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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland holiday.  He was up above Applecross on the Bealach nam Ba (the pass of the cattle) on the west coast when he got this splendid view.

oznor

It was a fine and warm day here today, the first summer like day of the year and I was lucky to have plenty to do to keep me busy.

I started the morning off by taking Mrs Tootlepedal’s ‘shopping’ bike down to the bike shop to get some maintenance in general, and in particular to get what younger cyclists rather scornfully call the ‘granny gear’ working again.   This is the lowest gear on the bike, useful for climbing the steeper sort of hills even for quite young people and essential for older cyclists.  It hasn’t been working for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal has found steep hills no fun at all.

Leaving the bike to be worked on, I went back to Langholm by way of the Moorland Project bird hide where I was acting as a fill in feeder filler for friends who were away.  I always hope to see a woodpecker or two as a reward for filling the feeders and my hopes were amply fulfilled today.

excellent woodpecker

I drove home in a very cheerful mood.

The garden was in a very cheerful mood too…

six bright garden flowers

…and even the flowers that had gone over were still smiling.

The roses are getting better every day…

six roses

…and I will have to get into full dead heading mode from now on.

Mrs Tootlepedal helped to demonstrate why the flowers that are commonly known as ‘Dutchmen’s Breeks’ are also known as ‘Lady in the Bath’

lady in bath

In return, I lent her a hand at getting some order back into the bed in the vegetable garden which had been squashed by the mini digger when the new electricity pole was put up.

The petrol driven tiller is noisy but hardworking.

tilling the electricity bed

We are supposed to be getting new planks for the sides of the bed from the power company but we are not holding our breath.

I had a little sit down after being pulled this way and that by the tiller and enjoyed the calm colour combination of these flowers while I rested.

colour combo garden

After lunch, I went for a walk with Sandy.  It has been some time since our feet have both been usable and there has been some good weather at the same time so this was a very welcome excursion.  I picked him up in the Zoe and we drove down the recently repaired road to the Tarras Bridge and went for a short walk  along the path beside the river.

I took far too many pictures to show them all here but among the pleasures on display on our walk were numerous different grasses…

three grasses tarras

…of which this one was my favourite.

grass tarras

There were lots of wild flowers beside the path.

wild flowers tarras

And it is always surprising to walk past the section of the river bank which reveals what is under our feet.  There was coal mining in the area for a long time and people have been considering open cast mining quite recently.

coal seams tarras

The plants were attracting other visitors.

There was a bee in clover…

bee on clover tarras

…a painted lady that looked as though it might need a new coat of paint…

painted lady tarras

…and a hoverfly getting stuck into the pollen.

hoverfly tarras

We saw several northern marsh orchids but they were not fully out yet which was disappointing.

young orchid tarras

The hedge roses were in full flower…

hedge rose tarras

…and nettles were being very spiky…

nettle tarras

…but my personal pick of the shots that I took along the way was this one of a bird’s foot trefoil looking gorgeous.

bird's foot trefoil tarras

We drove home and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had just come back from a meeting, and Mike Tinker, who had dropped in to catch up with the news.

When our visitors left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put some time in to raising the roofs on the two pea fortresses.  The peas have grown very well and one sort that claims to grow to 16 inches on the packet is well over three feet.

I haven’t put a picture of the newly enlarged structures into this post to avoid over exciting readers….and it was very difficult to get a good shot anyway.

There was quite a lot of other garden work to be done and when we had finished we had omelettes for tea with new potatoes and turnips from the garden.

As it was still a beautiful day, I went for a 15 mile cycle ride after we had eaten.  Was it a good evening for a cycle ride?  It was.

panorama wauchope road

A ‘click on the pic’ will enlarge the panorama.

I stopped for a chat with an oyster catcher which was standing one legged on a gate post half way up a hill…

oyster catcher wauchope road

… but otherwise, I pedalled steadily along, enjoying the warmth.

There had been a bit too much warmth yesterday in the town where some people had managed to set fire to one of the unused buildings of the old Reid & Taylor’s Mill.

mill fire 2019

It is sad to see vandalism like this in our town and this was the only sight that spoiled an otherwise excellent day.

The bird hide woodpecker makes a re-appearance as the slightly fuzzy but quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying woodpecker

Safely home

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who said that he was quite surprised to find any group of people pulling together in these divided times.

Andrew's rowers

We left the kind hospitality of my sisters behind after breakfast and set off to catch an underground train to Euston Station.  It was still the busy period as people headed for work and we had to let three terrifically crowded trains go past until we found one with enough space to let us squeeze aboard with our cases.  In the days when I was a regular commuter in London 60 years ago, I used to love the hurly-burly and pushing and shoving of city life but now I am not at all anxious to be treated like cattle just to get on a train.

Anyway, we still arrived at the station in plenty of time and were pleased to find that heavy rain showers in the night had not affected our line, although other lines from London had been affected.

Our train left smoothly for the north, but thanks to a signal problem along the way, it arrived in Carlisle just after our bus to Langholm had departed.  With an hour to wait, we were fortunate to find a good quality cream tea at a modest price in the M&S cafe to assuage our grief and pass the hour until the next bus arrived on time and took us home.

When we got off the train at Carlisle Station, I had noticed this reminder of times past waiting on another line.   Heritage railway excursions have become very popular lately.

sdr

It was good to get home and have a walk round the garden and while we were strolling about, we were joined  by our neighbour Liz.  She had also been away and had missed the same bus as us.  She had found a different way to get to Langholm though and we exchanged notes over a restorative cup of tea.

I walked out into the garden with Liz when she left and noticed a great pile of pollen on the ground under the hydrangea on our house wall.  The hydrangea is totally covered with flowers and, naturally enough, bees too.

bee on hydrangea

I checked on Mrs Tootlepedal’s carefully constructed anti bird defences in the vegetable garden.  They had obviously been working well while we had been away, and there were signs of promising fruits…

strawberry

…and flowers to come.

sweet pea

I had a check for new roses and was very pleased to find that Lilian Austin….

Lilian Austin

…Crown Princess Margareta…

crown princess

…and Ginger Syllabub…

ginger syllabub

…had all appeared since we went away.

In the pond, the first water lily was shyly peeping out from behind a leaf.

water lily

Other new flowers were out.  A Dutch iris…

dutch iris

…a handsome stand of Campanula…

camanula

…and the very first flowers on the Delphiniums.

delphinium

We still have things to come though.

salvia

The weather must have been good while we were away, because the peonies were looking very smart indeed…

pink peony

…in a variety of colours…

coral peony out

…shapes…

coral peony

…and sizes.

white peony out

The daises and geraniums are standing up very well.

daisies and geraniums

It was very good to visit the big city and between us see eleven of our extended family while we were there but it is equally nice to be back among the comforts of our own home again (even though it was quite chilly).

And a siskin was there to welcome us back.

siskin posing

Being a tourist

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit her mother, brother and sister in law I went off with my sister Mary to view some London landmarks

We took a train down to Blackfriars Station which is perched on top of a bridge across the Thames ..

… and then walked along the south bank of the river in a downstream direction, noting…

…the world ugly building collection..

…and an empty hall at the Tate Modern art gallery ..

.. which was either a savagely perceptive comment on the vacuity of British politics today or just because they didn’t have anything to hand

St Paul’s cathedral could be seen across the river…

… and the Globe Theatre was on our side.

We gave our feet a rest and boarded a boat…

… on a busy stretch of the river until we came to HMS Belfast..

.. where we disembarked and walked past this fine arcade on a grand scale …

… and then past this more modest collection of nautical seats .

We admired the Tower of London and..

… the bridge beside it.

Once we had flowed under the bridge, we found ourselves in an area of heavily developed old warehouses which are now business premises and smart, ex pensive apartments..

…many still carrying names from their former glories

Rather than walk all the way back, we took a boat to the Embankment…

…and then Mary went to an art lecture and I had a snack and went south to drop in on our daughter Annie

I had hoped to visit her allotment but the weather was so hot and humid that we just sat around in her garden eating cherries instead.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her visit, I returned from mine and my sister Susan cooked us an evening meal to restore our strength.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which was posing on the wall beside the river for the benefit of passing tourists with cameras

My feet got a good workout today. We started out with a visit with my sister Mary to Regent’s Park.

We went to see the roses and have a cup of coffee.

There were plenty of roses to see.

And a splendid willow tree too.

After we left the park (and my sister) we walked up Primrose Hill to visit one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s nieces and her partner and their new baby. She unsurprisingly turned out to be the world’s greatest baby.

Then we took the underground to visit our daughter Annie and took part in the Stockwell Garden tour with her, her partner Joe and his mother. This was a most sociable occasion and we thoroughly enjoyed poking our noses into the charming gardens of the neighborhood (followed by tea and cake)

They was lots to enjoy…

… and too much going on to record it all.

After we had exhausted the delights of Stockwell (and ourselves), we took the underground back to Euston and attended a choral evensong with my sisters. The small professional choir of five filled the whole church with a glorious sound.

We followed that with a light meal at an Italian restaurant across the road and took the bus home, tired but happy.

We will need a holiday when we get back to Langholm.

The non flying bird of the day is Mr Grumpy’s London cousin in the park.

While we are in the deep South, our son Tony is on holiday in the far north in the Highland’s This is the view from his holiday cottage.

We didn’t have such a fine view but we did have a sunny walk up to Kenwood House with my sister Mary for a coffee and croissant.

There were fine trees on the way..

.. And the park keepers have let a lot of the grass grow which is good to see.

Then we left Mary and headed into the bustling shopping centre of the big city.

Where we met our daughter Annie and had lunch..

.. And then we did a little shopping.

Then Annie went home and we took my sisters out for a meal.

Another good day

Down south

After spending some time in the garden mowing and watering lawns and looking at flowers…

.. which were well worth looking at in the sunshine…

… and trying out the macro ability of my phone camera on a bee…

… we left for London and arrived safely.

Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June