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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has been on a tour of the north east with my sisters Mary and Susan.  They returned home by train today and he drove back to Derby by way of Fountains Abbey.

Fountains Abbey

Mrs Tootlepedal and I also came home today, leaving Evelyn Rose with some sadness but the heat and hurly-burly of London with less regret.  Our train was punctual to the minute and as a result we were able to catch the bus home without delay.

Our first thought was for a reviving cup of tea…

…and our second was to look round the garden.

lawn on return

It had survived without us very well, though as you can see, the grass on the lawn was far too long.

The salvias are glorious and Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of planting some more for next year (but perhaps not quite so many).

slavia

A lot of poppies needed dead heading but there were a few still in flower…

brilliant poppy

…and the hosta was in ebullient form.

hosta in full flower

There had been no heavy wind or rain to knock the delphinums over…

delphinum ligularia

…and in general, there are still plenty of things to catch the eye.

four lovely flowers

There were not a lot of new flowers about but the first dahlia of the year has appeared.

first dahlia 2019

The roses are enjoying themselves this year and Special Grandma was appropriately well lit up in its shadowy place in its bed.

special grandma lit up

At the other end of the lawn both The Wren…

Rose Wren

…and Lilian Austin were showing different stages of development.

Lilian Austin pair

At the other end of the garden, the Common Riding rose has burst into flower while we were away.

commin riding rose

The call of the lawns was too strong to be resisted so I knuckled down and got the mower out.  The recent feed that I gave the front lawn has been very effective and the grass had grown strongly in the time that we were in London.  I took a wheelbarrow full of grass off it on the first cut and then ran over it again in a different direction to get a smooth finish.

mown front lawn and barrow

Because of the lush growth, it was  hard job job on a warm afternoon, so I had one or two shady and fragrant rests on a handy bench at the end of the lawn while I toiled away.  The shade was provided by the walnut tree and the fragrance was supplied by a combination of privet and honeysuckle.

privet and hioneysuckle

Then I mowed the middle lawn.

mown middle lawn

Although it may look like a bit of a monocultural desert, the middle lawn has a good many weeds in it, including some self heal which  grows so low to the ground that the flowers duck under my mower blades and can still be clearly seen even after this trim..

Elsewhere in the garden, we have clover in the grass.

clover lawn

A good day was rounded off by the arrival of three recorder players after tea and we sat and played recorder quartets both ancient and modern with great enjoyment as the sun set  in the clear sky outside.

As they left, after a cup of tea and a biscuit, we could hear the swifts calling high above the house.

No flying bird of the day today, so one of the many sweet peas that needed picking stands in instead.

sweet pea

We would like to thank everyone who has sent us good wishes on the arrival of our new granddaughter.  We receive them with gratitude and they have been forwarded on to Annie and Joe.

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother Andrew’s recent walks.  He was rather surprised to find a woolly mammoth looking at him over a wall.

I had a day of mostly sitting down today although I did get about enough to mow the front lawn and do some deadheading.

We started off with some good sunshine and I had my camera with me when I was out in the garden.  I know this will comes a surprise but I took a few pictures as I went around.

While I was out pedalling yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal gave the hen a trim.

clipped chicken

Although she has appeared a lot recently, Lilian Austin demanded to have her picture taken once again and who am I to deny a lady?

lilian austin

Nearby, a calendula was smiling back at the sun.

calendula smiling

Crown Princess Margareta has found the weather very much to her taste and is crowding more flowers onto every stem each day.

three margareta roses

The Goldfinch rose on the fence is doing well too…

rose goldfinch new

…and I like the way that it changes from yellow to white as it grows old.  You can get buds, young flowers, old flowers and dead heads in the same bunch.

rose goldfinch clump

Further down the fence the ginger syllabub is happy too.

rose coldfinch

We may feel the need to do some watering in this dry spell but the roses seem very  content with the state of things.

There is no shortage of cheerful faces.

four bright flowers

To avoid wind damage, Mrs Tootlepedal has gone for shorter delphiniums this year and she has got them well sheltered too.  The results so far are good.

delphinum clump

The oddest flower in the garden at the moment is this almost black pansy.

black pansies

There are plenty of bees about which is good news and they like the poppies a lot.  You can tell when a bee has visited one of them.

bee ravaged poppy

The best thing about the morning was the arrival of the phone engineers.  For several weeks, the telephone wire to one of our neighbours has been lying at ground level across the garden.  It couldn’t be stuck back onto the electricity pole from which it had become detached because the pole was unsafe.  Finally the pole has been replaced so the wire could be retrieved and rehung today.  Now I can tidy up the grass without worrying about accidentally cutting the cable.

As the telephone engineers left, so did we.  We were off on our weekly visit to see Matilda in Edinburgh.  Rather annoyingly, it was raining when we got there so we settled down to indoor fun instead of going to the park.

The rain had stopped when it was time for us to go home and as the train was on time in both directions today, the travel was pretty painless.

No flying birds today so a pair of flamingos from Matilda’s garden take pride of place instead.

flamingoes in Edinburgh

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Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who said that he was quite surprised to find any group of people pulling together in these divided times.

Andrew's rowers

We left the kind hospitality of my sisters behind after breakfast and set off to catch an underground train to Euston Station.  It was still the busy period as people headed for work and we had to let three terrifically crowded trains go past until we found one with enough space to let us squeeze aboard with our cases.  In the days when I was a regular commuter in London 60 years ago, I used to love the hurly-burly and pushing and shoving of city life but now I am not at all anxious to be treated like cattle just to get on a train.

Anyway, we still arrived at the station in plenty of time and were pleased to find that heavy rain showers in the night had not affected our line, although other lines from London had been affected.

Our train left smoothly for the north, but thanks to a signal problem along the way, it arrived in Carlisle just after our bus to Langholm had departed.  With an hour to wait, we were fortunate to find a good quality cream tea at a modest price in the M&S cafe to assuage our grief and pass the hour until the next bus arrived on time and took us home.

When we got off the train at Carlisle Station, I had noticed this reminder of times past waiting on another line.   Heritage railway excursions have become very popular lately.

sdr

It was good to get home and have a walk round the garden and while we were strolling about, we were joined  by our neighbour Liz.  She had also been away and had missed the same bus as us.  She had found a different way to get to Langholm though and we exchanged notes over a restorative cup of tea.

I walked out into the garden with Liz when she left and noticed a great pile of pollen on the ground under the hydrangea on our house wall.  The hydrangea is totally covered with flowers and, naturally enough, bees too.

bee on hydrangea

I checked on Mrs Tootlepedal’s carefully constructed anti bird defences in the vegetable garden.  They had obviously been working well while we had been away, and there were signs of promising fruits…

strawberry

…and flowers to come.

sweet pea

I had a check for new roses and was very pleased to find that Lilian Austin….

Lilian Austin

…Crown Princess Margareta…

crown princess

…and Ginger Syllabub…

ginger syllabub

…had all appeared since we went away.

In the pond, the first water lily was shyly peeping out from behind a leaf.

water lily

Other new flowers were out.  A Dutch iris…

dutch iris

…a handsome stand of Campanula…

camanula

…and the very first flowers on the Delphiniums.

delphinium

We still have things to come though.

salvia

The weather must have been good while we were away, because the peonies were looking very smart indeed…

pink peony

…in a variety of colours…

coral peony out

…shapes…

coral peony

…and sizes.

white peony out

The daises and geraniums are standing up very well.

daisies and geraniums

It was very good to visit the big city and between us see eleven of our extended family while we were there but it is equally nice to be back among the comforts of our own home again (even though it was quite chilly).

And a siskin was there to welcome us back.

siskin posing

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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 Venetia.  Before she went to Wells with my sister, she was hobnobbing with reindeer in the Highlands.

cairngorm reindeer

We had a cold and wet morning today, more suitable for March than June but it closely matched my mood as I woke up with toothache.  The rain kept going all morning but the toothache eased off so I took a pain killer, bought some mouthwash and hoped for the best.

As I had referred to a spirea with pretty leaves and dull flowers in a previous post, I thought that I ought to show it off.

wet spirea

It probably looks at its best with a few raindrops on it.

We do have irises in the garden which don’t have petals outlined in silver and I thought that they should get a look in too.

old irises

However, it was not a day for wandering about like Basil Fotherington-Thomas, saying, “Hello flowers, hello sky,” so I went back indoors and watched the birds from the comfort of the sitting room.

There were a lot to watch today, perhaps because the wind had dropped and I was pleased to see a completely mixed bunch of sparrow, goldfinch, siskin and redpoll at the same time…

repoll sparrow goldfinch siskin

Though a goldfinch didn’t seem so happy to see a siskin as I was.

goldfinches sneering at siskin

It  was a day when a bird was almost always looming up out of the drizzle..

busy feeder with goldfinch

They might expect to get a rousing welcome when they arrived…

busy feeder with sparrow

…and there was a stiff competition for seats at the table.

busy feeder june

One  of the sparrows tried to put a hex on the other birds.

sparrow putting hex on feeder

Having carefully checked that the trains were running, we went off to Lockerbie after lunch to catch the Edinburgh train.

It was twenty minutes late.

We were not surprised.  We would be deeply surprised if it ever arrived on time.

Mrs Tootlepedal has made Matilda a dress to wear in a dancing competition she brought it up for Matilda to try on today.  It fitted well and Matilda was very pleased with it.

Matilda was in good form and she and her mother beat me all ends up at Go Fish and Beggar my Neighbour again.  But as her father cooked us an excellent evening meal, I was not too downhearted.

The train home was on time as it almost always is.  We have not discovered why going north is so much harder for the railway company than going south.

In the absence of any sunny pictures, I have put in no less than three flying birds of the day.

flying sparrow

They are like buses…

flying siskin in rain

…you wait for ages and then they all come at once…

second flying siskin in rain

…and it was just a pity that it was on such a poor day for taking pictures.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  He sent me this shot of the three bridges over the Forth as seen from the ship that was about to take him to Sweden.

three forth bridges

We were due to go to Edinburgh today to visit Matilda but I got up early and cycled twenty miles and got home in time to mow the middle lawn, have a cup of coffee and look at a few flowers, including the first orange hawkweed of the year…

Orange hawkweed june

…some Rosa Complicata (a very simple rose as it happens)….

rosa complicata

…one of the Rosa Moyesii which are doing the best of our roses at the moment…

rosa moyesii

…a very bright oriental poppy…

oriental poppy

…some delicate ornamental strawberries with don’t seem to mind the rain at all…

pink strawberries

…and an astrantia, always one of my favourite flowers.

pink astrantia

The cotoneaster still has a good number of bees buzzing about it, so new flowers must be opening every day.

bee on cotoneaster

Jackdaws are very busy at the peanuts these days.

jackdaw on peanuts

And today’s hedge sitter was a young blackbird.

young blackbird on hedge

We went off to Edinburgh earlier than usual as we had a shopping visit on the schedule and this meant driving to Tweedbank to use the Border Railway.  The train was on time and when we got to Edinburgh, we walked down to John Lewis.  As well as doing some successful shopping, we had a cup of coffee in what must be the department store cafe with the best view in Britain.  My phone can’t do it justice at all.

sdr

After we had done our shopping we went to Matilda’s house.  As it was such a sunny day, she was very happy to show us her local park.  It is called Lochend Park and this is the end of the loch in the park.

dav

I didn’t have a good camera with me which was a pity as there were two sorts of geese, gulls, moorhens and ducks to look at, not to mention a fine doocot.  The moorhens put on a fine show of ducking and diving and swimming underwater.  Matilda was impressed.

She was also impressed by the roundabout which turned very smoothly…

dav

…and the intricate web of ropes which gave her an opportunity to show her adventurous nature.

dig

We were impressed by the wild irises growing along the banks of the loch.

dig

We had a very  cheerful time sitting on the benches thoughtfully provided by Edinburgh Corporation for the relief of the elderly while Matilda spun and climbed and slid.

The road to the park from Matilda’s house is called Butterfly Way so we were able to remark (many, many times) that we had had a lovely day on Butterfly Way.

Alistair cooked us a tasty meal involving roast aubergines, cherry tomatoes and rigatoni so we were two happy people as we caught the train home.

Going to Tweedbank, rather then Lockerbie means a much longer drive, but there is still so much novelty in driving the electric car that the time passed quickly enough.  We had done 97 miles since the last charge by the time that we got home and when I plugged the car in, it said that there was just under half the charge left in the battery.  This gives us a very satisfactory range for summer driving although we realise that it will be considerably less in the cold winter months.

The flying birds of the day are a very unsatisfactory phone picture of pigeons returning to the doocot in Lochend Park.  I will take a proper camera next time I visit.

dig

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