Archive for Jun, 2011

Today’s picture, from the camera of Dropscone, shows the view from the 14th hole of the Roxburghe golf course where he has been refereeing.14th hole

The breathing was no better today than yesterday and the forecast was for showers so I thought that this would be a good day to get some stuff done. The first thing that got done was the crossword because one has to get the priorities right. After that, I went  up to the Town Hall to collect a key for the gallery where Mrs Tootlepedal’s embroidery group is going to have an exhibition next week. Because she is away, it has fallen to me to open the gallery on Sunday so that works of stitch can be brought in and set up. I was a bit surprised to find when I fetched the key that I had to pay a deposit of £25 before they would give it to me. I hope that the embroiderers don’t have wild parties in there and I lose my deposit.

When I had done that, I lit up the computer and prepared a circular for the AGM of the Recycling Group. We are hoping to wind this group up after our failure to set up a community compost site.

All this took me till noon and then I had a moment to wander in the garden.

new white rose

A new white rose is out in the hedge to the vegetable garden

It is right next to the rose goldfinch. This picture shows all the stages of that rose from the bright yellow rosebud to the multilayered white mature flower in one small clump.

rose goldfinch

I think it is a fantastic plant and I go and look at it every day.

While I was on the front lawn, I exchanged a cheery greeting with Charlie and Vi who were passing.

charlie and vi

Charlie was very helpful when I was making the Heritage Trail DVD and together they make fine tablet.

I have had difficulty getting a good shot of the find stand of white campanulas because white flowers are hard for beginners to photograph but I thought this shot gives a fair impression of their magnificence.


My neighbour Liz was working in her front garden and I went across to chat to her. I was very struck by this plant at her front gate.


I would have asked her what it is called but one of the showers came on suddenly and we had to run for cover.

While I was out there, I took this picture of a new potentilla which has flowered along the back of the house. It is a very vibrant yellow.


Then it was time for lunch. While I was eating my lunch, I kept hearing  a bird calling outside the back door. In the end I got up and had a look to see what it was. It was this rather scruffy looking blackbird.


After lunch, I had an opportunity to put a week of the E&L into the database. I took it. Then a little time was spent watching some ladies’ tennis of variable quality. I am very sympathetic watching Sharapova serve as it  reminds of my efforts on the golf course. The big difference is that when she gets it right, she is very good and I am pretty awful even at my best.

I had time between the showers to mow the lawns which have stood up to the drought followed by perpetual rain very well. The welcome warmth of the last few days has come just in time for them. I keep looking for a new mower as mine is past its best but it doesn’t seem possible to buy a push mower with a roller and a decent number of blades any more.

I went back in when another shower came on and watched a little more tennis. I was struck by the rear view of the bed with the campanulas in it which you get from our sitting room window.


A generously flowered corner of the garden

After tea, it was time to go to the Archive Centre with Sandy and Jean. While I was getting ready, I noticed this unusual visitor to the plum tree.


A hard bird to love

Jean and I did a power of work in the Centre, putting two more weeks into the database while Sandy slaved over a set of slides he has scanned in. It was a beautiful night when we came out and I had brought my little camera with me.


Warbla Hill taken from the petrol station opposite the Centre

high street

Looking up the High Street

Notice the extortionate prices people living in the country have to pay for petrol.The town hall and library buildings have recently had a good wash and brush up. The picture below shows the library building. I am so unobservant that it looks exactly the same as before to me but those who know tell me that it is a great deal improved.

library buildings

The library is right opposite the Douglas where we retire for refreshment. It wasn’t at its busiest tonight.


Mrs Tootlepedal and daughter are having a wonderful time in the gardens of the warm south. I hope she will be able to readjust when she returns.


Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is from one of the famous borders in the garden at Sissinghurst and was sent to me by my daughter who went there with Mrs Tootlepedal on their great garden adventure.


It was an absolutely fabulous day when I got up this morning with not a cloud in the sky. I took this picture  of the front garden before breakfast just to give an impression of the splendid sunshine.

lovely day

..and these too…

another day lily

The day lilies keep coming and going

dutch iris

The Dutch irises are looking healthy

white rose


This philadelphus is so lush you could think it was a rose too


Mrs Tootlepedal has campanulas all over the garden.

After the early morning burst of activity, I had my porridge and set off on the morning run. Dropscone was off refereeing more golf competitions and I was due to play golf at noon so I took the slow bike and pottered round, hoping that the exercise would help my breathing. I took my little camera with me but nothing novel caught me eye so it stayed in my back pocket.

I did some tasks and then went round the garden for a second time.

Our neighbour Liz gave us this striking plant but I have no idea what it is called. It is temporarily growing in a vegetable bed.



This spirea has turned very spiky as the flowers have developed


A campanula with a striking centre. A bee has been busy there I should say.


And a campanula with an even more striking centre

I had an early lunch and went off with my clubs. When I got up to the golf course, I found that my breathing had not been helped by the bike ride. It may perhaps also not have been helped by the fact that in playing golf, one is standing in the middle of a field, surrounded by plants, grass and  trees. I was worse than usual and absolutely missed the ball completely with my first two swings on the opening hole. I had taken 17 strokes for the first two holes and hit my tee shot off the the third tee into impenetrable rough before I bowed to the inevitable and went home thus saving myself and my playing partners more agony. I had a meeting with a man later in the afternoon and he was streaming with hay fever so considering that my flute pupil had called off on Monday with hay fever, I think we might guess that there is something in the air at the moment.

The good thing is that, unlike hay fever sufferers, I am pretty well all right  as long as I do nothing much. I was able to shred a large pile of garden waste without any problem when I got back home.

My meeting was with a man from the Middlebie Parish History Group for whom I made a website. He came to learn how to update it himself. He told me that the group has lost members with people moving away but he hopes the group will continue.

His visit coincided with Andy Murray’s tennis match so I was only able to watch a little of that. I made up for it by watching a Scottish couple play very well in the mixed doubles later in the evening.

I took a picture of a new flower in the morning but in the absence of the gardener it will have to be nameless until she returns.

yellow flower

Since I have been mixing the sunflower hearts with cheaper bird seed, I have noticed the visitors to the feeder are looking a bit picky when they come for a nibble.

picky goldfinch

A goldfinch peers about

picky siskin

A siskin takes the expensive seed from the back of the feeder

It all gets eaten in the end though. Flocks of chaffinches and numerous blackbirds scavenge for the discards on the ground below.

This starling appeared and cried out plaintively for some time but when no one paid any attention to it, it pushed off again.


I leave you with a rose.


Pretty near perfection

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows Mrs Tootlepedal in her B and B room checking her route round the gardens of England for the day.

Map reader

The day was perfect for cycling. The sun was shining, the wind was light and the temperature was pleasantly cool. Dropscone arrived half an hour earlier than usual and we set off on a thirty mile ride over Callister, down to Kirkpatrick Fleming and back by Glenzier and the A7 cycle route. I was a bit worried that my breathing would not stand up to a vigorous pedal so we started at a gentle pace and only speeded up when we had climbed over Callister and the flat country of the Solway plain lay before us. In the end we did the thirty miles in bang on two hours which gave the ride a happy symmetry.

It was followed by chocolate cake and coffee. Dropscone had been to Hawick to fetch his children off the last bus from Edinburgh after Ben’s graduation and he had used the opportunity to sweep up a few of Morrison’s late night bargains while he was there. The cake was one of these but none the worse for that.

I photographed this chaffinch before breakfast which gives you an idea of how nice the day was.


And I took these pictures when we got back.


A rare blue tit visitor these days, perhaps because I am not putting out peanuts


Old and young starlings

After Dropscone had gone, I mowed all three lawns. The grass has been growing well in the recent warmer weather and the lawns look pretty well. I’ll be complaining of drought next.

While I was out there, I looked round the garden.


A confusion of daisies


A real depth of blue in this delphinium

early potatoes

The early potatoes looking promising (and very early)

After lunch, I went to the Kilngreen to do my stint in the tourist information point. I had a few visitors and had plenty to do as, owing to the early start, I had not read any of the papers. I had a friend outside.

hot dog

He was advertising a dog chipping service next week

I am experimenting with camera settings for landscape photos and I took these two while I was at the TIP.

Langholm Bridge


After I had finished there, I took the car up to the White Yett and walked up to the monument to continue working on landscape photos.

While I was up the hill I could hear the singing of larks and as I came down, I stopped to see if I could actually see one. I managed to spot one and tried to photograph it.


A lark in flight

I had another go.

carrying food

When I was nearly at the car, I noticed something on a small tree.


I thought it was probably a young lark waiting for food and sure enough, a moment later another lark approached.

coming in

I am not a bird expert so I checked in the easy book of bird spotting and I think these are larks but as usual, I could be wrong.

In the evening, I went to Carlisle to play recorder. Susan was busy at work after her day off yesterday so I went alone and we were five. Once again we played a wide selection of music and enjoyed ourselves a lot. Owing to the great age of most of the players, the conversation over tea and biscuits after the playing was mostly about medical matters. It was very interesting.

I have put some the pictures that I took on my walk up Whita here for those with time on their hands. They are familiar views but I hope one or two of them will please readers.


Looking up the Ewes valley

up Tarras

Looking up Tarras

the moor

You can see the work the gamekeepers have been doing on the grouse moor


The monument looking crisp in the early evening sun

potholm hill

Looking north over Potholm hill up the Esk valley


The most important part of Langholm (taken from a mile away)


The A7, the road I pedalled up on Sunday


Looking up the valley


Looking down to the road I had driven up. The house is Hillhead


A woody hand reaches out to grasp the A7

I think the colours are stronger than in my previous efforts. It might be because of the day but I think some of the improvement comes from thinking more about settings and focus points.

I went to bed really early for me last night and slept very badly so I am going to bed late tonight to see if that is any better.

Mrs Tootlepedal and daughter Annie visited Sissinghurst and Great Dixter on their garden tour today. I am still waiting for pictures.

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is of Kenwood House in London where my sister Mary went for an early walk. It has a nice cafe round the back where she had toast and camomile tea for breakfast.

Kenwood, early morning June 2011 005

I had thought of going for a longish pedal this morning because Dropscone is away at his son’s graduation but the weather wasn’t as settled as I had hoped. In the end, I just went round the morning run as usual and it was lucky that I hadn’t attempted anything more ambitious because my legs were very tired and my breathing was not all good. I got round but in a very slow time and without a lot of enjoyment and because of Dropscone’s absence, I didn’t even have a girdle scone to cheer me up. It was pleasantly warm though with nothing like the hot weather that Mrs Tootlepedal is facing on her garden tour of the south.

She went to the RHS garden at Wisley and Nymans garden near Crawley. I had hoped to receive a photo from her phone to put in the blog but the technology was beyond her. She has taken lots of pictures with her camera though so I am looking for an album when she gets home.

I was out with my camera after lunch.

bee on white

Another bee

It was a very busy bee..

busy bee

I looked for parts of the garden where roses are combined with other flowers.

rose and clematis

Rose and clematis in the back border

rose and foxgloves

Rose and foxgloves

rose and campanula

Rose and campanula near the house

I spotted this insect on an astrantia but I am not sure what it is. Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can tell me.

insect on astrantia

welsh poppy

A Welsh poppy to go with yesterday's Icelandic one

yet another rose picture

Yet another rose picture. It just cried out to be snapped.

I could hear a plaintive quacking from outside the garden so I went to investigate. It was a duck but not one of the normal mallards the we usually see.

dark duck

It was very camera shy and flew off almost as soon as I had photographed it.

flying duck

On my way back into the garden, I was knocked out by this beautiful rose on the wall of our neighbour’s house.

Liz's rose

Liz's rose

Wandering around with a camera has given me an interest in flowers which I didn’t have before. I liked them but I didn’t look at them closely. This is a delphinium flower close up.

delphinium blossom

As I went back into the house to watch some tennis on the telly, I took this patriotically red, white and blue collection of roses, campanula, geranium and delphinium.


I had a lazy afternoon watching tennis but I did manage to put in a week of the E&L so it wasn’t entirely wasted. I used to think that tennis was fun to play but rather boring to watch but this year I have seen some really cracking matches. The great thing about it is that it goes on for so long that you can go away and do something and come back and still see the same match going on. You don’t have to sit through the whole thing.

I was waiting for my flute pupil to come but he was poorly and stayed at home so I made mince and potatoes for my tea and while it was cooking, I looked out of the window.

A sparrow feeding its young

A sparrow feeding its young

goldfinch siskin

A goldfinch and siskin


Left victorious on the feeder

I am going to bed early tonight in the hope that I will feel better when I go out bicycling tomorrow.

Dropscone sent me a picture of today’s big event.



Read Full Post »

Today’s picture shows Mrs Tootlepedal on the platform at Carlisle Station


She is off to the deep south to spend a week seeing her mother and then visiting great gardens with our daughter Annie so I will have the heavy responsibility of  looking after not only myself but also a number of plants in the greenhouse.

I have often admired the circular iron work that holds up the roof of the station…

station 1

…but I don’t think I have noticed the anti pigeon additions before.

station 2

They work very well.

On my way home, I called in at a garden centre to get some sunflower seeds to replenish my stock. They have gone up a lot in price which was a bit of a shock but I think the birds cost me quite a lot less than keeping a dog would.  I am mixing the sunflower seeds with a cheaper sort of wild bird food and the siskins and goldfinches don’t seem to mind.

Being a modern sort of garden centre, I was also able to buy some frozen lamb’s kidneys and a selection of excellent English cheeses including a locally produced smoked goat’s cheese which I hadn’t tried before and which turned out to be delicious.

The morning was rather drizzly again so I shelved any idea of putting the bike in the car when taking Mrs Tootlepedal to the station and going on to cycle in Cumbria and just came straight home. After lunch I wandered around the garden in damp conditions. The clematis that is largely hidden by other plants in the back border is trying its best to be noticed.


I don’t remember whether I have put a picture of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s chickens on the blog before but if I have, here it is again.

chicken 1

We used to keep real chickens. This one is easier to look after.

It has a friend but he has not been clipped yet this year and is looking a bit shabby in among the hawkweed.

chicken 2

The Welsh and Icelandic poppies are great plants which seem to flower endlessly. This Icelandic poppy is looking very well.

icelandic poppy

I am waiting for the hostas to flower but I thought this one deserved a picture in its own right. It lurks underneath a spreading weigela.


I went back in and watched a rather boring FI race in an intermittent way on the telly and then roused myself enough to notice that the rain had really stopped and it was quite a nice day . Encouraged by this, I got my cycling gear on and set off up the A7 towards Mosspaul. Sometimes when you get on the bike, you just feel really fit and ready for anything. I thought this was one of those days as I whistled up the road. However, when you look at the computer and see that you are doing 20 mph up hill, you quickly realise that it is probably a quite windy day and the wind is probably straight behind you and that is what is making you feel so perky.

As a result of the helpful conditions, I got up to Mosspaul at 16.3 mph, definitely the fastest in have done it. The road was quiet.


The A7 just before Mosspaul Hotel

Well, it was fairly quiet except for quite a lot of these noisy creatures.

A7 and noise

I was passed by a lot of them going north today.  They can give you quite a fright if they are going at speed as they sweep past you. Anyway, in cycling terms nothing is free on an out and back trip so I was ready for a hard pedal back down the hill to Langholm. I really put in a lot of effort going back, more than I had put in going up the hill, and it still took me longer to get home than it had to get to Mosspaul. I was pleased to pause to buy a nougat wafer ice cream on the Kilngreen just before I finished.

The day had warmed up a lot by this time and the sun had come out so I realised that this was the moment to mow the lawns. They could certainly do with a bit of drying out and sunshine, as some moss is making an unwelcome return on the front lawn after all the rain.

There was a frog peeping out from under a lily pad in the pond. I can’t tell whether it is always the same frog that I see, as my frog recognition skills are not very advanced.


He looks happy enough.

In the morning, I had gone out with a couple of bamboo canes and some string to tie up the leaning martagon lilies and I was anxious to see whether they had stood up to the brisk winds.

straight lilies

They had.

I took this picture of a single flower from a different plant. They are very weird flowers when you look at them closely.

martagon lily (2)

The red peonies are completely finished now and the white ones are nearly over too. I took  this picture of one of the last which is still hanging on. (I am sorry if the pictures are a bit repetitious sometimes but I am trying to keep a fairly full photographic record of a year in the garden.)

white peony

The cream irises are getting near the end of their time too but they still look very elegant.

cream iris

Mrs Tootlepedal has different sorts of roses sprinkled all over the garden and I like these for their cheerful openness.

cheerful rose

I heard a plaintive chirping from the feeder while I was sitting on a bench in the warm sunshine after taking these pictures. It was a sparrow and child.

sparrow parent and child

The chirping paid off.

sparrow parent and child

I end with the reflection that any day during which I have had a cycle ride, mowed a lawn and bought interesting cheese must be classed a good day even if these things were balanced by having to say goodbye to Mrs Tootlepedal. She says it is far too hot in the south.

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is of a day lily

day lily

Mrs Tootlepedal told me that I had to be quick to catch this flower, as it is literally here today and gone tomorrow.

After yesterday’s exertions, I was intending to have a quiet morning and then go for a gentle pedal with Mrs Tootlepedal in the afternoon. The forecast was for rain in the morning and better later on. Unfortunately, the forecast was a little out and it was not until the afternoon that the rain came. We decided that pedalling in the drizzle was not for us today so the day was rather frittered away in idleness. It was too soggy to even think about mowing the lawn.

I went out to get the picture of the day lily after breakfast and as usual I took a few other pictures as well.


This is a white campanula to go with the blue ones already out

The rain drops are hanging on the heads of old azalea flowers. Raindrops were a bit of a theme today.


A glistening eryngium

I got the opportunity to take three portraits of siskins as they hung about on the fat ball fortress.




We’re so used to them now that we forget how pretty they are.

There were a great many bees buzzing around and there seem to many more than there were last year which can only be a good thing and perhaps a little surprising after the very cold winter. This one was visiting the climbing rose.

bee in rose

I am trying to set a world record for the number of different diseases on a single tomato plant in the greenhouse and I am doing very well so far. There are quite a few tomatoes on the plant but only time will tell if they are going to come to anything. I am afraid that if the rain goes on, the good crop of strawberries that are ripening will rot before I can eat them. As I came through the vegetable garden, I took this shot of the honeysuckle over the gate into the flower garden.

honeysuckle gate

I thought a new moss rose had blossomed but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is just an offshoot of the one that is already out. It must be vigorous as it has gone under a paved path and come out in a bed on the other side. It looks just as good, not surprisingly.

moss rose

The martagon lillies are progressing well but they are tilting rather seriously to the side. They need more support than Mrs Tootlepedal has been able to give them yet.

martagon lily

A new Sweet William has emerged. This is a biennial plant unlike the ones that I have shown previously.

biennial sweet william

It was very still in the garden in the morning as this picture of a friend in the pond shows.

frog head

Some of the flower beds are perhaps a little crowded at the moment, as this crowded corner demonstrates…

crowded corner

…but in my view, this is a fault on the right side.

I was so exhausted by all this snapping away that I went in and had a bowl of soup and a sit down.

An hour or so later, I went out again to see if I could find some bees.

bee in weigela

The bees liked this weiglea.

bee in weigela

Getting stuck in

bee in weigela

Getting really stuck in

On my way in, I thought this magnificent hosta needed recording.


And that was the end of my excitement for the day, although we did venture out of the house for a quick shopping trip. Mrs Tootlepedal is going on holiday for a week and I will be left to look at the birds and the flowers on my own so we thought we ought to make sure I had some provisions in.

I did summon up the energy to look out of the window once or twice.


A goldfinch poses for me

chaffinch and goldfinch

It made a quick departure from the feeder when this chaffinch turned up


Another goldfinch stood near and watched

As with the siskins, we are in danger of taking these beautiful birds for granted.

In the evening, just to make the sure that I didn’t waste a whole day, I put a week of the E&L into the database. A couple of the indexers are or have been on holiday so I don’t have too much work to do to catch up with them.

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is yet another look at a peony. This time from quite close.

close peony

I put this picture here as a symbol of the sunny weather which greeted me as I got up. I had planned to go out for a decent ride if the weather was good so I got ready to go. Somehow, this took me until half past ten but I finally got organised and set out on the speedy bike, stopping only to buy a couple of tuna rolls and two bananas from John’s shop on the way.

In spite of the better weather, it was still pretty cold for the time of year (13ºc) so I had left my shorts at home and was fairly well wrapped up. It stayed cool for the whole ride and I was very comfortable which is always a relief on a longish day. The wind was from the west and it was more or less across from one side or the other for most of the ride. Fortunately, it was fractionally behind me so the ride down to Longtown through Canonbie was easy enough. At Longtown, I took the Brampton road and with a helpful wind, I got there at well over 16mph which is good for me. I went through Brampton and out along the road past Talkin Tarn towards Lazonby. I stopped for a snack at the Talkin Tarn gate and found that the climb out of Brampton had already reduced my average to 16.1mph.

I have often thought that my enjoyment of golf, a game at which I am a very indifferent player, is largely based on my affection for well mowed grass. The Brampton golf course, which lay opposite my stopping place, showed some very nicely groomed grass.

Brampton GC

From Brampton, the road to Lazonby undulates freely and provides what a gentlemen cyclist I met while admiring the view called a ‘good leg stretcher’. I am not at my cycling best when I don’t get a decent chance to recover my breathing before I meet the next hill but the road provided many pleasant distractions. I liked this sign at Castle Carrock.

Castle Carrock

I was cycling along the eastern side of the Eden valley and this view looks over the valley to the west.

Eden valley

The road sides were sprinkled with hedge roses.

roadside roses

To the east of the road, I was cycling close to edge of the foothills of the most northerly part of the Pennines.


As I went further up the valley, the views became better and better. This was the one that the gentleman I met was admiring.

lake district

When you get near to Lazonby, the road leaves the high ground and plunges down towards the River Eden. There are some steep downhill sections here but two of them are through the middle of villages which rules out making good speed down them. I was also heading due west at this time and was therefore heading straight into a stiff breeze.  The hills to the east of Eden came into view. I have cycled over these a couple of times in past years on my way to Alston.

looking east

Having crossed the river at Lazonby, I had a very stiff climb into the wind on the other side as I climbed out of the Eden valley and dropped down to the A6 and then the M6. This was the hardest part of the day and the combination of climbs and headwind had knocked my average down to 14.9mph by the the time that I arrived at the Pot Place at old Plumpton Station. Before any excitable readers get ready to visit the Pot Place, here is a picture of what it sells.

the Pot Place

But it also has a nice cafe where I had a light lunch of mushroom soup and a cheese and tomato toastie.

The road home from this point, which runs parallel to the the M6, was much less scenically interesting but also much flatter and I got the average back up to 15.3mph by the time I got to Carlisle. My route through Carlisle is excellent and I was out the other side in no time.

Rather than ride up the A7 to Longtown, I took a diversion through back roads to Longtown and then took the old A7 through Canonbie which meant a very traffic free section of the trip. I stopped just before Canonbie village to admire these foxgloves.

Canonbie Foxgloves

The wind from Canonbie to Langholm both strengthened and took an unfriendly turn so the last few miles were a bit of a slog but I kept the average up to 15.3mph for the round trip of 82 miles. It was a most enjoyable day out and a map of the route can be found here for anyone interested.

I was home by half past four, just in time for a nice cup of tea and a fancy cake which Mrs Tootlepedal happened to have about her.

I had a quick walk round the garden before I had a post ride bath.


A new set of spireas are starting to bloom

shy rose

A shy rose peeps out


One of Mrs Tootlepedal's planted out petunias in fine fettle

In the evening, we were visited by Mike and Alsion Tinker and Alison and I played sonatas by Handel, Vivaldi and Loeillet and a very nice division on a ground called Paul’s Steeple. It would be hard to find a nicer way to end the day. A glass of wine afterwards was the icing on the cake.

We’re back to the rain gain tomorrow so I just had to take this picture of a product of TLM® to cheer myself up.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »