Posts Tagged ‘River Eden’

Today’s guest  photograph comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Skye.  He managed to take a rather clever picture of himself taking a picture of a rainbow.


After yesterday’s dull, drizzly day following a good forecast, we had a sunny, bright day today following a very gloomy forecast of frequent showers.  The general forecasts remain pretty sound but the detailed local forecasts are sometimes rather ropey.

Still, we were very grateful for a good day.

I took a couple of pictures of the effects of yesterday’s rain…

lupin and pulsatilla

A lupin holding a watery diamond and a battered pulsatilla

…and set off to cycle round my 20 mile Canonbie circle.   Although the temperature was in single figures and the sun wasn’t out, the lack of wind made it feel quite pleasant for cycling and I went round at a good speed. Since I wasn’t having to battle the breeze, I was much more in the mood to stop and take pictures so I paused for a primrose, waited for a wood anemone, dawdled for a dandelion and ran out of alliteration for a bluebell.

primrose, wood anemone, dandelion, bluebell

The dandelions and anemones were out in force near Canonbie.

anemones and dandelions

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to show that the trees are getting a welcome green tinge.

Hollows Bridge

By the time that I got home, the sun had come out so I mowed the middle and front lawns and took a lot of flower pictures.

violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

Dog tooth violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

tulip waving goodbye

Tulip dead heading will shortly be required

There were quite a few bees to be heard and I was very pleased to see some of them at work on the plum tree….

tulip waving goodbye

…though the forecast of a frost tonight might be too much for the blossoms.

I think that the tadpoles are far enough on to survive a cold night.


It was such a nice spring day by this time, although still not as warm as it should be on a sunny day in April, that I went into the house and took three shots of the garden from upstairs windows.

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds (and a glimpse pf the gardener).

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

This doesn’t show the beds along the front of the house and the small area to the right of the greenhouse.

The birds were pleased when I filled the feeders before I went cycling and by the time that I got back they had got the level well down again.


We wanted to do some shopping at Gretna so we took advantage of the continuing sunshine by packing the bikes into the car after lunch and going for a cycle ride before we did the shopping.

The advantage of cycling from Gretna from Mrs Tootlepedal’s point of view in particular is that the roads are mostly flat but this didn’t mean that we had a dull outing.

Todhills horses

Bridge of trees at Todhills

Mrs Tootlepedal passing under an arch of trees

We went south from Gretna and cycled round a 12 mile loop that took us through Rockliffe.  After passing through the village, we took advantage of a rough track to cycle down to the bank of the river Eden.  We were able to look back at the church where we took a walk a week or so ago.

Rockcliffe church

Which ever way we looked, up or down the river, the view was delightful.

River Eden

Up river

River Eden

Down river

And the bank itself was covered with a lovely little wood.

Rockcliffe wood

We were a bit alarmed by some very black clouds ahead of us as we cycled back to Gretna but they passed over to the north before we got back to the car and we enjoyed an excellent cycle ride.

The 12 miles had given us an appetite so a cup of coffee and a cake was necessary before we completed some satisfactory shopping.  (Slippers were the main thing on the list but quality prunes came into it too.)

We got home to find that the rain shower had missed Langholm as well.  This was lucky as we had had washing hanging out.  I had to fill the feeders again as they were quite empty by this time.


Cycling and shopping had taken up most of the afternoon and it wasn’t long before it was time for our evening meal and then I went out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We haven’t played for some weeks as Mike and Isabel have been busy on church matters over the Lent period and it was very good to get back to playing again.  The time off hadn’t got too much rust into the works so we enjoyed our playing a lot.

Sometimes, I can just push the shutter button in the nick of time to catch a flying bird and today was one of those times.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary, who was on the Unite for Europe March yesterday (as was my sister Susan).  It was rather mentally dislocating to see this peaceful and sunny picture after the recent events nearby.

Unite for Europe March 25.03.17 003

We had our third consecutive day of beautiful weather here and we are having to try very hard not to get too used to this sort of thing as it can’t possibly last.

It was such a good morning that I didn’t spend any time making a meal for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir but got out on my bike instead.  Once again, I had to wait until the morning had warmed up a bit but considering that the clocks had jumped forward an hour during the night, I was quite pleased to get out as early as I did.

My route was extremely dull, being straight down the main road for 15 miles and then straight back again so I didn’t take my camera but I did use my phone to catch a tree at my turning point.

tree near smithfield

The Sunday morning ride is usually very peaceful but for some reason there was a steady stream of traffic going south today and this made the trip less enjoyable that normal so I was happy to get home.  I had hoped to do the 30 mile trip in under two hours but  a freshening crosswind on my way back meant that I missed my target by three minutes.  On the plus side, the thirty miles took me over 1000 miles for the year which is a notable landmark.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived and I got out my camera and had a walk round.

The crocuses have enjoyed the three warm days and were putting on a good show…


…after looking as though they were completely over  earlier in the week.

In the pond, the warmth has caused the weed to grow a lot…


…but there was enough space for a mass of wriggling tadpoles…


…who seemed to be blowing bubbles under the surface.  I have never seen foam like this before and can’t decide whether it is a good or a bad sign of tadpole health.

The grape hyacinths are making a little progress…

grape hyacinth

…although the planned river of blue is still the merest trickle.

The euphorbias are growing bigger every day.


…but so is the moss on the lawn.  I did mow a bit more of the middle lawn but there are spots when a blade of grass is hard to find.

I went in and looked out.


A chaffinch, perhaps wondering sadly if it always has to be the same seed for lunch.

flying chaffinch

And another putting a spell on a bird below in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We had a light lunch and then, after a quick run through one of the songs for out Carlisle choir, we set off for a bit of shopping and the weekly choir practice.

The practice was fun but hard work, as we are going through a couple of songs where if you are singing an A, there is bound to be someone else singing a B in your ear.  Still, we did get praise from our conductor for having obviously done home practice so that was very satisfactory.  More is required though.

It was such a lovely day, that we took a  roundabout route home.  We passed a pub in Rockcliffe and called in to see if we could get a meal as there wasn’t one ready in the slow cooker at home.  We had forgotten that it was Mothering Sunday though and the pub told us that they were on their third session of people taking mum out for a meal already and if we hadn’t booked, we were too late.

 We consoled ourselves by walking past the village church…

Rockcliffe Church

…and down onto the water meadow beside the River Eden.  It is a beautiful spot on a sunny evening.

River Eden

River Eden

River Eden

The River Eden floods so the church is placed on a handy hill…

rockliffe church

…and the bank below it was covered in pretty primroses.

rockliffe church

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the roots of a tree fixed into the rocks beside the track to the church.

rockliffe church

There must be the makings of a ghoulish fairy story in the manner of the Grimm Brothers there.

We drove home and enjoyed a fry up for our tea.  Not quite as good as a meal out but quite tasty all the same.

The flower of the day is a chionodoxa, smiling back at the sun…


…and the flying bird is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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I had occasion to give my friend Sue a ring today but she didn’t answer her phone.  It turned out, as you can see from today’s guest picture, that she was picking chanterelles for her tea at an intensive fungus weekend in the Lake District.  Some people have all the fun.


The reason that I rang her was to see if she would like to join me for part of a cycle ride that I was doing which passed not far from her house.  After a couple of wet and windy days, the forecast was good and as Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting, I hoped to make good use of the day with a long ride.

I didn’t make up my mind about where I wanted to go until I had had breakfast, looked out of the kitchen window…

blue tit and sparrow

The birds are back

….and considered the wind direction.  I didn’t have time to measure out a route exactly so  I chose a trip that would give me a good variety of terrain, some new roads to pedal along and be about 100 miles in length.  The first two criteria worked out very well but disappointingly, I was a bit out on the third.

It was quite a bit cooler than of late with the thermometer only just making double figures but with very light winds, it was a good, if rather grey day for cycling.

I started by doing a flat 20 miles down the main roads to Brampton…..


…a small town with a very pretty town centre which would look a lot better with no cars in it.

Considering that I soon passed under this massive bridge….

Brampton by pass

…which lets the Carlisle to Newcastle traffic by-pass the town, you might wonder where all the cars come from but the town seems to be thriving so perhaps I shouldn’t complain.

In contrast to the gentle start to the ride, the next thirty miles were a very up and down affair but they provided me with some new roads with excellent surfaces  and no pot holes to cycle along.   The route took me along the edge of the northern fells, where I saw this cow having a paddle….

cow having paddle

The cow was black and white so the camera took a black and white picture without my permission.

…before I turned west and crossed the River Eden at Lazonby.  The bridge is wonderful but was too wide for my camera to  catch all its beauty without walking miles into a field full of cattle.

Bridge over Eden at Lazonby

I peered through one of the many smaller side arches.

Bridge over Eden at Lazonby

The river was quite full so it had obviously rained in England as well as Scotland yesterday.

 Eden at Lazonby

This is one of the rivers (I crossed the others too) that brought severe floods to Carlisle last winter.  People are keeping a very nervous eye on the long range forecasts.

There is another bridge at Lanzonby….

Lazonby railway bridge

…and this carries the Carlisle to Settle railway line through the village.  This line is still being repaired after the floods.  The railway is open to the south of the village but a passenger needs to take a bus to get north to Carlisle.

Having crossed the Irthing near Brampton and the Eden at Lazonby, I only had the Petteril to cross before I got to the Pot Place where I aimed to have a bite to eat.  Before readers get too excited about the Pot Place, it sells pots…..pots and pots of pots….

pot place

…and nothing more stimulating than that.    It is sited at a disused station on the main London to Glasgow line and the old station master’s house….

pot place

…is now a cafe, very popular with old folk.  We have had good meals there before but the egg and chips that I got there today left a lot to be desired.  Still, they filled me up and the lemon cake which I had for afters was excellent.

I was joined by a couple of friends for lunch.

sparrows at the pot place

Leaving the pots, I headed for the hills once more and suffered the embarrassment of slipping my chain off the cogs, thanks to a clumsy gear change, just as another cyclist passed me.  I replaced the chain and got to the top of the hill where I was able to to enjoy a view of Hutton-in-the-Forest…


…and the pedal along the ridge to the tiny hamlet of Hutton End….

Hutton End

…which always seems a little ominous to me.

I took the road towards Carlisle and enjoyed the first level patch of cycling since I left Brampton as I followed the road along the ridge.  I didn’t go into Carlisle though but swooped down the hill through the splendidly named Buckabank and into Dalston.

From there I was in familiar country and cycled home back on fairly flat roads round the Carlisle by-pass bike path and then by Gretna, Kirkpatrick-Fleming and the Kerr.

The sun was out by this time and the back roads were a cyclist’s delight….

Near Tarcoon

Near Bloch

As I came along the Kirkpatrick-Fleming road, I was pleased to see that preparations for connecting up the new windmills to the grid are going forward.

Windmill power lines

At present the windmills are turning but no power is being produced.  This is a waste of good wind.

On a nearby line, a flock of starlings was singing lustily.


I was a bit miffed when I got home to find the computer telling me that I had only done 92 miles but I didn’t have the oomph to fiddle around adding an artificial eight miles to get up to the ton.

Mrs Tootlepedal was on hand to attend to the important matter of the post ride scientific recovery nutrition….

hen harrier beer

It went down without touching the sides as they say.

…and she had also made a venison stew in the slow cooker so I was well looked after.

I didn’t have the opportunity to catch a flying bird of the day but I did get a chance to catch the nerine without the wind spoiling things so it is the flower of the day.


Those interested may click on the map below to see the route details.


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Today’s guest picture shows a gardener hard at work in Queen Mary’s garden in Regent’s Park.  He was spotted by my sister Mary.

Gardener hard at work in Queen Mary's garden

We had another beautiful day today and the present weather has certainly made up for the gloomy spell last week.  Owing to failing to go to bed at a sensible time yesterday, we were both a little tired and took the morning very gently.

I had a chance to look at some pairs of things in the garden, both winged….

bees and butterflies

…and petalled.

poppies and dahlias

There were insects everywhere and especially on the red astrantia.


Mrs Tootlepedal is very happy about the Michaelmas daisies coming out as the cornflowers begin to fade in the bed on the edge of the drying green…..

cornflowers and daisies

…although this was almost by chance rather than deeply planned.

I was very happy to see a blackbird thinking about rowan berries….


..and finally taking a nibble.


Pity about the twig that got in the way of the shot.

Still, another blackbird gave me a second chance.

blackbird with rowan berry

We gathered ourselves together about midday and drove off to Carlisle to do some shopping for things that cannot be found in Langholm.  I packed the fairly speedy bike in the boot and after we had filled the shopping bags, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to drive home via a garden centre and set off to cycle home.  It was a treat not to have to cycle round in a circle as I do when I set off from home.

To make the ride more interesting, I started off by going to the south,  taking the bike path beside the river  down to Dalston.  It is a very pleasant path to ride, with a good surface for almost all of the way.  I feared that it might be a slow business with pedestrians, other cyclists and dog walkers to negotiate but in the event, there were not too many other users and such dogs as I encountered were very well behaved.

From Dalston, I travelled across country, passing the 11th century church of St Giles on my way…

St Giles

… to the Carlisle by-pass.  My eye was caught by some brilliant rose hips at one of the roundabouts.

rose hips

The by-pass has an excellent cycle path alongside it and with the wind mostly behind me, I was soon at the village of Rockcliffe, where I stopped for a moment to walk across a grassy patch to the banks of the River Eden just before it flows into the Solway Firth.

River Eden at Rockliffe

The gap in the trees along the right bank has been made to allow the owners of the house on the bank an uninterrupted view of the river.

This was my view straight across the river.

River Eden at Rockliffe

Looking around me, I could see that the church at Rockliffe has been sensibly placed up on a bank to avoid the possibility of being flooded…


….and the road edge has been marked off with prettily decorated blocks to discourage motorists from driving on to what might be very soggy grass at some times of the year.

This is a spot well used to floods.

I pedalled on to Gretna where I paused for a banana and a look at what wild flowers were still about.

wild flowers near Gretna

As I cycled up the back roads from Longtown to Langholm, I was able to enjoy the early autumnal views of golden fields near Englishtown…

Fields near Englishtown

…and a fine view of a heathery Whita seen from Tarcoon.


It was a grand day to be out but the downside of having the wind mostly behind me was that I wasn’t getting much cooling from the breeze and with the temperature in the sun being in the high 20s, I was well cooked by the time that I got home after 40 miles.

I didn’t have long to recover before it was time for tea.  We have quite a lot of courgettes in the vegetable garden and Mrs Tootlepedal had been able to buy some polenta in Carlisle so she made some courgette fritters with polenta and feta to go with a beef stew which I had made for the slow cooker before we went to Carlisle.  If you have a glut of courgettes, I can thoroughly recommend fritters with polenta and feta as a way of using them up.  They were delicious.

In the evening, we went to see our local youth theatre group perform Bugsy Malone at the Buccleuch Centre.   We are very fortunate that this group has worked hard at producing a steady stream of local youngster who can sing and act remarkably well and they made a very good effort at trying to make us forget the film.

The flower of the day is the lobelia which looks better all the time….


…and I even found a rather fuzzy flying bird in the garden when a sparrow flew off a compost bin to join the rest of its family on a nearby shed roof.

flying sparrow




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Today’s guest picture shows my stepmother Patricia enjoying the flowers in  Calke Abbey walled garden.  She had been taken there by my brother Andrew, who sent me this.

 Calke Abbey walled gardenIt was choir day in Carlisle today so I started the morning off by making a venison stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir.  When she got back, she just had time for a cup of coffee and a walk round the garden before she drove off to attend a farewell lunch for the organiser of the driving for the disabled group, who is going to live in Orkney.

This left me with a choice of catching the bus to Carlisle for the choir or cycling.  I seriously considered cycling as I would get a lift back from Mrs Tootlepedal but the practicalities of suitable clothing and arriving in good order to sing persuaded me to catch the bus.  Unfortunately, being Sunday, the service is rather infrequent and I had to leave a couple of hours earlier than would have been ideal.

Still, I had enough time to wander round the garden with my macro lens on the camera. I thought I should show a close up (or two) of the sort of bumble bee that has been visiting us in such great numbers.

bumble beebumble beeIf this is a white tailed bumble bee, which I think that it is, I read on the internet that they may live in burrows in colonies of up to 400 bees.  This might explain why we are getting so many at one time.

Once again, the bees were not our only visitors.

hoverfly and butterflyThe butterfly on the right is enjoying the sweetness of a fallen and rotting plum.

The late season has brought contrasting fortunes to our flowers.  The poppies, as you have seen, are doing well….

poppies and cosmos…but the cosmos on the right looks as though it might have left it too late to flower in spite of growing to a very healthy height.  It should have been in flower for some time by now in a more normal year.

After yesterday’s flood of birds, there was no more than a trickle today and it is very difficult to work out why this should be as the overcast conditions and temperature were very much the same as yesterday.  Perhaps a sparrowhawk had been patrolling the neighbourhood.

I caught the bus and was able to pass the time travelling to Carlisle in conversation with a friend.  This was a good thing as I don’t like bus travel as the seats are always too small for my legs and I find it very uncomfortable unless I am distracted.

Once in the city, I found a suitable place for a light lunch (spinach and goat’s cheese tart and a cup of coffee in the Old Fire Station bistro!) and with nearly two hours to spare, I headed off to Bitts Park for a post prandial stroll.

The park was full of interest, both unnatural and natural.

chairs and crocusThe path which I followed was lined with musical instruments….

Musical instruments Bitts park…all provided with handy mallets to strike them with.

There were more traditional things to see too.

Bitts park….and it was obvious that the Carlisle Parks Department have been working hard to make the park an attractive place for old people to walk around.  I noticed that there were no bees on the sedum here.

It said in my morning paper that the recent conditions of warm days and chilly nights should lead to an excellent display of autumn colour but only sporadic signs of this are on show at present.

autumn colour Bitts parkThe park is sited on the banks of the river Eden and I walked down to see the river….

River Eden…which was in reflective mood.

I followed the river upstream for a short way and passed under the Eden Bridge…

Eden Bridge…which carries the road to Scotland over it.  Before the Carlisle by-pass was built, this bridge carried virtually all the west coast traffic between England and Scotland and was the scene of some horrendous traffic jams as a result.

I walked back under the bridge and admired the very serene garden that sits in a hollow just beside the busy main road.

Bitts parkI left the park and followed a grassy path which runs below the ramparts of Carlisle castle.

Carlisle castleThis path is obviously not used by wild berry pickers as there were heavy crops of ripe blackberries and elderberries beside it.

brambles and elderberriesLeaving the castle, I headed into the centre of town, bought a newspaper and a mug of hot chocolate and read one and drank the other in the railway station cafe.

Then I had just enough time to walk to the church where our choir meets to be in time for our practice and meet Mrs Tootlepedal.

On my walks, I passed three of things which distinguish Carlisle, the castle, the cathedral and one of its public houses.

CarlisleCarlisle is notable for the fact that is was the home of the  ‘State Management Scheme’ which was the UK government’s take over of the brewing, distribution and sale of liquor in three regions of the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1973. The main focus of the scheme was centred on Carlisle and the surrounding district close to the armament factories at Gretna founded in 1916 to supply explosives and shells to the British Army during the First World War.

A central pillar of the scheme was the ethos of disinterested management; public house managers had no incentive to sell liquor, which supported the aim of reducing drunkenness and its effects on the arms industry. It had a ‘No Treating’ policy which operated from 1916 to 1919 forbidding the buying of rounds of drinks.

Another important feature of Carlisle is its place as a major railway junction and these two features could be seen at the same time from the path as I walked round the castle today.

Carlisle railway and brewery

The old brewery behind the main railway line.

I passed my last notable Carlisle landmark just before I got to the church.

Dixon's Lum

It is hard not to notice Dixon’s Lum. 

The small brick built terraces are very typical of Carlisle.

Our choir practice was very had working as we are entered into two choir competitions and our conductor is anxious that we should be as good as we possibly can be.  We are a bit short of men so if any local reader feels that a good sing under an excellent conductor would be just the thing for a Sunday afternoon, come along and join us.  There is no audition.

When we got home, the venison stew turned out well, as slow cooked stews always seem to do and now we are looking forward to a few days of wet and windy weather which will make a change from the incessant calm and sunny days of recent weeks.  Ah well, it couldn’t last for ever.

The flying bird of the day is one of that trickle of morning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, taken by my sister Mary a few days ago, shows a bed of tulips in St James’ Park, London and it just goes to show that however many lovely tulips Mrs Tootlepedal has in her garden, the Queen can afford more.  A lot more.

St James's Park

The weather continues to behave very well for the moment and we had a day of unbroken sunshine for which we are duly grateful.  Mrs Tootlepedal is still finding retirement very much to her liking and suggested a pub lunch today.  I was very happy to agree.  When she said that she was bicycling to the pub and it was in Rockcliffe, twenty miles away, I was very happy literally to go along with that too.

It was chilly first thing so we were in no hurry to set out and I was able to find a moment to admire a goldfinch in the plum tree.

goldfinch in plum tree

The goldfinch seemed to be admiring the blossom

We took a straightforward route on our way down to Rockcliffe, using the bike path to Canonbie, then the main road to Longtown and then National Cycle Route 7 which happily goes right past the pub entrance.

Crown and Thistle

The pub’s name, the Crown and Thistle is appropriate for an establishment so near to the border between England and Scotland.

Once we got past Longtown, we were on very quiet country roads….

Cumbrian by ways

… with the occasional grand house to look at as we passed.


This is the curiously named Justicetown

The modern world was not far away however and we had to cross first the busy M6…


…and then the busy mainline railway.  We had to wait at the level crossing while trains passed us in both directions.

level crossing

We weren’t exactly dawdling ourselves and arrived for lunch having averaged nearly eleven miles an hour for the nineteen mile journey.

The lunch was excellent….

Crown and thistle

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoying a plate of locally sourced Cumberland sausage and mashed potatoes

….and we took our time over it.  After coffee (and ice cream for me) we went down to the meadow which runs down to the bank of the river Eden and enjoyed the peaceful scene.


The rock cliff which gives the village its name.

River Eden

A house with a view

Rockliffe church

Rockliffe church

On a day like to day, it looked like the Garden of Eden indeed but on a wet and windy winter’s day when the waves are battering against the sea wall you can see at the back of the meadow, it might not be quite so inviting.

Still, we didn’t think of that but just enjoyed it all.  Soon we got organised and started for home.  We took a different and less direct route back, passing through Gretna and Glenzier and ending up by coming back down the Wauchope road.

We passed plenty of wild flowers as we went…

wild flowers

…but the most interesting was this line of tiny flowers near Gretna.

tiny flowers

Any suggestions as to what they are would be welcomed.

In contrast to the busy M6, we passed the bridge which once carried the main road between England and Scotland over the River Sark, the border between the two countries.

Border bridge

The whole ride was a delight, the temperature being pleasantly cool in spite of the sunshine but it was still a good moment after 40 miles when the hills of home came into sight at Wauchope School with only three miles of gently downhill road to go.


Our speed home, with  more distance and some gentle climbing to do, hadn’t matched our outward pace but we completed the cycling part of the 43 mile trip in four and a half hours. Add in the time for lunch, banana breaks and the visit to the river at Rockcliffe and it had taken a bit over six hours in all.   We did a bit of crossing as we went – the M6 twice, the railway four times and the border four times as well.

This was the furthest Mrs Tootlepedal had cycled in one go for a year or two but she had enough energy left to get out in the garden after a cup of tea and a shower.  I joined her there to look for flowers to shoot.


Tulips everywhere.


A magnolia is just coming out by the front gate.


There were still birds sitting in the plum tree.


It was such a lovely day that it was a pity to go inside at all so we drove up onto the Langholm Moor where we were able to catch a few fleeting glimpses of hen harriers.  I was also very pleased to see a grouse.  Huge sums of money have been spent trying to encourage the return of grouse to this moor so it was good to be able to prove that at least one is about.

red grouse

To be fair we did see another one as well.

If Mrs Tootlepedal’s retirement is going to consist of pub lunches and forty mile cycle rides in the sunshine, I am going to enjoy it a great deal.

I did manage to find time to catch a flying bird of the day in the evening sun.

flying chaffinch






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Today’s picture is a tribute to the crocuses which have been brilliant in the cold weather but which are now going over as the days warm up a bit.


I had intended to cycle a forty mile circuit in the morning before the predicted winds got up in the afternoon.  As it happened, it turned out that I had an number of tasks to do in the house at the same time.  I hit on a suitable compromise and cycled up and down the Wauchope road in legs of 12 miles, 6 miles, 12 miles and 10 miles, making up my forty miles and enabling me to discharge my duties in the house at the end of each leg.  It also ensured that I got back in good time to let Mrs Tootlepedal go to a meeting of the Embroiders’ Guild so that I could wait in for expected B & B guests.

The revised plan went well, the wind staying light and my legs holding out.  I even did the last 10 miles leg at a faster speed than than the three preceding efforts.

The sun was out when I finished my pedal and the garden was loud with the sounds of frogs.  You may think that it takes great skill to find a frog to photograph but as you can see, on a sunny day I am spoilt for choice.

frogs in pond

These eight are just a sample of what was available.

Mrs Tootlepedal has recently planted out some fritillaries and has been nurturing them carefully through the cold nights.  They are doing well.


I was very pleased to see a blue tit in the garden.  This rather worn looking one popped in several times during the day.  At least, I think it was the same one.

blue tit

The feeder was as busy as ever and I managed to find four different types on it at one time, nibbling away in harmony for once.

Siskin, chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch

Siskin, chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch

Other more alien birds arrived.


A jackdaw tried out the fat balls


Two more lurked on the ground looking as though they were casing the joint.

In the end, our visitors arrived before Mrs Tootlepedal left and I was free to do whatever I wanted.   I wandered round the garden looking for new flowers and found an anemone  in a flowerbed and a chionodoxa growing unexpectedly in the lawn.

anemone chionodoxa

I saw a redpoll but fell victim to the downside of shooting in manual rather than using auto when I snatched up the camera to catch it but failed to adjust the aperture/shutter speed in time.


I could pretend that this is an intended moody study but that wouldn’t be true

As I was at a loose end, Sandy suggested an outing and I agreed.  While I was waiting for him to arrive, I managed to catch a frog in mid croak in the pond.

croaking frog

Its throat is expanded to double its usual size.

Sandy’s plan was to go to Carlisle and walk along the banks of the river Eden and this seemed good to me so off we went.  We left the car in Rickerby Park and walked down to the river bank. Inevitably by the time that we got there, the sun had gone in but the walk was very enjoyable nevertheless.


We walked along the north side of the river and then crossed the fine bridge, admiring the fortitude of an angler in what must have been very cold water…

angler in Eden

…and then walked along the other bank.  Our path followed the edge of the Carlisle municipal golf course….


There were few golfers about.

…where Dropscone often defeated me when I was a regular but erratic golfer.

We met the angler walking along the opposite way and asked him if he had caught anything.  “Nothing,” he replied, “the wind was far too strong.” He then went on to say with a smile that anglers were never happy because if it wasn’t the wind, it would be too much sun, too little sun, too much rain, no rain, too hot or too cold and he walked off quite cheerily.  We saw him back in the river in a different place when we returned from our walk so he obviously wasn’t too discouraged.

We walked through a small wood and could hear bird calls. It turned out to be two long tailed tits but they were most uncooperative and hopped from branch to branch above our heads without showing their faces.

long tailed tit

The wood was showing some signs of spring.


The river soon winds into the country but as the motorway crosses it not far away, there was always the noise of traffic to be heard.  In addition, there was a football match being played at the Carlisle United ground which is just across the water meadows and we were serenaded by the songs and shouts of the fans as we walked along.

river Eden

river Eden

This peaceful looking river is liable to flood and the golf course is often under water.   It caused tremendous flooding in the Carlisle itself  in 2005 and a large system of flood walls have been built to try to contain it.   It was quiet today though and there was a fair number of birds about.


A pair of goosanders

There were swans, ducks, oyster catchers, wagtails and a lot of gulls.


There was one of those helpful signs on the river bank telling you about all the animals and birds that are supposed to be there but which you never see but we were happy enough with what we saw and walked back to the car when  a light rain began to fall.

I allowed myself one intentionally moody shot of an old piece of piling now marooned in the water…


…but the trip was more enjoyable as a quiet walk in good company than as a photographic outing.

We arrived home safely and Sandy was thanked for his driving skills by means of  a slice of sourdough bread and a slice of Mrs Tootlepedal’s walnut and banana loaf.

After he left, I collapsed in a heap, thoroughly tired from walking and cycling and did nothing else but slump in my easy chair and watch the golf from Augusta for the rest of the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys watching the Masters too, partly for the golf and partly for the azaleas.

The flying bird of the day is a brambling.










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