic and I was soon bowling along without an ache anywhere or a care in the world (except for a persistent creaking noise.)

garmin route july 17My route took me over Callister and then along the back roads through Middlebie to Ecclefechan.  The six miles to the top of Callister were into the wind and I took them at a very steady pace but after that, with no big hills to worry about, I rolled along at a good pace for the rest of the ride. Sticking to quiet back roads, I pedalled through the fields to Brydekirk and then back towards Eaglesfield and on down to Hollee.

A click on the map will reveal details of the ride to those who have time hanging heavy on their hands.

Just as I left Ecclefechan, I stopped when my eye was caught by a very striking bunch of yellow flowers in the hedgerow.  I only had my phone with me but it gives you some impression of their impact.


They must be a garden escape I would imagine but I have no idea what they are.

From Hollee back to Langholm I was on slightly busier roads but the traffic was very light and the wind was behind me and my joy was unconfined.  I stopped once again when I came upon a large flock of little white butterflies near Milltown of Sark.  They were hovering round a good crop of vetch.

Today's guest picture is another from my sister Mary's recent Lake District trip,  It shows Ullswater.

Two of the butterflies enjoying a rest.

Oddly, this was the only collection of butterflies that I saw, although there were a lot of individuals flitting across the road on the rest of the trip.

I headed down to Canonbie and came back along the main road which gave me the chance to bicycle down the newly surfaced stretch of road back to the town.  It was very smooth.

Checking my bike computer, I added a circuit of the New Town to the very end of my ride which brought my mileage up to a neat 40 miles.

I had time for a light lunch before having a meeting with a man who wanted a photograph of the monument that overlooks the town.  I didn’t have a suitable one in my files so when Sandy came down a short while later, we went off to find a vantage spot.  I took several shots and then went back into the town to show them to the man.  He didn’t like any of them.  I said that I would try again.

Sandy and I went off to practise our landscape shooting skills up the Esk Valley.  Mine are basically non existent as I need to learn the difference between what pleases my eye and what the camera likes.  These are by no means the same.

We took trouble, using tripods (and even a spirit level) as well as a remote shutter trigger but in the end we didn’t get a lot of satisfaction.  The light, which looked quite good to us, looked rather flat and hazy to the cameras.  After quite a bit of tinkering on the photo editor, I have picked a few.

Gates of Eden

Looking across the Esk to the Gates of Eden:  Pocketcam (Nikon J1 with a 10mm-30mm lens)

Esk valley

The same view: Nikon D7000, 70-200mm at 200mm

Looking back across the Esk from the other side: Pocketcam

Looking back across the Esk from the other side: Pocketcam

Esk valley

The same view: D7000 with the 18-55 lens at 48mm


Looking in the same direction: D7000 with the 70-200mm lens at 105mm

Potholm farm buildings

Potholm farm buildings: D7000 at 105mm

Turning to the north gave a very different light.

esk valley

D7000 at 48mm

We left the Esk Valley and drove through the Gates of Eden to look down into the Ewes Valley.

D7000 at 75mm with an HDR going over in the photo editor

D7000 at 75mm with an light HDR going over in the photo editor

What becomes apparent is the bewildering differences between cameras and lenses and the difference that a few degrees of turn can make to the effect of the light.  Not to mention the many possibilities that the photo editor offers.  Pocketcam liked the light better than the D7000.

Still, after we had had a cup of tea and watched an exciting finish to the Tour de France stage, I went off and took a few more pictures of the monument and this time the man liked one of them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden so I did my bit and mowed the middle lawn.  I am trying to avoid using any weedkiller on the lawn this year so I have got out my old golfer’s pitch mark repairer and I am using it to dig up the more obtrusive weeds.

I took a picture of a crocosmia filtering the evening sunlight.

crocosmiaIn the evening, Sandy reappeared and we went off to the Archive Centre where a fitful internet connection allowed us to get a bit of work done on  the newspaper index database.    I shall need more wet days if I am to catch up with the hard working data miners.

Over our post-landscape tea and biscuits, I caught a chaffinch to be flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch






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