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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Fleetwood.  The port for the town is on the south side of the river Wyre estuary and can be reached by the ferry which can be seen in his picture.

fleetwood

It was the longest day today and the weather was fine and frequently sunny so a good bicycle ride should have been on the menu.  A very brisk wind and the total absence of any get up and go persuaded me that a short walk round the garden would be a good alternative to a long bike ride.

There was plenty to keep me interested.

The sawfly caterpillars were still to be found on the Solomon’s seal.

sawfly caterpillars

And the light was right to take a picture of the Rodgersia flowers, which are a tricky subject.

rodgersia

There are plenty of flowers about in the garden but it is not a time of year when there are great swathes of colour.  The daffodils, tulips and azaleas are all gone.  All the same, green is a colour and it has many shades.

front lawn june 2018

middle lawnfern

There is a patch of bright colour.

orange hawkweed

There was a bee or two interested in the orange hawkweed.

bee on orange hawkweed

I finished my walk round the garden in good time to get the coffee on for a visit from Dropscone.  It was not Friday so there were no treacle scones but he brought an enormous pile of drop scones instead.  We managed to get through them (with some help from Mrs Tootlepedal) with no trouble at all.

While we were eating and chatting, a large rook appeared outside the window.

rook

They are impressive birds.

Dropscone went off with some rhubarb and on his way home, he passed an auction taking place at a local building  firm which has just gone into liquidation.  Many vans were clustered round the entry to the works, eager to pick up a bargain.

Langholm has lost many jobs over recent years and it was an irony that on the same day as this auction, the town appeared in the pages of a national newspaper  under a headline saying that it was reckoned to be the best market town in Scotland as a place to live.  You may be able to find the article here.

After coffee, I went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green.  I am trying to take advantage of the good weather to get the grass short enough so that mowing it takes no time at all and the cuttings don’t have to be collected.

Then  I went back in for a sit down and some bird watching.

The feeder is keeping busy.

goldfinches quarrelling

flying goldfinch and siskin

But my favourite moment was looking up and seeing a goldfinch attached to the feeder pole by its beak.

goldfinch and pole

After another walk round, this time to the back of the house to look at the potentillas there…

potentilla

..I sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepdal’s soil improvement programme and was just tidying up when the phone rang.

It was Scott, the minister, who was out on a bike run.  His gear changing mechanism had failed and he was hoping that we could come and rescue him.  He was able to describe the signpost at the road junction where he was marooned and it was apparent that he was in some deep back country in the wilds of North Cumbria.  I pinned down where he was on my map and  Mrs Tootlepedal offered to act as navigator and do the map reading to get us to the spot.

It was a beautiful day to be out rescuing and the drive was a great pleasure in itself, including this wonderful view over the Solway plain…

view from shawhill

… to which my camera completely fails to do justice.

We found Scott and put him and his bike in the back of the Kangoo and drove home.  His gear failure had been so abrupt that he had been pitched off his bike but luckily he had landed on a soft verge.  Not so luckily, the verge had been full of nettles.  He was very cheerful, all things considered.

We had a late lunch when we got back and Mrs Tootlepedal went back out into the garden.  I considered a bike ride but it was still very windy and my get up and go had still not made an appearance so I mowed the front lawn instead and did quite a lot of wandering about and muttering.

I did my muttering with camera in hand of course.  The pinks are at their best.

pink

The first calendula has made an appearance.

calendula

And some delightful small campanulas have arrived as well.

campanula

Keeping to my good resolution, I tried not to take too many pictures and went inside and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have another nine weeks still to put in so this will test my resolution to the full.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious pizza for our tea and I followed that up with some more stewed gooseberries.  My thinning doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on the overloaded gooseberry bush so it is lucky that I like stewed gooseberries a lot.

I hope to make better use of some good weather and long daylight tomorrow.

The flower of the day is a moss rose in the evening light.

moss rose

 

 

 

 

Cutting it fine

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was on a bus crossing Waterloo Bridge when she came over all Wordsworth and admired the view.  (I know, I know; he was crossing Westminster Bridge but that is not far away).

View from bus window while crossing Waterloo Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:

After rain overnight, we had a fine and occasionally sunny day today so Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it and toiled away in the garden morning and afternoon with a break for a committee meeting after lunch.

I went out for a look around after breakfast and saw Mrs Tootlepedal’s least favourite bird sighting , a sparrow in the vegetable garden looking for vegetables to destroy.

sparrow in veg garden

Sometimes when we got out there are twenty or more sparrows lurking about among the plants.  This one didn’t stop long though.

flying sparrow

I noticed that a young bird was lost in the greenhouse and looking pensive….

sparrow in greenhouse

…but it found its own way out in the end.

It was quite damp as you can see but it soon dried out and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass rather carefully.  We keep the grass there quite long so I even took the trouble to get the grass rake out first and make sure the grass was standing up to meet the mower.  In an uncooperative way though, quite a lot of the grass lay down again between me putting the  rake away and getting the mower out.

I had a look at the gooseberry bush to check for sawfly….

gooseberry bush

…and was pleased to find that there were none about.  The Solomon’s seal is being eaten by sawfly so the gooseberry may well be next.

I then got some lawn feed out and finished feeding the middle lawn.

While I was at work, our neighbours Liz and Ken walked over to see what was going on and I was telling them about my fern walk yesterday.  I lifted up the leaves of one of the ferns in our garden and they were impressed by what lay behind.

fern

So was I.

After all this excitement, I went in and watched the birds.

I saw a blue tit, an infrequent visitor…

blue tit…and several regulars too.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went to her committee meeting and I got the new bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I checked to see if all the recent rain had put a bit more water into the Wauchope….

Wauchope Water cascade

…and found the little cascade was busy but not overflowing.

The grass beside the river was full of these little yellow spikes.

yellow wild flower

I need help in identifying them

Not long after I set off,  I became a bit worried about the weather, both behind me…

bloch view

..and in front…

bloch road view

…but the grey clouds passed me by and I had an enjoyable ride with the brisk breeze being more helpful than not.

When I got into the Esk valley, it was easy to see by the river that it had been raining quite a lot.

River esk at hollows

I said confidently to a reader the other day that there was lots of yellow rattle about but since then it has been hard to find so I was pleased to find a good sprinkling about beside the old A7 today.

P1110652

And there was a lot of knapweed there too…

knapweed

…and a mini meadow of daisies, knapweed and meadow vetchling as well.

wild flowers old A7

Thanks to the helpful wind, I got home in good time and found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her meeting and busy improving the back border.

I mowed the front lawn.  It is showing the benefit from the feed that I gave it last week and now definitely has more grass than moss on it.  I regard this as a minor triumph considering that earlier in our very wet and cold spring, I was seriously thinking about digging the whole thing up and starting again .

Then I went to sieve compost as Mrs Tootlepedal is using it by the bucket to improve the soil in the back border.

I checked and found that the bees are still finding pollen on the astrantias.

bee on astrantia

This concluded my outdoor activity for the day except for a few minutes of thinning out the gooseberries.  I stewed the thinnings and had them with cream in the evening.

Following my new schedule, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before tea.  I am trying not to take too many photographs so I don’t have to spend so much time looking through them but it is hard.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, taken in the morning when things were still damp.

martagon lily

 

 

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia.  It was taken by a friend who saw her kindly trying to cheer an old fellow up at RHS Rosemoor.

Venetia and friend

We woke to a sunny morning and I might have gone cycling but I received a better offer.  Mike Tinker had suggested a walk to look at some early summer ferns  so after breakfast I walked round to his house and started by meeting some of the ferns which he has in his garden.

Mike's garden ferns

He is a real fern enthusiast and as you can see, he has some interesting specimens.

He has many more than I have shown here but I am trying to keep posts shorter than usual for a while.

We set off round the Scholars’ Field and up the track along the river.  We were looking for ferns  but saw other things of interest along the way.

moth

Research tells me that this might be a Chinese Character moth, cilix glaucata with the brown markings supposed to look like bird droppings and put off predators.  I would be happy to be corrected if I am wrong.

But we did see a lot of ferns and it is always interesting to turn a fern and see what is on the other side.

female fern

A lady fern, more delicate than the male

buckle fern

A buckler fern.  You can see the buckle shaoped sporangia

There was no shortage of ferns to see.

fern

We passed the Duchess Bridge and took the path up through the woods.

Walk 2

Mike kept an eye out for wild flowers to show me.

sanicle

This is sanicle

I saw ferns that I never knew existed.

beech fern

A beech fern

oak fern

An oak fern

We looked at the back of more ferns.

shield fern

When we came out onto the road at the end of the path, it was not hard to spot a maidenhair spleenwort or two…

spleenwort wall

…and evergreen polypody ferns of the sort that we had seen on our earlier walk.

polypody

We walked back along the road and saw more wild flowers.

Avens

These are wood and water avens.

herb ribert and yellow pimpernel

And Herb Robert and a Yellow Pimpernel

Mike is an excellent guide and knows a lot about ferns and wild flowers and I would have liked to have spent more time and tried to take better pictures (the low light under the trees made things tricky) but I had made an arrangement to take my new bicycle down to the bike shop in Carlisle for its post sales service and as I wanted to take it home with me, I needed to be there in good time.

Mrs Tootlepedal came down with me and we enjoyed a light lunch and did some heavy shopping before picking up the bike again and heading home.

There was enough time when we got back for Mrs Tootlepedal to do some gardening and I did think of a short bike ride but the brisk breeze, uncooperative legs and the need to keep on track with my archive work sent me inside to put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

I did emerge in time to thin some of the hundreds of gooseberries from the gooseberry bush.  I stewed them and had them with custard as a pudding for my evening meal (Mrs Tootlepedal had rhubarb and custard).  Considering that the gooseberries were like bullets when I picked them, they softened well and tasted remarkably good so I may well thin some more tomorrow.

There isn’t really a flower of the day today but I was pleased to see that the bumble bees share my fondness for astrantias.

bees on astrantia

Hard work

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  It was sent to her by a friend and was taken by her friend’s nephew, James Greig .  James farms near Melita, MB and is the third generation to work that land.  He has a good eye for a photo and those interested can find a lot more of his work here.

james fieldscape

Thanks to the long spell of good weather, I have got well behind schedule when it comes to putting the data miners’ work into the newspaper index database on the Archive Group website so I am going to have to cut down on words and pictures in the blog posts for a bit while I catch up.  (Enormous sigh of relief, politely masked, from beleaguered blog readers.)

Looking back, it is eight years since I started this on-line diary on June 16th 2010 with a post of 45 words and one picture.  Things have gone downhill since then.  I have had 2921 posts and I think that my sister Susan has read every one!

Anyway, here is briefer than usual summary of my day.

I got up early, had breakfast and got on my bike for the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  I stopped twice.

Canonbie umbellifer

Umbellifer at Canonbie Bridge (Hogweed Heraculeum sphondylium?)

view from hollows bridge

The view from Hollows Bridge

The combination of the early start and a brisk breeze caught my legs napping and I found it hard work but I got home in time for coffee and a walk round the garden.

Two shrubs which had Mrs Tootlepedal worried earlier in the year have done better than expected.

weigela

The Weigela is flourishing

cotoneaster

And the Cotoneaster is producing flowers

The bad weather has hit the lupins badly.  They were doing so well in the good weather, it is sad to see them now.

bent lupins

 

There is plenty of white about

jacobite rose

Jacobite rose with visitor.

philadelphus

Yet another Philadelphus coming out

I like this Euphorbia.  It gives me the impression that it is the result of a potato print by a competent child in the school art class.

euphorbia

 

The espalier apples are showing the benefit of some hand pollinating during our cold and beeless spring.

young apples

I went in and made some soup for lunch and watched the birds.

siskin at feeder

A young siskin works out how to land on a perch

goldfinch

It makes a man cry when a fine flying bird of the day hides behind a pole

After lunch, I mowed the middle and front lawns and then gained extra credit with the gardener by going round with the lawn edger.  A little compost sieving followed and that completed the energetic part of the day.  It was really windy which made taking flower pictures difficult and it was grey and chilly which made a walk unattractive so I did what I needed to and went inside and put a week of the newspaper index into the database.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive session.  Onwards and upwards.

I watched the first half of the England world cup football match but watching England trying to play the ball out of defence always makes me nervous so I wrote the blog during the second half.  I noticed that they won so well done England.

The flower of the day is the lamium, which after a slow start, is going great guns.

lamium

And a FBotD too.

flying goldfinch

Head in the clouds

Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  As he was busy house hunting, he sent me this charming squirrel portrait in lieu of a Father’s Day card.

ant's squirrel

The Muckletoon Adventure Festival had a better day for their events today.  The road cyclists were offered 30, 60 or 90 mile sportives and I would have liked to have had a go at either the 60 or the 90 but there were too many steep hills involved for the well being of my tin knee so I got up promptly and went for a gentle 45 mile ride instead.

I chose quiet and gently contoured roads for my trip…

road near KPF

…and once again slipped into England before crossing the border on my way home.

welcome to Scotland

It was a grey, cool and breezy day and I needed to be home for cooking duties so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures on the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal was home from church when I got back and needless to say, was hard at work in the garden.

I had a look round and the sun came out to brighten up the roses.

P1110484

I went in to make a stew for the slow cooker and kept an eye on the birds while I did so.

Once again, the feeder was busy….

goldfinches at feeder

…and there was keen competition for perches.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, a small flock of greenfinches turned up.

greenfinch posing

It may have been a family because there was certainly at least one youngster in the plum tree looking for food.

greenfinch and young

…and occasionally getting it.

greenfinch feeding young

Mrs Tootlepedal did a little more work in the garden while I looked for new flowers…

P1110500

…and found this blue campanula.

 

The hydrangea seems to have an endless supply of pollen because it was still buzzing with bees today.

P1110507

This one has a stripy jumper on.

We didn’t spend much time in the garden though as I wanted a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted to go somewhere different so we got into the car and drove over the hill to Newcastleton.  We went through the village and up the hill on the opposite side of the river where we found a Forestry Commission car park.  We parked the car and went for a walk in the forest there.

There was a selection of routes to choose from and having made out choice, we strode bravely off along this track…

Newcastleton forest

…which turned out to be the wrong direction.

However, more by luck than good judgement, we managed to finally get back on the right track and had a most enjoyable stroll.

We passed spacious forest planting…

Newcastleton forest (2)

…some very impressive ferns…

P1110512

…and any amount of wild flowers.

P1110514

Ragged robin, tormentil. marsh thistle and ajuga

P1110518

Foxglove, dock, red clover and birds-foot trefoil

Many interesting creatures

P1110529

A slug, an unknown moth on a grass and another on Mrs Tootlepedal’s boot which Anna Marett tells me is appropriately called a Red-necked Footman.

And several mountain bikers.

mountain biker

The two in the background were pushing their bikes up the hill.

There are some well used mountain bike routes in the forest and the Forestry Commission has gone to some lengths to provide good facilities for cyclists and walkers, planned so that they don’t get in each others’ way.

The second half of our walk, once we had found the right way to go, was on a neatly mown grass path.

P1110531

And this led us safely back to the car.

We will definitely return to this area as it was a pleasure to walk there.

Our timing was good too as we got back to Newcastleton village in time for a cup of tea and a fancy at the Olive Tee cafe.  Our more usual outing policy is to arrive at cafes just after they have shut.

The drive home over the hill wasn’t quite as good as the rest of the outing though as it was raining and the cloud was so low that we had to put on our fog lights on the single track road.  No chance of any scenic views.

Still, we made it home and the slow cooked stew went down very well so it was a good day all round.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, still carrying a little of yesterday’s rain.

P1110502

Today’s guest picture shows an elegant little lighthouse at Fleetwood on the Irish Sea coast.  My brother Andrew was visiting the town.

fleetwood

After several weeks of good weather, it was very unfortunate that for the weekend of the Muckeltoon Adventure Festival, a feast of mountain biking and trail running today, we should have got a miserable day of rain.

I was hoping to go and get some good action pictures but it was raining too heavily to make that any fun.

wet goldfinch

The goldfinches took badly to the rain too.

As a result, I spent a very quiet day inside until the rain stopped in the afternoon and I didn’t do much after that either.

The wet weather gave me a chance to watch the birds during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s windowsill treats are still drawing in  sparrows….

sparrow on windowsill

…and the seeds were going down regularly on the feeder.

goldfinch

A stylish goldfinch keeping things tight to avoid the raindrops

busy feeder

More birds than perches leads to arguments

redpoll and siskin

Wet redpoll, wet siskin, bad temper all round.

incoming siskin

There was almost always a siskin in the offing

 

I got some Archive Group work done in the morning which was a bonus and I went out to check on the flowers when the rain stopped.

The roses were soggy but surviving…

wet roses

…and when the sun came out, the low lying plants looked positively cheerful

sunny flowers

…and I was happy to see that the Ooh La La clematis had stayed together.

clematis ooh

After some time to dry, things were looking good again….

wet flowers

…and I went for a very short walk to stretch my legs before any more rain came along.

You wouldn’t know that it had been such a miserable morning.

parish church

River Esk between bridges

Although the river was up a little bit, there was still plenty of gravel for the oyster catchers  and their chicks to patrol.

oyster catchers

young oyster catchers

young oyster catcher

It was such a dull day that I even found myself watching a bit of a World Cup football match.  The game seemed to consist of muscular Danes barging over skilful Peruvians and I was sorry to see that the Peruvians squandered every good chance that they got and let the Danes win.

I looked out of the window as I was writing this post in the evening and was impressed enough by a new(ish) moon to get my tripod out and as a reward to get bitten by a thousand midges.

new moon

The flower of the day is one of the durable peonies.

peony

In lieu of any new material, I have returned to Venetia’s  trip to Madeira for the guest picture of the day.  Somewhere between the mountains and the sea, she passed through this narrow gap.

Madeira

Being Friday, I had made an arrangement to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  The forecast for the afternoon was rather dubious so I had made a vague plan with myself to get up early and go for a bicycle ride before coffee.  I didn’t have any great confidence in the plan but much to my amazement, I did in fact get up early and cycled 20 miles before breakfast.

The wind had dropped since yesterday but there was still quite enough of it (and from an unhelpful direction) to keep my head down so I didn’t see a lot more than the road in front of my nose.   However, just at the highest point of the trip, I was going so slowly that I had time to notice a good crop of yellow rattle…

yellow rattle

…and stopped to take a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also got up early and was hard at work in the garden when I got back, tidying up unruly plants and picking up debris from yesterday’s strong winds.

I lent a hand by shredding what I could of the material and then and took the opportunity to admire a couple of yellow roses.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta, a long time resident of the garden

golden wedding rose

And a newcomer.  This little rose came in a presentation pot from a friend as a present for our golden wedding and has now found a home in the garden.

The coffee and scones were well up to standard and Dropscone was very cheerful because he had been part of a golf team which had recently come second in a competition.  He went off to play more golf and I mowed the middle lawn and took more pictures.

There were quite a few bees about but they were concentrating on a few plants, the hydrangea, a martagon lily and nectaroscordum.

bees

The nectarosordum proved very popular and there were still bees visiting it several hours later.

It was pleasing to see that the peonies had survived the wind and the rain very well indeed.

peony

New flowers have come out to join them.

clematis

Another clematis by the front door.

campanula

The first of many campanulas

moss rose

A moss rose

perennial nasturtium

A perennial nasturtium

Although it is not new, I couldn’t pass by the pale astrantia without clicking the shutter finger as it was looking superb.

astrantia

Over lunch, I took time to watch the birds.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…and I had to fill it twice today.

busy feeder (2)

Doves and pigeons came to cast their beady eyes on fallen seeds.

dove and pigeon

And sparrows flew this way and that.

flying sparrows

There was more shredding to do after lunch as Mrs Tootlepedal had kept busy and then I mowed the front lawn.  The forecast rain stayed away so I went off for a walk.

There were lots of wild flowers (and a rabbit) to look at as I went round Easton’s and Gaskell’s walks.

Eastons and gaskells

I would welcome suggestions as to what the very small yellow flower is

The wind had torn a lot of leaves from the trees and you can see in the top right panel above that one section of the walk was carpeted by the results.

The summer growth is in full swing on Gaskell’s Walk…

gaskell's

…and I found geums, hawkbit with friends and ragged robin beside the path.

wild flowers

There was reedy grass and the first bramble flowers too.

grass and bramble

I wasn’t unobserved as I walked past a field at the Stubholm.

watching sheep

Several days ago, my neighbour Liz told me a story about finding a host of flies on the gate at the end of Gaskell’s Walk.  I didn’t have an opportunity to check the gate out and had forgotten all about it until I came to the gate today…..

flies on gaskells gate

…and found the flies were still there.  They were quite alive and flew off when I got too close.  You might wonder what they would find so attractive on the metal bar of a gate.

I was just going to take a truly wonderful picture of the Auld Stane Brig when my camera battery unexpectedly gave up so you will just have to take my word about the picture and for the fact that I passed two unicorns on my way home.   It was a bit annoying as I had put in a fresh battery before I set out and can only assume that I had failed to switch the charger on.

The sun was out and it was a very nice afternoon by the time that I got home and Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench and enjoyed the sights and smells of the garden before going in for a cup of tea.

I watched the birds again and saw a young greenfinch falling off its perch at the feeder.

greenfinch

You don’t often see birds falling off a perch.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a healthy meal with spinach and broccoli for our tea.  I am eating so much iron rich food that if it rains a lot, I feel I may be in danger of going rusty.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal chatted, Alison and I played music.  Several of the notes were in the right place, at the right time and in the right key.  We enjoyed ourselves.

The flower of the day is another of my favourite peonies.

peony (2)