Posts Tagged ‘The Hub’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She has been volunteering at the Somerset Rural Life Museum and was struck by the enormous crop of windfalls from the apple trees there.  The sheep seems rather disappointed with them.

Somerset apples

After the brilliantly clear moon when we went to bed last night, we weren’t surprised to wake up to a chilly morning.  There was no frost by the time that we looked out but early risers tell us that there had been some, although the temperature did not drop to zero.

At 5°C (40°F) it was a bit too chilly for cycling after breakfast so I lazed about doing the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for coffee with her ex work colleagues.  I stirred my stumps in the end and went out to see whether the cold had done any harm in the garden.

All was well.

It was a beautifully sunny morning and the poppies looked at their best.


A nasturtium leaf caught my eye too.

nasturtium with droplet

Droplets of all sizes.

I put on my walking shoes and went for a walk.

A goosander showed off her elegant orange feet as I walked along the river bank.


I left the riverside and walked up to the Lamb Hill  from where I could see the other hills above the trees…

View of Timpen from Lamb Hill

…and then I walked down the road to Whitshiels.  I had enough time to take a short diversion up the track through the woods before setting off back home.

There was fungi to be seen by the road and track…


…and colour was provided by a late rosebay willowherb flower and a bramble leaf…

bramble and willowherb

…and there were other things of interest too.

British soldier lichen

The red coats of British soldiers lichen, Cladonia cristatella

oak galls

Perfectly formed oak apples or galls

On my way home, I stopped at the Sawmill Brig, which I thought was looking at its best….

Sawmill Brig

…and enjoyed the very varied life on the wall on the other side of the bridge…

spleenwort, moss and algae

…and then walked round the Castleholm, passing the castle on my way.

Langholm Castle

There is not much of the castle remaining but what is left is getting engulfed by vegetation.

If I looked carefully, I could see some autumn colour here and there….

autumn colour

…and there was a patch of moss on a gate post which pleased me.

moss on gatepost

When I got home, I had time to admire a clematis in the garden….


It was laughing at the morning frost.

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I got into the car and drove off to have lunch at The Hub in Eskdalemuir.  This had been arranged earlier in the day on a bit of a whim but the drive was delightful and the lunch and the company we met there were very enjoyable so we felt that this had been a whim well worth whimming.

I even got the bridge beside The Hub to add to my collection.

Eskdalemuir Bridge

Because of the good conversation over lunch and a visit to the art exhibition there, we spent more time in The Hub than we had expected and we drove back with no time to stop and admire the views.

Mrs Tootlepedal was anxious to get out and do some guddling in the garden and I was anxious to get my bike washed and cleaned and then put a few miles in while it wasn’t raining.

Sadly, the sun had disappeared by this time but it was warm enough at 11° for cycling and gardening with appropriate clothing.

Because of the late start caused by the time spent cleaning my bike, I kept my head down and did 30 miles without stopping for pictures on the way.  It was so grey by now that I wasn’t much tempted to stop anyway, other than for a nibble of guava and half a date every now and again.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was out and she had made a start on the path to go with the new square corner on the lawn.

new path

Only people who have laid paving stones on earth will know how much skill and effort goes into making them straight and flat.

Even on a grey evening, the last of the fuchsias to come out this year was looking superb.


In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for a short visit.  They are getting ready to go on holiday tomorrow but I was pleased that they found time to come as Alison and I had a very enjoyable time playing sonatas with  a burst of Greensleeves to a Ground to round things off.

This has been the second day running without rain.  We are being spoiled.






Read Full Post »

In the absence of any guest pictures, I am repairing an omission for which I was rebuked by a reader after my Common Riding post. This is a shot of the Chinook helicopter which flew low over the town to check what was going on in the middle of the proceedings yesterday .

chinookLife was at a rather slower tempo today after the excitements of the Common Riding but we didn’t entirely waste a day of pleasant sunshine.

I started off by going to the monthly producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and stocking up with fish, meat, cheese and honey.  I was surprised to get the honey as I thought that our local beekeeper and her bees might have been struggling in the recent poor weather but she had plenty of fresh stock and was in a cheerful mood.

There had been some tremendously heavy showers of rain as I went to bed last night and I fully expected to see the flowers in the garden battered to the ground this morning.  Apart from the David Austin roses and the delphiniums, which were definitely the worse for wear, other flowers were still standing up well.

lilies and nasturtiums

poppyNext, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to Eskdalemuir to collect the pictures from our photographic exhibition at The Hub there.  On a sunny day like today, it is hard to distinguish Eskdalemuir from Shangri-La…

Eskdalemuir…but on a more normal day (when it it raining and the wind is blowing) there is no such difficulty.

We collected the pictures (and the money for several that had been sold) and stopped for a coffee.  A group of Harley Davidson riding motor cyclists from Yorkshire on a tour were also having coffee and they allowed me to take a picture of one of their beautifully shiny machines.

motorbike at the HubAs The Hub had already catered for a large party of cyclists on a 300 km Audax ride from Galashiels to Alston and back, they were having a busy morning for a place in the middle of nowhere.

Because it was such a nice day, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a walk through the woods to Bessie’s Hill forts would be a good idea.  I visited this spot with Sandy in spring but Mrs Tootlepedal has never been there.  It is one of the sites on the Eskdale Prehistoric Trail.

By a stroke of good fortune, the Forestry Commission had sent someone out very recently to strim the trail through the woods….

Bessie's hill…so the going couldn’t have been better.

The short walk through the mossy woods was delightful…

Bessie's hill…and the view from the top was as good as ever.

Bessie's hill viewThere are two forts and from the surrounding mound of the upper fort you can get a good view of the lower one.

Bessie's hill fortOddly enough, when you walk onto the summit of  the lower fort, which we did, you don’t get any feeling of being above the ramparts and ditches or of the shape of the ground at all.

As well as the forts, there was much else to enjoy on the walk.

Bessie's hill nature

There were elusive butterflies and tiny moths everywhere we walked

Bessie's hill nature

There was moss in clumps and in mounds

Bessie's hill nature

And sprouting

Bessie's hill nature

The first signs of heather coming into flower

Bessie's hill nature

Insects of all sorts and lichens too

Mrs Tootlepedal’s sharp eyes spotted fungi, some quite large and some really tiny as we neared the end of the descent back to the car.

Bessie's hill fungusWe took a last look back up towards the ramparts of the lower fort…

Bessie's hill fort

You would have to be a fit person to attack up that hill.

…and drove quietly home.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal got stuck into the garden and I sieved some more compost, did some shreddding and a little tidying up under the bird feeders as well.  The mess that the birds make, especially the siskins who perpetually drop seed onto the ground, is the downside of the pleasure that I get from watching the birds feeding.

I walked round with my camera too.

phlox and buddleia

A variegated phlox and the new buddleia were glowing.  No butterflies on the buddleia yet though.

After that, my legs started complaining so I went inside, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal still working, and enjoyed what I thought was a well earned sit down.   Later in the evening, I converted a couple of pounds of our blackcurrants into a few pots of blackcurrant jam.  There are a lot left on the bush so if everything goes well, I shall make some blackcurrant jelly next.

All in all, I didn’t get much time to look out of the kitchen window so this was the best flying bird of the day that I could manage.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She visited Ham Quarry on a geological outing and was delighted to see that wild flowers survived among the stone.

Ham quarryI am finding it hard to leap out of bed at the crack of dawn these days, partly because of old age no doubt and partly because the weather is not helping my asthma very much and I am a little tired so I missed a golden opportunity to make the most of a beautiful early morning by going for a good, long bike ride.

In the end, after a late breakfast and getting a few things done that needing doing, I got out for a short, slow cycle ride when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir.  The sun was still out when I set off and my spirits were lifted by some lovely dog roses beside the road.

dog rosesI pedalled for six and a half miles over the top of Callister and all the way along the road, tall , slender thistles waved gently in the breeze.

thistlesMany questions arise as I look at the verges.  One today was why do some plants do well on some short sections of the verge and appear much less frequently or not at all in others?  Just near the top of the hill, I came across a stretch of fifty yards or so which was entirely given over to this plant.

weedWhat was so good about this bit of verge?  There are things which I am now too old ever to learn about.

On my way back, I made the short diversion from Wauchope Schoolhouse up to Cleuchfoot just to enjoy the splendid new surface on this stretch of road.  If there is a bit of road with a smooth surface, it seems silly not to pedal along it even if it goes nowhere.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I got home almost simultaneously and after a quick cup of coffee, we put all the exhibition pictures in the car and drove up to Eskdalemuir.  To my surprise, we managed to find a home for all but two of the submitted pictures by making full use of the windowsill space.

The HubAll we have to do now is hope that some people will actually come and visit the exhibition.

We were very impressed by the large solar panel set up that The Hub has outside its back door.

solar panelsI would like to have a smaller version in our garden as out roof points in the wrong direction so we can’t put one up there.

We had a bite of ,lunch at The Hub and then drove back south, stopping briefly at home before going on to Carlisle to meet out daughter Annie at the station.  She is coming to spend a dew days with us.

I had enough time to take a walk round the garden.  My sense of smell is not brilliant but so strong are the scents from many flowers that even I notice them.  The honeysuckle is one of the main culprits.

honeysuckleThree new roses have joined us. The Queen of Denmark has arrived….Queen of Denmark…unfortunately invaded by a lot of little flies committing the crime of lèse-majesté.    She has been joined by the Wren, named after the women’s naval service….

The wren…and the first of the moss roses.

moss roseSince I had my camera in my hand, I couldn’t get past the astrantias without my finger twitching…

astrantias…and Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite colourful corner demanded attention too.

colourful corner

There were occasional birds to be seen.

blackbirdAnnie was more fortunate than my sister Susan as far as train punctuality went and was only quarter of an hour late.

This gave me a chance to be a train spotter.


The London bound express pulls out of the station

Both Annie, as she went though Lancaster and we, as we left Langholm to meet the train, had run through torrential downpours but neither shower had lasted for very long and we drove home bathed in sunshine.   At 20 degrees C, we though it was quite a warm evening but since Annie has been living with temperatures in the mid thirties in London, she found it pleasantly cool.

I had bought a rolled shoulder of lamb at the producers’ market yesterday and Mrs Tootlepedal roasted it perfectly tonight and we enjoyed it for our tea along with some new potatoes which Annie had brought up from her small allotment.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch flying with its hands behind its back.

flying goldfinchA notice for local readers:

photo poster

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony and shows one method that he came across of making sure that your dog doesn’t get  attacked by swans while walking at Lake Windermere.

dog walkingI was interested to find out how my various joints would feel this morning after my experiment with the instant sit down method yesterday.  Checking from top to bottom, my thumb was bruised and sore but usable,  my hip was painless, my knee was fine and my ankle was quite swollen and rather tricky to walk on,

This was much better than I had feared and some credit must go to a relaxing bath last night and some credit to having fairly healthy muscles in the leg.  The swollen ankle was periodically treated with a judicious mixture of gentle exercise and frozen peas and by the end of the day, it was almost as good as new.  I count myself very lucky, as I could have done a fair bit of damage.

The morning was spent going no further than the garden.  The ladies were in very good form.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin

As were the astrantias.


A general view of them today instead of the usual close up.

A yellow iris has come out to join the others.

yellow irisMy sore thumb made holding my heavy camera a bit of a problem but I still managed to catch a blackbird making off with some seed…

blackbird…and a goldfinch hiding behind the feeder pole.

goldfinchMrs Tootlepedal had been at a coffee morning for her church choir and we had lunch when she came back.  After some discussion it was agreed that both my leg and my sister Susan would benefit from an excursion so Mrs Tootlepedal drove us up to Eskdalemuir.  We stopped at The Hub where I checked the exhibition space and then we went on to visit the Samye Ling Tibetan centre a mile or two further up the road.

I was here recently on a bike trip but today I had time to walk around and really appreciate the place.  It is not in any way short of statutes.

Some are in ponds large and small…

Samye Ling…and some are in various vegetable gardens.

Samye LingThere is a wealth of decoration on everything that has a spare inch.

Samye LingSamye LingI enjoyed taking a close look at the figures round the base of the large gateway.

gateway Samye Linggateway Samye LingThe smaller pond with the figure in it has a dragon to pour the water in at one side and a golden boy to pour it out at the other.

Small pond same lingWe were interested to see that modern technology is part and parcel of the site.  We liked these electrically powered gently turning prayer wheels a lot.

Samye LingAs well as the buildings, some peaceful landscaping has been done.

Samye LingSamye LingThe monks are very energetic and it seems as though every time I visit, some new works have been started.  The swallows have also been building and there were several nests to be seen with busy parents flitting to and fro.

swallows Samye LingNear the car park, there were some striking purple flowers.  The looked like knapweed but not quite like the wild flowers you would expect.  The bees were enjoying the pollen.

knapweed  Samye LingWe stopped off at The Hub on our way back down and had a light refreshment and then dawdled back down the west bank of the river Esk to Enzieholm and thence home.

The afternoon sunshine made the drive as pleasurable as the visit to the  monastery and it was just the sort of quiet excursion to suit a man with a dodgy ankle and a sister who these days enjoys life in the slow lane.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had another go at installing a mental metronome in his head.  We made progress from last week but it is not coming easily.  I will have to look closely at my teaching methods.  I can remember my younger son complaining to me some years ago.  He had a class of first year students to take when he was studying for his PhD and he told me that the students just wouldn’t learn properly.  “That’s easy enough, ” I replied.  “You are not teaching them properly then.”  He was much struck by this way of looking at things.

In the evening, my kind sister took us out for a meal.  The food was very good and what made the meal even better was the fact that we didn’t eat too much.

The flying bird of the day is a less stealthy goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a room with a view.  It was captured by Venetia while on holiday in Corrèze. She seems to have had plenty of interesting things to look at while she was inn France.

CorrezeWe had sunny spells and brisk winds again today but we were spared any showers which was a relief.  Once again though,  I failed to get out on my bike for one reason or another.

I did manage to some useful work in the garden instead.  I mowed the middle lawn and the grass paths on the front lawn too.  Then I raked one of the potential wild flower areas in the front lawn to try to get rid of as much moss as possible.

Having cast a critical eye on the state of health of the middle lawn, I gave the more pathetic parts of it a dose of liquid fertiliser.  I don’t expect to see much growth though until we get some warm weather.

I moved a couple more barrowfuls of compost from Bin A to Bin C but I have not included a photograph of this to avoid excessive excitement among the readership.

I ended the work with a good session of shredding of Mrs Tootlepedal’s spring prunings.

I wouldn’t like to pretend that this was continuous work as it was interrupted by periods of contemplation, crossword solving, sitting and thinking, lunch and sitting without thinking…..and taking a few pictures in the garden.

daisy and lilac

Two flowers coming out just in time to greet June


The last two daffodils which sadly are not quite going to make the first of June after all.


Two lonely flowers on azaleas surrounded by unopened petals

plum tree

It looks as though we may get some plums this year but the late frost has seen to at least  half of the flowers.


And only half of the clematis above the back door has come out so far.

Still, there are bees about which is encouraging.


A bee ranging over the lithodora


And finally finding the one it wants.

Because of the work in the garden, there were not a great many birds to be seen today but the usual suspects were about.

starling and chaffinch

A starling gives a chaffinch a curious look.


One chaffinch comes as another goes

During the day, Mrs Tootlepedal moved the old feeder from the elder to protect her flowerbed underneath and put it back on the pole outside the kitchen window.  This didn’t discourage the goldfinches.

goldfinchesThey may prefer it to the new feeder which some of them find a little awkward to land on.

goldfinchThough it is no problem to the blue tits.

blue titA well judged combination of gardening and idling filled the day and in the early evening, we drove up to Eskdalemuir to the new Hub which has been set up in the old school there.

The school lies across the road from the river Esk…

River Esk at eskdalemuirBoth Mrs Tootlepedal and I remarked that on a pleasant evening at this time of year, Eskdalemuir can easily be mistaken for Shangri-la.  It is a different matter though in the midst of winter when the winds are raging and the snow is falling.  Then it can be mistaken for hell.

The managers of the Hub had organised a day of music and I was there to contribute a little by playing some simple duets with my flute pupil Luke.  Luke was in very good form and not least because we adopted very sensible tempos, we played our pieces well and got rewarded with a warm round of applause.  I was very pleased for Luke who had practised hard and was touched to see that his playing had moved his proud grandmother, who was in the audience, to tears.

We didn’t stay to listen to more music but drove gently home by the road down the other bank of the river.  It is one of the benefits of living in a  less prosperous area of the country that we didn’t meet a single car on our 26 mile round trip.  In fact, I was able to sop in the middle of the road near Hopsrig and take a couple of pictures on our way home.

yellow flowers

Bright yellow flowers among the debris left by tree felling

bluebells at Hopsrig

Bluebells among the few remaining trees.

We will have a busy day of singing tomorrow with a rehearsal for our Carlisle choir and the second concert with our Langholm choir.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  It is not a good picture but I have used it anyway because I love the arc that a goldfinch’s wings make when they are fully extended.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my flute pupil Luke’s mother.  It shows an elderly cyclist visiting The Hub in Eskdalemuir.  This has  been converted to a meeting place and cafe from an old school where long ago he used to to teach on and off for a year.

old fellow at HubLuke’s mother is a member of our Langholm choir and when she told me that she works in Eskdalemuir at The Hub, I resolved to pay her a visit on the first decent cycling day.  That turned out to be today with a pleasant sun shining, a light wind blowing and the temperature just nudging 10°C.

I gave the temperature time to rise before setting off for the 12 mile trip to Eskdalemuir on the fairly speedy bike.  The last time that I was up this road, I nearly fell off when I hit a big pothole while riding behind Dropscone so I was very happy to find that it had been very nicely repaired when I passed it today.

There is  quite a long and steady climb on the way but I was happy to find that my legs had recovered well from Monday’s hilly ride and it presented no problem.  I arrived at The Hub to find Luke’s mum hard at work….

Sharon…having just dealt with a large party of foreign motorcyclists.

I was perfectly in time for a coffee which was both reasonably priced and of good quality.  I resolved to visit The Hub again and in fact, I did just that after I had ridden on until I reached the top of Eskdale, crossed the county boundary and cycled back down to the village again.

Although the road runs through quiet upland farms….

Eskdalemuir…and isn’t the busiest road in the world….

B709…it is not without interest.  Near the top of the valley, I passed a seismological station….

seismoloical station…which was built in 1962, fundamentally to detect nuclear testing explosions.  It has an array of sensors spread over the moor behind the station which collect the data.  A bit further back down the valley there is a meteorological observatory which also collects seismological data.

Near the top of the hill, a forester with strong conservation instincts has built a little artificial lochan which I visited today.

Over dalglieshThe two white dots in the picture are nesting swans as far as I can see but they were too far away for Pocketcam.  There is a lot of tree felling going on in the extensive forests in the area and I had to look sharp once or twice to avoid timber lorries which wait for no man (or woman) as they career down the narrow roads.

On my way back down to Eskdalemuir village, I stopped off at another remarkable place.  Stuck in the middle of this remote Scottish valley is a full scale Tibetan Monastery and Temple, Samye Ling.

It is quite a place.

Samye Ling

A stained glass window in the entrance to…..

Samye Ling

…the Temple courtyard

The site is under continuous development and in places has the air of one of those scrapyards where you go to find interesting pieces of architecture but the pieces here are very splendid.

Samye LingSamye Ling

Samye Ling

The stupa

Leaving Samye Ling, I got back to The Hub…

The Hub…and had another cup of the good coffee and a freshly baked pain au chocolat to go with it.

It is very comfortable, with sofas as well as chairs and tables….

The Hub…but I sat at a table which had original school chairs at it for old times sake.

By coincidence another cyclist arrived.  He was doing a circular tour from Moffat and we had an interesting chat before we went our separate ways.

I went home down the other side of the river to the one I came up and as the sun had gone behind clouds and the wind was against me, I nearly took the quickest way home from Bailliehill.  My legs were feeling pretty cheery though so I took a diversion to Paddockhole and came back along the familiar Wauchope road over Callister.  I was a bit annoyed to find that I had misjudged the wind direction and as a result, it blew into my face for the last ten miles.

At 50 miles, the ride was the same length as the sportive on Monday had been and like the sportive, it had seven classified climbs along the way but it had nothing as steep as one of the climbs on Monday and they must have been less taxing as I managed a slightly better average speed for the trip.  I had a longer break in the middle today too which might have helped.

When I got home,  Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden planting out vegetables.  She is a bit behind on her garden schedule because of the tidying up after the building works but she is making up for lost time now.   I had a little time to stare out of the window.

Two chaffinches

Two chaffinches discussing the surprise result of the election


And another one just thinking about stuff.

I got the scarifier and a mower out and began work on the front lawn.  I had done the whole of the middle lawn yesterday and removed a lot of moss but the moss in the front lawn is even worse.  We are going to try to make part of the front lawn into a meadow so I worked on the bits that are going to be grassy paths through the meadow today.  It is hard work and I was secretly rather pleased when it started to rain and I had to stop.

In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alison who have got safely back from New Zealand where they had been entertained by two granddaughters and an earthquake large enough to make the lawn upon which Alison was sitting rise and fall so much that she felt as though she was in a boat at sea.

It hadn’t affected her musical skills though and we enjoyed getting back to playing our Friday evening sonatas.

I didn’t have much time to catch a flying bird or indeed much strength to hold the camera up for long and the light went soon after I got home from cycling so this is the best flying bird that I could manage.  Sorry.

chaffinchNote: As I pedalled along in upper Eskdale today, I was joined by Stewart Pool for a while.  He was just stretching his legs as he is entered with several other Langholm cyclists in the Fred Whitton Challenge on Sunday.  The Fred Whitton Challenge consists of a 112 mile sportive around the Lake District, starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose passes and makes my cycle ride today look like a walk in the park.  Hats off to him and his friends.

Read Full Post »