Posts Tagged ‘Lilian Austin’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who felt that he could prove that East Wemyss has fine trees as well as seemingly eternal sunshine.

East wemyss

For a change, we had some sunshine here too today, but as it came hand in hand with a very gusty and nippy east wind and a drop in the temperature, it was not quite as welcome as it might have been.

I had intended to go cycling, but it wasn’t appetising, and I had  coffee and a ginger biscuit with Sandy instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning of meetings so when Sandy had left, I had a quiet time.  I did go to visit our translated corner shop though.

two shops

The new shop (on the left in the panel) is bigger, brighter and has a nifty new sign but the old shop was on a proper corner so I shall miss it.  Still, my cycle route to the new shop takes me along the river and I hope to be able to catch a few waterside bird pictures from time to time when I go to get my groceries.

The better weather brought more birds to the feeder….

busy feeder

…and the better light let me capture a pair of greenfinches coming and going.

flying greenfinches

Even occasional light showers didn’t put the birds off…

chaffinchlanding rain

..and flying chaffinches were ten a penny, rain or shine.

flying chaffinch panel

I made some leek and potato soup for lunch (leeks and onions from the garden but we have had to start buying potatoes again after 5 months of eating home grown).

After lunch, I went out for a walk, touring the garden before I went.

There is still a little colour, fresh from the jasmine, medium from the wallflower and faded from Rosy Cheeks…

jasmine, wallflower, rosy cheeks

…and some interesting greens too, the perennial nasturtium in the yew, unseasonable leaves still on a clematis and promise of flowers from a sarcococca by the back door.

yew, clematis sarcococca

I started out on my walk just after two o’clock and the sun was already setting behind the hill, so one side of the river was already in shade.

esk in November

I directed my feet to the sunny side of the street and went up a bit of a hill too in an effort to keep in the sun.

The wall, as I went up Hallpath had a good deal of interest with hart’s tongue fern, spleenwort and ample supplies of moss on some sections.

three wall hall path

I looked up from the wall and admired a lofty tree.  A man gardening nearby told me that it is a Wellingtonia.


As I walked on, the sun was getting lower all the time and I had to walk tall to get my head warm as I passed between a wall and a beech hedge.

beech hedge hallpath

I took the track along to the round house and passed a tree which has been gradually eating a ‘neighbourhood watch’ plaque.  It looked like this in 2016…

tree eating notice…and it looked like this today.

tree eating sign

I wonder how long it will be before the plaque disappears entirely.

The sun had all but disappeared by the time that I passed the round house…

round house…and headed on down through the little oak wood….

oak branch mossy

…to the old railway and took the path back towards town.  There was a lot to see on the short stretch of old railway.  The green lichen was surprisingly bright and the script lichen on the tree was comprehensive if not comprehensible…

four thing son old railway fungus

…and the leaves came from a very young sapling but I don’t know whether the growth on the fallen branch was another lichen or a fungus.  I would happy if a knowledgeable reader could shed some light for me.

I passed Skippers Bridge by without stopping to take yet another picture….or maybe I didn’t and succumbed to temptation…


skippers bridge end of november

…and a sheep looked at me as I walked along the Murtholm track with a hint of censoriousness in its gaze as a result.

sheep murtholm

Perhaps I shouldn’t have dallied at the bridge because although I could see sunlight on Meikleholm Hill…

meikleholm evening sun

…it started to rain on me as I walked along.

It was patchy rain.  I could still see sunlight picking out a house on the hill to my right…

sun on house

…but I was in the patch where it was  definitely raining so I hurried home without taking any more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in the garden when I arrived back so we had a walk round (the rain had stopped) before going in.

We discovered a Lilian Austin flower and there were a lot of buds still forming on the bush.  A cowslip was also flowering….

lilian austin and cowslip november

…but as we are due to have quite  sharp frost tonight, maybe that will be that for both of them.

Regular readers will perhaps be asking why we were not in Edinburgh visiting Matilda as it is a Thursday today and they would be right to ask.  We should have been in Edinburgh but half the children at Matilda’s school have fallen victim to the winter virus and Matilda is in the unlucky half.

As we neither wanted to catch the virus nor bring it back to Langholm, we wisely stayed at home.  An evening phone call revealed that Matilda, after an unhappy morning, was making good progress so we have our fingers crossed that neither she nor her parents will be too badly affected.

There was no hint of sun left by the time we had had a cup of tea so the rest of the day was spent indoors doing little tasks.

The sunnier weather did let me catch a much improved flying bird of the day even though it was raining when it flew past me..

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture was very kindly sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He quite rightly felt that we all needed cheering up on account of the political situation, and thought that there could be no more cheerful sight than the riverside gardens at Tamworth.

Tamworth gardens

After yesterday’s miserable day of wind and rain, we got a duplicate wet and windy day today.  As a result, I was more than happy to let breakfast and the crossword drift gently into coffee and a biscuit.  At this point, I was rescued from gloomy torpor by first, the arrival of Sandy looking to borrow the Archive Group projector, and then by Dropscone, who turned up with great expectations, having read in yesterday’s post that there was a chance of biscuits as well as coffee.

We did indeed enjoy the recorder group’s biscuits with some Guatemalan coffee.  The rain fell steadily outside.

When the coffee klatch disbanded, I thought about cycling down to Longtown on my borrowed bike in order to  hand it back and collect my own bike from the bike shop and ride it home.

I thought about it and I looked at the rain and then I thought again.

But then I remembered the Rules of the Velominati, the invisible hand that guides the cyclists of the world along the truth path of enlightenment.

Their mission statement is this:

The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.

There are many rules, many of the only apply to more serious cyclists than me but I like Rule 12 which says:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1 where n is the number of bikes that you already own.

Today I particularly thought of rule 9 which states:

If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

And the best rule of all, Rule 5:

I cannot reprint what Rule 5 says in this blog for reasons of taste, but suffice it say that the general tenor of the rule is:

“Stop Crying”

So I stopped crying and put my waterproof gear on and cycled the 15 miles down to Longtown by back and sometimes bumpy roads on my borrowed bike (which has a very upright riding position) into a stiff wind and with rain battering into my face for most of the way.

I enjoyed it.

Once you are wet, you can’t get any wetter and it was reasonably warm so there was nothing to complain about.

I enjoyed coming back by a straighter route on my own much more comfortable bike, with the wind behind me and the rain reduced to a drizzle even more for some reason.

My bike was in the repair shop because of a persistent and annoying noisy vibration, probably coming from the belt drive.  I say probably because the best brains at the bike shop are baffled and although their efforts have led to an amelioration, they have not led to a complete cure.  Further trial and research is in order.  Meanwhile the bike is riding pretty well so I am fairly happy.

When I got back, I had a look round the garden in the drizzle to enjoy what colour I could find.


The bad weather had not put a small insect off visiting the zinnia.

zinnia with insect

And a cosmos smiled shyly at me through the gloom.


Lilian Austin keeps producing more late flowers…

two lilians

…and most surprising of all is this clematis at the front door, as this is the third time is has produced flowers this year.

very late front door clematis

I had time for a shower and a late lunch and then I set off to Carlisle (in the rain) but this time by car.  I was heading for the station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.

Quite by chance, I saw this fine steam locomotive, 45699 Galatea, waiting at platform 3 to haul a steam excursion down the line.

Galatea 45699

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train was punctual to the very minute, indeed it might even have been a fraction early, so I had to leave the steam engine and go to meet her.

It wasn’t raining in Carlisle but it was raining in Langholm when we got back.  There are disadvantages in living among the hills on the edge of the Solway plain.  After several sunny days in London, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on them.

There is no flying bird of the day, but I did take a short and wobbly video on my phone of Galatea pulling out of the station.  I have turned the sound down considerably as it was a noisy affair.

I don’t need to say it but I will anyway, it is surpassingly good to have Mrs Tootlepedal home again.

You can find the very extensive list of the Velominati rules here if your interest has been roused.  They are for a specialised taste though and probably not very funny if you are not a cyclist.  My tan lines are very disappointing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother Andrew’s recent walks.  He was rather surprised to find a woolly mammoth looking at him over a wall.

I had a day of mostly sitting down today although I did get about enough to mow the front lawn and do some deadheading.

We started off with some good sunshine and I had my camera with me when I was out in the garden.  I know this will comes a surprise but I took a few pictures as I went around.

While I was out pedalling yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal gave the hen a trim.

clipped chicken

Although she has appeared a lot recently, Lilian Austin demanded to have her picture taken once again and who am I to deny a lady?

lilian austin

Nearby, a calendula was smiling back at the sun.

calendula smiling

Crown Princess Margareta has found the weather very much to her taste and is crowding more flowers onto every stem each day.

three margareta roses

The Goldfinch rose on the fence is doing well too…

rose goldfinch new

…and I like the way that it changes from yellow to white as it grows old.  You can get buds, young flowers, old flowers and dead heads in the same bunch.

rose goldfinch clump

Further down the fence the ginger syllabub is happy too.

rose coldfinch

We may feel the need to do some watering in this dry spell but the roses seem very  content with the state of things.

There is no shortage of cheerful faces.

four bright flowers

To avoid wind damage, Mrs Tootlepedal has gone for shorter delphiniums this year and she has got them well sheltered too.  The results so far are good.

delphinum clump

The oddest flower in the garden at the moment is this almost black pansy.

black pansies

There are plenty of bees about which is good news and they like the poppies a lot.  You can tell when a bee has visited one of them.

bee ravaged poppy

The best thing about the morning was the arrival of the phone engineers.  For several weeks, the telephone wire to one of our neighbours has been lying at ground level across the garden.  It couldn’t be stuck back onto the electricity pole from which it had become detached because the pole was unsafe.  Finally the pole has been replaced so the wire could be retrieved and rehung today.  Now I can tidy up the grass without worrying about accidentally cutting the cable.

As the telephone engineers left, so did we.  We were off on our weekly visit to see Matilda in Edinburgh.  Rather annoyingly, it was raining when we got there so we settled down to indoor fun instead of going to the park.

The rain had stopped when it was time for us to go home and as the train was on time in both directions today, the travel was pretty painless.

No flying birds today so a pair of flamingos from Matilda’s garden take pride of place instead.

flamingoes in Edinburgh

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Staffordshire by my brother, where he passed Castern Hall, a privately owned 18th-century country house in the Manifold Valley, near Ilam.  It has often been used as a film set and I see from its web site that you can buy it if you want, as it is for sale.

Castern HallOur weather has got noticeably colder around the equinox but it has stayed mainly fine for several weeks so we are not complaining too much.  It is a race against time for fruit to ripen after the generally cool weather and the blackberries are losing the race, although one or two ripe ones can be seen.  Our autumn fruiting raspberries, after a promising start, look to have given up the battle and I am watching sadly as a lot of fruit stays green and hard.  I think the apples will be all right though and we will start picking one tree soon.

I had to turn down the chance of Friday treacle scones today as I had pictures to print for the cattle Show tomorrow and a visitor to meet with whom to discuss the Moorland Project Website.  These activities kept me busy for most of the morning (picking and printing pictures is a lengthy business) but I did pop out into the garden for a moment or two.

The poppies were still hanging their heads so I looked to a marigold and Lilian Austin for some colour today.

calendula and roseThe rose, Lilian Austin, seems to like the colder weather and has several blooms on the go.

Lilian Austin roseI had a moment for watching birds too.

blue tit

A neat and  perky blue tit visited the new feeder


And a rather dishevelled goldfinch visited the old feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little work in the garden and then we got ready to go out for a bike ride.  It was windy and rather grey by this time and there were even a few spots of rain but we trusted a forecast of a dry afternoon and set out regardless.  Our faith was well rewarded, as the sun came out almost as soon as we started and stayed with us for the whole ride.

Our route took us along quiet roads….

Kerr wood…up into the gentle hills to the west of the town and we enjoyed the early autumn scenery as we cycled through it.

Barnglieshead roadBarnglieshead roadWe were held up at one point as a rush of traffic coming the other way forced us into the verge.

sheep on roadWe had hoped to see some fungus beside the road as we went along but for many miles we saw nothing.  Then we came to a section where a row of mature beech trees lines the road and all of a sudden, there was more fungus than you could shake a stick at.

Some was quite dull…

fungus at barnglieshfungus at barngliesh…and some was more interesting.

fungus at barngliesh

fungus at barngliesh

Other fungus lovers had obviously got there before us.

Barngleish fungus

This fungus was trying to hide

Barngliesh fungus

And I have no idea what this is.

Barngliesh fungus

This was the last that we passed

All these were growing within 100 yards of each other and we saw nothing like them in the whole of the rest of the 14 mile trip.

The brisk wind had been against us or across until we got to Barnglieshead, just past the fungus, so we were pleased to turn for home there with the wind at our backs.  This was not just because it made for easier pedalling but also because it made the day feel pleasantly warm when the wind wasn’t niggling away at us.


There are two of the things I like most in this picture, a nice bit of downhill and Mrs Tootlepedal

The way home down the valley looked very inviting.

WauchopeI once produced some text and pictures for a cycling leaflet which the council was proposing to publish and I heard that there had been a great deal of amusement in the design office when they went through my pictures.  Someone told me later that they had been dismissed as ‘just a lot of pictures of roads’.  I noticed when I looked through my pictures today that there are ‘quite a lot of roads’  in them but I think now, as I thought then, that scenery is all very well but what a cyclists want to know is what sort of roads they will meet so I hope readers will forgive me if that is what I have shown today.

What with all the stopping to take pictures and the brisk wind, we took a fair bit of time to go round our fourteen mile loop but I had enough time left to add another half mile by going up to the High Street to get some pills, pay a bill and (most importantly of all) order fresh supplies of coffee and buy some local honey.

Mike and Alison Tinker have family visitors so there was no Friday tootle tonight and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a quiet night in.

This may be my last post as Mrs Tootlepedal and I have been invited to judge the children’s classes at the Cattle Show tomorrow and may not get out alive.

I did find a flying chaffinch today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin, who has been on holiday in the north east where he came across Donald Trump’s new golf course.  He says it looks very good and thinks that Donald should maybe concentrate on golf courses more and give up thoughts of ruling the world.

Trump course MenieI had a gentle day day today, anxious not to upset my legs after they rebelled during Wednesday’s pedal.  I ate a leisurely breakfast, nodded to a siskin outside the window…..

siskin….spent quite a long time cleaning my chain and finally got out on the fairly speedy bike.

It was another dry day but cloudy and a bit chillier than lately.  The wind wasn’t strong but it was behind me as I set out so I enjoyed the first 23 miles of my trip.  The last 15 miles, going back home up the hill and into the wind were cautious as apart from looking after my legs, I hadn’t got enough food with me for a major effort.  I stopped a few times as I went round to look at wild flowers….

poppies  and Burnet

Wild poppies near Corries Mill and Great Burnet near Gair

…and towers…..

Robgill Tower

Robgill Tower looming over the Kirtle water

….a village hall….

Stormont Hall

The strangely named Stormont Hall at Gretna Green

…and signs of autumn in the hedges.

Near Miltown of sarkI was hoping that the cloud would thin out and the sun would shine but it did just the opposite.  It was still a pleasant day for a cycle ride though and even though my average speed was modest, I enjoyed myself.  My legs continued to grumble but mostly under their breath.

When I got back, I walked round the garden.

colourful corner

Although the phlox is going over, this is still a colourful corner.  Astrantia, daisies, phlox.

The nasturtium on the front wall of the house has now grown above the gate.


The right hand picture shows a heavily treated image of the inside of the one of the flowers on the left.

I went in to have a late lunch and struggle with the crossword and when I looked up, the sun had come out and I went out too.  The garden was buzzing with insects so I looked at them.  There were  butterflies, penny plain….

white butterfly…and tuppence coloured.

peacock butterflyThere standard hoverflies….

hoverfly…and a great selection of small flies, which all look the same until you peer really closely at them.

astrantia with flyMichaelmas daisy with flysedum with flysedum with flysedum with flyThose last three on the sedum may all be the same sort.  It is hard to tell.

I had hoped to take a final picture of the pair of poppies but one had given up so I took a close up of another one for today’s poppy parade.

poppyThe Lilian Austin rose is having a final fling in the better weather and I was able to find three flowers showing the progression from new to old at the same time.

Lilian Austin rose

It doesn’t take long for the flowers to change

When I went inside again, I noticed that the goldfinch and some of the young had returned.

goldfinchI was rather full of minor aches and pains so I forwent a walk and retired for a good, long soak in a bath in an attempt to ease things off.  I rose out of it in time to make an omelette for my tea and welcome Mike and Alison round for their customary Friday night visit. In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal (who is visiting her mother), Mike watched the first game of the Rugby World Cup while Alison and I applied some more polish to the Telemann Partita that we are practising.  It is a lovely set of short pieces and fully repays a little work.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom, my South African correspondent.  The picture shows a view of the mountains seen from Worcester in the Western Cape area and was taken on his phone.

WorcesterWe had another grey and drizzly day here today but it was definitely warmer which was very welcome.

I had a traditional wander round the garden after breakfast to see what was what.  The aquilegias have lasted very well and are still a treat…

aquilegia…both in various colours….

aquilegia…and almost none.

aquilegiaLilian Austin has been teasing us for several days but she is almost out now.

Lilian Austin roseNancy, the Archive Group treasurer, came round to get a cheque signed and we strolled around.  She enjoyed the musk….

Musk…and the colour blend of the lupins and the willow behind.

lupin and willowOur next visitor was Dropscone, who arrived bearing a bag of traditional Friday treacle scones.  These were so good that someone who shall be nameless ate half of one of mine.

There was just time to do the crossword after Dropscone left before we had to get ready to go down to Canonbie where my old school was celebrating the fact that the school secretary had racked up 25 years of service.  Lesley is a wonderful woman and a truly admirable secretary so I was very happy to go down with Mrs Tootlepedal to give her a well merited round of applause.

As we got out of the car, two of my ex colleagues appeared…

anne and gill..and for a moment it was just like old times.

Canonbie Primary school was an traditional school when I was head teacher there 30 years ago but now it is part of a ‘cluster’ with Langholm Primary and Langholm Academy.  The cluster head teacher was at the function and he sat down and chatted with us over a cup of tea.  I had never met him before and was delighted to find that he was a very approachable and sensible chap.

We also chatted with Emma, an ex pupil who was in my son Alistair’s class and now has two children of her own in the school.  She thinks that the school is very good and her only complaint about it these days is that they don’t teach the recorder any more.

When we got home, it was wet and windy and all thoughts of a cycle ride were put to one side.  Mrs Tootlepedal did some desultory gardening in the gaps between the rain and I settled down to select and print ten photographs for an exhibition that our camera club is putting on at The Hub in Eskdalemuir in July.   I am mostly saying it with flowers this year.

I popped out from time to time to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to but it was too soggy to do any mowing or compost sieving so I took a picture or two…


A peony full of potential


Raindrops on a foxglove blend with its pattern

…and went back inside.  When you have literally hundreds to choose from, picking ten is quite hard work.

I didn’t have much time to stare out of the window today but I liked the punk haircut on this chaffinch.

chaffinchIn the evening, Mike and Alison came round.  They have been in Wales and while she is on holiday there, Alison always likes to have a ratch about in a favourite second hand book shop with a good music department.  This year she came back with a very enjoyable set of divisions (variations) on Greensleeves arranged by Arnold and Carl Dolmetsch and first published in 1939.   This piece turned out not only to be tuneful but quite easy to play so it was a winner on both counts.

The flying bird of the day is a rather damp chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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By coincidence, both of my London based sisters sent me pictures of the same art work, ‘The Small Lie’, from the Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park and I was faced with the invidious task of choosing between them for the guest picture of the day.  It felt a bit like the judgement of Paris.  This was my sister Susan’s take.

Frieze show sculptureI had that very rare thing, a good night’s sleep last night and the feeling of relaxed drowsiness with which I woke up coloured my whole day.  My idleness was encouraged by grey skies and a very brisk wind which were combined with a tendencyof the clouds to provide a light drizzle if I ventured out any distance.

As a result, I confined myself mostly to the house with a single walk round the garden in the morning and two quick visits to the town in the afternoon.

The wind has changed from the cool easterlies which have been keeping us mainly dry recently to an unseasonably warm (16°C) and boisterous westerly with the promise of rain.  It was pleasant enough to walk in the garden and the flowers were certainly enjoying the warmth but the brisk wind made taking pictures a bit of a lottery and I had to find flowers in sheltered corners.  There are still a lot of clematis out but they are looking rather part worn now.

clematisclematisSpecial Grandma loves the weather…

Special Grandma…but it too is showing sings of wear.

Special GrandmaThe rose Lilian Austin on the other hand looks as good as it did in mid summer….

Lilian Austin….although this is its only flower.

I was able to take a poppy picture because this plant had completely fallen over and the flower was an inch from the ground.

poppyThere are a few phragments of phlox still hanging on…

phlox…and the honeysuckle is providing some unexpected late colour.

honeysuckleI was so surprised to see a bee on our remaining rambler roses that I took a picture of it although the rose was rocking about….

rambler rose with bee…but the bee was so motionless that I don’t think that it was enjoying life much, if at all.

The flowers in the best condition are the Fuchsias.  This is a successful  cutting from the big bush on the back wall of the house.

fuchsiaMrs Tootlepedal went out after lunch to give a lecture on stumpwork to the local branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild as the booked speaker had been unable to come.  She told me that there had been a very good attendance and that she had received kind comments which I could quite believe as her stumpwork is most enjoyable to look at.

While she was out, I walked up to the town (in a shower of rain which started 300 yards after I left the house)  to buy some locally made soap. The soap maker asked if I could supply her shop with some more of our postcards which we sell to raise funds for the Archive Group.  I walked home and then after a decent pause to let the rain go away, I cycled back up with a supply of postcards and combined this with a short shopping trip.  I then cycled home (in some light drizzle) and decided not to go out a again as I was obviously making it rain.

The strong wind and poor light didn’t make for good bird shots so I didn’t spend long looking out of the window.  It was a goldfinch morning…

goldfinchgoldfinches…and a greenfinch afternoon.

greenfinchAfter a week of cycling every day from Sunday to Thursday followed by a good walk in Edinburgh yesterday, my body was very grateful for the quiet day today and even enjoyed being slumped in front of the telly in the evening.

A chaffinch appears as the flying bird of the day,

flying chaffinch

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