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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who is back from Spain.  He was quite surprised to find the moon in his local cathedral.  It had had a very beneficial effect on numbers attending evensong. He tells me that ‘The Museum of the Moon’ is touring the provinces, and will be with him for a month.

Church moon

Rather ominously, it was raining when I woke up this morning, but by the time that I had had breakfast, things had brightened up a lot and the rest of the day was dry and often sunny.

I dawdled over breakfast and then made a venison stew for the slow cooker and finally, after a cup of coffee and a preliminary battle of wits with the prize crossword, I took advantage of the fine weather by going out for a pedal.

A small crop of mushrooms by the side of the road caught my eye soon after I had started….

roadside fungus

I didn’t stop a lot on my ride as I wanted to get back in time to go up to the Agricultural Show but I took a few pictures on my way.

I thought that this one summed up the day well:  sunny and cloudy with a brisk wind.

minsca widmills

I saw some standing bulls…

three bulls

…and some sitting cows…

sitting cows

…along my way.

And it was clear enough for me to able to see a hint of colour on the Lake District hills, 30 miles away.

lake district hills

I plugged away into the wind on my way out and then had a helping hand for the return journey.  With this assistance, I managed 38 miles at a modest pace (13.2 mph) and got home in time to have a quick look round in the garden before going up to the show field.

The astrantia was very popular..

astrantia with three insects

…and a rose, a fuchsia and a cosmos were enjoying the dry sunny weather.

rose, fuchsia, cosmos

When i got to the show field, there were horses…

pony at Ag show

…sheep…

sheep at ag show

…and cattle…

bull at ag show

…to be seen.

There were prize vegetables, cakes, flower arrangements, and many other treats in the industrial tent.  Mrs Tootlepedal had won first prize for a small embroidery but it was disappointing to find that it was the only entry in her class.  Still, as the Castleholm, where the show is held, is a big piece of ground, I can truthfully say that she won first prize in a large field.

As at the Canonbie Flower Show last month, a falconer had turned up with some handsome birds…

three hawks at ag show

…and his assistant was flying an owl.

owl at Ag show

…which got fed up at one point and retired to the top of a public address pole and refused to do any more flying.

errant owl at Ag show

Considering the rotten weather through the week, the show was pretty cheerful.  This picture doesn’t show you the full extent of the mud where people had been walking…

ag show view

…and I was pleased to have my wellies on.

I didn’t stop long as I was a bit peckish after my bike ride and I walked home across the Jubilee Bridge, passing a football match on my way.  I was a touch slow with my shutter finger and the ball had left the shot by the time that I took the picture.

football match

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to find that the garden is looking a little worse for wear when she comes home tomorrow…

droopy rudbeckia

…but there are still some butterflies about.  There are hardly any flowers left on the buddleias and there was keen competition to get on to the last ones today.

butterflies on scarce buddleia

I finished the crossword and then had a quiet sit down until it was time to eat some of the slow cooked venison stew for my evening meal.

As I was walking back from the show, I met my friend Gavin and he told me that part of the fine bridge at Longtown…

Longtown bridge

This was the bridge in July

…had collapsed and the road across it had had to be closed.  I looked on the internet this evening and found that the damage can’t have been too catastrophic as one lane over the bridge has now been re-opened and traffic lights installed.  I shall see if it still open tomorrow when I go down to Carlisle for the choir and to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up. Luckily there is an easy and convenient diversion if required.

The flying bird of the day is that owl while it was still behaving well.

flying owl

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She went to the Haynes International Motor museum in Yeovil with her friend Venetia, and her eye was caught by this shiny Morris Oxford 6 saloon from 1930.

haynes motor museum

I got up intending to have a quick breakfast and go cycling but like so many of my good intentions, this one was unrealised.  In the end, I had a slow breakfast, did the crossword, waited for a rain shower to pass, checked on the butterflies in the garden…

more butterflies

….and then finally went cycling.  By this time the wind had got up and was blowing pretty forcibly so I reduced my intended route distance from 30 miles to 12 and even then had quite a hard time cycling the six miles up hill and  into the wind to my turning point.

The grass is pointing to my way home.

 

blowing grass

I was freewheeling along a flat section at 25 mph with not a breath of wind in my face at one time on my way home, and that gives some idea of the briskness of the breeze.  Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased to have managed even 12 miles.

While I was out, Mrs Tootlepedal had done some serious lawn edging.

edged lawn

I had another walk round the garden and was pleased to find that lots of flowers had survived the four inches of rain that we have had during the week…

six garden flowers

…and that bees were busy visiting some of our newer blooms.

two bees

After lunch, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal to do some more gardening in the sunshine, I drove down to Canonbie to visit the flower show there.

As well as jams, jellies, needlework, art, flowers and vegetables, there are always other attractions at the show and this year, there was a modest display of falconry.  It was slightly hampered by the very strong winds but a couple of patient birds sat on their perches taking an interest in what was going on.

This is a Harris Hawk..

harris hawk

…but I can’t remember what this striking bird was.

falcon canonbie

There are usually some static engines on display and this fine oil engine was the star of the show this year.

static engine canonbie

Some more mobile vehicles were to be seen as well.

two tractors canonbie

When I went into the hall to see the photographs, I was surprised to find that I had managed to acquire two first prizes and a second ticket from my twelve entries.  Sandy had been in the prizes as well and we shared  a trophy with yet another exhibitor for most points in the coloured photo classes.  We all had had a first and a second.

There were a lot of pictures on display and quite a number of different people had caught the eye of the judge.  This is very satisfactory and should bode well for the entries next year.  I would like to thank Linda for taking my pictures down to show and putting them up for me.

After a tour round the flowers and vegetables, I went for a walk along the river.  As I crossed the bridge, I saw a dipper below.

dipper in esk canonbie

A started my walk at the church and was pleased to find sheep safely grazing in the glebe fields.

sheep canonbie church

I felt that I was being laughed at as I took the path down to the river but it was only a conifer covered in strange fruit.

pine fruit

It was very peaceful walking along the grassy bank of the Esk…

esk at canonbie

…although a little waterfall splashing down the banking further on showed how wet it has been.

waterfall at canonbie

I was going to walk along the river for a good bit but the path became very muddy and as I didn’t have suitable footwear, I had to turn back and go back to the hall by the route that I had taken on the way out.

I met Sandy there and he kindly offered to bring my pictures back after the show had ended, so I was able to drive home and find out what Mrs Tootlepedal had been up to in my absence.

She had lifted the onions.

onions 2019

We had a cup of tea and then we drove up to the White Yett and walked up the track to the monument on Whita Hill.

It was still very breezy but the sun was shining, so I expected to get some good views.  Once again my expectations were unrealised as it was pretty hazy, but when the sun shone in the right place, views of some sort were available.  This is the Ewes valley.

ewes valley august evening

There is a plan to put a lot of exceedingly tall wind turbines on the top of these hills and although I am a supporter of wind power, we think that this is a step too far.  We can already see about 60 turbines from the monument but they don’t impinge on the views too dramatically,  These huge turbines would overwhelm the valley altogether.

They are several times the height of our monument.

monument sugust evening

When we arrived at the monument, we were being buffeted by the wind to such an extent that we didn’t stay for long.  I did look over the wall and down onto the Solway plain which stretches between our hills and the English hills which you can just see though the haze in the distance.

view of Solway plain from whita

When the sun came out from behind the clouds, the monument cast a long shadow over the moor.

shadow of monument

As we turned to go back down the hill, a patch of sunlight played on the top of Castle Hill across the valley.

castle hill august evening

As we went back down the hill to the town in our car, we passed several notices calling for care and warning of sharp bends and sudden steep sections.  When I checked, I found that there is a cycle sportive coming this way tomorrow from Hawick.  I just hope that the wind drops a bit or it will be hard work for the cyclists.

After a busy day for us both, we were refreshed by corned beef hash and rhubarb crumble with custard for our tea.

The falconer at Canonbie was able to fly an owl over a very short distance in spite of the wind so I have got quite an unusual flying bird of the day today.

flying owl canonbie

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Today’s guest picture shows what can only be described as a host of golden daffodils.  They were spotted by my sister Mary on a walk through St James’ Park.

St James's ParkWe enjoyed some perfect weather for the first day of spring here today and on a day when I really should have been cycling all over the place, I went walking instead.

My first walk was round the garden of course.  There were new flowers.

hellebore

A handsome hellebore, a gift from our neighbour Liz, last year.

chionodoxa

A charming chionodoxa

The pond is now so full of frog spawn that there is hardly any room for the frogs.

frogWe are promised some very chilly nights soon so I hope all the work has not been in vain.

Later in the morning, I gave my new knee and dodgy ankle a test by ascending on foot to the summit of Warbla.   This is not quite mountaineering as it only involves a gentle one and a half mile stroll up a very good track….

Warbla….to the dizzy heights of 900 feet.

Still, it was the longest and highest climb that my new knee has tried and I was very pleased to find that it didn’t mind at all and worked perfectly both on the way up and coming down.  I have been doing calf stretches on the advice of my physio and these seem to have been very helpful for my ankle which had no complaints either.

Thanks to the high pressure and the winds from the east which have been keeping our weather fine and dry, there is quite a lot of air pollution about and in spite of the fine weather, the views were distinctly hazy but I snapped away regardless.

warbla sheep

One of the thousands of reasons that our hills are generally treeless.

The view from the summit is generous.

Langholm from Warbla

Pocketcam’s view of the town

Langholm from Warbla

The big camera’s version of the view

Holmwood from Whita

Looking over Holmwood, the most modern part of the town.

There is a TV mast and various telephone dishes at the summit of Warbla which account for the good track.  There was a new device which I hadn’t seen before on this visit and it is shown alongside the oldest piece of technology up there, an Ordnance Survey trig point, now no longer in use..

WarblaI came down by a slightly different route which allowed me to admire some lichen…

lichen…and watch as John and Jean mastered the art of walking on water.

John and JeanIt would take a lot of persuasion to get me walking along the top of the caul with such nonchalance but they and their dogs do it regularly.

I could have shown you a lot more very interesting views of hills if Sandy hadn’t rung up and suggested an afternoon walk.

We left Mrs Tootlepedal knocking up a pair of net curtains and went down by car to Hagg-on-Esk where we took a stroll along the banks of the river up to Irvine House and back.

I took many shots of the river but this one will have to represent them all.

The Esk near Irvine HouseIt was a delightfully tranquil walk and we were rewarded with sightings of dippers, oyster catchers, grey wagtails, pied wagtails, mallards, goosanders, blue, great and long tailed tits and a pair of buzzards.

The light was playing tricks and was often too bright at crucial moments so the photographs don’t match the pleasure of the walk.  I put them in for the record.

goosanders and oyster catchers

Sometimes the goosanders and oyster catchers sat still….

oyster catchers

…but mostly they flew away as soon as we got near….

goosanders

…in every direction.

The dippers were even more difficult to catch.

dippersIt is hard to put into words the pleasure of sitting on the banks of the river watching dippers, goosanders, oyster catchers and wagtails flitting up and down past us.  It was very soothing to the soul.

There were other things to divert us too.  We wondered if a tree has ever had more catkins to the inch than this one.

catkinsAlthough our walk was only just over a mile and a half, there and back, it took us the best part of one and a half hours which shows how much there was to stop and watch along the way.  I hope that Sandy will post some pictures from the day in his blog in the course of time, as it will be interesting to see what he made of it.

We had a cup of tea when we got home.  The builders have finished wet dashing the new wall.

wet dash wallIt will look better when it has dried.  The scaffolding will go away shortly and we will be able to see the new wall in all its beauty then.

After our cup of tea, Sandy suggested a drive up onto the Langholm Moor to see what we could see.

He went first in his own car and I followed on in ours with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had finished her curtain making.  When we joined him, he said he had been watching a short eared owl and sure enough a minute or two later, we had a splendid view of one as it flew along the hillside.  I was in bird watching mode and had my binoculars out but I dived back into the car for my camera and tried to get a shot before it disappeared over the hill.

Mrs Tootlepedal caught a glimpse of a hen harrier as we drove home but I had to keep my eye on the road.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day than this one to celebrate the vernal equinox.  The only downside was finding about 200  images on my camera cards when I put them in the computer in the evening.  It has hurt my head getting them down to my regulation maximum but as the photography was not in the same class as the actual walks, the discarded 180 are no great loss.

The flying bird of the day is a grainy shot of the short eared owl taken as the light faded.

short eared owl

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