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Posts Tagged ‘hawthorn’

Today’s guest picture comes from a new contributor, Paul.  Like myself, he is a cyclist and obviously a keen photographer.  He is not absolutely sure but he thinks that this delightful shot was taken at Blea Tarn in the Lake District.

blea tarn

We had another cold and sunny day today, but it was even colder than yesterday with temperatures hitting -7°C overnight.  It was still -3° after breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal had left very early to catch a bus from Canonbie to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate with a group of embroiderers so I was left on my own.

I went to the new corner shop, did the crossword and then watched the birds for a while as the day warmed up a little.  The goldfinches, which must come from a distance, are not interested in visiting the garden while it is so cold but there were a few resident birds about.

robin dunnock blackbird

Traffic was thin though,  so I went for a walk down to the river to see if I could find some more.

The Kilngreen was quite busy with ducks, gulls and rooks…

duck, gulls and rook

…and reindeer.

reindeer on kilngreen

Wait a minute!  Reindeer???

Yes reindeer.  Some of the Cairngorm reindeer herd are on tour, appearing at pre-Christmas events all over the country.  These ones had stayed at the company’s Yorkshire base over night.

reindeer head

There were old and young animals…

reindeer panel

…and they ate the Kilngreen grass and the ready prepared food with equal eagerness.

When they time came, they were led out onto the main road….

reindeer leaving kilngreen

…where they disappeared into the low sunshine as they made their way to the stable at the Buck Hotel where they would be an attraction at the town’s switching on the lights event.

reindeer going to the Buck

I followed them down the High Street but didn’t go into the Buck Hotel, preferring to head up the Kirk Wynd and on to Whita Hill.

There are plenty of haws on the hawthorns waiting for the birds to get hungry enough to eat them and disperse the seeds.

hawthorn

In contrast to the colour of the berries, a stand of rosebay willowherb stalks looked very monchrome and I helped it by taking the picture in monochrome too.

rosebay willowherb

Looking back as I climbed up the track, the valley below was already deep in shadow and looked very cold.  The sun struggles to get above the hills at this time of year and lying at 55° North, we are on the same parallel as Manitoba, bits of Alaska and much of Russia so if it wasn’t for the gulf stream, this shot might well show a lot of snow and not much else.  The effect of climate warming on the Gulf Stream is something that not enough people in government are worrying about.

chilly valley

Still, I couldn’t complain about the weather for my walk today and if I kept in the sun it was bracing but very pleasant all the same.

ewes valley sunny

It was still freezing though.  This puddle reminded of a painting of doves but I can’t pin down the artist.

icy puddle whita

It s difficult for me to capture on camera as I would like, but I do enjoy the intersecting lines of trees and hills as I walk.

potholm hill

This little scene cheers me up every time that I pass it.

view from copshaw road

When I got back to the Kilngreen, the reindeer were long gone but the gulls were at their posts.

gulls on post

I walked up to the Buccleuch Centre and a gathering of folk caught my eye.  Mrs Claus was waiting for her husband.  He appeared along with Santa’s little helper…

Santa and friends

…and they were joined by a group of volunteers who were going to control the traffic.  The alert reader will notice my flute playing friend Luke and his mother in the panel above.  Mrs and Mrs C chatted for a while.

Soon we were joined by the appropriately dressed Langholm Pipe Band and they led off a small procession…

pipe band santa

… of a unicyclist….

unicycle santa

…and Santa on his sleigh (but sadly, with not a reindeer in sight).

 

santa in TT road

I left them to their chilly fun and went back home to have a bowl of warming soup.  Then I made some tea cake dough and left it to rise while I went back up to the town to sing carols with the Langholm Choir at the switching on of the lights.

There was quite a buzz in the Market Place…

fun inmarket place

..and we sang away lustily, accompanied by members of the town brass band until the moment of switch on came.

christmas tree lights

I then scuttled home, crossing the suspension bridge and admiring the lights on the Town Bridge as I went…

lights on bridge

…and knocked back the tea cake dough and divided it into individual cakes and put it in the boiler cupboard to rise.

I was expecting Mrs Tootlepedal back from  her trip to Harrogate but she rang me to say that the bus was stuck on the A66.  Luckily the driver was able to turn round and take a diversion to join the motorway at Tebay so she got home in the end, but much later than expected. There had been a bad crash ahead of them on the A66. She was grateful for a freshly baked tea cake to give her sustenance.

We are due to have another freezing day tomorrow but then things should warm up a bit so we may get more birds back in the garden again.

In the absence of domestic flying birds, one of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He is a great walker and recently walked with his walking group through a wood.  The substantial size of the trees can be gauged by noting the size of the walkers who can just be seen at the bottom of the frame.

Andrew's wood

I had another poor night’s sleep and it was raining again when we got up so I was doubly happy to have a quiet morning in.  For want of anything better to do, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping in the car, but it had stopped raining by the time that Dropscone arrived to brighten my morning coffee break with conversation and the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He told me that there are signs of toadstools appearing on the golf course.  I will have to go up and investigate.

In the meantime, I went out into the garden after coffee to see what I could find there..

The temperatures, both day and night, are remaining very constant at the moment so flowers are quite happy to keep flowering.

rudbeckia, campanula, dahlia and poppy

This calendula was the brightest star this morning.

calendula

There are no feeders out at the moment but there is no shortage of birds in the garden.

The starlings love the top branch of the holly tree and take it in turns to perch there.  The rowan tree is popular too, in spite of the fact that all the berries were eaten long ago.  The sparrows peck busily at the branches so there must be insects to be found.

starling, dunnock, sparrows

When the sun comes out, the sparrow families like to rest on the felt roof of our neighbour’s sheds, though the youngsters find the slope a little challenging.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back in time for lunch and scattered a few crumbs from our bread tray on the lawn.  This immediately attracted a gang of jackdaws, but most unusually they were joined by a black headed gull as they strutted round the crumbs today.

gull and jackdaws

We very rarely see a gull in the garden.

It rained lightly over lunch but soon cleared up and as it was a calm day, I got my bicycle out and went for a pedal.

My bike camera is old and tired and it found it hard to pick out the red haws against the brown background of the hillside along the Wauchope road, but there were plenty of haws about…

 

haws on wauchope road

…even though some of the hawthorns were almost totally bare.  It has been a very uneven year for the hawthorns as they were all well covered in blossom in the spring.

When I got to a point where the was route choice, I considered the weather.  The rain clouds were behind as I looked back towards Langholm….

clouds down wauchope

…and a safe distance away as I looked north…

clouds and turbines

…so, as it looked potentially sunny to the south,…

sunny road ahead

…I headed that way and went round my Canonbie route.

The wind was very light and for once I didn’t have to start a ride by battling up hill and into the wind so I enjoyed myself and kept pedalling as fast as I could for as long as I could without stopping.

In the end, a monkey puzzle tree at Canonbie looked so inviting that I stopped…

monkey puzzle

…and I stopped again a few hundred yards later to check on the autumn colour beside the Esk.  I fear that it is going to be a disappointing season as the colour is just not developing and trees seem to be going straight to brown on the whole.

esk at byreburn brown trees

There was more colour in a garden on the other side of the road.

garden at byreburn

While the sun was out, which was most of the time, it was warm and pleasant, but in shady spots when the sun went in and the roads were still damp, it felt quite autumnal.

old a7 damp

I like the way that the roadside vegetation is slowly reclaiming the old main road here where very few cars use it.  It won’t take too long until it is only wide enough for a cyclist.

The sun came out again and I propped the bike up against a fence and walked down to the river bank to enjoy the view of Broomholm Island.

broomholm island esk

It was a delightful place to spend a few contemplative moments.

esk near broomholm island

When I got back to the road, I took a picture of the mixed broad-leaved and conifer planting that the road builders put in when the built the new road…

trees on new A7

…and pedalled home as fast as I could.

That is not very fast these days but the near windless conditions let me get round the twenty miles at over 14 mph, a heady speed for me and nearly seven minutes faster than my last effort on Wednesday.  I would ask for more windless days but our electricity supplier uses a lot of wind generated power so I had better just put up with the breeze when it comes and keep my head down.

One of the things that Mrs Tootlepedal bought this morning was a supply of builders’ sand and while I was out cycling, she cleaned and refreshed her cold frame and we put the sand into it to make a clean base when I got back.

cold frame witrh sand

While we were out in the garden I picked a couple of the Charles Ross apples…

big apples

…and we ate them baked and stuffed with sultanas and brown sugar for afters at our evening meal.

I had another look round and was pleased to find a new daisy out, together with a flourishing Sweet William, some yew berries and a very out of season foxglove.

daisy, sweet william, yew berries, foxglove

But once again, the star of the afternoon floral display was Crown Princess Margareta.

Crown princess margareta rose

Whenever we are out in the garden, we try to pick up more walnuts.  They are falling from the tree in a steady stream and Mrs Tootlepedal is making a jolly good effort to eat them all.  They are mostly in good condition this year.

walnuts

According to the Norwegian weather forecasters, the present spell of reasonably warm but changeable weather now seems set to extend to the end of the month, so be warned that there may be a lot of flowers pictures still to come in future posts.

I don’t suppose that I will be able to find many more gulls to be the flying bird of the day though.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Orviedo while he is in Spain.  It shows the  800 AD church of St Julian, built in the Byzanto-romano style, which the ruling Visigoths of Asturia liked.

orviedo church

The advance forecast has been rather gloomy about the weather this week, but we got a stay of sentence today and enjoyed a dry day which got better as it went along.  I had a quiet morning in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, involving paying a bill, doing a load of washing and hanging it out, some random dead heading and occasional looks round the garden where I could see blackbirds early in the morning ….

two blackbirds

…and, as the sun came out, a full house of butterflies later on.

four butterflies

I spent quite a lot of time making a little spreadsheet of the amount of electricity that we have used charging the Zoe.  We have charged the car three or four times while away from home but mostly we have used our home charger and it looks as though we are paying about 3.5p per mile, which is a lot less than we used to pay for petrol for our old car.  An added bonus is that our electricity supplier claims to be getting its electricity entirely from renewable sources.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and ate it with an apple and some cheese and then set off for a short cycle ride.

I didn’t want to go too far from home with the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service unavailable and other friends on holiday, so I  went up and down the roads around the town.

The upland country is turning brown and won’t go green again for about eight months…

callister brown

…but there are still a few flowers in the roadside verges…

roadside yellow flower

…and there is now a lot of interest on walls, with lichen…

callisterwall lichen

…and moss…

callisterwall fungus

…and more lichen to be seen.

callisterwall lichen (2)

From the top of Callister, I looked  down past Chapelcross and across the Solway Firth to Skinburness on the English side, with the Irish Sea beyond.

view of skinburness from callister

On my way back to the town, I stopped to admire this fine show of hawthorns on the hillside.

hawthorns on wauchope road

I cycled through the town and headed south, stopping to admire Skippers Bridge..

skippers bridge in the round

…and enjoying more lichen on the wall at Broomholm.

broomholm wall lichen

There is more than a hint of autumn about…

broomholm view

…and I enjoyed this burst of colour at Whitshiels when I cycled back through the town.

whitshile colour

I would have gone a bit further but I wanted to look round the garden while the sun was out and I had my flute pupil Luke coming, so I settled for 21 miles, and as this was 21 miles more than I had expected to do, I was content.

I took far too many pictures in the garden over the day so I have put them into panels, mixing morning and afternoon shots together in a haphazard way.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s transplanted nerines are enjoying life among the calendulas.

clrematis, daisies, nerines

…and clematis and Michaelmas daisies are doing well too.

It is often easier to take flower shots when the sun isn’t shining as the detail can be clearer.  The cosmos and red zinnia were cloudy shots…

four flowers am and pm

…and the orange zinnia and the Icelandic poppy came later.

The garden had a summer feel to it when the sun shone in the afternoon…

bee, butterfly and flowers

…and butterflies tried new flowers.

red admiral butterfly on verbena

My flute pupil Luke appeared and we had a really good time playing duets.  I am not a very good flute player myself so I have to practise quite hard to keep up with him.  It does me a lot of good.

I am spiking the middle lawn with a garden fork and brushing sand into the spike holes in an effort to improve drainage and keep moss at bay (ha ha) but because I am having to take care of my feet, the work is proceeding at snail’s pace.  I did two rows across the lawn in the course of today and I will be lucky to finish before winter comes.

I was hoping to get a genuine flying bird of the day today and spent some time lurking in the garden with my camera at the ready.  Starlings were keen to help…

four flying starlings

…and a co-operative bird flew over the garden at a modest speed…

passing flying bird

…but in the end, I couldn’t go past a delightful white butterfly in mid flap, a shot that I have never managed to take before. Not quite a flying bird of the day, but quite satisfactory all the same.

flying white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is visiting the Glasgow area and found himself at the start of the West Highland way in Milngavie.  He is not going to walk it though as it is 96 miles long.

west highland way start

I have always believed that the autumn equinox came on the 21st of September so it was rather a disappointment to find that this year, it will not arrive until Monday 23rd.  Today would have been a wonderful day to mark the end of summer, as the sun shone from dawn till dusk and there was not a cloud in the sky all day.

It was quite windy though so I was more than happy when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested an outing and this gave me a good excuse to leave my bike in the garage.

After a quick look at a couple of sunny flowers in the garden…

nastutium and gladiolus

…we set off in the Zoe to go to the ‘Hidden River Cafe’.

We had only quite recently heard about this place although it has been open for some years, so it has definitely been quite well hidden.

It  is not far from Longtown but the last few miles were done at a stately pace as we got behind a tractor on a very narrow road.  This was not as troublesome as it would have been if we were still in our old car.  One of the benefits of the electric car is that it is a pleasure to drive at any pace.

We found the cafe and enjoyed a coffee and a delicious slice of cake while sitting in the sunshine on their outdoor terrace.  We asked if we might take a walk round after we had finished and they were happy to let us explore.  Basically the the site is home to six log cabins for holiday lets.  They are well spread out on  the bank of the River Lyne and we walked along the access road.

hidden log cabins

If you want a holiday with full time peace and quiet, this is the place to go.

The cabins are substantial and made of big logs!

log cabin

One of the staff kindly showed us round a cabin and it was impressive inside.

This was the view from its patio.

river lyne

The site is part of a working farm and although we were serenaded by buzzards as we went along, and passed an oak tree laden with acorns…

log cabin wild life

…there were no wild flower meadows and no birds singing, just an occasional fungus and some straggly ragwort.

The lack of flying insects all around our area is getting worrying, perhaps caused by the the lack of wild flower .  This in turn may be causing a shortage of birds.  I wish that I knew more about what is going on.

Still, it was a beautiful spot and we are told that the cooking at the cafe is very good so we were pleased to have finally discovered it.

We took a diversion on the way home to visit a garden centre where Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a painted lady on the merchandise and I bought some sand to treat the lawns at home.

garden centre butterfly

We got home in time for lunch and then we went out into the garden to make some use of the good weather.

We had plenty of butterflies about but oddly enough, there were no peacock butterflies to be seen today when I was looking.

three butterflies

The sedums are the centre of attention just now as the buddleias are almost over.

bees in sedum

The orange hawkweed is in fine fettle…

orange hawkweed sept

…and the mountain of sunflowers seems to be getting bigger every day.

massed sunflowers

I did some more dead heading but my chief business was getting the grass cut before the rains come next week.    It was time to raise the cutters to their autumn height but looking at my records, this is easily the best the lawns have looked so late in September.

middle lawn equinox

I may have mentioned before that though it has been a funny year for weather, it has undoubtedly been a very good year for grass,

front lawn equinox

I take my hat off to the makers of the moss eating lawn fertiliser too as it has worked very well.

I mowed the green house grass but it has a different mower and is cut to a rougher standard.

green house grass equinox

The  I sieved a little compost from Bin D…

compost sieving

…and then, because it was really quite hot in the sun, I went in and had a sit down.

After a cup of tea and two iced buns, I had got enough strength back to try out my new shoes on a walk up a hill.

Once again, there was not much in the way of things to look at beside the track but I did see a pale fungus on a moss covered tree trunk and a lonely scabious.

fungus and scabious

I chose the track up Warbla for my walk as it has a gentle gradient and a good walking surface on a dry day…

Warbla track

…and some splendid views.  This one is looking up the Esk valley towards the Gates of Eden

warbla view gates of eden

…and this one, from the summit, is looking over the Solway plain towards the English hills in the distance.

solway plain from warbla

As Mrs Tootlepedal was busy cooking our evening meal, I didn’t hang about on the summit and after a look down over the town…

Warbla view of town

…I took the track back down the hill, turning off to cut down to the road at the Auld Stane Brig and passing this fine burst of haws on a hawthorn tree just before the gate onto the road.

hawrthorn berries

It was a three mile walk and my new shoes worked very well and my feet gave me little trouble.

I met my occasional neighbour Ken as I got home.  He is the same age as me and has at least as many, if not more, medical problems than I have, but all the same he tells me that he is getting near to 5000 cycling miles for the year so far, twice as many as me.  I shall have to stop complaining  all the time and get working.  He is an example to us all.

I forgot about a flying bird of the day while I was preparing this post so there isn’t one.  It has flown.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s meal was worth hurrying down the hill for.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the Haynes International Motor Museum.  This is a 1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon and very nice too.  They keep the exhibits very well polished.

1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre saloon

The day started much as yesterday had finished, windy and grey. I wisely spent so much time over breakfast that by the time I had finished my porridge and tea, it was time for coffee and an iced bun (or two).

Then I had a look round the garden where I was astonished to find a red admiral butterfly at full stretch.

red admiral butterf;y

I was so astonished that I had to go inside and sit down again.  I made some vegetable soup and while it was cooking, I popped out and mowed the front lawn.  In spite of quite a lot of rain during August, the ground is still reasonably dry and the lawn mowed very well.

I had a look round the garden to see what had survived the strong winds and was pleased to find a lot of flowers still looking well.

lilian austin rose

As I looked, there was a break in the clouds and some sun peeped through.

phlox, red flower, fuchsia, anemone

All things considered, I thought that the garden looked not too bad.

border in august

I wasn’t at all confident that the rain had actually gone away so I frittered some time away after I had had my lunch by watching some rowing on the telly for a while.  Then I consulted the forecast.

You would think the the forecasters would be able to tell you what might happen in the next hour even if the the next day’s weather was still a mystery to them, but having consulted several forecasts, I had a choice of anything between a 0% and  a 70% chance of rain.  I chose to believe the 0% forecast (though I did pack a rain jacket) and set off for a pedal on my borrowed bike.

The wind was still blowing briskly, but a look around showed a lot of blue sky…

vew from Bessie Bells

…so I was happy to stop on my way and take some pictures.

I visited my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope…

Wauchope cascade

…and had another look at the landslip further up the road.

Wauchope lnad slip Aug 31

There is a set of traffic lights here which lets motorists (and cyclists) use half the road , but I would imagine that the road will have to be closed when they try to make the banking safe.  I also imagine that they will not be rushing to do the repair.

I cycled on and picked a route that kept any pedalling straight into the wind to a minimum.  As a result, I had a most enjoyable 18 miles, especially as some threatening clouds soon cleared off, leaving a lovely afternoon.

view from Bloch

I was happy to see that the cut silage had all been safely gathered in.

silage bales bloch

There was some colour beside the road as I went along.

four roadside views

And as I hadn’t stopped while passing over it for some time, I stopped today and took a picture of Skippers Bridge as I neared the end of my trip.

Skippers Bridge

It really was a fine afternoon by the time that I got back to Langholm

Whita from castleholm

When I got home, I took a picture of the plum tree just to settle any reader’s worries about whether I had given Dropscone too many plums yesterday.

many plums

We threw away literally hundreds of unripe plums as they were developing to stop them breaking the branches, we have made plum jam and plum chutney, I stewed some more plums and have been eating them with cream (someone has to do it), I gave some to our neighbour Liz, I eat fresh plums all the time and pick more and eat them every time I pass the tree, and still the branches are weighed down with countless more.  It has been, as Ken Dodd would say, a plumptious year.

And now the apples are ripe enough to start eating them too.

I had another walk round the garden to look for butterflies and on my way, enjoyed a new flower on the rambler rose.

rambler rose

There were one or two butterflies about but there were a lot more bees so I looked at them instead.

insect on Michaelmas daisy

I liked this cool one with dark glasses on.

insect on Michaelmas daisy 2

I was thinking about going for a short walk but somehow time slipped by again and I had to cook my tea, so I settled for my bike ride.  As the 18 miles took me to just over 400 miles for the month, I was pretty content with that.

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal in the evening and found that she is having an enjoyable time down south.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few butterflies that I saw in the garden today.

peacock buttefly

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother Andrew’s Heart Walking Group’s outings.  They found themselves near Robin Hood’s Stride, a spectacular tor of gritstone rocks perched on a ridge in the Peak District.  My brother thought that he might nip up to the top of it but was thwarted by its steepness and waved at the camera as he came down.  He didn’t tell me who took the picture.

Robin Hood's Stride

I started the day with a visit to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal.   I bought fish, meat and honey but was thwarted in my desire to buy cheese as the cheese man was not present.  I fear he may have deserted us.  This is a tragedy as a good cheese is a hard to find locally.

Mrs Tootlepedal left me to do the purchasing and set up a table where she and several members of her embroiderers’ group sat and stitched and chatted to shoppers for several hours.

While they were busy, I mowed the front and middle lawns and, though I say it myself, I am quite pleased with the state of the middle lawn after some good weather and a lot of mowing.

mown middle lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased by the border on the right hand side of the lawn so we are two happy people when we take in this view of the garden.

The stachys is out and as furry as ever.

stachys

And a large ornamental clover is peeping out from underneath the big rose bush.

big clover

Among the new arrivals are thousands of flowers on a variegated euonymous.

euonymous

Meanwhile new poppies keep popping up…

four poppies

…and day lilies appear every day.

two day lilies

Sometimes we have too much of a good thing and the luxuriant tropaeolum is going to make it very hard to clip the yew underneath…

tropaeolum flush

…and a profusion of plums is threatening to break branches on the plum tree.  We have already thinned out many more than a hundred plums but there are still big bunches hanging on high branches which we cannot reach.

too many plums

Roses are thriving and today I saw that lurking in the shade of other plants, the very first Special Grandma is just about to come out….

special grandma

…while up above, the Rosa Complicata which has been magnificent this year is reaching the end of its run.

roses going over

Other roses are still at their peak.  The moss roses have loved the weather this year…

moss rose

…and even though Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is not doing well where it is, Frau Dagmar Hastrup keeps trying to prove her wrong.

frau dagmar hastrup

And the salvia sclarea Turkestanica continues to astound me every day.  I am going to have to try to stop taking endless pictures of it but in the meantime, I took another today.  I thought that this one looked like a baroque fountain in an Italian city.

salvia

I had planned an adventurous cycle ride but mowing the lawns and taking garden pictures left me feeling a little tired so I dawdled over a very tricky prize crossword and waited until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from her stitching fest to have lunch with her.

Then I got organised and went off for a rather dull, flat pedal down the main roads to Newtown on Hadrians Wall and back.  The advantage of this ride is that it has generally good road surfaces and no significant hills, except for a very short one as you leave Langholm.

This means that on a day like today, when there is not much wind, I can just put my nose to the wheel and pedal along with a very steady rhythm, not looking out for views and wild flowers as I go.

I still stopped after every ten miles to stretch my legs as my joints are not at their best and this gave me the chance to note how low the river Esk was at Longtown where there were more rocks than river.

dig

I stopped again after twenty miles when I got to my favourite bench at Newtown on Hadrian’s Wall.

To my horror, there were people sitting on it.  However it turned out that they were two very affable Americans, now resident in Panama, who were ‘walking the wall’ and they kindly squashed up and made room for me to sit down too.

dav

They had taken the wise step of summoning a taxi to take them to their overnight stop in Brampton which was off their direct route as they didn’t fancy being harassed by traffic on the narrow road down to the town.

When their taxi came, I set off for home. I stopped again at the thirty mile mark and had a look at this peaceful stretch of the Esk just above Longtown.

dig

I noted from a nearby hedge, that it looks as though we should be in for a good display of haws shortly.

dav

I made an unscheduled stop at the top of the little hill before Langholm partly to record the lushness of the wild flowers beside this section of the road…

 

sdr

…and partly to have a breather as I had pedalled as hard as I could to get up the hill.

As an exercise in steady pedalling, the ride was very successful and I was at an average of 15 mph at each of my ten mile stops, a much faster speed than I usually manage these days and I actually managed the return journey a whisker faster than the outward leg.

Luckily, Mrs Tootlepedal was watching a catch up recording of the first day of the Tour de France when I got home so that gave me a very good excuse to sit down quietly and not do anything energetic. These boys were doing 50 mph as they came towards the finish which put my modest efforts into perspective.

I took several quite brilliant pictures of flying birds today but unhappily they were all totally out of focus when I looked at the results so a static blue tit going nuts is the best that I can do for a flying bird of the day.

blue tit going nuts

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on a break in Northumberland, where he took this picture of a bridge over the River Breamish.

River Breamish near Ingram village

It was a grey and faintly drizzly day here today so it was good to have a spot of indoor brightness supplied by the  charming flowers that Sue had brought when she came for coffee on Monday.

sue's flowers

Sandy came for coffee today.  He is suffering from sore feet too and we have been unable to go for a walk for several weeks so it was good to see him and catch up with his news.

When he left, I checked to see what the birds were up to and found a brisk demand for fat balls among the sparrows.

fat ball feeder with sparrows

The sparrows are eating anything they can get their beaks on at the moment and….

four sparrows

…they are monopolising the feeder for a good part of the day.

four sparrows (2)

I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal dispose of some of the surplus soil which we had removed from the lawn when we did the returfing. It was amazingly dry and dusty so we mixed it with some composted shreddings and Mrs Tootlepedal spread it on the front beds.

I did some shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C and then had a wander around to admire the azaleas.  Some of them have suffered badly because of the long cool spell and the lack of rain and have not been able to develop their buds into flowers but others have put on a fine show.

orange azaleared azalea

And the alliums don’t seem to have been affected by the lack of rain at all.

four alliums

We have had an inch of rain recently but it has only been enough to dampen the top layer of the soil in the flower beds and if Mrs Tootlepedal digs down to plant out something new, it is still dry as dust below.  Looking at the forecast though, we may be about to get a persistent spell of light rain over the next few days.  Unhappily, this may turn out to be light enough to be annoying without being useful.

All the same, new flowers are appearing and the Scotch rose is developing well…

scotch rose

…and a little patch of cornflowers appeared as if by magic.  One minute it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was fully formed.

cornflower

The sparrows were interrupted on the feeder by the arrival of a starling…

starling on feeder

…which I noticed as I was making some lentil soup for our lunch.

In spite of a forecast of a 60% chance of a long spell of light rain in the faternoon, I managed to get onto my cycling gear and get out for a pedal while it was dry.

The hillsides are bright with hawthorn blossom on every side.

hawthorn on hill

I passed one of the busiest trees that you will ever see.  It had growth bursting out of every twig.  I think that it is a Norway Spruce.

busy spruce tree

The forecast was looking likely to be ominously correct as a drizzle started up before I had gone far.  I pedalled on though and was cheered up by the sight of some late bluebells on a bank bedside the road.

late bluebells

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at too…

yellow wild flowers

…and  hawthorns and lambs made the day seem nicer than it was.

hawthorn and lambs

I had a good waterproof jacket on and the drizzle was very light so I pressed on to the top of Callister in the hope of seeing some developments in the wind farm that is being built there.  There were sounds of working but nothing to see yet.

The drizzle didn’t last very long, and it turned out to be a good day for cycling with a light wind, so when I came back down the hill into Langholm, I decided to go through the town and out again to the south to see if the new road at the Tarras landslip was open for cyclists yet.

It was.

A lot of work has gone onto making the steep banking below the road stable…

landslip repaired tarras

..and the road itself was a pleasure to cycle down with a beautifully smooth new surface.

new road tarras

I was intending just to visit the road and then turn back for home but having swooshed down the new road and got to the bottom of the hill and crossed the bridge over the Tarras Water, it seemed a pity not to go on, so I cycled along a road that I haven’t used for three years or more.

old road tarras

This took me down the east side of the River Esk and having passed a splendid broom bush…

broom

…I crossed the river by the Hollows Bridge and returned to Langholm up the west bank.

The bus stop at the Hollows, is a garden in itself.

bus stop hollows

The rain stayed away and I got home warm and dry after a very enjoyable 25 miles.

As it was dry, Mrs Tootlepedal and I then took the opportunity to go and collect some more woodchips for her vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t have time to spread them on the paths as it was now time to cook our evening meal.  I left this task in the capable hands of Mrs Tootlepedal and went and had a little sit down and rest.

My cycle mileage for the month has been very poor and I have only managed half the miles that I had originally planned to do by this time of the year, so I am hoping that June brings some very cycling friendly weather and I can make some progress.  I am still quite optimistic that the worst has passed as far as my feet are concerned although I haven’t tried a good walk yet.  Time will tell.

The flying bird of the day is one of our flock of sparrows.

flying sparrow

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