Not a dull moment

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s tour of Norfolk. He took this fine picture at Blickling House yesterday.

After the rather gloomy weather here yesterday, we got a much better day today, less windy in the morning and much sunnier.

The day was made sunnier still when first Dropscone and then Margaret arrived for coffee. Dropscone was in an upbeat mood because not only had he already been for bicycle ride round the town, but he had also played a decent round of a golf in a seniors tournament earlier in the week.

When they left, I got busy. First on the to do list was a walk round the garden to take pictures of the many different dahlias that are blooming. I was spoilt for choice and chose these six to represent the tribe.

While I was walking between dahlias, I spotted a bee which had probably left it too late to visit this particular poppy. Other bees had got there first.

A cheerful crocosmia also caught my eye.

There are more bees and other insects about in the garden than there have been. But there are still not as many as there should be. This was the only insect visiting a large number of inula flowers when I looked today.

Next on the list was a quick visit to the corner shop for supplies, and when I got back, I picked some gooseberries. They are ripening well . . .

. . . and I was able to eat the most ripe ones uncooked. I stewed the rest, and had a plate of stewed gooseberries and custard in the evening. As Mrs Tootlepedal does not care for gooseberries, the task of eating all of ours will fall to me. It is a duty which I will willingly undertake, as I love gooseberries.

The next task was to turn the material from Compost Bin A to Compost Bin B. The recent tidying work that Attila the Gardener has been doing meant that Bin A was both very tall and very full. The material had been mostly well chopped up so it wasn’t too difficult to transfer it to the bin next door. Our adaptable bin system makes it easy to lower the sides as you go, so that I never have to stretch to get at the material.

I know that compost lovers would not forgive me if I didn’t show the turned compost before it was covered to protect it from getting too wet.

A sight for sore eyes. It will stay there while the material in Bins C and D gets sieved.

By now it was time for lunch. I had intended to make celery and Stilton soup, but time had slipped by and I had to make do with two bacon and tomato rolls instead.

However, I was just going to go in for lunch when a flicker of colour distracted me. Butterflies had appeared on the big buddleia bush.

I could see small tortoiseshells and peacocks . . .

. . . but they weren’t easy to photograph because I had the wrong camera to hand, and there were only a few of them, and they were restless. I did my best . .

. . . and then went in to get another camera. The results with this weren’t much better as the butterflies stubbornly refused to pose with open wings in the sunshine for long enough for me to get close.

I went to see if there were any visiting our other buddleias but found none, just a small tortoiseshell on an inula, seen on my way.

I am hoping that this is just the start of regular visits from butterflies.

While I was on my butterfly hunt, I couldn’t pass the lilies without clicking my shutter finger. They get better every day.

After lunch, we decided that it was time to mow the no mow lawn. It has been growing unchecked all year . . .

. . . and the plan is to mow it now, then in due course to scarify it, sow yellow rattle to inhibit the growth of grass next year, and then scatter wild flower seeds. We would like a lot less grass and a lot more wild flowers.

Mowing the no mow lawn using the hover mower and the strimmer proved to be quite a task. We couldn’t get it all finished, as the battery on the strimmer ran out. We hope to get the job done tomorrow.

After a walk round the garden, where I looked at more restful colours than the dahlias . . .

. . . I went for a bicycle ride. After a vigorous walk yesterday, the compost turning and the lawn mowing today, and considering that it had now got quite windy, I thought it best to take my electric bike out.

This proved to be a good decision, as the wind was very strong when I got going. After pushing against it for three miles though, it kindly blew me down to the bottom of the Canonbie bypass at a good speed. In fact, I went at such a good speed that I was reluctant to stop for pictures. I did stop once to look over towards Tinnis Hill in the distance, and wish that we had had today’s good weather yesterday.

It was one of those rare days when the wind was very helpful going down to Canonbie and quite helpful from time to time on the way back. I kept my legs spinning round, used the electric power on any little hills that I came to, and as a result, I managed to achieve an average speed of 16 mph for the round trip of twenty miles. I may have mentioned before that electric bicycles are wonderful on days when strong winds would make life hard for an elderly cyclist.

I only stopped for one more picture on my way round. This was when I needed to adjust my saddle so I chose a good spot to do this.

You can see that the wind is stretching the flags out beside the tower.

I was going to finish off the lawn mowing when I got home, but I had failed to attach the strimmer battery to the charger properly so it was still dead. Perhaps this was just as well, and I enjoyed a quiet moment over tea and toast instead.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious meal out of yesterday’s roast chicken, and that rounded off a day that had had more activity in than I had expected. Credit must go to yesterday’s walking companions who set such a sensible pace that I had lots of energy left for today.

I didn’t have much time for looking at the bird feeder during the day. When I looked after I had had my tea and toast I saw a chaffinch and a siskin . . .

. . . but traffic was slow and the light wasn’t helpful. I went out into the garden to see if there were any birds about not at the feeder. Young and old starlings were perched on the power line . . .

. . . and by a fortunate coincidence, a group of quarrelling gulls flew over the house at that exact moment. They then flew this way and that to make sure that I got them from their best side.

I was going to use one of the gulls as flying bird of the day . . .

. . . but in the end, I liked this starling better.

Footnote: Putting both flying bird pictures in while saying that I am not going to do it is known as having your cake and eating it, or ‘cakeism’. I learned that skill from studying Boris Johnson.

Another footnote: There is definite evidence from the trail camera that the hedgehog may be a garden resident or at least a frequent visitor. This was four o’clock this morning.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

40 thoughts on “Not a dull moment

  1. I’m glad your legs were still in working order after yesterday’s hike.
    The eyes of the bee and butterfly were good shots. They’re easy shots for the Olympus camera but it’s not so easy getting it close enough to get shots like those.
    I also like the shot of the starling.
    I wonder if that’s the same hedgehog that was living with you before. Wasn’t it in your garage or greenhouse? Maybe this one is sleeping in the same place.

    1. I don’t know how long hedgehogs live but we have been seeing one about for a few years now. We always assume that it is the same hedgehog but that may not be true.

      1. I just looked them up. They live for 2-5 years but there are many variables involved. Banding it would be the only way to tell if it was the same one but even if it isn’t, your yard is obviously a welcoming place for them.

  2. Wonder post! I am sad when I walked the gardens today that my crocosmia has yet to bloom it is 2 weeks late, but we are in a drought. Starlings are despised by many here as are the Finch with black throats, seems they war with our native Eastern Bluebirds. Your space is love and your brothers’ input was great!

    1. Invasive species are a porblem but it is fair to say that quite a lot of people here don’t like starlings very much. I think that they are beautiful birds.

      1. Do you use shell free seed I need to tighten my belt in other places and take that route though I fear the bear will sit in one of my chairs and wait for me to refill them 🙂

      2. Yes, I use what they call sunflower hearts. Mrs Tootlepedal greatly appreciates the lack of mess. Luckily we do not need to worry about bears hear.

      3. You are lucky and my turkeys eat shell and all thankfully. I think the raccoon babies do as well if they find any unopened, they usually get cracked corn Cardinals and turkey leave behind.

  3. If my memory serves me correctly I share your love of gooseberries but it’s been so long I can’t remember what they taste like or where I ate them. You seem to have more butterflies but perhaps I have a few more bees. Excellent Starling in flight.

    1. I liked the starling a lot too. I am told that they are breeding gooseberries to be more tart these days as people don’t eat them directly but use them in cooking.

      1. Now I had to look up gooseberries to discover that they had a bad rap and were banned for years in the US because they somehow contributed to white pine bark disease. But they are making a comeback – I will have to find some!

      2. Eating gooseberries off the bush when we were on holiday at my grandfather’s house when I was very young (in the 1940’s !) is a treat remembered fondly to this day.

  4. There were some nice insect pictures today. And I’m glad to hear that there’ve been no ill effects of the strenuous hike yesterday. It’s a bit sad to hear that you’re mowing the no-mow lawn; but it sounds like you’re just preparing it for future no-mowing. My back yard wildflowers are not nearly as thick and vigorous now as they were when I first stopped mowing there. From your plans, your wildflowers will probably be both thick and vigorous. Oh, and it’s nice to hear about the hedgehog. I like hearing of a yard that is friendly to wildlife.

    1. We are getting the no mow lawn into better condition for wild flowers next year. There was too much grass this year so we will scarify it and plant yellow rattle to keep the grass down a bit and give the wild flowers a chance. We are very pleased to see the hedgehog as they are a species under threat from loss of habitat.

  5. It is heartening to learn that the butterflies are arriving at last. Along with the bees, they make fine subjects to photograph. I am interested in the no-mow grass experiment and look forward to the wild flowers in time. I am very glad to see the hedgehog too.

    1. I watching Monty Don on Gardeners’ World tonight, and he was cutting and removing the long grass from a wild flower area in his garden. Great minds think alike!

  6. Blickling House look very beautiful and yes, it’s a great shot too. I share your opinion on gooseberries, I love them too 🙂 Your compost looks great, in earlier times it never succeded me to make compost like you do. How lovely to see the butterflies on your buddleja and yes, choosing your e-bike was a good idea after that long walk from the day before.

    1. We don’t have a large garden so we can take care when we are filling the compost bins to get layers of different material. This helps the stuff to rot down well, and quite quickly too.

  7. I am glad your hedgehog is alive and healthy! We have had skunks wandering about here the last few nights. When they get into an argument, which they do frequently, it can get really stinky out there. I do not think you have skunks over in the U.K.

    I like your adjustable compost bin system.

    1. We are grateful not to have skunks. You can have too much of a good thing when it comes to wild life in the garden. 🙂

      The compost bins work well for me as they reduce lifting when turning the compost.

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