Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona. She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.
It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.
The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new glasses to arrive. I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.
While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.
Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.
Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop. I put it out and waited for visitors.
A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…
…a blue tit…
…and another blue tit…
…and another chaffinch!
It had passed the bird magnet test.
Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.
When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.
The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.
I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground. C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts. The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.
I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.
I noticed other things too.
Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…
…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.
We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.
The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.
Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…
…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.
It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.
After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there. It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,
He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.
Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening. What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.
We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.
“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”
The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.
Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.