Today’s guest picture, sent by my sister Mary, shows Mr Grumpy’s London cousin trying to pass himself off as a swan or goose at the Serpentine.

Mr Grumpy's cousin, pretending to be a swan or goose.We were threatened with rain today but in the end it didn’t arrive until the evening and we had a dry, cool day instead.  I had to begin the day with business relating to the photo exhibition and that took me until coffee time,

After coffee, I did a little bird watching.  The bright but sunless day made the light ideal for portraits both on the feeder…

sparrow and goldfinch…and in the plum tree.

blackbird and dunnockA blackbird posed on the chimney pot.

blackbirdSoon though, Mrs Tootlepedal, our daughter Annie and I set off for the Moorland bird hide in the hope of seeing some interesting birds and its living roof.  We saw the roof….

Laverock bird hide

Tricky to get a mower up there.

….but we hardly saw any birds let alone any interesting ones.  My daughter took a picture of the bug hide….

Annie…as she is going to build one in London.

We stopped looking for birds and explored some of the other things to see near the hide.

slow worm

A slow worm

tiny plant

A tiny plant, possibly some sort of nettle.


And a really good show of orchids.

We decided to go along the road a bit further and see if the wild irises were out in the marshy meadow beside the Tarras Water.

MeadowThere were very few irises to be seen and the ones that were there were too far into the boggy bits for us to get near.  There was plenty of other interest though, as we walked through the long grass.

There was the grass itself….

long grass…ragged robin….

ragged robin…more orchids…

orchids…and quite a lot of hard to shoot butterflies.

butterfliesI finally got a better shot of one of the butterflies just as we got back to the car.

ringlet butterfly

It is a ringlet butterfly

We paused at the bird hide on the way back and were pleased to get a passing glimpse of a woodpecker.  In spite of the lack of interesting birds, the walk through the meadow and been quite good enough to make the outing a success.

We got back in time for lunch and a walk round the garden.

The Wren and Lilian Austin, one on each side of the path at the back of the front lawn, compete to see which is the most beautiful.

Lilian Austin, The WrenThe bees found the Gallica Complicata more attractive than either.

bee on rose

For lovers of Edith Piaf’s music, there might be an echo in the thought of a bee on rose.

A fresh rose, Rosa Mundi has come to join the gang.

rosamundiI like the Goldfinch because it starts out white and turns yellow giving me two roses for the price of one.

rosa GoldfinchThe clematis which I showed gently unfurling recently, has now completed the job.


It was worth the wait.

The afternoon drifted away with Mrs Tootlepedal cooking and me watching the tennis with Annie. I stirred myself up enough to mow the middle lawn and sieve some compost and then my flute pupil Luke came.  I had worried about his ability to count the beats well after last week’s lesson and had spoken sternly to him about the need to do something about this.  He had done something and amazingly (and very satisfactorily) came back this week with his foot tapping in rhythm and the notes played in the right place and at the right pace.  He must have practised really well.

My friend Mike, the usual Monday night cellist in our trio, had other business tonight so after tea, Annie and I packed up a couple of recorders and three trio sonatas by Boismortier, Daniel Purcell and William  Williams and went off to play with Isabel.  Annie hasn’t played for some time but we puffed away while Isabel sight read the keyboard parts and had a delightful time.  We kept the tempos steady and by and large not only started at the the same time but finished at the same time too.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch keeping its hands where we can see them.

flying goldfinch

Showing up

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

Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother Andrew who was visiting Uttoxeter.  He is working his way back to fitness after a health setback and instead of climbing big hills, he is lurking in the lowlands at present…..and not visiting hostelries, however attractive.

UttoxeterWe had a day with no engagements in the diary at all and I was helped in a scheme of utter idleness by a wet and gloomy morning.  I did manage to summon up the energy to get up to the High Street to order more bird food and I returned by the monthly Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre.  I returned home laden with fish,  good cheese and the first honey of the new season from a bee-keeper in Eskdalemuir.  She told me that it was mostly based on hawthorn blossom.  It tastes delicious.

As I had been out cycling at coffee time yesterday, Dropscone kindly arranged to make some Friday treacle scones although it was Saturday and we enjoyed them with some Peruvian coffee when he brought them round.

Apart from a little gardening activity from time to time as the weather improved,  I did nothing that took me more than forty yards from my easy chair for the rest of the day.  I would have gone for a relaxing pedal in the afternoon sunshine if it hadn’t been accompanied by a 25 mph wind.

I picked up my camera often enough to catch a bird or two.


A pigeon looking strangely out of place in the plum tree


A very fluffy looking greenfinch thinking about things

I read in the paper that blue tits have had a disastrous breeding year in Scotland this year so I was pleased to see a couple on the feeder even if I haven’t seen any young.

blue titsThe sun drew me out of my chair and into the garden from time to time and there was lots to enjoy.  There had been heavy rain overnight but the flowers by and large had taken no hurt.  Even the tall delphiniums were still standing up proudly.

delphiniumsIn spite of its demure appearance, each delicate blue flower has a snarling tiger at its heart.

delphiniumsI missed out the roses today and instead looked closely at some other flowers.


A clematis gradually unfurling


Several campanulas are out


The ornamental white clover conceals an interesting interior

poppy seed head

A poppy seed head with additional sparkle

As we are getting nearer to the Common Riding, the sound of horses hooves can often be heard on our street.

Jock Corrie

Jock gave us a cheerful wave as he passed.

I did a little compost sieving and almost as soon as I had finished, Mrs Tootlepedal had dug it in to a flower bed where she had removed some surplus daisies and planted some cosmos.

The day got better (apart from the wind) as it went on and it was very pleasant watching Mrs Tootlepedal toiling away.  A new Philadelphus has come out with flowers as big as roses on it.

philadelphusI had to ask Mrs Tootlepedal what this decorative plant is called.

heucheraShe tells me that it is a Heuchera.


The tiny flowers on a spirea reveal considerable co0mplexity in a close up.

A lone knapweed has come out, far ahead of the rest of the flowers in the clump.


I am hoping to get some good insect shots when the others arrive as insects love knapweed.


Nearby a stachys puts in a claim as hairiest plant in the garden.

The peonies have survived the rain very well….

peony…but since I learned on a TV programme tonight that they are from the Himalaya regon, I suppose that this should not be surprising.  The coral peonies have gone over leaving a stand of seed heads looking for all the world like a small flock of baffled chickens.

peonyDuring the day, two more photographers brought round pictures for our exhibition and I will take them all up to Eskdalemuir tomorrow and see how many I can fit into the exhibition space.  I think that a system of rotation will have to be devised.

It was good to have a relaxing day.  I couldn’t choose between these two flying siskins so they are jointly the flying bird of the day today.

flying siskins

Concerted action

Today’s guest picture was taken on a sunny evening in Spain by my neighbour Liz, who was on holiday there last month.

SpainWe were back to the fine warm weather here again today and I managed to get out on my fairly speedy bike before it got too hot.  It was not as early as I had planned but at least it was before coffee time.

I was in gentle mode as I was testing out my joints after putting my foot in in it at the weekend and I am happy to report that all went well and I lasted the twenty miles without crying.  Although the colour has largely gone out of the verges there are still splashes here and there.

Birds foot trefoil

Bird’s foot trefoil on Callister

daisies near Waterbeck

Daisies near Waterbeck

I was on the hunt for orchids and finally found a couple on the road to Gair.

orchidorchidThere was a lot of vetch among the hedges too.

vetchThe oddest thing that I saw was a portion of hedge wrapped up in a fine web.  I think that this is a moth at work.

webbed hedgeMrs Tootlepedal had been out for a coffee and chat with ex colleagues from work and we both got home about the same time.

Naturally we walked round the garden.  We were both pleased to see that the potatoes are flowering at last.

potatoesI did a quick rose round up.

gallica, moyesii and jacobite

Gallica, Moyesii and Jacobite

burnet, goldfinch and ginger syllabub

Scotch Burnet, Goldfinch and Ginger Syllabub

There are still more to come out.

After lunch, I did some mowing and dead heading while Mrs Tootlepedal took out some flag irises and consigned them to the compost heap.  They were too prone to falling over to be good value where they were in an exposed position.

It was too hot to be out for long so I retired from time to time to watch the tennis.

Although I didn’t spend much time bird watching, I couldn’t miss the basking blackbird on the lawn….

blackbird…and a charming goldfinch on the feeder…

goldfinch…though I had to look twice to spot this greenfinch hidden among the plum tree leaves.

greenfinchThe main business of the day was a concert for our recorder group in the evening so I spent some time practising the pieces and some time writing a little introduction to them, as I am spokesman for the group when we play.

After a light tea, we went to pick up Susan and headed twenty five miles south to the little 18th century church in Hayton.

Hayton ChurchIt was a handsome building but too closely surrounded by the village to let me get a good shot of it with my phone.  We were putting two ten minute spots into each half of a program of choral singing by the Brampton Chamber Choir. The church was quite small but it turned out to be the best venue that we have played in with this choir.  It has a raised chamber to one side of the body of the church…

Hayton Church

In days gone by, it was entered through this separate door but now there is a staircase up from inside.

…and we were able to set up shop there like minstrels in a gallery.  The light was  very good and there was enough space so that we could set our chairs out in a semi circle and see and hear ourselves as we played.  As a bonus, we didn’t have to move away when the choir sang.  This all made for a very comfortable evening and we played pretty well with only one or two moments of anguish.

The choir sang a selection of English part songs from Tallis to Elgar and I enjoyed their work a lot.  Add in a beautiful sunset as we drove back to Langholm and the whole excursion was thoroughly worthwhile.

Mrs Tootlepedal calculated that she personally constituted 4% of the audience so it was one of those concerts when the question of whether the audience outnumbered the participants was moot.

Owing to all the garden activity through the day, catching a flying bird was hard and I have had to settle for the nightly flocking of the rooks above the roofs of the town in the late evening when we got back from the concert.



Today’s guest picture was taken by Dropscone’s sister Liz and was sent to me by Gavin.  They are on a group walking holiday in Norfolk and this picture was taken on one of their walks.

Norfolk churchWe did have a marked drop in temperature today which was a relief after the very hot weather wafted up from the continent on the previous two days.  It meant that I could stop shrugging my shoulders in an expressive way and eating lasagne.

The change in the weather had followed a very fine thunderstorm with remarkable lightning effects which had played out as I went to bed last night.   The storm was all around us but not right overhead so the rolling rumble of thunder went on without any large cracks but also without pausing for what seem like forever but was probably about fifteen minutes.  The whole sky was alive with flashes of light but with no forked lightning to be seen.  It was an eerie experience.  I did think of going to get a camera to video the scene but in the end settled for enjoying the spectacle rather than worrying about how best to record it.

All was quiet in the morning and we hadn’t even had any heavy rain.  The temperature was down 9 degrees C.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day at a big meeting of her driving for the disabled group which was celebrating its thirtieth anniversary so I was left to fend for myself.

I naturally took a stroll round the garden before I did anything else.  The age of the azalea is over and we are entering the realm of the rose with more appearing every day.



Jacobite rose

A Jacobite rose

And the ones already out are doing their best not to be overshadowed.

MargaretaLilianOther flowers are available too.

drumstick primulas

The drumstick primulas look daintier every day.


Another iris has joined in the fun


The peonies are thriving


And the Nectaroscordum seem to be enjoying life too.

Sandy came round for coffee which and reported that the living roof of the bird hide at the Moorland feeders is a riot of colour.  He also reported that the midges were so bad when he went to fill the feeders that he hadn’t stopped a moment longer than he had to.  I shall have to choose a time to view the roof carefully.

After he left, I buckled down and put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  Sadly there was no mention of performing Mexican donkeys in these issues.

After a light lunch, I sieved a barrow load of compost and then succumbed to the lure of the tennis for a while.  I did get out from time to time.  I was mugged by another rose.

rosa gallica complicata

The very simple rosa gallica complicata

The Sweet Williams planted and grown on by Mrs Tootlepedal come in a dazzling variety of colours.

sweet williamsI like the more subdued delights of the fancy onion and clover that she has at the other end of the lawn.

allium and cloverIt was a day that seemed to threaten rain without delivering it so I thought that I would test my joints on a little cycle ride.  I got the slow bike out and put a rain jacket in the bag just in case and set off to see how far I could get before either my leg started to hurt or it started to rain.  In the event, my leg felt pretty good but I didn’t get far before the rain came on.

I was looking  for orchids in the verges but didn’t see any.  There were some prominent flowers….

wild flowers…but we have mostly entered the age of grass.

grassesLike everything, the grasses look more interesting than you might think when you take a closer look.  There are lots of different sorts but the drizzle had started so I just looked at three of them.

grassesI don’t know anything about grass so the two on the right may not even be grasses but they looked quite grassy to me.

By the time that I got home, after a feeble two and  half mile journey, the rain stopped of course.  However as my ankle felt pretty good, I decided not to push my luck by going out again and Mrs Tootlepedal came back shortly after me and we had a cup of tea.

She told me that the new yellow iris sibirica that has just come out is called Butter and Sugar and you can see how it got its name.

Butter and sugar irisWhile we were sipping our tea, we were visited by Mike Tinker and after chatting to him, I went to work on my photos for the day.  While I was working, another of our camera club members arrived with his pictures for the exhibition and we are now fully stocked.

During the day, I had looked out of the kitchen window from time to time but in spite of a few brighter moments, generally the cloud was very thick and it wasn’t the best day for bird shots.

tetchy mood at the feeder

The sparrows were a bit tetchy


  Mike tells me that the collective noun for goldfinches is ‘a charm’.   That seems right.

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre with Sandy and we put another two weeks of the index into the database.  The data miners are working relentlessly though and I haven’t made a dent in the backlog at all.  I blame the flowers in the garden for distracting me.

The flying bird of the day is a bit of a fuzzy cheat but I liked the attitude of the siskin to the incoming sparrow.

siskin and sparrow

Feeling the heat

Today’s picture, sent to me by her mother Clare, shows Matilda adopting the only possible solution to coping with  some unusually warm weather in Edinburgh by sitting in a frying pan.

MatildaIt was 28°C here today, which coming after the many recent weeks of 13°C was both surprising and a little hard to take.  Still the promised thunderstorms didn’t arrive so the warmth was very welcome for the garden and the flowers appreciated it.  A quick look at the forecast shows a ten degree crash in the temperature tomorrow followed by more normal summer weather for us (wet and windy with occasional sunshine).

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit TWGSP and I took a walk round the garden.  (My various joints are almost back to normal but I thought that morning cycling might be a step too far if you see what I mean.)


The garden is full of blackbirds posing.

It was delightfully sunny and the flowers were positively glowing.

crown princess margareta

Crown Princess Margareta


An unusual colour for a foxglove.

Lilian Austin

The Lilian Austin rose has burst out with flowers on every side

I like the way that this rose changes colour from deep red to pale pink as it ages.

Lilian Austin

You can see all three stages in this picture

Mixed in with the flamboyant colours are more restrained tones.

lupin and clover

Lupin and clover

The Rosa Gallica Complicata flowers are appearing and insects were rolling in the pollen.

rosa gallica ComplicataI preferred a quieter contemplation.

rosa gallica ComplicataThe delphinium by the greenhouse has grown.

delphiniumThe tallest spike is well above my reach, even when I stand on tiptoe.

I was just admiring the perennial nasturtium (tropaeolum) which lives in the yew….

tropaeolum…when Dropscone arrived bearing scones.

He had got up early and cycled before the day had got too hot.

We enjoyed a cup of coffee and I sympathised with him over some unfortunate moments which had spoiled otherwise promising recent rounds of golf.  It is very frustrating when things don’t go as you wish on the golf course.  I can remember Mrs Tootlepedal asking me, after another bad round in the days when I played a lot, whether I actually enjoyed playing golf.  “Of course I do!” I exclaimed crossly and stumped off to bang my head against a wall.

It was pretty warm by the time that Dropscone left so I stayed in the cool of the house and watched birds through the window.  Chaffinches were concentrating hard as they homed in on the feeder.

ChaffinchesThis was one of a family of dunnocks which came to scavenge for fallen seed.

dunnockAfter lunch, the skies had clouded over and I went out and mowed the middle lawn.  Considering the recent rain and the heat, the growth of the grass is rather disappointing.  I think that it got discouraged in spring and has never really got going this year.

Then  I sharpened up the shears and trimmed one of the hedges between us and our neighbours.  I might have used our electric hedge trimmer but the threat of thunder seemed very real and occasional splashes of rain made it seem unwise to be standing in the open holding live electrical equipment.

I was intending to test out my joints with a short afternoon cycle ride but I got waylaid by some tennis on the telly and the opportunity slipped away.   However, as the joints survived the mowing and the hedge clipping, I regard myself as having fully recovered from putting my foot in the hole.  Three cheers for frozen peas and sensible resting.

I did take the camera out into the garden between matches in the tennis.


One of the big irises is standing up well.

yellow iris

At the other end of the garden the yellow irises are looking gorgeous


The coral peonies are fading to pale pink

Crown princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta had enjoyed the warm day and was at her peak


Even a humble geranium was looking particularly fine.

During the day. two members of our camera group brought round pictures for the forthcoming exhibition and when I get Sandy’s contribution, we will have more than enough to fill the space.

I cycled about 450 miles in June. This was quite satisfactory and I am hoping for enough good cycling weather in July to get up to 500 miles.  If I can do this, I will be back to the sort of monthly distance that I was doing before my knee operation which would be a fitting tribute to the skill of the surgeon.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch making a sudden course adjustment.

flying chaffinch

On the mend

Today’s guest picture comes from my recorder playing friend Susan.  Last week she was in Edinburgh with some of her siblings and took some time out to walk the mile over the Forth Road Bridge to get a good position to photograph the building of the new bridge beside the old one.

Forth Road bridgeIt will be a brief report today as I only managed to start looking at my photograph when it was nearly bedtime.  As a result there will be little text and mostly pictures.

Summary of the day:  Took my sister Susan to Carlisle to catch the train home to London and bought some new frames for my photos while I was there.


Compost sieving and light mowing duties.

Watching tennis on the telly.

Visit from minister to inquire about my well being.

Taken by Susan to Carlisle for final practice of recorder group before concert on Friday.

Astute readers will realise that if I can drive, sieve, mow and play the recorder, my hand and leg are recovering very nicely and although both are still a little swollen, I should be fully recovered very shortly.

It was hot today, well over 20 degrees.  The flowers opened up.  Roses  were attractive to insects.

roses with insectsThe peonies were glorious

peoniespeonyAs were the Sweet William.
sweet williamsweet williamroseAnd some close ups.  Inside one of the pink peonies…

peony…and a lamium.

lamiumThe sun is ripening the fruit.

strawberryI don’t know what effect the moon is having though.

moonIt was a beautiful evening as we drove back from Carlisle.

There was not much bird activity in the heat  but one or two nice poses were on offer.

starlinggoldfinchI didn’t catch a flying bird of the day so all I can say is that this blue tit would have been flying if I had clicked a second later…

blue tit…and this blackbird summed up the weather very well.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,137 other followers