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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Sings’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who recently visited Banwell Castle and sent me this picture of the gatehouse.  I am glad to see that they festoon potential photographic subjects with telephone wires down there as well as up here.

Banwell castle Gatehouse

The best weather of the day today was in the morning when it was calm and sunny so it was unfortunate that I had agreed to act as a substitute welcomer in the Welcome to Langholm office from 10am to 12 noon.

Still, I got a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and welcomed several visitors and both supplied them with information and extracted a little money for booklets from them so it wasn’t time wasted.

When I got home, I looked out through the kitchen window to see if the goldfinches had come back to the feeder.

They had…

goldfinch

…in numbers…

goldfinch

…and in squabbling mood.

goldfinch

They looked even better when the sun came out.

goldfinch

They were joined by sparrows…

sparrow and goldfinch

…and chaffinches, this one wearing a bird ringer’s ring on his leg…

chaffinch

…and blue tits.

blue tit

This is a very satisfactory start for the new feeder season.

After lunch, we went out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not quite back to 100% yet but she was able to do some good work in the garden today.  I had a look round.

The poppies are continuing to do well and to attract insects.

hoverfly on poppy

I didn’t see the bee creeping up on this one when I took the picture.

bee approaching poppy

Recently there have been several pictures of fuchsias with a pot marigold in the background.  I reversed that today.

pot marigold

I didn’t hang around in the garden though as I wanted to make use of a good afternoon for cycling.

After a few outings on wet roads, my fairly speedy bike needed a wash and lubrication so I was a while before I got going but I got out in plenty of time to do thirty miles or even a bit more.

In the event, perhaps because of the dust from the Sahara which Ophelia brought up with her, thirty miles was quite enough and cycling was a rather weird experience with my brain in turmoil as I tried to sort out what I was actually thinking from snippets of dreams and imagination that confused me as I pedalled along.   There are days when being an asthmatic cyclist is not the best thing to be.  A say with Saharan dust in the air is one of those.

Luckily, my cycling reflexes were in good order and as I went at a very modest average speed, I was able to get along quite safely although my concentration was anywhere but on the road ahead.

I must have been aware of my surroundings a bit though, as I stopped to take a few pictures as I went round.

There were various shades of autumn as I went along.

View of windmills

It was a good day for a pedal although it was one of those days when the wind seemed to be against for an awful lot of the journey.

autumn colour

Hedges have been clipped but the frequent rain showers have swept the roads clean so there were no thorny problems for me to avoid.

clipped hedges

The roads were quiet which was perhaps lucky as I was pedalling in a bit of a dwam.

KPF road

Gilnockie Tower was looking quite crisp as I passed.

Hollows Tower

And the distillery looked very cosy tucked in among the autumn leaves.

Langholm Distillery from skippers bridge

I fear that we are not going to get a really colourful show of autumn colour this year but perhaps there is still time.  I think we need a few cooler mornings to set thing off.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal showed me the work that she had been doing in the garden in my absence.  She has great plans for the autumn and winter so that she will be ready for a bright new gardening year.  I will try to record developments as they happen.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and as there were four tenors and only one bass, I jumped ship and went off to sing bass (with variable success).  It was probably quite a good idea as my voice was suffering a bit from the dusty bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.  Unfortunately, I didn’t catch one while the sun was out.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows one of the greens on the golf course he was visiting last week in Spain.  Tough conditions out there.

golf course

We had far from Spanish weather here today.  It had rained heavily over night and it was still raining heavily when we got up.  It continued to rain all morning and only stopped in the middle of the afternoon.

Under these circumstances, I was very fortunate to have the company of both Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  An additional bonus was the treacle scones that Dropscone provided for the occasion.   Dropscone has been on holiday in Spain and Sandy in Portugal and they had both enjoyed excellent weather so the rain was a bit of a shock to their systems but they were bearing up bravely.

I put on some stout waterproof clothing after they had left and walked down to see how much of the rain had got into the rivers.

Wauchope and turtle

The Wauchope was flowing freely and the turtle in the Esk was learning how to swim.

Waterside birds were to be seen in spite of the rain.

gull and dipper

The dipper was very busy but taking care not to be washed away and the gull was standing very still on its rather precarious rock perch.

I looked down the River Esk from the suspension bridge.

River esk

To say that our weather is changeable at the moment is a bit of an understatement.

I didn’t stay out long and went home and did the crossword.

Once the rain had eased off to a drizzle after lunch, I went out for a second look.  The water had risen but we were far from a big flood…

Esk and turtle

…although the turtle’s need for swimming lessons seemed pressing.

I took the opportunity to visit a large crop of fungus on the bank of the Wauchope by the church wall.

fungus beside church

They are related to a tree that had to be felled because it had become dangerous.

Nearby, seven goosanders were resting on the bank of the Esk.  I couldn’t get them all in one shot so I settled for these three…

goosanders

…and this one which had gone for a swim.

goosander

I had a look up the Wauchope from the Park Bridge…

Wauchope in flood

…and then went home again and did some work on songs for both my choirs.  I was concentrating hard on the music and was surprised when I turned to the window and saw that the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  I shot out into the garden.

Crown princess margareta

Crown Princess Margareta is getting special care from the gardener and we hope that it will do really well next year.

Nasturtiums

A splash of colour against the wall of the house

poppy

A battered poppy doing its best

A young blackbird was taking advantage of the sunshine to have a bath in our pond…

blackbird

…watched from on high by a starling.

starling

I tried to contact Sandy with a view to going for a walk but when he didn’t reply (I found out later that he was busy at the Archive Centre), I went off by myself.

The sun went in almost as soon as I started out.

I visited the riverside.  Just where the dam comes out into the Esk, I came across a dipper busy in the long grass beside the Esk.

dipper

I walked along to the Town Bridge and once again marvelled at the sound construction which has let it withstand this sort of pressure…

Langholm Bridge in flood

… since 1775.

I looked back down river from the bridge…

River esk in Autumn

…and then walked over the bridge and onto the Kilngreen.

The Esk and the Ewes looked quite full when I got down to their level…

Esk and Ewes

…but they were safely contained within their banks.

As I walked towards the Sawmill Brig, a heron flew past me and when I was on the bridge, I could see another dipper on the rocks below.

Heron and dipper

By the this time, the clouds had come back but I walked on, hoping that all the rain that was in the clouds had already been discharged.

I walked up the Lodge Walks and enjoyed the trees lining the walks and those on the Castleholm and lower slopes of the hill beyond the river.

Lodge walks

Meikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill trees

I crossed the raging river by the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess bridge in Autumn

…and got home without seeing a drop of rain.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings choir practice and enjoyed myself more than I thought that I would when I found that the songs were a bit easier to get right than I had feared.  The “getting right” is still more potential than actual but then that is what practices are for.

I am hoping that the recent progression of rainy, sunny, rainy days will lead to tomorrow being sunny.  It would be only fair.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working in Zurich this week and took a picture of the sunset there this evening.

Zurich sunset

There was no chance of a sunset here today…or a sunrise…or a sun anything as the sun was conspicuous by its absence all day.  The forecast told me that if I was up sharp, I might be able to get up to the Moorland Feeders, where I was filling in for absent friends, before the rain started for the day.

I took them at their word and they were quite right so I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while  before the rain started.  It might not have been raining but it was very gloomy so only brightly coloured birds which came close were available to snap.  It was my lucky day.

Greater spotted woodpecker

A greater spotted woodpecker coming close

Greater spotted woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker coming closer…

Greater spotted woodpecker

…and then going away again

When it flew off, I took the hint and went away too.  I was glad to have got a brief glimpse of a goldfinch, the first of the autumn while I was there.

goldfinch

It was still raining when I got home and it rained on and off in a half hearted way for the rest of the day.  It was that annoying sort of rain which kept looking as though it had stopped but by the time that I had got outside to check, it had started again.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal got on with repainting the doors in the hall and I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.

You can learn a lot from the newspaper index.  In 1854 there were only 12 advertisements for food in the whole year but by 1874, there were 116.  There were 140 by 1894 but the biggest item advertised by far was tea, which was obviously a big seller by then.

I went out to our corner shop to buy food (but not tea) and noticed an unusually long array of collared doves on the wire by the dam as I left the house.

collared doves

I don’t know enough about collared doves to say whether this might be one happy family or just a gathering of friends.

At lunch time, I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought a couple of nasturtium flowers into the kitchen…

nasturtiums

Their cheerful colour brightened the day up a bit and made me look closer too.

nasturtiums

I did go out to check the rain.  It was light but persistent.  Flowers looked a bit depressed.

P1030684

mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though

clematis

and a very low flying clematis

We picked some runner and French beans and ate them for our lunch.  Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too soggy for gardening.

It was one of those days which felt colder than the thermometer said that it should be so after lunch, I lit a fire in the front room and settled down to put music into the computer for practice purposes.  With about sixteen new songs on hand for Christmas concerts with my two choirs, I have plenty to get on with.

I kept on thinking about going for a walk in the rain but settled for making rolls with the help of the bread making machine instead.  They turned out well.

rolls

When they had come out of the oven, I had another look out into the garden at four o’clock.

colourful corner

In spite of the efforts of the flowers to persuade me that it wasn’t too bad….

dahlia

…I wasn’t tempted to stay out as it was too gloomy for a photographic walk by now so I took a picture of a crow on the roof…

crow

…and came back in and made a sausage stew for my tea.

It too turned out well and I was in a good mood in spite of some heavier rain when I went off for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  The attendance was a bit thin, possibly because of a showing of La La Land at the Buccleuch Centre at the same time.  I was happy to miss the film, which we have already seen and judged pretty dull, and very much enjoyed the practice.  All the songs and carols that we are preparing have their charms.

I am going back to the Moorland Feeders tomorrow morning, this time as a substitute for Sandy, who is sunning himself elsewhere, and I hope for better weather.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture most unusually comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She took this picture of our neighbour Liz hard at work in the dam.

Liz in the dam

Unlike yesterday, I hardly stirred from the house and garden all day.  I did pop up to the town after breakfast to oversee the transfer of some unwanted stacking chairs from the Archive Centre to the Langholm Initiative.  As this involved merely opening the door and watching as two strong young men whisked the chairs out into a van and then locking the door again, it wasn’t very taxing or time consuming.

Once I got home, the day became all action.  It was dry and warm, even if it was cloudy, and too good a day not to get busy around the garden.

Because some work was being done elsewhere, the sluice to our dam was shut and this gave our neighbour Liz the chance to get busy cleaning out the part of the dam that runs along her garden and when I say busy, I am understating the case.  When she had finished, with a little help from Mrs Tootlepedal….

Dam cleaned

…the dam was auditioning for the role of Langholm’s first deep water port.

When most of the work was done, I made coffee for the workers and Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were joined by another neighbour, Margaret and between us, we cured many of the evils that are besetting the world at the moment.  It is just a pity that no local or world leaders were present to take our sage advice.

I hadn’t been entirely idle while the waterworks were going on and had managed to mow a patch of grass or two….

middle and front lawn

…trying my best to ignore signs which may indicate that Attila the gardener has plans to mangle my sward.

lawn works

Then I dead headed a lot of dahlias, calendula and poppies.  The poppies are still looking a fresh as when they first appeared….

poppy

…or even fresher.

poppy

One poppy had something that was not a bee on it and I was curious and took a closer look…

poppy

…without being much wiser as to what it was.

 

Perhaps because it wasn’t sunny, the poppies were not being pestered by bees to the same extent as they have been recently but there were still quite a lot about…

poppy with bees

…and on the dahlias as well.

bumble bees on dahlia

The large bumble on the left loves this dahlia and stayed on it for hours today.   There are so many different kinds of bumble bee that I can’t identify this one.

***Spoiler alert***

Infantile humour arriving.  Beware!

One I can identify, thanks to my knowledge of Rachmaninov, is this one….

bee

…which is of course, the bum of the flightlebee.  (Sorry)

***normal service has been resumed***

The Special Grandma rose, which is well sheltered from the elements, is going bananas.

Special Grandma rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz started on the dam behind our house on our side of the road and I did some more mowing….

green house grass and the drying green

….with the flymo…

….checked out a red admiral in profile and full wing…

red admiral

It is hard to recognise these pictures as the same butterfly

…..and then set about trimming the hedge along the road.

Before….

hedge

…and after.

hedge

As I explained to a passer by, I wasn’t aiming for geometrical precision.  Having just been to the south of France where the post impressionist painters worked, I told her that I had been inspired to create a post impressionist hedge, a hedge which didn’t look exactly like a boringly real hedge but a hedge which gave an impression of a hedge as an artist might see it, possibly while slightly drunk.  She seemed to think that I had succeeded admirably.

When I had finished the hedge, I went to see what the workers were doing.  Attila had her team beautifully regimented…

Dam team

…and their work rate was impressive.  The plan was to cut back the potentillas and thin out the dead wood until the side of the dam was clear, leaving the possibility of some variety next year. The plan was comprehensively executed….

potentilla clearing

…as were the potentillas.

I helped by barrowing away the prunings and offering helpful advice wherever it was needed….

fuchsia

…though I took time out to admire the fuchsia on our back wall….

bee and butterfly

…and celebrate the peaceful sharing nature of bee and butterfly on a sedum while I was dropping off a barrowload of branches.

 

There were innumerable barrowloads of clippings and I was happy to pause again to admire the nasturtiums and cosmos at the front gate on one of the trips.

nasturtiums and cosmos

In the end, even the indefatigable Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal proved human and work was stopped for the day.  To celebrate, I provided a large pot of tea and made some toast.  The toast was all the better for being eaten with some Saskatoon Jelly.  This had been very generously given to me by my Canadian correspondent Mary Jo when she met us in London at the weekend.

It was delicious.

Interestingly, although I had never heard of Saskatoon Jelly, it turns out to come from the plant Amelanchier alnifolia and Mrs Tootlepedal thinks there is a variety of Amelanchier  growing in a neighbour’s garden.

Throughout the day, I was keeping an eye out for walnuts which had fallen from our walnut tree.

walnuts

In spite of, or perhaps because of,  our cool summer, the are plenty of nuts around and quite a lot of them are full of nutty goodness.  Jackdaws pick them from the tree and then often seem to drop them so that neighbours quite a distance away sometimes come upon walnuts in their own gardens.

There was a certain sagging at the end of a busy day but I was sufficiently refreshed by the last of the venison stew to get myself out for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  It was very well attended and as the music was varied and enjoyable, I was pleased to have made the effort.

During the day, I visited Liz to check out her electric lawn mower.  It seems both efficient and easy to use.  I am thinking of declaring our Flymo past its use by date and her mower looks like a good type of replacement.  As well as the mower, I couldn’t help noticing a very pretty rose growing on a trellis on her wall and it is the flying bird of the day.

Liz's rose

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.

springbok

The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.

poppies

And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.

poppy

As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.

potentilla

All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….

clouds

The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.

nerines

We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.

dipper

It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….

Springhill

…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.

Warbla

Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has just spent a few days acting as a referee at an international children’s golf tournament on the east coast.  It’s tough work but somebody has to do it.  (The tide was out there too.)

Golf course

I heard all about the golf tournament when Dropscone came round for a cup of coffee this morning.  In a terrible shock to my system, he didn’t have treacle scones with him although it was Friday but I recovered when I found that he brought a very acceptable substitute in the form of four brioches.  They went down very well with some home made blackcurrant jelly.

It rained while we were drinking our coffee but it had stopped by the time we had finished and the weather for the rest of the day just got better and better. I didn’t go cycling though as I had a concert in the evening and felt that it would be better not to go to it in a tired state.

As a result I have only got garden pictures.

iris

Taken just after the rain had stopped

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a good deal of time in the garden again today.  She is busy planting things out…

greenhouse

There are all sorts of things ‘coming on’ in the greenhouse

…as well as doing the weeding and tidying up that keeps the garden looking so neat.

I did a little too.  I sieved some compost for the vegetable beds, trimmed the front hedge and scarified and mowed the front lawn.

This left me plenty of time to look around.

lamium

After an early start and then a pause, the lamium has started to flower again

The rose Lilian Austin is showing its first flower…

Lilian Austin

…and the Rosa Moyesii is doing very well.

Rosa Moyesii

Rosa Moyesii

It is sharing a corner with a thriving philadelphus.

rose and philadelphus

And talking if thriving, the Fuchsia on the back wall of the house has got a fabulous display of flowers…

fuchsia

…on half the plant.  This is all the more impressive as the other half hasn’t got any flowers on at all.

In fact, things are thriving all around as the mixture of sunshine and occasional rain is helping a lot.

Sweet rocket, ox eye daisies, irises and spirea

Sweet rocket, ox eye daisies, irises and spirea

The rhododendrons are going over with the exception of the this dark beauty.  Mrs Tootlepedal claims that it glows in the dark…

rhododendron

…and the last two of the azaleas are beginning to fade away, but they are going out in style.

azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal has some pale lupins by the front lawn and I like the way that they look as thought they have tiny internal uplighters for each flower.

lupin

After I had scarified and mowed the front lane, Mrs Tootlepedal gave it some liquid feed as it is not looking as green as we would like and while I was standing there contemplating its general lack of oomph, Mike Tinker came round and spotted a frog enjoying the sunshine on a lily pad in the pond.

frog in pond

I spotted a spider on a nearby leaf.

spider in pond

A reader has asked how the tadpoles are doing so I looked for a tadpole too.

tadpole

There is plenty of life in the pond with snails and water boatman too.

I was reading a photographic supplier’s catalogue recently and came across a handy device which you can fix up with one end gripping your tripod and the other end gripping the stalk or stem of a plant to stop it waving in the wind.  What a handy device, I thought but of course you can just hold the plant with your hand as I did today with this fancy buttercup.

buttercup

Mike thinks that I might take better pictures if I did use my tripod and the handy device and he is probably quite right….but then I might not have enough time to practice songs and music for concerts as taking really good pictures takes a lot of time and patience.  I never seem to have much of either.

When the time came, the concert in Waterbeck Church went quite well and Mrs Tootlepedal, who came to both the Langholm Sings concerts, thought that this one showed the benefit of our extra practice on Wednesday.   It is almost certainly true to say that we could never have too many practices before a concert.

From a personal point of view, I had a little eight bar tenor solo to sing in one of the pieces.  It went very badly last week and was much better this week so I was happy.

No flying bird today but three magnificent hostas on the banks of the dam round off this post.

hostas

One more concert to go on Sunday with the Carlisle choir and then I can have a good lie down.

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The guest picture of the day comes courtesy of Mary Jo from Manitoba who asked her friend Lucie to send me this really stunning picture of a bison, with which Lucie had a close encounter in Riding Mountain National Park.

bison

The forecast shows a lot of rain showers coming our way over the next week so it seemed like a really good idea to make the most of a very pleasant sunny day today by getting up early, putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before breakfast and hitting the road on the fairly speedy bike while the morning was still young.

No one was more surprised than me when this splendid idea came to fruition.

There was a light wind in my face on the way out and at my back on the way home and nothing occurred during the stately pedalling along a mainly flat route that was worthy of recording so I will just say that I managed 80 miles and enjoyed all of it.  I did stop  quite a lot to take pictures.

There were many almost idyllic moments.  Here are cows beside the Kirtle Water near Gretna…

Cows beside the Kirtle Water

…and here is the bank of the newly built M6 extension beside the service road which I use.

M6 at Gretna

It is rich in daisies and the first Rosa Complicata are just coming out

I passed many of the sort of umbellifers that always seem to have insects on them when you look.  These four pictures are of the same plant.

umbellifers

My route took me down the bike path beside the northern Carlisle by-pass.  The roundabouts as it crosses the railway line are a treat.

by pass roundabout

The bike path also had the first ragged robin that I have seen this year.

ragged robin

I left the by-pass and headed along the Solway shore.  I was hoping to see the sea but sadly, the sea was not at home.

Solway tide out

The only water showing was the outflow of the River Eden

It looked as though it would be easy to walk across the the Scottish shore where I was doing a similar pedal last week.  (It wouldn’t be)

Criffel

Even if I couldn’t see the sea, there was plenty to please the eye as I travelled the coast road.

Drumburgh verge

But I couldn’t spend all my time looking at the views while I went along the salt marsh as I had to keep my eye out for traffic too.

Cows on road at Drumburgh

The cattle graze freely over the unfenced marsh.

I also passed a cute kid.

cute kid

It was rather too hazy for good long shots but I took one anyway.  This shows the Lake District hills, seen over the estuary of the River Whampool.

Skiddaw

My ride took me round the very large masts of the radio transmitter at Anthorn which you can see in the background, behind a sturdy bull and a neat wooden bridge,

Anthorn and bridge

I didn’t come back along the shore since the sea was out and chose an inland route that was well surfaced and basically flat so I rolled along very cheerily but was stopped in my tracks by this very fine house in one of the villages that I passed through.

P1130031

This is good farming country and there are a lot of well built fortified farmhouses around as well more modern country houses.

I went right round the by-pass on my way back and stopped at Gretna for a coffee and cake to fuel me up for the last few miles.  Needless to say I met a couple from Langholm in the cafe as it is a popular destination for a short drive for many Langholmites.

I had a last look at a large English country house before I crossed the border back into Scotland.

Netherby Hall

This is Netherby Hall which features in the well known poem, Young Lochinvar. by Sir Walter Scott.

Unlike Young Lochinvar, I did no racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea but continued at a steady pace until I arrived home quite ready for a cup of tea.

Those interested in the details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 31 May 2017

I would observe that although the chart says that the temperature was a cool 54°F, and it was probably quite right when I set out, it was a great deal warmer in the sunshine.  A young lad to whom I talked while having a refreshment break said that his bike computer was claiming that it was 25° in the sun by mid morning.  He was planning a 130 mile ride but had had to curtail as he had got up late.  He had settled for 110 miles. Ah to be young again.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden to pick some spinach for our tea.

spinach

She is working on the usual ‘cut and come’ again principle with the spinach.  It was delicious.

The garden is moving from the age of azaleas to the era of irises…

irises

…which I enjoy because they are a challenge to photograph well as they tend to sway about in the wind.

I also found a new plant beside the pond which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is musk.

musk

After tea, I went off to the last ‘Langholm Sings’ practice of the season.  We have a second concert this Friday and our conductor was busy tidying up one or two things which could have been done better in the first concert last Friday.  As this took two hours, you can tell that we should be better this week than we were last week….though people who were at the concert In Newcastleton say that they enjoyed it thoroughly.

No time for any bird pictures today.

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