Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair who found an upstanding goose in his local park.
It has been a remarkable week here. We have gone from nearly six months of ‘coats on coffee’ with three layers and hats on, to just a t-shirt and sitting in the shade to avoid the blazing sun in the space of seven days. This must be the fastest transition from winter to summer on record.
Mrs Tootlepedal has gone from protecting plants with bottle greenhouses to watering three times a day.
And in spite of all this, the plants in the garden have not rushed to flower. They may well be wondering what is going on. We were afraid that the lilac might have been terminally frosted but one or two flowers have started to poke their heads out…
…so all may not be lost.
Some of the potentillas have had a lot of frost damage but the red flowering one is doing well, and so is a large bunch of buttercups which may not be quite so welcome to the gardener.
There are signs of life though. Geraniums have started…
…and the azaleas are coming out in a very tentative fashion.
Aquilegias in the shade on the front wall of the house are slow, aquilegias in the sun on the back wall of the house are thriving.
And to cap it all, an inappropriate winter jasmine flower has turned up.
We went to church to sing in the socially distanced choir and then came back and had coffee with Liz, Ken and Margaret in Liz’s garden.
Then we got to work in the garden. I did some watering, some weed killing and some compost sieving. Mrs Tootlepedal potted on some dahlias, and raised her defences against the marauding sparrows, who bring destruction to everything young and green that they can get at in the vegetable garden.
Then it was time for lunch.
After lunch, I had a look at the birds who had been very noisy all morning. The siskins were once again the main visitors to the feeder, and a blackbird which had spent a lot of time singing in the rowan tree, was still going in the afternoon.
Most of the noise was coming from young starlings who were gathering in groups and wearing out their parents with their incessant demands.
Since the sun was out and I had an hour to spare, I walked up the road to see if the bluebells looked better when the sun was out.
I looked about on my way. The ivy leafed toadflax has really enjoyed the weather this year and I could have taken pictures of any of several impressive clumps growing on the wall at Pool Corner.
There was no chance of seeing any birds at Pool Corner as a bunch of cheery youngsters were busy leaping off the wall beside the road into the river with great splashes and great cheers of encouragement. It must have been quite chilly in the water in spite of the sun, as no one lingered there after their daring leap.
I turned my attention to the wall on the other side of the road, where forget-me-nots and Herb Robert presented a more peaceful scene.
Only a short distance upstream from the jumpers and swimmers, I found a delightfully quiet corner of the Wauchope Water. It was another world.
As I walked on, I passed birds foot trefoil, silverweed, bird cherry and wild geranium.
At morning coffee, Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal had been talking about a bench which used to stand at the road side just before Bessie Bell’s. Liz was lamenting its disappearance as she used to rest on it on one of her regular walks. I had a nose about and found that it was in fact still there, but probably not much use any more.
Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the sun went in just as I got to the bluebells. Luckily there was a moth to keep me entertained. It was so well disguised as a dead leaf that I had to check that I was photographing the right thing even though I had seen it land right in front of me.
It didn’t take long for the sun to reappear and I took a dozen photos but as the results looked much like yesterday’s efforts, I have only put in one here.
One thing that the sun did do was to make the scent of the flowers much stronger. I don’t have a great sense of smell but I enjoyed the perfumed air as I walked among them today.
I would have liked to have extended my stay and walked home along the hill, but the virtual Carlisle choir practice loomed and I tamely walked back along the road.
The bird cherries are wonderful this year…
…and I met another moth at Pool Corner. (The leaping youngsters had moved on by this time.)
I tried to take a picture of the moth as it sat on a leaf but it leapt up and settled on my camera. This was surprising but annoying as I obviously couldn’t get a picture of it there. However, it hopped off the camera and flew onto me. I spent some seconds pointing the camera at my stomach more in hope than expectation. It then started to climb up my shirt and I did some more hopeful clicking.
I would be happy if any knowledgeable reader can identify either of the moths that I met. Google was quite confident about this one but as its choice is only found in Russia, I am not quite so sure. (My friend Alison Tinker tells me that the shirt moth is a buff ermine.)
The starlings were still busy when I got home.
The virtual practice went well. Our conductor says that the virtual performance which we have been individually recording is turning out to be satisfactory, so we are all looking forward to hearing it when it has been polished up and put into a production.
As it was still a lovely day, I went off for a cycle ride after the choir practice. My legs were feeling yesterday’s 40 miles so I took things easily and did my regular 20 miles down to Canonbie and back. There was an unhelpful breeze about too so I was in no danger of breaking any speed records.
I noticed that clover is coming out….
…and the three sisters at Grainstonehead have now got their summer clothes on.
I also noticed that several mystery plants growing in a ditch which I took a picture of on a previous ride are developing flowers …
…so I am hoping that when these come out, it will be possible to lay the mystery to rest.
Nearer Langholm, the Pyrenean valerian is taking over from the garlic mustard. It has such broad leaves that it soon smothers any competition.
I felt that I took a long time to get round my ride today, but when I looked at my records, I found that I had done it at very much the same speed as other recent efforts. I didn’t know whether to be pleased that I was up to par or depressed that my average is so low.
The flying bird of the day, a young starling, is not a brilliant photo but it is neither a siskin or a chaffinch so I have put it in by way of a change.