Posts Tagged ‘River Lyne’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..

Apple EV charging

We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all.  People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.

It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme.  I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat.  I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.

When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.

I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.

three butterfly panel

The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….

galdiolus and mallow

…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos.  It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.


I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.

For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…

pastoral scene

…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen.  This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.

ragwort and insect

My route took me down into England.  There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.

Some are tall and thin…

pine tree harker

…and others, shorter and stout.

pine tree 2 harker

After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home.  It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.

It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…

cliff cliff

…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat  landscape

river lyne at cliff

Looking  from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze.  The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.

longtown windmills

Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress.  On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.

My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.

netherby hall

On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home.  The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by  my legs on the lines of,  “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”

I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.

hawkweed and convolvulus

I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles.  Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off.  Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).

Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.

So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn.  When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.

The verbena is looking very fine.  I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself.  I like that.


Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.


The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.

sedum and insect

As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things.  The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.

starling on wire

The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…

greenbottle on mint

… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..

There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.

sparrows on gutter

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea.  It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.

Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.

The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one.  It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.


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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park.  She seems to find good weather for her visits to the park.

Queen Mary's Garden, Regent's Park

I have been a bit wimpish lately about cycling in brisk winds so I made a plan to get up promptly this morning and to get dressed straight into my cycling gear, thinking that I would be too embarrassed not to go cycling even if it was windy.

This plan worked quite well,  though not quite as promptly as I had hoped but all the same, by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing with the church choir, I was ready to go out on the fairly speedy bike.

The second part of my plan involved a change of my usual tactics.  On a windy day, I try to choose a route that will leave me with the wind behind me for my return home.  The trouble with this plan, which seems quite plausible on the surface, is that it means starting my cycle outing by heading into a brisk wind and this can be discouraging and often ends up with a shorter trip than I would have liked.

Today, therefore,  I decided to start off downwind and this resulted in my doing the first 20 miles at 16 mph and feeling open to adding quite a few miles of the rest of the trip.

On my way along the Canonbie by-pass as I went from the Hagg to the Hollows, I noticed a large number of orchids so I stopped to have a look.

canonbie by pass orchids

I must have seen at least a hundred over the whole length of the by-pass.

My next stop was to look at the River Lyne as I crossed the bridge south of Longtown.

River Lyne

I often stop to look at this view as I like its peaceful nature and while I was there today, I went down to the river side and looked up at the bridge.  I saw something which I must have seen before but never noticed, if you understand what I mean.

Lyne Bridge

At some stage this bridge has either been drastically widened or undergone a major repair.  I was a bit alarmed to see so much driftwood resting against the pier of the bridge.

I stopped for a banana and a date while my bicycle had a rest beside its favourite bench at Newtown after 20 miles.

Newtown bench

Very often on a Sunday, this is my turning point and I head for home to complete a fairly easy 40 mile run but today, after such an enjoyable whistle down the wind, I took a more extensive route home through Irthington….

Irthington Church

…which has a nice church and then onto Carlisle.

I passed a couple of fine buildings.

Newby Grange and Rickerby

It was my plan to go through Rickerby Park and cross the footbridge over the River Eden but when I got there, I found that the bridge was closed so I took a look at the river near the bridge…

River Eden

…and cycled into the centre of Carlisle and crossed the river on the road bridge before dropping down into Bitts Park.  This route is very popular with walkers as it is part of the Hadrians Wall walking route.  You can’t see any sign of the Roman Wall here so I had to make do with the impressive walls of Carlisle Castle…

Carlisle castle

…past which I cycled.

I decided to take the National Cycle Route 7 from Carlisle to Dalston, an off road but well surfaced track which follows the River Petteril…..

River Peterril

A caul which I think provided a lade for a mill beside the river.

…and the railway out of the city.

At Dalston, I bought some extra bananas and sat on the grass for a while to plan my route home.

The wind was coming from the north west and I wanted to go north so I chose a route which tacked into the wind, giving frequent sections where the wind helped me for a while and the process of getting home was not too painful at all.

I passed through Great Orton and admired one of my favourite churches….

Great Orton Church

Built in 1098….the porch added later….much later.

….and then wiggled my way round the Carlisle Northern by-pass until I got near to Rockliffe.  When I looked over the fields, I could see the spire of Rockliffe Church and the River Eden, tidal at this point, looking very full indeed.

View of Rockcliffe

River on the left, spire on the right

I thought that the  river might make a good photograph so when I got to the village, I cycled down the path beside the church only to find….

Rockcliffe flood

…that the tide was so far in that my way was impassable without getting wet feet.

I didn’t fancy soggy socks so I chose a different route and headed for Gretna up the service road.

This road runs right beside the fairly new section of motorway and when they built the motorway and the service road, they didn’t stint on planting wild flowers and what might have been a utilitarian section of road is a delight…

Gretna Motorway

Gretna Motorway

…with plenty to please the eye.

My zigzagging was going so well that I did one last zigzag from Gretna to Kirkpatrick Fleming and ended up going up the A7 on the cycle route.  I had leisure enough to stop there for one last wild flower view…

Auchenrivock flowers

…before completing a 75 mile trip and arriving home really pleased with my plan for the day.

Those interested may click on the map below for more details.

garmin route 25 June 2017

The temperature was ideal for cycling, there was enough occasional cloud to moderate the heat of the sun and as you can see, there was no serious climbing at all.  Good route choice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy all afternoon in the garden so I had a walk round with her when I got back.  Naturally I took a few pictures.

The Queen of Denmark was looking good.

Queen of Denmark

As were the delphiniums, which have withstood the winds very well this year.  Mrs Tootlepedal gave them early support.


We came across a very curious sight deep in a flower bed…..

cat in flowers

…which turned out to be the back end of a neighbour’s cat having a snooze.  It gave us a scornful look and tucked back in under the leaves.

I liked this…


…which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is a Euphorbia (an Euphorbia?) which we bought earlier this year.

There are still Dutch irises coming out and the first of the Calendulas have appeared…

calendula and iris

…so we are not short of colour.

And the bees were coming in numbers onto the astrantia.

bee on astrantia

I thought it was only appropriate to take a picture of Special Grandma in honour of the gardener.

special Grandma

I made a sausage stew for my supper and cooked three little beetroots which have been picked as thinnings.  Both turned out well and that rounded off a day strictly on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

While I was in the garden, I met a young blackbird on the lawn.  It is the non flying bird of the day.



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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Tanzania last month.  It shows a dung beetle moving a ball of dung the size of a tennis ball.  The male, down at the bottom right, is doing all the work and the larger female is getting a free ride. She has some wonderful pictures from the trip on her blog

dung beetle

I haven’t been to Tanzania but I did get to England today.  We had another dry, grey day but the nagging north wind had dropped considerably so I didn’t have to have too much of an argument with my legs before getting the fairly speedy bike out and  taking it for a fifty mile, very flat ride into England and back.

At 7°C it was still pretty chilly and a bit of sun would have been very welcome.  The flatness of the route made it hard to find photo opportunities as I went round but I stopped to have a look at a favourite sight, the colourful little cliff beside the bridge over the River Lyne south of Longtown.

River Lyne

The rocks show up best at this time of year when there are no overhanging leaves.

The little cliff is all the more interesting to me because although there is another smaller one on the other side of the bridge…

River Lyne

…the rest of the river at this point runs through very un cliff-like countrywide.

River Lyne

I stopped at the halfway point of my journey for a half pint of beer at the Crown and Thistle in Rockcliffe.

Crown and Thistle Rockcliffe

Their cellar had been flooded earlier in the year and the pipes for the beer had only finally been reinstalled a day or two ago.  While this was sad for them, it was good for me as I got a glass of beer in  excellent condition.

I had just enough money in my back pocket to be tempted by a steak pie to go with my beer.  I went for it on the basis of the general rule that you can’t go far wrong with a steak pub for a pub lunch.   To my chagrin, I found on this occasion that the rule may be general but it is not universal.  Still, the beer was very good.

I enjoyed this sign on the pub wall.

Crown and Thistle

I like to think that it was indeed a respect for history rather than hard headed business acumen that settled the naming of this pub so close to the Scottish border.

The light breeze and what gentle slope there was made the first thirty miles of my trip a great pleasure and without taxing my legs too much, I was able to do them in exactly two hours.  The twenty miles, gently uphill and into what was left of the breeze, was a different kettle of fish and my legs had quite a lot to say before they finally got home.

Just at the thirty mile mark, a glint of water caught my eye as I approached Gretna.    The Solway tide was in so I went down to the shore to have a look.  The fields beside the firth were awash.


The firth was full to the brim.

Solway Firth

They still managed to get electricity wires across my view though.

There were tantalising glimpse of sunshine in the distance…

Solway Firth

…but as you can see, it was a very calm day.

Solway Firth

Because there was so much less climbing than yesterday, I actually took a shorter time to do five miles further today.  We are very lucky in having the choice between easy and hard cycling routes on our doorstep.

Click on the map for further details.

garmin 10 March 2016

I didn’t have much time to look out of the kitchen window when I got home.


…but the feeder had obviously been busy as I had filled it before I had left in the morning.


A goldfinch arrived, full of energy and I like the way that the chaffinch on the right is pretending that he wasn’t really going to visit the feeder, just passing by. After you, sir.

goldfinch and chaffinch

The reason for the lack of time for lazing about was the need to have a shower and get to Carlisle where our Carlisle choir was taking part in the Carlisle and District Music Festival.

The class had to start promptly as there were eight choirs in it.  We were seventh on and we sat and listened to all the other choirs.  They ranged from school choirs, through a small social choir and a medium sized experienced adult choir to our large bunch of cheerful optimists.  We didn’t have a full turnout but we must have had more than sixty members there.  The tenor department was much depleted and with only four of us to hand, we had to give our all.

There were some enjoyable performances to listen to, especially from a couple of the school choirs and we were really chuffed to come third, just a single point behind a pair of joint winners.  Our stand-in conductor, one of the basses, did a very good job to hold us together.  Luckily, our regular accompanist had come down from Glasgow for the evening and that helped too.

The only black spot was that the chip shop was closed when we got back to Langholm.  Not having had anything to eat since three o’clock, a poke of chips would have gone down very well.

The flying bird of the day was a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, and shows her very fruitful crab apple tree in all its glory.  Her answer to the question, “How do you like them apples?” is “A lot.”

crab appleIt was a chilly 3°C this morning when we got up, in spite of it being an hour later than it would have been yesterday as our clocks went back during the night.

I was hoping for a cycle ride but 3° is right on the limit of what is safe on a road bike as far as possible icy conditions go so I was pleased to have the legitimate excuse of preparing a lamb stew for the slow cooker to help me pass the time until it got a bit warmer.

A little early sun looked promising….

goldfinch…but it didn’t last.

It was still pretty chilly when the stew was ready so I was happy to let a few more minutes float past the kitchen window while I tried unavailingly to bank a flying bird of the day.

flying bird errorsI was either too soon or too late though.

In the end, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing in the church choir before the thermometer finally hit 6° and I was brave enough to go out.  Luckily, the wind was very light and although it was in my face as I headed down the A7 towards Longtown, it wasn’t brisk enough to provide any noticeable wind chill factor.

I was heading for Smithfield, 16 fairly flat miles away and I was hoping that the light wind, by then behind me, would compensate for having to go uphill for the last few miles to get home.

My hopes were perfectly realised and my outward and return trips differed by less than a minute. With the trip being 32 miles (100000 in binary) and the times being almost equal, I was pleased by the mathematical precision of the ride.

On a less satisfactory note, I was hoping for some sunshine as the colour on the trees was the best yet but the skies remained obstinately cloudy and I didn’t much feel like stopping and getting colder than I was already

I did stop once on my way out though to take a few pictures of and from the bridge over the River Lyne, south of Longtown.

Lyne BridgeI scrambled down the bank to try to get the reflections in the water under an arch.

Lyne BridgeThe water was running very dark indeed but a tree by the bridge was bright enough.

Lyne BridgeWhen I got home, I had time to have a shower, look at some white flowers trying very hard to brighten a dull day….

Japanese anemones and cosmos

Japanese anemones and cosmos in need of dead heading

…and the fine display in front of the kitchen window….

sedum, nerines and lobelia…before having some lentil soup for lunch and getting ready to go to Carlisle for our Carlisle Community Choir practice.

I did spend a moment or two trying to get a decent  image of a pair of coal tits that were flitting about….

coal tits…but they were more interested in eating than posing.  A blue tit was equally disobliging and turned its back on me.

blue titOur choir practice was very enjoyable as we concentrated on two tuneful songs with good tenor parts which were not too difficult.

With clocks going back, it was dark when we left Carlisle to drive home and that certainly brought the shortening of the afternoons very much into focus.  I will have to remember that if I want to get about outdoors, then an early start is essential.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal made dumplings to go with the lamb stew and the whole thing was so tasty that we had to be quite restrained so as not to eat tomorrow’s meal as well as today’s at one sitting.

I did find one flying bird but it was only a rather blurry standard chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another shot of the appalling working conditions my daughter has had to put up with in Venice.

VeniceI had been asked by the minister if I would care to accompany him by bicycle to Lanercost where he attends a morning service on Wednesdays.  As he now owns a Bianchi bicycle, I felt it would do my bike credibility a great deal of good to be seen in his company so I agreed.  On the down side, the scheduled start was 7.15 am but I managed to get up in time and we started off promptly.

It was decidedly chilly at a thin 7°C but it was a beautiful day with a light wind and we kept up a good speed down to Longtown.  Once through Longtown, we stopped at the bridge across the River Lyne for a photo opportunity.

River LyneIt really was a perfect morning for cycling.  It is 26 miles to Lanercost Priory by the route that we took and we managed it at 15 mph with the result that we were a bit earlier than we needed to be.  Luckily there was a bench where we could sit and chat in the sunshine and when Scott went off to his service, I pedalled along the road to revisit the old bridge over the River Irthing. 

It was looking very nice on the sunshine…

Lanercost Bridge…and as I had time to spare, I pushed my bike up onto the bridge.  It is easy to see why it is no longer open to traffic…

Lanercost Bridge…but it is certainly a lot better looking than its replacement.

Lanercost BridgeThe view from the bridge was good too.

Lanercost Bridge viewAfter the spiritual refreshment of the service, the minister needed a little physical refreshment too and we enjoyed a cup of something and a cake in the Priory cafe before setting off home.  The route we had come by was flattish and rather dull so Scott acceded to a suggestion that we might look for a more adventurous route home.  It was three miles shorter but somewhat more hilly…

elevation profile Lanercost….as you can see by looking at the second half of the elevation profile for the ride.   In  fact it was unendingly hilly and quite a challenge with a total of 2300ft of climbing for the whole journey, the vast bulk of which was on the return home.  Considering Scott has only recently taken up serious cycling and that he weighs over four stones more than I do, I take my hat off to his strength and perseverance in getting up and down so many steep hills.

We did take a little time out at Harelaw when we had just climbed the worst hill of the day…

Harelaw…as the bikes needed a bit of a rest but that was our only stop, except for an occasional moment to read the map as I had never travelled along some of the roads that we followed before.

I was afraid that the hill climbing might do my hip a bit of mischief but I ended the fifty mile ride feeling remarkably perky though I must admit that a slight feeling of tiredness came over me later in the afternoon.  By slight I mean more or less total collapse.

I recovered enough to have a walk round the garden.

Happily, a white poppy had come out while Mrs Tootlepedal was there to see it.

white poppyI picked and ate a plum or two and some raspberries and then went inside in the hope of catching a flying bird through the kitchen window.  

I saw a perching blue tit…

blue tit…but flying birds were very scarce and never appeared at a time when I had the camera ready. 

Mrs Tootlepedal and I thought that we might combine a little shopping with some bird watching so we went up to the Moorland feeders in the car to see what was about.  Mrs Tootlepedal had her binoculars and was able to watching buzzards soaring  above the moor as well as catching a glimpse of a harrier flying low across the heather but they were too far away for my camera…

buzzard and harrier….so I watched less predatory birds.

great tit and robinThere was not a lot of action though and I resorted to taking pictures of ex flowers…

seed head….and pheasants, enjoying the last few weeks before the shooting season starts…

pheasant…before we went home again.

In the absence of a flying bird, those interested may see details of our bike ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin 27 Aug 14







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Today’s guest picture shows Hardwick Hall, a fine Elizabethan house,  which my brother visited last week.

Hardwick Hall

Here, we had another day of second hand continental weather with the sun trying its best to peek through an enveloping haze.  The up side was that it was pleasantly warm and by the afternoon it was the kind of day that definitely makes you feel happy just to be walking about in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal rose early and went off for her very last morning at work at the Health Centre as she has finally retired.  I took the opportunity to go for a twenty seven mile cycle outing which started with the wind behind and finished coming straight back into it.  The route was very roughly triangular and thanks to the wind, the second side was completed at a lower average speed than the first side, and the third side at a lower average than the second.  I was pleased when I finally got home having taken two hours to plough round the course.

I made myself a cup of coffee and stared out of the window.


A jackdaw stared back


It found it hard to get settled on the fat ball feeder and soon flew off.

I was pleased to see another of the infrequent redpolls.  A chaffinch wasn’t so glad.

chaffinch and redpoll

I roused myself up to wander round the garden and met up with a very welcome bee while I was out there.


I went back in and  just had time to get a sour dough loaf started before Mrs Tootlepedal returned for lunch, rather uncertain whether to be pleased or sad about being retired and in the end settling for a bit of both.

She decided that a cycle ride would be the thing to mark the first day of retirement so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and visit the cycle shop in Longtown by car and a garden centre by bike as part of the outing.

She had time to do  bit of gardening before we left and was watched very closely by a fearless blackbird looking for worm opportunities as she dug over a border.  As soon as I appeared with a camera, it took refuge in a bush…


…and wouldn’t come out again.

We drove to Longtown and I picked up some degreaser for my bike at the bike shop.  I was so impressed by how clean they had left my bike after its recent service that I am resolved to try to keep it sparkling.  On past form, this resolve won’t last very long but I am going to try.

We parked the car in the town and set off on a gentle eight mile circular tour.  We started by passing Arthuret Church…

Arthuret Church

…which is  a very substantial place of worship for a rural parish.

Wikipedia tells me that: “This church was built as a result of a national fundraising ordered by James I in 1607 because the existing church had been frequently devastated by Scots reivers and to benefit the parishioners who were mainly rejecting Christ’s teachings. (James also employed more direct methods of improving the morals of the area, hanging notable reivers from both sides of the Border and deporting the Grahams of the Esk valley en masse to Ireland.)  Part of the sum was stolen and this delayed the construction of the new church.”

Our route then took us onto a short section of the National Cycle Network which follows the trackbed of an old railway line across the river Lyne.

Bridge over Lyne

I took a view from the bridge to show that in spite of the sunshine, the haze was still keeping views down to a few hundred yards.

View river Lyne

We crossed the A7 and headed out to Alstonby Grange whose owner has exemplified the maxim of ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ by making a substantial business out of hiring out portable toilets.  This theme was echoed by the fact that every field we passed seemed to have have had muck spread on it so we were never short of atmosphere as we went round.

The roadside verges round the Grange were bright with celandine.


I thought that they looked very pretty but Mrs Tootlepedal takes a gardener’s view of them and just regards them as a pernicious evil, pretty or not.

As we turned back towards Longtown, we crossed the river Lyne again and I was able to show Mrs Tootlepedal the rock formations beside the bridge.

River Lyne

A close up shows the layers of sedimentary rock which go to make up this little cliff.

River Lyne

Our next stop was the garden centre at Whitesyke…


…where as well as some light refreshment, we acquired two small plants.  These were packed neatly into the bike bags…

bike bags

…and we headed back to Longtown where we packed the bikes into the back of the Kangoo.  They fitted very neatly too.

bikes in kangoo

The plants were taken out when we got home.

euphorbia and heuchera

Euphorbia and Heuchera

It was still such a good day that I got out the mower and removed some of the grass which is obstructing the view of the moss on the front lawn.

After one last look at the  tadpole melee in the pond…


…I went back inside and had a good sit down.  It had been a tiring day.

In the early evening, my flute pupil Luke came.  His grade examination is next Friday and he has been working hard at his pieces and his scales and if he plays as well as he did tonight, he should have no trouble passing.  Most importantly, he has done very well to improve his breathing.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and in spite of both Isabel and myself being rather tired, we managed to get through several pieces well enough to give ourselves a very satisfactory musical treat.

Today’s two cycle outings took my total for the month to 444 miles and has kept me on my schedule for an average of 14 miles a day for every day of the year so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that lone redpoll as it passed the fat ball feeder.








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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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