Posts Tagged ‘harebell’

Today’s guest picture shows a fine boat on the Trent and Mersey Canal.  It was encountered by my brother Andrew as he was cycling along the tow path.

Trent and mersey canalIt was a rather disappointing morning as we woke up to be greeted by yet more rain.  Instead of cycling, I did useful things like putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and finishing off the fund raising cards.  This took me neatly up to the moment when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.  He had been even more active than I had been and had already visited Carlisle on an errand.

By the time that he left, the day had taken a distinct turn for the better and I was able to walk up to the town to deliver the cards and order fresh supplies of coffee without any need for a coat at all.

After lunch the sun came out and while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help with the driving for the disabled, I watched the birds for a while…..

chaffinch and blue tit

The birds come in all shapes and sizes

siskin and chaffinch

This siskin stood patiently waiting on the back of the chaffinch for quite a few seconds until it flew off.

…and then took a walk round the garden.

Special Grandma and a day lily

Special Grandma and a day lily are not bothered by a little rain.

There were others interested in the flowers too.

beesI took the opportunity to sieve a little compost.

A cycle ride seemed in order but a brisk wind had arrived with the sunshine and not wanting to tax my legs too much, I got the slow bike out, loaded up the cameras and set for a gentle pedal-an-shoot outing up the Wauchope road.

It took me well over an hour to do the eight miles to Cleuchfoot and back but I did leave the bike at the roadside while I wandered about on several occasions.  The slow pace suited my knees, which were mumbling and grumbling about doing any cycling at all.

I stopped at Pool Corner to admire a great heap of slow worms…

slow worms…which had arranged themselves very artistically.

There was quite a lot of water coming down the Wauchope so I thought that a visit to my favourite cascade might be a good idea.  It was a very good idea for me but the light was in the wrong place for my camera and I couldn’t capture the scene at all well.

Wauchope cascadeI tried again at a little cascade further upstream.

Wauchope cascade

The light was better here because the sun had gone in for a moment or two.

Wauchope cascade

The bigger picture

There were plenty of flowers to look at as I went along.

wild flowersMany of them had accompanying wild life.

insectsThe road up to Cleuchfoot is very pastoral

Cleuchfoot..and has an excellent surface!

The celestial artist had been dipping into his palette to paint a splendid variety of lichens onto the stone walls.


All within ten yards of each other

Some trees were so covered in lichens that the pine needles had to fight to get through.

lichen covered treeAs we get towards the end of summer, the brackens start to take over the world, reaching out ever further.

brackenI got home before Mrs Tootlepedal and was enjoying listening to a startling test cricket match on the radio when she arrived.  She wasted no time in getting on with the gardening and I went out to help her dig up another row or two of potatoes.  They are continuing to look healthy and slug free and should keep us going for some time.

We had some of them in a feta, tomato and potato bake which I made for our tea.

While I was out I had a look at some flowers.

astrantia and tropaeolum

The better light let me get sharper pictures than usual of astrantia and tropaeolum

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted that the first calendula of the year had come out.


A tiny fly had spotted it too.

The wind had dropped and it was lovely wandering around the garden on a warm summer evening though it did give us a slight sense of loss for all the warm summer evenings that there haven’t been this year.  Still, one is better than none.

After tea,  Sandy and I went up to the Archive Centre but the internet connection was on a go slow so we didn’t get as much work done as we would have liked.  We consoled ourselves with a refreshment at the Eskdale.

Just as I typed the last few words of this post, the international Space Station flew over Langholm.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets regular emails tellingnher  when to expect to see  it and it is very punctual.  We had a cloudless sky and for once I was prepared, with the camera on a tripod and the correct settings in place.  I didn’t have a remote control so there was a slight wobble when I pressed the 13 second shutter release but this is probably the steadiest picture of something travelling at 17,000 mph that I am ever going to get.

International Space StationI calculate that it travelled 61 miles while the photograph was being taken.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  These seem to have returned to the garden in good numbers after a short absence.


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Today’s guest picture, taken by Bruce’s daughter and forwarded to me by him, shows Guthrie, having woken up, wondering where the next meal is coming from.

GuthrieWe were up promptly in the morning but got away a few minutes behind schedule on a trip to Lockerbie.  This time we were not catching the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda but going to a hotel in the town to meet Venetia.  Venetia is a long standing friend of my sister Mary and having been to a symposium in Newcastle, she was taking the opportunity of having come so far north in England to go a little further and meet us and have a tour of our part of southern Scotland.

I was delighted to meet her as she is a frequent commenter on the blog and has sent me several guest pictures of the day.

She was waiting patiently for us when we arrived and she was soon ensconced in our car as we headed off north to Moffat, our first stop.  There we had coffee, did a little shopping, admired the Moffat Ram…

Moffat Ram…and set off out  of the town to visit the Devil’s Beef Tub.  The Devil’s Beef Tub is a dramatic hollow among the hills north of the town where the Johnstones (“The Devils” to their enemies) would hide their cattle in Border Reiving days.  It was described by Sir Walter Scott in these terms:  “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.”

It didn’t look quite so dramatic to us today in spite of some gloomy weather but it is an impressive hollow.

Devil's Beef TubWe rolled back down the hill into the town and then drove out on the Selkirk road.  This gave Venetia her first taste of the delights of log lorries on narrow roads as we followed three of them, having to stop every time we met a car coming the other way.  We finally got to our next port of call, the Grey Mare’s Tail.

This is the name given to a fine waterfall which drops over side of the valley from Loch Skene above.

Grey Mare's tailThere are footpaths both to the top or the bottom of the falls and Venetia and Mrs Tootlepedal took the path to the bottom.  I took a picture of them on their return which which shows the scale of the waterfall.

Grey Mare's tailMy knee felt better today but while they braved the narrow and steep path, I cautiously (sensibly) stayed near the car park finding interesting things to look at.

purple flowers

The banks of the stream were carpeted with these flowers, a bit more purple in real life than in the picture.


The moist weather meant that the lichens were very striking

I looked back down the valley up which we had driven and I could see the typical U shape which shows that it has been scoured out by ice in times past.

Grey Mare's tail valleyBecause it falls into such a narrow gorge, it is hard to get a good picture of the whole waterfall without going along paths which are too steep and narrow for me now.

We left the falls and continued along the Selkirk road to what should have been the most beautiful destination of our trip, The Loch of the Lowes and St Mary’s Loch.  On a sunny day this is an idyllic place to be.  It was far from sunny by the time that we got there…

Loch of the Lowes…and although it was still a pleasant spot…

Loch of the Lowes…the many spots of rain didn’t encourage us to linger so we drove on, until by turning south at the end of St Mary’s Loch, we came across the hills to Eskdalemuir where we had lunch at the Hub.  We stayed long enough for Venetia to see our photo exhibition and then continued south until we arrived at Langholm, in sunshine at last, and there we had a tour of the garden,,,,

strawberry and rose

The ornamental pink strawberry and Crown Princess Margareta enjoying a dry spell at last

poppy and campanula

A poppy and a campanula showing that white can make a statement

phlox and rambler rose

A pink phlox and a potential rambler rose

….and a restful sit down.

A crime had been committed in the garden and we were able to catch the culprit red beaked….

blackbird with strawberryIt went off saying, “Who? Me?” but I don’t grudge a strawberry here and there as I have had plenty.

We didn’t sit for long though and we were soon back in the car for a further tour.  This took us up the A7 and across to Hermitage Castle…

Hermitage castle…a favourite spot to visit for us.  On this occasion, we were rather late and the castle was so strongly defended by an uncooperative attendant that we gave up hope of walking round it (although it didn’t officially close for another twenty minutes) and took some pictures of wild flowers beside the path…

Harebell and orchid

Harebells and yet another orchid

…before continuing our drive to Newcastleton.  From there, we came back across the hill to Langholm, stopping to watch a hen harrier quartering the moor on our way.

While we were parked, Venetia’s sharp eye noticed this fine thistle.

thistleApart from the sights we saw when we stopped, the whole drive was through lovely countryside and we hope that Venetia who lives in Glastonbury in Somerset, a famous beauty spot, got a good impression of this part of the world in spite of the generally grey weather.

We went out for a meal at the Douglas in the evening and then Mrs Tootlepedal kindly relieved me from my role as chauffeur and drove Venetia back to Lockerbie.  It has been a great pleasure to meet her.

Amidst all this excitement, catching a flying bird was a bit of a sideline and this was the best that I could do.

flying sparrow

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