Posts Tagged ‘Newtown’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  On a clear day recently, he was able to look across the Forth and see North Berwick.  We haven’t organised a holiday there for this year yet.  This may be the closest we get to it.

north berwick

On a normal Sunday at this time of year, we would go to Church to sing in the church choir in the morning, and then go to Carlisle to sing with Community Choir in the afternoon.  Thanks to the dreaded virus, both church and community choir are closed for the foreseeable future and time hung heavy on my hands.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with community buy out work, but I just mooched around feeling hard done by, not even being able to raise enthusiasm for a walk or even compost sieving.

On the bright side it was another sunny and dry day (after another frosty start) so I did wander around the garden where I found a lot of the potential tadpoles developing well.

developing tadpoles

The cold mornings are not encouraging new growth so I had to make do with daffodils…

daffodil in sun

..and chionodoxas for floral cheer again.

chionodoxa clump

The silver pear is offering signs of hope…

silver pear march 22

…and a single flower on the head of a drumstick primula hinted at good times to come.

first primula flower

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were sitting on our new bench enjoying the warmth of the sun when we heard the buzzing of a bee.  I rushed to get a camera but only managed a very fuzzy shot of the buzzer.

faint bee

Any bee is welcome though.

Taking a last shot of a fancy cowslip, I went in to make lentil and carrot soup for lunch.


After lunch, I stirred myself enough to get my bicycle out in the hope that the good Dr Velo would offer a cure for my blues.  It was not very warm in spite of the sun and the temperature was still in single figures, but the wind wasn’t too bad.

The blue sky was almost cloudless and the good doctor soon began to work his magic, helped perhaps by the fact that I had chosen a very easy route, my favourite Sunday ride down the main roads to the Roman Wall and back again.

As I passed the junction at the start of the Canonbie by-pass, I thought that I heard people hooting at me but when I looked up, I saw it was a skein of birds flying overhead.  I stopped and got out my camera but they were well past me before I could press the shutter.


I cycled over the bridge at Longtown and was pleased to see that work has started on repairing one side of the bridge at least.

It is not  a very photogenic ride but a bright bracket fungus on a tree stump did make me stop…

barcket fungus newtown road

…and I was happy to see young lambs at the far side of the field.

two lambs

It was a clear day and I could see the final fling of the northern English fells in the distance.

north england hills

I got to Newtown, my twenty mile turning point, and was glad of a rest to eat a banana while sitting on my customary seat…

newtown bench

…and admiring the daffodils round the old village drinking fountain.

newtown pump with daffs

The wind had been in my face the whole way down so I was fully expecting the weather gods to play their usual tricks and either change the wind direction or let it die away completely on my return journey.

On this occasion though they were at their most benign, and after taking 90 minutes for the southern leg, I only needed 79 minutes for the return to the north.

I paused for this fine English tree…

longtown road tree

…and for the Welcome to Scotland sign at the border.

welcome to scotland

It is not an impressive gateway to our beautiful country, comprising as it does of a scruffy lay-by, two litter bins and a slew of ill matched road signs.  To add to the lack of warmth in the welcome, the illuminated digital sign up the road was telling people to stop doing all this travelling around anyway.

“Ceud mìle fàilte” as they say.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon split between business and the garden but she had finished by the time that I got back so I nodded at a blackbird perched on the greenhouse…


…and went in to join her.

Mrs Tootlepedal hunted out some more of her chicken cacciatore and we had it with rice for our tea.

I had tinned peach slices with Mackie’s excellent ice cream for afters, and that rounded off a day that ended with me feeling much better than when it had begun.

I had thought that the skein of birds that flew across me when I was cycling were geese of some sort but a closer look on the computer showed me that all my flying birds of the day were not geese but swans.

gaggle closer

It’s not often that all your geese are swans.  It was lucky that I saw them because there was hardly a bird at the feeder all day.

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Today’s guest picture shows a Turkish bath in Leamington Spa.  My brother saw it on a recent visit.  The designers in 1840 certainly tried to make it look ‘Turkish’.

turkish bath

Our brief spell of pleasant weather continued today and it was bright and sunny when I went up to fill the Moorland bird feeders after breakfast.  Sadly the low sun was once again shining straight up the clearing towards the screen so I wasn’t able to take any pictures.  I will have to go back later in the day for my next visit.

I took one or two bird pictures when I got home instead.  The robin sometimes pops up onto the feeder if it is not too busy.

robin on feeder

After a great deal of high quality scientific observation, I have come to the conclusion that the small birds don’t seem to be right or left footed but land with whatever leg is handy (or perhaps leggy) and sometimes with both at the same time.

chaffinch landing

They miss the perch surprisingly often.  I have put the next poor quality shot in because it is possible that the undistinguished bird at the bottom left could be the first redpoll of the winter.  Sometimes it is hard to tell one from a dark siskin.  I am open to enlightenment on this identification.

possible redpoll

A Sunday should start with a visit to the church choir for Mrs Tootlepedal and a decent cycle ride on quiet main roads for me.  This Sunday started just like it should although I left a bit later than planned to give the thermometer time to climb from 3 to 4 degrees C.  Apart from a two minute stop at the malfunctioning traffic lights at Skippers Bridge, my 20 mile journey to Newtown was very enjoyable, with a hint of warmth from the low sun and only a very light wind in my face.

garmin routeThere was a little more traffic on the roads than I might have expected but not enough to be annoying and being Sunday, there were no lorries at all.

One of the pleasures of the route is that the road from Longtown to Newtown has been recently resurfaced and it provides the best cycling in the area.  With no potholes or other nasty surprises,  I could pedal along with my mind occupied  by all sorts of airy fancies.

I gave the bike a short rest at the traditional bench at Newtown while I scoffed a couple of bananas.

bike at Newtown

You can see what a nice day it was.

I didn’t take any more pictures en route because I had hit a steady but gentle pedalling rhythm and it didn’t seem right to interrupt it.  This means you have lost the chance of seeing a picture of quite an interesting gate but I expect that you can bear this with equanimity.

I finished the 40 miles at an average of just over 15 mph, not very impressive for such a flat route in benign conditions but high enough for me to consider myself as not quite dead yet which is always a comfort.

Talking of death, when I got home I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was ceremonially burying the carcase of the Christmas turkey.  She has done this every year after Christmas since time immemorial.

burying the turkey

We will expect extra special roses against that fence next summer.

After I had eaten some lunch and had a shower, there was just enough light  to look out of the kitchen window again.  The feeder had needed to be refilled so that meant a scattering of the last few old seeds on the lawn.


A blackbird amidst the usual chaffinches.

The sparrows prefer the fat balls.


So many jackdaws appeared today that I have had to put the fat ball fortress on again this evening before they eat me out of house and home.

A tubby chaffinch posed on the chimney.


And the dying rays of the sun caught the walnut tree.

walnut tree

The dark clouds in the background are harbingers of rain to come.  I looked at the forecast for tomorrow….


…and cancelled the morning pedal with Dropscone.  I may have had the last pedal of the year by the look of the weather for the next two days.

It was rather a waste of a sunny morning to go on such a dull cycling route but I did manage to find time for a flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



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I thought I needed a sunny picture for today so I stole this shot of Maisie eating quiche from her mother’s excellent blog.  Cool kid.

maisie with quiche

Yet again there was a marked absence of sun today and for those of you who enjoy pictures of the garden birds,I apologise for their absence but there isn’t anything that can be done about it.  For those who you are are thoroughly bored with incessant chaffinch and brambling shots, enjoy it while you can,  The sun must must shine again some day.   I hope.

Still, once again it was a warmish day and there was little or no wind so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I got the (fairly) speedy bike out and set off for a flat forty.  In the good old days (i.e. two years ago) I could get up early, do the forty miles and be back well before lunch but these days it seems to take me longer to get up and get going and I have lost a couple of miles an hour of speed so the whole thing is rather more drawn out.

Still, it did give me time to shoot a couple of visitors before I left.  (Flying birds were out of the question in the gloom.)

smooth greenfinch

A very smooth greenfinch

blue tit

A welcome blue tit

I had sandycam in my back pocket and since I was in no hurry, I stopped at Longtown to admire the gravel pits which were looking quite romantic with a hint of possible sunlight in the sky behind them.

gravel pits

On the other side of the road, one of the pervasive puddles reflected the green sign showing my way home.

Longtown puddle

While I was taking these pictures, a cyclist passed me and as I cycled on along the road to Brampton, I passed him again quite soon.  Later on, I stopped to take a picture of the banks of the river Lyne and he passed me again.

passing cyclist

I expect that he thought that I was a very frivolous cyclist.  These were the pictures I was taking as he passed me.

Cliffs at the river Lyne

Looking west from the bridge.  The rock really is this colour.

Lyne bridge

Looking east.

I was struck by the tree growing out of the rock so I took a closer shot of it.

tree on Lyne banl

That’s a miracle of clinging on.

The promise of a bit of sunshine always seemed to recede as I cycled along under grey clouds.


It was always bright ahead but I never caught it up.  Maybe the fact that I stopped now and then to take another picture didn’t help but I think that you will agree that it would be impossible to pass these ponies without stopping.


I stopped finally at Newtown on the Roman Wall and enjoyed a banana with a cardboard and maple syrup healthy bar while I was watching the hens on the village green there.


One of them came up for a closer look.

newtown chicken

Then it was time to turn for home.  I started off at a good speed with a light wind behind me but it dropped as I went along and the weather got greyer and greyer.  It had obviously rained in places between my outward and return journey so I didn’t want to linger for photo opportunities on the way home.  I made a short stop at the border to have a final refreshment and look sadly southwards at the good weather that I never quite got to.

good weather

Going north, it got even greyer and greyer until by the time that I got to Langholm, it was actually raining.  I found the last five miles hard work and I was pleased to flop into a chair when I got home and have a couple of slices of toast and honey and a cup of tea. Although it was only two o’clock, it was really dark outside and I shot one picture of a resting brambling….


…but there was no real chance of any more useful photographs so I took myself off to the bath and enjoyed a good soak.

And that was that for the day.  I was pleased to have pedalled forty miles, the furthest that I have gone since October but rather peeved by how tired I felt after it, considering the fact that my average was only 14.7  mph for a very flat route.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

I did just capture a gloomy flying bird of the day.

flying chffinch



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