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Archive for Sep, 2017

Today’s picture shows a camel which impressed Mary Jo from Manitoba when she went to have a look at Queen Victoria’s modest tribute to her husband, the Albert Memorial.

Albert memorial

It is a rather brief post today as everything in the garden was very soggy after some heavy overnight rain…

dahlia

A well sheltered dahlia had got through the night well

…and we had to have an early lunch before things were able to dry up because we had a concert in Carlisle Cathedral to prepare for.

We saw a splendid display of ink cap fungus in the car park when we got to the city.

carlisle fungus

After driving through another tremendous shower on the way to there, we were pleased to find the cathedral bathed in sunshine when we arrived.

Carlisle Cathedral

The concert was chiefly given by the Glasgow Phoenix Choir but our Carlisle choir had three songs to do as a starter for each half.  This meant an afternoon spent practising as the concert had arrived at very short notice and we were a bit underprepared and getting organised as far as things like seating and singing a couple of songs with the other choir went.

After the practice, we had a couple of hours to kill before the performance so we went to Rickerby Park in the centre of the town to have a picnic tea to restore our strength.

The car park was full of the cars of dog walkers….

Rickerby park

…but we were the only picnickers.

Rickerby park

To tell you the truth, it was perhaps a little chilly for eating outside but the light was gorgeous and if you could find a spot sheltered from the wind, it was not too bad.

The park and the river Eden were looking at their best.

River eden

Rickerby park

Rickerby park

There was even a herd of cows to make the scene look truly pastoral.

Rickerby park

Back at the cathedral, which has a spectacular ceiling….

carlisle cathedral

…I enjoyed listening to the Phoenix choir a lot and they had three splendid soloists to add a bit of variety to their menu.  I can’t speak for the whole of our choir but I felt that the tenors in particular were a lot better in the first half when we sang really well than in the second by which time, a little fatigue may have set in.

As we drove home, we noticed that the temperature had dropped to 4°C so there may be some damage to see when we get up.  We are going back to Carlisle again tomorrow for our regular choir practice so we will have done a lot of singing over the weekend.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent Mary Jo. She is currently on holiday in England and came across this fine gate in Salisbury.

Mary Jo's gate

Mrs Tootlepedal has been wanting a bit a manure to get her garden off to a good start for the next growing season so she had a word with a friend yesterday and early this morning, this arrived at our front gate…

Manure

…but even with the expert assistance of our neighbour Liz, the tractor was just too big to get itself turned round enough to back the trailer into the drive.

There was no alternative.

manure

What fun.

Luckily, Alasdair who had supplied the muck , was kind enough to stay on to help and with good teamwork….

manure shifting

…with Al and Liz filling barrows at one end of the drive and Mrs Tootlepedal creating an artistic muck heap at the other, the situation was soon saved.

manure shifted

I ran the shuttle service.

It wasn’t done in a few minutes but it was done just before Dropscone arrived for coffee and we sat down to a well earned rest, although some in the party didn’t think that they were getting a fair share of the scones.

Riley

This was the moment to test whether Mary Jo’s gift of saskatoon jam was the correct additive for a Langholm scone and after eating two of his scones with the jam on, Dropscone agreed that the jam passed the test with honour.  I must say that I thought that it went very well with a scone or two too.

After Liz and Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent a happy hour trying to erase any sign of manure other than that in the neat pile at the end of the drive…

manure

…and thanks to expert work by Mrs Tootlepedal with a teaspoon and a toothbrush, things were left looking pretty tidy.  Mrs Tootlepedal is looking forward to spreading the muck about generously in the coming months.

I once gave Mrs Tootlepedal a half load of manure for a Christmas present.  It was a very successful present as it sat outside our kitchen window for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal often remarked that every time that she looked at the great heap of muck, she thought of me.

The garden is still reasonably colourful for the time of year….

garden late Spetember 2107

…and the insects keep coming.

insects on dahlias

The dahlias were very popular today.

hoverfly

It was pleasantly cool while we were muck shifting, which was good, but the sun came out shortly afterwards and it was a great pleasure to be out in the garden.

Special Grandma looked particularly pleased.

special grandma

I made some potato and carrot soup for my lunch and then went off for a quick stroll round Gaskell’s Walk.  It was quite breezy so I was not unhappy to have had too little time for a cycle ride.  September has been a very poor month for cycling with bad weather at the start and too much to do at the end of the month but luckily, I am well ahead of my schedule for the year and with some good weather in October, I should still reach my target by Christmas.

I had very good weather for my stroll and enjoyed the peaceful look of Wauchope Churchyard as I passed.

Wauchope Churchyard

In spite of the sunshine, the brown and swirling waters flowing under the Auld Stane Brig show just how much rain we have had over recent weeks.

Auld Stane Brig

The ground is sodden and the rain showers seem to be very heavy when they come so we may expect a bit of a flood if it rains for a long time soon. All this water came from some rain last night.

I kept my eyes open as I walked and enjoyed this large fungus….

fungus

…and I hope that someone will be able to tell me if the white rim round the edge means that it is still alive and growing.

I did see other fungus and lichen but the light was too poor or too bright so I didn’t get very good pictures.

fungus and lichen

I thought that an oak might be showing autumn colour but it turned out to be caused by the galls on the back of the leaves.  Some of the oaks are covered in these galls.

oak galls

Some peering about on the internet tells me that they may be spangle galls.  If this is true we should be in for a plague of gall wasps as there are hundreds of these galls about.

Some of the oaks are free of them and I liked this perky acorn further along the walk.

acorn

I resisted the temptation to sit on a handy bench provided so that elderly walkers can sit and look back across the river at the Wauchope Churchyard and think dark thoughts about mortality and enjoyed the open views further on instead.

Meiklholm Hill

Grey clouds were looming over Meikleholm Hill.

A curious sheep looked back at me.

stubholm sheep

I didn’t dawdle too much and I just had time to check out a battered butterfly when I got home….

red admiral butterfly

…before jumping into the car with Mrs Tootlepedal and driving off to Eskdalemuir to collect the Camera Club photos which had been on exhibition at The Hub there.

Thanks to the good curation of the exhibition by Sharon and the other volunteers at The Hub, our club members had sold quite a few of the pictures and I was modestly very pleased to find that three of mine were among those that had found buyers.

It had rained a little as we had driven up but we did most of the journey in sunshine and I wish that I could have had time to stop to take a few pictures.  Of course, I would have had to remember to bring my camera with me and as I hadn’t, the lack of time wasn’t quite so painful.

The reason for the rush was a concert at the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.  This was given by Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham, who are absolute masters of the art of providing a congenial evening of traditional music and amusing commentary.   Their musicianship on fiddle and accordion is superb and the commentary in between the numbers can make your ribs hurt at times. Even if a lot of the tunes and stories may have made their appearance in former concerts, you greet them with all the enthusiasm you would greet a much loved old friend who has returned after some time abroad.

They have played together for forty years and have supreme and justified confidence in their own ability so they have no need to pester us with questions about whether we are having a good time or to play very loudly or to jump around and stamp to prove that they are trying.  They just sit there quietly and pour out a stream of magic and we are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is sitting on the hedge prior to taking off.

blackbird

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.

pheasant

I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well

blackbird

A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.

cotoneaster

The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.

crow

I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.

Goosander

It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture most unusually comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She took this picture of our neighbour Liz hard at work in the dam.

Liz in the dam

Unlike yesterday, I hardly stirred from the house and garden all day.  I did pop up to the town after breakfast to oversee the transfer of some unwanted stacking chairs from the Archive Centre to the Langholm Initiative.  As this involved merely opening the door and watching as two strong young men whisked the chairs out into a van and then locking the door again, it wasn’t very taxing or time consuming.

Once I got home, the day became all action.  It was dry and warm, even if it was cloudy, and too good a day not to get busy around the garden.

Because some work was being done elsewhere, the sluice to our dam was shut and this gave our neighbour Liz the chance to get busy cleaning out the part of the dam that runs along her garden and when I say busy, I am understating the case.  When she had finished, with a little help from Mrs Tootlepedal….

Dam cleaned

…the dam was auditioning for the role of Langholm’s first deep water port.

When most of the work was done, I made coffee for the workers and Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were joined by another neighbour, Margaret and between us, we cured many of the evils that are besetting the world at the moment.  It is just a pity that no local or world leaders were present to take our sage advice.

I hadn’t been entirely idle while the waterworks were going on and had managed to mow a patch of grass or two….

middle and front lawn

…trying my best to ignore signs which may indicate that Attila the gardener has plans to mangle my sward.

lawn works

Then I dead headed a lot of dahlias, calendula and poppies.  The poppies are still looking a fresh as when they first appeared….

poppy

…or even fresher.

poppy

One poppy had something that was not a bee on it and I was curious and took a closer look…

poppy

…without being much wiser as to what it was.

 

Perhaps because it wasn’t sunny, the poppies were not being pestered by bees to the same extent as they have been recently but there were still quite a lot about…

poppy with bees

…and on the dahlias as well.

bumble bees on dahlia

The large bumble on the left loves this dahlia and stayed on it for hours today.   There are so many different kinds of bumble bee that I can’t identify this one.

***Spoiler alert***

Infantile humour arriving.  Beware!

One I can identify, thanks to my knowledge of Rachmaninov, is this one….

bee

…which is of course, the bum of the flightlebee.  (Sorry)

***normal service has been resumed***

The Special Grandma rose, which is well sheltered from the elements, is going bananas.

Special Grandma rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz started on the dam behind our house on our side of the road and I did some more mowing….

green house grass and the drying green

….with the flymo…

….checked out a red admiral in profile and full wing…

red admiral

It is hard to recognise these pictures as the same butterfly

…..and then set about trimming the hedge along the road.

Before….

hedge

…and after.

hedge

As I explained to a passer by, I wasn’t aiming for geometrical precision.  Having just been to the south of France where the post impressionist painters worked, I told her that I had been inspired to create a post impressionist hedge, a hedge which didn’t look exactly like a boringly real hedge but a hedge which gave an impression of a hedge as an artist might see it, possibly while slightly drunk.  She seemed to think that I had succeeded admirably.

When I had finished the hedge, I went to see what the workers were doing.  Attila had her team beautifully regimented…

Dam team

…and their work rate was impressive.  The plan was to cut back the potentillas and thin out the dead wood until the side of the dam was clear, leaving the possibility of some variety next year. The plan was comprehensively executed….

potentilla clearing

…as were the potentillas.

I helped by barrowing away the prunings and offering helpful advice wherever it was needed….

fuchsia

…though I took time out to admire the fuchsia on our back wall….

bee and butterfly

…and celebrate the peaceful sharing nature of bee and butterfly on a sedum while I was dropping off a barrowload of branches.

 

There were innumerable barrowloads of clippings and I was happy to pause again to admire the nasturtiums and cosmos at the front gate on one of the trips.

nasturtiums and cosmos

In the end, even the indefatigable Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal proved human and work was stopped for the day.  To celebrate, I provided a large pot of tea and made some toast.  The toast was all the better for being eaten with some Saskatoon Jelly.  This had been very generously given to me by my Canadian correspondent Mary Jo when she met us in London at the weekend.

It was delicious.

Interestingly, although I had never heard of Saskatoon Jelly, it turns out to come from the plant Amelanchier alnifolia and Mrs Tootlepedal thinks there is a variety of Amelanchier  growing in a neighbour’s garden.

Throughout the day, I was keeping an eye out for walnuts which had fallen from our walnut tree.

walnuts

In spite of, or perhaps because of,  our cool summer, the are plenty of nuts around and quite a lot of them are full of nutty goodness.  Jackdaws pick them from the tree and then often seem to drop them so that neighbours quite a distance away sometimes come upon walnuts in their own gardens.

There was a certain sagging at the end of a busy day but I was sufficiently refreshed by the last of the venison stew to get myself out for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  It was very well attended and as the music was varied and enjoyable, I was pleased to have made the effort.

During the day, I visited Liz to check out her electric lawn mower.  It seems both efficient and easy to use.  I am thinking of declaring our Flymo past its use by date and her mower looks like a good type of replacement.  As well as the mower, I couldn’t help noticing a very pretty rose growing on a trellis on her wall and it is the flying bird of the day.

Liz's rose

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who went back to the low countries after our visit to Marseille.  He was surprised to find a local pipe band in Ghent.  They are wearing McKenzie tartan kilts, our mother’s clan.

ghent pipe band

The forecast was for a calm and often sunny day.  I made a plan to pedal based on the forecast.  The forecast turned out to be correct and my plan came to fulfilment.   Two unusual things on the same day.

Before I left, I printed out a copy of yesterday’s guest picture of the day for our neighbour Liz.  She is entering it in an informal competition so I hope it does well….

…and then I had a quick look round the garden.

The internally lit dahlia is still giving its best…

dahlia

…and it has a little competition.

dahlia

The insects were out in force again today.

hoverfly and bee

This was the destination of choice.

poppy with bees and hoverfly

Not quite as many as yesterday but still impressive.

I finally ran out of cycle avoidance excuses and set off with a plan to see how my legs were doing after a very light cycling month.  I chose a route that started out over the hills and then headed down towards England and the coast.

It was sunny but hazy….

view near gair

…and there were signs of autumn both in Scotland…

Sprinkell trees

…and England.

Rockcliffe trees

Regular readers will know that I like a tree tunnel…..

near Rockliffe

…and this one, near Rockliffe, is one of my favourites.

The wind was light but persistent and I found it quite hard work cycling into it so I was happy to stop after 30 miles to visit a pub for a half pint of draught beer (very good) and a plate of egg and chips (absolutely excellent) at the Drover’s Rest in Monkshill.

The road that the pub is on was closed, though I was able to pedal through the works quite easily, so I was the only customer.  In a sign of the times, cooking the egg and chips, which were not on the menu, was no problem but finding out how to record the sale on a computerised till, which didn’t have egg and chips on it, caused a lot of head scratching.

The Drover’s Rest had an interesting notice in the bar.

state management notice

I hadn’t realised that the state management of brewery and pubs had stretched out of Carlisle.

I pedalled on down to the Solway shore.  I had the intention of showing readers a lovely scene of the Solway sparkling under a blue sky but this scheme didn’t go well for two reasons.

  1. The sun went in
  2. The tide was out

I settled for some marsh cattle grazing peacefully.

marsh cattle

You can see the Scottish shore in the background but no sign of the Solway in between.  Drovers who knew what they were doing were able to walk across to Scotland in the old days.

The cattle were finding the marsh grass very much to their taste…

marsh cattle

…but I could definitely have done with a bit more water than the trickle that was available.

Solway shore

More of a river than the sea

Further along the coast, when I had passed through Bowness on Solway, a flash of white caught my eye.

little egret

It was at the limit of the Lumix’s capabilities but I stopped because I don’t think that a little egret has appeared on the blog before.

It had friends close by.

lapwing and gull

The bird in the left is a lapwing.  We used to see lots of them in the fields round Langholm when we first came to the area forty years ago but we hardly ever see one now.  I don’t know what sort the gull is.

Out on the mudflats far beyond the egret, a group of curlews was calling and scratching…

curlews and heron

…and a heron flew lazily past.

A good pair of binoculars  and a long lens would have been useful.

After a last look at the little egret….

little egret

….I pedalled on round the radio station at Anthorn and came into the estuary of the Whampool where a large flock of lapwings was sitting in the shallows.

lapwings

I do know this gull. It is a black headed gull like the ones on our Kilngreen.

The skies had clouded over a lot and the River Whampool was looking mean, moody but not quite magnificent.

Whampool River

I had done 50 miles by this time and the issue of getting home before dark was raising its head so I gave up thoughts of 100 miles, which would have required an earlier start to the day, and settled for a fairly direct route home.  Unfortunately this required cycling straight into the light wind for the first part and then some steady uphill work for the last part so the camera stayed in my pocket as I concentrated on getting home.

I was feeling a bit feeble and I stopped at Springfield for a delicious ice cream and then battled my way back by Milltown of Sark and over the Bloch.

I was unusually tired when I got home and  a visit to the scales showed that I had lost 2kg on the trip which means that I had not managed to get a balanced food and liquid intake on the ride (the first time this year on the longer rides) and that would explain the fatigue.

I did have the energy to take a picture of the Virginia Creeper on the fence at the end of the drive, which is very striking….

virginia creeper

…and I went to check on the bees’ favourite poppies.

poppy

The bees had been busy

poppy

Very busy

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy too,  helping at the Buccleuch Centre when I got home but she soon returned and made me a nourishing evening meal for which I was extremely grateful.

When I had helped her out with her accounts yesterday, she assured me that she would love me for ever but a remark or two today after certain humorous efforts of mine indicated that there might be a conditional element in this.

She has been considering major improvements to the flower beds round the middle lawn and I want to put it on record that I regard any such plans as being a really good thing.

Anyone interested in details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 26 Sept 2017

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz.  She enjoyed this misty view on one of her morning walks recently.

Mist on Whita

There were no views at all when we woke up this morning, as the hills were shrouded in clouds and a fine drizzle was falling.  Luckily I had a stint in the Welcome to Langholm office to do so the miserable weather didn’t trouble me.

I was kept very busy putting  data into the Archive Group database while entertaining Dropscone, who had news of a recent golfing triumph to pass on and John, another friend, who was recovering from a visit to the physiotherapist nearby.  What with golf and creaking joint talk and two visits from tourists seeking a welcome and the computer work as well, the two hours passed in a flash.

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but  I found Mrs Tootlepedal engrossed in the tricky matter of balancing some accounts rather than gardening.  After we had had a cup of coffee with our neighbour Liz, I foolishly offered to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with her accounts and the afternoon was well under way by the time that the figures on both sides of the ledger had obediently fallen into place.  Although it is very annoying when columns don’t add up, it is very satisfying when they finally do.

Still, a lot of quite good weather had gone by unused which was a pity.  We went out into the garden and while Mrs Tootlepedal got down to work, I looked around.

nasturtiums

A couple of cheery nasturtiums beside the front gate

Cardoon

A last look at a cardoon before Attila the gardener gives them the chop soon

I did a little much needed dead heading and upset a good number of bees and hoverflies who were looking for pollen.  At one moment, almost all of them chose the same poppy.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

We stood for some time watching the crowd, our mouths open in astonishment.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

After all, it was quite an astonishing sight.

Because my flute pupil Luke was due in the early evening, I didn’t have time to go for a cycle ride but it was such a pleasantly warm and calm day by now that I left Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work and went off for a short walk.

Beside the river I stopped to enjoy a wagtail wagging its tail and a dipper dipping.

Wagtail

The dipper was in all action mode, disappearing under the water for ages at a time and dabbing about vigorously when it emerged.

dipper dipping

It did pose for me for a brief moment though.

dipper

At the Kilngreen, I saw a lonely herring gull….

herring gull

…and some restful ducks.

ducks in the grass

This was my favourite.

duck

Occasional sunshine brought out the colours which are beginning to appear all around.

Esk

Although there are plenty of fallen autumnal looking leaves about….

autumn leaves

…there are still many more on the trees.

leaves

The combination of many greens and some red and yellow meant that there was always a delight for the eye as I walked along.

early autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholm

I kept my eyes open for other smaller things.  This fungus on a tree stump interested me greatly.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it before.

tree stump fungus

They growths are tiny and I thought that they were sprinkled crumbs when I first saw them

It was a really pleasant walk and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to be out longer.

When I got back to the house, I reflected that it was lucky that we don’t shut the front gate very often…

nasturtiums on front gate

Our friend Mike Tinker was chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and she was telling him of great plans for improvements for next year.  I look forward to photographing the results.

I had a last look round…

fuchsia

…and was pleased to spot a red admiral butterfly on a rudbeckia.

red admiral butterfly

We read in the paper this morning that it has been an exceptionally good year for red admiral butterflies and we have certainly seen a great many in our garden in the last few weeks.

Then I had to go in to get ready for the flute lesson which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was quite pleased to have no further obligations for the day as I am feeling a little tired after dashing from end to end of the continent last week.  Somehow sitting in down in trains, although it is very enjoyable, is also quite tiring.

An early night won’t do me any harm.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Sandra who lives on the opposite side of town.  She has a fine crop of fungus on a tree stump on her drive.

IMG_5219

It was Sunday so, as is traditional, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I prepared a venison stew for the slow cooker.

Before I started the cooking though, I took some time out to see how the garden had been doing during the absence of the gardener.

The nerines have thrived.

nerines

The sedum is out and attracting business.

sedum with bee

The dahlias badly need dead heading but there are a lot still going well, both neat…

dahlia

…and rather shaggy.

dahlias

There were a lot of takers for dahlia pollen.

dahlia with bees

The poppies also need dead heading but there were still a good number of them too which was gratifying…

poppiespoppies

…both for us and for many insects.

Some had given all they had to give though.

poppies

Other flowers are doing well as we don’t seem to have had much in the way of cold mornings while we have been away.

fuchsia

clematis

Japanese anemones

cornflower

There a lot of poppies still to come.

 

The large lily and the rudbeckia area bit past their best.

lily and rudbeckia

There is even a new flower, Leycesteria formosa…

Leycesteria formosa

…commonly known as Himalayan honeysuckle and which can be quite a pest.   It looks very nice though so I hope Mrs Tootlepedal lets it some of it stay.

All in all, things don’t look too bad although there is a lot of tidying to do.

I went in and made the stew and then came out to give the greenhouse grass a light mow before finally getting into my cycling gear to see if I still remembered how to use a bicycle.   I have hardly done any cycling this month for one reason or another so although I didn’t have a lot of time, I thought it was a good idea to do a few miles.

I went for a shortened version of my customary Canonbie circuit which worked out at 16 miles and this was quite enough for a gentle reintroduction to the art of pedalling after two days of sitting in trains.

The country is gradually turning brown….

Bloch

…and some of the trees are following suit.

Chapelhills

…so I stopped for a couple of riverside shots on my way.

Hollows Bridge

The view from Hollows Bridge

Irvine House

Irvine House

Skippers Bridge

The view from Skippers Bridge

It was warm, the wind was light and my legs worked reasonably well so I enjoyed my ride. I didn’t have long after I got back before it was time for a quick lunch and a trip to Carlisle for a Carlisle Community Choir practice.

We are taking part in a concert in the Cathedral next Saturday with a celebrated Glasgow Choir and as a result we had a very hard working session.  I am happy to say that with two exceptions, I was nearly able to remember both all the words and the tenor parts for five of the seven songs we are singing from memory at the concert.  There will have to be a lot of work on one in particular of the other two before Saturday.  I only wish that I liked this particular song a bit more and then the work wouldn’t be quite as hard. It is our conductor’s favourite though so I will try to do it justice.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting a poppy.

bee and poppy

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