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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  A friend, a fellow allotmenteer, brought her round some dahlias from Annie’s plot.  They are doing a lot better than ours are.

annie dahlia

We had another unsettled and unsettling day.  It is difficult to have a plan of action when the weather (and the forecast) is so changeable. In the forecast yesterday morning, we had been promised a calm and sunny day today so I was looking for a good cycle ride, staring early.

By the time that I got up today, there was no sign of sun and the forecast was now promising showers in the morning and a sunny afternoon.  I settled down to coffee and the crossword, thinking of an early lunch and an afternoon pedal.

There was rain.

Having finished the coffee and the crossword, I ventured out into the garden.

There were no butterflies to be seen but we were not short of other insects.

I saw a hoverfly vising an Icelandic poppy

hoverfly icelandic poppy

…and a bee well into a poppy…

bee in poppy

,,,while another hoverfly had caused a small pollen storm.

hoverfly in poppy

Another bee took a more refined approach to a geranium.

bee on geranium

Not every small creature was so welcome though.  Our turnips have taken a bit of a bashing.

nibbled turnip

Mrs Tootlepedal hasn’t planted as many cosmos as usual because the plants have tended to suffer from disease in recent years, but there she has some and they are just coming out.

cosmos

Although the bird feeders are not out at present, there are still plenty of birds about, particularly starlings…

fluffy starling on holly

…and blackbirds.

blackbird on bench

I looked at the forecast just before noon.  The sunny afternoon had disappeared and rain showers were back in.  I did put my cycling clothes on but cycling was once again postponed and we were busy out in the garden, looking at some ominous clouds, when a pair of strangers appeared at the front gate.

Were we the owners of Wauchope Cottage, they asked.  We confessed that we were and the man said that he had come especially to see the house as his name was Wauchope too and he had often seen pictures of our garden when he researched Wauchope on Google.

We invited him and his partner Cassandra in to tour the garden in real life. They turned out to come from New Orleans and were in Scotland to find as many Wauchope connections as they could.  They had been to a Wauchope family mausoleum in an Edinburgh churchyard and now they had come to visit the mighty Wauchope Water and Wauchopedale in all its glory.

After their garden tour, they sat our bench for a moment’s rest before continuing their adventure.

Mr Wauchope

When they left, I took a picture of the work that Mrs Tootlepedal, in the guise of Attila the Gardener, had been doing in the garden when the visitors came.  The age of the salvias is ended and they are no more.

no salvias

However, I shredded them all and they are now serving a useful purpose as either garden mulch or an addition to the compost bin.

As the weather continued to look gloomy, I went back indoors and did some work on the computer until finally a good forecast and some fine weather actually coincided and I went out for a cycle ride.

Nothing is perfect though, and a stiff breeze made cycling into it more of a duty than a pleasure so I cut my intended distance down and settled for a comfortable 20 miles round my customary Canonbie circuit.

In spite of the wind, it was warm enough to make being out and about enjoyable, and as I pedalled along, the clouds were being blown away and the sun shone for the whole of my trip.

retreating clouds

The River Esk drains well and there was little sign of the recent rain as  I looked over the bridge at The Hollows.

esk at hollows

I stopped when I got to the old A7 just before getting back to Langholm and enjoyed the view across the valley.

view from old A7

Beside the road, an umbellifer was playing host to a crowd of insects.  I can count seven but there may be more.

umbellifer and insect

The amiable sunshine made even a very ordinary dock look rather gorgeous…

dock close up

…and  I was able to find some refreshment before getting back on my bike again.

brambles

The blackberries were delicious.

When I arrived back, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy cutting down  potentillas at the back of the house along the dam while i had been away.  After the recent flood had put water through the ventilators under our floor, she thought that clearing away the vegetation in front of the ventilators would allow more flow of air which could only be a good thing.

This provided me with an opportunity to do a lot more shredding and more beds were mulched and the compost bin was once again enhanced.

I just had time to some black and white photography of nicotiana..

three nicotiana

…and our strikingly dark pansies…

black pansies

…before going in to cook baked eggs with spinach and a cheese sauce for our tea.

In the evening, we were visited by Mairi, the camera club member whose pictures I had printed.  She had framed them, and she brought them back so that they could be part of our next camera club exhibition.  She stayed on for a while to chat to Mrs Tootlepedal and we soon had the world put to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which I caught when it was passing over the garden near midday.

flying gull overhead

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who was taking some refreshment in Russell Square when she noticed that she was being watched.

Susan's owl

We had a day of almost uninterrupted sunshine and light winds, ideal for pottering about the garden so this is what I did.  I thought of going for a bike ride from time to time as it was also a perfect day for cycling but by the time that I had pottered about the garden all morning and a bit of the afternoon too, the heat of the day had rendered me too melted to pull myself together enough to go cycling.

Through the day, flowers caught the eye, both singly…

four bright flowers

…and in clumps…

four bright clumps

…and they caught the eyes of insects too and the garden was loud with buzzing.

bee and hoverfly on poppy

In the face of hot competition, this was my favourite single flower of the day…

calendula

…though for a knock ’em dead effect, it was hard to ignore the phlox…

phlox phlurry

…which is phlourishing greatly.

another phlox phlurry

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I was picking beans and digging potatoes in the morning.

We had a good selection today:

A red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…a peacock…

peacock butterfly

…a painted lady…

painted lady butterfly

…and a small tortoiseshell…

small tortoisesgell butterfly

…and lots of plainer butterflies too.

white butterfly

There were several of each variety and it was hard to miss the butterflies as they flew about the garden.

It was pretty warm in the sun so I had to go inside from time to time just to cool down.  Not being able to stand the heat outside at one point, I went into the kitchen and made some soup for lunch using potatoes, beans and an onion from the garden.

Later, I spent some time inside watching the birds and was pleased to see a few goldfinches about.

goldfinch sparrow siskin

The number of siskins has decreased lately so they must be moving on but the goldfinches still had to wait for a free perch…

goldfinch perching

…. because there are a great number of sparrows about and they are very boisterous…

sparring sparrows

…very boisterous indeed.

squabbling sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a series of meetings in the morning but she buckled down to some serious gardening in the afternoon and only paused when these three wise men appeared at our gate.

three old men

Gavin, Mike and Charlie had been out on the hills checking on one of the Langholm Walks routes and replacing marker discs on the guideposts where necessary.  Their voluntary work is valuable as the walks bring many visitors into the town.

I mowed the front lawn and then I did some compost sieving.

As I found that I had emptied Bin D when I had finished, I shifted the compost that hadn’t gone through the sieve and which had been resting in Bin C back into Bin D and then, after a short sit down, I shifted the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

This is exciting work but I needed another sit down after it so I took a camera in hand and sat on a chair beside the front lawn.  I was greatly entertained as I rested by the persistent demands of a young blackbird to be fed by its long suffering parent.  One worm was never enough.

blackbird feeding young

Then I went in and made incessant demands of my own until Mrs Tootlepedal made our evening meal.

I haven’t done much walking lately, as I am trying not to make my feet worse but it was such a lovely evening after tea, that it seemed a crime not to go for a short walk, so I went.

A reflection in the dam caught my attention as I crossed the bridge when I left the house.

dam reflection

The park and the river beside it were full of children swimming in the river and cycling round the park so in Langholm at least, the idea that all children these days spend their time sitting inside staring at their screens is obviously not true.

The park was looking at its best.

 

Buccleuch Park

Several of the poplar trees along the river bank had to be cut down in recent years but the ones that remain look good on a day like today.

Poplars in Buccleuch Park

I walked nervously past two monsters…

two monsters Buccleuch Park

…and through the wood until I got to the Murtholm.

murtholm

It was such a lovely warm night that I was tempted to walk along the river bank to Skippers Bridge and back on the far side of the river but good sense prevailed and I turned back and walked home along the track on the top of the bank above the river.

easton's walk

This is the last post for some time in which birds on the feeder will appear, as the warm wet weather and the tendency of siskins to spill seeds when they eat has made the feeder area too smelly for comfort and I am pausing the feeding for a while.  There is plenty of other food for the birds about.

So the flying bird of the day today is a farewell sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture features one of our visitors today and just goes to prove that we are not the only recent grandparents about.  This is Dropscone taking the grandparenting business with Emily very seriously.  I am afraid that I don’t know who took the picture.

baby Little

We had a dry but grey morning, rather cooler than it has been, and with the ever present threat of rain and even thunderstorms about.  Like yesterday, if I wanted a dry cycle ride I would have needed to be prompt but unlike yesterday, I was not prompt at all so I didn’t go for a pedal, even though the rain held off for all of the morning and some of the afternoon too.

Luckily, there is always dead heading to be done and the garden to wander around.

The dead heading is keeping a constant flow of poppies on the go…

poppy broadcast

…and the Sweet Williams are lasting very well.

pink sweet william

A new clematis has sprung up along the back fence which is very satisfactory.

new clematis back fence

I had another go at the fancy clover and got a bit more detail without quite getting it right…

better fancy clover

…but the feverfew is easy to catch.  It has done so well that I am thinking of calling it the fevermany.

lots of fever few

I had a close look at a three things.

The back of a fern was packed with interest…

fern sporangia

….there is more to the black dot in the middle of an argyranthemum than first meets the eye….

heart of argyranthemum

…and the salvias have hidden depths too.

close up salvia

The first of the Sunny Reggae dahlias has come out but it is looking as though the slugs have spotted it.  Keen eyed readers will notice the shoe of the photographer at the back of the picture.  Because the dahlia was facing the ‘wrong way’, I had to lean over the top of it and photograph it upside down and then correct the result in the editor later.

sunny reggae dahlia

We had just gone in for coffee, when Scott, our former minister with his finely tuned coffee radar working well, popped in for a visit.  We were pleased to see him and caught with his news and shared ours with him.

After he left, we went back put into the garden to pick sweet peas and look around.  We have a lot of blackbirds, so doesn’t take a lot of looking to see one in the garden at the moment.

blackbird on fence

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex colleagues from the Health Centre and I looked around as the sun made a brief appearance.

The ligularias are attracting bees…

bee on ligularia

…as are the rambler roses.  They have come out in force over the past few days.

swathe of rambler rose

The blackbirds will soon have a fine crop of rowan berries to eat but they will have to wait for a little while before they are ripe.

lots of yellow rowan berries

I went in for a light lunch and then came back out and sieved some compost.  I was still thinking of a bike ride as it hadn’t started raining but I made the mistake of switching on the telly to see how the Tour de France time trial was going and I was still snoozing on the sofa when first Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and then we were joined by Dropscone.

He had missed coffee in the morning because he had been playing golf.  He had been beaten on the final hole but was remarkably cheerful all the same.  To cheer him up even further, we loaded him down with new potatoes and rhubarb when he left.

After that the sofa called (the time trial was quite exciting to be fair), and apart from picking a few peas, I didn’t go out again.

This did mean that I had some time to watch birds.

Siskins were busy as usual.

siskin st seed

There was hardly a dull moment.

siskins beak to brak

A blue tit was more reflective, perhaps wondering whether the siskins would go away and leave some space for other birds.

blue tit on wire

The blue tit popped up onto the peanuts but before I could record it, a sparrow came and stood in front of the camera.

sparrow on nuts

Later in the afternoon,  a pigeon took a lofty view of life from our new electricity wires.

pigeon on electricity cable

In the evening, our trio of visits was completed by the arrival of Mike and Alison, and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights, Alison and I played music for an hour which was a good way to end the day.

The light was pretty bad by the time that I sat down to watch the birds so this rather fuzzy siskin was the best that I could for a flying bird of the day.

flyimng siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Fountains Abbey.  As well as some impressive ruins, it has a lovely garden.

Fountains Abbey garden

We had a very nice summer day here today, warm and calm and often sunny.  It might well have been a good day for a pedal but the recent travelling about and some  emotional expense around the arrival of a new granddaughter led me to think that a quiet day at home might be the thing.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busier than me with the business of the proposed community buy out of our local moor giving her a lot to do, but I had a quiet day.  I started with a walk round the garden to see if the dead heading of poppies yesterday had encouraged growth today.

It had, and this was my pick as poppy of the day.

poppy of the day

New flowers have appeared including the first phlox (the phirst flox?)…

phlox

…and a pollen laden lily.

lily pollen

In the shade behind the greenhouse, a hosta dangled flowers like jewels from a necklace…

hosta jewels

…and nearby, the orange hawkweed looked as though it might be reaching the end of the line.

ornge hawkweed seed

In fact, when Mrs Tootlepedal started some gardening later in the day, the orange hawkweed did indeed meet the end of the line.

cut orange hawkweed

Meanwhile, I sat outside the kitchen window on a handy bench and watched the birds.

The siskins were are disagreeable as ever…

sparrow shouted at by siskin

…with this one actually taking to the air in mid nibble to make its point to a slightly shattered sparrow.

flying siskins

Another siskin used the old sunflower stalk as a staging post on its way to the seed…

siskin on sunflower stalk

…and I am happy to say that Mrs Tootlepedal has a new one growing nearby for next year.

new sunflower

I was happy to welcome another visitor to the garden when Sandy came for coffee.

sandy arriving

He told me that his feet were still stopping him from going for walks but he is hoping that an operation in October will sort his problem out.  I hope so too as I have missed our walks this year.  On the other hand, he has tried out a friend’s electric bicycle and was so taken by the experience that he is thinking of getting one himself.  That would mean that we might substitute cycle outings for walks which would be fun….though he would have to learn to wait for me at the top of every hill of course.

When he left, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and did some light work.  This included more dead heading and picking the enormous number of sweet peas that had appeared overnight.

I also kept an eye on a family of young blackbirds which were lurking near the compost bins…

two young blackbirds

…while trying to catch a swirling flock of swifts circling over head.

two swifts

Two of our buddleias have come out and I kept an eye on them to see if any butterflies were attracted by their flowers.

Several small tortoiseshells arrived on cue.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 1

The two different plants were both in the butterfly magnet business.

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2`

We dug up another of our early potatoes and were very pleased to find that it had produced 17 new potatoes, a very good return  we thought.  We ate several of them, along with some lettuce from the garden for our lunchtime salad.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a meeting and I didn’t go for a cycle ride.  I thought about it quite a lot, but that was as far as  got.  I did do some compost sieving and greenhouse grass mowing instead but I did quite a lot of sitting down as well.

I admired the roses on the fence…

rambler rose on fance

…and the berries that have appeared on the tropaeolum flowers…

tropaeolum berries

…and I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when she got back from her meeting and then, finally, I got so embarrassed about wasting such a glorious day that I did get my bike out at last and cycled 14 miles.

By this time the wind had got a bit frisky and I did the first five miles up the gentle hill and into the wind at 9 miles an hour and then did the second five miles down the gentle hill and with the wind behind me at 19 miles an hour.  I might have gone a little faster if a lad driving a tractor while talking on his mobile phone hadn’t driven out of a side road in front of me and forced me to a halt.  He gave me a cheery wave though.

My route took me out of the town past some hawkweed rich verges…

hawkweed beside road

…with a lot of bird’s foot trefoil about…

bird's foot trefoil

…until I got to the top of the first straight on Callister after five miles…

callister with verges

…where I turned round and cycled back through the town and then went for two miles out of the other side…

ewes valley in evening

It was tempting to go further on such a lovely evening, but the evening meal was waiting

…before heading for home.

Some more of our home grown potatoes went into one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fine fish pies for our tea.  It was garnished with turnips from the garden and followed by rhubarb and custard for a pudding.

As we also had picked, cooked and eaten some beetroot, it was a good garden-to-mouth day.

The weather looks as though it might be a bit more changeable over the next few days  so I might regret my poor cycling efforts today but it can’t be helped, I just didn’t have the get up and go.

The flying bird of the day is a bee.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was spotted by a deer on one of his walks.

ant's deer

It was another grey day today but although it promised to rain for quite a lot of the day, we got nothing worse than a few spots every now and again.

I went off to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and was very disappointed to find that neither the  fishmonger nor the cheesemonger were present.  I made do with some stewing steak and honey and made my way home again.

As it wasn’t raining, I mowed the front and middle lawns and was pleased to find a fair amount of grass growing on both.  Then, following up a suggestion from the gardener, I went into the greenhouse to check on the argyranthemum.  It was a surprise to me to find that it has such a cheerful flower.

argyranthemum

I look forward to seeing it out in the garden in due course.

Things were generally looking quite cheerful in the garden in spite of the cloudy weather and the two and half inches of rain which we have had this week.

six flowers

I went out to look at the hedge along the road and found that it need trimming.  While I was there,  I looked back into the garden and saw the view which the passer by gets.

garden from road

I looked at some of the paler flowers…

four yellow and white flowers

…and went indoors to look at the birds and have lunch.

A pigeon was taking time out on a garden seat…

pigeon ion chair

…while the sparrows rushed busily about.

two sparrows incoming

After lunch, we went to a recital by our church organist Henry, seen here consulting with his page turner.

henry at the organ

He played the recital which he used for his degree examination recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal had heard him play it in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh last month but it was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recital is part of a series held to raise money for the restoration of the church organ.  I hope that they succeed in raising the substantial funds required as the organ is a delight to listen to, very clear and mellow in tone so that the audience doesn’t get the battering that some of the bigger cathedral organs administer.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and some dainty cakes after the performance and then we went home.

Once home, I spent some useful time practising the songs for our Carlisle Choir concert which is coming up next week and then I checked the weather forecast as I was thinking about a cycle ride.  Unfortunately the forecast was very gloomy, promising heavy rain shortly so I gave up the idea of pedalling and sieved some compost instead and had another walk round the garden.

A rhododendron which has been threatening to flower for some weeks, has finally got its act together.  It was worth the wait.

late flowering rhododendron

And on every side, hostas are growing.

four hostas june

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t  rain so I decided to put a brolly in my pocket and go for a walk until it started.

The recent rain has put a little water into the rivers but they are still pretty low as this view of the Kirk Brig shows.

daisies beside Wauchope

Beside the Esk, I spotted a pair of ducks.  The male was looking very calm while the female was making a big splash.

drake and duck

I crossed the river and walked along the Kilngreen under the supervision of a black headed gull.

black headed gull on post

The clouds were well down on the hills round the town…

cloud on Timpen

…but on the Castleholm, a cricket match was in full swing.

cricket in prgress

I didn’t stop to watch the game and turned to admire an ornamental horse chestnut tree instead.

red chestnut

I continued round the new path and enjoyed the new growth all around me, both looking up..

cones and wildflowers castleholm

…and down.

It was gloomy in the corner by the two noble fir trees and female and male fruits had an air of mystery about them.

noble firs castleholm

There were flowers beside the path including a lot of crosswort…

wild flowers castleholm

…and an unknown (to me) yellow flower and a superb hawthorn.

As I walked over the Jubilee Bridge and round the Scholars’ Field, the trees were full of interest…

tree fruits castleholm

…and there was lots to see at ground level too.

four wild flowers scholars

When I got home, I was amazed at how many pictures I had taken on such an unpromising day.  I have bunged a lot of them into the panels in spite of the poor quality of many of them just to show what I saw.

I was also rather annoyed to find that as time went on, there was no hint whatsoever of any of the forecast rain and much as I had enjoyed my walk, I could easily have gone for a decent cycle ride which would have done me more good.

Still, the lawns are cut, the compost buckets are full and I saw a lot of interesting things on my walk so I should regard it as a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life even it didn’t have a pedal in it.

The poor light made getting a good flying bird picture tricky so I have put in a gender balanced pair of sparrows today.

twi flying sparrows

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz.  She has been going through her photographic archives and found this very odd picture from 40 years ago of me pushing her late husband down the street in a wheelbarrow.  Our strange expressions may be because we have large moustaches painted on our faces.  Memories have  faded but the feeling is that we must have been getting ready to take part in a charity fancy dress wheelbarrow race.

dav

It was a miserable day here today and it didn’t stop raining until the late afternoon.  At times it was very windy too, so I was happy to idle about indoors doing the crossword, making soup and looking out of the kitchen window…

…where there was a lot of action all day.  The sparrows like the fat balls and the little shelter keeps the food and the eaters dry.

sparrows on fat balls

Other birds were soggier like this pigeon…

soggy pigeon

…and this starling…

soggy starling

…and this goldfinch…

soggy goldfinch

Somehow blackbirds seem to be more water resistant than the other birds and the raindrops roll off their backs.

damp blackbird

None of the birds looked very happy…

greenfinch and sparrow in the rain

…until this collared dove turned up looking very calm and dry.

collared dove on ground

The starlings are very busy feeding their young and this little fellow was waiting patiently while its parent collected some seed from the feeder.

baby starling

After lunch, we went off to get some more bird food and pay a visit to a popular DIY chain store  in Carlisle where we hoped to buy a decorative lampshade.  Mrs Tootlepedal knew what she wanted so we looked on the internet before we left and found that our local branch of the store had 20 in stock.  This was good news.

The bird food purchase went smoothly and we also got some straw for our strawberries so we were in a good mood when we got to the store.  Our smiles turned down a little when we searched the lampshade section and could not find the shade we had in mind.

We summoned assistance.  “I don’t think we’ve got any of them,” she said, “but I’ll have a look.”

She looked and she couldn’t find them either.

“They’re not in stock,” she said.
“Your computer says you’ve got 20 in stock”, I replied.
“Hmmm.”

She consulted the computer and it did indeed say that they had twenty in stock.

“Ah,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean that we actually do have twenty in stock. They often say that they are sending us stuff, put it on the computer but don’t send it.”
“Ah” we said,
“Sorry,” she said…

…and we went on our way, sadder but wiser.

Still, we had other shopping to do nearby and that went well so we got home happy enough and found that the rain had stopped at last.

jackdaw going nuts

After a cup of tea, I went out and did some more compost shifting and sieving and then as it was very grey and windy, I went back in and resumed looking out of the kitchen window.

I thought that these sparrows were just doing the usual shouting at each other…

sparrow feeding 1

…but it turned out to be…

sparrow feeding 2

… another feeding experience.

sparrow feeding 3

The young are very demanding….

sparrow feeding 4

…and the parents have a very busy time…

sparrow feeding 5

…indeed,

sparrow feeding 6

In the evening it started to rain again but the gloom was lifted when Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed playing Telemann, Parcham and Rameau duets before joining Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike to catch up on all the news.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in the rain.

flying sparrow

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