The guest picture of the day comes from our daughter Annie. It shows my stepmother Patricia and my eldest sister Susan, socially distanced on a park bench in Camden, on the occasion of their recent meeting with Annie’s daughter Evie as she approached her first birthday.
We had another mainly sunny day here, though once again when the sun went in, it was far from warm, especially as there was a brisk wind blowing. All the same, it was a good day for a garden coffee morning with Liz and Margaret, and for quite a lot of gardening before and after.
Mrs Tootlepedal had an interesting early morning. She saw a woodpecker in our plum tree, a very infrequent visitor to our garden. This was a plus. She also saw about twenty four sparrows on the lawn getting ready to attack her vegetable garden. This was a minus. The sparrows don’t seem to have stopped bringing up new families at all this year.
I was quite active as a garden helper today, taking material to the shredder and compost bins as Mrs Tootlepedal cleared things up. I also started on pruning the espalier apples and did some dead heading too.
Naturally I found time to look at flowers as well. I started before coffee.
The first thing that caught my eye was not just one…
…but two new dahlias.
Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with these as they have come from seed this year.
There were plenty of bright colours to admire elsewhere…
The clematis in the bottom right of the panel above has just come out in a sheltered spot on the back fence, but the clematis on the vegetable garden fence is running riot now that the Goldfinch rose has stopped flowering and given it a bit of space,.
On the other side of the fence, the Golden Syllabub rose is doing its best to find room to bloom in a dark corner.
We had a really good coffee morning with interesting subjects raised and discussed, and it only stopped when a raindrop or two reminded Margaret that she had her washing hanging out to dry. We were perfectly certain that the rain wouldn’t come to anything but it wasn’t our washing and Margaret went to rescue it.
We went back to gardening as the rain stopped a few seconds after Margaret left.
There are some colourful corners around at the moment.
And individual items that merit a glance as well. The verbascum is my current favourite for curiosity…
…whereas Mrs Tootlepedal is excited by this new dark poppy which is looking promising…
…and we are both bowled over by how well the Wren rose is doing this year. It has never been better. (Mrs Tootlepedal puts it down to the use of good quantities of muck.)
I had time to admire a dunnock on hedge…
…before going in for lunch.
After lunch, I spent some time learning the rules for writing sonnets and then attempting to write one. It appears that it is not too hard to write a bad sonnet but writing a good one may be a trickier proposition.
Then it was time for the weekly virtual choir meeting for our Carlisle Choir. We are going to try to actually practice repertoire next week. That will be an interesting experiment.
While it was raining a day or two ago, I made a couple of pots of blackcurrant jelly, using currants from our sole blackcurrant bush which is very new. The results were good so after a cup of tea and a slice of newly made bread and butter with the blackcurrant jelly, we were perked up enough to drive up to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see any hen harriers.
The moor was looking lovely….
…when we parked at the top of the hill and looked over the Tarras Valley, but there were no birds to be seen.
We decided to drive across the valley and up to the county boundary on the other side in the hope of seeing some of the wild goats. As we climbed up the hill, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a harrier hovering to our left. I parked the car and as I got out with my camera in hand, the harrier stopped hovering and headed straight for us at speed. It was quite alarming as it swooped low over our heads and I had no chance to lift my camera up. I think that we must have stopped quite close to a nesting site because the harrier zoomed up over our heads and hovered there complaining loudly.
She stopped for long enough for me to get the camera into action….
…before flying off, still complaining.
We continued on to the county boundary without seeing any goats but on our way back, we saw a male harrier quartering the moor. It was too far away to get a picture but it was good to have seen both a male and female harrier on our short trip.
I can’t pass the Ewes Valley on a sunny day without taking a look…
…and I thought that it was well worth stopping on our way back for yet another picture.
The garden had been full of sparrows all day with queues waiting on the feeder…
…as lucky ones flew in for a feed…
…but there is no doubt at all that another shot of the female hen harrier should take pride of place as flying bird of the day.