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Archive for Sep, 2019

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s visit to the low countries.  She found herself on a very straight section of an Amsterdam canal where one can see seven bridges in a row….if one has very good eyesight.

Amsterdam canal

It was a still and misty morning when we got up, and when I went to put the wheely bin out, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of web action in the hedge.

webby hedge

A helpful passer by pointed out a near perfect traditional web…

spider web

…but most of the webs were very fine and rather than having jewel like water droplets on them, the droplets were so fine that I had to enlarge the pictures before I could them.

webby wetness

I had hoped to go for  a cycle ride as it was not raining and there was hardly any wind, a perfect day to end September’s cycling, but unfortunately my slight cold had got worse and my chest was suggesting quite forcibly that any great exertion might not be a good thing.

I settled for bird watching…

bird not in hand

…and checking on the flowers.

six garden flowers

As they day warmed up, quite a few butterflies appeared and once again the few remaining buddleia flowers were a great draw.

three butterflies on buddeias

There are hardly any buddleia flowers left though, so other flowers were in use too…

three butterflies on various flowers

…though the sedums were not  popular at all.  This is a bit odd as they look to be in good condition and are usually a great magnet for butterflies.

After a while the mist cleared and the sun came out. It was pleasant enough for me to sit on the new bench for a while.  From it, I could admire the calendulas…

sunny calendula

…and the curly tongue of a butterfly on a rudbeckia…

butter with coiled tongue

…and a bee which didn’t mind sitting right next to me.

bee on rudbeckia close

Sitting on the bench made me think of the state of the lawn.  In spite of the rainy weather, it has been quite warm and the grass has been growing, so I got the mower out and gave the middle lawn a cut.

When I had cut it, I looked back at the bench.

midde lawn from far end

Although the lawn looks pretty good in the picture, it does have a lot of weeds in it…

weeds on lawn

…as I have gone off the idea of using weedkiller on the lawns.  I may have the strength to do some hand weeding over the next few weeks or I may just settle for having a green but weedy lawn.

I made some lentil and carrot soup for our lunch and then went off with Sandy to collect the pictures from the Camera Club’s exhibition at the Hub at Eskdalemuir.

The manager at the Hub was very enthusiastic about the exhibition and told us that it had been well received by visitors.   We had even sold three pictures.

Although the sun had gone in again, it was a fine afternoon with good light so the drive up and down the valley was no hardship at all.  I just wished that I had been able to get out on my bike.

When we got back, I dropped Sandy off at his house and then had a walk round our garden.  The St John’s Wort has got some late flowers and a fine selection of berries.

st john's wort with berries

After the success of mowing the middle lawn, I was going to mow the front lawn too, but when I looked at it, it seemed a bit tired so I got the scarifier out and gave it a light scarifying.  I was extremely pleased to find how little moss the sacrifier brought up, a great tribute to the moss eating lawn treatment.

I mowed off the results of the scarifying and the end result was quite satisfactory.

front lawn scarified

All this was more than enough exercise for the day and I went in and joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was relaxing after a little light gardening.

In the evening, while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke, she made courgette fritters to go with the last of the venison stew and a very successful tarte tatin.  I must say that as a way of eating apples, tarte tatin comes high on my list of good methods.

I think if anything, my cold seems to be getting a little worse so another day of good weather may go to waste tomorrow, but I can always hope for a miracle cure.

The (almost) flying bird of the day is a starling taking off from Irving’s holly tree.

nearly flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He noticed a small water wheel which has been installed not far from his house.  It has a helpful explanatory diagram drawn on the side of its hut.  It is providing power for some lights on a bridge.

burst

Just how lucky the agricultural show was to get a fine day yesterday was made clear by the rain which greeted me as I got up today.  It kept raining as I went to church to sing in the choir.  It was the harvest festival service today so it would have been nice to have some better weather to go with it.

When I got home, the rain died down to a drizzle and in between drinking coffee and doing some desultory tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out into the garden to have a look around.

I always like to see how raindrops sit on flowers and leaves….

wet michaelmas daisy

…and I found that I was not the only one interested in the Michaelmas daisies.

wet michaelmas daisy with hoverfly

The astrantia was attractive too.

astrantia with insect

One of the fuchsias that Mrs Tootlepedal moved has finally decided that some flowers would be a good thing….

transplanted fuchsia

…but it looks as though they might be too late with some cold weather forecast later in the week.

An insect visiting Crown Princess Margareta seems to be a bit lost.

Princess margareta rose

The silver pear has got quite a lot of little pears on it this year.  They are about the size of a cherry and unfortunately they are hard and inedible.

silver pear

The nasturtiums are still bringing their own little bit of sunshine into the garden…

yellow nasturtium

…and the late flowering nerines are looking very cheerful too.

nerine close up

By the back gate, the old fuchsia continues to surprise after a couple of very poor years.

backgate fuchsia

I went back indoors and looking out of the kitchen window, I though that I saw a sparrow on the lawn but a second glance told me that it was something else, so I snatched a poor picture of it as it hopped away.   I wonder if it is a wheatear but I would welcome a suggestion from a knowledgeable reader as to what it might be.

unknown lawn bird

At the far end of the lawn, a thrush was having its head turned by a showy begonia.

thrush and begonia

After lunch, I drove to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir and on my way, I passed over the bridge at Longtown.  There were traffic lights in place but there was no restriction on the traffic going over the bridge and the damage which had caused it to be closed yesterday looks minor.  I hope that the repairs won’t be a major business.

We were very pleased to welcome back our regular conductor Ellen at the choir practice and we worked as hard as we could to keep her happy.

After the choir was over, I was even more pleased to drive to station and pick up Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived back from London on a very punctual train having had a very enjoyable week there with our daughter and new granddaughter.

After a gloomy week of miserable weather in her absence, it is very good to have a ray of metaphorical sunshine back in the house.

The flying bird of the day was just passing by during the rainy morning.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who is back from Spain.  He was quite surprised to find the moon in his local cathedral.  It had had a very beneficial effect on numbers attending evensong. He tells me that ‘The Museum of the Moon’ is touring the provinces, and will be with him for a month.

Church moon

Rather ominously, it was raining when I woke up this morning, but by the time that I had had breakfast, things had brightened up a lot and the rest of the day was dry and often sunny.

I dawdled over breakfast and then made a venison stew for the slow cooker and finally, after a cup of coffee and a preliminary battle of wits with the prize crossword, I took advantage of the fine weather by going out for a pedal.

A small crop of mushrooms by the side of the road caught my eye soon after I had started….

roadside fungus

I didn’t stop a lot on my ride as I wanted to get back in time to go up to the Agricultural Show but I took a few pictures on my way.

I thought that this one summed up the day well:  sunny and cloudy with a brisk wind.

minsca widmills

I saw some standing bulls…

three bulls

…and some sitting cows…

sitting cows

…along my way.

And it was clear enough for me to able to see a hint of colour on the Lake District hills, 30 miles away.

lake district hills

I plugged away into the wind on my way out and then had a helping hand for the return journey.  With this assistance, I managed 38 miles at a modest pace (13.2 mph) and got home in time to have a quick look round in the garden before going up to the show field.

The astrantia was very popular..

astrantia with three insects

…and a rose, a fuchsia and a cosmos were enjoying the dry sunny weather.

rose, fuchsia, cosmos

When i got to the show field, there were horses…

pony at Ag show

…sheep…

sheep at ag show

…and cattle…

bull at ag show

…to be seen.

There were prize vegetables, cakes, flower arrangements, and many other treats in the industrial tent.  Mrs Tootlepedal had won first prize for a small embroidery but it was disappointing to find that it was the only entry in her class.  Still, as the Castleholm, where the show is held, is a big piece of ground, I can truthfully say that she won first prize in a large field.

As at the Canonbie Flower Show last month, a falconer had turned up with some handsome birds…

three hawks at ag show

…and his assistant was flying an owl.

owl at Ag show

…which got fed up at one point and retired to the top of a public address pole and refused to do any more flying.

errant owl at Ag show

Considering the rotten weather through the week, the show was pretty cheerful.  This picture doesn’t show you the full extent of the mud where people had been walking…

ag show view

…and I was pleased to have my wellies on.

I didn’t stop long as I was a bit peckish after my bike ride and I walked home across the Jubilee Bridge, passing a football match on my way.  I was a touch slow with my shutter finger and the ball had left the shot by the time that I took the picture.

football match

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to find that the garden is looking a little worse for wear when she comes home tomorrow…

droopy rudbeckia

…but there are still some butterflies about.  There are hardly any flowers left on the buddleias and there was keen competition to get on to the last ones today.

butterflies on scarce buddleia

I finished the crossword and then had a quiet sit down until it was time to eat some of the slow cooked venison stew for my evening meal.

As I was walking back from the show, I met my friend Gavin and he told me that part of the fine bridge at Longtown…

Longtown bridge

This was the bridge in July

…had collapsed and the road across it had had to be closed.  I looked on the internet this evening and found that the damage can’t have been too catastrophic as one lane over the bridge has now been re-opened and traffic lights installed.  I shall see if it still open tomorrow when I go down to Carlisle for the choir and to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up. Luckily there is an easy and convenient diversion if required.

The flying bird of the day is that owl while it was still behaving well.

flying owl

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He went to Fraserburgh and saw not one but two lighthouses.

Fraserburgh Lighthouse

It was another tedious morning with lots of rain showers and just enough gaps between them to make you think that they might be stopping….but they didn’t.

After killing time to a background of Beatles music on the pop up radio channel, I went out in one of the gaps to get my new insoles which had been delivered to the Thomas Hope Hospital up in the town.

The rain stopped for long enough to get me up to the town, but having got me there, it rained on me all the way home.  How I laughed.

The birds didn’t think that it was funny either.

wet sparrow on fence

A starling just couldn’t get settled at all.

scrubby starling

I fried some sardines and had them on toast for my lunch and then wasted some more time.

I looked out of the back window and saw that the dam had risen a bit, so I thought that I ought to go and check on how the new sluice gate at Pool Corner was holding up.  It was raining, but it wasn’t windy and it was fairly warm so I took my brolly and set off

There was plenty of water going over the caul but the wall and sluice looked solid enough so I was reassured.

Pool Corner spate

Since I was out and about with a brolly and I had my new insoles in my shoes, I kept walking.  There was plenty of water coming down the Becks Burn…

Becks Burn spate

…but I thought that I would be safe enough to cross the little wooden bridge across the burn  higher up and took the road up the hill.

Looking back down at the Auld Stane Brig, the scene looked autumnal.

auld stane brig early autumn

I had hoped to see some fungus on my way, but some animal had got to this one before me.

eaten toadstool

By the time that I got to the bridge across the burn, the rain had stopped…

becks burn bridge

…but not long after I had crossed it, the rain started again, first with a little pitter patter and then with some serious intent and by the time that I got home, it was hammering down.

I settled down indoors to watch some cycling but after a while, I looked up and saw that the day had brightened a bit and the rain had stopped again.  I felt that I ought to give my new insoles a good work out, so I put them in different pair of  shoes and set off to see how far I could go before it started to rain again.

I had a quick tour round the  garden before I left just to show that the rain hadn’t flattened everything.

four soggy flowers

It was good to see that there are still buds ready to open.

One thing that the rain had done was to knock a few walnuts off our walnut tree.

dish of walnuts

I took the walnuts inside and while I was there, I spotted an old acquaintance through the window.

robin on drive

Leaving the robin to entertain itself, I walked down to the river.  It was fairly full but far from being in flood.

esk with water

I walked across the suspension bridge and up the road where I met another old friend on the Kilngreen.  He was surrounded by ducks.

kilngreen residents

I walked round the new path on the Castleholm.  An oak tree had a good collection of interesting things to show.

oak tree details

…and even after all the rain, an umbellifer was providing food for a hoverfly.

hoverfly on umbel

And then, out of the blue, the sun came out.

early autumn colour

It did point up how much some trees are changing already…

early autumn castleholm

…but it cheered up my walk a lot.

new path castleholm

The Langholm Agricultural Show is on tomorrow on the Castleholm and they must have been very worried by how much rain that there has been this week.  The news is that the show will go ahead regardless of the weather tomorrow and the stylish tents were positively sparkling in the welcome sunshine this evening.

Cattle show tent

Once again, the sun picked out the turning leaves in the trees behind the tents.

cattle show tent and trees

I didn’t want to overdo the new insole trial so I stuck to the short route home and got back without being rained on this time.

I was welcomed in by that spider.

spider

Looking at the very latest forecast, it seems that the Agricultural show could have a mostly sunny day tomorrow.  If that turns out to be true, I might put my new insoles into my wellies and pay a visit.  It will probably be quite muddy.

A starling is the flying bird of the day again.  They have very elegant wings I think.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s Spanish jaunt and shows the very impressive public library in Gijon.  They obviously take libraries seriously there.

Spanish library

We had another rainy day today but by way of a change after yesterday’s drizzle, today we had several sharp showers with breaks in between, and even an occasional ray of sunshine.

I had to go to the health centre for a blood test before breakfast and unfortunately this outing coincided with probably the sharpest shower of the day.  Luckily I am well supplied with large brollies from my golfing days so I managed to get there and back without getting too wet and enjoyed a late breakfast when I got home.

When the rain stopped I went out to see the flowers.  Crown Princess Margareta looked a bit depressed by the rain and who can blame her.

Margareta rose

A passer by yesterday gave it as his opinion that the time for garden tidying was upon us, but there are still a lot of flowers on the go.  After coffee, I went out for another look and they lit up the gloom this morning.

three red things

Both in colour and in white.

three white things

But all the same, I spent quite a lot of time indoors looking out to see whether it was still raining.  There was a lot to see through the kitchen window.

There was a rare visit from a chaffinch to the plum trip.

chaffinch in plum tree

I thought that we might have a one legged robin in the garden…

robin on kerb

…but when it hopped off the kerb onto the the drive, it showed it was bipedal…

robin on ground

…and took a bow beside one of our many puddles…

robin near puddle

…before hopping up onto a chair, posing prettily and…

robin on chair

…then flying off…

…leaving me to watch a little drama playing out on the window itself.

spider in action

Fortunately, as time was hanging a little heavily on my hands, the kind people at the BBC have organised a pop up digital radio station for four days, devoted to celebrating the life and works of the Beatles.  To those readers either too old, too young or too deaf to appreciate what a treat this is, I can only say that your life has a hole in it.  The station is going to be on air until Sunday but I am listening to BBC Sounds on my computer while I am writing the blog and Dave Grohl is playing a well chosen selection of Beatles songs to distract me.

I manged to turn the radio off after lunch and take advantage of a break in the rain to go for a pedal.  It was warm but breezy and I had to keep my nose to the wheel as I went up the road but the sound of geese honking made me look up, and I not only got a glimpse of some blue sky but the skein of geese as well.  The sharp eyed may be able to see them against the cloud.

cloudscape

Bringing my eyes back to earth, the way ahead looked a bit more problematic as far as the weather went.

Wauchope road gloom

But I pressed on and was serenaded by crows as I went up to Cleuchfoot.

crows

The sun came out for a moment as I crossed the Glencorf Burn…

burst

…but it started to rain again a few minutes later.  I turned at Cleuchfoot and headed home, wondering if I was going to get a soaking again.

Luck was with me today though and it had stopped raining by the time that I got back to Langholm so I turned and did another tour to Cleuchfoot.

There was plenty of water running off the hill…

roadside waterfall

…and in places the road was really wet so I took things cautiously again.

I added a little diversion on at the end of my second lap and this brought the distance up to almost 20 miles.  That little diversion also brought my monthly total up to 400 miles so I was pleased to have gone the extra mile.

I had a last walk round the garden when I got back and noticed one of the transplanted fuchsias hiding behind these dahlias.  It is trying to come out but it is so late that I doubt that it is going to make it before winter comes.

three dahlias

In spite of the weather, there are still bees doing their thing.

dahlia and bee

Then it seemed a good idea to go back inside and enjoy more of the Beatles feast on the radio.

It looks as though it is going to rain a lot tomorrow so I may well listen to more Beatles.

There is more than one flying bird of the day today.

skein of geese

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s holiday in Forres.  He and his daughter Susan went down to see the sea at the mouth of Findhorn Bay.  There was a lot of sand about

Sand 2019

The weather today was as confused as the forecasts.  It couldn’t really make up its mind whether it was raining or not but it was dry enough in the morning to let me walk around the garden and admire Crown Princess Margareta’s latest flower.

am princess margareta rose

I looked at it again in  the afternoon and in spite of the gloomy and drizzly conditions, the flower showed clear signs of development.

pm princess margareta rose

As there are obviously more flowers waiting to come out, we can only hope that we don’t get a frosty morning soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s plan of planting small sunflowers with many blooms from one stem has paid off handsomely.  There are cheerful clumps all over the garden.

sunflower panel

This web of droplets could have done with a little sunshine to make them sparkle.

droplets

As well as the Crown Princess, Lilian Austin is doing her best to provide us with end of season colour.

lilian austin rose

As the day didn’t look very promising, I went in to do some work updating the Langholm Archive Group web pages and had to dust off some rather rusty memories of HTML, PHP and Cascading Style Sheets.   I thought that I had done a reasonable job of getting it up to date but when I double checked after writing that previous sentence, I found that there is still some work to be done.

When I got up from the computer, the drizzle had stopped so I got my bicycle out and headed off to do 20 miles.  No sooner had I got half a mile from the house, than the drizzle started again and as I went along, the drizzle turned to rain.

I had sound waterproof socks on and I was wearing an efficient rain jacket so the rain wasn’t a great problem (apart from making me go cautiously round corners).  All the same, I didn’t want to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere if conditions got worse, so I pedalled up and down the 7 miles to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back three times to get my distance.

The camera stayed well tucked up in a waterproof pocket.

I had a late lunch and then watched the men’s cycling world championship time trial on the telly.  The winner did 54km (about 34 miles) in 1 hour and 5 minutes.  I had taken 1 hour and 33 minutes to do 33km.  These professional cyclists are superhuman.

When the time trial had finished, I checked on the weather and as the drizzle had stopped, I went out for a walk round the garden.

The fuchsias in one spot have done so badly over recent years that Mrs Tootlepedal moved most of them but this one plant that remained has flowered well just to spite her.

fuschia end of Sept

After a very slow start, when it looked as though they weren’t enjoying the summer at all and were also getting badly attacked by slugs, this bunch of  dahlias is looking better by the day.

dahlias end of Sept

Having walked round the garden, I got my unused cycling camera out again and took it for a short walk.

It was dank and gloomy….

eastons walk

…but there are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

near the hungry burn

It is a mixed picture with autumn colour here and there…

faded leaves

…and fresh greenery there too.

stubholm track

When I looked out over the town, I could just see the tops of the hills.

misty view stubholm

It was so gloomy that I had to use my flash to take any pictures of detail as I went along.

There were not a lot of wild flowers to be seen.

red campion

I couldn’t make up my mind if this growth on a dead tree branch was fungus or lichen.

fungus on dead branch

The park wall has a positive garden growing on top of it…

wild strawberry park wall

…and a fine crop of pixie cup lichens sprouting out of the side.

pixie cup lichen park wall

When I got in, it was time for my evening meal and I enjoyed some fish cakes with runner beans from the garden.

It has been a quiet day in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal (who is having a satisfactory time in London visiting our daughter and new granddaughter) but with a short walk, a short pedal, some flute practising and a bit of useful computer work, it hasn’t been entirely wasted.

I even managed to get a flying bird of the day as a starling launched itself of an electricity wire.

flying starling close

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s recent trip to the central belt of Scotland.  He found a bit of a wall there that wasn’t built by Hadrian.

Antonine wall

There was torrential rain to the south of us today, leading to serious flooding in England but it was warm and dry here when I got up.  There was no sign of any sun though as I walked down the riverside path towards the bottom of the town.

eskside path

Sue, a very thoughtful blog reader, had realised that I was likely to be starved of both scones and coffee-time conversation in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, Dropscone and Sandy, so she had invited me to visit for coffee with the added inducement of a probable nuthatch sighting at her bird feeder.

My route took me past the tall hedge that has been grown to disguise the fact that the sewage works for the town lurks behind it.  It is a hedge chock full of interest.

sewage works flowers

And the river bank itself was quite colourful too.

riverside flowers

When I got to Sue’s, I was enthusiastically welcomed by her three dogs and after they had calmed down, she took me for a tour of her garden.

She keeps hens and ducks as well as dogs (and cats).

Sue's hens

Her garden is mostly built on a broad shelf in the hillside which used to carry the railway line to Langholm.  Now it is a woodland glade with a waterfall….

Sue's waterfall

…views through the trees of more trees across the river…

Sue's view

…with fruits and fungi on every side…

Sue's sloe and fungus

…and more hens…

Sue's chicken

…and a very peaceful air about it.

Sue's garden

It is a garden that will have interest in all four seasons.

After the garden tour, we went in to a busy house where joiners and a plasterer were hard at work on improvements.

Sue provided us all with coffee and instead of scones, I was offered two very tasty Bakewell slices.  These were a very acceptable accompaniment to a good cup of coffee.

Sue has a very well stocked bird table outside her window, with ordinary bird seeds, nyger seed, fat balls and peanuts.  In spite of a good deal of bustle from the work force, the birds were not slow to come to the feeder.

Sparrows were the most frequent visitors…

Sue's sparrow

…and a lone jackdaw dropped in…

Sue's jackdaw

…but it wasn’t long before the promised nuthatch appeared and adopted a characteristic nuthatch pose…

Sue's nuthatch 1

…before getting down to the serious business of eating peanuts.

Sue's nuthatch 2

A blue tit looked on from a neighbouring tree.

Sue's bluetit

As we chatted, another nuthatch, or perhaps the same one again, appeared and tried a different set of nuts.

Sue's nuthatch 3

I was thoroughly entertained by both Sue and the birds but in the end, I left to get home before the rain reached Langholm.

On my way back along the river bank, I came upon these two men with a drilling rig.

drilling for oil Landsend

They are not drilling for oil.  They told me that they were going 10 metres down into the rock as part of the background work for a new flood prevention scheme for the town.

As I walked further along the river, I came across two goosanders.  They sometimes looked one way and sometimes, the other…

two goosanders

…but mostly they looked under the surface of the water.  There must have been good feeding down there because they were both very busy and quite often all I saw of them was a splash as they disappeared.

diving goosander

When I got back home, I had time for a quick look round the garden…

foxglove and creeper

…where I was surprised to find quite a few butterflies and other insects about, in spite of the increasingly grey weather.

four insects

I had my lunch and then the promised rains arrived.  It is still raining as I write this some hours later.  I decided to ignore the outside world for the afternoon and put in time entering the newspaper data into the Archive group database, and practising some flute pieces and singing.

When I did look out of the window, the outside world ignored me.

robin turning back

In the evening, I had another go at making a tarte tatin.  This was not so successful as the last effort with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help but it turned out to be still quite eatable so I ate some of it.

One forecast says that it might stop raining overnight, but that it will start raining again tomorrow.  Another says that it will stop raining overnight and won’t start again tomorrow.  We shall see.  I know which forecast I prefer.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goosanders.  It got fed up with swimming and took to the air.

flying goosander

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