Going forward with the back

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who recently had the opportunity to visit the wonderfully landscaped grounds at Stourhead.

We had another dry day here today, but mostly cloudy. With the wind coming from the north, it felt quite chilly when we were in the garden.

We were in the garden for most of the morning as my back had improved enough to let me work on the next slab of the great drive project. I was under expert supervision, and by the end of the morning, we had got the latest slab into position. It is not quite perfect as it is down at one corner, but that can wait for the moment.

We have arrived at the tricky uphill final section. It is going to take some thinking about.

There was a welcome break on the drive work while we had ‘coats on’ coffee with Margaret in the garden. She had brought ginger snaps with her, so she was even more welcome than usual.

We were serenaded for almost the whole time that we were sitting out by a very loud robin on the silver pear tree.

We could hear a vigorous reply coming from another tree, so the song may have been one of defiance rather than love or happiness.

I had remembered that massaging my lower back helps relax my muscles and stops the spasms. I tried it after breakfast and it proved very effective today. Not only was I able to sit down for lunch without pain, but I was able to get up afterwards, a much more remarkable event. Surprisingly, the slab work with its digging, raking, lifting and sieving had made things better rather than worse but all the same, I was happy to have a lie down and little snooze after lunch.

I did look out of the window too while I was upstairs. It was day for getting up close and personal among the birds, with siskins to the fore…

…but with goldfinches and chaffinches getting involved too.

I always enjoy literal examples of metaphorical phrases. Here is an illustration of getting a foothold.

That chaffinch was lucky to have a peaceful landing. Others got a harder time.

Siskins are always up for a fight and here are two who are leaving chaffinches in peace on the feeder while they fly off to find someone to annoy.

It was pot luck for the chaffinches, one lands in peace…

…and the next one gets appalling abuse, even though there is a perch free.

Some birds have obviously been to the Dominic Cummings School of How to Make Friends and Influence People.

This pattern of behaviour went on…

…and on.

In the end, I left them to it, had a nap and then went cycling.

It wasn’t as warm and pleasant as yesterday, but after all it is still March so any good cycling day is a bonus, and I enjoyed a peaceful journey down to Canonbie with the wind generally behind me, and a slightly more hard working journey back. I didn’t take any pictures as I have been round this trip many times already this month and couldn’t find anything new to look at on a grey day, until I was nearly home and a hazel fluttered its catkins at me.

With my dark cycling glasses on, I couldn’t see any of the tiny female flowers but when I got home, the computer showed me that there were a few. I can see two in the enlarged picture on the right in the panel above.

I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had come out into the garden just as I got home. In the morning she had cycled down to the river and collected the final few stones for her cobbled arrangement for the kitchen window bench. She completed the task with the new stones as I watched.

I did some supervising while she was working and also walked round the garden. I noticed a large bumble bee visiting daffodils. It wasn’t interested in the larger flowers but dived into many of the miniature ones. I found chionodoxas and a pansy in the chimney pot out, and one of our willows showing promise.

The blackcurrants in the fruit cage are looking very healthy.

The day ended with a sibling Zoom. All my three sisters have had their second vaccination shots now and were pretty pleased about that. My brother, Mrs Tootlepedal and I are pleased for them too….but would like to get our second shots now.

My back is infinitely better than it was last night which shows that comprehensive moaning and groaning probably is a cure, but perhaps the back massage and judicious exercise have helped too. I hope to continue this plan and progress (with moaning) tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

33 thoughts on “Going forward with the back

  1. A fun and interesting post. A a New Englander, I love to see pictures of “British Robins”. So different than American ones, which are longer and leaner. “Your” robins are so cute! -Julie

  2. I am very pleased to read that your back is making positive progress and, indeed, that Mrs. Tootlepedal has made a good recovery. I enjoy the upstairs perspective of the birds visiting your feeder too.

  3. Interesting view of siskins – they look quite different when you are on a level with them. I normally see them when they are high up in trees, which is a very poor view compared to yours. . Moaning is like eating cheese with malt loaf – not actually essential but still very satisfying.

  4. Good to see that both you and Mrs Tootlepedal are well enough to be working on the GDP. Brain rather than brawn, it seems, before further progress can be made?

  5. I like the river stones used as cobbles. They should last a good long time.
    Nice to see the pansy and chionodoxas in bloom. I hope to see both here soon.
    I’ve never tried massage for my back but anything that relaxes the muscles is good. I’m glad it worked.

  6. I am glad to hear the both you and Mrs. T. are mending nicely.

    You caught quite a bit of activity at the feeders. They are a scrappy bunch, those little birds. The robin in full song was a nice catch. I am always amazed at the volume of song emitted from these little fellows.

    The bumblebee almost looks too big to fit in that daffodil. It will be a little while yet before I see bumblebees here.

  7. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a British robin with its beak open – and it certainly opened wider than I thought it could! They are usually in much more demure poses for the camera.

    The river rocks used as cobbles are lovely. I look forward to seeing how you deal with the entrance to the drive.

  8. Your robin is telling the world that it has been nominated in Germany as “bird of the year” – but in fact it is only defending its territory. Good to hear about the mending of your back. And almost a work of art are the cobbles laid by Mrs.T.

  9. Love the cobbles work and the slab laying- it finishes off the drive perfectly…only a bit more to go and Mrs T will definitely come up with a solution for the tricky part. You captured some unruly behaviour from your feathered friends ..naughty but great to see. Good news that your back has improved and also Mrs T is back in the garden working …maybe the happy news about your rugby team helped perk you up.

      1. Better to leave patients to get on with things at their own pace…their own bodies will tell them if they have to slow down or they are doing too much.

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