Posts Tagged ‘Longtown’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who extended her permitted walk as far as Regents Park where she enjoyed the rose garden.

Rose garden regents park

We had a warm and sunny day today with light winds.  Days like this are to be treasured.

The star in the garden was the first peony, beating the tree peony easily.

first peony

A lot of our ferns suffered badly in the frost but some of them have shrugged it off and are doing very well.

ferns after frost

I saw an orange tip buttefly in the garden but it flew off leaving me to watch this white butterfly on the sweet rocket instead.

butterfly on sweet rocket

After the rain, the garden is looking quite healthy but there is a notable gap in the far corner which should be glowing with rhododendron flowers.

no azaleas

All the same, there is colour to be found, so we are not crying too much.

four garden pictures

You have to look hard to spot this camassia though as it has got itself hidden behind taller plants.


The final remaining set of tulips looks set to last for ever.


The garage clematis is getting more flowers out every day and will soon be in full bloom.

garage clematis

Partly because I thought that it was Thursday (a lockdown category error that is quite common) and partly through natural indolence, I didn’t get my bike out to make full use of the good day until after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out to her street coffee morning.

However, once I got going, I enjoyed myself a lot.

It was a perfect day for a pedal…

road at enzieholm

…and instead of my usual little circle starting up the Wauchope valley, I headed up Eskdale today, crossed the Black Esk by this bridge…

tanlawhill brodge

…which is one of my favourites, not because of the beauty of the structure but because of its placing in the surrounding landscape.

Once over the bridge, I followed the White Esk through Castle O’er and up to Eskdalemuir.

Like the bridge, this little road is one of my favourites too with interesting verges (the butterfly would not give me a side view….

butterfly head on

…and some lovely woods.

wood at tanlawhill

When  I got to Eskdalemuir, I climbed a stiff hill out of the valley of the White Esk towards the valley of the Black Esk.

The climb lasts for a mile and goes up just under 300 feet.  You get good views back as you climb out of the valley, but the camera does not do justice to the amount of puffing I had to put in to get the view in my opinion.

hill out of E'muir

T was heading towards Lockerbie and passing through timber country.  The forests here grow, get cut down and grow again at a dizzying pace.  I was passed by a dozen timber wagons going to and fro.  It is a highly organised and mechanised business these days.

cut timber

Having crossed the Black Esk, I got a welcome spell of downhill as I descended into the  valley of the Dryfe Water which is cattle country.

old hedge

I expect that many if not all the loaded timber lorries were heading for the huge timber yards at Steven’s Croft where I passed the country’s biggest wood burning stove.

stevens croft

Once I hit the old main road at the power station, I turned south and headed for Gretna, passing this fine lake of buttercups outside Lockerbie on my way…

pool of buttecups lockerbie

…and stopping to admire the motorway bridge over the Water Of Milk from the bridge on the old road.

motorway bridge

Peering into the shadows under the bridge, I could see extensive works, designed perhaps to let fish go up stream over a weir.  Today there was hardly enough water coming down to cater for a tadpole.

under the motorway bridge

The cycling was now pretty flat, which was a relief to my knees and I stopped from time to time to admire flowers by the road.  The red tree on the right of the panel is a red horse chestnut, I think.

rhodie, umbellifer and red chestnut

I had an interesting route mapped out in my mind for the English section of my trip when I had passed through Gretna going south, but it dawned on me as I pedalled along that the bridge at Longtown (my proposed homeward route) was shut to all traffic as it is undergoing repairs.  I wondered if it would be open to a pedestrian pushing his bike but decided not risk it, and rather tamely circled round and cycled back up to Gretna again before approaching Longtown on the north side of the bridge.

The old gravel pond there, with a fine hawthorn on its bank, looked positively Mediterranean today.

hawthorn Longtown pond

By this time, my knees were getting slightly mutinous and home and a nice sit down came into their conversation quite a lot, so I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on knocking off the final fifteen miles of route with as smooth a pedalling style as I could muster.

It has been my ambition in recent years to have at least one cycle outing each year that covers as many miles as I have had birthday.  I was born in November 1941 and my route covered exactly 80 miles today, leaving me with a couple of bonus miles in hand.

I got home in time to enjoy an evening meal of liver cooked with carrots and spinach from the garden, provided by the industrious Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy in the garden while I was out.

It was a warm day today but one of the joys of cycling is that you provide your own cooling breeze as you go along and I found it very comfortable.  All the same, I lost four pounds on the jaunt in spite of eating three bananas, a satsuma, a small honey sandwich, several dates and some guava jelly.  I drank about 900ml of water too.   In normal circumstances, I would have organised a stop half way round to enjoy egg and chips at a cafe or pub on a ride of that length.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but a very obliging sparrow flew into shot as I was going for my shower.  It is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

I append the map of the ride.  I carefully organised all the climbing at the start of the route!

garmin route 20 May 2020

Those interested can click on the pic for more details.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday on the Northumberland coast.  He saw a boat temporarily going nowhere.

dennis' boat

I should have mentioned in yesterday’s post that since it was Shrove Tuesday, Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious pancakes for our tea which we ate with lemon and castor sugar.  They disappeared so quickly that I didn’t have time to take a picture of them.  This was why I forgot to mention them.  I have got so used to taking pictures these days that if I haven’t got a picture, then it probably didn’t happen.

What definitely did happen today was that the sun shone.  All day.  It was accompanied by a very chilly and quite strong wind but we didn’t care.

I started my active day off by walking up to Sandy’s for a cup of coffee and a chat. The route took me up the hill to Holmwood and I could look back over the sunlit town, take in a touch of spring…

town, spring holmwood yellow crocus

…wonder why such a fine house as Holmwood House is still derelict and admire an eye popping burst of yellow crocuses on Jimmy’s Brae.

Sandy was remarkably cheerful for a man confined to barracks for several weeks.  As he has a supply of ginger biscuits, I will certainly be back.

When I got home, there was no time to rest as Mrs Tootlepedal had agreed to a walk and chosen the Langholm Moor as the way to go.  We drove up the hill, and when we parked the car at the White Yett, we could see snowy hills across the Esk, the pylon helicopter parked at its base, (it was probably too windy for it too fly), and my favourite sunlit view up the Ewes Valley.

helicopter turbines ewes

I took a closer look at the snow capped hills.

snow up ewes

It was a good day to be up and about.

We crossed over the col between the Esk and the Little Tarras Valley and saw more snowy hills at the top of Tarras.

tarras valley snow

Our walk was a simple one, down this road for a bit…

road to harrier corner

…and then back up it again.

I enjoyed the winter colours…

tarras valley browns

…and Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for a sight of a hen harrier.  She was very happy when she spotted one through her binoculars, and even though it was far too far away to photograph, I could see it with the naked eye as it ranged across the moor looking for food.

On our way back up the road, we were struck by some very green moss beside the road.

It was Polytrichum Communale (I think) and it was positively glowing in the sunshine.  You can see it in the centre of the panel below.  Nearby, we saw a clump which had been pushed over.  You can see it on the left in the panel below and it shows just how long the stems of this moss are.  Somehow I don’t expect moss to have stems that long.  My moss book says that they can be 40 cm long.

mosses on whita

On the right of the moss panel, you can see some of the sphagnum moss which we expect to find all over our moorland.

When we got home, it was time for lunch and hot soup and bread and cheese was just what was required after experiencing the chilly wind on our way back to the car.

After lunch, I thought about cycling but carelessly managed to think about the very chilly wind too so I watched the birds for a bit.

I was happy to see a blue tit on the feeder…

blue tit

…and I had a good time watching birds enjoying the sunshine.  I especially liked the blackbird sunbathing on the hedge.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree continues to be popular.

birds in sun

There was plenty of action but my conscience got the better of me..

birds in shadow

…and I left the birds to it and got changed for cycling.

I went out into to the garden and wasted a bit more time being distracted by crocuses…

crocus panel

…which were enjoying the sunshine too.

open crocus

This is what a hellebore would look like if I was lying on the ground looking up at it…

hellebore from below

…but as I am too old and stout to creep under a hellebore, the shot above was taken by sticking my hand under the flower with a camera in it and hoping for the best.

I finally managed to get out on my bike. It was theoretically about five or six degrees celsius but the wind chill factor brought that down to zero or one degree and I made slow progress up the hill against the twenty mile a hour breeze.

It looked as though my sunny day might come to end as I went up Callister but the brisk wind at least had the merit of blowing these clouds away before they could rain on me.

clouds over callister

To add a couple of miles to my trip, I took a diversion up the Cleuchfoot road, both on my way up and my way back.  It is a gentle little valley with the Logan Water running down the middle of it.

cleuchfoot valley

I found my tree of the day there.

tree cleuchfoot road

I managed a slow but enjoyable twenty miles and this took me over 100 miles for the month.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to rest when I got home becuase I had arranged with Mrs Tootlepedal to combine some recycling at Longtown with a view of the starling murmuration there.  This was very time dependent and we got to Longtown to find the starlings in full flow over the High Street.

longtown starlings 26 feb 5

And i mean in full flow.  You had to be very careful when you looked up not to get an unwanted present in the eye.

There were times when the sky was full of starlings…

longtown starlings 26 feb 4

..making pretty patterns.

longtown starlings 26 feb 2

There were at least two separate flocks and I kept hoping that I would be able to record some of the twisting patterns which are characteristic of these murmurations but either I was too close or the starlings were not in the mood

longtown starlings 26 feb 3

The starlings are right over the centre of the town and the locals are probably quite fed up with having to wash their cars all the time and look carefully where they are stepping.

As it grew darker, the birds got lower in the sky…

black starlings

and soon they were diving down into the trees where they will spend the night.

longtown starlings 26 feb 1

It is quite a sight.  One moment the sky is alive with thousands of birds, and the next, they have all disappeared completely with a sudden whoosh.

I will have to wash the car tomorrow but it was worth it.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chafinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a member of the Archive Group.  Joyce enjoys visiting Bermuda where her husband was born, and who can blame her when the views are like this?  That is a spider lily in the foreground.

Coopers island beach with spider lily

After an active day yesterday, I was happy to while away another grey morning with breakfast, coffee and the crossword merging almost indistinguishably into each other.

There weren’t many birds to distract me.  In fact these two siskins were the only ones that I saw on the feeder all morning.

two siskins

We had to rouse ourselves at noon though, as it was the day of the annual lunch of the Archive Group.  I had very carelessly missed this event last year as the sun shone and I got so excited that I went for a cycle ride instead of going to the lunch and completely forgot about it.

I was reminded about that quite a few times today.

We had set several alarms to remind me about the lunch today and walked across to the Eskdale Hotel with Sandy who was passing our gate as we left.

There was a good turn out of  members and partners and we enjoyed some good food and conversation, although we were distracted for a moment when someone saw a lion roaming about the street outside the hotel.

Langholm Rugby Lion

It turned out to be taking part in a video shoot to publicise the rugby club so we weren’t too alarmed.

After lunch, we returned home for a snooze in front of the horse racing on the telly but then, alerted by another alarm, we drove up to collect Sandy and went down the road to Longtown with him.

When we had passed through the town yesterday on our way to not watch a film, we had noticed what seemed like a possible murmuration of starlings so we thought that we ought to investigate this further.

As soon as we parked, we could see a lot of starlings overhead…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 1

…and small murmurations soon formed.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 2

They reamined disappointingly small though and a lot of the birds flew down to a pylon…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 3

…and sat on it.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 4

After a while, there were signs of action on all sides.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 5

In our experience of the murmurations at Gretna in past years, the starlings gradually gather into one huge flock but at Longtown today, they stayed stubbornly in many smaller groups.

There were one or two larger groups though and one of them gathered over the High Street.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 6

There weren’t enough in the group to produce the striking patterns that photographers hope for but some good shapes did form and dissolve.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 7

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 8

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 9

Things did not develop as we hoped and we could still see many separate groups of birds in almost every direction when we looked around.

It was a very cloudy day and it soon got quite dark as the street lamps came on.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 10

All the same, it was great fun watching the starlings above the roofs getting ready to go to their roost and I took a lot of pictures in the gathering gloom.

A few more birds did join the crowd…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 11

…and it became quite an impressive collection…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 12

…swooping and swerving above the houses.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 13

Strange shapes appeared…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 14

…maybe resembling a giant fish…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 15

…or a dove of peace…

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 16

…or perhaps just looking like an impressive amount of starlings in one place at one time.

longtown murmuration Jan 25 no 17

The show lasted 25 minutes and we intend to come back again if we can get a fine evening. We will try to find a better viewpoint if we do return.

For some reason there is no flying bird of the day today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was half way up Snowdon in Wales when he saw this view yesterday.  He says that the best thing about climbing Snowdon is that you can get a cup of tea at the top but the view is pretty good too.


Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today with both more sun and more wind than yesterday.  It seems a long time now since we had any serious rain.

The garden is enjoying the weather and doesn’t seem to be needing rain yet though.  It is hard to beat a sight like this when I went out into the garden after breakfast.

apple blossom

It is apple blossom time.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s front beds don’t get the sunshine until a bit later but the mixed tulips were quite bright enough without any help.

tulip beds

I had intended to go for an early bike ride but I wasn’t feeling very perky, probably because my asthma was playing up a bit and definitely because the wind seemed to be very strong so I idled quite a bit of the morning away before I finally chased myself out of the house.

I was glad to be out.  It was a sparkling day and the wind blew me up the hill and made the start of my ride very easy.  Because of the stiff breeze, gusting at well over 25 mile an hour at times, I decided to use my valley bottom ‘outdoor gym’ and cycle 25 miles by repeating the four mile trip up to Cleughfoot and back three times.

The wind was so strong that I took more or less exactly the same amount of time to cycle up the hill as I did to cycle back down again and on the third iteration of the route, I set my fastest ever time for the three uphill miles from Pool Corner to Wauchope School.

I also stopped for photos, as my modest speed let me keep an eye for points of interest like these bright things on a conifer.

Spruce flower cones

Spruce flower cones

I couldn’t miss the gorse which is as good as I have ever seen it this year.


There were lambs bleating in every field.


And the blackthorn blossom at one point was sensational.


My favourite cascade on the Wauchope has been reduced to a mere trickle…

Wauchope cascade

…but this did let me appreciate just how bent the rocks beside it are.

bent rocks

Our peaceful countryside has been the subject of some powerful forces not so long ago.

I had another look at the apple blossom when I got back to see if there were any bees about.

bee on apple blossom

Good work.

The bird seed was going down at the usual speed.

redpoll, siskin and goldfinch

A redpoll looks rather disapprovingly at a goldfinch tucking in

Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping out with the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre so we had a late lunch when she got back and while she had a well deserved rest, I pottered around the garden, dead heading yet more daffodils and some of the early tulips.

I roused Mrs Tootlepedal and we drove down to the animal feed shop south of Longtown where I get my bird seed.  I bought a big bag of seed which I got free, courtesy of a generous bribe from BT in the form of a prepaid card which they gave me when I changed my internet supplier to them recently.   I may well repay them by changing to another supplier when my cheap first year runs out.

We stopped in Longtown on our way home and I took a quick walk along the river.  The bridge of many arches was looking good in the sunshine.

Longtown Bridge

In fact it was looking so good that I thought I might try taking three pictures and merging them using Photoshop, a technique I learned at the last Camera Club meeting.

This was the result.

Longtown Bridge 2017 photomerge

You can click on the picture for a larger view.  The technique works pretty well. I couldn’t see the joins.

The river looked inviting….

River Esk at Longtown

…so I strolled down the riverside path…

Longtown path

…and in the shelter of the trees, it was a beautifully warm day.

I was delighted to see an orange tip butterfly and even more delighted when it thoughtfully posed for me.

orange tip butterfly

A small tortoiseshell was not so obliging.

There were wild flowers on view as well.

nettle and silverweed

Some sort of dead nettle and the aptly named silver weed


Various umbellifera which I should be able to identify but can’t

Between the cycle ride, pottering about the garden and the riverside walk, I took far too many pictures today but the weather is due to be fine again for the next two days so I will have plenty of opportunity to take many more.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Archaeological Society meeting and I went to sing with the Langholm Community choir.  When I came out, there was a very beautiful sunset to round off an enjoyable day.  Luckily I didn’t have my camera with me as I think that the 80,000,000 pictures of lovely sunsets already on the internet are probably more than enough….but it was a particularly good one.

The title of the blog today refers both to the wind, which was hard to beat when I pedalled against it in the morning, the beautiful river views at Longtown in the afternoon which were looking as good as I have ever seen them and finally the speed at which our conductor in the evening took one of our pieces.  A beat that I found it was very hard to keep up with.

I didn’t have much time for flying birds today and this goldfinch, threading its way towards the feeder, was the best that I could do.


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Today’s guest picture is another from our daughter’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in May.  She took many pictures of the show gardens but this was one of my favourites.


The hills were covered in misty clouds when we got up but the forecast offered us a warm, sunless day with the faint possibility of rain later.  With the temperature at a very tolerable 18°C and the wind very light indeed, it seemed like a perfect morning for a pedal.

And so it proved.

I had in mind a circuit of about 40 miles and in the end I found a route of 45 miles that was undemanding, varied and offered a feast of things and views to look at.  These were somewhat wasted on me though as I found myself in a distinctly head down and pedal mood and only stopped when I met a traffic jam….

Pony and trap

… or needed to top up on a banana near a splendidly beflowered  front gate for a big house….


…or for a second banana at Longtown before the last push home.  The gravel pits were looking very peaceful….

Longtown gravel pit

…and a flowering tree (probably an elderberry) beside the road caught my eye while I munched away.


There is still plenty of cow parsley in the verges with lots of buttercups, geraniums and red campion but when I got onto the bike path at Hagg-on-Esk as I was nearing home, bird’s foot trefoil and clover were the outstanding eye catchers.

birds foot trefoil and clover

I surprised myself by feeling very chirpy when I got home and when Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a cycle ride down to Canonbie after lunch to visit the café in the church there, I was happy to go along with her.

I took a walk round our garden before we left.

The irises are at their best.

white lined iris

Some bold…

pink iris

…and some more restrained

I had a raft of colour to pick from and I chose the Weigela, which is flourishing…


….and three musk flowers in a row….


…and a bee on a geranium just to celebrate having at least one bee in the garden.

bee on geranium

There were a few more bees but at this time of year on a warm day like this the garden should be full of the sound of buzzing whereas today, I had to strain my ears to hear any at all.

Once we got going, Mrs Tootlepedal was in fine cycling form and we whizzed down the six miles to Canonbie at over ten miles an hour.  I was on my slow bike and had to pedal hard to keep up with her.

We leaned our bikes against the wall round the church…

Lichen at canonbie church

…and wondered for a moment if the lichen was trying to spell out a message or paint a picture before going into the modest side door….

Canonbie Church

…and meeting the object of the whole exercise, the home made cake stand.

cakes at canonbie

Mrs Tootlepedal had a fruit scone from the top and I had a slice of the good looking (and tasting) cake on the bottom.

The café is run by volunteers for the good of the local community and the food is not only tasty but very reasonably priced as well.  We will try to fit in another visit soon.

The journey back was not quite so swift as the trip down as we had both a gentle wind and a gentle gradient to face but we went very well and had time and energy to look at the verges as we went along.  We are entering the age of the grasses.

fox tail grass

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this fine clump might be fox tail grass.

I couldn’t resist another look at the birds foot trefoil.  They are often a bright red when they come out.

birds foot trefoil

We were a bit a worried as to whether we might get rained on as we pedalled but the weather stayed fair until just after we got home.  When a light rain started, we congratulated ourselves on our very good timing but when it stopped a few minutes later, we went back to watering the garden.

I had a last look at our garden colour….



…and then went in for a sit down and a look at the crossword.

I had just finished the crossword when I realised that I hadn’t made any effort to catch a flying bird of the day so I picked up my camera, more in hope than expectation, and looked out of the kitchen window.  Within seconds, a siskin had obliged.  It was rather late in the day both literally and metaphorically so I was very pleased to get anything at all.

flying siskin


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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit that my brother paid to Sheffield.  It shows the Victoria Quay.

Victoria Quay SheffieldMrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh after breakfast and the brisk winds and heavy rain that she left behind made me quite happy to settle down to putting some weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  The good weather of the past few days had once again left me well behind in my schedule so this was not before time.

I interrupted the work once to investigate getting my new phone to work,  This turned out to be relatively painless.

I discovered that I could ‘chat’ on-line with a disembodied being and he/she revealed that I needed to wait twenty four hours after putting in the sim card before it would work.  It was as simple as that and I wondered why the email saying that my phone was ‘ready to go’ hadn’t revealed this but I assume that they think that everyone knows this already.  Anyway, on the stroke of the twenty four hours, my phone worked.  Hooray.  Now there are just the 129 pages to read.

My other pause was to entertain Dropscone to a cup of coffee.  He was in cheerful mood as he had played a good game if golf in windy conditions yesterday at a seniors tournament on a tricky course.  His scones were good too.

I completed a couple of weeks of the index before lunch and finally the rain relented enough for me to get my camera out and walk round the garden…


The palest poppy that I have ever seen has come out.

…but it was too windy to spend time on flowers so I set the camera up to watch birds for a while instead.

chaffinches on the feeder

At one moment it was all chaffinches….

siskins on the feeder

…and a few minutes later it was totally siskins.

Variety is the spice of life.

The young blackbirds were lurking about the garden again today.

young blackbirdAt lunchtime, my new phone burst into life with a query from Sandy as to  whether I was up for an outing.  The forecast looked reasonable and the rain had almost stopped so we agreed on an excursion to Longtown for a walk along the river and round the ponds.

By the time that Sandy arrived (bringing a very nice home made carrot cake with him), the weather was looking up and we set off for Longtown in good spirits.

By the time Sandy had parked the car at Longtown…

Longtown…and we had got down to the river, the sun had come out to match the flowers and we had a very pleasant if breezy stroll.

When we started our walk, we met a striking yellow flower on the banks of the Esk…

Golden RodI think it might be Golden Rod but as always, I am open to correction.

There were signs of the turning of the season though.

seed heads and convolvulusThe most common sight on our walk was fluffy seed heads and actual flowers like this convolvulus were few and far between.

The exception was a burst of Himalayan balsam….

Himalayan balsam…which is pretty but rather invasive and so is not very welcome.

There was plenty of water going down the Esk after the rain….

River esk in spate..but the ponds were as peaceful as ever.

Longtown pondsOur plan was to to walk round the ponds but this was thwarted by an outbreak of cows…

cows…who had had the same idea.

They are very handsome animals….

cows…but we didn’t feel like testing their good nature as they grazed on the path we were intending to use.

We settled for walking along the river bank and back.

Esk at Longtown

There are worse places to walk.

Although we didn’t see anything particularly exciting, the walk itself was a great pleasure and the chance to stretch our legs after a morning of miserable weather was much appreciated.  As always at a sunny moment, the bridge over the Esk looked wonderful.

Bridge at LongtownIn spite of the lure of birds and flowers in a sunlit garden,  I settled down to put a third week of the newspaper index into the database when I got home.

During the day, my new phone had brought me the exciting news that Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare had taken Matilda for a walk.  This, to coin a phrase, is a great step forward.  This was not just a few faltering footsteps but a genuine adventure involving going up the street and down another one and across…and down…and up the street again.  This was a journey of about 400 yards and from there to the World Championships can only be a matter of time now.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had to stand on her way to Edinburgh because the train was so full (we blame the Edinburgh Festival) but she got a seat on the way back and arrived home safely.

In the evening, I met Sandy again and we went to the Archive Centre.  Sandy changed the window display (we show a selection of photographs from our archives for the interest of passers by) while I put the fourth week of the day into the database.  This was a hard work for me as my typing is very erratic and I have to do endless corrections as I go along but it didn’t get me much further as the data miners had prepared another four weeks for me to take away so I was back where I had started after breakfast.

Still my new phone is working and I used it to take some of the pictures in today’s post so I am very content.

Although there was a moment on our walk when it looked as though we might have any amount of flying birds to photograph…

gulls at Longtown…they flew off before we could get near and so I found a flying chaffinch to be FBotD.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a pair of damselflies in Venetia’s Somerset garden.  I never see dragon or damselflies in our garden.  It is most frustrating.damselfly

Matilda has been a little poorly of late so Mrs Tootlepedal went up to Edinburgh today by an early train to lend a moral support (and a helping hand).

This left me with the day to myself.  It was still only 13°C after breakfast and the sky was cloudy and dull so instead of leaping out of the blocks and cycling into the far distance, I dillied and dallied and found things to do which put off the moment of starting.   I couldn’t use the wind as an excuse as it was very calm but it took me three hours after Mrs Tootlepedal’s departure to get organised enough to go.

Walking round the garden was one diversionary tactic.


A spirea reaches out a decorative limb


A poppy lounges about

strawberries and gooseberries

The sight of the strawberries and gooseberries is making me hungry

Poppy and chive


Geranium flowers float above their foliage

Having finally pulled myself together, I armed myself with an egg roll, two bananas and a chocolate biscuit and set off to see the world, with only a vague travel plan in mind.   I was not in any hurry though and I began to enjoy myself enough to contemplate perhaps forty miles. The grey skies didn’t look very threatening and the wind was so light that the windmills weren’t earning their keep at all.

My legs cheerfully took me over Callister hill, along to Gair and up flower lined lanes….

gair…to Kennedy’s Corner and then through a dark tunnel to the light beyond.

Kennedy's CornerOn the other side of the tunnel was the road down to the coast and the flat lands of the Solway Plain.

On my way down the hill, I passed a splendidly straight line of tall pylons marching across the fields…..

pylons…and a relic of the past at Chapelknowe.

Drive wheel

An old barn still has a drive wheel ready for the traction engine to be attached.

I was soon at Gretna where I crossed the railway at the site of Scotland’s worst ever railway accident at Quintinshill.  This has been much remembered lately as it happened a hundred years ago.

QuintinshillFrom Gretna, I took the service road along the M6 motorway and stopped to eat my roll and one of the bananas.  Across the road, I saw the first hedge roses of the year.

Hedge roseThe motorway embankment was covered in daisies.

daisiesAs you can see, the sun had defied the clouds and was shining on my journey by this time.   Once I got going again, I rolled through the sunlit flat lands of England, passing this pretty church with a spire in Rockcliffe….

Rockcliffe…and a fine display of red hot pokers beside the road near Todhills….

red hot pokers….until I got to Longtown.  Here I had a cup of tea and an excellent toasted tea cake before looking into the bike shop to enquire about a replacement for my saddle which has seen better days.  I asked if I could have one exactly like my present model which has served me well but as the bicycle business exists to sell new things to customers who already have everything that they want, they don’t make my saddle any more.

From Longtown, as I was feeling pretty perky, I took a slightly circuitous route home just to take my distance for the day over the fifty mile mark.  I felt that I had missed an opportunity as it had turned out to be a perfect day for a really long ride.  I don’t like to go too far from home though when the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service is not available so I wasn’t too unhappy with my half century.

garmin 23 June 2015

Those interested in the route can click on the map for full details of the ride.

Once home, I mowed the middle lawn, filled the bird feeder, (the birds had been busy)…

busy feederbusy feeder….had a cup of tea and a shower and greeted Mrs Tootlepedal on her return from Edinburgh.  We went to admire a new iris that has come put today.


My favourite variety.  Expect many more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty chicken dish from yesterday provided us with our evening meal and then it was time for me to get a lift from Susan to go and play with our recorder group in Carlisle.  We finalised the programme for our forthcoming concert and did some useful and fairly detailed practice. There is no doubt that practising is a Good Thing.

The drive home was accompanied by such a wonderful sunset that I could have cried because I had no camera with me.  Still, the internet is awash with sunset pictures so the loss of one more is probably a bonus rather than a disaster.

The flying bird of the day is a regulation chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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