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Life in the slow lane

Today’s guest picture shows one of the ponds in Parliament Hill Fields.  It was taken by my sister Mary who knows a good pond when she sees one.

One of the ponds in Parliament Hill Fields

There was rain in the night but we woke to a quiet, grey and dry day.  After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in church and I retired back to bed for some additional snoozing.  I got up again in time for her return and we had a cup of coffee.  That was the most exciting moment of the morning.

As I was looking for a quiet time, it was lucky that I had a large and extremely complicated Bank Holiday prize crossword to occupy me and I spent many hours during the day looking at it and not putting any answers in.

As far as I can remember, I didn’t do anything requiring actual physical endeavour until I went out into the garden to do a little dead heading and snapping just before four o’clock.

There were no coloured butterflies to be seen but the subdued light made a white butterfly easier to photograph.

white butterfly

While I  was out, the sun broke through and one of our blackbirds warmed up its behind on the roof of our neighbour’s shed.

blackbird on shed roof

The weather got to be so nice that I went for a walk.  I asked Mrs Tootlepedal if she would like to come to but she had been very busy wielding a pick axe in the process of uprooting a large fern so she was more ready for a sit down than a stroll.

The Esk looked very pretty in the sunshine when I walked along Elizabeth Street…

River esk and Town Bridge

…and once again, there were wagtails on every side.

wagtails

I walked on over the bridge and sat down on a bench to enjoy a nougat wafer from Pelosi’s ice cream van on the Kilngreen.  I was hoping to see some duck or gull action but they were not in a co-operative mood so I walked up the road, stopping to admire a  good looking St John’s Wort …

St John's Wort

…and then took the track up the hill from Whitshiels.

I kept an eye out for fungi as I walked through the woods…

fungi

…and looked at the view when I got out on the hillside.

Ewes valley

It is a view that I never tire of looking at.

As well as the hills, there was a big sky to look at too.

Ewes sky

I went up the hill past my favourite three trees.

Hollow tree

They are hollow, they have holes underneath them, they look old and rickety and they have healthy branches and leaves.  They are a model to old people just to keep going in spite of everything.

I kept going.

The open hill was sprinkled with tiny yellow flowers.

tiny yellow flowers

In spite of the overnight rain, the going was very good underfoot and when I reached the Newcastleton road, I went straight across and followed a track leading onto Whita.   I thought of climbing up to the monument but it seemed a step too far so I contoured round the hill and joined another  track leading down to the top of the golf course.

A buzzard circled high above my head…

buzzard

…and the town lay tucked in among the hills below me.

Langholm from Whita

It was a good day to be out walking, warm but not too hot and nearly windless.

When I got to the golf course, I walked down the Kirk Wynd, hoping to find interesting things to look at and brambles to pick.  There was plenty to see but the brambles were far from ripe.

bee and bramble

Kirk Wynd

I had a look at the golf course, as I always enjoy the sight of so much carefully mown grass.

Langholm Golf Club

The short ninth hole

There were a couple of golfers about to play the hole so I didn’t linger and pausing for one last look at the view…

Timpen from the Kirk Wynd

…I walked down into the town and made my way home.

Without looking at it very closely, I had bought a fillet of smoked fish yesterday when we were in Carlisle.  It was described as River Cobbler and seemed very cheap.  When I looked at the label properly today, I found to my amazement that it was a piece of farmed fish imported from Vietnam.   I had never heard of this fish before but I find that it is a species of catfish and has been the subject of trade wars between Vietnam and the USA. It has been been passed off as cod in certain fish and chip shops in the UK.  Sometimes I feel that the world is passing me by.

I used it in a kedgeree which I made for my tea and while it was edible, it wasn’t something that I will look for again.

The flower of the day is one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s many dahlias….

dahlia

…and the (just) flying bird is one of the many riverside wagtails.

wagtail

 

 

 

From point to point

Today’s guest picture shows a gardener hard at work in Queen Mary’s garden in Regent’s Park.  He was spotted by my sister Mary.

Gardener hard at work in Queen Mary's garden

We had another beautiful day today and the present weather has certainly made up for the gloomy spell last week.  Owing to failing to go to bed at a sensible time yesterday, we were both a little tired and took the morning very gently.

I had a chance to look at some pairs of things in the garden, both winged….

bees and butterflies

…and petalled.

poppies and dahlias

There were insects everywhere and especially on the red astrantia.

astrantia

Mrs Tootlepedal is very happy about the Michaelmas daisies coming out as the cornflowers begin to fade in the bed on the edge of the drying green…..

cornflowers and daisies

…although this was almost by chance rather than deeply planned.

I was very happy to see a blackbird thinking about rowan berries….

blackbird

..and finally taking a nibble.

blackbird

Pity about the twig that got in the way of the shot.

Still, another blackbird gave me a second chance.

blackbird with rowan berry

We gathered ourselves together about midday and drove off to Carlisle to do some shopping for things that cannot be found in Langholm.  I packed the fairly speedy bike in the boot and after we had filled the shopping bags, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to drive home via a garden centre and set off to cycle home.  It was a treat not to have to cycle round in a circle as I do when I set off from home.

To make the ride more interesting, I started off by going to the south,  taking the bike path beside the river  down to Dalston.  It is a very pleasant path to ride, with a good surface for almost all of the way.  I feared that it might be a slow business with pedestrians, other cyclists and dog walkers to negotiate but in the event, there were not too many other users and such dogs as I encountered were very well behaved.

From Dalston, I travelled across country, passing the 11th century church of St Giles on my way…

St Giles

… to the Carlisle by-pass.  My eye was caught by some brilliant rose hips at one of the roundabouts.

rose hips

The by-pass has an excellent cycle path alongside it and with the wind mostly behind me, I was soon at the village of Rockcliffe, where I stopped for a moment to walk across a grassy patch to the banks of the River Eden just before it flows into the Solway Firth.

River Eden at Rockliffe

The gap in the trees along the right bank has been made to allow the owners of the house on the bank an uninterrupted view of the river.

This was my view straight across the river.

River Eden at Rockliffe

Looking around me, I could see that the church at Rockliffe has been sensibly placed up on a bank to avoid the possibility of being flooded…

Rockliffe

….and the road edge has been marked off with prettily decorated blocks to discourage motorists from driving on to what might be very soggy grass at some times of the year.

This is a spot well used to floods.

I pedalled on to Gretna where I paused for a banana and a look at what wild flowers were still about.

wild flowers near Gretna

As I cycled up the back roads from Longtown to Langholm, I was able to enjoy the early autumnal views of golden fields near Englishtown…

Fields near Englishtown

…and a fine view of a heathery Whita seen from Tarcoon.

Whita

It was a grand day to be out but the downside of having the wind mostly behind me was that I wasn’t getting much cooling from the breeze and with the temperature in the sun being in the high 20s, I was well cooked by the time that I got home after 40 miles.

I didn’t have long to recover before it was time for tea.  We have quite a lot of courgettes in the vegetable garden and Mrs Tootlepedal had been able to buy some polenta in Carlisle so she made some courgette fritters with polenta and feta to go with a beef stew which I had made for the slow cooker before we went to Carlisle.  If you have a glut of courgettes, I can thoroughly recommend fritters with polenta and feta as a way of using them up.  They were delicious.

In the evening, we went to see our local youth theatre group perform Bugsy Malone at the Buccleuch Centre.   We are very fortunate that this group has worked hard at producing a steady stream of local youngster who can sing and act remarkably well and they made a very good effort at trying to make us forget the film.

The flower of the day is the lobelia which looks better all the time….

Lobelia

…and I even found a rather fuzzy flying bird in the garden when a sparrow flew off a compost bin to join the rest of its family on a nearby shed roof.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

Getting the wind up

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who is on an elephant hunt in Sheffield.

Sheffield elephant

We had another lovely day today, with wall to wall sunshine accompanied by gentle temperatures ideal for those who don’t do too well in the heat.  The only fly in the ointment was a brisk and bullying wind  which put any thoughts of cycling out of my mind.

I was quite happy about this in one way, as it let me sample the traditional Friday treacle scone couriered in by Dropscone on his bike while taking a short break from his incessant golfing activity.  He joined me for coffee while we disposed of the scones. They were very good.

When he left, I went out into the garden and enjoyed the sight of butterflies hanging on to wildly waving buddleias for dear life.

peacock and red admiral butterflies

I was amazed that they had the strength to hold on.

After the usual dead heading, I set about compost Bin D with a view to sieving as much of it as I could over today and tomorrow because the constant activity of Attila the Gardener over the past weeks has meant that Bin A is full to overflowing and a transfer process needs to be put into motion very soon.

Luckily, the compost is in good condition and sieves well so I made good progress both before and after lunch.  Our robin took a close interest in the garden activities.

robin

Mrs Tootlepedal dug up a couple of potato plants and the robin took advantage of this…

robin

…checking to see if we had any objection to worm hunting.

After I had done enough sieving, I had a wander round the garden clipping off all the hosta flowers which are now over, leaving just a set of new white ones under the plum tree.

hosta

The plums are looking very good and supplying us with a steady stream of ripe fruit to eat….

plums and golden syllabub rose

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has been cosseting the Golden Syllabub rose with good results.

At the other end of the garden the curiously named lobelia is also doing very well.

lobelia siphilitica

The warm sunshine had encouraged enough grass to grow to make it worth mowing the front and middle lawns for the second day running.  Mrs Tootlepedal was impressed by the amount of grass that came off as she thought that perhaps I was wasting my time. Regular mowing works wonders though and both the lawns are looking good.

We sat for a while on a bench in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and feeling that life wasn’t too bad at all and then after a cup of tea and a biscuit, I went off for a short walk.

I took a familiar route down by the river and enjoyed the large number of wagtails that were flitting about over the water or standing on rocks on the shore.

wagtails

I crossed the Town Bridge and came upon bigger birds flying along the Ewes Water at the Kilngreen.

herring gull

A herring gull going

Black headed gull

A black headed gull arriving

I looked in vain for any oyster catchers but they seem to have moved on, probably fed up by being harassed by paparazzi.

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks, keeping an eye out for fungus.  One of the conifers that is being felled had many fungi growing in its cracks and crevices.

fungus on Lodge Walks conifer

I think that perhaps the number of trees that blew over in last winter’s gales have made the estate keep a close eye on the health of their woodlands.  The Lodge Walks are much used by both cars and walkers and although only the Sawmill Bridge got slightly damaged by falling trees last winter, there might easily have been a worse outcome.

Felled tree on castleholm

In the picture above you can see the remains of another felled tree on the Castleholm but there are also several little fenced enclosures where new trees have been planted to replace the ones that are gone.  The enclosure will protect the trees from grazing sheep.

As I strolled on, I stopped to take pictures of the three different heads on a single umbellifer…

umbellifer

…a selection of berries….

snowberry and hawthorn

…and another set of aged fungus high in a tree.

fungus at the Lodge

It was a beautiful evening and the wind had begun to calm down a bit so it was a great pleasure to be out and about.

View from the Lodge

At one stage, I thought that the path I was following was covered by a thick carpet of fallen leaves.  This seemed strange as the trees round about still had leaves on them but a close look revealed that they were not leaves at all but probably the wings of lime trees carrying the seeds to the ground.

lime tree wings

I got home to be greeted by a trio of starlings sitting on the wires above the garden.

starlings

Considering that they were within a few feet of each other and I stood in the same place to take all three pictures, it is odd how different the sky looks in each portrait.

Mrs Tootlepedal made good use of the plum tree’s bounty for tea and we enjoyed a pudding of baked plums on toast, glazed with sugar and butter, made in the oven and topped off with some custard.  Delicious.

In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison and Alison and I enjoyed ourselves playing flute and keyboard pieces in a somewhat haphazard but always enjoyable manner.

The flower of the day is a very fine small fuchsia which Mrs Tootlepedal bought for me at the Gardener’s World show in Birmingham earlier this summer…

Fuchsia

…and the flying bird is a black headed gull.

black headed gull

Put out to grass

Today’s guest picture is another from the Menger family’s Highland meander.  It shows the daughter of the house holding a cushion starfish which they met on on a fishing trip they took from Islonia, an island kingdom near Gairloch.

cushion starfish

For the second day running, I was acting as a relief feeder filler for the Moorland Feeders as for the second day running, the designated feeder filler had made a break for Edinburgh. The astute reader may notice a pattern here and it is probably connected with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me today and for the second day running, the bird hide was occupied when I got here. Fortunately on this occasion, the family left the hide shortly after I had finished filling the feeders and I was able to settle down to watch the birds while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for raptors from the comfort of the car.

She saw one bird of prey briefly but I saw a lot of small birds.  Among them were…

chaffinch

A chaffinch

four siskins

Four siskins

Great tit and robin

A great tit and a robin

blue tit

A blue tit (which came and went at speed)

tits on feeder

Two great tits and a coal tit

pheasant

A pheasant

woodpecker

And a woodpecker

In fact for almost the whole time that we were there, there was at least one woodpecker on each side of the clearing.

woodpeckers

The only time when I wasn’t watching birds was when Mrs Tootlepedal’s raptor flew over the clearing and the small birds cleared off.  They soon came back though.

We got home just in time for coffee but the rest of the morning was wasted on the phone as a result of an email from my internet provider telling me that they were “upgrading my service by removing my email provision”.  Some one should be arrested for this act of violence against the English language.

However, several phone calls later, I got my email account reinstated for a price which means that I will reluctantly after many years as a loyal customer move to another provider.  The nice lady on the phone assured me that the decision to remove my email facility without notice had been a commercial one.  What a surprise.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I made and ate some potato soup for my lunch.  Then I settled down to some work in the garden.

I started with a little compost sieving to warm up and followed up by mowing the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle lawn and the front lawn in that order.  In actual mowing time, this is not a long job but once getting out the different mowers required, pausing for heavy breathing, sitting down for a rest and just standing at the end of a row and looking around vacantly have been factored in, the job took most of the afternoon.

I did find time for a shopping trip to the High Street to acquire more coffee beans and two nectarines.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had considered the poppies in the garden during the day and we were struck by how various they are in colour and design.

poppies

poppies

poppies

Although they may look superficially alike, a closer look reveals all sorts of subtle differences.

The Rosa Wren is doing very well and comes up with a fresh replacement as each bloom fades.  It is hard to believe that these two flowers are from the same stem.

Rosa Wren

I made a visit to our corner shop after I had finished the mowing and purchased a smoked sausage, a pepper and some mushrooms and then with the help of an onion from the garden made them into a risotto for my tea.  It went down well.

In the evening, Susan appeared and gave me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle for our first play for several weeks.  Considering that we were all a bit rusty, we played well and enjoyed a varied selection of music from Hindemith and Gershwin to Palestrina and Farnaby with others in between.

Susan got us back to Langholm at exactly the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Edinburgh and as she had enjoyed her visit a lot, we sat down to watch the highlights of another interesting stage of the Vuelta in a very good mood.

The light in the morning wasn’t good enough to let me catch a flying bird at the Moorland feeders so once again, a flower of the day is all I have to offer.  But what a flower it is.

pink poppy

Getting about

Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She is on a family meander around the Highlands and sent me this picture of the village of Penman where they are staying.  The village will be familiar to anyone who has seen the film ‘Local Hero’.

Penman

The forecast was quite right and we had a wonderfully sunny day today with the added bonus that it was not too hot for most of the time.  Perfect.

I had big plans for the day which would begin with a visit to fill the Moorland feeders as the regular Wednesday feeder fillers were off to Edinburgh, followed by an interesting time in the bird hide getting great woodpecker pictures.

This part of the plan didn’t go so well.  I got up in nice time to fill the feeders but found that two bird watchers had already filled up the hide with themselves and their equipment.  Two’s company and three’s a crowd so I filled the feeders and came home a bit grumpily.

A butterfly on the buddleia cheered me up.

peacock butterfly

…and I spotted a dunnock on the plum tree from my own bird hide (the kitchen window).

_DSC6123.jpg

In spite of the sunshine it was pleasantly cool but some birds seemed to be feeling the heat all the same.

blackbird

The second part of my grand plan was to leap on my fairly speedy bike and bicycle miles and miles.  I secretly had 100 miles in my mind but once again a certain disinclination to get myself organised was manifest and by the time that I got going (after a crossword, some coffee and a bit of toast, it was nearly eleven o’clock so I changed my ambitions from imperial to metrical and settled for trying to do more than 100 kilometres.

This went well.

Although I used mostly familiar roads, I managed to pick out a route that I hadn’t been round before and even included a few miles on a completely new road.

As I went along, there were always interested spectators…

sheep at Eaglesfield

…and fine bridges.

River Annan at Brydekirk

The River Annan at Brydekirk

As I was snapping the bridge, I noticed a luscious crop of unpicked blackberries…

brambles

…but sadly their survival was down to the fact that they were out of reach down the river bank.

Brydekirk is a typical village with a pub at one end of the street and a church at the other.   This was just one of the many churches which I passed on my journey.

church at Brydekirk, Dalston and Mousewald

These are churches at Dalston, Brydekirk and Mousewald

There were some big skies when I got out of the hills.

big sky at dalston

This one was taken at the spot where the vapour trails show that airliners turn left for America.

My new stretch of road involved climbing a stiff hill out of Dalston.  When I got to the top I came to an unexpected junction and stopped to consult Google Maps on my phone.  As it happened, I stopped opposite a patch of wild flowers which was playing host to about twenty butterflies.  Trying to take pictures of very small fluttering objects with bright sun shining onto the viewing screen, wearing dark glasses and just having cycled up a steep hill may explain my inability to bring you this wonderful sight in all its beauty.

butterflies near dalston

This was the best that I could do

The ridge gave me some good views while I was up there.

Views of Nith valley

Google maps came up trumps and I soon swooped down the other side of the hill and crossed the very busy A75 at a suitable crossroads.  I was not following a very well used road…

road near Mousewald

…but it took me safely down to Mousewald and thence on to Powfoot on the Solway shore.

I passed a field of alpacas near Powfoot and noticed that there were a couple of donkeys in with them.

alpacas and donkey at Powfoot

When I got to the sea shore at Powfoot, the sea was a long way off…

Powfoot view

…but I could see the English side very well.

Out on the sand banks, there was a family vainly trying to get a paddle…

Powfoot view

…and beside me was a very colourful lichen.

lichen at powfoot

The light wind was behind me now as I pedalled through Annan and on to Gretna where I stopped at the Old Toll Bar for a cup of tea and a teacake.  To my surprise, I met another Langholm cyclist who had also stopped there on his ride.   We sat and chatted for a while and discovered that we were doing roughly the same distance but in completely different directions, his route having taken him south of Carlisle.  He was going quite a lot faster than me too.

I polished off my teacake and set off to add an eight mile loop to my route to Longtown which took me through this woody tunnel near Justicetown.

Justicetown road

Once I got to Longtown, I took the straight way up the main road back to Langholm, stopping only to note some fine daisies on the Canonbie bypass…

daisies

…and a daddy long legs on a bollard beside the road.

daddy long legs

It had got quite hot for the last few miles of the trip and I was glad to  get home and sit down in the cool of the kitchen and have another cup of tea.  Although I had eaten well, two bananas, a filled roll and a teacake and drunk well too, three water bottles and a cup of tea, I had managed to lose a kilogram on the ride so it must have been a bit warmer than it felt.

Those interested in the details of the ride can click on the map as usual.

Garmin Route 24 Aug 2016

On a rough calculation, 71 miles translates into 113 kilometres so I did achieve Plan B at least.

It was still a beautiful evening after I had had my shower so a brief walk round the garden was in order.  There were more butterflies there.

butterfly

It is wonderful what a bit of sunshine will do.

Strangely enough, I didn’t really feel like going on a flying bird walk for some reason so a Golden Syllabub rose, held up by my lovely assistant, will have to do as flower of the day instead.

Golden Syllabub rose

 

 

A day of contrasts

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.

nasturtiums

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’

Bentpath

Bentpath

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..

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.

swallows

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

cardoon

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

 

 

 

A tootle but no pedal

Today’s guest picture shows Matilda contemplating a possible friend whom she met at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh.

Matilda at Jupiter Artland

It was raining again when we got up this morning but by the time that I set for the High Street to visit the Archive Centre and then go to take my turn offering information to visitors, the rain had stopped.

The tourist information has been relocated to a prime spot in the Market Place and is both more comfortable for the volunteers and more accessible and obvious to visitors so my two hours passed by pleasantly enough and I even gave useful information to several visitors.

I had intended when I got home to do some dead heading, have some lunch, mow a lawn or two and shoot off for a cycle ride but I was absolutely overcome by lassitude for no particular reason and only managed a little dead heading, a single lawn and no cycling at all.

I didn’t even take many pictures.  This was partly because I was tired and partly because the sun refused to come out until the evening and partly because there wasn’t anything new in the garden.  I did take one or two though.

cosmos

The cosmos conitnue to show the benefits of the dead heading

poppy and insects

The drier weather had brought some insects back out

There was only one fleeting glimpse of a coloured butterfly although there were quite a lot of white ones about.

two spot white butterfly

I summoned up enough energy to sieve some compost and whatever else you can say about our weather this year, I have to admit that it has been very suitable for the compost which is maturing at a good speed.

Mike Tinker came round for a cup of tea and he told me that the possible salvia which appeared on the blog a few days ago….

lobelia

…is definitely a lobelia siphilitica.   So that is one up to him and the New Hampshire Gardener.  The curious name is based on the fact that it was thought to be a cure for syphilis.  As it seems to be poisonous this might be a cure of the ‘kill or cure’ variety.

After he left, I took the slow bike out on a fruitless search for interesting birds by the river.  They were very scarce to the point of invisibility.

herring gull

A non flying herring gull stayed firmly rooted to its rock until I gave up and moved on.

I was reduced to taking a picture of a slug….

slug

…which was feeding on a huge fungus at the roots of one of the beech trees which is going to be felled on the Lodge walks.

When I got home, I noticed that the nigella seems to be getting ever pinker.

Nigella

I find that these flowers are called Love in a Mist and I can see why in a way but what the octopus is doing there, I can’t imagine.

Just as it was time for me to go in and get my tea, the sun came out and kissed its favourite flower.

sunflower

After tea, I was too busy to take advantage of the good weather as I had arranged for Mike and Isabel to come round and provide a harpsichord and cello  accompaniment for Luke and me as we played our Loeillet trio sonata.  This was great fun and Luke played really well and we got through all four movements in fine style.

When Luke left, Mike and Isabel stayed on and we played a Quantz trio sonata, a couple of Handel recorder sonatas, had a guided tour round the garden and finished off with a bit of Mozart.

Although I was still very tired and didn’t play at my best, we enjoyed ourselves as usual.

I was sorry not to be able to find a flying bird today but the arrival of a second paper white poppy makes up for it. The sun came out just in time for me to catch it at its best.

white poppy

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