Taking it easy

Mario's snails

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent.  She tells me that her husband Mario met these attractive creatures at at Weetslade country park, another of the North East’s redeveloped former pit sites.

Mario's snails

I felt remarkably well when I got up but was quite pleased to find it was a grey and drizzly day which gave me an excuse for not doing too much in the way of outdoor activity.

I put the time to good use by putting a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have been very idle about this and I am still putting in some weeks of 1893 while Sandy is busy entering data for 1894.

I did do a bit of gardening in a dry spell when Mrs Tootlepedal was singing in the church and I took the opportunity to admire the poppies.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s packet of mixed seeds is beginning to show a bit of variety.

mixed poppies

My favourite poppy gets a solo portrait and it shows that there are plenty more poppies to come.


On the down side, one of the disappointing peony poppies added to its lack of attraction by causing a mess on the lawn.

poppy mess

I cheered myself up with a look at one of the cornflower patches.  They seem to last for ever.


With the bird feeder not in action, the garden is quite quiet as far as feathered friends go but there are still a few blackbirds to be seen every day.


When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Church, we went off to do some shopping and returned in good time to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and the ladies’ race which preceded it.

As the real action doesn’t get going until the last few kilometres of the main event, I went out for a walk between the end of the ladies’ race and the end of the men’s stage.

It was still drizzling on and off and the light was poor but there was enough to see a good selection of birds.  On the Esk there were the usual oyster catchers and pied wagtails but today I saw a grey wagtail as well.

wagtails and oyster catcher

Lurking under an arch of the Town Bridge a few yards away was the familiar figure of Mr Grumpy in a reflective mood.


I walked over the bridge and through the Clinthead garden, where I saw a thrush hiding under a bush…


…and was entertained by many flying birds on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull and mallard

There were black headed gulls in the sky and mallards over the river but the most obvious flying bird was almost right under my nose.


I got quite a start when Mr Grumpy flew past me.  He had come to pose in better light for a portrait.


I walked over the Sawmill Bridge and onto the Castleholm, keeping an eye out for fungi.  I didn’t have to look very hard.

fungi on castleholm
Other creatures had obviously seen them first.

fungi on castleholm

On the other side of the Castleholm, a large patch of colour beside the race course stood out.


It was lesser knapweed.


It started drizzling again so I took the shortest route home over the Jubilee Bridge, stopping to look at a tree as I crossed.

Helicopter seeds
I used to love playing helicopters with seeds like this when I was a boy

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home so I peered over our hedge and saw the view of the garden that casual passers by get.

Garden from the road

Even on a very grey day, there is a colourful corner somewhere in the garden.

Ligularia, phlox and Bobbie james
Mostly Ligularia, phlox and Bobbie James

I got home on good time for the finale of the tour and wondered to myself what I will use as an excuse to be idle now that the three week race is over.  Perhaps I will have to lead a useful life.

Yesterday’s sausage stew provided us with another meal and that ended the entertainment for the day.

The shot for the flying bird of the day reveals the complicated arrangements that Mr Grumpy has to make when he comes into land.

heron landing




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

36 thoughts on “Taking it easy

  1. I liked all the ‘Grumpy’ photos too. The garden looks lovely even on a dull drizzly day – congratulations to Mrs T and of course her able assistant! It was also good to see the great variety of birds you found today.

  2. I liked the oyster catchers and both species of wagtails, but it’s hard for them to compete with Mr. Grumpy, whether stationary or in flight!

    I also liked the wider views of the garden, a great way to cheer up a dreary day.

  3. Loved to see the Pied Wagtail too but Mr. Grumpy really stole the show and you got beautiful flight pictures of him. I was a bit surprised last week to see he has a relative in the Galapagos, tell him hello.

  4. I love Bobbie James, a rose I used to have; thanks for the reminder. I’d be hanging over the hedge snooping at your garden every time I walked by.

    Thanks for all the great shots of the always amusing Mr Grumpy.

  5. I love the snail shells and it’s easy to see why that’s your favorite poppy. It’s really unusual.
    The ligularia really creates a hot spot in that corner of the garden. It’s an under used plant and it’s nice to see it.
    I’ve had herons fly that close to me and I’m not sure that I could have kept my wits about me enough to get a good photo.

  6. Your garden is a joy to look at whichever angle it is viewed from with such beautiful splashes of colour. Love the ‘dancing’ snails and it looks as though Mr G is trying to tango too! Your granddaughter will love those helicopters next time she visits.

  7. Great to see so many birds out and about with yourself. Do you see many hedgehogs on your travels? I’ve been very upset to see a resurgence in their numbers hereabouts, would only see the odd roadkill in the past few years, but this year I must have seen a couple of dozen. It is very sad indeed. Only last week I was so pleased to see an obviously quite young hedgehog venturing to cross the cycle path ahead of me, in the early hours of the morning, as I commuted to work. Yesterday, I was more than dismayed to see two bodies on the road at roughly the same spot. The poor things don’t stand a chance with the traffic, racing along at 50-60 miles an hour, they just cannot negotiate the high kerbs at the roadsides. I hope their numbers are back on the increase, it is just so sad, that it means more roadkill.

    1. I very rarely see hedgehogs at all though we have had one in our garden. One even came into the house on one occasion but we don’t see them on a day to day or even month to month basis.

  8. A beautiful collection of birds and flowers! Mr. Grumpy certainly does have quite the problem of properly landing with those long legs. The snails are quite striking as well.

    I can see why that poppy is your favorite. It looks as if it is shining with an inner light.

  9. The solo picture of your favourite poppy is so beautiful. What a splendid shot! It’s nice to see Mr Grumpy appear in flying bird of the day. He’s quite a character.

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