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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She visited Minterne gardens and saw a hundred flowers as good as these ones.

Minterne Gardens

We had the option of leaving North Berwick this evening or early tomorrow morning and as Matilda has a busy day in Edinburgh tomorrow and Mrs Tootlepedal has a busy day in Langholm, we opted for the early departure and we are safely home as I write this.

We were perhaps a touch fortunate as regards the safety part of that statement as a motorcyclist with a pillion passenger overdid things round a tight corner and crashed his bike a couple hundred yards in front of us.  If we had been a few seconds earlier, we would not have been able to avoid him.

As it was, the biker and his passenger were shaken but not injured and after some wrestling we got his immobilised bike (180kg!) off the middle of the road and into the verge out of harms way.  They were right beside some houses so after a quarter of an hour, we left them trying to phone someone to come and rescue them and drove quietly off.

The little electric thingy managed 80 miles on half its battery charge, so we thought that that was quite satisfactory.  It was wonderful cruising silently and smoothly across the beautiful countryside on a lovely evening.

It is getting late so I will add the briefest of outlines of our final day.

Inspired by a challenge from one of the blog readers, the sand castle slaves built a bigger and better castle today.

castle stamping 1

(You get some odd results if you leave the camera to do the picture processing.  The two pictures, above and below, were taken within seconds and yards of each other.)

castle stamping 2

No sooner was the castle built than the inevitable occurred.

castle stamping 3castle stamping 4castle stamping 5castle stamping 6

And there was a regrettable tendency among the castle building slaves to join in the fun..

castle stamping 7

…in a very wholehearted way.

castle stamping 8

Soon the castle was completely levelled.

castle stamping 9

And we all went back in, quite satisfied with our work of construction and destruction.

After lunch, we returned to the beach where I admired the vivid green of the sea weed in the rock pools…

green weed NB

…and Matilda got the sea organised.

dav

There was more fun indoors and out before Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a final chance to sit out on the harbour rocks and admire the view.  The sharp eyed will see a little flock of gannets flying low across the sea.

dav

As we ate our final meal, a small flotilla of sailing dinghies lined up on the beach prior to setting out for a late evening sail.

sdr

We were blessed with very reasonable weather for our break, and enjoyed our holiday a lot…..but it is good to be home again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who was happy to be able to take a picture of her visiting badgers without using a flash.

badgers

After a quiet morning, we packed into our cars and set off to visit a beach with the intention of taking part in that most British of all holiday activities, a picnic.  This was Tyninghame Beach, the place that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had visited last night.

The walk though the woods when we had parked the cars was a treat in itself.  The area is a country park run by the local authority and a great deal of care has been taken in providing excellent paths for visitors.  As a result we were able to look around at the well kept woodland with its varied selection of trees as we went to the beach.

tyninghame woods

The weather forecast had been rather unclear as to what weather we might expect but it stayed dry for our outing.  A very brisk wind kept us well wrapped up as we enjoyed our  picnic in a thoroughly traditional way….

picnicn on beach

..but the sun soon came out and justified the wearing of cool dark glasses to go with the woolly hat and coat.

matilda on the beach

The tide was out and layers of flat rocks were exposed. The underlying stone was very pink in places.

flat rocks on beach

While Matilda, her father and Mrs Tootlepedal investigated the many rock pools on the shore, Clare and I went for a walk round a rocky headland.  The path was lined with interest…

wild flowerrs tyninghame

There was sea thrift in unexpected corners…

rocky shore with thrift

…and below us, eider ducks were sunning themselves on rocky ledges among the waves.

eiders on rocks

And of course, we couldn’t avoid noticing the Bass Rock.

bass rock from the east

When we got to the end of the point, we found a curious contrast to the flat layers of rock we had left behind us on the beach.  Here the strata were standing bolt upright…

upstanding rocks

…and there were a couple of striking breaks in the rocks.   This one is known as St Baldred’s Cradle….

st baldred's cleft

…though this one looked more comfortable…

st baldred's cradle

…but as St Baldred was an eighth century divine and hermit who spent some time living on the Bass Rock, perhaps he didn’t care for comfort.

Clare and I returned to the beach and Alistair and Mrs Tootlepedal followed in the footsteps of St Baldred while Matilda and I walked to the water’s edge to watch the tide coming in very gently indeed.

Tyninghame beach

The wanderers returned and we packed our bags and made our way back through the woods to the cars…

Al and Matilda in the woods

…though I paused for a moment when I saw an orange tip butterfly flitting about.

orange tip butterfly 1

We got back to North Berwick tired but happy but it was such a sunny day that after a cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along the beach and found a comfortable bench to sit on.  We enjoyed the view.

view of the harbour NB

We returned to the cottage and while Alistair was cooking the evening meal, I wandered out along the harbour wall watching eider ducks heading for a place to rest below…

eiders going ashore

…and gulls resting on the stiff breeze above.

close flying gull

As it was still a beautiful evening, Mrs Tootlepdal and i took another stroll along the harbour wall after the evening meal.

I looked across the Forth towards our other son Tony’s home on the Fife shore…

sunset over the forth

…while Mrs Tootlepedal got out her binoculars and scanned the sea and sky for gannets.

There were a lot about.

bass rock in the evening

The flying bird of the day is another gull gliding into the wind above the harbour wall.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the Fife Agricultural Show at the weekend.  It is also the flying bird of the day.

ag show owl

A post of few words today as it was late after a busy day when I sat down to compile this post.

I hired a bike after breakfast and went for a 15 mile bike ride past historic towers…

Fenton Tower

…down long hills in wide open country…

wide open downhill NB

…past a picturesque church at Smeaton…

smeaton church

…and a very woolly sheep..

sheep NB

…and then up even longer hills on the way back…

wide open uphill

…to North Berwick.

It was most enjoyable.

It had rained overnight but in spite of some grey clouds my ride was warm enough for shorts and dry throughout.

The sun was shining on bright green seaweed when I got back to the cottage.

green seaweed NB

Matilda, her mother and grandmother had been been building a smart sandcastle decorated with shells while I was pedalling and I resisted any temptation to stamp on it when I went past it.

After lunch, Matilda, her mother, granny and I went off for a walk.  We saw eider ducks…

eider duck NB

…herring gulls…

gull NB

…while we walked round the concrete barrier which contains some of the receding tide to act as a swimming pool when the tide is out.  In spite of the sunshine, it was too cold for anyone to be enjoying a swim today…

swimming pool NB

…and a different form of paddling was popular.

canoeists NB

We left the beach and walked up through the town…

tree is street NB

…and through the ornamental gardens…

flowers in garden NB

…until we got to the play park where Matilda hung about in a productive manner for a while.

matilda in park NB

…and then we went back through the gardens…

flowers BN

…with their beautifully maintained lawns and beds…

neat beds NB

…and went into the Seabird Centre for a much needed cup of tea and a tea cake.

As we went back to the cottage, I enjoyed this gull swimming in an elaborate cross ripple near the harbour wall.

gull in cross ripple

And we enjoyed an exciting game or two of Go Fish, a new game to me before tea.

After an excellent meal and while Matilda was being put to bed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a drive in sunshine and rain and if I had had my good camera with me (and a place to park), I would have been able to show you a rainbow rising from the Bass Rock.  It was a wonderful sight.

As it was, we found somewhere to leave the car at a country park near the sea a few miles along the coast.  I took some pictures with my phone in spite of the fading light.

We walked down this very well maintained path with a row of maples along the side providing us with a good umbrella against some light rain.

dav

Then we turned down through one of the most delightful woods I have ever walked through…

dav

…until we came to the sea.  The rain had stopped but there were still dark clouds surrounding the Bass Rock in the distance.

dav

The beach looked so inviting that we hope that we might go there again for a picnic tomorrow.

dav

We just had time for a game of Oh Hell with Matilda’s parents before it was time for bed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He attended the Fife agricultural show on a damp day yesterday.

ag show fife

We had a calm and tolerably warm day today at North Berwick although an early glimpse of sun soon headed out to sea….

sun on island NB

…leaving us feeling that a coat might be a good thing.

After breakfast, I went down to the beach with Matilda and while she channelled the little mermaid…

matilda as mermaid

I got busy building five sand castles.

As soon as they were finished, the little mermaid turned back into Matilda (her name means mighty in battle) with the inevitable outcome for my castles…

castle stamping sequence

….but luckily, I had a back up.

Queen of the castle NB

We went back in after a while and collected Mrs Tootlepedal and went off for a babyccino and a biscuit at the Seabird Centre cafe which has a fine view across the bay to Craigleith Island.

veiw from seabird centre NB

There is a traditional carousel outside the Centre, so what could be more natural than taking a ride in carriage while ringing the bell…

matilda on carousel NB

…and smiling at the assembled audience?

matilda on carousel NB close

We gathered together with Matilda’s parents for a nourishing lunch of soup and bread and cheese and then went back down to the beach.  Our cottage leads onto a sheltered corner of the which was heavily use for launching sailing boats…

reflection in sea NB

…and power boats too.

car on beach NB

We watched the Seabird Cruise catamaran leave the harbour with interest as we are going to go on that cruise ourselves tomorrow.

seabird cruise NB

Other seafarers took the cheaper self drive option.

rowers NB

When the boat launchers left enough space, Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda took a stand against the incoming tide…

Mrs T and Matilda NB

…and when their castle was washed away (King Knut was right), and a light drizzle had started, we went inside and played cards.  I won’t say who won but we were playing ‘Beggar my Neighbour’ and I played the part of the beggared neighbour very well several times so it wasn’t me.

The drizzle cleared and Al and Clare took Matilda off to do some trampolining and have another ride on the carousel while Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some shopping.

While we were walking back to the cottage, we passed a small flock of eider ducks by the harbour, so I went in to get my camera and walked back to the harbour by which the time, the ducks had flown.

I had a little wander round and found that boats, both gentle….

sailing boats NB

…and speedy…

speedy boat NB

… were still filling the waters round the harbour.  It had been a busy day on the sea.

I was hoping to catch a flying bird and was disappointed to find this gull waiting for a lift home.

dav

Out to sea, a low mist had formed, shrouding all but the hills on the Fife shore across the Forth…

fife shore low mist

…and surrounding the Bass Rock too.

bass rock low mist

We finished a traditional day in a traditional way by going out for a meal of fish and chips.  It has been a good start to our holiday.

And I did find at least one gull who proceeding under its own steam.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture shows we are not the only people in town to have siskins in the garden.  Our friend and near neighbour Bruce took this picture of one of his visitors.

bruce's siskin

It was another grey and chilly morning here and apart from going out to mow the lawn again to clear up more jackdaw depredations, I had a quiet time of it in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal.

She was up visiting Matilda as she had stayed the night in Edinburgh after going to our young church organist’s degree recital in St Giles.  She had been very impressed by the 32 foot organ stop which had caused the whole building to tremble.

She has been busy recently making a little stump work embroidery of Matilda sitting on our back stairs the last time she visited us.  It is not framed yet but I think it is very charming.

matilda embroidery

The usual birds turned up at the feeder and had the usual conversations.

sikin chaffinch cinverstaion

The greenfinch was back again.  They never look very grateful for the seeds.

greenfinch with seed

A siskin took a rather patrician view of what was going on below.

siskin on pole

The garden is still very much on hold in the cool weather but individual flowers are appearing on the rhododendrons…

three rhododendrons

…and two of the azaleas are trying their best.

two aazaleas

I took a picture of two Welsh poppies and although it didn’t come out at all well, I have put it in anyway just to show you how annoying my pocket camera can be when it wants.

out of ficus poppies

How can it possibly have thought that I didn’t want the two very noticeable poppies to be in focus and what I really wanted to look at was some dull leaves and stones?  I will visit the poppies again tomorrow and try to get it right.

A blackbird appeared on the chimney pot at the feeders.  As it is carrying worms, I hope that this means that we will see little blackbirds soon.

blackbird on chimney

My neighbour Liz tells me that she has blackbirds with young already in her garden.

I set off after lunch to drive to Lockerbie to catch a train to join Mrs Tootlepedal in Edinburgh.  The little electric car behaved very well but when I got to the station, things went downhill.

I had pondered so much on the car before setting off that I had completely forgotten to take my card wallet with me so I had left my railcard and my bus pass behind, not to mention my debit card as well.  I had no money in my pocket as I was expecting to pay for my (cheap) ticket with my car.  Disaster!  Luckily I remembered that I had a secret twenty pound note stashed in a secret pocket in my phone case for just such an emergency so I was able to buy my (expensive) ticket for exactly £20 and catch the train.  It was late again but it was actually running  this week so I was grateful for that.

When I got to Edinburgh, because I didn’t have my bus pass and had spent all my  money, I decided to walk down to Matilda’s house.  Things were going well until just outside the Scottish parliament building, my Achilles tendon gave up almost entirely and I had to limp painfully the rest of the way.

The pain was made worse by the subsequent discovery that I did have enough money in a ‘wrong’ pocket to have bought a bus ticket and saved my ankle.  I shouldn’t really be allowed out by myself.

The visit to Matilda and her parents went well.  We introduced Matilda to the delights of Beggar My Neighbour, a card game, and as she won handsomely, she thought that it was a very good game indeed.

She has birds in her garden too.

sdr

She and Mrs Tootlepedal had spent some of the morning making sticky toffee pudding so together with a delicious pasta dish knocked up by Clare and Al, we had a good evening meal.  As Al then kindly drove us back to the station, our journey home was uneventful.  Of course I had a minder on the way back or who knows what else might have gone wrong.

I was interested to see whether driving home in the dusk with the headlights on would make a big difference to the power drain on the car’s battery but it seemed to take it in its stride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, not the greatest shot I know, but I put it in to show that it is another ringed bird.  Someone is keeping a good eye on our visitors.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture of her allotment was sent to me by our daughter Annie, and shows that she takes after her mother…and then some.  She did get some help.

annie's plot

The day started with lovely sunshine and steadily got greyer until it was raining in Edinburgh  when we got there.   We were not complaining as the rain is needed.

I took the car up to the garage to get one of those annoying warning lights that appear on the dashboard checked out and went to get it back after lunch.  There was nothing wrong with it.  Grr.

In between, I did a lot of pottering about the garden.

The strawberries which we moved yesterday, seemed to be quite cheerful about the transplant..

moved strawberries

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has begun to construct a new cage to keep the birds off them.

The rain overnight had been light and the soil was generally quite dry again though it was possible to see that it had rained.

rain on leaves

Mrs Tootlepedal has got her potatoes in, most of them in the new bed which has got the greenhouse foundations under it.

potatoes

She planted some acorns a couple of years ago and the resultant small oaks have grown to a stage where they need to be planted out,  She and our neighbour Liz are going to find a spot for them.

great oak

There are white bluebells in the back border…

white bluebell

…white drumstick primulas…

drumstick primula

…and beautiful white pear blossom too…

pear blossom

…but in general, we are not short of colour.

The day of the daffodil is done and we are in the time of tulips now.

time of the tulip

Mrs Tootlepedal has some really ‘pinging’ examples about, like these…

four bright tulips

…and this…

bright red tulip

…and there are more to come.

unopened tulip

In the pond, as well as tadpoles and pond skaters, there was a lot of tension.

surface tension in pond

Our neighbour Liz dropped in for coffee and biscuits and while a rook looked on from the plum tree….

rook in plum tree

…we had a very lively but very good natured airing of our different views on the political situation of the day.  There is nothing I like more than a thoroughly good argument and as we rose from the table, we were still arguing but agreeing to differ so it was disappointing to find a partridge outside insisting on sitting on the fence.

partridge on the fence

I watched the birds later in the morning and saw more action in three minutes than I see in the whole day sometimes.

four busy feeder panel

The partridge came off the fence but didn’t linger and soon walked away.

visiting partridge

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  She is now five and was busy writing thank you cards for birthday presents.

We were able to admire the many presents she had received and after much conversation and another delightful meal, we made our way home again.

The rain as we drove home was alarmingly heavy at times, severely affecting visibility, but only in short bursts which was a relief.

The forecast is for some typical April showers to come over the next couple of days..

The flying bird of the day is a questing redpoll.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my Canadian correspondents, Lucie.  She has been visiting relatives in the UK and when she passed through Edinburgh on her way north, she stopped off to check out the view from the castle.

edinburgh castle

We had a warm and sunny day today and with lighter winds, it felt like a good day to discard some layers of clothing at last.

The flowers in the garden enjoyed the warmth too and my favourite tulip was looking at its best….

lovely tulip

…though the same could not be said for a very ragged anemone which has not enjoyed the cold while waiting to spread its wings.

grotty anemone

I had to go to the doctor to discuss the x-ray and the state of my foot.  The gel insoles are continuing to help and the lack of serious pain after my cycle ride yesterday is also encouraging so the policy is ‘steady as you go’ and to fix an appointment with a physio to see how much my back is contributing to the problem.

As I cycled over the suspension bridge on my way to the doctor, I noticed that the poplar trees beside the church are going green.poplars in leaf

Back in the garden, I checked out more flowers and found a fancy tulip not looking at its best…

twisted poppy

…but the brunnera is doing very well.

brunnera

I discovered that some of the newest flowers on the magnolia have no brown tips on their petals as they missed the frosty mornings…

untouched magnolia bloom

…and that the drumstick primulas are doing superbly, regardless of the weather.

nearly a sphere primula

Things have been both cold and dry and some of the tulips are beginning to look a little tired…

blowsy pink tulips

…even some of the ones that have come out most recently.

three yelow tulips

I don’t know where the siskins have been for the last few days, but they came back here today and there were a good number of them about.

four siskins

They are very much the same size and shape as the redpolls though siskins like to perch head down more than the redpolls.

redpoll and siskin

There is so much blossom on the plum tree that it is sometimes hard to see the birds so it was good of this chaffinch to find a space to perch where I could see him clearly.

chaffinch among the blossom

After lunch, we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her family.  There are great plans afoot to improve Waverley Station but I hope that they are not going to improve out this fine ceiling in the main waiting room.

station ceiling

When we got to Matilda’s new house, we found the last blossom still on the tree which the builders kindly planted in their garden…

Ediburgh blossom

…and we found Matilda in the garden too.

Here she is having a rest after playing ball with her grandfather.

Matilda in the sun

We had a good time mowing the new lawn and gathering up the grass and after some indoor games too, we had a delicious mixed bean chilli cooked by Alistair, Matilda’s father which we ate in the company of Matilda’s other grandparents and an aunt so it was a thoroughly convivial occasion.

The journey home was uneventful and we look forward to seeing Matilda, Al and Clare getting settled into their new home over the next few weeks.

I didn’t have time to hang about for a flying bird to day so the best I could do was a rather vague siskin in the background.

distant flying siskin

 

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