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Today’s guest picture is another from the delightfully sunny walk near Little Eaton that my brother took recently.  Here he was looking across the Derwent valley.

Derwent Valley

By contrast, we were more than a little surprised to find our garden covered in snow when we woke up this morning.

snow

There had been some loose talk of possible light snow during the day but this was a good solid inch or so.

It was delightful snow, firm and crunchy and a pleasure to walk on but I expect that the team working on our dam bridge repair didn’t find it such a treat…

dam bridge repairs

…but they were soon hard at it and didn’t stop all day.

The noise of the machines when they started up kept the birds away for a while but they soon got used to it and the plum tree became very busy.

snowy plum tree chaffinches

Maybe it was the snow but the birds didn’t seem entirely sure of the best way to go at  times.

goldfinch and siskin

Dropscone walked over to join us for a cup of coffee (and a scone) and managed to find his way to the house without crossing the bridge.  His scones were excellent today.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal got ready to go to the Buccleuch Centre to help with the coffee shop lunches and I went to look at the snow.

The snow had stopped and it was very still so walking was a pleasure.

I thought that I would go and see how the tree felling at the Becks wood was coming along.  I passed a gate….

snowy gate

….and found that a lot of trees had gone when I got to the wood.  I walked down to the Wauchope road and then back up the Hallcrofts road to look at the wood from the other side.  I was passed on the narrow road by a fully loaded timber wagon.  Luckily because of the snow, it was going very cautiously and I had plenty of time to squeeze into the hedge and let it past.

They have put a new road into the middle of the wood and I could see a vehicle carrying felled trees across the Becks Burn and up to the the stacking point.

Becks wood

These drivers are skilled operatives!   Higher up the wood the tree eating machine was busy organising more piles of logs to be fetched.

Becks wood

The forwarder arrived at the log pile shortly after me.

Becks wood

As you can see, there was snow everywhere but it wasn’t as thick on the hills as I had thought it would be judging from the amount we had in the garden.

There was a lot to look at….

snow

….and I took a great number of pictures as I walked back down the road and up the hill on the other side of the Wauchope Water.

catkins

The sun threatened to come out but it didn’t quite manage it so the views, when I got up the hill, were a bit dull for the camera (but very enjoyable for me).

snowy view

I looked at the turbines just over the top of the nearest hill and I was surprised to see them positively  whizzing round…

windmills in snow

…because there was hardly a breath of wind where I was standing.  I still can’t work out why I was so perfectly sheltered but it made my walk very comfortable and I even got a little too warm as I puffed up the hill.

I came back down through the park and was pleased to find a bit of moss that hadn’t been covered up by the snow.

moss

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from the Buccleuch Centre just before I got home and we had a light lunch.

I had put the car into the garage for its MOT yesterday but it had needed some new parts and they had told us that it might be some time before we got it back so we were pleased when they rang up to say that it was ready.

Mrs Tootlepedal combined collecting the car with a little shopping and I watched a goldfinch paying close attention to hitting the perch exactly right…

flying goldfinch

….and enjoyed a greenfinch looking as serious as only a greenfinch can.

greenfinch

I should have gone for my walk in the afternoon as the sun came out then…

whita with snow

…but as it was,  I just looked at the view from an upstairs window and sighed a little.

The workmen on the bridge were very busy and when they left, I went out to see what they had been up to.

There is not much of our bridge left, just a steel joist on one side….

dam bridge repairs

…of a big hole in the road and two pipes on the other side, one of which has our gas supply running through it.

dam bridge repairs

During the day a large pump had been delivered….

dam bridge repairs

….and we think that they are going to use it to pipe the dam over the works as they rebuild the bridge. The water is needed by a sheepskin treatment factory  further downstream.

We shall watch with interest.

Apart from my “beauty face”, I have got off very lightly from my fall but there is no doubt that it shook me up a little so I was happy to have a quiet end to the day.

We did pop out into the street in the early evening to watch the International Space Station flying over the town across a clear sky.  Although we have often seen the ISS, we still retain our sense of wonder at being able to watch an easily visible man made object flying across the sky more than two hundred miles above our heads and going at a speed of 17,000 mph.

I found a moment to watch a flying chaffinch during the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture from my brother shows the sort of outing you can have on a bike even in the winter, if the weather is kind and your knees are working.  He was on the Trent and Mersey canal.

There are plenty of farm bridgesWe had a glimpse of sunshine this morning but by the time that I had entertained first Dropscone and then Sandy to coffee and Mrs Tootlepedal had finished putting up the Christmas tree, the best of the weather had gone.   Sandy had seen a goshawk and a hen harrier up at the Moorland bird feeders so we drove up in hope.

I managed to get a very short walk in before the rain came down and Mrs Tootlepedal failed to see any raptors at all so we didn’t stop long, although there were a huge amount of small birds on the feeders.

I wasn’t feeling at my perkiest and even though it brightened up a bit again in the afternoon and I got my outdoor clothes on, my knee and I had a disagreement about the wisdom of walking which my knee won so I went back inside and moped around for the rest of the day.

I did look out of the window from time to time.  A blue tit and a goldfinch shared the feeder but I couldn’t persuade them both to look in the same direction at the same time.

blue tit and goldfinchOther birds were available.

greenfinch

A greenfinch pays a visit

goldfinchesBut I had missed the sunshine and the rain seemed to be coming down whenever I looked out.

chaffinchSometimes quite heavily.

The Christmas tree has not grown quite as straight as Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked but she has dressed it up nicely and although it may be a bit too showy for some people’s taste, we like it.

Christmas treeMrs Tootlepedal was busy with preparations for tomorrow and even if it won’t be the busiest Christmas we will ever have had, the meal will be a feast and I am looking forward to it.

I would like to take this opportunity thank readers for their many kind  thoughts and to wish a very Happy Christmas, or appropriate seasonal festival, to all those who take the time to read this diary.  It is a great pleasure to me to receive your kind comments and to know that from time to time, a photograph or a sentence or two will appeal to your fancy.

I apologise for the slightly circumscribed situation that I find myself in just now but I am hoping that another three weeks of good behaviour will get me out and about a bit more and that in the long term, I will once again be able to roam around our hills and valleys on foot and by bike.

The literal high spot of the day for us was the passing overhead of the International Space Station at a time when the skies were quite clear so we could see it go from horizon to horizon.  I completely failed to get my camera organised…..

space station

It’s out there somewhere

…but the moon was more obliging.

moonI managed to catch a flying goldfinch when it wasn’t raining but after the sun had disappeared.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by a proud parent, shows Maisie, Langholm’s gift to New Zealand, being very pleased to be exactly three years old.  Her grandfather was round for a cup of tea today but hadn’t seen the picture because his electricity was off.

DSC01170

It was a fine day when we woke up and I had great plans for a swift pedal on my speedy bike over hill and dale and then being back before the forecast rain started and in plentyn of time to entertain our guest.  When it dawned on me that the speedy bike was in the care of the local bike shop, I changed my plan  to a slow pedal on the slow bike over fewer hills and dales after a sociable breakfast with our guest.

This did mean that I hadn’t gone more than a mile before it started to rain.  The more determinedly I pedalled onwards, the harder it rained.  By the time that I got to Canonbie after six miles, the roads were running like rivers.  Fortunately, as I turned to come home, the rain eased off and by the time that I was halfway back to Langholm, the sun was out, everything was green and I was drying off.

Near Irvine House

Near Irvine House

bike path

The black clouds receding in the background as I went along the old road.

daisies

The daisies are coming out on the banking of the new section of road.

So in spite of the rain, I thoroughly enjoyed my slow pedal.

The ladies were hard at work in the garden when I got home and I wandered round admiring their work and taking a picture or two.

Peonies

A selection of pale peonies.

There was geometry galore.

honeysuckle and allium

Honeysuckle and Allium, one coming and one going

Irises

Triangular Irises

I looked at two flowers of my favourite rose and it is hard to believe that one will lead to the other in the space of a day or two.

Lilian Austin

My attempt to catch the neatness of a pale blue lupin was interrupted.

lupin and bee

After a splendid lunch of green lentil soup and local cheeses, we set out with Pat for a short motor tour and a walk.  The car took us to the Rashiel road end where we admired the wild Irises which were growing in profusion.

Yellow iris

Yellow iris

This is just a small part of the picture.  I didn’t have a wide enough lens to catch the whole scene.

We drove back on to the Claygate road, a lot drier now than when I had pedalled along it earlier, and then went down to the Hollows. Here we parked the car and walked back along the old road…

The Old A7

…as far as Byreburnfoot, where we admired the view of the Esk from the bridge.

Esk from Byreburn bridge

We left the Esk behind and walked up the track beside the Byreburn as far as the junction with the road to Priorhill at the top of the track.  The bank on the far side of the river here was glowing with buttercups.

Byreburn buttercups

And my eye was caught by a wild rose near the bridge.

Byreburn rose

We retraced our footsteps back down the track and then to the car, keeping our eyes out for interest on our way.

ragged robin

Ragged robin

conifers

Conifers developing, each in their own way.

Wild flowers

A grass, a Geum and a Figwort

Byreburn

The heavy morning rain was being drained away by the burn

The prize went to Mrs Tootlepedal who spotted an orchid at one point during our excursion.  She wants me not to say where we saw it, so I shan’t.

Orchid

Orchid

It was a Marsh Orchid

I should have a mowed a lawn when we got home but the cycling and walking were quite enough for my knees for the day so I contented myself with a final garden shot….

evening garden

…and went in to have a cup of tea and a sit down.

We rounded off the day with an excellent meal at the Douglas Hotel (courtesy of Pat) and a late evening viewing of the International Space Station as it trundled across the sky above the house once again.  I say it trundled because that is how it appears as it goes sedately and silently over our heads but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is travelling around the world  at 17,000 mph and completes 15 orbits a day.  It will go over us again in an hour and a half.  Some trundling.

My ISS photography has not improved.  I was using bulb mode with a tripod but I had great difficulty in getting everything set up before the thing had moved out of shot and in the end, I had to prop the tripod up with my wobbly hand.  Still practice makes perfect and Mrs Tootlepedal gets an e-mail to tell her when and where it will be visible so I will try to be better prepared next time (and not so near a street lamp).

Here is the flying object of the day.

ISS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the Olympic swimming pool in the Olympic Park in London.  My sister Mary paid £1 for the privilege of viewing it.  She didn’t go for a swim.

The Olympic swimming pool in the Olympic Park

I had arranged to go for a morning pedal with Dropscone but he rang up to say that he had forgotten that he had another engagement so I went out by myself.  I had time to watch a sparrow on the feeder before I left.

sparrow

It was warm and there was quite a bit of blue sky about but strangely it also rained for the whole journey.  As it was only raining at a rate of about two drops a minute, this was not a problem and I went to Waterbeck and back without stopping to take a single picture.  In fact my Garmin device told me that I was able to do the whole 22 miles without having to come to a halt anywhere.

My newspaper tells me that a recent survey says that the majority of people would like the government to stop all new road building until they have repaired the existing roads.  I would heartily agree with that, as the state of the roads is taking quite a bit of the carefree pleasure of bicycling away at the moment.  Dropscone went for a ride himself later on and reported that the road he followed was so bad that it hardly deserved to be called a road all.

Since I had taken my phone round the ride without using it for a photo opportunity, I took a flower in the garden with it when I got home instead.  It made a good job of a peony I thought.

peony

I had tasks to do in the house and up in the town so I didn’t have the opportunity to go for a walk and as result it is another very flowery post today.

There were familiar roses looking good….

rose Wren and Burnet

The Wren and a Scotch Briar

…and new roses too, out for the first time today.

pink and white roses

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the pink one is Rosa Gallica Complicata although it looks quite simple to me.  It is certainly popular with small black flies.  The white rose is a Rugosa.

There are other roses waiting in the wings.

rosebud

As well as flowers arriving, there are flowers departing and the red peonies are just about over.

peony

It rained quite a lot after I got back from cycling as you can see by the damp flowers.

It didn’t start raining heavily though until I had got the middle lawn mowed.  The grass is growing well and the lawns need mowing every two days if the weather permits.

I didn’t see any frogs today so I had to be content with two sets of yellow flowers, one on the edge of the pond….

yellow flowers

…and one growing in the pond.

yellow flowers

There are foxgloves all over the place.  Although they are invasive, Mrs Tootlepedal likes them and lets them pop up where they want for the most part.

foxgloves

Some shrubs just don’t know when to stop and the Spirea by the greenhouse has hundreds of blossoms on it.

spirea

Next to it, the first of the season’s delphiniums looks quite restrained.

delphinium

Although, close up, it’s flowers are sensational.

delphinium

The centre of a Delphinium is called a bee I am told.

In the afternoon, we went to Carlisle, dropping my speedy bike off at the bike shop on the way to get a new mudguard fitted.  I broke the old one when I fell of recently and I have missed it.  Coming back from a ride on wet roads covered with mud and with a filthy bike seems like a quite good thing to avoid.

We did a little shopping, returned some choir books to the library and then went to the station to meet my step mother Pat who is paying us a visit for a few days.  Luckily the weather faired up when she came and she was able to walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal in some gentle evening sunshine.

Pat and Mrs T

Pat is a keen gardener and hopes to be able to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand while she is with us.

I am missing having the seed feeder out and hope to start again soon but in the meantime we are being entertained by large numbers of blackbirds whizzing round the garden, sometimes chasing each other violently, sometimes cheerfully pecking worms out of the lawn.

blackbird

The male of the pair nesting in the hydrangea likes to rest for a moment on the feeder pole and survey the scene before going off to get more worms.

blackbird

The flying object of the day is a bit of a cheat as I took the picture last night.  It was after I had posted yesterday’s effort when I took it so  I have put it in today.  It shows the International Space Station trundling steadily across the sky like some celestial omnibus.  We had a very clear view of it as it crossed above Langholm but the photograph didn’t do it justice at all.  The next time that conditions are favourable, I hope to have a tripod and a slow shutter speed ready for it.

International Space Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows a bee, dead centre on a cornflower

cornflower bee

I threw back the curtains to be greeted by a brilliant blue sky. It was the day for breakfast and a bike ride. I took the slow bike as I wanted to see if it was still making an ominous clicking noise after I had removed and cleaned the chain yesterday. The clicking soon started again and continued on and off throughout the ride. It is one of those irritating clicks that sometimes disappears for miles at at a time and just when you think it has gone for good, re-appears. A visit to the bike hospital is indicated. I think it may be trouble in the bottom bracket.

I took my time going round as I was playing golf in the afternoon with Arthur. He was trying to fish while  I pedalled but he told me that the brilliant sun was no good for fishing. Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work after lunch and I went up to the golf course. The course is suffering from the recent wet weather as it has been very difficult for the green-keeping staff to get onto the course. They are working very hard as it the Langholm Open on Saturday.

The greens looked well as they had just been cut but they were very, very slow and all  day I struggled to persuade myself to hit the putts hard enough to get the ball up to the hole. This was a pity because I actually hit my longer shots quite well and if I could have pitched a bit better and got the putts up to the hole, I would have had a good score. Arthur played the first nine  holes well but then the efforts of fishing in the morning and golfing in the afternoon caught up with him and he faded away. Nothing daunted, he was off fishing again as soon as we had completed our round.

When I got home, I saw a single mother duck swimming up the dam, quacking loudly. I went in to get my camera and by the time I came out again, she was on the bank.

duck

The little heap at her feet resolved itself into a pile of ducklings as I got nearer.

ducklings

After letting me take several photos, they got up and headed for the water.

ducklings

As they swam off, I could see that the duckling count was down to seven.  Ducklings have many predators.

seven ducklings

In the garden, the day of better weather had worked wonders. Roses had come out…

rose

…cornflowers and sedums had bees not raindrops on them…

sedum bee

..but it also meant that wasps were about…

plum wasps

..between the wasps, the birds and the poor ripening weather, I have almost  given up hope of eating a ripe plum this year in spite of the huge crop on the tree.

This cheerful clematis brought some consolation.

clematis

We are eating beans, turnips, early potatoes, courgettes,  beetroot and onions from the vegetable patch at the moment and tomatoes and cucumbers from the greenhouse so we are well supplied. The apples and peppers  are ripening well and should be good. Mrs Tootlepedal is worried that we may have blight in our small patch of main crop potatoes so she has cut the tops off some of them as a precautionary measure. There are more beetroot and carrots growing but we need good weather if they are to come to anything before the end of the season.

On the impatiens or Busy Lizzie front, Dr Tinker reports that the mildew that has destroyed our plants has been a nationwide catastrophe and many councils will not order them again for their planting out scheme as the mildew infects the ground for many years.

I put a week of the E&L into the database in the evening. I have not put in as many in the week as I hoped but even if I am not catching up the indexers, at least I am not falling further behind.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day as she put in a lot of time on the fireplace wall which is now nearly finished, got the B&B ready for new guests, went to work, welcomed the guests, did the shopping for their breakfasts  and then went up and mended the watering machine for the hanging baskets in the evening. She is a human dynamo. I get tired just watching her.

I finish with two plants which  lurk at the back round the drying green.

crocosmia

A gently coloured crocosmia

spirea

A spiky spirea; it has lasted well in the rainy season.

Late newsflash:  I was just about to publish this effort when a knock on the window disturbed me. It was Bruce, passing with his dog. When I went out to see him, he pointed out the International Space Station passing through the sky. I have never knowingly seen it before. It was extremely bright but was only visible for a few seconds. While we watched it, we were entertained by a display of bat aerobatics nearby.

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