Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Compost’ Category

The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Mary.  She has been recovering from a hip operation and hasn’t been able to get about taking pictures lately so she kindly sent me this picture of Darwin’s house in Kent which she visited in August.

I had a pleasantly busy day today, with plenty to do and people to talk to and this made up for the quality of the day itself which was dull and grey, very dull and grey.

After breakfast, I went up to the Archive Centre where I met Sandy and we were joined by Ron, one of the trustees of the Langholm Reference Library.  He is providing a home for all the various bits and pieces which the Archive Group have collected over the years and came to see what we had got.

He was able to take all that we wanted and we put it in some handy boxes which, with great foresight, Ron had brought with him.  We loaded the boxes into Sandy’s car and off it all went to the library to be catalogued and stored.   I wish everything in the world went as smoothly as this bit of business.

Leaving Sandy and Ron to do anything that looked like heavy lifting or hard work, I went round the corner and got a lift home from Dropscone, accompanied by some his traditional Friday treacle scones.  We ate these while drinking some coffee.   Dropscone has recently suffered an attack of torticollis and so he is well up the pecking order when it comes to interesting ailments.

After he had gone off, I spotted an interesting bird in the garden and took this very interesting picture of it.

 

I did mention that it was a very dull day.  But I must admit that in my haste to capture the bird, I failed to check my camera settings.

The camera was recording in RAW and it shows shows just how much the camera records that it doesn’t tell you about when I can reveal that after processing the image, I could find this welcome visitor under all the gloom

I hope to get a chance to look at the robin again soon with the right camera settings in place.

I then grappled with a very contorted crossword which was in the end  even duller than the weather.  I got fed up and went out into the garden.

It was too grey and windy to take pictures so instead of going for a walk, I did a little gardening.  I shredded and sieved and shifted the contents of compost bin C into compost bin D.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I followed on to take a picture of her waving to to the world.  My camera skills again let me down and by the time that I got organised, she was hard at work.

Once again, I discarded any idea of a walk and made myself useful.  I shredded, and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then did a little digging of what will be our fruit cage area next year (if everything goes to plan).

By this time, although it was still quite early, the light was so poor that we went in and had a cup of tea.  That concluded the active part of the day.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I played duets.  We got out a Telemann sonata which we haven’t played for years and found that we remembered it remarkably well and resolved to put in a bit of practice and play it again soon.

As it was too gloomy to take a flying bird picture today, I have delved into the archives to find a rare shot of a flying robin from four years ago.

flying robin

 

Read Full Post »

As well as looking for fossils, my Newcastle correspondent Fiona likes to take her family to interesting places and today’s guest picture shows the ruins of Finchdale Priory which she visited with them a week or two ago.

Finchdale Priory

We had a warm and calm day today, ideal for cycling.  Hmmm.  I didn’t even have company for coffee as both Dropscone and Sandy were away from home.

As a result, I had a lot of time to watch the birds and fortunately, there were a lot of birds to watch.

Although we mostly had the usual suspects seen here hanging around in the plum tree…

birds in plum tree

Finches on the top branches.

great tit in plum tree

A great tit further down.

dunnock on ground

And a rather fierce dunnock on the ground below.

…we did get some unusual visitors too.

A small brown bird with an unremarkable back view….

redpoll from behind

…revealed itself as a redpoll when it turned round.  They are winter visitors and cheer the gloomy days up.

redpoll on feeder

There were a few of them around and while some sat in the plum tree looking demure…

redpoll in plum tree

…others got on with the business of terrifying chaffinches…

redpoll attacking

…which are much bigger than them.

However the real surprise of the morning was a visit from a greater spotted woodpecker which suddenly appeared in the plum tree as if by magic.

greater spotted woodpecker in tree

Although I often see them up at the Moorland feeders, we hardly ever see one in the garden and especially not one so happy to pose for me.

greater spotted woodpecker in garden

However, it didn’t pose for long and soon flew off, not to be seen again.

A curiosity of looking at pictures of the birds when the feeder is busy is to see flying seeds everywhere.  How did the seed in the top of the picture below get there?

flying food

I got a visit from my part time neighbour Ken, a fellow cyclist.  He is in the opposite situation to me and after being poorly earlier in the year, he is now getting some good miles in.  I was very envious of him as he had been of me in the spring.

The morning drifted away but after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work in the garden and that galvanised me into action, or at least into as much as I could manage without flexing my leg.

I took a leisurely photographic tour in search of colour.  There are flowers about if you look hard enough.

november flowers

The perennial wallflowers in the bottom left frame above started flowering in April and been in bloom ever since.  That is what I call value for money.

The warm summer has encouraged roses to produce hips this year.  Although the rosa Gallica (on the left) always produces some rather subdued hips, we have never seen hips on the Goldfinch (on the right) before.

november rose hips

In the absence of flowers, the spireas are a source of pleasure at this time of year.

november spirea

I did a little shredding and sieved some more of the compost from Bin D as Mrs Tootlepedal is planting out bulbs and needs compost.  I know that readers have been eagerly awaiting compost pictures so here is the result of sieving Bin D.

bucket of sieved compost

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also turned a very full Bin A into Bin B and took a picture of Bins A to D.

compost bins a to d

Mrs Tootlepedal is responsible for the plastic bin on the left of Bin A and I have no idea what is in it.  It is a closely guarded secret.

The next task will be to finish the little bit of sieving left in Bin D and turn Bin C into it.  It is good for a man to have a purpose in life.

While I was having fun, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing for next year.

fern dug up

She removed a fern from a spot where, if all goes well, a fine display of tulips will appear in spring.

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke,  I left the sous-chef to fettle up the gravy.  She did an excellent job and we had a tasty evening meal.

To end the day, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  We played Mozart, Telemann and Quantz and that was the perfect way to forget the many little inconveniences that come to all of us with advancing years.

The flying bird of the day is another ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from regular reader, Edward Winter from Sheffield.  As is appropriate to someone from that city, he likes metal sculptures and has recently acquired this Jason Heppenstall work created mainly from saw blades (the wings) and eating forks (on Eagle’s head).  I can see shears lower down too I think.

Eagle Jason Heppenstall

The weather gods finally lightened up a bit and we had a fine but chilly day today.  I was still taking things gently so most of the morning passed without anything to record other than the standard crossword and coffee routine but after coffee, we ventured out into the garden to see what was still standing after the recent frosts and a night with some heavy rain.

There were still a few rather battered flowers about…

four flowers November 1

…and plenty of raindrops among the petals.

four flowers November 2

It was pleasantly warm if you were in the sunshine and Mrs Tootlepedal’s field beans have thrived in all weathers and are growing well.

field beans Nov

The nasturtiums were finally condemned as over and in spite of one or two valiant flowers defying the odds, the whole lot got the heave-ho and ended in the compost bin.

This stimulated me to do a bit more sieving of the contents of Bin D and the results were very satisfactory as it has been a good year for compost.  I will have to think about starting the whole bin transfer business soon.

When we went in, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work on her winter project, the restoration of our rocking horse, and I watched the birds.

As soon as I put out a couple of fat balls these days, the jackdaws get to know and are on the scene within minutes.

This one was waiting patiently in the plum tree while others nibbled away.

jackdaw in plum tree

The jackdaws don’t bother with the seed though, which leaves plenty for the smaller birds like this coal tit.

coal tit in the sun

A great tit looked interested too.

great tit on the pole

The strong low sunlight makes getting ‘clean’ shots of flying birds a lottery unless you have plenty of time to spare.

shady chaffinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and I tested out my leg with a very flat and short cycle ride on the slow bike.

I cycled over three bridges and then round the New Town, stopping very occasionally for a picture.

There are still spots of autumn colour about….

November tree colour 1

…but for every tree with colour, there are two or three with bare branches.

November tree colour 2

The trees on the banks of the Esk below the mission hall show every stage.

 

November tree colour 3`

I cycled up to Pool Corner but the sun had gone in and the larches were dull…

pool corner Nov 1

…but a few minutes later, the glow was golden.

larches in November

The cycling went very well as far as my leg went and was pain free.

I was encouraged.

Walking was still tricky but at least I could get about now.

I had promised to prepare some of the Archive Group’s ‘Mills and Railway’ heritage DVDs in readiness for an event later in the day so I put my bike aside and copied the disk box labels and then cycled up to the town to use the disk copier in the Archive Centre.  This would have gone better if I had remembered to take some blank disks with me.  As it was, I got some extra cycling in as I had to go back home to get the disks.

At one stage on this double trip, a sudden halt in the traffic flow made me stop and put a foot down.  Without thinking, I pushed off when things got going again and as soon as I had done it, I realised that I had used my wrong leg and in an instant, I was back where I was two days ago.

I was discouraged…

…as much by my foolishness as by the discomfort.  Still, I was still able to cycle home and then walk along to the Buccleuch Centre to the official launch of a book about Langholm’s Textile industry’s history.  This was based on the work of my sadly departed friend Arthur Bell, a mill owner himself and an enthusiast for the industry in Langholm.

There was an excellent turnout for the launch and as everyone present seemed to have bought at least one copy, the two editors of the book must have been very pleased.

I shall be more careful about my movements tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with its head and body in the sun and its wings in the shadows.

flyinch chaffinch with dark wings

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce’s northern trip.  He had got as far as the Isle of Harris when he took this shot of the  famous beach at Seilebost on a day that was not encouraging any sunbathing…but the view was still good.

Seilebost

It was both less windy and warmer than yesterday here today in spite of the complete absence of any sun.

As I sipped coffee and nibbled scones with Dropscone, who had come in search of a spare mouse for his computer as his had died, Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing off the remaining dahlias from the front beds.

She made short work of the task…

P1140817

…and by the time that Dropscone left, the beds were cleared.  It didn’t take us long to shred  them and add the remains to the green mulch on the back bed.

P1140835

Mrs Tootlepedal has become very fond of green mulching and I have to take care not to to linger for too long in one spot while taking flower photographs for fear of being covered in mulch myself.

I nipped around with the camera just to show that although the dahlias may have gone, there is a good deal still left to delight the eye.

All this….

P1140829

…and these too.

P1140836

We even have what passes for a colourful corner in October…

P1140837

…and of course, there are Special Grandmas.

P1140824

I had a quick check on the birds while we having coffee.  We are getting a steady supply of  greenfinches again though they were rather rude today and turned their backs on me…

_DSC7669

…and a blue tit wasn’t any more helpful.

_DSC7672

Still if the birds won’t ‘watch the birdie’ then there is nothing to be done about it.

After lunch, the warmer weather persuaded me to ignore the possibility of some light rain and go for a cycle ride.  I took the precaution of having my big yellow rain jacket on from the start and a persistent drizzle, which came on almost as soon as I had left the house, made me grateful for the decision.

It was a gloomy day….

P1140845

…with the hills shrouded in clouds and there was quite enough wind to make pedalling into it seem like hard work.

There were reminders along the way of even stronger winds in the recent past.

P1140846

However, as I dropped down into the Esk valley at Canonbie, the rain stopped and the wind became my friend and pushed me back up the hill into Langholm.  The trees along the riverside are among the most colourful around at the moment and the bridges at the Hollows…

hollows bridge view oct 3

Looking north

hollows bridge Oct 3 south

Looking south

And at Skippers…

view from skippers oct 3 2018

Looking north

skippers bridge view south 3 oct 18

Looking south

…gave me the chance to have an uninterrupted view of the colour.

All this tree watching was very tiring and my new bike had to have a short rest on the old A7 between the bridges.

old A7 oct 3

Although it was only my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit, the ride gave me great pleasure, both because of the views and because my legs had appreciated four days rest since my last cycle outing.

I had a shower and a sit down and then, after a nourishing meal of corned beef hash,  it was time to go out to sing with the Langholm Choir and put my singing lesson to the test.  My teacher, Mary was too busy to take the choir herself this week and sent her husband along to take her place so I don’t know what she would have thought of my efforts but I enjoyed myself a lot so I thought that the lesson had been worthwhile.

I have got several busy days ahead and posts might become a little sketchy or even totally invisible after tomorrow for a while.

Meantime here is a flying goldfinch as a change from the incessant chaffinches.

_DSC7676

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss.  He wanted to show me that they have butterflies there too but their ones come indoors.

wemyss butterfly

It was a stop start sort of day.

Our car had two warning lights when we got back from Carlisle yesterday and they were still sending out bad vibes when I switched on the engine this morning.  I rang the garage to see if they could do anything and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and sighing.  “Very busy….not taking any more work this week…(sound of Tootlepedal crying) ….oh well, bring it in and we’ll see if we can look at it….no promises.”

I took it in.  They looked at it.  No more warning lights.  I collected it.  It was raining lightly by this time but I was very sunny.  Fingers are firmly crossed as I have to drive fifty miles tomorrow.

When I got home, the sun was shining so I went out into the garden for a walk round with Mrs Tootlepedal.  There had been ice on the car windscreen with a temperature of 2°C before breakfast and a lot of the dahlias had turned up their toes as a result.  However, it had warmed up quite quickly and there were survivors all around.

late garden flowers

Clockwise from top left: Gaura, calendula, rudbeckia and perennial wallflower

The upside of the demise of the Sunny Reggae dahlias was more space and light for the two fuchsias behind them.

fuchsia October

fat fuchsia october

And I did see a red admiral butterfly.  It was on the remains of the French marigolds which did such a good job of protecting the carrots earlier in the year.

red admiral on marigold

In the vegetable garden, chive and mint are still in flower.

chive and mint

Mrs Tootlepedal was mourning the loss of some nasturtiums to the cold when she noticed that there was some damage that wasn’t weather related.

cabbage white caterpillar (2)

Cabbage white caterpillars were chomping their way through leaves and flowers.

cabbage white caterpillar

Our kitchen was being painted and I had to wait in for the call from the garage so I put the morning to good use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I am well behind schedule at this task so this was not before time.

When the painter went off to let the first coat of paint dry, I watched the birds from the kitchen window.  It was another busy day.

There was a mixture of greenfinches, sparrows and chaffinches at first…

busy feedr

…but a small gang of goldfinches soon turned up too.

goldfinches

Political discussions grew heated and a sparrow had to fly in to calm down two goldfinches who were debating the merits of Canada ++ and/or of falling of a cliff.

goldfinches in discussion

Greenfinches pursued sparrows…

greenfinch in pursuit

…and then goldfinches pursued sparrows.

goldfinch and sparrow

But the goldfinches couldn’t stop arguing.  The one on the left is practising the ‘no deal’ Brexit position.

goldfinch coming and going

A coal tit rose above the bickering…

coal tit on pole

…and a chaffinch showed her disgust at the whole situation.

fierce chaffinch

One of our visiting jackdaws has some elegant white wing feathers to show off.

jackdaw with white

Over lunch, we watched a re-run of the last kilometres of the men’s world championship cycling road race and felt for the riders as they had to battle up an extremely steep hill.

When the painter came back, we went out into the garden and did some useful work.  I mowed the drying green and the green house grass, did some shredding and sieved some compost.  The compost went on to the first of the new beds at the top of the vegetable garden which Mrs Tootlepedal had been preparing.

new bed back veg

I trimmed the top of the white clematis round the back door as it was creeping up in to the gutter and while I was in clematis mode, I noticed that we still have two clematis on the go in a modest way.

late clematis

I rounded off my photographic day with a glimpse of a dunnock…

dunnock

….the first to appear on the blog since early June.

Mike Tinker dropped in to report that his son David and family were safely on their journey back to New Zealand.  They will be looking forward to some warmer weather no doubt.

In the early evening, Luke came to play flute and once again we made steady progress (hemidemisemiquavers are meat and drink to us now) and then after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t been playing a lot recently and it was good to get together again even though some rustiness was apparent all round.  The Reader’s Digest used to suggest that laughter is the best medicine but I think it is music.

The flying bird of the day is a determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Tamworth recently and found the castle gardens looking well kept.

Tamworth

We had another fine day here today and indeed there was only 1 cm of rain in Mary Jo’s rain gauge when I looked this evening so we have had a pretty dry week.  It has been a windy month though and the wind was nagging away again this morning.  I did get into my cycling gear but some really heavy gusts persuaded me that yesterday’s ride was enough for the time being and I changed back into my lounging around clothes and lounged around in a very professional manner for the rest of morning and a lot of the afternoon.

I roused myself enough to cycle round to the corner shop to get materials to make a sausage stew and then had to rouse myself again to go back and get the sausages which  had forgotten to buy.

I filled the bird feeder and had a brief look at the birds.

chaffinch posing

chaffinch arguing

The women’s race in the cycling world championships gave both Mrs Tootlepedal and me a good excuse to watch others taking exercise but when it finished, we thought that the sunny day made some outdoor activity more or less compulsory.  She did some gardening and I went for a walk after spending a few minutes looking for flowers in the garden.

late september flowers

As long as there are flowers with butterflies in them, I will keep taking their pictures.

buttefly on dahlia

My walk was a short three bridges affair because although it was sunny, there was a distinct nip in the air from the breeze.

I saw two lonely gulls beside the river….

gulls by river

…and an old friend near the Town Bridge.

heron

I looked back as I crossed the bridge….

bewteen the bridges

…and then headed along the Kilngreen and across the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

I enjoyed the sunny views….

Trees from castleholm

…and the hints of autumn colour….

trees on back of Lodge walks

…which were quite pronounced in a few places.

autumn colour

Sadly this promising spot of colour had been laid low by the recent storm.

fallen tree castleholm

There were several crops of fungus on old tree stumps…

fungus on Duchess Bridge path

…and I wondered if I could see a small gnome glaring at me from the back of this bunch.

fungus on Castleholm

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I thought that I ought to try to be useful so I mowed the middle and front lawns with the mower blades set suitably high for a late season cut.  I was surprised how much growth there had been in the grass and was able to add a handy amount to the compost bin.

I had to have a sit down when I had finished.

mown lawn september

The dry week had left the lawns quite easy to mow and although the moss is making a come back, they are looking as well as can be expected at this time of year.

When I was putting the grass in the compost bin, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out how well the leycesteria formosa is doing.

leycestera

It was an uninvited guest but it is looking so good that it may well become part of the new planting scheme at the back of the vegetable garden next year.

I made the sausage stew and ate some of it for my tea.

We have a busy day of singing ahead tomorrow so I have finished my cycling for September.  In spite of some very windy weather, I have managed to keep up to my mileage target for the year although I didn’t get as many miles in as I had hoped.  I will need a kindly October or some very good wet weather clothing to keep me up to scratch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch caught in one of the cloudy moments of an otherwise lovely day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She set herself up with this splendid view with the intention of enjoying the Red  Arrows display team as they flew towards her.   Unfortunately, owing to a failure of communication, they appeared from behind her and were past before she could get a good shot.  Still, the  countryside is lovely.

somerset view

We had dawn till dusk sunshine today (with the occasional cloud) and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside.

I was going to go cycling in the morning but Mrs Tootlepedal had asked if I could clean the tray which catches the fallen seed below the bird feeder so while she went off for a meeting, I did that.  Bird poop and soggy seed are difficult to get off so this took me some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and it was such a  fine day that it seemed like a really good time to dig up the remaining potatoes and let them dry before storing them.

There were quite a lot to raise.

potatoes on bed

Some of them were definitely not small potatoes.

big potato

And the haulms needed chopping up and putting into the compost bin.

compost bin full of haulms

And I couldn’t spend time in the garden without looking around a bit.

yellow bee

three poppies

two reggae

And after all this, it was suddenly time for lunch and I still hadn’t gone cycling.

After lunch, I checked on the butterflies.  There were a lot about and as the buddleia blooms are going over, it wasn’t surprising to find a peacock and a red admiral sharing one of the ones that is still out.

peacock and admiral butterflies

I finally got cycling and soon found out that although the sun was out, there was a brisk wind to go with it so it was warm but hard going.  I set off to go over Callister but found that the loose gravel merchants had been at work there very recently so I turned back and took a diversion.  At one stage, this entailed going along a narrow road with a very poor surface, gently uphill and  straight into the wind.  I was pleased to take a rest and nibble on a bramble in a hedge…

bramble

…and make up for the recent lack of gates in the blog.

gate

I passed several farmers in the process of getting a second cut of grass for storage.

grass cutting in field

They must be pleased because when the cold wet spring was followed by a drought, things didn’t look very promising.

In spite of the constant verge cutting, some (short) wild flowers are showing again beside the road as I pedal along.

wild flower

For one reason or another, my legs were in a very uncooperative mood and the wind was coming from a rather unhelpful direction so my progress would have made a snail feel quite comfortable.

I needed a few stops to let the legs recover and I took one of them at this small bridge over a little burn a few yards from the border with England.

bridge near Springfield

It was a pretty spot…

path at bridge near Springfield

…with a lot of Himalayan balsam about.

balsam at bridge near Springfield

I took my last breather, about three miles from home and was impressed by the seediness of the area.

rosebay willowherb seed

seed head

In spite of my lacklustre legs, I managed 43 miles and found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.  She had collected up the potatoes…

potatoes in barrow

The ones in the bucket are damaged and have to be eaten first.

…and sorted out the bed.

potato bed

She is going to sow green manure in the bed now.

I checked on the butterflies and saw five peacocks at once….

five butterflies

…and then went in for a cup of tea and a look at the birds among the plums on the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing a home made pizza for our tea (our breadmaking machine makes a very good dough for pizza bases) and while she was doing this, I had another check on the butterflies….

four butterfleis and a bee

Four butterflies and a bee on the same flower head this time.

…before going off for a shower and coming down to eat the delicious pizza.

We are taking a keen interest in La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain cycle race) and I was very envious of the beautifully surfaced roads that they were cycling along today though I was happy not to be going down the final hill with them at 76 kph.  My nose starts bleeding at 48 kph.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow threatening the position of a greenfinch.

incoming sparrow

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »