Today’s guest picture shows my stepmother Patricia enjoying the flowers in Calke Abbey walled garden. She had been taken there by my brother Andrew, who sent me this.
It was choir day in Carlisle today so I started the morning off by making a venison stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir. When she got back, she just had time for a cup of coffee and a walk round the garden before she drove off to attend a farewell lunch for the organiser of the driving for the disabled group, who is going to live in Orkney.
This left me with a choice of catching the bus to Carlisle for the choir or cycling. I seriously considered cycling as I would get a lift back from Mrs Tootlepedal but the practicalities of suitable clothing and arriving in good order to sing persuaded me to catch the bus. Unfortunately, being Sunday, the service is rather infrequent and I had to leave a couple of hours earlier than would have been ideal.
Still, I had enough time to wander round the garden with my macro lens on the camera. I thought I should show a close up (or two) of the sort of bumble bee that has been visiting us in such great numbers.
If this is a white tailed bumble bee, which I think that it is, I read on the internet that they may live in burrows in colonies of up to 400 bees. This might explain why we are getting so many at one time.
Once again, the bees were not our only visitors.
The late season has brought contrasting fortunes to our flowers. The poppies, as you have seen, are doing well….
…but the cosmos on the right looks as though it might have left it too late to flower in spite of growing to a very healthy height. It should have been in flower for some time by now in a more normal year.
After yesterday’s flood of birds, there was no more than a trickle today and it is very difficult to work out why this should be as the overcast conditions and temperature were very much the same as yesterday. Perhaps a sparrowhawk had been patrolling the neighbourhood.
I caught the bus and was able to pass the time travelling to Carlisle in conversation with a friend. This was a good thing as I don’t like bus travel as the seats are always too small for my legs and I find it very uncomfortable unless I am distracted.
Once in the city, I found a suitable place for a light lunch (spinach and goat’s cheese tart and a cup of coffee in the Old Fire Station bistro!) and with nearly two hours to spare, I headed off to Bitts Park for a post prandial stroll.
The park was full of interest, both unnatural and natural.
There were more traditional things to see too.
It said in my morning paper that the recent conditions of warm days and chilly nights should lead to an excellent display of autumn colour but only sporadic signs of this are on show at present.
I followed the river upstream for a short way and passed under the Eden Bridge…
…which carries the road to Scotland over it. Before the Carlisle by-pass was built, this bridge carried virtually all the west coast traffic between England and Scotland and was the scene of some horrendous traffic jams as a result.
I walked back under the bridge and admired the very serene garden that sits in a hollow just beside the busy main road.
Then I had just enough time to walk to the church where our choir meets to be in time for our practice and meet Mrs Tootlepedal.
On my walks, I passed three of things which distinguish Carlisle, the castle, the cathedral and one of its public houses.
Carlisle is notable for the fact that is was the home of the ‘State Management Scheme’ which was the UK government’s take over of the brewing, distribution and sale of liquor in three regions of the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1973. The main focus of the scheme was centred on Carlisle and the surrounding district close to the armament factories at Gretna founded in 1916 to supply explosives and shells to the British Army during the First World War.
A central pillar of the scheme was the ethos of disinterested management; public house managers had no incentive to sell liquor, which supported the aim of reducing drunkenness and its effects on the arms industry. It had a ‘No Treating’ policy which operated from 1916 to 1919 forbidding the buying of rounds of drinks.
Another important feature of Carlisle is its place as a major railway junction and these two features could be seen at the same time from the path as I walked round the castle today.
I passed my last notable Carlisle landmark just before I got to the church.
The small brick built terraces are very typical of Carlisle.
Our choir practice was very had working as we are entered into two choir competitions and our conductor is anxious that we should be as good as we possibly can be. We are a bit short of men so if any local reader feels that a good sing under an excellent conductor would be just the thing for a Sunday afternoon, come along and join us. There is no audition.
When we got home, the venison stew turned out well, as slow cooked stews always seem to do and now we are looking forward to a few days of wet and windy weather which will make a change from the incessant calm and sunny days of recent weeks. Ah well, it couldn’t last for ever.
The flying bird of the day is one of that trickle of morning chaffinches.