The lady varnishes

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  He has been looking up lately and as well as holes in clouds, he has seen the moon.

tony's moon

We had another fine sunny day here today and because the wind had dropped, it felt really warm and we were able to discard several layers of winter clothing.

We started the day with a visit to church to sing with the choir.  Because our local amateur operatic society was having a full day of rehearsals for their forthcoming show, we were a bit short of numbers but we gave it our best anyway.

When we got back to the house, we had a stroll round the garden.  I checked on the frogs and saw an odd sight…

two frog heads

…with two frogs looking as though they had been shot and mounted on a wooden board.  A second look showed me that they were in fact floating on top of a reflection of the bridge above them and if you look carefully, you can see the rest of their bodies under the water.

The rest of the pond was full of frogs.

frog panel

The garden is full of crocuses…

crocuses beside opath

…and other interesting things like a naturally dried sunflower head, a ladybird and the developing euphorbia.

sunflower, ladybird and euphorbia

I was just going about photographing things when I was hailed by neighbour Irving who was leaning over the garden fence.  He has been very poorly recently with a bad back and was keen to share some experiences with me as I have suffered from a bad back too in my time.

Irving on fence

He felt that after being ill, he was probably not at his best photographically and told me not to put his picture in the blog.  You can see that he is perhaps looking a little part worn still so I won’t use his picture.

During the day when she was between choirs, Mrs Tootlepedal completed the varnishing of the rocking horse.

rocking horse eyes

The dappling of a rocking horse is a very stylised business and she has settled for a fairly restrained version which I think is just the thing.

rocking horse varnished

We are waiting now for the arrival of the saddle, bridle, main and tail from the rocking horse shop and then the final stage of the work can begin.

We had a busy day at the feeder today with a good number of siskins flying in and out…

three flying siskins

…alongside the usual chaffinches and goldfinches…

three flying birds

…and a visiting starling showed off its iridescent colours.

starling on feeder

I had time for a short three bridges walk and spotted quite a few oyster catchers beside the river..

oyster catcher in sun

The sense of a spring day was heightened by the sight of the first blossoms on the trees which line the Esk between the suspension and the town bridges.

cherry blossom

At the Kilngreen, the crocuses are starting to come out along the banking and although they are not quite as showy as the Edinburgh display which I saw on Thursday…

kilngreen crocus bank

…they are not to be sniffed at.

kilngreen crocuses

I haven’t seen Mr Grumpy for some time, so it was good to see him back on guard beside the Ewes Water.


I walked over the Sawmill Brig and walked up almost as far as the Lodge…

Lodge in Feb

…before crossing the Castleholm and taking the riverside path back towards the Jubilee bridge.  I was wondering if the spell of good weather might have tempted some hazel flowers to come out.

It had.

The catkins were open and if you look carefully, you can just see a little red female flower at the top of the picture.

hazel catkin and flower

This tree had several flowers out…

haxel flowers

…but I didn’t see any more as I walked along the path.  They have arrived early this year.  It has sometimes been almost a month later before I have seen them.

castelholm sunny feb

I called in on our friends Mike and Alison on our way home as Mike has been poorly with a chest infection.  I had seen him briefly on our way to church when he was on his way to buy a newspaper and looking far from well but he was much more cheerful by lunchtime and reported that he is on the mend.

When  I got home, I found the pond full to bursting with frogs.

many frogs in pond

I had time for a quick lunch and while I was  eating my soup, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that a redpoll had arrived.  I put down my soup spoon and picked  up a camera and recorded this welcome arrival.

february redpoll

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for a very hard working final practice before the Carlisle Community Choir goes to Manchester next week to compete in the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not taking part this year so I will be going down by myself, except of course for the other eighty choir members who will be coming too.

I am hoping for good weather so I can wander about during the day taking pictures.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker in the morning and in spite of saying recently that we had used all the veg from our garden, I was happy to find that we still have some home grown turnips in store in our garage so one of them went in.  Thanks to the good summer, things have lasted well in storage this season.

The flying bird of the day was a lucky shot taken at the Kilngreen as I clicked my camera at random as a duck flew by down the river.  I must have moved it inadvertently at almost duck flying speed.

flyng duck

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

38 thoughts on “The lady varnishes

  1. Great flying duck shot. And redpoll. And catkins. In fact, a great post stuffed with excellent shots. It’s a shame you couldn’t use the picture of the neighbour, as it would probably have been quite good too.

  2. It’s great to see the frogs and all the flowers!
    That’s a great shot of the male catkins and female hazel flowers. A first in my experience and very hard to pull off, I’d imagine. I hope they don’t get frost bitten.
    The rocking horse looks great but what a lot of work. I didn’t know there were rocking horse shops. Good thing!
    I hope your friends and neighbors will see improved health soon.

  3. All the signs of spring are most heartening. I’m trying to be magnanimous, but the extreme cold warning Environment Canada has posted for here is making it difficult. 🙂

  4. Mrs T had made an excellent job of the rocking horse! Your crocuses are so lovely en masse and I am very impressed by your photo of the catkins and female hazel flowers!

  5. Surely spring is about ready to burst forth. We had our own resident Mr Grumpy fly up the creek past the house. We are in the midst of quite the deluge for the moment. Our own very scientific rain gauge tells us we’ve had some 9+ inches in the past 24 hours. Quite impressive.

  6. Your photographs are beautiful and Tony’s one of the moon is impressive. I’m envious of your photos of the female flowers of hazel. I’ve never had much luck taking their photo.

  7. So many good pictures that it’s hard to know what to comment on. But if I have to choose, it would be the flying duck—wowsah!—and the rocking horse, a thoroughbred, that’s for sure.

  8. Nice to see Mr. Grumpy again…in the company of so many birds, including the marvelous flying bird shot! And the rocking horse project looks and sounds interesting.

  9. My goodness such wonderful photos of such a wide variety of subjects. Spring is definitely in the air with the colourful crocus, the acrobatic birds, the catkins , the smiley frogs and a redpoll in the garden! A proper box of delights and topped off with a brilliant rocking horse…what a day!

  10. Mrs T is doing a stupendous job on her rocking horse, I am enjoying your photos of the stages. Yes, it does look like those frogs are wood-mounted, lol. I bet they are glad they aren’t…..

  11. The mounted frog photo was a nice catch! These are all very beautiful photos from your day, and so spring-like. What is that flowering tree you saw along the Esk with such gorgeous white blooms?

    The rocking horse is coming along nicely. Mrs. T is a woman of many talents.

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