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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Moor’

I would like to thank kind readers for sending me a positive flood of potential guest pictures and I have chosen one from Venetia’s African odyssey to start off.  It shows a gemsbok which appealed to me as it appeared in a recent crossword as an answer to a cryptic clue.  It is good to see what one actually looks like.

Oryx aka gemsbok,

We were slightly worried about the weather at the start of the day as Mrs Tootlepedal was due to go to London on family business and the the forecasts regarding Storm Gareth were quite alarming.  As it turned out, we avoided the worst of the overnight weather and things looked like this in Langholm this morning.

quiet after storm

In the event, both bus and train ran to time and Mrs Tootlepedal is safely ensconced in the south as I write this.  Doubtless she is relaxing under a palm tree and enjoying a beaker of the  blushful Hippocrene  with beaded bubbles winking at the brim.  I believe this is the standard practice down there.

After Mrs Tootlepedal left to catch the bus, I went to the dentist on my bike and discovered that I am going to have to have two small fillings.  As I am grateful to still have some teeth to fill, I shall not complain.

On my way home I passed a goosander checking to see what was under the surface.

ducking goosander

It stayed pretty sunny all morning and I was a bit sad that a sore foot kept me housebound, although the strong and chilly wind would have kept me off my bike anyway.

I looked out of the window at the daffodils which have come to join the hellebore under the feeder.

hellebore and daffs

Up above, the was plenty of action.

busy feeder

I made some multicoloured lentil soup for my lunch and I felt strong enough to have a wander round the garden.

The first scillas are in flower…

scilla

…and a couple of frogs had arrived in the pond.

march frog

I was just settling down for a rather boring afternoon when providentially Sandy arrived bringing our shared mount cutter which I will need to prepare pictures for our forthcoming camera club exhibition.  We had a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and then when I expressed a wish for a short outing in the car to at least get out out of the house, Sandy suggested a trip up the hill to see if we could see a wild goat or two.

The sun had gone in and there was a hint of drizzle but the call of the wild was strong.

We actually saw three goats but when we stopped and got out of the car, they scurried over a bridge (no doubt going ‘trip trap’) and made off up the hill.

goat near bridge

This was the bridge that they crossed.

tarras bridge

It has Sandy on top of it and no trolls underneath.

Slightly disappointed with this small sighting, we continued up the road towards the county boundary, seeing no goats as we went along.

Deprived of goats we looked at the Black Grain Burn instead.  It winds its way down the hill beside the road…

copshaw road burn

…making sudden sallies and sparkling among the ferns as it bickers down the valley…

It has a multitude of little cascades of….

small copshaw road waterfall

…various…

middle copshaw road waterfall 2

…sizes.  I took two shots of the middle sized one because I liked the spangled curtain of peaty water.

middle copshaw road waterfall

This was the biggest.

copshaw road burn down

It is a little gem of a place and we intend to come back later in the year when things are greener, the sun is out and a picnic might be in order.

copshaw road burn with tree

It is a magical spot and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it has a bank where the wild thyme grows.

We drove on to the county boundary and saw nothing of interest in the wild life category…well to be truthful, we saw no wildlife at all.

We didn’t stop long as the chilly wind was fairly whistling past us.

We were peacefully driving back down the hill when we were brought to a sudden stop by spotting a good number of goats just by the road.  We must have passed them without seeing them on our way up.

The Langholm Moor feral goats are a fine sight with immensely shaggy coats and notable horns.

solo goat

They got a bit fidgety when we got out of the car and made their down the road ahead of us…

crowd of goats

…but not without a bit of headbutting and prancing on the way.

leaping goat

They stopped soon after and let us take some more pictures.

goat profile head

We took the opportunity gratefully.

goat profile left

The light was fading so we drove on with one last stop to let me take a quick snap from the car of the first lambs that I have seen this year.

first lambs

It was an excellent outing and I was grateful for Sandy for giving me an excuse to get out of the house.

I made an enormous bowl of cauliflower cheese for my tea and surprised myself by eating it all.  I had to let out a notch in my belt afterwards.

In the middle of more parliamentary mayhem in the evening, I listened to a conservative MP talking soberly and sensibly while outlining a perfectly sensible cross party plan of action which as he said would satisfy most of the 52% leave voters without insulting the 48% remain voters.  He was so sane and reasonable that I fear that he has no future in politics.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving the world a sideways look in the morning sun.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who contemplated Nottingham Arboretum’s war memorial (Crimean War), sometimes called “the Chinese Bell Tower”.

chinese bell tower

Our fine weather continued though it was pretty windy and a good deal cooler than the recent very unseasonably hot days.  Still, it was warm enough to wander round the garden in just a T shirt (and trousers) after I had gone up to the town to do a bit of embarrassing business.  I had lost the Archive Group chequebook and had to eat humble pie and ask for a new one to be issued.

The garden somewhat made up for my bumbling.

The very last of the tulips are fading away gracefully…

late tulips

…and are being replaced by white blossom…

parsley, dogwood and rowan

Cow parsley, dogwood and rowan

There are signs that we might get at least a few strawberries in the not too distant future…

strawberry

…but a lot of the plants look as though the hot weather has been too much for them.

The alliums are at their best….

allium

…and one my favourite flowers, the astrantia, is also thriving.

astrantia

For sheer impact, the Icelandic poppies are hard to beat, particularly in a sunny moment…

icelandic poppy

..but the geraniums are well worth a second look even if they are not so zingy.

geranium

After coffee, I went out again to check on the bird activity.

There were sparrows everywhere; trying to get at Mrs Tootlepedal’s peas, eating aphids on the gooseberry bush, flying into compost bin C and taking a little seed from the feeder.

sparrows

They can eat all the aphids they can with my blessing but Mrs Tootlepedal hopes that her defences will keep them out of the peas.

The baby thrush and an inquisitive blackbird were about too.

thrush and balckbird

I checked on the chives while I was out.

chives

I really should have gone out for a bike ride in the sunshine but the brisk wind and a slightly weary feeling put paid to any energetic ideas so I booked some railway tickets for a future jaunt to London instead.

All through the day, there were incessant and noisy demands from a young sparrow for food…

sparrow feeding

…and the mother responded with superb patience.

After lunch, I went down to Longtown to pick up my slow bike from the bike shop where it has been serviced and the briefest of test rides on it showed just how good my new bike is in comparison.  My new bike has to go back to the bike shop soon for a post sale checkup and the mechanic suggested that they might have to keep it for some time so that they all could get a ride on it.  Hmmm.

Then I had to go off to see a doctor about my persistently malfunctioning voice.  I went in the hope of a miracle cure so I would be in good order for two concerts in the coming weekend but no miracle cure was forthcoming, only a blood test appointment and a re-visit in two weeks.  I can’t complain about a doctor being thorough though and I will just have to wait to see what happens next.

The day had got rather cloudy and grey by this time so I instead of going for a bike ride when I got back, I did a little gardening in the shape of sieving some compost and doing a bit of shredding for Mrs Tootlepedal who was improving one of her flower beds by clearing things out.

A visitor came round to check on the health of some plants that she had given Mrs Tootlepedal and was relieved to see them doing well as hers were looking a bit peaky.  She looked along Ally’s allium alley before she left.

Ally's allium alley

We had a cup of tea and I noticed a great tit coming to the feeder for the first time for ages.

great tit

Later on,  since the skies had cleared and a beautiful evening was developing, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip up to the Langholm Moor in the hope of seeing something interesting.

Sadly, we saw no wildlife of any sort though we heard a distant cuckoo.  Nevertheless, the general beauty of the scene, both on the drive up…

Ewes valley

…and when we got to the moor…

On Langholm Moor

…made it a very enjoyable if brief outing.

On our way home we stopped to look at the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…and take in the view of Warbla across the Castleholm.

Warbla view

We had a salad for our tea, with radishes and a variety of cut leaves from the vegetable garden.  I hope that this will be the first of many meals enhanced by home grown produce.

The flying bird of the day is a curiosity.  I noticed a jackdaw on the front lawn and followed it as it took off.  I don’t try this often as it needs a quicker hand and eye than I possess but I thought that the result was worth a look even if just to notice how the bright light made a black bird look pale grey.

flying jackdaw

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.

butterflies

One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.

peacock

I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.

harriers

Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.

sunflower

The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set

yew

The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.

blackbirds

Getting ready to pounce

blackbirds

Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….

clematis

…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.

clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.

robin

In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.

poppy

As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

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Today’s guest picture, from my ex-colleague Ada, shows a passing traveller whom she ran into (but not over)  on the road.

frog

The forecast said that it would start to rain at 3pm today and it was absolutely spot on which made it lucky that I had managed to get my day organised on that basis.

I am still struggling to persuade my back muscles to relax on a full time basis so I went for a gentle 20 mile circuit of Canonbie on my bike after a leisurely breakfast.  I had time while I was getting mentally and spiritually prepared to pedal to walk round the garden admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of poppy seeds in action.

shirley poppies

Although she had to re-sow because of the poor weather and thus had to buy a second set of packets of seed, it still looks like good value for £15 (and quite a bit of gardening time) to me.

This was one of the few days when Dr Velo didn’t have a cure for feeling a bit old and tired so I let the wind and the hill discourage me for the first five miles but once I had first gravity and then the breeze helping me, I perked up a bit and got home safely.

I stopped three times, all on the first section of the ride, to take pictures.  The flowers on the rosebay willowherb beside the Wauchope road are going over but its red stems still give it a lot of colour.

rosebay willowherb

I stopped half way up the hill past the Bloch to admire the view….

Wauchope valley

…and the picture reflects the alternating sunshine and clouds that accompanied me on the rest of the trip.

I stopped again at the top of the hill when a mixture of heather and young trees in a replanted wood caught my eye.

heather and young trees

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed that it might be worthwhile to take the car up on to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see birds or goats.

I had a shower and a light lunch and off we went.

We saw lots of birds but no goats.  I had my new lens with me and although the light was quite poor by this time, I made an effort to record a bird we saw hunting near the road.

hen harrier

It was too quick for my trembling hand and the autofocus

hen harrier

I did a bit better when it hovered.

We are not very knowledgeable bird watchers but we think this is a female hen harrier.

After watching the bird for some time, we  drove on up to the county boundary….

County boundary

…which is marked by a fence at this point, in the hope of seeing some goats but there were none to be seen so we turned for home.

We stopped here  and there on the way back for me to enjoy the views and Mrs Tootlepedal to watch raptors through binoculars.

I like the bubbling little burn that runs down the hill beside the road.

Langholm Moor burn

Even though it was a bit gloomy, I could see the Lake District mountains, which I had visited not so long ago, across the other side of the Solway plain.

Skiddaw

Nearer to hand, there was plenty of heather in bloom.

heather

And it is always a pleasure to up on the moor.

Whita

Especially when there is a nice bridge to be seen on the way.

Tarras Bridge

We stopped to look at gulls on the Kilngreen when we got back to the town…

black headed gull

…and got home shortly before the forecast rain started.

I had time for a quick garden wander.

rambler roses

The very last of the rambler roses on top of the arch

sweet pea

A sweet pea in the cage that is necessary to keep it safe from the sparrows when it is young

two cosmos

The only cosmos in flower yet

I tried to take a picture of one of the cornflowers among the poppies but I got distracted…

Heliophilus pendulas

…by a Heliophilus pendulus, one of the many hoverflies.  It really enjoyed the flower.

Heliophilus pendulus

For once I am fairly sure about the identification (so I am probably wrong).

It didn’t rain very hard and occasionally even gave up in a half hearted sort of way but the afternoon remained dark and gloomy enough to persuade us to find things to do indoors.

Sandy dropped in and kindly collected my entry form and fees to take down to the Canonbie Flower Show secretary.  He has been tiling in his new house and will be pleased when he has finished the job.

The flower of the day is a dahlia with its own internal illumination….

dahlia

…and the official flying bird of the day is one of the three black headed gulls that we saw on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.

yosemite

We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.

pheasant

Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.

goats

We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Gavin, who is on a trip to see family in the USA.  They have been been visiting Yosemite.

Yosemite

There was some every nice sunny weather when we got up but the wind soon got up too and if you weren’t in the sun, it was decidedly cool.

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I didn’t go cycling when I had finished though as there were more important things to do today.

Needless to say I had my mind on turning compost so that I could start getting my new bins installed.  By going very carefully, using a small fork and taking frequent rests, I managed to empty Bin D, turn Bin C into Bin D and then turn Bin B into Bin C.

In the rests between turning, I looked into tulips.

tulips

tulips

It’s wonderful to get such a variety  of shades and styles but I notice that they all have six stamens.  There’s probably some tulip rule about that.

I had the occasional sit down inside as well which let me watch the birds for a bit. Female chaffinches were to the fore…

female chaffinches

…and a siskin wisely bailed out before being run into by a determined male chaffinch.

siskin and chaffinch

Out in the garden, the dog tooth violets are in full swing.

dog tooth violets

I even saw a butterfly but as I didn’t have my camera with me, you’ll have to take my word for that.  I saw a couple of butterflies while I was out cycling yesterday so I am hoping to see a few more in the garden soon.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, we had some lunch and then we loaded up the car with clippings from the yew and two box balls which had been savaged by Attila the Gardener and took them off to the council dump near Annan.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should take a trip up to the Langholm Moor and see if we could see the goats that people keep tell us we are missing. We had hopes of perhaps seeing a hen harrier too, although it had clouded over by this time.

It was very hazy so there were no views to be had and as we drove over the hill to the county boundary, there were no goats either.   We did see a buzzard high in the sky above us but we turned for home feeling that once again, we had missed the goats.

 I stopped the car as we came down into the Tarras valley in order to take a rather gloomy shot of one of my favourite bridges…..

Tarras Bridge

…and while we were stopped, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she saw a goat on the far side of the river.  When I looked, I saw another two so we drove over the bridge and looked around.

We didn’t have to be very sharp eyed to see a lot more goats.

Tarras goats

There were goats and kids all over the place.  I don’t how we had missed them on our way out.

One of the kids was bleating furiously and I could hear an answering bleat from some distance away.  When I looked down the bank, I could see a goat sprinting along the far bank of the river.

Tarras goats

It came to the bridge and went tip tapping over it with no regard for trolls at all….

Tarras goats

…and was soon reunited with the kid.

The goats weren’t at all bothered by us and I was able to walk along the road side snapping away without disturbing them.

Tarras goats

I don’t often get a chance like this so I overindulged a bit.

Tarras goats

These are genuinely wild goats but they were very calm today.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

They were as curious about me as i was about them.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Although we could have happily stayed and watched them for quite a lot longer,, we left the goats in the hope of seeing a hen harrier before the light faded…

Tarras goats

…and drove on.

Before we left, I did take a picture of a sheep which was standing nearby so that anyone who is having trouble in separating their goats from their sheep can tell the difference.

tarras sheep

We didn’t see a harrier, just another buzzard circling in the sky but we did see several grouse.  Sadly, the light had gone too far to take a picture by this time.

When we got home, I took some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal, borrowed her spirit level and set about demolishing the old compost Bin B and installing the bottom layers of the new bin.

I got the bottom section level….

spirit level

…installed the next layer and started turning Bin A into the new Bin B.  It was a pleasure to use such a handsome new bin.

compost bins

…and we soon had three layers of the new bin filled.

compost bins

Here are Bins A to D in a row.

It just remains to finish turning Bin A into Bin B (which has two more layers to put on if needed) and then build the new Bin A.  With a little good weather, that should happen tomorrow.  The beauty of the modular bins is that I never have to lean in deeply to dig out the compost and I never have to lift the compost any higher than is absolutely necessary.  These are important considerations for a man with a bad back.

We settled down to eat our lamb stew and watch the Masters golf tournament with a feeling of a day well spent.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch catching the morning sun..

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my daughter’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Heaven knows what the wonderful flowers are.

Chelsea Flower Show

We are enjoying a spell of warm, dry weather which is extremely welcome.  It is letting Mrs Tootlepedal get some really useful gardening done and it is letting me get some good cycling miles in.

It was sunny from the start of the day and I took a moment before getting the fairly speedy bike out to have a look round the garden.

As always, I was happy to see a bee.  They love the Dicentras.

bee on Dicentra

I would be even happier if there were a lot more bees about but in spite of the good weather, they are still very scarce.

Our neighbour Gavin took a break on his customary morning walk to give two of his friends a guided tour of the garden.  They were impressed that Mrs Tootlepedal does all the work herself.  I am impressed by that too.

There are a lot of birds in the garden at the moment.  Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t regard house sparrows in a very friendly light as they eat her young plants if she doesn’t protect them well but I am very happy if they pose nicely for me.

male sparrows

Males on the fence…

female sparrow

…and a female on the feeder

Hedge sparrows or dunnocks are often to be seen creeping about under plants in the borders.  I caught a young one under the feeders today.

dunnock

Siskins are still the most frequent feeder visitors…

siskins

…but they have to fend off the occasional incursion by sparrows….

sparrow and siskin

…and everybody gives a starling a wide berth.

starling

I didn’t have a moment to look at the flowers today because I had only a limited time to complete my cycle ride.  I set off up the A7 to the north with two plans in mind – either go straight up the road against the wind for twenty miles and enjoy a whizz back down with the wind behind or else take a more circular and hilly route and avoid having to pedal into the wind for too long.

The forecast had promised a reasonably light wind but after eight miles butting into it, it seemed quite strong to me and after a pause to look at Ewes Church…

Ewes Church

…I turned right at Fiddleton and headed for the hills.

There is a stiff climb out of the Ewes valley….

Ewes valley

…and on to the ridge at the top…

Carrotrig

…but it is well worth it, both for the views when you are up there and the steady descent down to Hermitage Water and the Castle on its bank.

Hermitage castle

The run back down the road to Newcastleton with the breeze now behind me was most enjoyable after the slow progress over the first sixteen miles.

I passed several bridges of various sizes on my way from Fiddleton to Newcastleton and stopped for two of them.

bridges

The water in the rivers is very low.  The fisherman are crying out for some rain.

I stopped in Newcastleton to buy a strawberry tart from a handy cafe as I needed a bit of fuel for the last leg of my trip, 10 miles over the moor with a thousand foot summit between me and Langholm.

I had designed my route in the hope that the brisk breeze would help me over the hill and my hopes were realised in full and the ten miles passed without any trouble.  If I had had more time to spare, I could happily have spent an hour or two just snapping away at all the wild flowers.  But time pressed and I settled for a view of Tinnis Hill…

Tinnis Hill

Its characteristic shape and position make it a familiar landmark from many miles away to the south and west.

…and an impression of the quiet road that I followed.

Langholm Moor

Getting near the summit

There was so much bog cotton about that at times it looked as though it had been snowing.

Bog cotton

The sting in the tail of the road across the moor is the valley of the Tarras.  It gives an extra up and down when you are almost home.

Tarras

One more river….

The bog cotton and and some very colourful moss gave me an excuse for a breather…

bog cotton and moss

..and more wild flowers gave me another.

wild flowers

The climbing and the wind made for a pretty slow average speed for my outing but it had been such a pleasant trip that I wasn’t too sad about this……but all the same, I scurried down the last hill and just managed to creep up to exactly 12 mph for the circuit which gave me some respectability (but not much).

Those interested can see more about the route by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 29 May 16

I should add that the weather information that Garmin have added to the route map was wrong in every respect except the wind direction and even that was a bit more from the north than they show.

I just had time for a shower, a change of clothes and lunch before we set off to Carlisle for a combination of shopping and singing.  The shopping went very well.  The singing was not quite so good as our usual conductor and accompanist were missing, as was quite a good proportion of the choir.

With our concert coming up next week, it left us a little under prepared but those present gave of their best for the substitute conductor and it also gave us a chance to meet the young lady who is going to be our new accompanist from September onwards.  She did amazingly well considering that she was sight reading everything today.

After a heavy eight days of cycling, singing and gardening, we were very pleased to have a sit down when we got home.

The flying bird of the day is another siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

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