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Archive for the ‘Cycle outings’ Category

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Tony who has been having wonderful weather lately on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

East wemyss Riviera

Our day started brightly….

sunny fritallaries

…after another frosty morning but as the day went on, the clouds came over.

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, bringing treacle scones with him.  He is very excited because it is the first day of the official golfing season at Langholm tomorrow and he is the club captain this year.  It looks as though he is going to have a lovely sunny day as he sets the season  going when he drives off the first tee.

Apart from the coffee and scones, I had a very quiet morning with the occasional stroll round the garden.  The cloudy weather made it easier to photograph pale flowers and there were a number about.

Our first pulsatilla flower opened this morning.  It is an amazingly furry flower.

furry pulsatilla

The drumstick primulas are having a race to see which can produce a fully spherical flower head first.

drumstick primulas

This is my favourite of the white daffodils.

pale daffodil

The feeder was doing brisk business.  I had filled it after breakfast and it was half empty by lunchtime when a female redpoll arrived for a snack…

redpoll

…and I had to fill it again in the late afternoon.

I was very excited to receive a much anticipated parcel at lunchtime, but a great deal less excited when I found that I had been sent the wrong thing. It was my fault entirely.  I needed ‘type 2  to type 2’ and had ordered ‘type 2 to type 1’, a small but crucial error.

It was little consolation when I rang up to ask about exchanging it, to be told that lots of people had made the same mistake.  If that was true and not just said in a kindly spirit to cheer me up, then the seller’s website should be altered to make it less easy to make the mistake.

I took the parcel up to our post office and made it through the door just in time to catch the post before the office closed.  We have an outreach post office from a branch near Carlisle now because our post office closed a few months ago.  It only has limited hours and won’t open again until Wednesday, so I was pleased not to have missed out.

When I got home, I pulled myself together and went off to do twenty miles on my bike. My last ride of 20 miles, two days ago, left me with a very sore foot so I pedalled gently up and down the road a couple of times today, avoiding any steep hills and not cycling into the wind for any length of time and I only went 200 yards further than the last ride.

This seems to have been successful as my foot is not complaining as I write this.

I was limited for views but saw some life in passing.

A traditional spring family scene…

ewe with two lambs

…our resident gull looking downstream…

upstanding gull

…a goosander looking for fish…

goosander fishing

…and an oyster catcher not looking at anything.

oyster catcher snoozing

When I got back, the feeder was empty so I filled it and on the principle of, “If you fill it, they will come,”  the goldfinches  came.

They were anxious about infiltrating chaffinches….

fierce goldfinches

…but were soon able to check that they had complete control.

goldfinch gang

I had a final wander round the garden and saw more pale flowers….

pale tulips

…the very first of the trout lilies had appeared…

triout lily

…and the pulsatilla, which had opened out from this morning, stuck its tongue out at me as I passed.

pulsatilla

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the afternoon working on the rocking horse,  She bought a little hammer this morning and I can report that she hammered in the morning and she hammered in the afternoon but fortunately she laid down her hammer and cooked a delicious meal of roast chicken in the evening.

We are promised another frosty morning tomorrow so although the weather has been very dry and generally sunny, it has been a bit nervous making for the gardener.

The flying chaffinch of the day, although enjoying the early sunshine, looked a bit nervous too, I thought.

worried flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s Welsh trip.  Having left Chester and climbed Snowdon, he came to rest on Anglesey where he met the sea…and my sister Mary.

mary on anglesey

Our spell of dry weather continued but once again with an east wind to make sure that we didn’t forget that it is still early April.

Dropscone arrived with a surprise in hand.  Instead of his home made scones, he brought  delicious brioche to go with a cup of Colombian coffee so we had an international coffee break after which he disappeared to the golf course and I took myself off to the dentist where I got two small fillings (and a lecture on brushing my teeth more carefully).

I had time before I left to have a quick walk round the garden where flowers were coming in tightly packed clusters…

garden flowers

…and a moment to watch the birds where chaffinches…

chaffinches and goldfinches

…kept coming and going.

chaffinches coming and going

When I got back from the dentist, I thought that the flowers on the plum tree needed looking after….

lots of chaffinches in plum tree

…so I got my pollinating brush out and went round as many flowers as I could easily reach, pretending to be a bee.  With our cold mornings (there was frost on the lawn again today), we are not seeing many bees about yet.

The tadpoles don’t seem to have been harmed by the cold…

two tadpoles

…and it hasn’t been cold enough for the pond to freeze over.   That could still come though, as cold mornings are going to continue for a while.

After lunch, which was late as I had to let my face unfreeze before eating hot soup, I got my bike out and set out to add a few miles to my monthly total.

Some trees are beginning to show a little leafiness…

tree with new leafs

…and it was very pleasant pedalling gently along in the sunshine with a lighter wind than recent days.

I stopped to exchange views with some belted Galloway cattle…

belted galloway

…and stopped again to admire a couple of buzzards circling above me near Canonbie..

two buzzards

There were interesting things to see along the way…

wild flower canonbie

…but not much sign of any leaves when I looked over the bridge at the river at Hollows Mill.

Esk at Hollows

A young larch tree  was the greenest thing that I saw.

new larch

I was hoping to see some oyster catchers  as I came along the riverside when I got back to Langholm but they weren’t in their usual place.  I saw them flying off overhead and had to make do with a look at the Lady’s Smock on the grassy bank instead.

lady's smock bank of esk

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the vegetable garden putting a new edge on the bed in front of the espalier apples….

edged in veg garden

…so I thought that I should do my bit too and got out the petrol driven tiller and gave the new potato bed a going over, covering up the old greenhouse foundation which we had unearthed.

Mrs Tootlepedal finished off the bed with some neat raking.

new potato bed

I had a look at the mystic Van Eijk tulips…

mustic tulip heart

…and checked on the magnolia at the front gate.  Although the flowers have been affected by the cold mornings, the plant seems to be thriving.

magnolia

Altogether, it was a day when it was hard to be gloomy.

lawn in evening light

It was a day to leave political worries alone and cultivate the garden.

I noticed as I was looking at the birds from time to time during the day, that the right hand perch was often vacant when the other three were occupied.  This, I reckoned was because the wind was coming from the right and made landing on that perch more tricky as birds, like aeroplanes, prefer to land into the wind.

three chaffinches approaching from windward

After a shower and our evening meal, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  Mary, my singing teacher, was there to conduct us, and I tried to put as much of her good advice to use as I could remember.  I certainly enjoyed the singing.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, approaching the feeder downwind.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s expedition to Wales.  Having left Chester, he headed for Anglesey but found Snowdon in his way….so he walked up it.

snowdon

I wasn’t very happy with the colour that my pocket camera found in the lithodora’s blue flower or in the mystic Van Eijk pink tulips so I took my Nikon out today and shot them in RAW to stop the camera’s software making decisions that I didn’t agree with.  I think that the results are more true to what the eye sees.

raw lithodora

mystic Van Eijk poppies in sun

And while I was there, I took the real Van Eijks….

Van Eijk poppies in bed

…some very pale grape hyacinths…

pale grape hyacinths

…and a stream of standard blue ones.

row of grape hyacinths

The main business of the morning though was not footling about with cameras, but putting in the second of the two new veg beds.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes to have things right so this involved not just digging and shifting soil, but using gardener’s string and a spirit level too.

After the bed was levelled and settled, I left her to sort out the soil and mowed the middle lawn.  This involved stamping on a lot of moss but there was enough grass growing there to fill the lawn mower’s collecting box.

Mrs Tootlepedal called me over when I had finished as she had come across something unusual.  It was very green.

green caterpillar

I am not at all knowledgeable about caterpillars but some research says that this might be an angle shade caterpillar.  I would be happy if a reader can put me right.

I went in to make some potato and onion soup for lunch and had a look at the birds while it was cooking.

goldfinches on feeder

The plum tree is making a very picturesque background for birds waiting to visit the feeder.

two chaffinch with plum blossom

After lunch, I inspected the tulips.  It had been a sunny morning, although it hadn’t felt very warm because of a chilly east wind, and the sun had been enough to open a few petals.

pale yellow poppy heart

yellow poppy heartred poppy heart

I deadheaded the first of the daffodils to go over.  This was the first of many dead heading activities to come.  It is a bit tedious but it keeps the garden looking neat and it encourages the daffodils to come again.

I checked out the veg beds.  They are both the same size although the camera angle makes one look a lot shorter. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the slightly wider paths between the beds that the new layout had created.  The wire netting covering is to protect the soil from cats.

two veg beds

I will have to sieve more compost as there has been quite a lot used lately.

I had time to spot a dunnock lurking in the shadows below the feeder…

dunnock in shadow

…before I got my bike out and went for a pedal.

It was a lovely day as far as the sun went….

Wauchope valley tree

…but the wind was hard work when I was pedalling back into it so I was pleased to stop and admire a couple of oyster catchers on a wall at Bigholms.

oyster catchers on wall

When I looked across the wall, I could see the windfarm on the horizon and I reckoned that this must have been an ideal day for ‘green’ energy with the combination of bright sun and a stiff breeze.

view of windfarm

Now they need to get busy on working out the best way to store it so we can have some to hand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I had enough personal energy left to cycle through the town when I got back to it and go a couple of miles out along the road north.  I was very surprised by the colour of the soil in this field beside the Ewes Water.

ewes valley field

You can see the edge of the field in the bottom of the picture that I took looking up the valley.

Ewes valley April

I managed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s trip and got home after 16 miles.  If the weather permits, I will try to add two miles to my journey every time that I go out for the next few days until I have got back some of the fitness that I lost in an almost cycle free March.

I am taking things steadily as my foot is still tender but the gel insoles for my shoes have been very successful and I would like to thank those who advised me to get them.  I haven’t tried a walk of any length since I got them, but the ordinary walking round the house and garden is very satisfactory and limp free.

The slow cooked lamb stew made its third and final mealtime appearance tonight, this time in the form of a light curry with rice.

The dry cool weather with sunny periods seems set to last for a good few days so I hope to be able to continue to get out and about (as long as my foot continues to be co-operative).

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

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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