Small things

Today’s guest picture comes from my Lancashire correspondent Paul who has been visiting the Lake District again. He took this lovely shot of St Cuthbert’s Church at Kentmere.

The red sky last night didn’t bring us a sunny day, but it was much brighter and more cheerful than yesterday, and this was very welcome. I managed to stick to my new resolve to do a bit of Archive Group work before sitting down to the crossword after breakfast, and I noticed that in 1903 advertisers in our local paper were thinking of Christmas as early as the 9th of December. Christmas shortbread was on offer.

I had a look round outside before coffee and found the clematis looking happy, and quite a few bees and other insects were to be seen.

We had a quiet morning, with coffee by ourselves, and it was midday when I got out into the garden again after popping round to our corner shop.

There are definitely more butterflies to be seen every day at the moment, mostly peacocks . . .

. . . but some red admirals too.

The phacelia has recovered from being bashed about by heavy rain some time ago . . .

. . . and along with the mustard in Mrs Tootlepedal’s cover planting, bees found plenty to enjoy.

There are a lot more white butterflies, flies and other small insects about than there have been, and the garden is busier now than at any time this year.

I couldn’t spend long outside as it was time to get the Langholm Initiative newsletter ready for publication. This took me up to lunch time.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made some very nourishing broth for our lunch, and after I had polished off a bowl of that, I took a moment to look at the birds. It was good to see chaffinches, a greenfinch and a siskin.

I even got a glimpse of a blue tit which lurked for a while, dashed up to the feeder, snatched a seed, and made off in haste.

When a day or two ago, I showed our friend Mike Tinker a picture of some roadside sedum which I had photographed on a recent cycle ride, he told us that we could find a different sort of orpine beside the road up to the Becks. This seemed like a good excuse for an electric bike outing with Mrs Tootlepedal, so off we went this afternoon.

Sure enough the orpine was there . . .

. . . and once again, there were insects about as well, and interesting leaves.

As the orpines were only half a mile away from home, we extended our cycle outing by going up to Westwater and taking the timber lorry road up the hill. There were trees being felled and stacked beside the track . . .

. . . and we stopped for a moment to watch one of the tree eating machines in action. Then Mrs Tootlepedal headed on up the hill . . .

. . . and I followed on as best I could. Finally, we got to the top and were able to look down into the valley on the other side of the ridge and see the road winding down to Cleuchfoot.

It is a bit of a plunge down the hill to get to it . . .

. . . but we were brave (and we went at a very sensible pace on the rough track) and we arrived safely beside the Logan Water as it runs down to join the mighty Wauchope.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted an impressive patch of mint beside the stream.

. . . and when we came to the little bridge that crosses the burn, I stopped and looked back up the valley.

Our extended ride lasted for eleven miles and we greatly enjoyed ourselves, much assisted by our electric bikes taking the pain out of the ascent from Westwater.

After a cup of tea, I set about getting the greenhouse grass and the vegetable garden paths mowed, but I had time to look around too while Mrs Tootlepedal gardened. You can still find a few roses if you look hard enough . . .

. . . and the dahlias are lasting well.

The hydrangea is coming along but Mrs Tootlepedal saw a much better example on a visit in the town this morning. She hopes that our one will continue to develop next year.

There were several more butterflies to be seen, some of which chose the buddleia and others more unorthodox places to rest.

The large and contorted verbascum has reached the end of its flowering season and Mrs Tootlepedal is going to consign it to the compost bin shortly. I took a last look at it and found that it framed the walnut tree very well.

I shall miss it when it is gone.

I went out into the garden in the evening as the sun was going down, and watched a steady procession of jackdaws flying over the garden on the way to their nightly roost. They studiously avoided flying past the most colourful bits of the sky but all the same, they are the flying birds of the day.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

12 thoughts on “Small things

  1. That is a beautiful guest photo of St. Cuthbert’s Church in the Lake District, with stone walls going right up the hillsides.

    I had a good chuckle at 1903 advertisers in your local paper who were thinking of Christmas as early as the 9th of December. It won’t be long here before we start seeing early Christmas advertisements.

    The birds, butterflies, bees, flowers and views from your own camera made a lovely set. That short, wild mint – I think it is called Horse Mint over here – finally migrated up from fields several houses down and is now growing along our driveway. It is a strong musky mint, and thrives in drought.

    The mustard is a startling bright yellow. We grow a variety called “Southern Giant Curled” here, and the bees do love it. The blooms have a sweet, heavy musky scent. It grows and flowers early in the season, and has generally finished its life cycle by the end of June. The leaves make a spicy addition to sandwiches and salads.

    1. It took a long time for Christmas to get going in Scotland. It was still not a holiday when my mother was young.

      I must try nibbling one of our mustard leaves and see what it tastes like.

      That was the second patch of wild mint that I have seen lately. Perhaps it has been a good year for it.

    2. One of our local friends posted a photo of a shop display, maybe in Costco, with Christmas trees and snowmen already…and that was two weeks ago. I was horrified.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that red clover you grow as a cover crop.
    The dahlias seem to be stealing the show at the moment.
    I’m glad you’re finally seeing plenty of insects. The butterflies are beautiful. I’m seeing more bumblebees this year than I’ve ever seen, but few honeybees.

    1. I haven’t see that sort of clover either. It looks rather odd in my view but it has a lovely colour. The dahlias are the best thing in the garden at the moment, you are right. We haven’t seen many honeybees but I don’t think that there is anyone with hives in the town at the moment.

  3. Christmas only thought of as ‘early as 9th December’: what a pleasure! Here the commercial demons start shoving it in our faces from October!!!! It is heartwarming to see so many insects in your garden for you have long expressed concern about their absence.

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