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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on the Isle of Arran.  Unlike me, he saw a squirrel at breakfast time.

Arran squirrel

Our spell of good weather continued with a pleasantly warm and often sunny day.  At the moment we are getting some sunny days without it getting too hot for comfort and the only thing lacking to make things perfect is a few overnight showers to save the need for watering the vegetables.

I had time before going to sing in church to have a quick walk round the garden.  It was worth it.

poppy, lily, courgette

Perhaps the biggest and most flamboyant flower in the garden at the moment is in the vegetable patch but the courgette (bottom left in the panel above) looks quite at home.

We have got some very nice white foxgloves on the go among all the colour.

whiute foxglove

The hostas are covered with flowers,  They are doing well this year.

hosta with flowers

Our church organist has been elected cornet so he has been very busy attending common ridings in neighbouring towns lately, but he found time to come and play for us today and it was good to have him at the organ.

After church, there was time for another garden wander and some dead heading.  I noticed the last of our lupins…

new lupin

..and took a general view of the borders on the front lawn.

front lawn border

The front lawn is much better than it was, but it is still a bit patchy.  I did think about photoshopping the brown patches out but restrained myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys a bright red perlagonium which she rescued from a ‘past its best’ tray at a garden centre last year.  It has repaid her care.  I like it too, but it is so bright that it frightens the camera.

geraniums red

I went inside to have coffee and had a look at the birds.

There is a lot of blackbird activity in the garden and this looks like a growing youngster.

young blackbird

A siskin looked as though it was being distracted by an arriving sparrow from the threat from another siskin behind it.

sparrow landing

Later on, two siskins got very up close and personal.

mixed siskins

After lunch, we went off for a cycle ride.

During the ‘sit and stitch’ session at the producers’ market yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal had been reminded by one of her embroidering friends that members of the Waterbeck village hall committee serve cream teas every Sunday afternoon in July.  Waterbeck is ten miles away from Langholm so a ten mile bike ride seemed a good way to work up an appetite and the ten miles back seemed like a good way to work off the calories acquired.

We went at a leisurely pace and kept an eye out for orchids.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted some on the way out and some more on the way back…

two orchids

…and in the end, she saw so many that she stopped pointing them out.

As well as wild flowers, we saw animals pondering on life…

three bulls

…and a busy sand martins’ nesting site…

sand martin nests

…though my pocket camera couldn’t capture any of the sand martins which were flitting in and out of the nest holes.

The verges have not been mown recently and are very lush with waving grasses.

waving grasses

We encountered a small stream of old cars on a group outing but I only managed to get my camera out of my pocket by the time that they had almost all passed us.  This was the last in the queue (with a modern car behind it).

old car

We arrived safely at the hall and enjoyed an excellent cup of tea, a cream and strawberry scone and a delightful plate of cakes as well.  I would have shown you the scones but they had all mysteriously disappeared in no time at all.

waterbeck cream tea table

There was a light breeze in our faces on the way home and the hills are steeper going towards Langholm than on the way out, so we didn’t rush back in spite of being well fuelled with scones and cake.  We had time to stop and look at more flowers.

The vetch and the yellow bedstraw were very striking…

four wauchope wild flowers

…but the more subdued meadowsweet and two active red soldier beetles also provided photo opportunities.

The most surprising stop of the trip was to photograph a hare on the top of Callister.  It thought that the best way of hiding from me was to stand very still in full view.

hare on Callister

More animals should adopt this scheme.

We made a judicious pause half way up the steepest hill to admire the view.

view from Callister

Mrs Tootlepedal did the trip on her shopping bike.  It is the one that has been recently serviced and now has a fully functioning ‘granny gear’ on it.   The hills gave it a good test and it passed well.

An evening meal consisting of a fry-up of liver, bacon, egg and mushroom rounded off a very satisfactory day and we sat down to watch a recording of the team time trial stage of the Tour de France after we had had one last walk round the garden.

The evening light was delightful.

poppy bobbie james delphinium philadelphus

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that one of the many Iceland poppies which spring up in the garden had developed some rather fancy petals.

ragged iceland poppy

I liked the steely gaze of the delphiniums.

delphinium

According to the forecast, we have one more good day to go before the weather changes and it starts to rain for several days, so I am pleased to have had the opportunity to cycle a few miles and have had so many pretty flowers to look at during this past week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch heading up to the feeder.

chaffinch flying

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent by our daughter Annie and shows the ‘fruits’ of her labours in her allotment.  She benefits from being 300 miles south of us so she is well ahead in her growing season.

annies veg

After two days of rain, as recorded by our scientific rain gauge….

rain gauge

…we were treated to a pleasantly sunny day today which was very welcome.  Somewhat less welcome was the boisterous wind that came with the sunshine.

As I haven’t cycled at all in June so far, I would have liked to have made use of the sunshine to put a few miles in but just as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my new knee, it is probably not a good idea to cycle long distances into a very strong wind.  I made the sensible choice and cycled up and down the four miles to Cleuchfoot three times so that I got a break from the wind every four miles.

The wind was gusting at well over 30 mph and I was grateful for the shelter offered by the Wauchope valley but I still had to pay attention, as once or twice I was buffeted by an unexpected gust that threatened to tip me into the gutter.  All the same, it was good to be out on the bike and there were plenty of excuses to stop and take a picture.

Wauchope Water cascade

The Wauchope was in an ebullient mood

Logan water

Its tributary, the Logan Water, was more peaceful

I saw a crop of fungus by a rotten tree branch…

fungus

…and the first signs of wild irises and hedge roses.  There are a lot of thistles around.

iris, rose and thistles

An old friend was once again standing on the sluice for the dam at Pool Corner.

heron

The road to Cleuchfoot is a picture on a day like today.

road to Cleuchfoot

Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden when I got back and I walked around to see what there was to see.  The rain and wind had done remarkably little damage but I was grateful for a lost petal on a poppy that gave me a good view of the internal workings of the flower.

poppy

There were quite a lot more bees and hoverflies about today and I spent some time chasing them but the strong wind blowing the flowers about made finding a bee still enough to photograph almost impossible.

There were several tree bumble bees about and I think this is the first year that we have seen them in our garden so I have put them in in spite of being a bit fuzzy.

tree bumble bees

Tree bumble bees in the centre and right hand pictures

I had more luck after lunch with a frog in the pond. (With apologies to my Blackpool reader who really doesn’t like frogs at all.)

frog

I mowed the front and middle lawns and then enjoyed the sight of the orange hawkweeds turning their faces to the sun…

orange hawkweed

…before waving Mrs Tootlepedal goodbye as she went off with an armful of books to visit a friend recovering from  a badly broken leg.

Once she had gone, I got my walking poles out and headed off for a walk to summit of Warbla (275m).

I was walking up the track through the fields at the Stubholm when I was confronted by a small animal standing firmly in the middle of the road giving me  a hard stare.  I got my camera out, fully expecting that it would run away before I could focus and was greatly surprised when it headed straight towards me.

brown hare

It paused for a moment a few yards in front of me to get a proper picture taken and then plopped gently into the bushes beside the track.  I am not an expert on wildlife but I think it was  a young brown hare.

I passed a number of hawthorn bushes on my way to the open hill.  The glorious blossom of a week or so ago has gone but they are still interesting to look at….

hawthorn

…to me at any rate.

I plodded on up the track, greatly aided by my walking poles, and was soon able to look back on some splendid views.  I took a panorama from the summit and those who wish can click on the picture to get a better view.

Warbla panorama

I had a bit of difficulty using the camera as the wind was so brisk that my eyes were perpetually full of tears but I took a more conventional shot as well.

Langholm from Warbla

(I  might have used a filter on that picture.)

I could also make out the oldest graveyard in the town, lying beside the Kirk Wynd (up which the horsemen gallop on Common Riding day).

Auld Kirk Yard

The church (now demolished)  that stood beside the graveyard had no flooring and parishioners who wanted to keep their feet dry on muddy days had to bring their own plank to rest their feet on.

I couldn’t get a very sharp picture of it because although the churchyard wasn’t moving, the strong wind meant that the slightly tottery photographer on the top of the hill was waving about a lot.

The ridge leading from the summit to the west was covered in bog cotton to the extent that it almost looked as though it had snowed.

bog cotton

On my way down, I took a view of the monument on Whita Hill where I had walked last week.

Monument from Warbla

I have ‘disappeared’ the unsightly police mast further along the summit.

I got back just after Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her sick visit so we had a cup of tea and I finished the crossword.

After our evening meal, we went up to the town to sing with a small choir that has been formed to sing three songs in the Common Riding concert.  Various commitments meant that many prospective members weren’t there but there were enough of us there to have a go and I had the pleasure of singing the bass line for change, as there were no other basses present.  Luckily, it was quite an easy line and didn’t go too low.

The flying bird of the day is a bee leaving a philadelphus.

bee

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Today’s guest picture shows you-know-who enjoying a chocolate cake.  It was sent to me by her proud father.

Matilda

The day didn’t start quite as I had planned.  Instead of leaping up and cycling into the middle distance, I staggered up, had breakfast and retired back to bed to read a magazine for an hour or so.

When I finally got up, I was just in time to help Mrs Tootlepedal.  We had accumulated a very large pile of clippings from the front hedge and the two smaller hedges in the garden which she had clipped.  We have a small electric shredder which is usually quite adequate for our needs but this pile would have meant a very long time standing and feeding the little machine.  Hidden away in the garage, we have a large petrol driven shredder which we stopped using years ago basically because it was very noisy and smelly.  But needs must so it saw the light of day again.

petrol shredder

Mrs Tootlepedal was very pessimistic about the chances of it starting after being inactive for so long but much to our surprise, it started easily and the large pile of hedge clippings  were turned into usable  composting material in a quarter of an hour.

After the machine had been stowed away, I had a look round the garden.

peonies

Peonies are bursting out all over. They look gorgeous seen from the side….

peonies

….and from above.

New roses are appearing every day.

roses

The Queen of Denmark and Goldfinch

There were bees on all sides.

bees

Brilliant clusters of flowers.

sweet william and onion

Sweet William and what Mrs Tootlepedal describes as ‘another onion thingy’

I like these two quite a lot….

lupin and foxglove

…but not as much as I like the astrantia.

astrantia

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal expressed a wish for a cycle ride somewhere new and as we have cycled round pretty well every road in the vicinity over the years, we packed the bikes in the car and drove thirty miles north and parked the car at the visitor centre at Harestanes.

Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should cycle to the village of Roxburgh about 6 miles away and make a circular route by coming back past the Waterloo Monument.

This turned out to be a very good plan indeed. The weather was perfect for cycling, the roads were quiet and well surfaced and there was something interesting to look round every corner.

We saw a huge fungus at Nisbet….

fungus

…the Cheviot Hills in the distance…

Cheviots

…white campion and strikingly blue comfrey in the verges…

white campion comfrey

…hares chasing each other through the fields…

hares

…a picturesque lochan complete with many waterfowl…

lochan at Mounteviot…and if we had stopped for every photo opportunity, we would never have got round the thirteen and a half miles at all.

The roads were varied and the views often spectacular both to north and south.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very interested in visiting Roxburgh, as the original town was once a thriving market community but it has been written out of history and can no longer be seen.  She was hoping for signs of ruins but rather disappointingly for her, it turns out that the name has been passed on to the little village that we visited today and it is two miles away from the site of the ancient town.

I was more excited by the modern village…

Roxburgh

…which had an ancient ruin but more interestingly had the remains of two substantial railway bridges which once crossed the road which we use to enter the village.

It turns out that Roxburgh was a junction where the branch line from Jedburgh met the line from Kelso to St Boswells.  As a result it also has a splendid viaduct where the Kelso railway (long shut) crossed the River Teviot.  I love a good viaduct.

Roxburgh Viaduct

We cycled down Ferry Road from the village to the river and walked along to the viaduct.  There is no need for a ferry now as there is an excellent footbridge attached to the viaduct.

Roxburgh Viaduct footbridge

As far as I can find out, the footbridge was part of the original design of the viaduct which is most unusual.  You can see that it is perched on the piers of the viaduct.

I walked onto it and looked upriver.

River Teviot

As you can imagine, I spent a good deal of time taking pictures but in the end, we pedalled back up into the village and took the road back towards the Waterloo Monument.  It can be seen from many miles away and one day (soon, I hope) I will come back and walk up the track to the monument itslef.  Today, though, we cycled past it….

Waterloo Monument

…and I had to use the zoom on the Lumix to get a good view of it.  The views over the Teviot valley as we came down the hill back to Harestanes were outstanding.

Teviotdale at Harestanes

That is a potato field in the foreground.

All in all, we thought perhaps that it might be  the best value thirteen miles that we have ever pedalled.   The  mild weather, light winds and occasional sunshine all helped of course.

We enhanced the drive home with some serious shopping in Hawick and arrived back in Langholm tired but happy.

I had no time for staring out of the kitchen window today so the flying ‘bird’ of the day is my cycling companion floating up a hill.

Mrs tootlepedal

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