Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Birmingham by my brother Andrew. He took the opportunity to show us the BT Tower there on a beautiful day..
I am trying mix gentle exercise with good quality rest for my foot so I went back to lie on my bed after breakfast and was fortunate to find a tricky crossword in the paper which took some time to finish and gave my leg plenty of opportunity to have a relaxing stretch.
When I came down, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and we had a look around. I once again marvelled at the agility and pertinacity of the slug who crawled up a stem and took a single bite out of the trumpet of just one of this bunch of daffodils and then crawled back down again.
That’s what I call a discerning diner.
The pulmonaria hasn’t done very well over the winter this year but it is producing a few flowers.
We got out hedge trimmers and a saw and trimmed a couple of bushes next to our neighbour Irvin’g fence and then sawed off two branches of a lilac which were leaning over his fence (and not doing very well anyway.)
After that, we got into the car and drove off to a garden centre where we had a light lunch and made some judicious purchases. Mrs Tootlepedal bought some plants and I bought a novel product for the lawn which claims to combine fertilizer for the grass with bacteria which are going to eat my moss and make it disappear without me having to rake the dead moss out. This sounds a bit too good to be true but I won’t find out if I don’t use it and the grass needs a boost even if the moss doesn’t get eaten.
We came home by way of the Gretna Outlet shopping village. I recently broke both my coffee cups by dropping one of them on the other so I was looking for replacements. I was resigned to having to buy two unnecessary saucers to go with the new cups, and I was very pleased to find that I could buy cups without saucers thus saving both money and space in the cupboard.
Instead of going straight home when we got back to Langholm, we completed our little outing by driving through the town past my favourite view.
I looked back down the hill towards the town. The foresters have been very busy in the recently felled wood and the wood is now full of the plastic tubes that go with new planting of deciduous trees.
We did see some goats on our way up to the county boundary and it is a sign of how well they blend into the background that you might think at first sight that there were four goats in the picture. In fact the ‘goat’ on the left is a clump of heather.
They were busy eating but did keep half an eye on me to see what I was up to.
And sometimes even both eyes.
When we got to the county boundary we met an expert local naturalist who had parked there and was looking for interesting birds. Had he seen anything? Not a single thing. If he hadn’t seen anything, we wouldn’t either so we set off back down the hill.
We had to slow down as a goat crossed the road in front of us but by the time we had drawn alongside, it had its head down and was ignoring us entirely…
…as were its friends.
We left them to it and continued down to the Tarras bridge. On the far side of the valley, we could see family groups of goats with their young.
When we got home, we took a moment to watch our own birds…
…and as there was a lot of demand but not much seed, I refilled the feeder…
…but there was still more demand for perches than supply…
…and things turned ugly.
We left the sparring goldfinches and siskins to it and went out to do some gardening. The task was to use our petrol driven rotavator to dig over a grass strip between two narrow beds to make a larger bed for this year’s potato planting.
Things didn’t go well. The machine was hard to get started and when it finally burst into life, it was extremely reluctant to do any digging. Instead of burrowing into the soil as it should, it just moved backwards towards the driver in a vaguely threatening manner. We took the tines off and turned them round and that made no difference at all.
Mrs Tootlepedal went in to study the handbook for the machine and I looked at it in a curious way. I wondered vaguely what a rather faded label on the front of the machine might say and bent down to peer at it. “The driver must always be facing this label”
This was what they call a tea tray moment, i.e. when you bang your head with a tea tray after making a discovery which should have been obvious all the time. When the machine had been reassembled after coming back in the post from its service, the handles had been put on the wrong way round. Duh!
We set about putting them on the correct way and took the machine out for another try.
The soil was tilled.
All was not entirely sweetness and light though because the machine bumped up and down rather alarmingly at one end of the bed instead of tilling the earth. Mrs Tootlepedal got into full archaeologist mode and dug an exploratory trench…
…which revealed a double row of bricks a foot below the surface, obviously the foundation for an old structure of some kind.
Our garden has had a long existence in various forms and uses and Mrs Tootlepedal is used to finding all sorts of things under the soil when she is digging. We found a lot of big stones under the soil too today.
The bricks will come up and the machine will leap into action again and the potatoes will be planted.
In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and after Alison and I had experienced the benefits of doing some practice as we played Telemann, Corelli and Vivaldi, we all sat down together to watch the final of Masterchef. Jilly, our local competitor, did herself proud but narrowly failed to carry off the prize.
Having watched some very good cooking, we will have to up our own game in the kitchen. I am going to ask Mrs Tootlepedal for some quails eggs in a fig sauce to go with my porridge tomorrow…. or perhaps not.
There are not one but two flying goldfinches of the day today.