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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair, and shows his daughter Matilda in the nice new dress which her Granny has made for her.

Matilda in Mrs T's dress

No prizes for guessing the theme of the performance.

We had much better weather today which was very welcome, but it turned out that I had lost a filling from my sore tooth so I had a quiet morning entertaining Dropscone to coffee while Mrs Tootlepedal went to off to Hawick on business.  Our local duke is selling the Langholm moor and there is interest in a community buy out for at least some of the land and Mrs Tootlepedal was meeting an expert in community land matters.

Dropscone had brought treacle scones so I was happy to stay at home and eat them (carefully).  Following his golf buggy accident, it turns out that Dropscone has broken three ribs so he was taking things quietly too and trying not to laugh too much.

Before he came, I had walked round the garden to see what was going on and I couldn’t ignore Mrs Tootlepedal’s Sweet Williams which are strategically placed all round the place.

four sweet william

They are all pretty peppy but this is the peppiest.

vivid sweet willieam

The bees are still very busy on the chives which must provide an endless stock of pollen for them.

three bees on chives

Away from the flower garden, I was interested to see the first flowers on the potatoes…

first potato flowers 2019

…and some promising looking beans.

beans flowers

After Dropscone left, with a little rhubarb to speed him on his way,  I settled down for a rest and the crossword, keeping my free hand on the remote lead for the camera on its tripod at the window.

Siskins were about, eating messily and scattering good seed on the ground.

siskin chewing

Sometimes they waited in the wings…

siskin waiting in wings

…and sometimes they got impatient…

siskins squabbling nf

…but the sparrows paid them no heed.

siskin and sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Hawick, full of good advice, and I made some soup for lunch.

After lunch, I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C and put the residue into Bin D.  Then, as I was in full composting mode, I turned the contents of Bin A ,which was full, into Bin B, which was empty.  The opposite is now the case…

empty bin A

…although a morsel of green waste found its way into Bin A later on.

When I was finished, I had a look around and found the the sunnier day had opened out an anemone which had been shut up against the rain and cold for the last few days.

anemone open

A bee was trying to cheer up a melancholy thistle.

melancholy thistle and friend

A Rodgersia has come out in the back border.

rogersii

And the roses were appreciating the dry, warmer weather as much as we were.

three happy roses

Men are coming to replace our aged and decrepit electricity pole next week so I helped Mrs Tootlepedal move a rose which had been growing up the stay wire for the pole.  We stuck a temporary pole in the flower bed, untied the stem from the stay and bent it back and tied it to the new pole.

rebent rose elec pole

We hope that there will be a new stay to tie it back onto when the pole work is finished.

The red peonies are almost over but the white and pink ones are still refusing to show themselves, perhaps as baffled by the odd weather as we are, but there are signs of hope.

potential peony

I had a last check on the lupins and found another busy bee there…

bee on lupin

…and then went off to the dentist.

My usual dentist doesn’t work on a Friday so I was seen by the other dentist in our surgery, a very nice lady whom I had not met before.  I had been able to get an emergency appointment and I was hoping that she would give me a temporary filling for my tooth until I could see my regular man.

Things didn’t quite turn out like that though.  She peered at my tooth and whistled gently in a concerned sort of way, and then suggested that I might like her to extract it.   She had such a kindly manner that I agreed and before I knew it, I was a tooth short.  Modern dentistry means that tooth extraction is a painless and relatively swift affair but even modern dentistry can’t stop your face hurting as the anaesthetic wears off so I spent the next few hours being very quiet.

Things are still a bit sore as I write this in the evening but I am hoping that all will be well by tomorrow morning and I will be able to get out on my fully serviced bike for a ride.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, rushing to get into the frame on time.  It nearly made it.

young flying sparrow rushing in

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who went to the Kirkcaldy Highland Games on a very wet day last weekend.  For reasons which are not entirely clear to me, the games are held on the beach.   These cyclists must have been working very hard.

cycling on the beach

After yesterday’s calm and sunny weather, we retreated into chilly, windy and grey conditions today.  As I wasn’t feeling at my perkiest, I was content not to to try to go out on the slow bike and settled happily for coffee with Sandy instead.

Before he arrived, I had a look round the garden.  The chives had several somnolent bees lying motionless on them.

P1020722

Mrs Tootlepedal wondered if they were drunk.  They weren’t paralysed because they had moved when I checked later.

I am very taken with the new irises and find it hard not to take another picture if I walk past them.

P1020731

Sometimes, I walk past them on purpose.

P1020729

The first of the pinks has appeared…

P1020734

…and the astrantias are going from strength to strength.

P1020735

I went out of the garden and walked along the dam at the back of the house.  As I went along I saw a flourishing potentilla and a clover trailing down the concrete side of the dam…

P1020738

…a lovely lily which our neighbour Kenny has planted on his side of the dam and one of the few flowers on the old fashioned fuchsia at the back gate.

When Sandy came we shared foot woes as his feet are in an even worse state than mine.

After he left, I took some time to watch the birds while I did the crossword.  We had a bit of variety with siskins and a greenfinch…

_DSC2363

…and a  sparrow had a go at a chaffinch for daring to share the feeder.

_DSC2366

I was rather surprised to look up from a tricky clue at one point and see a full house of goldfinches.

_DSC2369

I finished the crossword and went back out into the garden where I did some shredding of hedge clippings and some more sieving of compost.  Then I went in and made some lentil and bacon soup for lunch.  I have taken to using as much turmeric as possible in my soups because it is is supposed to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers but I am still waiting for the miracle cure.  Still, the soup tasted good so I am not complaining.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn to clear the remaining moss after yesterday’s scarification and felt a bit depressed when I looked at the result.  The grass will need feeding but what is really needed is a spell of warm weather to get it growing.

While I was out, I had another look round.  More educated onions are out…

P1020741

…and I had a close look at my favourite lupin.  When you stick your nose in it, it seems to be lit from within.

P1020742

One of the stalks had been snapped off by wind or rain (or both) near the top and this gave me a chance to take an unusual angle on the flowers.

P1020743

In spite of the brisk wind, there were plenty of bees about.

P1020746

Some plants, like a couple of our azaleas and one of the rhododendrons did not take well to the combination of cool and dry weather after an early short hot spell and produced buds but no flowers.  Now we are worried that even after some rain, the pale peonies look as though they might be going the same way.  They have looked like this for weeks…

P1020752

…and don’t seem to have any intention of bursting into flower.

I made the mistake of going in and sitting down i a comfortable chair for a moment, and mysteriously I fell asleep  and wasted two hours of my life.

I hadn’t got anything better to do and it gave my sore feet a rest so I expect it was a good scheme after all.

I roused myself and went out for a last look round the garden.  Another of the new irises has popped up and it called to me.

_DSC2371

There were still slow moving bees on the chives so I took the opportunity of capturing one of the bees knees.  I thought that it was very good.

_DSC2376

Not all our lupins are brightly coloured.

_DSC2378

As I was going back in, I noticed a rather odd looking foxglove. For some reason, It has put out a large misshapen flower on the very top of its stalk and to my eyes, it looks rather like one of the Chinese dragons that you see at festival times.

_DSC2379

I got back in and made a dish of baked spinach and eggs with a cheese sauce for our tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal only had time for a mouthful or two before she went out to act as a front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and as she is not back yet, I can only hope that she enjoyed the show.  The show is a screening of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Ballet.  I didn’t tell her, but it turns out badly in the end so I hope that she is not upset.

I just managed to catch a flying bird of the day as a siskin navigated round the feeder pole.

_DSC2365

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Today’s guest picture is a lupin in the wild taken by our son Tony on one of his walks….

Tony's lupin

…and as a change from my usual practice, I have put another guest picture in the post today to show Tony’s lupin in context.

tony's lupins

I had hoped to go on a longer and slower bike ride today because when I looked at it yesterday, the forecast was quite promising.  However, when I looked at the forecast today, it was only promising rain and on this occasion it was right and it started to rain quite heavily during the morning.  I was glad not to be some miles from home getting soaked.

I passed the morning in traditional fashion, doing the crossword, reading the papers, going to our corner shop before the rain started, drinking coffee and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

From time to time I glanced out of the window at the re-positioned feeder and was encouraged.  A dunnock may have sat on the hedge…

nf dunnock on hedge

…but sparrows were not backward in coming forward….

nf sparrow landing

…and siskins arrived with the determination…

nf siskin approaching

…to shout at anyone and everyone.

nf siskin and sparrow

As the time got near to three o’clock in the afternoon, the rain stopped and I put my cycling clothes on and peered out of the back door.  I prayed that the black clouds that I could see were going rather than coming…

gloomy outlook

…and set off up the road.

It was dull but there is a lot of clover about which brightens up the verges.

clover by road

It was still pretty grey by the time that I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse so I considered skulking about in the valley bottom, ready to dash for home if it started to rain heavily again but in the end, I plucked up my courage and headed over the hill and down to Canonbie.

The many thousands of tubes which appear when old commercial woods are felled and replanted contain deciduous trees as part of the conditions for replanting.  I don’t know what the overall success rate for them is, but this batch at the Kerr wood, seem to be pretty fruitful.

trees coming out of tubes

The grass is growing strongly now that we have had a bit of rain and this belted Galloway was enjoying a good graze, too busy to look up as I went past.

belted galloway grazing

As the clouds continued to look threatening and the light got worse as I went along, I didn’t stop for many pictures but I thought that I would show that the rain has put a bit of life back into the Esk with this shot from Hollows Bridge…

water in river hollows

..and while I was on the bridge, I couldn’t miss this fruitful twig just beside the parapet.

beech tree

I was brought up short when I went through Hollows village to see the Tower wrapped up like a Christmas present.

hollows tower gift wrapped

It looks as though some serious repairs are contemplated.

My final stop was forced on me as I had to wait for the traffic on the main road to clear when I left the bike path so I took a look across the road while i was standing there.

rododendron and dasies by A7

Although the ride was shorter than I had hoped, I was still pleased to have got twenty miles in without getting rained on.  There were a few spots of rain just when I got back to Langholm but they came to nothing and I could have gone a bit further.

Instead I had a cup of tea and some toast, put a new loaf to cook in the bread maker and walked round the garden before having my shower.

The bees were as busy as ever on the cotoneaster horizontalis.

bee on cotoneaster again

The new lupins are developing well even if there aren’t as many as them as in the crop that Tony saw.

new lupins june

The roses would like to come out but they would like more sun and less rain….

wet rose june

…as would we all. After several weeks with no rain, we have now had four inches in a week and a half and we think that this is quite enough to be going on with.

The philadelphus bushes are enjoying the weather more than we are.

thriving philadelphus

Following a recipe suggestion, Mrs Tootlepedal made chicken breasts stuffed with soft cheese and spinach for our tea and unusually, the result looked exactly like, the illustration that went with the recipe.  It tasted jolly good too.

Since I had two guest pictures to start the post, I am going to have two flying birds of the day to finish it.

nf flying siskin

I think that the new feeder position is very promising for flying bird opportunities.

nf flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my occasional correspondent Elaine.  She and our neighbour Liz were visiting a garden centre when they met some unexpected customers in the aisle of the polytunnel.

big pigs

We had another day here that started with sun but turned rainy in the afternoon.  I had a very quiet day as I was recovering from an outbreak of very sore feet (for no reason) yesterday.  I did think of going for a gentle bike ride in the afternoon but the rain put paid to that.

I had a wander round the garden in the sun after breakfast, dead heading almost the last of the daffodils and some of the first of the tulips, while keeping an eye out for colour as I went.

The orange wallflower was too bright for the camera in the sunshine so I had to stand in front of it to put it in some shade and tone it down a bit.

orange wallflower

The aubretias were fairly bright too.

aubretia red

Both the pink and the blue.

aubretia blue

All three espalier apples have now got blossoms on them and as there are very few bees about, I will get busy with my pollinating brush when the weather permits.

three espalier apple blossom

Another pale flower caught my eye.  This is the very first potentilla flower of the year.

first potentilla

I had a doubly sunny morning as Dropscone dropped in for coffee.  In a salute to the changing season, he didn’t bring the traditional winter Friday treacle scone but came with a good pile of eponymous drop scones instead.

dropscone and coffee

In case anyone is wondering if there were too many drop scones for two grown men to eat with their coffee, don’t worry.  We managed to dispose of them all with the help of some home made raspberry jam.

After Dropscone left, the clouds wasted little time in covering the sky and the first drops of rain arrived just as I cycled round to our corner shop.  Luckily they stopped while I was in the shop and the rain didn’t start seriously again until after lunch.

I looked at the hymns for Sunday’s service and then I looked at the birds.

Everyone was busy getting stuck into the seed…

birds eating

…and then chewing it thoroughly.

redpoll and siskin munching

Siskins, goldfinches and redpolls were keeping chaffinches away from the perches…

chaffinch hoping for a seat at the table

…but as the rain started and the traffic grew heavier, the siskins began to have trouble with more siskins…

more siskins in conflict

…and goldfinches.

siskins in conflict

A sensible siskin deserted the sunflower seeds and turned to the easily available peanuts instead.

upside down siskin on peanuts

Despite the rain, Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz went off to plant out Mrs Tootlepedal’s little oak trees.  They returned having accomplished the task, thoroughly wet but remarkably cheerful.

While they were out, I made a batch of ginger biscuits.

As a contrast to the rain falling from above, the water coming out of our taps decreased in volume quite alarmingly in the evening and a call to the water company revealed that there is a leak somewhere nearby.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that they can fix it promptly, because not having running water is very boring.

Thanks to the quiet day, my feet are feeling much better as I write this and I hope to be out and about again tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches who couldn’t get a seat at the table.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has gone to Wales for a jaunt and on his way, he stopped at the ancient city of Chester.

chester

I started the day by selling some postcards to the paper shop to help Archive Group funds and then visited the data miners in the new Archive Centre.  They were working hard in cramped conditions as an art exhibition had taken some of their space.

We were promised some sunshine today but it was rather grey and windy when I set off south to visit Mary, my singing teacher for another lesson.  After concentrating on basic technique and breathing in previous lessons, we moved towards singing a song today. This was exciting but it only went to prove how difficult it is to put lessons into actual practice as faced with having to think of notes and words at the same time, I relapsed into many of the bad habits that we had worked on eliminating.  However, there were moments when things went well and I had plenty to think about as I drove home.

As I neared home, I met better and better weather and by time that I got there, it was a lovely day.

I had a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch and then went out into the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  The drumstick primula is nearly spherical and a cheery daisy winked at me from  the lawn but the recent frosty mornings have turned the tips of the magnolia petals brown…

white garden flwoers

There was some colour about too.

pink garden flowers

I helped Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been working hard all morning,  to get the first of the new vegetable beds level and then left her to sort out the soil while I went for a pedal.

I aimed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s distance and that was enough to let me go for a circular trip of fourteen miles up the Wauchope valley, over the hill, and back down into the Esk valley.

It was quite windy so I was easily tempted into stopping for some pictures along the way.  I thought that I should note a bare tree as it will not be long until the trees are covered in leaves again.

bare tree wauchope school

I looked back down the Wauchope valley as I climbed up the hill.  It was a pastoral scene indeed…

pastoral scene wauchope

…with added calf.

calf

I was accompanied by the bleating of lambs as I went round.

new lambs

I liked this combination of blackthorn and pine tree at the Hollows…

blacthorn and pine Hollows

…but I liked this newly surfaced patch of road there even better.

repaired road Hollows

There had been some savage potholes the last time that I cycled through the hamlet.

Hollows Tower was open for business but the lack of cars in the car park showed that it probably wasn’t doing a lot.  It is still early in the year to expect tourists.

Gilnockie Tower

I didn’t see much in the way of wild flowers but there were celandines and dandelions here and there…

wild flowers in verge

…and I saw the wood anemone when I left my bike for a moment and walked down a fisherman’s path…

path down to river

…to the river at Broomholm.

Esk at Broomholm

As the leaves are not out yet, I could see the bridge to Broomholm Island through the branches.

Broomholm briodge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had finished the veg bed and had added some compost at the far end to help the soil.  She has also dug in her winter beans which were grown as green manure.

new veg bed

Nearby, she has a planting of tulips.  They are Mystic Van Eijk, a pale pink variant….

mystic Van Eijk tulip

…of the ordinary Van Eijk tulips….

Van Eijk tulips

…which look very lovely when some low evening sunlight shines through them

Van Eijk tulip in evening

We sat on our new bench, enjoying the welcome warmth of the sun.  We were sheltered from the wind and thinking that life wasn’t too bad at all.

Then we went on for a cup of tea and the last of the home made ginger biscuits.

I had a look at the birds.  They had not eaten much seed at all during the day as not only had Mrs Tootlepedal been busy in the garden, but we had had builders in working on our roof as well.

It hadn’t improved the birds’ tempers at all.

goldfinch shouting at chaffinch

Then  Luke came round to play the flute and we rediscovered something that we already both knew very well, practice makes perfect.  Well, we weren’t quite perfect but we were both a lot better than we were last week and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

Sunday’s slow cooked lamb stew made another appearance for our evening meal and Mrs Tootlepedal made a tasty broad bean hummus to go with it.

The better weather means that we are due to have some chilly mornings, but the days should be fine for some time ahead so I hope to be able to get a few more cycling miles under my belt.  This will be a very good thing, as thanks to being off the bike for a month, I have a great deal more of me under my belt at the moment than is good for my health.

A chaffinch once again is the flying bird of the day.  They are very reliable.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who had been touring the border hills country when he stopped to take this picture of the waterfall known as The Grey Mare’s Tail.grey mare's tail

It was a theoretically warm day today with the thermometer registering 10 degrees but a very chilly northerly wind made it feel much cooler.  Still, it was dry as we cycled to church to sing in the choir so we weren’t complaining too much.

We had a cheerful set of hymns to sing today which made up for the grey weather.

When we got home, I took a general view from an upstairs window of the middle lawn which is currently surrounded by daffodils.  The shrubs are adding a bit of colour to the borders too.burst

 

Then I had a look at the birds while I drank a cup of coffee.  The sunflower hearts are quite big for the small birds’ beaks and there is a lot of spillage.

goldfinch untidy eater

There is always a ground squad about to make sure that none of the fallen seed is wasted.  I counted fifteen chaffinches waiting under the feeder for manna from heaven today.

Some of the chaffinches tried to get onto the perches but this one waved its wings ineffectually and didn’t shift any of the incumbents.

chaffinch waving at feeder

There was a steady churn of birds coming and going with some strong sentiments expressed along the way.

chaffinch in busy scene

There is not much happening in the garden at the moment so rather than walk around it, I went off for a pedal on my new bike.  I was well wrapped up and with the wind behind me, it was an unalloyed pleasure to cycle up to the top of the hill at Callister.  It was quite a bit harder to battle back down the hill into the town but I managed to go a little bit further than I did yesterday and a little bit faster too so I was quite happy.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had recovered her health well enough to have moved one of the new vegetable garden frames into place.  The new frames are intentionally narrower than the old frames so there will have to be some digging before they get fully settled in.

new bed in place

I noticed that more blossom had appeared on the plum tree so I recorded that fact before going for lunch.more plum blossom

After lunch, I had time to go through a few of the songs that we are doing with our Carlisle choir before it was time to go off to Carlisle to sing.  I spotted a goldfinch trying out the peanuts as I was getting ready to go out to the car.

goldfinch on nuts

It didn’t look very happy but it had a good nibble before it flew off.

Our choir practice was excellent.  Our conductor was in very good form and the choir was responsive so we got a lot done.  The current set of songs have a lot of good singing in them and are difficult enough to keep me working without being so hard as to make me depressed.

With two concerts, a church service and three practices since Tuesday, it has been a full week of singing and it is very heartening to find that the combination of speech therapy and singing lessons helped my previously creaky voice to survive.

We drove home in a sort of hazy sunshine but by the time that we got back to Langholm, it was all haze and no sunshine.  As we parked the car, I saw that the first of the Lithodora ‘Heavenly Blue’ flowers had appeared.

lithospermum

My camera resolutely refused to show just how blue the flower is so I will have to try again in a different light.

It had no problem even in the dim light with the glorious colour of the cowslippy things which are going from strength to strength….

cowslippy

…and it enjoyed the fresh green of a philadelphus by the hedge.

philadelphus

Although the light was fading now, there was enough left to show a redpoll visiting the feeder. It was just in time because although I had filled the feeder twice during the day, the seed was almost all gone again.

redpoll

I had made a slow cooked stew with a rolled shoulder of lamb in the morning before going to church and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some mashed  potatoes and cabbage to go with it and the result was entirely satisfactory.  The slow cooker is a wonderful thing.

Looking at the forecast, an easterly wind is set to continue for several days so spring may remain on hold for a while.

The flying bird of the day is two chaffinches, looking a bit uncertain of which is the best way to go.  You can’t avoid Brexit metaphors these days.

flying chaffinches

Footnote:  I don’t generally use a photograph if I haven’t taken it on the day of the post but I found that I had overlooked this one from last Wednesday.  It was too bright to waste.

It shows the eye popping display of flowers at the Houghton Hall Garden Centre.  This is where Mrs Tootlepedal found her cheerful primrose for the chimney pot, though hers came from a subsidiary bench where bargains were to be found.

dav

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Today’s guest picture is the last of the Derby insects sent to me by my brother Andrew.

derby hornet

I am irresistibly reminded of my favourite limerick.  I remember it as:

There was a young man from St Bees,
Who was stung on the knee by a wasp.
When they said, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
Thank goodness it wasn’t a hornet.”

But I see that the original was by W S Gilbert who wrote:

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No, it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet.”

With the greatest respect to WS, I think my version is snappier.

But I digress.

Dropscone recently took a boat trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam, coming back on what should have been the final day before Brexit and he dropped in this morning on his way back from the gym to have a cup of coffee and tell me about it.  His main impression was that Amsterdam is a very easy place in which to get run over by a cyclist.

I had resolved to have a very quiet day today as I was feeling far from my peak so after he left, I constrained my activity to a brief walk round the garden.

The cold and wet weather of the last week has put new growth on the back foot again and there are few developments but some flowers are doing well in spite of frost and rain.

wallflowers, dicentra, cardamine

And the fritillaries are fabulous.

fritillary in sun

There were sunny spells in the morning and these four chaffinches looked very cheerful in one of them.

four happy chaps

The blossom on the plum tree is just waiting for a warmer day to break out fully.

chaffinch in plum buds

The sunshine didn’t keep everyone happy as this study of a lady chaffinch giving a little siskin a kicking shows.

chaffinch kicking siskin

However, the siskin had the last laugh because it stayed in the perch and the chaffinch had to retire in confusion.

For the first time this year, we had several redpolls on the feeder at the same time and although they are small, like the siskins they are tough little birds and not afraid of anything.

three repolls

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off by herself to visit Matilda in Edinburgh (and her other grandparents who are visiting too). Matilda is basking in glory as she came second in her first ever dance competition yesterday and got a medal!

I stayed at home and mooched around in some showery weather until the skies cleared and I thought that my foot might benefit from a little walk.  I don’t want to seize up altogether and I have been severely limiting my exercise for five weeks now so it is important to keep moving, even if very slowly.

I walked up onto the Meikleholm hill and looked back to see the town bathed in sunshine while Whita Hill in the background was still under a cloud.

sunny town cloudy whita

Six minutes later, the town was in shadow and the hill was sunlit.  It was that sort of day, with a very brisk and chilly wind.

sunny whita cloudy town

I had intended to do a Grand Old Duke of York and go to the top of the hill and then come down again but I found a herd of cows in my way and thought better of it and went back down and continued my walk by going along the track to the Becks Burn.

I stopped and had a chat with Stan from the camera club who was walking  his dogs.  He told me that he has already sold a picture from the exhibition at Canonbie so that was good news.

I walked further along the track with one of the smallholders who have fields there.  There was no need to ask which were his sheep because as we approached his field they careered down towards him in the justified hope of some food.  He has already got some traditional spring lambs…

lamb oanel

…and there were other more exotic ones in a neighbouring field.

There were white things to see as I went along…

white things on walk

…and plenty of new growth in the hedgerow when I had crossed the burn and was walking down the road on the other side.

hedge buds

I crossed the Becks Burn again by this bridge which carries the Wauchope road back into the town.

becks bridge at Wauchope

In spite of the recent rain, there is still very little water in the stream after our dry spell in March.

As is so often the case, where there is a bridge and a wall, there is lichen.

Becks bridge lichen

I had thought of a slightly longer walk at this point but my foot put its foot down and told me to go straight home so I did.

When I got to Pool Corner, I lifted up two of the little squares of roofing felt which a nature lover has put there and underneath them, I found two baby slow worms and an adult.

slow worm and mat

Just before I got home, I passed a man with an unusual hedge.

quince fence

It is a quince hedge and he told me that when the fruits come, people pick them and bring him a jar of jelly in return.

When I got back, I found that there were more redpolls about…

redpoll pair

…and they weren’t averse to trying to establish a pecking order…

redpolls beak to beak

…though the one on the top right seems a bit astonished by the bad behaviour of the other two.

repolls flyting

I was cooking some ginger biscuits when Mike Tinker dropped in and I was more than a bit embarrassed to peer into the oven and to see no biscuits at all.  The little round balls of dough that should have melted out into flat biscuits were still little round balls of dough.  When I took them out of the oven (after Mike had gone), I found that they were dry, tasteless and inedible.

A bit of brain racking ensued (as far as I still have a brain to rack) and a second look at the recipe told me that I must have forgotten to put the sugar in.  I made a second batch, hoping not to miss out some other vital ingredient this time.  I must have got everything in because I got some undeniable biscuits out of the oven and they tasted quite good.  I am going to have one or two with a cup of tea when I finish writing this post.  Or even three.

In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a very quiet evening in.

The flying bird of the day is a sunny chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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