Posts Tagged ‘Water of Milk’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who extended her permitted walk as far as Regents Park where she enjoyed the rose garden.

Rose garden regents park

We had a warm and sunny day today with light winds.  Days like this are to be treasured.

The star in the garden was the first peony, beating the tree peony easily.

first peony

A lot of our ferns suffered badly in the frost but some of them have shrugged it off and are doing very well.

ferns after frost

I saw an orange tip buttefly in the garden but it flew off leaving me to watch this white butterfly on the sweet rocket instead.

butterfly on sweet rocket

After the rain, the garden is looking quite healthy but there is a notable gap in the far corner which should be glowing with rhododendron flowers.

no azaleas

All the same, there is colour to be found, so we are not crying too much.

four garden pictures

You have to look hard to spot this camassia though as it has got itself hidden behind taller plants.


The final remaining set of tulips looks set to last for ever.


The garage clematis is getting more flowers out every day and will soon be in full bloom.

garage clematis

Partly because I thought that it was Thursday (a lockdown category error that is quite common) and partly through natural indolence, I didn’t get my bike out to make full use of the good day until after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out to her street coffee morning.

However, once I got going, I enjoyed myself a lot.

It was a perfect day for a pedal…

road at enzieholm

…and instead of my usual little circle starting up the Wauchope valley, I headed up Eskdale today, crossed the Black Esk by this bridge…

tanlawhill brodge

…which is one of my favourites, not because of the beauty of the structure but because of its placing in the surrounding landscape.

Once over the bridge, I followed the White Esk through Castle O’er and up to Eskdalemuir.

Like the bridge, this little road is one of my favourites too with interesting verges (the butterfly would not give me a side view….

butterfly head on

…and some lovely woods.

wood at tanlawhill

When  I got to Eskdalemuir, I climbed a stiff hill out of the valley of the White Esk towards the valley of the Black Esk.

The climb lasts for a mile and goes up just under 300 feet.  You get good views back as you climb out of the valley, but the camera does not do justice to the amount of puffing I had to put in to get the view in my opinion.

hill out of E'muir

T was heading towards Lockerbie and passing through timber country.  The forests here grow, get cut down and grow again at a dizzying pace.  I was passed by a dozen timber wagons going to and fro.  It is a highly organised and mechanised business these days.

cut timber

Having crossed the Black Esk, I got a welcome spell of downhill as I descended into the  valley of the Dryfe Water which is cattle country.

old hedge

I expect that many if not all the loaded timber lorries were heading for the huge timber yards at Steven’s Croft where I passed the country’s biggest wood burning stove.

stevens croft

Once I hit the old main road at the power station, I turned south and headed for Gretna, passing this fine lake of buttercups outside Lockerbie on my way…

pool of buttecups lockerbie

…and stopping to admire the motorway bridge over the Water Of Milk from the bridge on the old road.

motorway bridge

Peering into the shadows under the bridge, I could see extensive works, designed perhaps to let fish go up stream over a weir.  Today there was hardly enough water coming down to cater for a tadpole.

under the motorway bridge

The cycling was now pretty flat, which was a relief to my knees and I stopped from time to time to admire flowers by the road.  The red tree on the right of the panel is a red horse chestnut, I think.

rhodie, umbellifer and red chestnut

I had an interesting route mapped out in my mind for the English section of my trip when I had passed through Gretna going south, but it dawned on me as I pedalled along that the bridge at Longtown (my proposed homeward route) was shut to all traffic as it is undergoing repairs.  I wondered if it would be open to a pedestrian pushing his bike but decided not risk it, and rather tamely circled round and cycled back up to Gretna again before approaching Longtown on the north side of the bridge.

The old gravel pond there, with a fine hawthorn on its bank, looked positively Mediterranean today.

hawthorn Longtown pond

By this time, my knees were getting slightly mutinous and home and a nice sit down came into their conversation quite a lot, so I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on knocking off the final fifteen miles of route with as smooth a pedalling style as I could muster.

It has been my ambition in recent years to have at least one cycle outing each year that covers as many miles as I have had birthday.  I was born in November 1941 and my route covered exactly 80 miles today, leaving me with a couple of bonus miles in hand.

I got home in time to enjoy an evening meal of liver cooked with carrots and spinach from the garden, provided by the industrious Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy in the garden while I was out.

It was a warm day today but one of the joys of cycling is that you provide your own cooling breeze as you go along and I found it very comfortable.  All the same, I lost four pounds on the jaunt in spite of eating three bananas, a satsuma, a small honey sandwich, several dates and some guava jelly.  I drank about 900ml of water too.   In normal circumstances, I would have organised a stop half way round to enjoy egg and chips at a cafe or pub on a ride of that length.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but a very obliging sparrow flew into shot as I was going for my shower.  It is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

I append the map of the ride.  I carefully organised all the climbing at the start of the route!

garmin route 20 May 2020

Those interested can click on the pic for more details.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he looks out to sea, he can see a rig parking lot..

oil rigs

Because we are generally confined to the garden rather than driving or cycling all over the place, there is a certain similarity between one day and another in our life, especially in this current run of good weather.  The result is a series of posts which are uncannily like the ones from the day before.  This can’t be helped.

The daffodils are almost over and the azaleas and clematis are not yet out so tulips are the main colour in the garden at the moment.    Even though we see them every day, they still give enormous pleasure and I have put in a few here even though they have all appeared before.

four tulip panel

A new fancy one has come out to join the bright red and yellow variety…

tulips and daff panel

…and the last daffodils are fighting an uphill battle to get noticed.

My favourite tulip shot of the day was this unexpected interior.

blue tulip heart

Other flowers are doing well but don’t quite have the ‘hit’ of the tulips.

Honesty (more every day), anemone (there are only two in the garden)…

four red flowers

…perennial wallflower (the start of a lasting relationship I hope) and lamium (better than ever this year) are all doing their best.

One exciting new development is the first appearance of a trillium.

first trillium

This shot of the willow in front of the hedge along the road wins the prize for the oddest picture of the day.  Do you see a cartoon character there?

willow fingers

And a bee very kindly lay flat on a leaf to let me get a good picture before it flew off.

bee on leaf

I cycled round to the shop and took this picture of the blossom beside the river on my way home.

blossom beside esk

I say ‘beside the river’ but the water is so low that it was impossible to get it and the blossom in the same shot.

The date rolls turned out better than I thought and are very tasty.  They gained the approval of the street coffee gathering.

date roll

After lunch we had a cheerful time watching Matilda – at a distance on WhatsApp – open a very sparkly birthday card from Mrs Tootlepedal and a pile of books from us both.  They should have arrived on Monday, which was her birthday, but the post is running very slowly at the moment.  The delay didn’t seem to lessen Matilda’s appreciation of the sparkle or the books.  She gave us a dancing display to show us how she is keeping fit during the lockdown.  We were exhausted just watching it.

Then I went for a cycle ride.  It was a warm day with virtually no wind and for once the turbines were not moving, so my knees were on display again.

I chose a circular route, probably never more than ten miles from home as the crow flies which ended up delivering a varied 40 mile outing.

I started by going past the Gates of Eden….

gates of eden april

…and headed for the site of a new wind farm near Bailliehill.  I liked this notice with its helpful illustration, just in case drivers didn’t know what they were driving.

sign at crossdykes windfarm

I passed new life on my way.

two youngsters

My route took me down the very top of the course of the Water of Milk and on a day like today, it did look like a land of milk and honey.

water of milk valley

I got to Paddockhole and turned back towards Langholm, passing this fine roadside tree near Grange Quarry…

tree near grange quarry

…and a surprising patch of violets in the bank at Dunnabie.

violets beside road

I didn’t go straight back to Langholm, turning off at Crowdieknowe and joining first the Waterbeck and then the Gair road.  There was a lot of gorse about near Gair.

gorse everywhere

I cut off from the Gair road and headed for Chapelknowe, pausing to admire these trees and the very rare sight of a con trail in the sky.

two trees and contrail

To the south west. Skiddaw, nearly thirty miles away, looked very close.

Lake District from Cadgeill

Although I had started the ride with little or no wind, by the time that I turned for home, the wind had got up and the wind turbines were turning gently so I concentrated on pedalling from this point and took no more pictures.  I did stop for a moment to drop in on my sisters’ daily Zoom meeting just to say that I wouldn’t be joining it.  The wonders of technology!  (If I had a phone mount on my bike, I might have pedalled and chatted at the same time, a sure recipe for disaster.)

I took a banana, some guava jelly and the last decent date that I had in the store cupboard for nutrition on the ride but when the time came, I couldn’t bring myself to eat the date, and brought it all the way home again.  I will have to eat it some time but I won’t be able to get a new stock until the lockdown ends.

In the evening, after Matilda was safely in bed, her parents, Alistair and Clare rang us up and gave us a stern lecture on the proper way to behave in the present crisis.  As we had been worrying a lot about them, it was very nice to find that they had been worrying a lot about us.  They seemed very cheerful in spite of not having been out of the house at all for a month so we will try to pay attention to what they advised.   As Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out though, it is quite hard to change one’s view of oneself from being clearly immortal to being elderly and needing shielding in the space of two months.

No flying bird today, just two doves up the pole.

doves up pole

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to The Newt.  They have made good use of an old tree trunk there, though I don’t think that anyone has cycled far on the bike in the picture.

the newt bike rack

Owing to being a bit dozy when I wrote last night’s post, I didn’t notice that my camera had recorded some garden pictures on its second card, so just to show that there is a bit of life in the garden even in January, here are the pictures that I took before going to Edinburgh yesterday.

garden yesterday

There may have been no birds at the feeder, but once again there were pairs of jackdaws in the walnut tree….

jackdaws in walnut

…whereas today saw the return of a small flock of goldfinches.

goldfinches in walnut

There was not much feeder activity though, partly because there was a good deal of coming and going from the house and partly because of the arrival of the sparrowhawk.

It sat in the plum tree for a moment before flying off empty handed.

sparrowhawk in plum tree

I had spotted the hawk through the kitchen window while I was sipping coffee with Dropscone, one of those responsible for the coming and going.

He arrived bringing not the traditional Friday treacle scones but a large pile of drop scones instead.  We managed to survive the shock.  He had had some eggs which needed using up, he told me.  I would have taken a picture of the large pile of scones but before I could get my camera out, some person or persons unknown had eaten them all.

Dropscone reported that the crows were still stealing golf balls on the golf course..

When he left, I tried to catch a bird at the feeder, but even when one or two did appear, they were so nervous that they flew off as soon as I approached the window.

It was a relatively calm day with a hint of blue sky and when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the shops with some bananas, I took two of them, put them in my back pocket with some guava jelly cubes and went out for a cycle ride.

I wasn’t feeling particularly bright when I set off but the great Dr Velo soon put me to rights and I decided on a slightly more adventurous route than usual, heading onwards due west when I had got  over Callister, adding a bit more climbing than customary to my journey.

This is the view as I set out into the wide blue yonder on the far side of Callister.

tree at Falford

I stopped after ten miles and ate half a banana and a small cube of guava jelly and reflected on the subsidy regime which led to the planting of many small clumps of commercial conifers in the middle of pastureland.

view at Grange

My ride today was a story of rivers and streams, large and small.  Once I had climbed out of Wauchopedale by going over Callister, I dropped down into the valley of the Water of Milk…

Water of Milk

…home to two wind farms.  This is the Ewe Hill farm….

Ewe hill wind farm

…and some rolling countryside.

water of mile curves

I love the way the river curves along the valley floor but I am slightly less enamoured by the way that the road goes up and down as it winds along the hillside above.

I reached the top of the last little hill and stopped to note the pretty little church at Tundergarth.

Tundergarth church

I was following the hilly road to Lockerbie, home of the most unreliable station in Scotland, but I didn’t go as far as the town but turned off three miles earlier and followed the Water of Milk down this quiet back road.

road to castlemilk

I liked this back lit tree on the way.

tree near old A74

I was getting near to the major road and rail routes between Carlisle and Glasgow by this time.

This is the railway going over the Water of Milk on a modest viaduct…

railway viaduct water of milk

and this is my back road going under the motorway.

motorway bridge old A74

I followed the old main road to the south as it runs alongside the motorway and railway and saw the railway crossing another viaduct, this time over the Mein Water, which like the Water of Milk, joins the River Annan a few miles to the west.

railway viaduct near eaglesfiled

After a run down the old road, I came to Kirkpatrick Fleming and took the the road back towards Langholm.  It is a gently undulating road and I crossed the Logan Burn, the Cadgill Burn, the River Sark and the Glenzier Burn before dropping into Eskdale and following the course of the Esk for the last five miles north to Langholm

I couldn’t stop to take many more pictures on this section as I was running short of time to get home before it became too dark to cycle safely without lights, but I did have a pause with ten miles to go for a last half banana at Half Morton church.  There is a Korean Pine in the churchyard there.  The cones do not fall off the tree and the seeds are spread by birds or animals which feed on them.  This crop had been well eaten but there were still some cones relatively untouched.

korean pine in winter

I was helped by the wind to get home and the road was much less hilly than the first half of my trip.  This was reflected by the fact that the twenty miles out, over the hills and into the wind, took me 1 hour 47 minutes and the second twenty miles back only needed 1 hour 26 minutes.  That’s what I call a well chosen route.

The house was empty when I got home because Mrs Tootlepedal was at the Buccleuch Centre enjoying a tip top tip toe experience at a screening of the Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet.  With the accompanying chat and two long intervals, this screening took her longer to sit through than it had taken me to cycle 40 miles.  We both considered that our time was well spent.

As I was splattered with grit from a passing gritting lorry as I cycled up the A7 back into Langholm, I expect that it will be a frosty morning tomorrow, so it will be touch and go whether I get another cycle ride or have to go for a walk instead.

I completely failed again and two collared doves looking down at the feeder from the electricity wires are acting as flying birds of the day today.

two collared doves

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Today’s guest picture is another captured by our son Tony’s new camera, showing that it (and he) can take close ups as well as the larger picture.


It was bright and chilly when we got up and after breakfast, I went out to look for the lost perch from the feeder.  I found it easily enough and screwed it back in place and then sat back and waited to see some obliging bird land on it.

I waited in vain.

empty feeder

It was a very quiet bird day indeed and I had to look hard to see a single chaffinch in the plum tree.

lonely chaffinch

In the end, I gave up bird watching and had a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went out bicycling.  The thermometer had scraped up to 5°C but the wind was light so I took a more adventurous route than usual and headed up the road to Bentpath.

This involves a sharp climb at the start of the ride but does provided some excellent views like this favourite, looking towards the Gates of Eden just after the first climb.

gates of eden

Our hills are generally rounded and smooth but there are occasional outcrops and those who know tell me that if I was patient enough, I might see a peregrine falcon on this crag near Bentpath.

crag at benty

I continued on through the village and headed up the Esk valley towards Bailliehill.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of the tree planting tubes which the foresters use to protect deciduous trees when they plant them and I was interested to see how well they do their job.  Almost every tube in this group seemed to have a healthy tree sticking out of it.

new trees in tubes

Conifer forestry was very evident too as I cycled up the river and I took this shot to show the impact that farming has on the view.  Where there is a flat place by the river, a ‘holm’ as it is called round here, there is always a field on it, usually with added sheep….

filed beside esk near king pool

…but where there is no holm , the uncultivated ground runs right down to the river and is often planted with spruce and/or larch.

esk looking back to lyneholm

I took these contrasting two shots from the same spot, looking first up and then down the river.

When I got to the top of the hill at Bailliehill, I turned south to go over the watershed between the Esk and the Water of Milk.

I stopped at a cattle grid for a drink and a banana.

cattle grid

The cattle grids are necessary to keep stock in the right place on unfenced roads and they can fairly rattle your teeth if you go over them too fast.

There were no cattle about today so I didn’t have to worry about bumping into one on the road but I had to keep an eye out for potholes, though the road was in better condition than this view back along it makes it look.

road from bailliehill

Although it looks a bit desolate on the top of the hill, I had not gone more than a mile further before the countryside had changed and I was cycling among pleasant green pastures and there was enough water about to make the Water of Milk recognisably a river in the making.

water of milk

I was able to look across at the Ewe Hill wind farm and check the wind direction.  Happily it showed that I would be helped home by the breeze.

ewes hill windfarm

I left the Water of Milk when I crossed the bridge at Paddockhole….

paddockhole bridge

…and headed back towards Callister Hill and Langholm.

I stopped on the way up Callister at a spot where a good view up towards Winterhope and a chance for a breather on a steep climb are equally welcome.

view from back of callister

I was now looking at the wind farm from the other side.

The last time that I took this route was on a cold and sunny day early last year and on that occasion, I made a choice to extend my trip by taking a diversion from the direct route home, met an ice filled pothole and hit the deck.

Under the circumstances, I thought long and hard about taking another diversion this time but as the temperature was a couple of degrees higher, the roads were drier and my legs were very cheerful, I risked turning off three miles short of Langholm and going over the hill to join the main road at Canonbie, adding ten miles to the journey.

Needless to say, I hadn’t gone far along my diversion before the sun ducked behind some clouds….

looming clouds

…although it was by no means as gloomy as the camera makes out.  All the same, once the sun went in, it felt a lot colder so I didn’t hang about taking any more pictures but pedalled steadily on.

The ride added 35 miles to my skimpy total for January but as I had done the last 15 miles in just under an hour, I was quite satisfied with both the views early on and the pace towards the end.

There were still no birds about in the garden when I got back but the sun came out as soon as the bike was safely put away in the garage and the sky was full of fluffy pink clouds.

fluffy pink cloud

In the absence of interesting birds and garden flowers, I took a picture of the bowl of hyacinths which our friend Liz had given Mrs Tootlepedal at the new year.  They are flourishing.

hyacinth in flower

Although the days are just beginning to get noticeably longer, they are still don’t last very long so I lit the stove in the front room and settled down to putting two of the Carlisle choir songs onto my computer so that I can start learning them.  Learning words and music is a protracted and sometime painful process, full of small steps forward and giant leaps backwards.

The flying bird(s) of the day are the only two chaffinches which approached the feeder when I was looking out of the window before cycling so I feel very lucky to have captured them at all. They have been carefully balanced for gender and left and right tendencies in the pursuit of political correctness.

two flying chaffinches

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The guest picture of day comes from my brother Andrew, who looked up when he was visiting York Minster.

York Minster

Once again, we woke to a gloomy, damp day but it had the goodness to stop raining while I visited the dentist for a check up.   It was pleasantly warm as I walked home having been given the all clear but the garden was still looking fairly damp when I got there.


However, it was still and dry enough to tempt some insects out…

bees and butterflies

…and if you look closely, you can see three beasties collecting pollen from the poppy above at the same time.

insect on dahlia

I can’t make up my mind whether these rather fluffy yellow things are bumble bees or not.  I don’t think that the ones on the poppy are but I am less sure about the one on the dahlia.  Once again, I hoped to be helped out by knowledgeable readers.

My daughter has been in Portugal for a short break and very kindly sent me a tin of genuine Portuguese sardines so we had some very tasty sardine pâté for our lunch.  She knows that my brain needs all the help it can get from oily fish.

After lunch, the weather brightened up a lot and we walked to our church in glorious sunshine to celebrate the life of Charlie Edgar, a member of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Church Choir who died recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal  has had a long association with Charlie, both through the choir and the local amateur operatic society of which he was a mainstay for many years.   We sang two cheerful hymns and heard a very fine eulogy written and read by a friend so although memorial services are by their nature not something that you look forward to going to, this one was a very fitting tribute to a good man.

In spite of the sunshine, it was still a bit too soggy to contemplate some mowing when we got home so after a pause to catch up on the highlights of yesterday’s stage of the Vuelta on the telly, I got the fairly speedy bike out and did a very modest vuelta of my own.

It was perfect cycling weather – warm, sunny but not too hot and with a light wind to provide a little cooling when needed.

I went out of town up the Esk Valley and enjoyed the views as I went.

Gates of Eden

The ‘Gates of Eden’



Telford Library

The Telford Library at Bentpath founded to provide local antimony miners with books to read

As I pedalled up the road towards Bailliehill, I stopped to admire the heather..


…and looked back at the Esk in the valley below.

Esk at bailliehill

Soon, I had climbed out of the Esk valley and had dropped gently down to the start of the Water of Milk…

Water of Milk

Whereas farmers get very basic bridges, I got a fine stone bridge to cross a small tributary a bit further along.

Bridge near water of Milk

The road rose up from beside the stream and as I pedalled along, I could look across and see the tops of all six of the new windmills on Ewe Hill on the other side of the valley.

Ewe Hill Windmills

I was very pleased to see that they were indicating that I would have what wind there was at my back for the last ten miles of my journey.

As I rode up the hill at Callister, I passed some birds who are planning a trip of their own quite soon.


While I pedalled along, I reflected that the bicycle really is a wonderful invention.  A day or two ago, we watched the finest runners in the world run the Olympic marathon on flat roads.  Today, I went about the same distance over much hillier terrain and under my own steam in a time some ten minutes quicker than they had managed.   Running is a very pedestrian way of getting about, as they say.

Those interested in the route can click on the map below.

Garmin Route 23 Aug 2016

I was hoping to go for a little flying bird walk when I got back but the clouds had returned and the light was not promising enough to make it worthwhile so I wandered round the garden instead for a few minutes….

rudbeckia and nicotiana

Rudbeckia and Nicotiana are adding to our pleasure with colour and scent respectively


A second cardoon has flowered

sweet peas

The better weather had brought out more sweet peas

…and then went in to have a shower and make baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea.    I had some very tasty cheese to hand so this rounded off the day very well.

After tea, we watched the highlights of today’s stage of the Vuelta so we had a double helping of cycling to enjoy.  It looks as though it will be an interesting race.

We are promised a day of sunshine tomorrow.  We are very much looking forward to that.

The flower of the day is another in the long line of poppies.  I find them very hard to resist.

pink poppy




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Today’s guest picture shows a hyacinth macaw which my Somerset correspondent Venetia met.  She didn’t meet it in Somerset though.  She is currently in the Pantanal, the Brazilian wetlands.

hyacinth macawWe had a first rate autumn morning here, with blue skies and a crisp temperature.  At 6°C this gave me a problem.  Cycling was on my mind but 6° is quite chilly and requires special clothing at my age.  However, this would mean getting far too hot later in the ride so I delayed my start until the thermometer hit 10° and this took enough time to let me get the crossword finished and to eat a couple of slices of toast to fuel me up for the ride.

When I got going, I had an open mind about my route but as I pedalled along, the beautiful day and cheerful legs got me thinking of a few hills and fifty miles.


It could hardly have been a better day

I had a couple of bananas and a few dates and raisins with me so I could choose any route that I wanted. I was heading west but I turned off just before Lockerbie and headed south. I picked up a new bridge for my collection when I crossed the Water of Milk at Kettleholm.  (I don’t make these names up by the way).

Kettleholm bridgeThe views were very good today.

Looking to CriffelAnd I stopped at Hoddom where I saw that rarity this year, a ripe blackberry beside the River Annan….

bramble at Hoddom

Very tasty it was too

…and a crop of Himalayan balsam, a beautiful flower but a pest.

himalayan balsamThere was a fisherman on the far side of the bridge.

Hoddom BridgeI had another view of him as I crossed the bridge.  He had a companion a bit further along.

Hoddom BridgeI expect that the fisherman thinks that sitting on a bike for hours on end is as odd as I think standing up to your middle in a river is.

My way home took me through Brydekirk, Ecclefechan, Middlebie and Chapelknowe and at Chapelknowe,  I had the choice of a direct route home or adding a few more miles and a couple of modest climbs by going up to Kennedy’s Corner and back over Callister.  I had enough puff left to choose the harder route and clocked up 54 miles and two and a half thousand feet of climb which was a satisfactory way of making use of a beautiful day.   I cycled well within myself and my average speed of a modest 13mph reflected this.

Those with time hanging heavily on their hands can see the route and details here.

I had enough energy when I got home left to take a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit with Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker who had dropped in and then for a quick walk round the garden.

There are still several clematis doing well.

clematisAnd the sedum was playing host to a great number of this sort of bee today.

bee on sedum

I would think that there might have been as many as twenty bees on the plants.

Of course I might have noticed a few poppies too.

poppiespoppies…and the star of the day.

poppyThe better weather had got them to lift their heads up well.

I also had time to watch the birds for a few minutes.

busy feeder

There were plenty to watch.

The birds have got used to using the feeder hole with no perch as you can see in the picture above but I was very impressed by the smash and grab technique of the chaffing below.

chaffinchThen there was time for a bath and my tea before Susan kindly came and picked me up for a trip to our recorder group in Carlisle.  All five of us were present and we had a good play with some music which we had never played before mixed in with some old favourites.

For some reason, I am slightly tired and so will spare the reader any more rambling thoughts.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture has been postponed in favour of a picture of my old friend Arthur Bell striding across the golf course which he tended, planted and weeded as though it was his own back garden for many years.

ArthurThis picture was taken three years ago and his work on the golf course both as gardener and a player….

Arthur…was very much on my mind when Mrs Tootlepedal and I attended his funeral service at the Carlisle Crematorium this morning.  I will miss him.

We were given a lift down and back by the Tinkers and sat with them for an excellent meal at the Eskdale Hotel after the service.  The funeral service was a private affair and there will be a public memorial service for Arthur on Friday.

When we got back home after the lunch, it was a fine breezy day so I took a quick walk round the garden.  The combination of the recent wind and today’s sun had left some of the crocuses battered to the ground but still smiling.

fallen crocusOthers were still standing.

crocusesAnd other flowers were available too….

aconite and primula…but nothing new had arrived.  Some of the crocuses had withstood the strong winds in fine style.

crocusesFor some reason which I can’t explain, the birds were almost completely absent from the garden all day and the seed level in the feeder hardly moved at all.  It can’t have been the builders because for the first time since they started, there were no men at work today at all.  (They should be back tomorrow.)

In the absence of birds, I had a quick look at the pond and there were hardly any frogs there either.  One frog lurking under the bridge stopped long enough for me to get a quick snap.

frogAs there were no birds to watch, I decided to go for a pedal.  The thermometer claimed that it was a mild 10 degrees C and with the sun out too, it should have been a day to cast off the heavy winter clothing but there was still a stiff breeze blowing and as it was one of those mean and cutting winds, I kept myself well wrapped up.

I headed out over Callister and cycled on down the other side and past Paddockhole until I could look back across the Water of Milk on one side of the road…

water of milk…and admire the windmills on Minsca on the other.

minscaAs you can see, there was a mixture of clouds and blue sky and I was grateful for my warm clothes when the sun was in and pleased with the views when it came out.

Water of MilkWith the wind and sun behind me, the road back looked inviting….

Minsca road

blog7…but in a very unsporting manner, the wind dropped and I had to work quite hard to get home.

This might account for the very modest speed that I managed for the ride but it might also be down to the extra weight that I am carrying around with me at the moment.  I shall have to do a lot more cycling and a lot less eating to get back to where I was before December.  Still, 26 miles is a new best for my knee so I was pleased with that.

I have been trying to increase my distance with every cycle outing since I was able to get back on my bike but I think that I will stop doing that now in case I put too much pressure on the knee and get discouraged.  Any miles will be welcome.  If I get a calmer, warmer day, I will try for a longer ride.

In the evening, I got my second lift to Carlisle of the day, this time from Susan, as we went to play with our recorder group. Our librarian Roy had picked out a good selection of music and we had an enjoyable play.  Among the pieces was a quintet which Roy had composed himself.  It was quite difficult at a first reading but it will be well worth playing again.

I only got the briefest glimpse of a flying bird today and this was it.


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