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Posts Tagged ‘Westerkirk Church’

Today’s guest picture shows a feature of the Sheffield Peace Gardens. They were seen by Bruce on a recent stay in the city.

sheffield peace garden

Today started very oddly when I woke up realising that I had just had a good night’s sleep.  This was so unusual that it took me until Dropscone arrived with Friday treacle scones for coffee to recover.

The scones were very good though and by the time that Dropscone left, I was back on an even keel and able to appreciate that the geums had started to flower in the garden.

geums in garden

They are droopy flowers and I had to resort to the mirror to get a good look at one from underneath.

When I went back, I looked out of the window and saw that the jackdaws were back in search of nesting material.  They have discovered where Mrs Tootlepedal has buried the rest of the woollen mulch round a rose and they were busy digging it up, under the supervision of a senior member of the group.

jackdaws panel

At the feeder, goldfinches and siskins were in charge again and a lonely chaffinch appeared.  I thought that it looked a bit wistful.

lonely chaffinch

Since the chaffinches have been the most regular customers of the feeder all winter, they must feel a bit put out by these spring interlopers, much as loyal insurance company customers feel put out when they discover that new customers are getting preferential rates offered to them.

Not that the goldfinches look happy about their end of the bargain either.

goldfinches stamping

I made some bacon and lentil soup for lunch, ate a bowlful and then got my bike out.  It was quite a lot colder than my last outing and I had leggings and a waterproof jacket on as I faced a light north wind.

I had worked quite hard last time I went out and my feet had been painful afterwards so I took things very easily today, stopping frequently to admire the view…

road to burnfoot

There were fifty shades of green

…to take in the passing bluebell woods,…

bluebells on benty road

…and to record some of the many wild flowers which have started to appear in the road side verges.

wild flowers on benty road

I crossed the Esk by the Bentpath Bridge…

river esk from benty bridge

…and admired the assistance that someone had given to nature on the other side of the bridge.

flowers at benty bridge

Then I cycled up the far bank of the river, noticing more wild flowers…

wildflowers near benty

…and finding that some work by foresters in felling trees had made it much easier to spot the old suspension bridge that allowed residents on the west bank of the river a shorter walk to the church in times gone by.

esk suspension bridge georgefield 1

I wouldn’t be inclined to walk over it now.

esk suspension bridge georgefield 2

A little further on, I noticed what I thought was a tree in full flower by a gate…

pink tree westerhall

…but a closer look showed that the colour came from buds and the flowers are not out yet.  It should be spectacular when it blooms.

It wasn’t hard to spot wild flowers as the banks were covered with them..

bank of wild flowers

…and fields were full of them.

meadow of wild flowers

When  I came to the furthest point of my short ride, I had to cross the Esk again, this time using the Enzieholm Bridge, which looks modest enough when you cross it…

enzieholm bridge from above

…but turns out to be a pretty substantial bridge when you look at it from the waterside.

enzieholm bridge from below

The wind was behind me now (good route planning for once), and I didn’t stop so much on the way home, though I did like these fine copper beeches…

copper beeches beside esk

…and yet more wild flowers…

wildflowers benty may

…which I passed before I got back to Bentpath village, where I took the obligatory picture of the church and bridge.

westerkirk church may

I did the last five or six miles with only one more stop.  This was to take a look back at the Gates of Eden…

gates if eden May

…before cascading back down the hill into Langholm, very cheerful after such an enjoyable and leisurely fifteen miles.  (The pedalling took me an hour and twenty minutes and I added another twenty five minutes to the trip by stopping to take so many pictures.)

I had a quick walk round the garden before I went in…

FOUR GARDEN FLOWERS

…to find Mrs Tootlepedal, after a busy morning, sitting quietly over her embroidery.

Although the day was still quite cool for the time of year, when the sun came out it seemed pleasantly warm and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were able to have a short sit out on the new bench until the sun went in again.

Then the sun came out again and I was thinking of going for a short walk but as soon as I put my walking shoes on, the sun went in and a few drops of rain fell.

I abandoned the idea of a walk and cooked a feta cheese, tomato and potato bake for our tea instead.   It was followed by some sticky toffee pudding.  It is hard to have to eat all of the sticky toffee pudding ourselves instead of sharing it with Matilda and her family but we are being brave about it.

One of the thieving jackdaws is the flying bird of the day.  It wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

flying jackdaw making off

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  From Manitoba but not in Manitoba as she has taken a break from endless winter to catch a ray or two in Antigua.  It looks like a good decision as more snow has arrived at home.

Mary Jo's holiday

We had a generally sunny, almost totally dry day here which was very welcome.  A nippy wind kept us from discarding many layers of outdoor clothing though.

I started the day by going to a warehouse on the banks of the Wauchope to collect some bags of potting compost for Mrs Tootlepedal and I admired one of the many little Wauchope cascades as I waited for  the compost treasure house to be opened.

Wauchope cascade

When  I got back to the garden, a song thrush was living up to its name by giving a recital from a branch of the walnut tree.

thrush

Down below a blackbird was engaged in a worm hunt.

blackbird

And in the pond, frogs were being shiny.

frog

Dropscone dropped in (with scones) for a cup of coffee and I got an update on a Scottish Golf meeting which he had attended where revolting members had gone against the wishes of the executive.  That is par for the course these days.

While we sipped and chatted, a robin flew in.

robin

After Dropscone left (to go and play golf), I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden only to be greeted by some rain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long and after this shock, the day behaved itself admirably.

All our neighbours were out in their gardens too and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to pass a surplus rhubarb plant across a fence to Irving and Libby who are establishing their new garden.

I wandered around counting bees….

bees on crocus

…and finding that there were a lot to count.  I was trying to catch them while they were still flying with variable success…

bees on crocus

…this one seems to be flying with one wing and resting with the other.

Still, it was very encouraging to see so many bees among the crocuses.

The frogs were providing a musical background for the bee hunt and I went to visit them too.

Some were getting together….

frogs

…and some were just thinking about it.

frog

After lunch, I put on some cycling clothes, went outside and tested the wind and then went back in and put another layer on. Then I got the slow bike out and went off for a gentle pedal with pictures in mind.

I didn’t go along the Wauchope road as I usually do but went up the Esk valley towards Bentpath.  This route is very up and down and luckily gives me plenty of excuses to stop for a photo as I go along.

It was a glorious day for being out and about but in spite of the sunshine, there were still traces of snow about….

breckonwrae

Just before I reached the village of Bentpath, I passed a hare which had been run over by a car and got a bit of a shock when there was a tremendous flapping of wings and crying and mewing as two buzzards rose up and flew above my head.  Usually buzzards just fly off quietly when anyone approaches but the reason for their agitation became clear when I saw this:

buzzard on road

I take it that is a young buzzard and the cause of its parent’s excitement.  I passed it by and went on for a good few yards before looking back, expecting to see the parents swoop down and go off with the youngster but nothing happened.

There was no sign of the other two birds and the buzzard on the road stayed stock still even when a car could be heard approaching.  I waved the car down and it slowed and passed within a few feet of the bird which didn’t move an inch.

I was considering my options when another car approached.  Once again, I waved it down and its driver summed up the situation very well.  He drove up to the buzzard, stopped and sounded his car horn gently.  At this, the buzzard flew off and normal service was resumed.

I pedalled on but not before admiring a tree, wall and gate composition on the other side of the road.

Benty gate

I crossed the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath…

Benty bridge

…but couldn’t get a good view of the bridge because of the scrub beside the river.  I couldn’t get a very good view of the church beside the bridge either because the powers that be have thought it best to put as many posts, wires and road signs in front of it as possible.

Westerkirk Church with poles

It would be nice if they could all be made to disappear but the camera never lies…

Westerkirk Church without poles

…or does it?

I pedalled on and just as I was wondering if they still kept alpacas at Georgefield, I got the answer in the middle of the road.

alpaca on road

As I didn’t want to chase it along the road, I was worried about not being able to get past the animal but the alpaca took the matter into its own hands and trotted past me into its own farmyard.

Having been delayed by a bird and and an animal, I was expecting to be waylaid by a fish later in the journey but they kept themselves to themselves and I managed to get home with no more alarums and excursions.

I recrossed the Esk by the Enzieholm bridge and headed back down the valley.  I got a better view of the Benty bridge…

Benty bridge

…and spotted a pair of oyster catchers beside the river nearby.

oyster catchers Benty
I have cycled over the bridge across the Boyken Burn at Old Hopsrig many times but never stopped to take its picture before.

Boyken Burn bridge

As usual, I had a look at the bridge parapet to see if there was any interesting lichen or moss there and was very surprised to find a tiny but perfectly formed tree growing in a gap between stones.

Boyken Burn bridge tree

The route I was taking has been used for many hundreds of years and I could see the site of a hill top iron age fort at Craig.

Iron age fort

When I got home, needless to say I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  She had planted out her primroses but hadn’t been able to put them all where she had planned because, rather unexpectedly, some winter aconites had poked their heads above the soil.

winter aconite and primrose

Still, that is welcome problem to have and she found a home for the primroses elsewhere.

By this time, even on a fine day, the light was beginning to fade and the temperature drop so we went in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We are expecting a light frost tonight but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is light enough to do no harm.  It is the price to pay for a bit of fine weather at this time of year.  (A quick look at our local weather station tells me that it is zero degrees C  as I write this.)

In spite of the fine weather, I didn’t manage to get a picture of a flying bird today so I have had to make do with this big bird scraping the roof tiles of our neighbour.

low flying plane

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a new style of letterbox which my friend Bruce spotted while out in Langholm.  You have to get up very early to post a letter in that part of town.

new postbox

We got up quite early today as Mrs Tootlepedal and members of her embroiderers’ group were due to spend a morning sewing and chatting at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre to encourage knowledge about and interest in their group.  I took her along in the car with her box of stuff and when I had dropped her off, I continued on up the road to Bentpath to put my photographs into the tent at the Benty Show.

It was a delightfully misty morning.

Bentpath mistBentpath mist

As I got to the field, it looked as though the swallows might be getting ready to leave.

swallows on wire

I put my photos up among some quite hot competition and then went back to Langholm where I visited the Producers’ Market to buy fish, coffee, honey and venison…..and see what Mrs Tootlepedal and her gang were up to.

embroiderers guild

They were having a good time.  The little boy on the far left of the picture stayed and did three solid hours of needle felting.

He was the son of the venison lady.  She gave me quite a shock when,  as I went to buy my supplies, she said in a firm voice, “I want to have a word with you.”  I wondered what bad thing I had done but it turned out that she had been inspired by a conversation we had about cycling at a previous market and had subsequently got on her bike in a substantial way.  She is even making local deliveries of venison on her bike these days.

As a reward for being inspirational, she kindly gave me a gift of two venison sausages curled neatly up to look a bit like cycle wheels.  I was much touched.

If anyone else would like to be inspired, I am happy to oblige.

I drove off up the hill in the car after leaving the market in the hope that some of the early mist might still be lying in the river valleys but it was already retreating up the hills…

Ewes valley

…so I went home, mowed some grass, did a bit of dead heading and watched butterflies.

butterflies

On phlox, dahlia, buddleia and Michaelmas daisy. You name it, it had a butterfly on it.

I didn’t neglect the bees…

bee on poppy

…especially as I had just bought two jars of local honey.

And sometimes I could see butterflies and bees simultaneously.

butterfly and bee

The poppies were as gorgeous as ever….

poppies

…and the cornflowers and crocosmia are blending well….

cornflower and crocosmia

…but the star of the day was a newly opened lily of enormous size.

lily

It is some sort of lily longiflorum (well named) which Mrs Tootlepedal very untypically purchased over the internet in the middle of a sleepless night.  Buying stuff on the internet in the middle of the night is not recommended but this impulse purchase looks as though it is going to turn out very well.

After lunch, I went back up to Bentpath to visit the flower show and check on my pictures.  I had managed to get a second and two thirds so I was modestly pleased as the standard of the other pictures was really good.

The weather was very kind….

Benty show

The show field doesn’t slope down quite as much as it seems in the picture!

…and the show has a very beautiful setting beside the river…..

River esk

…with the village church….

Westerkirk Church

…and the fine bridge….

Bentpath bridge

…as a backdrop.

As well as photos, food, flowers and vegetables, there are sheep in a curly horn contest….

Benty sheep

…children’s and terrier races, a wood carving demonstration and two hound trails.

I like the hounds.  They are superb athletes.

The hounds follow a scented trail over the hills and come plunging down through the bracken, leap fences….

hound trail

… and when they come to it, they leap down the banking and dive into the river…

hound trail

…swim and run across the water, leap up the bank at the far side…

hound trail

…and sprint for the finish line.

hound trail

Or at least the leader did.  The following hounds took a more cautious view of the whole watery part of the race.

hound trail

Approaching with suspicion and then getting back out again on the same bank.

After a good deal of encouragement from their owners, they did finally get across and headed for the finish line…

hound trail

…though one or two laggards were still out somewhere on the hill.

hound trail

The hounds were followed by a fell race at an altogether more sedate pace….

Benty fell race

Rounding the marker flag at the top of the hill

…though rather disappointingly, the human runners use the bridge to get back to the show ground and don’t have to fling themselves into the river.  In the first hill race that I ever ran at Newtonmore in the Highlands, we had to wade through a waist high river just to get from the field to the bottom of the hill.

I made a final visit to the show tent….

benty show

Flowers, fruit and veg, baking, walking sticks and photos filled every corner

…and then made my way home.

It had been the very picture of a village flower show.  There was sheaf tossing and a barbecue still to come for those with stamina.

I was pretty tired by the time that I got back so although the weather was still very pleasant, I did nothing more energetic than walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had been very busy clearing and preparing flower beds for next year (she is always thinking ahead) before sinking into a comfortable chair and putting my feet up.

The flying bird of the day might have been a buzzard flying above the field at Bentpath but my hand was too trembly to catch it properly so it turns out to be the first few petals of the first cardoon flower of the year.

cardoon

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s visit to Brooklands.  As well as the old motor racing track, he and Susan met an even faster bit of transport history..

concord

It was just above freezing when we got up but there was no sign of any ice and the sun was out and it was a pleasant morning.   It was too cold to go cycling straight after breakfast so I considered a walk instead.  While I was mulling things over, I looked out of the window.

Sometimes there were siskins…

siskins

…and sometimes chaffinches arrived from all sides.

chaffinches arriving

Then I had to cycle round to the shop to get some milk and the ice free state of the roads persuaded me that a trip out on the slow bike would be a good idea.  It had to be a trip on the slow bike because the chain on my fairly speedy bike has not been repaired yet.

The slow bike gives me more chance to look around as I pedal along and so I thought that I would go up a less travelled route today and I followed the Esk instead of the Wauchope and stopped often to admire the views…

Gates of Eden

…which is not hard to do on a day like today.

Esk at Douglen and Craig

I passed a very nice burst of snowdrops in a wood near Hopsrig…

snowdrops

…and called in at the Telford Library at Bentpath.  This library was endowed by the great engineer Thomas Telford, whose biography was featured on BBC Radio 4 last week so I thought that it might interest the readers who have told me that they heard the programmes.

There is both a 1928 memorial for the great man and a modern information board about the library outside the building…

telford at Bentpath

…but unfortunately the library itself was not looking at its best today.

Westerkirk Library

I should say, to avoid confusion, that the village is called Bentpath but the library is in the parish of Westerkirk and Telford was born in the parish but not the village.

The library  was established in January 1793 when the ‘Louisa’ antimony mine owners, the Westerhall Mining Company, and several individuals presented a collection of 23 books to the miners.  Later on Telford gave the library the huge sum of £1000 pounds in his will.  It is believed to be the oldest library in Scotland still functioning as a library.

Looking across the river Esk from the library, the field where the flower show is held in September seemed very peaceful today.

Esk at Bentpath

I went down to the river and crossed the bridge…

Bentpath Bridge

The gravel bank shows that the river is not always so calm.

…had a look at lichen and leaves on the far bank…

lichen and leaves

…nodded at the church (built 1788)…

Westerkirk church

…and pedalled on up the road to visit the birthplace of Telford.

To get there, I had to leave the Esk and follow the Meggat Water up its valley…

Meggat valley

In spite of the well surfaced road and gentle gradients, it is quite hard to pedal up the Meggat valley because you have to stop and take pictures all the time.

Meggat water

Meggat water the old school

The old school

But I did finally get to my destination, Glendinning, the birthplace of Telford, and I left my bike and walked up to the cairn raised in memory of the great man.

Telford Cairn

The house were he was born can no longer be seen but this was the view that he would have seen in his childhood.

Glendinning

I had really enjoyed pottering up the ten miles from Langholm to get here and the sun and a friendly wind might have had something to do with this.  In fact, they definitely did because as I turned for home, the sun went in and the strength of the wind that had wafted me up the hill became apparent when I had to pedal a good deal harder to get back down the glen than I had had to to get up it.

Without the sun, the wind was distinctly chilly and the ride home was hard work so I didn’t stop to admire the view at all, though I did pause to photograph one of the less used bridges over the Esk.

Bridge at Georgefield

It looks as though it might be still usable but you would need a mighty big step to actually get onto it.

I did stop once more, mainly to get a break from battling the cruel wind for a moment but also to show the jump training track for our local racehorse stables.

Craig race track

I was pleased to get home and pleased to have done 21 miles on the slow bike even though I hadn’t managed to get my average speed up to ten miles an hour, making it the slowest ride I have done this year by far.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set about clearing up the rest of the berberis and associated trimmings from our attack of a couple of days ago.  By the time that it was all shifted and shredded and added to the compost bin, I was quite ready for a sit down and while I was sitting, we were joined by Mike Tinker so we had a welcome cup of tea and a biscuit.

Having pedalled in the day, the evening was given over to tootling as first my flute pupil Luke came and then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  A bit of music was a splendid way to finish a rewarding day which I though had been well spent.

I did get a bare tree on my pedals.  This one was on the road up the Meggat Water.

Meggat tree

And I managed to catch a flying chaffinch in the nick of time before it became a perching bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a lily pond at Tintinhull garden It was visited by my Somerset correspondent Venetia.

TintinhullMrs Tootlepedal’s cataract operation seems to have gone too well.  When she came down this morning, she gave me an old fashioned look and said, “You haven’t shaved.”  I see that I am going to have smarten up a bit.

The day started with a quick drive up to Bentpath with Sandy to put our photos into the the flower show.  After a soggy summer, the show had been blessed by beautiful weather….

Benty show…and everyone was in very a cheerful mood.

We came back to Langholm and went to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where I was tempted by even more cheese than usual to go with supplies of lamb, fish, honey and venison.  It is lucky that the market is only once a month or I would be bankrupt.

After I got home, I drove Mrs Tootlepedal down to the opticians in Longtown.  She had lost a pad off her spectacles and even with her new tiger eyesight, the screw that held it in was so tiny that it couldn’t be found.  The lady in the opticians was up to the task though and by the time that we had had a coffee across the road, she had the glasses fixed.

Once home, I had a walk round the garden. In spite of the arrival of cooler weather, we still have some roses.

rosesThere was a chilly north wind blowing so after mowing the drying green and sieving a little compost, I retired indoors to watch the birds….

blue tit

The blue tit magnet is still working

….and contemplate the crossword.  I was called out before I had finished it though to go and check on a butterfly.

peacock butterflyIt was a peacock on a dahlia but it wouldn’t sit still for me and soon flew off.  I followed about until it settled, first on a cosmos and then on a phlox.

peacock butterflyWhile I was out, I took today’s poppy parade.

poppiesMrs Tootlepedal spent some time doing gentle gardening.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to gardening, I sieved another bucket of compost and then I picked up Sandy and went off to Bentpath to see how I had done in the show.

The weather was still very friendly and there was a good number of cars parked in the show field.

Benty Show

A tent, an ice cream van and a bouncy castle. It must a be flower show.

Our photos were in the big tent and  when we went in, we saw that the standard of entries was good so I was pleased to come away with a first, a second and a third.  The first and second were both in the black and white class which had the least entries of the day but I had thought the pictures were reasonable so I was satisfied.

There is always a lot going on at the show and my neighbour Liz (who had won three tickets in the baking classes) had entered her terrier Riley into the terrier racing event.

Riley

Here he is on the left, leaving the stalls in the first heat.

As you can see, the black dog was quicker off the mark and in the end, it won the race by a nose.  It went on to win the final too.

terrier racingThere were several hound trails during the afternoon.  The hounds end their races by coming down the hill opposite the show ground, leaping fences and walls….

hound trail…before crossing the river and finishing in the field.  They took a long time to cross the river so when the next trail came round, I went down to the river bank to see what went on.

It was a beautiful spot to wait.

Esk at bentpathWhen the trail came, one hound was clearly leading as they reached the water….

Benty hound trail…but what happened next was a surprise.  The leader, instead of racing triumphantly across the river, stopped for a drink, waited for the second to catch him up….

Benty hound trail..and then politely waited for the next two as well, before finally setting off across the stream in a group.

Benty hound trailSome of the hounds refused to get their feet wet at all and wandered aimlessly about on the far bank while their owners shouted and whistled in vain.  It all provided great entertainment for the spectators if not for the hounds’ owners.

Between events, I wandered down to the bridge over the Esk…

Bentpath bridge..and admired the church on the other side of the river.

Westerkirk ChurchAs wells as flowers and an ‘industrial section’, there is a special section for local sheep at the flower show and there were some handsome animals in the pens.

benty sheepScott, the cycling minister was there in an official capacity and a stylish hat to give away the trophies.

scott at Benty showSandy and I gave him a lift home when the show was over.

I was hoping to go for a cycle ride when I got back, as it was still sunny and the brisk wind had dropped quite a bit but inertia got the better of me and I settled in to whittling down ninety photographs of the show to a usable number.

I received a message from Dropscone to say that he and his children had safely reached their destination in the highlands prior to their assault on the summit of Ben Nevis and he sent me a picture of the view from their digs.

Fort AugustusTheir hotel is on the shores of Loch Ness.  They seem to have chosen a good place to stay.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  Or rather, in the interests of gender equality, two chaffinches.

chaffinch chaffinch

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Today’s picture shows Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire recently visited by my younger brother and older sister, two indefatigable tourists.

kelmarsh hall

In spite of a forecast of heavy rain and winds, the day of the Benty show offered some welcome and unexpected early sunshine when Sandy and I took our pictures up before breakfast. As Mrs Tootlepedal was taking a rather frail B&B visitor to the bus with his luggage, Sandy took me up in his car.  The field was quiet and we soon had our pictures up in the the big tent on the right.  There were many more entries by the time if the judging.

Benty Show field AM

Before we left,  I took a picture of the church and the hill beside it which would see various races later in the day.

Westerkirk

After breakfast, I went along to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre and stocked up on fish, venison and cheese.  Then it was a case of sitting down and waiting until the show opened and we could go up again.  The skies were getting greyer by the minute so I leapt out of my chair for long enough to mow the front lawn before the rain started.  Of course once I had done this, the skies brightened up a bit and the rain held off.  This didn’t seem to make the birds any better tempered.

bad tempered birds

Lunchtime came without any rain and after consultation with Sandy, we drove separately up to the show field so that Mrs Tootlepedal could come back in plenty of time in our car to be there for some B&B guests who were due to arrive at some unspecified time and Icould get a lift back with the ever obliging Sandy.

The show was well supported and we were in quite a crowd as we went into the tent to see how our pictures had fared.  I was happy to find that I had got two firsts and two seconds and this was enough to get me the cup for most points in the section.  My joy was slightly modified by finding that the points winner from last year hadn’t entered this year but  cup is a cup.

There were other interesting things to look at in the tent.  Mrs Tootlepedal was captivated by an enormous cabbage….

in the tent

…and the root vegetables were well up to standard too.

There is always plenty to see at a country show.  At the Benty, the sheep are a feature.

sheep pens Benty Show 2013

Two handsome fellows

 There is always something going on.

Benty show 2013

Here an ex-cornet is judging dogs in front of an interested audience.

Mrs Tootlepedal left at this point and Sandy and i walked across the bridge over the river….

Esk

The threatening clouds were there all day but it only rained infrequently

…to take some pictures of a couple of hound trails.

These are races for hounds following a laid trail over a course of about ten miles.  They cover this distance over very rough ground in the amazing (to me) time of 30 minutes.  If the river conditions permit, the dogs cross the river and finish the race in the show field but the river was too high for that today. The finish was at the bottom of a hill on the far bank.  We climbed a short way up the hill.

While we were waiting, we looked back to the field on the opposite side of the Esk.

Benty Show 2013

A good turnout.

The dogs were soon in evidence.

Hound trail 2013

As they reach the end of the course, tired as they must be, the poor dogs have to leap several fences and walls.

hound trail 2013

These are very fit animals indeed.

After the race was over,   I passed the time in a break in the weather by taking yet another picture of the Westerkirk church, one of my favourite subjects.

Westerkirk church

Soon afterwards,  it started to rain and Sandy and I left the hill and sheltered near some trees with the most number of berries that I have ever seen.

berries

As the time for the second race drew near, we left our shelter, exchanged a few words with a fellow camera club member who was more interested in the dogs than in pictures today…

Camera man

He has shown some wonderful hound pictures at the camera club.

…and walked back up the hill where we sheltered under another tree from the ever increasing rain.

Soon the excited yelping of the hounds got us ready for the second race.

The leaders hound trail 2013

hound trail 2013

hound trail 2013

You cannot fail to be impressed by these canine athletes’ enthusiasm for the task.

As soon as the hound trail was over, human athletes started their own fell race.

fell race

I used to do this sort of things forty years ago but it makes my knees hurt just watching them these days.  We fell into conversation with a hound owner who was hoping that we had taken a picture of her winning dog (we think that we have) and missed the winner of the fell race but we did catch the second runner coming home.

fell runner

Looking pretty perky for a lad who has just run up and down the hill in the background in under twenty minutes.

The rain had stopped by now and we went back to the field to watch some terrier racing.  This is always an exciting event as the contestants are extremely unreliable.  The following sequence shows the final race of the day.

terrier racing Benty 2013

It was declared a tie.

I managed to take yet another picture of my favourite church from a different angle in a sunny moment.

church Westerkirk

Soon it was time to collect my prize and I was fortunate to have to hand the best photographer on the field to record this occasion.

Getting the cup

We were posing for the local paper’s photographer.

As soon as my presentation was over, it started to rain very hard but it only last for ten minutes or so.  Having collected up our pictures (Sandy was among the prizes too), Sandy drove us home and we enjoyed a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit or three.

After Sandy left, I glanced out of the window and was delighted to see a new and elegant visitor to the feeder.  The nuthatch had obviously heard my complaint yesterday about lack of variety at the feeder.

Nuthatch

It paid several visits to the feeders and it would be very good if it liked what it saw enough to visit us again tomorrow.

All in all, especially considering the very reasonable weather after such a dire forecast, it was a most enjoyable day and my thanks go to Sandy for being good enough to chauffeur me about.

The inevitable chaffinch appears as flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should perhaps add for clarity that the Benty Show takes place in the village of Bentpath in the parish of Westerkirk.

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Today’s picture shows that there are fine canals in the south of England as well as the south of France.  This is a shot of the Kennet and Avon taken by my sister Susan on a recent visit.

kennet and avon

We had the third day of interrupted sunshine running today and some of us are finding it very hard to take it in.  I was too tired and the temperature was too chilly for me to join Dropscone round the morning run but he is made of hardier stuff and went round Waterbeck on his own, dropping off the scones on his way.  I hadn’t eaten them by the time he got back and we shared them over a cup of coffee or two.

He had been to a very good golf course at Gullane for a competition yesterday and his enthusiasm almost made me want to take up golf again.  Luckily I am too sensible to punish my joints and brain by doing anything so rash.

The unfortified fat balls have been attracting the attention of a couple of starlings and I caught this one in an elegant pose.  I would say that starlings must have been designed by an Italian.

starling

There have been some chilly mornings but we have been spared a thoroughgoing frost so far and the garden is surviving the cold  well.  The nerine outside the kitchen window is getting better all the time.

nerine

The chaffinches were in residence in the plum tree, enjoying the sun as much as we were.

chaffinch basking

The dry spell has got the insects out and about again and the Michaelmas daises were covered in a multitude of small life.

insect

insect with shades

And to my surprise, there was a butterfly about as well. This is a red admiral.

red admiral

I never knew that butterflies were so furry until I had a camera.

The pink rose, after looking as though it was on its last legs, is going great guns and had a proper flower out today.

pink rose

Glorious

I enjoyed this final spike of astilbe catching the morning sun too.

astilbe

The shadows finally cleared the feeders and I was able to take this great tit just before lunch.

great tit

After lunch I was turning a little compost when a van drew up outside and the man who makes cider locally came and pruned our apple tree for us.  This was very kind but also self interested as he is hoping to harvest a good crop next year for his cider making.  It couldn’t be worse than this year.  Here is a before and after shot of the tree.

apple tree pruning

He would have liked to have taken a bit more off but didn’t want to give the old tree too much of a shock.  The Charles Ross apples against the hedge caught his eye…

Charles Ross

He advised us to pick them before a frost got them so we picked them as soon as he was gone.

They are for us and not for him.

After he left, I got into some warm gear and got the (fairly) speedy bike out as the temperature was now up to a very reasonable 9° C. As there was a light north wind blowing and I like to be blown home, I set off north up the Eskdalemuir road.  After a sharp climb in the first mile, this is a pleasant road to cycle along.

It is an iron law of nature that on a fine day, a man with a camera in his pocket can’t pass the view of the Gates Of Eden without stopping to photograph it no matter how many times he has shot it before….

Gates of Eden

It really was a fine day.

…and the same applies to the church at Bentpath.

Westerkirk Church

I cycled up to Bailliehill, running the gauntlet of a flock of sheep…

Rampaging sheep

…and then, like yesterday, the lure of a fine bridge drew onwards towards the junction of the Black and White Esk rivers.

Black and White Esk

This is the bridge over the Black Esk just above the junction of the rivers.

Black Esk bridge

Since the day was so kind, I decided to cycle on for a mile or two.  It was gently uphill on a good surface and when I came to Castle O’er….

Castle O'er

…I turned round and enjoyed cycling back down the gentle downhill.

I took it easy on the way home and completed the 23 miles at a very sober 12.7 mph.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t had many lessons recently and I asked him if he had been practising while I was away.  ‘A lot’, he said confidently and he was quite right.  He had made really good progress and I was delighted.   I definitely think that he has the makings of a flautist.

Later on, I went to the Buccleuch Centre with Sandy to listen to a musician at the other end of the age scale.  This was Ralph McTell, a noted singer and guitarist.  We were a bit alarmed when it emerged that the show would last 1 hr 45 mins without an interval but in the event, the time passed extremely quickly.  He is a very fine guitarist indeed in the finger picking mode of the American bluesmen such as Blind Gary Davis and has a foot tapping sense of rhythm.

As an extra treat, we could hear every single word that he sang and he retains a most pleasing singing voice.  It was refreshing to hear a singer using a natural register and not shouting at us in the strained voice fashionable today.    The audience applauded with vigour at each number but there was no shouting or cheering and the whole evening had a very nice old fashioned air about it.  The theatre was pretty well full and I would imagine that everyone there went home feeling well satisfied.

There are two flying chaffinches for the price of one today to please Dropscone who likes a bargain.

chaffinches

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