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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Sings’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is obviously enjoying a stay in the north east of Scotland.  He visited a famous collapsed sea cave called Bullers of Buchan.  It must have been spectacular when the roof fell in.

Bullers of Buchan

There is no question but that summer is going to be a disappointment this year as it can’t possibly be better than the spell of glorious weather we are enjoying at the moment.  We had another really warm and sunny day today (25°C in the afternoon) and with little or no wind, it was almost too warm for comfort at times.  This is nearly 10°C above the seasonal average.   From a gardening point of view, we could do with some rain and the forecast is offering us a cooler, wet day tomorrow which should be quite welcome.

Mind you, it offered us terrible thunderstorms with torrential rain and big hailstones today and none of that arrived so we are not raising our hopes and we did a lot of watering of thirsty plants in the garden today.

I had an early look around for interest after breakfast.

We are not short of colour.

Some from familiar plants….

Welsh poppies

Welsh Poppies

perennial wallflower

Perennial wallflower with a wonderful array of tints

dicentra

Dicentra which has lasted for weeks.

…and some from new arrivals.

goura pink

Pink Gaura, new this year in our garden with its friend…..

gaura white

…the White Gaura.  They are also called Wandflowers.

orange hawkweed

The first of many, many orange hawkweed

oriental poppy

And our first oriental poppy on the back wall of the house beside the dam.

While we were talking to a garden visitor, a bright orange tip male butterfly fluttered past us but by the time that I had got my camera out, it had fluttered off leaving only the less colourful female to pose.

orange tip butterfly female

I didn’t just look at flowers.  Mrs Tootlepedal collected a pocketful of stout and healthy looking acorns in the autumn of 2016 and with careful attention, she now has a small oak forest growing in one of the raised beds…

Little oaks

…proving conclusively that little oaks from great acorns grow.

She is going to transplant the saplings out into the wild wood when they are strong enough.

She also noticed a small clump of fungus growing from a patch of farmyard manure behind our new bench.  By the time that I got to them, they had faded away.

tiny mushrooms

Dropscone, who has been up near North Berwick, refereeing at a junior golf tournament, came round for coffee.  He told us that the haar had been so bad in North Berwick that one of the rounds of the tournament had been cancelled on the golf course there because players couldn’t see far enough ahead to hit safely.  We were very lucky with our holiday weather.  He hadn’t lost his skill at making treacle scones while he had been away.

After he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I got a drill out and finished fixing two new bolts through the metal post holding up the honeysuckle archway at the back of the garden.

arch bolts

This was one of those jobs which have been needed to done for about ten years so there was quiet satisfaction at its final completion.

Our neighbour Betty was clipping the hedge between our gardens so I thought that I should take the hint and clipped our side of the hedge too.  Then Mrs Tootlepedal took the hedge trimmer and tried to cut down a big clump of comfrey…

compost plant

…but found that the stems were too tough and awkward for the hedge trimmer.

I found it too hot to stay out so went in to do the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal toiled on.  After lunch the positions were reversed and Mrs Tootlepedal took a well deserved siesta while I went out and mowed the front lawn and sieved a barrow load of compost.

I noticed the first flowers on a Scotch rose called Harison’s Yellow.

Scotch rose

Then I was just contemplating the willow beside the hedge…

willow

…and looking at it closely…

willow close up

…when two even more interesting specimens appeared over the hedge.

Liz and Mike

As they used to say in the society papers, this was Liz and Mike enjoying a joke while pausing at Langholm’s premier garden watching venue.

We all agreed that the weather was quite unnatural and as we spoke, a drop or two of rain looked as though it might herald the forecast thunderstorm.  But Liz and Mike went on their ways and the rain went on its way and the rest of the day was as fine and warm as it had been all the time.

Mrs Tootlepedal came down from her siesta and immediately started work in the garden again, watering and planting out.  I took a picture of a musk flower that had come out during the day…

musk

…and then went off to buy some food for my evening meal and then cook the meal as I was going off to sing with Langholm Sings at a concert in the evening.

The other Mike, my cello playing and singing colleague came round and we drove off to Waterbeck, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to go the Buccleuch Centre where she was doing the front of house duty for a Dougie MacLean concert.

We got a good audience at Waterbeck and I enjoyed croaking my way through the songs, though there were one or two that could have done with a little more preparation time, especially as I had missed the last concert owing to being in North Berwick.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed the Dougie MacLean concert a lot.  (Here is a link to another concert of his for anyone who would like to get to know this engaging folk singer. most famous for his song ‘Caledonia’)

It was a busy day so I didn’t get a moment to look at any flying birds at all.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi and thought that possibly this advertising poster, commissioned from Toulouse-Lautrec in 1896 by the Simpson Chain Company, might possibly be of interest to me.  It was indeed.

Toulouse Lautrec poster

If you are interested there is more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson_Chain 

I had the intention of taking my new belt driven bicycle out for a spin after breakfast but what with one thing and another (things to do, cold northerly winds, lassitude, mental instability etc), I didn’t get out until midday.

I had a quick look at the garden in the morning…

anemone

…and couldn’t resist another look at the anemones, radiant in the sunshine.

I enjoyed watching a bee literally getting stuck into a rhododendron flower…

bee and tulip

…and admired the colour of the tulip.

When I finally got going, I chose a route which I hoped would see me battling the breeze on my way up to the county border above Eskdalemuir and then getting swooshed back down to Langholm with the wind behind me.

Alas, my calculation was out and I had a crosswind to annoy me in both directions.  However, it was a lovely sunny day and the cool north easterly breeze stopped me from cooking in the sunshine so “mustn’t grumble”.

It is quite a hilly route by my standards and I have to be careful of my tin* knee when going up steep hills so I was lucky to have my new gears working well today.  The new bike’s hub has a choice of really good low gears which let me get up the hills without putting too much strain on my legs and I enjoyed the journey up to the border at 1000 ft above sea level.

I snapped away as I went along.

It was a great day for wide views and closer looks.

bluebells

wild flowers

This is the Esk at Bentpath.

Esk at bentpath

bluebells at bentpath

I saw a lot of orange tip butterflies on my way and even spent some time on the Shaw Rigg chasing up and down the road on foot trying to catch a male who kept stopping and then flitting onwards just before I got the camera into focus.  I had to settle for this shot of the female which annoyingly doesn’t have the orange tip to her wings.

female orange tip butterfly

Wherever I looked there were beautiful corners…

esk view

…prehistoric stone circles…

stone curcles

…and wide panoramas.

Upper esk valley

This one was looking up the upper Esk valley over Eskdalemuir to the hills behind.   Sharp eyed readers may spot a curious white tower in the middle distance.  I passed it later.

On a sunny day Eskdalemuir is uniformly lovely.

Upper esk valley

And this is the white tower a few miles north of Eskdalemuir village.

samye Ling
It is part of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist monastery which has a beautiful temple.  It is not the first thing that you might expect to see in the Scottish Borders but the community has been here for 50 years and is part and parcel of this part of the world now.

Leaving the monastery behind, I headed up the single track road to the county boundary.  It is one of my favourite sections of road as the records show that in five miles the gradient is so steady that you only lose 15 meters in the course of climbing 432 metres.

Road to Ettrick

The climb is gentle, the scenery delightful and the only fly in the ointment is the need to avoid the large and speedy timber lorries that come hurtling up and down the road.  Luckily they make such a noise that you get plenty of advance warning.

I stopped for a light lunch at an abandoned sheep fold in the forest at the top of the hill…

sheep fauld

…and was quite pleased not to be driving in a car on such narrow roads when log lorries were on the go.

B709

The trip home wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked as the cross wind nagged and pestered and I had to keep a sharp eye out for the many potholes on the way.  This didn’t make for relaxed riding.

I chose a slightly different route for my return which  gave me other views, including the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers…

meeting of black and white esk

…and a new selection of wild flowers.

wild flowers

As I got near to Langholm, I saw a farmer rolling his grass pastures…

rolling the grass

..and reflected that I could do with a good roller for my lawns.

I took a last look round…

valley north of langholm

…and was grateful for a quirk in the wind which pushed me up the final climb and then down into the town.

I had only done just over 40 miles but with over 2000ft of climbing, it felt like quite a long ride and my average speed was very modest.  I don’t do many hilly rides so it was a pleasure to have managed one without taking any harm to my joints.

When I got in, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a cup of tea on the new bench in the garden and I kept leaping up to photograph more flowers.

There were a lot to choose from.  They included a fine display of lilac blossom and the first sighting of a new yellow tulip, just out today…..

lilac and tulips

…as well the first of the white clematis on the wall round the back door, one of the few remaining daffodils and some of the very hardy grape hyacinths which have been out in frost, rain and sunshine for weeks.

hyacinth, daffodil and clematis

After a nourishing evening meal of corned beef hash, I went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.  For some reason the cycling had reduced my voice to the merest croak so I wasn’t much use but I was able to hit some impressively low notes.

The flying bird of the day was far too busy hitting some high notes of his own to be flying about.

blackbird singing

*Tin knee:  Actually it is likely that my new bike and my artificial knee are made of the same material, titanium.

Those interested can see details of my bike ride here.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

P1090558

And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine selection of flying birds spotted by Mike Tinker in Singapore on his way home from New Zealand.

flying swans

There won’t be much in the way of text today because I have had a hard afternoon and evening as we first had a rehearsal for our Langholm Sings concert with the Langholm Concert Orchestra and then, after a relatively brief pause, we had the concert itself.

As I was not only singing in the choir but also acting as compère, it was quite a busy time….especially as I was only told that I was acting as compère two minutes before the rehearsal started so I literally had to make it up as I went along.  Still, I enjoyed both the singing and the introducing so I am not complaining, just a bit jiggered.

When it comes to making things up as I go along, I sometimes think that I should have been a politician.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a very busy day in the garden and I wandered about there too.

daffodil

Daff of the day (with added fly)

muscari

A tributary of the river of blue

daffs

The back path

tulips and daffs

These tulips keep coming up year after year.

spring flowers

Garden colour

dogs tooth violet

There are a lot of these about

lichen on plum tree

The plum tree is home to many lichens.

tulips

The tulips came out generously in spite of a generally cold and grey day.

I was just saying to Mrs Tootlepedal that you never seem to see a bee on a daffodil when I was proved wrong yet again.

bumble bee on daffodil

There is obviously a lot of pollen going about.  I will have to change my statement to. “I very rarely see a bee on a daffodil.”

I expect I will see lots now.

After lunch I took a walk down to the river, stopping off to check on the red topped lichens on the park wall.

lichen

Still thriving.

The poplars beside the church are in leaf…church with poplars

…and the ladies’ smock along the river bank is going very well.

ladies smock

A lesser black backed gull almost flew for me.

gull

…and I was a millisecond to late to catch a flying mallard…

mallard

…but it was fun to watch them both.

I didn’t have much time to watch the garden birds and because of all the garden activity, there weren’t many about.  When they got a chance though, they turned up in numbers.

busy feeeder

I was going to cheat and make either the mallard or the gull look as though it was flying but I ran out of energy and three chaffinches will appear as flying birds of the day instead.

flying chaffinches

I have a very heavy day tomorrow as we are singing in the church choir and then going to Glasgow for to attend a concert in the evening so a post may not appear until Monday.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the Cave of Drac on Majorca.  Dropscone visited it while on holiday on the island.  He got to listen to a concert while he was there.

majorca cave

We had to agree with T S Eliot today.  The weather was very cruel.  If I went out on my bicycle, it rained and if Mrs Tootlepedal hung out the washing it rained and if we left the washing out in the hope that it would dry after the shower had passed, it rained again just as we were thinking of getting it in.

And then when it had got fed up with raining, it started to hail very heavily.

Finally, when  all hope was lost we got this….

rainbow

…followed by a calm and beautiful evening, unfortunately too late to be of practical use to anyone.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal did an amazing amount of gardening, well wrapped against the cruel wind and I at least got a few miles in on the slow bike before the combination of wind and rain got so discouraging that I packed it in.

The weather made sure it was a rather itty-bitty day but I did find a sunny moment to have another go at the violets.

violet

They require a good deal of crouching which is not my strongest point.

P1090320

Even on a cold and soggy day, Mrs Tootlepedal’s heart is lifted by tulips….

tulips

…and as they are coming out all over the garden, she should find some consolation in the days to come.

tulips

The daffodils give me  a lot of pleasure and here is the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

And I think that this is definitely a colourful corner and I hope that there will be many more to come.

colourful corner

I didn’t take any pictures on my cycle ride as I had to have a rain cape on and every time that I thought of getting at the camera out from underneath it, it started to rain again.

The battle against the wind left me feeling my age a bit and so I had a gentle time for the rest of the day, with a short snooze on my bed included.

I did manage to keep an eye on the birds though and noted that some but not all of the siskins were back.

siskins

Male and female

It was their turn to queue up for the feeder…

siskins

…and they defended their position vigorously when they got there.

siskins

They were not immune from outside attack themselves though.

goldfinch and siskin

Once again, redpolls maintained an observer status.

redpoll

It is not just their heads which are red at the moment. a sign of the mating season I believe.

The weather improved enough for me to be able to walk dryshod to my Langholm Sings choir practice, the last regular practice before our concert on Saturday, though we will have a go with the orchestra in the afternoon before the show.

We worked through the whole programme with the result that we got a lot of enjoyable singing in.  We are doing mostly familiar material and it is gratifying to find that some things which I found very hard to get right a few years ago seem miraculously to have got easier.  You are never too old to learn.

The flying bird of the day is  one of the redpolls.

flying redpoll

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving who has been fishing in the Highlands.  He doesn’t tell me if he caught any fish but at least he made this very nice capture of the old bridge over the River Oykel.

oykel bridge

I had a varied day today including cycling, walking and singing and among the skills required was an ability to work out when it was going to rain and then to avoid being caught out when it had started.

It looked as though a morning bike ride would be best so I set off to go round my familiar Canonbie twenty mile route while hoping for the best.  It was not warm at about 6°C and a brisk north westerly wind made it feel cooler still but I was well wrapped up and enjoyed the ride, especially the bit that was downhill with the wind behind.

While I was at the highest point of the circuit, I remembered that my neighbour Liz had seen a ditch full of frog spawn on the hill while she was on one of her recent morning walks so I stopped to look at a water filled ditch beside the road and found that this too was filled with frog spawn.

frogs spawn

Sadly for the prospect of tadpoles, it looked as though the morning frosts may have been too harsh but there were certainly a lot of possibilities as the ditch was full of spawn for about twenty yards.

I didn’t stop again until my legs called for a break at Irvine House.  Cycling downhill and downwind may be fun but the reverse is hard work.

I had time to admire the walls on both sides of the road while I got my breath back.

mossmoss

Once I got home, I wasn’t surprised to find Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on her new bench area project and after a quick look at some cheerful flowers…

bright flowers

…I made a record of the work in progress.

new bench

Over lunch, I had a look for some bird action but there wasn’t a lot going on and this blackbird was the only good shot that I had.

blackbird

Rain showers came and went and then it seemed dry enough to go out so Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the bench project and I took a little walk to look for riverside birds.

Almost as soon as I had set out, the clouds thickened and light rain appeared as if by magic so although I could see the welcome sight of the first daffodils along the river bank…

daffs by Esk

…the fidgety ducks, gulls and oyster catchers didn’t make good subjects and I had to look for something that was closer and standing still.  Regular readers will know that I find it hard to walk past a wall.

spleenwort

moss

I walked up to the Lodge and was impressed as I always am by this fine hedge.

Robbie's hedge

 

The rain had stopped but it was still cloudy although there was some sun catching a hill over there…

sun on Clark Fell

…and catching a branch down there…

mossy branch

…but not where I was walking.

The path along the river to the north looked deceptively inviting with the promise of sunshine…

Pheasant hatchery path

…but I went the other way into the clouds because I was on a mission to look for these….

hazel catkin

…and having found them to look for these too.

hazel flower

This is a female hazel flower and it is tiny so I was pleased to see not one but two…

hazel flower

…but these were the only two that I could find.  There are very few catkins at the moment so maybe there won’t be many flowers this year either.

It soon started raining again and I found a damp blackbird looking a bit fed up when I got back to the house.

wet blackbird

As it was raining, even Mrs Tootlepedal could be tempted into the house for a cup of tea and a biscuit and while we were inside, I set up the camera at the kitchen window.  The RSPB had published the results of their garden bird watch this morning and there had been a lot of talk about how well goldfinches had done in the count as they have become adept at using garden feeders.  I was therefore hoping to some on our garden today and I wasn’t disappointed.

goldfinch

They were not backward in coming forward to have words with any siskins in their way…

goldfinch and siskin

…but a siskin doesn’t take kindly to this sort of thing…

goldfinch and siskin

…and one of them soon resorted to violence to make the point.

goldfinch and siskin

The rain stopped and Mrs Tootlepedal went out again and not ,long afterwards, I went out too to record very satisfactory progress.

new bench

This is only a preliminary sketch as the paving has to be completed and a new bench is on order to replace the old one which has come to the end of its time.  All we will need then is some good weather to let us sit out on the bench and look at the garden.

I had an appointment at the health centre and it rather summed up the day that I cycled up to the town in bright sunshine and cycled back in a combination of bright sunshine and quite heavy rain.

And there was no rainbow.

In the evening I went to a Langholm Sings practice and had a very enjoyable time going over some familiar songs which we are digging  out for our summer concerts.

It wasn’t raining as I walked up and it wasn’t raining as I walked back but the oyster catchers who had been too quick for me in the afternoon were flying overhead and laughing loudly at me.

The flying bird of the day is not a goldfinch but a chaffinch wearing an identification ring.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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In contrast to yesterday’s Antiguan sun, today’s guest picture shows a typical day in Derby.  My brother Andrew was suffering in the rain there a couple of day ago.

Derby

We had another very welcome dry day here today and things are even beginning to hint at drying out a little.  A bit more warmth would help the process.

A brisk wind also helps and we got that today, the downside being that it was a pretty chilly breeze and it made the day which was theoretically warm at 10°C feel a good deal colder.  Still, it was a useful day for a pedal and some gardening so we were happy.

My fairly speedy bike was still in the bike shop so I went out on the slow bike and stuck to skulking 18 miles twice up and down the Wauchope valley, as far out of the wind as I could stay.

I was impressed by the dedication of a flock of sheep to getting their strength up and stopped for a shot…

sheep

…and as I always look closely at a wall when I am leaning over one to take a photo, I took some lichen pictures while I was at it.

lichen on wall

I like the variations in colour, shape and style that the lichen on our roadside walls provides.

Otherwise, I kept my head well down in the crosswinds on the ride and didn’t take any more pictures.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had completed some errands round the town and was busy gardening.

She is very pleased with the early crocuses this year and so am I.

There are some brighter ones about…

crocuses

…but the bulk of the flowers are a delicate pale violet and I like them both for themselves and when they mingle with the snowdrops.

crocuses

And because I like eating it, I was very happy to see that the rhubarb is looking very promising.

rhubarb

Then I went inside and looked out.  The kitchen makes a warm and comfortable bird hide and supplies good coffee too (Rwandan today).

I looked high…

greenfinch

…and low.

dunnock

After lunch, I went off for a walk.  It had been gently sunny while I had pedalled along in the morning but the clouds had come over for my walk and it was a grey afternoon.

Pathhead track

Snowdrops provided some cheer both at the start and near the finish of my walk.

snowdrops

On grey days, I tend to keep my eyes on the foreground and ignore the views and there is always something to help to pass the time.

This wall provided a home for some luxuriant moss.

mossy wall

And a birch tree had a neat circle of script lichen.

script lichen

As always, walls are a never ending source of delight and today I came across a growth which I hadn’t seen before.  It is the coral like structure on the left in the panel below.  I think that it must be lichen but I am by no means confident about that.

lichen on wall

On the other hand, I am confident about this.

cladonia

This is definitely cladonia lichen.

I had already stopped at a promising piece of wall before I had noticed the tiny spots of red so either my lichen radar is improving with practice or I was just lucky because I didn’t see any more along the the wall.

cladonia

It really is very red indeed.

I started and finished my walk with a visit to the Kilngreen in the hope of seeing some oyster catchers.

There was a pair at the Meeting of the Waters when I was on my out but they flew off with a gull before I could get too close…

oyster catchers

And there was a pair (probably the same pair I would imagine) in the same place when I came back an hour later and they flew off again, first to further up the bank of the river…

oyster catcher

…and then again to join the gulls on the fence posts.

Luckily one of them flew right past me.

oyster catcher

When I saw that I wasn’t going to get close to them, I took a shot through an arch of the Langholm Bridge which gave me a lot of pleasure even on a grey day.

Langholm Bridge

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden again when I got back and I fell easily into a supervisory role.  It is a suitable role for me as it doesn’t involve doing anything else but walking around and saying, “That looks good.”

In the evening, I went to sing with our local choir and enjoyed myself not least because I am sitting next to my cello playing friend Mike who is an excellent singer and keeps me right.

He remarked that he and his wife have been enjoying the frog pictures on the blog so here is one from today, especially for them.

frog

The flying bird of the day is a black headed gull which  flew by while I was tracking the oyster catchers.  It has almost got its spring black head.

black headed gull

END NOTE

Oh and the title of the blog refers to a telephone call which I received from the bike shop this evening to tell me that the fairly speedy bike has got a two inch crack in the frame so it is time to say farewell to an old friend. Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that it is just as well to discover a crack like that when it is in the bike shop and not when you are going down hill at 30mph.

I don’t remember exactly when I bought the fairly speedy bike, a Giant SCR, but I must have had it for over ten years so it will have done about 40,000 miles at least.  It has been a good servant, comfortable and reliable and I will be very happy if my new bike turns out to be as good.

I am going to look at getting a replacement suitable for a elderly gentleman with no great bike handling skills but who enjoys getting a few miles in over a year. Like Two Ton Tessie O’Shea used to say about herself, it will be built for comfort more than for speed.  I know my limits now.

 

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