Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘lawn care’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my archives.  It was a grey and damp day here so I thought that this black and white picture of Skye with a lot of water in it, taken earlier in the year by our son Tony, was just the thing to match the day.

skye waterfall

As well as being damp and grey, it was very windy too, with the wind gusting to 30 mph all day, so it wasn’t much good for anything interesting.

I did note these sunflowers at the front of the house.  They were sold to Mrs T as a packet of seeds which would produce 5 foot high plants.  The one on the left is as per specification.  The one on the right must be about ten foot high.

big sunflower

As the light was poor and the wind strong, it was not an attractive day for a photographic walk or cycle ride so I just pottered once or twice round the garden while Mrs T was off at a meeting.

I found a dahlia which hadn’t been nibbles, a rare thing this year…

unnibbled dahlia

…and noted that we still have few campanulas still flowering, both white…

white campanula

…and blue.

blue campanula

This rudbeckia is well sheltered by other plants and stood sill enough to let me take the picture.

three rudbeckia

And this handsome white hosta was protected from the blast by the front hedge.

white hosta

It was dry enough to mow the middle lawn but I was sorry to see that the damp weather and the shorter days are bringing signs of moss back.  I edged the lawn just to make it look as good as it can at this time of year.

The perennial wallflower as been going for months, working on the principle of growing its stems up another inch and putting another flower on them when the old ones die.

perennial wallflower august

It looked like this on a sunny day in May.

perennial wallflower

I put two more weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and I was very interested to see an article about a meeting of the Burgh Council in 1900.  This was the summary of the meeting:

 There was a discussion of great length about provision of WCs in the town. These included Matthew Knox wishing to install 2 behind his property, the size of the flush (too large) at the Conservative Club, Mr Grieve having installed a bath in his house in High Street and Miss Common having installed a WC at Montagu Street, all without advising the commissioners. Several commissioners thought it was time that sort of thing was put a stop to.

Quite right too, I thought.  To be fair, it was the demands on the town’s water supply that was exercising the commissioners’ minds.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her meeting and we combined some recycling of glass, metal and paper with shopping and that was the most exciting event of the day.

In the afternoon, I drove Mrs Tootlepedal down to Carlisle Station, and waved goodbye as she caught the train to London.  She is going to visit our daughter Annie to give her support and pay attention to our new granddaughter Evelyn Rose.

Life is always a lot duller when Mrs Tootlepedal is not at at home and as the weather forecast for the next day and a half is is very poor, I shall just have to find useful things to do indoors.  Still, a little flute practice never goes amiss.

No flying bird of the day as it was too windy for them so I have put in a very low flying flower instead.

perlagonium

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who knowing my taste for bridges, sent me this handsome example from the Kennet and Avon Canal at the Caen Hill locks.

Kennet and Avon Canal

We had a very pleasant day today, and when the sun shone, which it did quite a lot, it felt much like summer again.

My day started with an early visit to the physiotherapist for my long awaited appointment.  It turned out to be very worthwhile and I left with some sound advice, a list of exercises and a referral to the podiatrist in the near future.

Just in case the exercises don’t work out as well as hoped, I also have another visit to the physio booked for next month, so I am well covered.  The view is that my back is a cause for concern and is affecting a lot of the rest of me.  This is not news as I have had a back problem since 1978 or thereabouts, but the exercises are aimed at strengthening things where they need to be strengthened and I am optimistic.

One of the really good bits of advice was to start walking again on a regular basis, making sure not to get ahead of myself by walking too far.   As a result, after a chat with Mrs Tootlepedal and a cup of coffee, I armed myself with my walking poles and put the advice into action.

I started off by checking out the state of the sluice at Pool Corner.

nes dam gate

A repair has been made which should keep all but the most exceptional floods at bay.

Old machinery is still in place though.

old dam gate

Walking along the road, I marvelled at how much growth has appeared on the top of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.

wauchope graveyard

I was keeping an eye out for interest on my walk.

bee on knapwed

Although I complain about cutting the road verges, I was grateful to the person who had been along the path on Gaskells Walk with a strimmer as otherwise it would have been a soggy experience.

Gaskells path

As it was, I was able to walk with confidence and look about as I went.

Fungus is beginning to appear and I was pleased to see a tiny oak sapling growing as they are quite unusual.

fungus, oak, fireweed

The rosebay willowherb is coming to an end and the recent heavy rains have knocked almost all the seed heads off,  This little patch was an exception.

There was any amount of ferns to enjoy…

fern and moss

…and the recent wet weather has brought along the moss which had been discouraged by the previous dry spell.

The best wild flowers that I saw were in this mini forest of yellow.

yellow forest

When I got up to the  Stubholm fields, I found a single sheep on its feet while all the rest were enjoying a lie down.

sanding sheep

An oak tree had an insect, an acorn and some mildew all on the same set of branches.

oak tree panel

I could find sloes and haws…

sloe and haw

…and wild flowers both fierce and and gentle….

three purple wild flowers

…but the most striking thing was this pattern, looking for all the world like a snake, but in fact turning out to be a fallen branch.

snake branch

When I got back to the garden after my short but enjoyable walk, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work.

Mrs T in the garden

Since the forecast was for more showery days to come, and I was due to spend the afternoon sitting down in car and train as we went to visit Matilda, I took the opportunity to mow both the lawns and edged them too.

I also walked round the garden with my camera in hand.

I love a bit of symmetry.

two lilies

These are the very last flowers on the salvias.

salvia height

There were shades of purple on all sides…

three purple garden flowers

…and it was very satisfying to see a painted lady butterfly back in the garden after a few days absence.

paintd lady butterfly

There are still plenty of peacocks about.

peacock butterfly

After lunch, we drove to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was late as usual but on this occasion it was not only late but full to bursting as well, and we had to stand for the hour long journey to Edinburgh.    Luckily we were on what must be the smoothest running train in the rail company’s fleet, so standing was not quite the trial it might have been if the train was rocking about.

Our natural good humour was perhaps slightly strained by the sight of four much younger people happily sitting in the seats reserved for the frail and elderly and ignoring us.  It was a tribute to our youthful good looks of course, but the fact that they studiously avoided catching our eye at any time tells another story.

Our visit to Matilda went well.  She had just spent her first morning at school and had survived very well, so well in fact that she beat me and Mrs Tootlepedal at Go Fish, and won the Pelmanism by miles.  Needless to say, I was thoroughly beggared once again when we played Beggar my Neighbour.

Alistair provided us with another good evening meal, and as we had popped into a nearby supermarket on the way and stocked up on coffee and cheese, it was a very satisfactory visit all round.  Then the train back home was on time, and there was wonderfully large and deep red moon on the horizon as we drove home, so it was a very satisfactory day all round.  Definitely one that could be registered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying jackdaw of the day was resting on the park wall when I passed it.

jackdaw on park wall

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  As well as the glass sculptures, she met this imposing dragon.

dig

The rain stopped on cue over night and we woke up to a calm and sunny day with the dam looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.  All the same, the first business of the day was to ring up the people responsible for the maintenance of the dam and its sluices.  They promised to look into the matter straight away.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off with her committee to visit another group interested in a community buy out and while she was away, I had a busy morning.

I entertained Sandy to coffee.  If all has gone well, he should have acquired an electric bike this evening, so we are planning to go for a pedal tomorrow to see how much faster he will be able to go than me.

Then the dam manager rang up to tell me that the defective sluice should be repaired as soon as possible and the storm wall will be strengthened as soon as conditions allow because they realised that it has cracks in it.  This is quite comforting but we can only hope that there isn’t another testing flood before the work gets done.

When Sandy had gone, I set to work in the garden, anxious to be of use while Mrs Tootlepedal was otherwise engaged.

First I pruned the new growth from the espalier apples…

pruned espalier apples

…which let some sunshine in on the ripening fruit.

apples after pruning 1

The crop on two of the tree bushes is looking promising.

apples after pruning 2

When I had shredded the prunings and added them to the compost, I mowed the two lawns and the greenhouse grass.  They have been neglected during the rainy days.  Amazingly, in spite of a lot of rain, the ground was firm and the grass mowed well.

lawn after rain

It has been pretty warm lately and the rain had not discouraged the grass from growing, so there was a great deal of cuttings to add to the compost.

Then I trimmed the hedge next to our neighbour Betty’s drive…

trimmed hedge

…and this led to more shredding and composting so it was a very productive morning.

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I worked.  There was more than one kind of white butterfly on the buddleia….

two white butterflies

…but only the peacock of the coloured butterflies, though there were plenty of them about.

peacock butterfly after the rain

The big lilies are unperturbed by the weather and keep looking very serene in wet or dry.

lilies after the rain

A rather smart Japanese anemone has arrived to cheer us up…

coloured japanese anemone

…and the zinnias are all smiles.

dazzling zinnia

It was very good to see flowers in the sunshine.

clematis in sun

It was cooler today than it has been, but when the sun was out, it was still pretty warm and the blackbird family was scattered across the lawn dealing with the heat.

panting blackbird on lawn 1

Some better…

panting blackbird on lawn 2

…than others.

panting blackbird on lawn 3

Mrs Tootlepedal  came home, having had a very interesting meeting, and I spent quite a lot of time in the afternoon picking and printing pictures for the Canonbie Flower Show competition this weekend.

I haven’t got the requisite skills to get my printer to print out exactly what I see on the screen, so I wasn’t going to enter any pictures this year until Sandy told me this morning that he had got a good number of pictures to enter.  As a result,  I thought that I better make an effort too.

As always, I found it very hard to choose just a few from the many hundreds of pictures that I have taken in the past year, and once again I feel that my selection is far from ideal.  Still, it is taking part and not winning  that is important….or so I have been told.

I was going to go for a pedal in the afternoon, and I had just changed into my cycling gear when Mike Tinker dropped by for a cup of tea.  He very wisely pointed out that I hadn’t got time to go for a pedal if I was expecting my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  I hadn’t realised that it was so late, and I had forgotten about Luke anyway, so it was just as well that Mike came when he did.

As it started to rain quite heavily soon afterwards, I was doubly grateful to Mike.

Before he came, I had had time for a quick look round the garden and was pleased to have the right camera in my hand to take this shot when the opportunity arrived.

two white spots

It may not look much to you, but it is two white butterflies fluttering by.  This is a very common sight in the garden just now but I have never been able to catch it.    Just to prove it is two butterflies, here is an enlargement.

white butterflies close

It may not be good, but it is the best that I could do.

The rowan tree berries are looking juicier every day….

rown berries

…and the blackbirds are beginning to eye them up.

blackbird among rowans 2

There was more posing than pecking today…

blackbird among 1rowans

…but I hope to get some blackbird berry pecking shots shortly.

Luke came and we enjoyed playing a Haydn sonata that we haven’t played for some time.

We are promised more sunny weather for tomorrow so I hope to get out and about to make use of it.

The flying bird of the day is a very large bumble bee.  It was camera shy and made off as soon as I tried to photograph it so once more I can feature the bum of the flightlebee.

enrmous flying bee

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair.  He knows that I like cascades, so he sent me this picture of the Calton Steps in Edinburgh today.

calton steps cascade

We had showers here today but nothing like they must have had in Edinburgh.  It was the sort of day when every time that you poked your nose out into the garden, it started to rain and as soon as you went back in, it stopped.

Nevertheless, it stayed dry in the morning long enough for us to cut back the climbing hydrangea and the clematis over the back door.

wall trimming

These two plants are very fine, but they will send new shoots up the wall and under the gutter every year so they have to be kept under control.

After we had cleaned up, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I walked round the garden to check on the flowers. There were enough bright blooms to offset the general gloominess of the day…

four flowers

…though I noticed that the bloke whose job it is to paint the blackbirds hadn’t got any better.

badly painted blackbird

As it was still dry, I got the mower out and began to mow the middle lawn.  It immediately started to rain quite heavily so I retreated back inside, taking the mower with me.

I put some pea and potato soup on to cook and as soon as the rain stopped, I dashed out and finished mowing the  lawn.  I noticed that we have had over 7 cm of rain recently and it is a tribute to how dry it was earlier in the year, that I could easily mow the lawn even after a sharp shower.

There have been no coloured butterflies about because of the rain over the past two days but the white butterflies are a hardier breed and there were several fluttering about today.

white butterfly on lily

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about trimming some more of our low hedges and I put on the computer hoping to catch up with a backlog of work.  My hopes were dashed by one of those Windows updates when I switched on.  As this one took well over two hours, I had time on my hands so I went out into the garden.

It started to rain.

However, on this occasion, the rain was light and intermittent so I joined in the trimming business and turned a golden box ball back into a green box ball.

trimmed box ball

Then Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a break from our labours (and the rain), and sat on the bench under the shelter of the walnut tree and contemplated the phine phlox at the phar end of the lawn.

phlox at end of lawn

The geraniums have been flowering for months and today they were joined by the first Michaelmas daisy….

four more flowers

…while the calendulas and pink astilbes are providing some brighter colour.

The butterflies may have been put off by the weather but we had plenty of bees in the garden.  This one was visiting a hosta.

bee on hosta

And wherever you look at the moment, you are almost sure to see several sparrows.

crowds of sparrows

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is dog sitting for his daughter and Alison and he had taken the dogs for a walk and just got home before the next shower arrived.  He was very cheerful about that.

After he left, I returned to my computer and found that it had finally finished updating.  This was a relief.

I had thought of going for a cycle ride before our evening meal, but I am glad that I didn’t because there was yet another heavy shower of rain and I would have got soaked.

After tea, the weather looked as though it might be better for a while so I went out for a short walk.

Down at the river, the habitually lone gull had been joined by youngsters….

gulls on the esk

…one of whom posed nicely for me.

young gull

My gull knowledge is extremely sketchy but I think this is an adult and two first year young.

Further along the river, the mallards had settled down for a snooze.

ducks at bedtime

By the time that I had got to the Kilngreen, the sun had come out and for the rest of my walk I enjoyed some late evening warmth.

sawmill brig august evening

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the new path round the edge of the Castleholm.  The trees beside the path were full of life…

four tree fruits Castleholm

..but the outright winner was the noble fir with its masses of enormous cones.

noble fir cones castleholm

It was a perfect evening for a walk and even the midges kept away.

new path castleholm

I walked round the Scholars Field, entertained by the merry cries of footballers practising on the artificial pitch and then, after a noticing a final set of cones…

larch cones scholars

…I made my way home as the low sun lit up Warbla.

warba august evening

It looks likely that there will be more rainy days to come so it was lucky that I got that long ride in when the weather was good last Friday.

On one occasion when I was out in the garden today, I looked up and saw half a dozen starlings sitting on the power cables but I was too slow to get my camera and catch them sitting in a neat line.

The upside of this is that I have a flying bird of the day today, even if it was by accident.

flying starling

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows one of the glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly at Kew gardens.

(This is the second of his glass sculptures to appear in the blog as Mary Jo from Manitoba sent me another when she was on her London visit earlier in the  year.)

a glass sculpture by Dale Chiluly

As has frequently been the case lately, the weather here was a good deal better than the forecast and we had another warm and often sunny day today.  It might have been a day for a cycle ride but I had non cycling business in hand and went off to England to have another singing lesson from our ex Langholm Sings conductor, Mary.

She is endlessly patient and helpful as well as being very knowledgeable and I am trying my best to take on board the useful things she tells me, with variable success.  Still, practice makes perfect so I haven’t entirely given up hope yet.

I had time for a walk round the garden before lunch when I got home.

I noticed a bee making itself very much at home in a zinnia…

zinnia with bee

…and after seeing  a good variety of butterflies over the last few days, there were only peacocks today….peacock butterfky

…though there were a lot of them and a lot of whites too who were too flighty to pose for a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal has put her Abyssinian gladioli out into the flower beds still in their pots as they will need to be taken in over winter, but they seem to be enjoying themselves all the same.

 

abyssinian gladiolus

I was very happy to see a little robin on the lawn, the first that I have seen in the garden for some time.

august robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her shopping bike.  This time she was actually going shopping, though she combined it with some business too.  While she was out, I mowed the front lawn and then attacked the greenhouse grass.  Although it is not cut to the same standard or by the same mower as the front lawn, it provides a cheerfully green welcome to the vegetable garden.

greenhouse grass

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and we had a quick stroll round before it was time for afternoon tea.

The Wren keeps producing flowers in a very satisfactory way…

rose Wren

…but the dahlias haven’t done so well this year yet as something seems to be nibbling at them.  One of the plants is producing flowers but they are hanging their heads.

hangdog dahlia

The Sweet Williams are over and Mrs Tootlepedal has replaced some of them with dianthus which she bought the other day.

new flowers

When the tea and biscuits had gone to a good home, I had to get ready for my flute pupil Luke who was coming to play after taking a short break.  As he came in, I noticed that the white clematis by the front door, which has long been over, had mysteriously produced a lone late flower.

last clematis front door

Luke and I knocked a few cobwebs off our flute playing and when he left, I had a last tour of the garden before our evening meal.

The rowan berries are getting more colourful every day…

rown berries ripening

…and underneath the rowan tree, the snow berries are reminding us of what is to come.

snow berries

A reminder of things past is provided by the lupin next to the greenhouse which has got some side shoots still producing flowers.

late lupin

And the evenings now provide the delightful scent of nicotianas.

nicotiana

The pond has a leak which Mrs Tootlepedal can’t find and so we had to top it up again today but the water lilies don’t seem to mind their up and down existence.

water lily

My recorder playing friends arrived in the evening and the four of us enjoyed a varied evening of music from J S Bach to Scott Joplin.

A brisk wind had been blowing all day so I was quite pleased that I had had good musical excuses not to battle into the breeze on my bike.

The non flying bird of the day is that robin which appeared again in the early evening.  I hope that it will be a permanent garden resident from now on.

august robin 2

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and makes the point that we are not the only ones with buddleias and butterflies.  The painted ladies did not stop at Langholm and have continued north.

ant's butterflies

As she went off to sing in the church choir this morning, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that when seen from an upstairs window, the front lawn looked good.  I checked.

front lawn diamonds

I like to mow in a different direction every time.

We had another lovely day today and the butterflies were about bright and early.

three butterfly panel

We had a walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church and I liked the delicate colours of a hosta flower and the salvias.
hosta and salvia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rose has settled in very well.  It is a pretty flower and the only thing wrong with it is its name, Rosy Cheeks.

rosy cheeks rose

Although I did not go to church, I did have a religious moment during the morning (religion – definition: a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion) when I mowed the middle lawn for the first time after giving it a dose of the fertiliser with alleged magic moss eating properties.  The fertiliser part certainly works well and I feel that the moss eating has worked too but we will see whether it has done lasting good when the winter comes.

middle lawn after buck up

I then edged the lawn to complete the effect.

We were having a cup of coffee after our walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal surprised me by asking if I felt like a ten mile cycle ride on hilly roads with some rough tracks to negotiate on the way.   This is not her usual choice of parcours.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon but we had time to get round before it was due to arrive so I agreed, and we got our bikes out and set off, having fortified ourselves with a cheese toastie before we left.

It was warm and sunny and we went up the hill to the Moorland Feeders at the Laverock Hide in good order.  We didn’t stop at the hide, even though Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a woodpecker as we cycled past, but continued on along the narrow but well surfaced road that took us down to the bridge across Tarras water.

road to Tarras

There were things to see as we went along, including some of the first heather in flower, insects on ragwort and wild mint.

wildflowers broomholm road

Once we had crossed the bridge (which we did when we came to it), we cycled along the flat beside the river for a bit and I kept an eye out for a patch of horsetail which I knew grew somewhere beside the road.  When we got to it, it was hard to miss.

horsetail clumb

It was in very fine form.

horsetail detail

When we got to the end of the short flat, we had a steep hill to climb to get up to Cronksbank but we were rewarded with good views of the Tarras Valley…

view near Cronksbank

…and we could soon look down at the little farmhouse on the other side of the river.

Rashiel

Passing through Cronksbank and then Perterburn, we descended very carefully down a bumpy track to the Tarras Water.  This time there was no bridge for us to cross and Mrs Tootlepedal fearlessly led the way across the ford.

perterburn ford

Local readers may well realise that the picture above is slightly unsatisfactory as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearly cycling back towards Perterburn.  This is true and the picture is staged as I missed the first crossing and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to cycle back and re-enact the crossing.

The road up from the ford has some fine pine trees beside it.

pines at Middlemoss

The track from Middlemoss up to the tarmac road across the moor was in much better condition than we expected, and we were able to cycle most of the way up it.

Middlemoss road

It is steep in places though, and I was happy to stop to take a picture of bee hives, probably put out in anticipation of the heather flowering soon.

bee hives on moor

The heather is looking quite healthy at the moment but when we stopped to talk to a local naturalist and his wife who were walking on the hill road, he showed me a clump of heather that had been affected by the dreaded heather beetle…and he showed me the larva of the beetle which he shook from a dying plant.

heather beetle larva

It was interesting to see something about which I had read a lot but which I had never seen before.

It looked as though the forecast rain might be on its way, so we didn’t stay chatting for long but pedalled on towards the White Yett…

wall at white yett

…and the welcome sight of the road down the hill back home.

road down hill to langholm

In fact, the forecast rain didn’t arrive until later on in the day and our ride was a great pleasure.

We were not on mountain bikes (Mrs Tootlepedal was on her shopping bike and I was on my road bike) so progress on the bumpy tracks was slow and cautious and the narrow roads on the downhill sections called for a careful approach too, so we took some time to make the circuit but we were still pleased with our progress and thought that we had certainly earned our cup of tea when we got home.

Luckily we were able to watch the Ride London pro cycling event on the telly when we had had our cup of tea and that gave us a good excuse to do very little for the rest of the day.  They went a lot faster than we did.

A panorama of the Ewes Valley, taken from the White Yett is the metaphorical flying bird of the day.

 

ewes valley panorama

Click on the pic for a wider view if you want.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »