Archive for Jul, 2018

Today’s guest picture comes from Anne, my cello playing friend Mike’s wife, who came across a very odd looking bird at her daughter’s bird feeder.  I would like to see red squirrels in our garden.

squirrel on birdfeeder

It was one of those days when it was hard to get some satisfactory organisation into my outdoor life thanks to a very indifferent weather forecast.  One thing the forecast did get right was the strong wind which, with frequent  gusts at 30 mph, was quite enough to stop me cycling.

But it couldn’t work out when it was going to rain and in the end, it didn’t rain at all.

This was a bit disappointing in two ways.

Firstly because if you don’t do something because it is going to rain and then it doesn’t rain, then it means that you feel a little foolish.

Secondly, because the post brought me a great treat in the shape of a gift from Mary Jo from Manitoba…

MJ's scientific rain gauge


….a genuinely scientific rain gauge which  was no use to me on a day when it didn’t rain.

However, I am reasonably sure that it will come into its own quite soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day in the garden, determined to do as much as possible before it rained and as it didn’t rain, she did a lot.

I did a bit.  I mowed two lawns during the day and picked beans, an onion, spinach and courgettes to make some more green soup.

I took some pictures too.


We had some sunny spells and it was warm enough to make being out in the garden a pleasure.

There is a lot of yellow crocosmia waiting to come out round the garden and the first flowers have just appeared.

yellow crocosmia

The French marigolds which are protecting the carrots from carrot root fly are worth having just for themselves.

French marigolds

There is plenty of productivity to be seen among the doddering dillies and the rowan berries.

rowan and doddering dillies

Among the tasks that Mrs Tootlepedal accomplished was the first clipping of the remodelled chicken.

new chicken

It has been a patient process.  It looked this in 2016…

topiary chicken

…and then like this after some drastic surgery in April 2017. …

thin chicken

…and then like this in August 2017.

topiary chicken

Mrs Tootlepedal plays a long game.

She also trimmed this year’s growth on some of the espalier apples, revealing a good crop of fruit.

espalier apples

This led to a lot of shredding and we had to put an extra couple of sections onto compost Bin A to stop it overflowing.

While I was making the soup, I watched the birds.  They seem to be fully recovered from the soaking they got a day or two ago…

greenfinch and siskin

…but this hasn’t improved their behaviour.  After chaffinches kicking greenfinches and greenfinches kicking chaffinches, we got greenfinch versus greenfinch today.

kicking greenfinches

When the rain held off after lunch, I went for a walk.

Even after the rain showers that we have had since the weekend, there is still very little water in our rivers….

auld stane brig

…though the water has turned a little browner than usual.

I walked up the road to the the Auld Stane Brig and then went back home by way of Gaskell’s and Easton’s walk.

There was not much moss and lichen to see after the dry spell but there was plenty to catch the eye as I went along.

furry plant

And if I got peckish, I could find wild raspberries to keep me going.

wild raspberry

They were delicious.

I know enough now to expect to find different patterns on the back of ferns.

fern backs

It looks as though there will be a good crop of sloes and acorns this year.

sloe and acorn

It wasn’t hard to spot insects on the flowers beside the tracks.


There were quite a few wasps about.

insect on umbellifer

When I got near the end of my stroll, I went down to the Esk to see of the family of oyster catchers was still about.  They had morphed into two gulls.

gulls on esk

They look like two juvenile lesser black backed gulls to me but I may need correcting by knowledgeable readers.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still hard at work in the garden when I got back so I did a bit of hedge clipping to help.  Mrs Tootlepedal is gradually reducing both the width and the height of the box hedges round the front lawn and this is a very labour intensive job.  The hedges recover remarkably well from this rough treatment.

I hope for more sun and less wind soon as I need to get some cycling miles in.

I did a little work updating the Langholm Walks website.  Langholm has been officially accredited (by an official accreditor) as a walking friendly town and I have added a note of this to the website.

The flying bird of the day is one of our many greenfinch visitors.

flying greenfinch





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Today’s guest picture shows an interesting robin, seen in Nottingham by my brother Andrew.

robin from nottingham

After many weeks absence, we saw a robin in our garden today….

robin in July

…but it was a rather more modest bird than the Nottingham one..

Alert readers will have noted the absence of Sandy from the blog in recent weeks.  The reason for this is that he has been very busy building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend who is knowledgeable about such things.  The shed is finally finished and he was able to come for a coffee today.  It was good to see him and catch up on his news.  I hope to go for a visit to the shed soon and get a picture of it.

The forecast was as unreliable as the weather today and we had a mixture of sunshine and showers.  Some unexpected sunshine  in the morning allowed time for gardening and while Mrs Tootlepedal did what she called ‘editing’, I did a little mowing, some hedge shortening (vertically rather than horizontally), dead heading, shredding and wandering about with my camera in my hand.

The first focus was on white things.

A set of hostas are producing very pretty white flowers….

white hosta flower

…and I like this paper white poppy.

white poppy

Although there is an occasional peacock butterfly about, I haven’t been able to get a good shot of them so I had to make do with a white butterfly on the buddleia again.

white butterfly on buddleia

More colourful flowers were to be seen.

yellow flowers

red flowers

I like sweet peas a lot so I am pleased to see them doing well this year.

sweet peas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this flower is a California poppy or eschscholzia californica…

californian poppy

…but she is at a loss as to how it came to be where it is.  She had a packet of seeds at some time but she didn’t sow them there.

A lot of the tall sunflowers have fallen victim to the wind and the rain but happily, some have survived.


And Mrs Tootlepedal is particularly pleased that the zinnias have come through too.  She was giving them some extra support today.

zinnia survived

I liked the cheerful colours of her new berberis.


During the morning,  chief data miner Nancy called in with another pile of weeks of the newspaper index ready for entering in the database.  I shouldn’t complain as it gives me something useful to do on rainy days.

Having checked the forecast, which offered ‘rain later’, I had an early lunch and went out for a bike ride.  It was a day for skulking in the valley bottom with heavy clouds and a noticeable wind blowing.

“Rain later’ turned into ‘rain now’ when I got about four miles from town so I turned back with a view to considering my options when I got home.  Fortunately the rain stopped after about nine miles and I pottered back up the road again to the gate on Callister…

callister gate

…which is getting ever more overgrown.

The weather was set fair for a while…Callister view

…and with the wind now behind me, I whizzed back down the hill.  After four day with no cycling, the twenty miles just kept me ahead of my schedule for the year.  My timing was good as it started to rain soon after I got back.

I went upstairs to have a shower and took the opportunity to look down on the bird feeder from above for a change.

A chaffinch perched on the feeder pole…


…which was probably the safest place to be as down below a greenfinch was taking revenge for the kicking one of the family got from a chaffinch yesterday.

greenfinch kicking chaffinch

The unfortunate kickee made off at speed.

chaffinch departing

I had a closer look at the sparrow on the feeder…

bald sparrow

..and noticed that it has a bald patch.  The siskin on the right has been trapped and released by the bird ringers.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and was not allowed to leave without taking some courgettes.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and I had a useful idea which led to an improvement in his playing.  It is always helpful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something, then the teacher not the pupil is probably almost certainly at fault.

In the evening, I went to play Telemann trios with Mike and Isabel.  I was a bit short of puff by the time that we got to the end of the third sonata but it was very enjoyable all the same.

The unsettled weather is set to continue and with strong winds and rain showers about tomorrow, I may have already completed my cycling for July!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin





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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  As the rain poured down today, it was good to be reminded of our sunny Common Riding which this enthusiast observed from beside the Castleholm.

common riding spectator

It rained so heavily during the night that it woke us both up.  Luckily it didn’t rain that heavily for long but my scientific (even though it has a leak) rain gauge had recorded the shower(s) when I checked at breakfast time.

rain gauge morning

It didn’t take long for the rain to start again and it more or less rained for the rest of the morning and afternoon and only stopped in the early evening.

The rain gauge recorded that too.

rain gauge afternoon

Mrs Tootlepedal went to church and heard the minister announce that he is hoping to move to a new parish soon.  This is sad news for us and he will be missed

As it was too wet to do anything more interesting, we went out to visit a couple of garden centres at lunchtime and an indication of how dry the ground has been was given by the fact that the river Esk had hardly risen at all.

Still, there was no need to think about watering the garden today.

dahlias in rain

I had a walk round before we went out in a drier moment.

The verbascum has come to the end of the road with only a single flower lefty on the very tip of each strand.

final verbascum flower

Many of the phlox blossoms have been beaten to the ground.

fallen phlox

(Notice how nobly I resisted the temptation to say that many of the phlox phlowers had phallen off)

The tropeaeolum seems unaffected by drought or rain.

tropaeolum wet

I hope that the weather will be kind to this lily…


…which looks very promising.

Our trip to the garden centres was productive as we got stuff for the garden at one and a good lunch at the other.

When we got home, it was still a miserable day with the clouds so low that they were banging on the pavements as we drove through the town.

I set up the bird watching camera and watched the birds.

Once again I was surprised by how well damp birds manage to fly.  We had no shortage of visitors to the feeder in the rain.

Chaffinches appear to be more waterproof…

perching chaffinch in rain

…than greenfinches…

soggy greenfinch on feeder

…which all had rather soggy heads.

soggy greenfinch on feeder 2

There was constant traffic while I watched.

busy feeder wet day

And this led to some more inconsiderate  behaviour.

An impatient chaffinch gave a greenfinch a kick…

chaffinch kicking greenfinch 1

…and finding that it didn’t budge, it drew back…

chaffinch kicking greenfinch 2

…and had another go.

chaffinch kicking greenfinch 3

All the birds began to look a bit bedraggled….

wet flying chaffinch

…but these two took the prize.

very soggy goldfinch

The evening turned out to be quite dry so perhaps they will have a chance to recover before it starts raining again.   At least the temperature is going to stay above 10°C overnight and the the persistent rain forecast for tomorrow is supposed to be light.

After our sleep disturbed night, we were very happy to be able to relax on the sofa in the afternoon and watch the Welsh Wonder officially win the Tour de France.

After the cycling was over, I thought about going for a cycle ride in a brisk wind on wet roads and stayed inside and put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.  This effort finally finished off the work for 1897 and if the rain continues, 1898 will soon be under way.

I made a stew for our tea and was able to make use of some ingredients from the garden for the meal.

turnip runner beans and carrots

We can confidently say that for this year at least, Mrs Tootlepedal’s battle against the carrot root fly has been won.  The rain has brought the runner beans on with a vengeance and we will be full of beans again.

It was sometimes difficult to tell the birds apart in the rain but I think that the flying bid of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow in rain



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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was visiting the Lake District a couple of days ago and enjoyed the same good weather as we have been having.  She took this picture from the top of a double decker bus while she was going from Grasmere to Keswick.

Between Grasmere and Keswick - from the top of a double decker bus

After the excitements of the Common Riding, we had a much quieter day today and in this we were greatly helped by some typical Langholm summer weather, namely strong winds and frequent rain.

It came as a bit of a shock after the endless sunshine but it was quite welcome from a gardening point of view….

soggy lawn

…even though the lawn was so dry that the rain just lay on the surface rather than soaking in.

Later in the day, Mrs Tootlepedal found that the soil was still dry just under the surface.  But as I write this post, the rain is beginning to rise up in my scientific rain gauge and since the forecast says that it is going to rain every day for a week, we shouldn’t have to worry about dry soil for too long.

Matilda and her parents stayed for lunch before heading off.  Although Matilda had enjoyed her stay, she didn’t seem to be too unhappy about going back to her own home…

matilda going home

…a feeling I can fully understand.

It has been a treat having her and her parents to stay.

There were odd patches of sunshine during the day…

sunny dahlia

…and I am very pleased to see the Fuchsias doing well as they are my favourite flower.


…but mostly it seemed to be raining.

soggy dahlia

I am hoping that the cosmos will benefit from the celestial watering can…


…as there are still a lot which are reluctant to show any flower buds.

The dahlias have been fairly carefully watered and they are producing a new flower every day.

dahlia of the day

The vegetable garden is still working well and Al and Clare were well loaded up with courgettes before they were allowed to leave.

When the visitors had gone, I set the bird watching camera up and watched the birds.  Mrs Tootlepedal rightly pointed out that some of the youngest birds have probably never seen rain before but there was a steady stream of seed seekers.

The strong wind made landing an adventure…

sparrow landing

…and the fact that the feeder was only half full made perches hard to find.

flying greenfinch

A young greenfinch discovered that making faces at a determined sparrow…

sparrow and greenfinch 2

…only leads to violence.

sparrow and greenfinch

In the afternoon, we watched the time trial stage of the Tour de France rather nervously but all was well and our favourite, Geraint Thomas, came through with flying colours and should proceed ceremonially to victory tomorrow.  He has had a lot of bad luck on previous tours though and I wouldn’t put it completely beyond the bounds of possibility that he gets struck by lightning on his way to Paris.  Fingers are firmly crossed.

One good thing about the wet weather was that it let me get another week of the newspaper index entered into the Archive Group database and if the forecast is correct, I soon should be ahead of the game.  Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.

On the down side, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden in the late afternoon and found that the wind had done a lot of damage to our tall sunflowers.

Here she is reflecting on the fate of one of them.

broken sunflower

It is still a spectacular flower but it doesn’t look as good in a vase in the kitchen as it did against the fence in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch



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No guest picture today but a portrait of Cornet Little, who carried the town’s flag today.

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 3

We had been promised all sorts of weather, thunderstorms, steady rain, occasional drizzle but in the end, we got a beautiful day for our Common Riding and it was shirtsleeve order until the very end of the day when rain arrived.

As a result of the sunshine, there are a lot of pictures in today’s post so I will try to keep the commentary to a minimum.

It couldn’t have been sunnier when I went along to meet the procession as it came down Thomas Telford Road after breakfast.

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 1

The Town Band is hidden in the crowd there and I was surprised when they came into view to find that Scott the minister was playing the cymbals.

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 2

The band moved on to take their place in front of the mounted procession, led by the front three…

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 4

…before it went back down Thomas Telford Road, crossed the Langholm Bridge…

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 5

…and disappeared down the High Street towards Townfoot.

Common Riding 2018 TT Road 6

While they went on their way, I and a lot of the rest of the town and its many visitors headed up the Kirk Wynd.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 1

Most stopped there to cheer the cornet and his followers as they galloped up the steep hill.  I went further up the hill, passing Mike Tinker and family who had got into a good position earlier on near the Golf Club.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 2

I like to find a position where there are not two hundred people between me and the horses so I climbed a bit higher up the hill, found a secluded spot and admired the views for a few minutes…

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 3Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 4

…before the cornet appeared , proudly carrying our flag up the hill…

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 5

…followed as ever by the left….

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 6

…and right hand men…

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 7

…and then the rest of the 140 or so riders….

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 8

…who cantered past me, kicking up a great dust on their way to the hill.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the Kirk Wynd 9

While they continued to the Castle Craigs and the Monument before returning to the town, I went home to meet up with the rest of the family and had a restorative cup of coffee.

Leaving the others behind, as Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal had been out in quite enough sun for the time being, I found a quiet spot on the bank of the Ewes Water just below the Sawmill Brig.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water1

It was very peaceful, with a few people and a row of attentive gulls hanging about.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water2

It wasn’t long though before the pipe band led a procession of children carrying heather besoms over the sawmill brig, bringing a lot of people with it….

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water3

…and soon the banks of the river downstream were also filling up with spectators.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water4

Some foot soldiers, bearers of the spade, crossed the river on foot…

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water5

…and they were followed by the cornet and his retinue.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water6

Once across, the riders assembled on the Castleholm…

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water7

…and this took enough time for me to walk back to the town bridge from which I could see the last of the riders still crossing the water.

Common Riding 2018 crossing the water 8

I waited on the banks of the Esk until the cornet had been led past Langholm Castle to start the cornets chase…

Common Riding 2018 cornets chase

…and then went home for lunch.

After lunch, Matilda was ready for action.


She was wearing sensible glasses and a serious hat and every available inch of skin was covered with sunscreen.  Thus armoured, she, I and her mother made our way to the Castleholm where we could watch runners…


Ready, steady, GO!!

…and dancers…

highland dancing

…who must have been intolerably hot in their heavy costumes…

…and catch glimpses of hardy souls having fun on one of the rides at the fair on the Kilngreen.  (Though I use the word fun very loosely when you see it involves being twirled round upside down high above the treetops and then having to wait suspended in the air while new victims get aboard down below.)


My chief interest as usual was the horse racing.  The organisers had been busy with an agricultural sprayer watering the track in the past week so the going was surprisingly good considering the lack of rain.

Common Riding 2018 racing 10

I left Matilda and Clare at the end of the straight where they could see the horses thundering towards them and took my place at the bottom corner.

It was a six furlong sprint and the riders rocketed round the track at an alarming speed…

Common Riding 2018 racing 9

“At full stretch”

…even the one bringing up the rear of the field.

Common Riding 2018 racing 8

The Castleholm racetrack has tight corners and getting round them calls for a great deal of strength and skill.

Common Riding 2018 racing 7

It doesn’t take a horse long to cover six furlongs and within a minute or so the field was slowing down as it came round the bottom corner again having passed the winning post.

Common Riding 2018 racing 6

Before the next race, we were joined by Al and he came up to join me at the top corner.  This was the feature race of the day and worth a cool thousand pounds to the winner.

The runners paraded in the paddock…

Common Riding 2018 racing 5

…before going down to the seven furlong start.  The starter got them off to a very even start…

Common Riding 2018 racing 4

…and I could see them streaking up the back straight…

Common Riding 2018 racing 3

…before rounding the top corner in style…

Common Riding 2018 racing 2

…with the back marker once again trying as hard as all the others.

Common Riding 2018 racing 1

Matilda was quite well enough cooked by now so we made our way home…


Clare, Al and Matilda

…accompanied by a new friend.

Our return was perfectly timed to catch the end of the last mountain stage of the Tour de France and after that we had a peaceful time for the rest of the day.

Matilda took Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden to do some experimental cycling on the lawn and followed that with some watering and frog spotting from our new garden bridge.

Mrs T and Matilda

This was the frog that they spotted.


I was looking for peacock butterflies and found several of them on the buddleia.

peacock butterfly pair 2

They were working in pairs today.

peacock butterfly pair 1

The Common Riding day ends with dancing, first on the Castleholm and then in the streets on the way back into town for the handing back of the flag.  Every year, I think that I will go up to the field and take some final pictures there and every year, my tired body thinks differently.

I had hoped to close the post with magnificent shots of a blood red moon and Mars but sadly after a sunlit day, the skies clouded over.

Instead of the moon, there is a continuous flicker of lightning around the hills to the north of the town and a distant rumble of thunder so I better send this post off before our connection gets broken.

Some bright flowers from the garden today will have to round things off instead of heavenly wonders.

flowers 2flowers



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Today’s guest picture comes from the phone camera of our younger son, Al who took it while sitting on the new bench in our garden this afternoon.

Al's bee on calendula

It is a very smart device which not only takes the pictures that he wants but often takes one or two just before and/or just after he has pressed the button of its own accord and then it may politely suggest that its effort is better than his.  I need one of these devices.  Still, his effort was very good.

It was a hot and sunny day today but not as hot as it was in London as our daughter rang us up to point out.

The pest control man appeared before breakfast time and did his work so the painter was able to get on with his work too and this was very satisfactory.

Between the hot weather and the need to prepare the house for visitors, there was not a lot of opportunity to do useful things in the garden but I did manage to trim some of the hedges round the front lawn and take a few pictures.

Not just one…

red cosmos

…but two more cosmos have come out.

another red cosmos

And there was a new dahlia of the day.

red dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two gaura in her new bed in the spring.  One succumbed to the miserable weather but the other has continued to flower in a very satisfactory way.


The bed is edged with lobelia and they have often appeared in the background behind other flowers.  I thought that they deserved a picture to themselves.

lobelia clump

Like many other flowers, a closer look is interesting.  They turn out to have two car headlights each.

lobelia headlights

There were a few peacock butterflies about but they were hard to catch.  Here is one on the red buddleia…

peacock butterfly on red buddleia

…and another on a pink phlox.

peacock butterfly on phlox

They weren’t very keen to settle down and open their wings and this one on the other buddleia remained firmly closed.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

It wasn’t idle though. It was getting stuck in.

peacock butterfly sipping

The white butterflies are still about in numbers and I caught this one in mid air by happy accident.

flying white butterfly

The sunflowers are reaching up to more than 10 feet in height.

sunflower heart

Our son Al with wife Clare and daughter Matilda arrived in the late afternoon after a very hot drive from Edinburgh.  Matilda’s first business was to walk three times round the outside of the house with me.  As the dam runs right along the back of the house, this involved crossing our new bridge at one end of the house and then the stepping stone in the dam at the other end.  Then we went in for a drink and a biscuit.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an excellent evening meal for the party and after Matilda had paid another visit to the stepping stone with her father…

matilda at the dam

Out with a helping hand…

matilda at the dam 2

…and back unaided.

…we ate  it with great appreciation.

Langholm Common Riding always takes place on the last Friday in July, which is tomorrow.  The day before, Thursday, is known as Simmer Fair Night and it is celebrated by the three bands in the town.

First, the Town Band plays a programme in the Market Place and then the flute band goes down to the site of the old railway station to greet exiles returning to the town on the last train.  Although the trains stopped running about fifty years ago and the station has long since disappeared, the flute band still turns up.  Then they march through the town….

Langholm Flute Band

…followed by a considerable procession, doubtless some of them being returning exiles.

flute band procession

A town bandsman looked on with the satisfaction of knowing that he had already done his duty.

Calvert, town band

Almost as soon as the flute band has passed on its way, the Langholm Pipe Band  start a march round the town.

Langholm pipe band

It looked for a moment as though their march pace might speed up a bit as some  heavy drops of rain began to fall from a menacing sky but once again, the rain came to nothing and the march continued in good order.

We are looking forward to celebrating Langholm’s Great Day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the swifts that traditionally scream  across the sky  on Simmer Fair Nicht.





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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to Kew.  As well as dragons, she saw this interesting creature.  It is called Gnomus (but I don’t gnow why).

kew creature

The joiners having finished their work, the painter came today and the front of the house is on its way to looking well cared for.  A spanner was cast into the smooth running of the refurbishment when the painter discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the dormers that he was about to paint.

We did consider shinning up two ladders on to the roof in the quiet of the twilight and doing what needed to be done but due consideration of the age of the potential ladder climbers led us to calling out an expert from Carlisle who will come tomorrow.

While the painter was painting, I was wandering around the garden and my attention was directed to this flower….


…by Mrs Tootlepedal.  It may not look much but if all goes well it is just the first of dozens and dozens of cosmos which will brighten the August garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal also pointed out that there are in fact five zinnias.  Here is the fifth columnist.

fifth zinnia

The verbascum flowers have nearly climbed to the top of their spires…

verbascum spike

…and I will miss them when they are gone.

moth mullein flower

New dahlias are appearing at the rate of one a day and this was today’s arrival.


It was a beautiful day, sunny nearly all day but oddly enough, not too hot.

Almost as cheerful as the sunshine was a clump of nasturtiums…


…and another bright sunflower.

cheerful sunflower

The sunflowers are being a bit contrary and instead of turning their faces to the sun and our garden, they are mostly turning their backs on us and peering over our neighbour’s fence.

There were more white butterflies all over the place.

white butterfly on flower

And bees too.

bumble bees

I went in for coffee and then did a little shopping.

When I got back, I took the opportunity to mow both the middle and front lawns which are confounding me by growing more grass and if anything, getting greener in spite of the lack of meaningful rain.  We are getting a light dew in the morning which may be helping.

And of course, I had another look round when I had finished.

The melancholy thistle shouldn’t be lonely next year.

melancholy thistle seed ead

And the hostas were playing host to yet more bees.

bee on hosta

The new buddleia had attracted a butterfly but sadly it was just another white one.

white butterfly on buddleia

I made some green soup for lunch with courgettes, spinach and broad beans (with a good quantity of garlic too) and it turned out very well.  I am determined to eat as much of our own veg as I can this year.

After lunch, we were detained by a very exciting stage of the Tour de France and then, inspired by the heroes of the Pyrenees, I put on my cycling gear…

…but not until I had had another walk round the garden.

This time there was a peacock butterfly on the buddleia….

peacock butterfly

…but it stuck to sunning itself on a leaf and wouldn’t come onto a flower.

I turned my attention to a very decorative dicentra which Mrs Tootlepedal recently purchased in Dumfries.


In the end, I got my bike out and went round my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was still sunny but still not too hot and with a light wind, conditions were delightful.


It was quite late on the day and we had some singing to do at the Common Riding Concert so I didn’t stop too often but I couldn’t resist being looked down upon by two cows.

cows on a hill

When I got back, the verbascum was showing that even when it has finished flowering, it will still be catching the evening sunlight and adding interest to the back bed.

verbascum in evening

We went off to sing a couple of songs for the finale of the concert in the Buccleuch Centre. As our church organist Henry had arranged the programme, it was not surprising that he had found a place for his choir in it.  A good number of members turned up and we sang well.

That will be our last choir singing until the next sessions start in September.  It was a good way to finish.

No flying bird of the day today as the painter proved a deterrent to visiting the feeder.  A flying visit from the sparrowhawk may not have encouraged the small birds either.

As a result, I have turned to flowers of the day and these are they:

cornflower and calendula



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