Today’s guest picture is another of Matilda taken a few weeks ago. This was sent to me by her mother, Clare and is one of my favourites of the many portraits of Matilda already in existence.
In recent days I have often had a plan of waking up early, leaping out of bed and going cycling and today was no different. Once again I had just such a plan. What was different about today was that I actually did get up early and go cycling. No one was more astonished than me.
I was a bit pushed for time so I couldn’t make full use of a warm and nearly windless day and had to make do with a dull thirty mile trip down main roads and back again. There were no photos as my nose was firmly stuck to my front tyre. The better surfaces of the main roads compared with the potholed back roads that I usually pedal along was very marked and I was able to keep up a good tempo along the mainly flat route.
As I got back to Langholm, I fell in with a large group of cyclists who were spending the day bicycling across Scotland from coast to coast between Annan in the west and Berwick in the east, a journey of 100 miles, I was envious.
After a cup of tea on my return, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden for a while. I could hardly hear myself think because of the buzzing of insects in the hydrangea. There must have been about 50 bees and others busy insects, all collecting nectar furiously.
Every clump of flowers seemed to have at least one collector at work on it.
Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to some Martagon Lilies by the front gate. She is not so pleased with these as she might be, in spite of their pretty flowers, as she bought a set of four white ones…
…but only got one with white flowers and three with the flowers on the right.
The coral peony has come out and looks a treat.
It is certainly outshining the Meconopsis which seem rather subdued in colour this year.
There is a wide range of colours to be seen in the flowers beds at the moment after the more focussed bursts of snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and azaleas earlier in the season.
Mrs Tootlepedal thinks the Iris on the left is insipid but I prefer to regard it as delicate.
The white Peonies are gorgeous and after seeing the field of wild irises earlier in the week, it was pleasant to find one in the garden too. Mrs Tootlepedal planted it in the middle of some blue ones by mistake.
A new pale Astrantia is now showing its full glory.
I didn’t have long to spend admiring the flowers as I was due at the Town Hall to look after the photo exhibition for four hours in the afternoon. I had a few appreciative visitors to keep me company and a welcome visit from Sandy who had the misfortune to time his walk down to coincide with a very sharp shower of rain. How we laughed.
We arranged to meet after the exhibition was shut up for the day and have a short walk somewhere interesting. In the event, this too turned out to be exactly timed to coincide with another sharp shower so we abandoned the plan.
This gave me time to have another look round the garden when the rain had stopped. On this occasion, I looked at the back of the house where Mrs Tootlepedal has a very narrow strip of garden along the dam that runs behind the house. The plants there are not discouraged.
Add to these the fancy clematis that our neighbour Kenny has grown up against his shed on the other side of the dam and there is a feast of colour on every side.
I wandered back into the vegetable garden to check on the soft fruit. We have netting over the strawberry bed and the gooseberry bush which are both looking good but I have decided to share the blackcurrants, which are looking the best of all, with the birds. This is not kindness by laziness and I may still change my mind.
The rose ‘Goldfinch’ grows over the fence and can be seen from the vegetable garden. It is another rose which changes colour very quickly, the blooms coming out as yellow but turning white as soon as you turn your back on them.
It is a mark of how early everything is this year, that Mrs Tootlepedal’s main crop potatoes are flowering. Even odder is the fact that they are flowering before her earlies are out.
We have had a busy time lately and we are both a bit tired and as we have a concert tomorrow with our Carlisle choir, Mrs Tootlepedal thought that a good meal would be just the thing and cooked a splendid roast chicken with potatoes and peas for our tea.
While she was cooking it, a neighbour arrived to show me something of interest. I had received a query a few weeks ago from someone in Edinburgh who was looking for information about a local manufacturer of ginger beer or lemonade and Marion had found a bottle from just such a business, J & R Grieve, manufacturers of aerated waters. She thinks that it must date from the 1930s and it is in very good condition for such an old bottle.
It still has the glass marble in place.
Among all the bees, two blackbirds have got a nest with young in the middle of the hydrangea but I didn’t get a picture of them today so the non flying flower of the day is that luscious coral Peony.