Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She is visiting the Netherlands for singing purposes, and saw this fine selection of bridges crossing the river Waal at Nijmegen through the tinted windows of her coach.  The Waal is a distributary* of the Rhine.

Nijmegan bridges

We had a fine day here today.  Indeed, we are promised a week of fine weather.  This will be very welcome after our recent very changeable conditions.  The temperature is due to rise steadily until Sunday when it will start to rain again.

A bit of warmth will be very welcome as it was definitely felt autumnal as I cycled about the town on various errands after breakfast.   I almost felt as though I should have been wearing gloves. However, it soon warmed up and Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough from her cold to have a wander round the garden and do some light work.

I did some dead heading and clearing up of fallen plums and, of course, looked around as I did so.

After a very slow start, the fuchsias in the garden are beginning to make a better effort…

garden fuchsia

…and together with the second flowering of the red astrantia….

red astrantia

…they are bringing some late colour to the garden.

An Icelandic poppy and a cosmos were doing a grand job of providing for insects.

insects on flowers

The most striking thing about the garden though was not the flowers, but the butterflies on them.  There were red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

on buddleia and sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and peacocks on both blue…

peacock butterfly

…and red buddleia.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

They were joined by the usual collection of white butterflies too.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a very curious white butterfly with odd yellow wings fluttering about.  It was so unusual that we tracked it carefully as it flitted from plant to plant.  Finally, it rested long enough to be caught on camera and it turned out to be not one butterfly but two butterflies engaged in the business of producing more butterflies.

white butterflies mating

We politely left them to it and went off to a admire a lone small tortoiseshell completing our butterfly collection for the day.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I went back indoors and spent some time getting things ready for the first camera club meeting of the season, testing the projector and making sure that the laptop that we use wasn’t suddenly going to demand an update at an inconvenient time.

After lunch,  I was finally ready to go for a cycle ride.  The wind was supposed to be quite light but turned out to be quite brisk and gusty at times so I had a battle over the first eleven miles to get to the top of a hill on this little used road at Kennedy’s Corner.

Kennedy's Corner

From then on though, it was almost all downhill with good views over the Solway to the Lake District Hills 25 miles to the south

view of solway from Kennedy's corner road

…and looking back I could see Burnswark Hill just behind me where forts have guarded the route north from iron age and then Roman  times.

view of Burnswark from Kennedy's corner road

To the west, I could just make out Criffel on the far bank of the Nith Estuary, 20 miles away.

view of vriffel from Kennedy's corner road

It is an airy spot and I enjoyed the swoop down the hill to Chapelknowe, with the now helpful wind giving me an extra push.

Some time ago, I had been sent a guest picture of some Korean pine cones at Half Morton church and I remembered to have a look for them as I passed the churchyard today.  There are none so blind as those who will not see and I was quite impressed that I had managed to cycle within a few yards of these wonderful trees…

korean pine tree Half Morton

… many, many times without ever noticing them especially or the astonishing crop of cones right under my nose.

korean pine cones

The fact that the church lies at the top of a small hill and I am always slightly puffed when I get there might explain it.

While I was there today, I also noted the the stone steps laid into the wall which enabled people to approach the church without opening the gate and letting the minister’s sheep, which grazed the grave yard,  out onto the road.

half morton church wall

I stopped for a drink of water just before the final little hill on my route and can tell you that there is a stone wall under this jungle of ferns.

ferny wall

I got home after 27 miles in time to have a cup of tea and a slice of bead with plum jam followed by a shower, before my flute pupil Luke arrived.   Our hard work on improving our breathing is beginning to pay off and we are progressing steadily.

When Luke left, I enjoyed an excellent evening meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to set up for the camera club meeting.

We had rather a thin attendance and I would have been disappointed except for the fact that the members who came produced such an interesting selection of images that the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile.

The meeting was short though and we didn’t need a half time break for tea and biscuits.  This left me with an unopened packet of bourbon biscuits and a temptation….into which I have happily fallen while writing this post.  I don’t know how many calories my cycle ride used up but I am perfectly sure that they have all been replaced now.

The flying bird(s) of the day are a small bunch of swallows.  They were sitting on a wire as I passed on my bicycle and I stopped, meaning to take picture showing swallows getting ready to depart when they suddenly departed.

swallows disturbed

* A distributary is a river which, instead of joining like a tributary, has split from the main river as it enters the delta at an estuary.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Sharon’s trip to Orkney.  Her shot shows the famous Skara Brae site.

Skara Brae

It is a brief post with few photographs today as the morning was perfectly miserable with nothing but a few soggy dahlias to look at from the shelter of the front door…

wet dahlias

…and buckets of that thin but penetrating rain drifting across the garden.

rain

I put up my brolly and walked up to the town to see the physiotherapist.  I have been fairly religiously doing the back exercises that she gave me last month and they have been very beneficial.  She gave me some more sound advice on what to do and what not to do and I will see her again next month, by which time I hope that some better weather will have given me some walking opportunities.

It was still miserably wet as we drove across to Lockerbie in the afternoon to catch the train to Edinburgh.  However, as the train was only two minutes late leaving and bang on time in arriving, and the rain had stopped by the time that we had got to Edinburgh, we arrived at Matilda’s in very good order.

On our way down, we passed this magnificent display of hanging baskets on  the front of the Theatre Royal Bar.

Edinburgh hanging baskets

I have to admit that I actually took this picture when we passed it last week in the sunshine rather on the grey day today.

Matilda was in a very sunny mood when we arrived and we enjoyed spelling out words and playing cards with her before having another excellent pasta alla Norma from Alistair for our tea after which we Matilda treated us to a very enjoyable display of improvised ballet. So we had a good time.

The weather had cleared up by the time that we went to catch the bus back to the station and I could almost have said that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except that there was one.

single cloud

The train back was punctual and our drive home was illuminated by a lovely moon at which I had a close look when I got home.

No flying bird of the day today because of the rain but a high flying celestial object does quite well instead.

nearly full moon

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother Sharon.  She has been on Orkney where she visited the chapel built by Italian POWs on the shell of a Nissen hut.

Orkney Chapel

We had a better day today but to make up for the lack of rain, the temperature had dropped a bit and it was still windy.

The cooler weather had not discouraged butterflies and there were several red admirals about…

red admiral september

…and the occasional peacock too.

peacock september

I noticed that one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s runner beans, planted among the flowers along the vegetable garden fence is producing a good crop.

beans on fence

The effort of riding the borrowed bike into a strong wind a couple of days ago had given me a sore knee, a very common complaint when you ride a bike with a slightly different riding position to your normal steed.  The rest yesterday had improved things a lot so I took the opportunity of the dry weather to test my knee with a short ride on my own bike.

Apart from having to battle with a brisk wind again, things went very well, and I managed 10 miles without any knee trouble at all.

I stopped to admire a fungus beside the road, and if you wonder what was admirable about it….

mushroom

…it was the size that attracted my attention.

mushroom and foot

When I got home, I looked longingly at some ripe  plums on a very top branch on the plum tree, well out or reach.  The birds will have to enjoy them.

tall plums

I mowed the front lawn and got a good lot of grass off it.

It has been a good year for grass but the cosmos, which came out just  as the weather turned very wet, have generally  not enjoyed themselves at all.

poor cosmos

The various clematis have had a good year…

clematis on fence

…and crocosmia and poppies are lasting well.

poppies and crocosmialate poppy

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, and as well as the usual games, we introduced her to the delights of Clock Patience.  She impressed us by being able to say all the clock face numbers in Gaelic.

We had a lot of fun and the usual excellent meal and came home tired but content.

The flying bird of the day is a bee flitting about among the nicotiana.

bee on nocotiana

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was in a good position to admire the big festival wheel in Edinburgh.

big wheel Edinburgh

My feet and joints generally sent me a message this morning to say that they had had enough of cycling and walking for the moment.  As it was a miserable grey day, I was only too happy to take the message on board and have a really dull morning indoors doing faintly useful things.

I did poke my nose out once or twice but the sight of the creeper putting on its autumn colours was not essentially cheering…

creeper turning

…though an orange crocosmia…

orange crocosmia

…a rudbeckia trying its best in poor conditions…

faded rudbeckia

…and another sunflower..

new sunflower

…did their best to counteract the gloomy weather.

After lunch, we went off to Lockerbie as usual on a Thursday to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  As usual the train was late, but as it was not very late and there were plenty of free seats, we were grateful for what we got.

We had a good time with Matilda and when we played Beggar My Neighbour, for the first time in recorded history, I wasn’t beggared first.  I was very proud, although Clare did kindly point out that there is no skill involved in the game.

After the usual excellent meal cooked by Alistair, we caught the train home and unusually this was late too, but once again not very late so all was well.

The sitting blackbird of the day is reminding us that the fence needs painting.  I don’t think that it is going to happen though.

balackbird on fence hoop

I’ll try to be more interesting tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who knowing my taste for bridges, sent me this handsome example from the Kennet and Avon Canal at the Caen Hill locks.

Kennet and Avon Canal

We had a very pleasant day today, and when the sun shone, which it did quite a lot, it felt much like summer again.

My day started with an early visit to the physiotherapist for my long awaited appointment.  It turned out to be very worthwhile and I left with some sound advice, a list of exercises and a referral to the podiatrist in the near future.

Just in case the exercises don’t work out as well as hoped, I also have another visit to the physio booked for next month, so I am well covered.  The view is that my back is a cause for concern and is affecting a lot of the rest of me.  This is not news as I have had a back problem since 1978 or thereabouts, but the exercises are aimed at strengthening things where they need to be strengthened and I am optimistic.

One of the really good bits of advice was to start walking again on a regular basis, making sure not to get ahead of myself by walking too far.   As a result, after a chat with Mrs Tootlepedal and a cup of coffee, I armed myself with my walking poles and put the advice into action.

I started off by checking out the state of the sluice at Pool Corner.

nes dam gate

A repair has been made which should keep all but the most exceptional floods at bay.

Old machinery is still in place though.

old dam gate

Walking along the road, I marvelled at how much growth has appeared on the top of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.

wauchope graveyard

I was keeping an eye out for interest on my walk.

bee on knapwed

Although I complain about cutting the road verges, I was grateful to the person who had been along the path on Gaskells Walk with a strimmer as otherwise it would have been a soggy experience.

Gaskells path

As it was, I was able to walk with confidence and look about as I went.

Fungus is beginning to appear and I was pleased to see a tiny oak sapling growing as they are quite unusual.

fungus, oak, fireweed

The rosebay willowherb is coming to an end and the recent heavy rains have knocked almost all the seed heads off,  This little patch was an exception.

There was any amount of ferns to enjoy…

fern and moss

…and the recent wet weather has brought along the moss which had been discouraged by the previous dry spell.

The best wild flowers that I saw were in this mini forest of yellow.

yellow forest

When I got up to the  Stubholm fields, I found a single sheep on its feet while all the rest were enjoying a lie down.

sanding sheep

An oak tree had an insect, an acorn and some mildew all on the same set of branches.

oak tree panel

I could find sloes and haws…

sloe and haw

…and wild flowers both fierce and and gentle….

three purple wild flowers

…but the most striking thing was this pattern, looking for all the world like a snake, but in fact turning out to be a fallen branch.

snake branch

When I got back to the garden after my short but enjoyable walk, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work.

Mrs T in the garden

Since the forecast was for more showery days to come, and I was due to spend the afternoon sitting down in car and train as we went to visit Matilda, I took the opportunity to mow both the lawns and edged them too.

I also walked round the garden with my camera in hand.

I love a bit of symmetry.

two lilies

These are the very last flowers on the salvias.

salvia height

There were shades of purple on all sides…

three purple garden flowers

…and it was very satisfying to see a painted lady butterfly back in the garden after a few days absence.

paintd lady butterfly

There are still plenty of peacocks about.

peacock butterfly

After lunch, we drove to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was late as usual but on this occasion it was not only late but full to bursting as well, and we had to stand for the hour long journey to Edinburgh.    Luckily we were on what must be the smoothest running train in the rail company’s fleet, so standing was not quite the trial it might have been if the train was rocking about.

Our natural good humour was perhaps slightly strained by the sight of four much younger people happily sitting in the seats reserved for the frail and elderly and ignoring us.  It was a tribute to our youthful good looks of course, but the fact that they studiously avoided catching our eye at any time tells another story.

Our visit to Matilda went well.  She had just spent her first morning at school and had survived very well, so well in fact that she beat me and Mrs Tootlepedal at Go Fish, and won the Pelmanism by miles.  Needless to say, I was thoroughly beggared once again when we played Beggar my Neighbour.

Alistair provided us with another good evening meal, and as we had popped into a nearby supermarket on the way and stocked up on coffee and cheese, it was a very satisfactory visit all round.  Then the train back home was on time, and there was wonderfully large and deep red moon on the horizon as we drove home, so it was a very satisfactory day all round.  Definitely one that could be registered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying jackdaw of the day was resting on the park wall when I passed it.

jackdaw on park wall

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my correspondent Elaine who saw the noble fir cones on yesterday’s post and has topped them with this wonderful set of lilac coloured cones which she saw in Half Morton churchyard a month ago.  I think that they may be Korean Fir cones.

Elaine's cones

After some showery days, we had a better day today with little wind so I managed to get out and get going on my bike after breakfast and did the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.

I didn’t stop for a lot of pictures as I was a bit pressed for time but when I had to stop to let traffic past at the end of the bike path, I noted some promising looking blackberries…

brambles on A7

…and a fine thistle.

thistle on A7 bike path

The recent walks have left my legs a little under par and I although I tried quite hard to pedal fast, I actually went round at a slightly slower average speed than I had managed on my much longer ride last Friday.  Such is life.

I still had some energy left though because when I got home, I mowed the front lawn and trimmed another of the box balls.

clipped box ball

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were wondering where the butterflies go when it is wet and windy. Wherever it is, they must be well sheltered because as soon as the sun came out and the wind dropped, they were back in the garden in force today.  The bees made room for them.

butterfly and bee on buddleia

There were small tortoiseshells …

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

…and peacocks…

peacock butterfly

…lots of peacocks…

two peacock butterfly

…but no painted ladies today.

The opium and Shirley poppies are going over but the Icelandic poppies are more durable and go on for ever.

iceland poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the way that the plants that she has put in round the old chimney pot are doing.

old chimney pot

And we are pleased to see the first sign of the runner beans actually beaning. This is timely, because the broad beans and the peas are just about finished.

small runner beans

The huge crop of plums on the plum tree continues to worry Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is afraid that the crop might break branches.  We have already taken what must be hundreds of plums off the tee and she took another lot off today.  The weight of the plums bends the branches and brings new fruit into the reach of the picker.

redundant plums

There are plenty of plums left!

The hosta was still beckoning bees.

bee approaching hosta

And the silver pear was still acting as a home for sparrows…

sparrows in silver pear

…though one sparrow preferred a lonely perch among the rowan berries.

sparrow in rowan

I didn’t have long to wander about the garden, and I soon went in for a shower, a shave and some soup. Then, as it is a Thursday, we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was twenty minute late.

We had a very pleasant visit, and although Matilda had been at a dancing competition in the morning, she was still so full of dancing that she treated me to a comprehensive display of various styles of dance until it was time for our evening meal.

This was a lentil dahl cooked by Alistair and it was delicious.

By the next time we see Matilda, she will have have turned into a schoolchild as she starts school next week.  How the years have flown.

The only sad thing about the day was the discovery that I had lost my old age pensioner’s bus pass somewhere.  I am hoping that it is in Matilda’s house and that it might yet turn up.  Otherwise, I will have to go to get a replacement as a bus pass is a very good thing to have.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird of the day today so a very small insect visiting a dahlia will have to do instead.

hoverfly visiting dahlia

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Matilda’s grandfather Francis.  He was there to watch Matilda trying out Mrs Tootlepedal’s restored rocking horse a day or two ago under the watchful eye of her grandmother, Eileen.

(Those wondering about Matilda’s hand gesture are obviously not familiar with Woody from Toy Story.)

dav

We have had several inches of rain this week, either in short, heavy thundery downpours or persistent rain like yesterday’s, so it was good to have a fine and mostly sunny day today.

I went out into the garden after breakfast to find that the bees had been busy visiting our poppies.

opium poppy

It was still very humid and singing in the church choir taxed my breathing skills to the limit so I was glad to have a sit down and a cup of coffee when we got home.

It didn’t take me long to perk up after the coffee and I went out into to the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

I helped her pick the last of our first crop of peas and beans and then I cut as many of the sweet peas as I could before my patience ran out.

Then I had a look round.

Poppies were doing their best to look presentable after yesterday’s soaking…

six pink poppies

…and there is plenty of growth still going on.   Buddleia and rambler roses compete for attention and Mrs Tootlepedal has filled the new bed by the new electricity pole with mustard as green manure again.  I may have remarked before that she is very keen on mustard.

roses, mustard, phlox, sweet peas

The sweet peas are growing faster than I can cut them and we have several vases on the go in the house.  And the phlox is phlourishing.

The garden is full of birds as well as flowers.  We have families of starlings in a neighbour’s holly tree and blackbirds have been nesting in the garden.  This one was standing on our neighbour’s shed roof…

starling and blackbird

…but the biggest gang of birds at the moment is made up of sparrows.

sparrow horde on gfence

After a couple of days of neglect while visitors and rain where about, grass cried out for care so I mowed everything, the front lawn, the middle lawn, the greenhouse grass and the drying green. The combination of warm weather and rain had made the grass grow but it also meant that things looked good when the mowing was finished.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious soup from the peas and beans that we had picked, together with a potato and an onion from the garden, and using some chicken stock that she had made while cooking a meal for our visitors.  This was a meal with food metres rather than food miles.

I had another look round the garden after lunch. I would have liked to go for a walk but my feet are not being very helpful so the garden is the limit for most of my walks at present.

I was pleased to see that the clematis along the back fence is growing well…

clemtais back fence

…and The Wren goes from strength to strength.

wren rose

It was not hard to find butterflies on the two buddleias by the back fence and I was happy to find a couple of peacocks among the small tortoiseshells.

tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies

There were probably more white butterflies flitting about than coloured ones so I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and waited to see if I catch catch one sitting still, or even better, catch one actually flitting about.  Patience paid off.

white butterfly panel

You can never rest on your laurels where grass care is concerned, so after the butterfly capture,  I spread a little of the fertiliser that contains the magic moss eating ingredient on the middle lawn.  I will be most interested to see if I can keep the lawns a bit more moss free over the winter than they were last year.

While I was waiting for the white butterflies to come along, I saw a siskin keeping a wary eye out.

siskin staring

When I went in and looked out, I could see why a wary eye out was probably the thing to keep.  The action was non stop again….

busy siskin panel

…and led one poor sparrow to bang its head against the feeder pole in sheer desparation.

headbanger sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal sat down to watch the final stage of the Tour de France and I went out for a short cycle ride in the real world.  I was a little worried that it might be too hot but luckily the sun went in and my ride was merely warm.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it rained in the garden shortly after I set off, but I missed that and had a dry run.

My cycling camera is playing up a bit but I liked this family cow portrait at the Bloch farm so I have put it in even though the focus isn’t quite right.

staring cows

I don’t think that I have had a picture of my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead on the blog since they got their leaves on.  They always look to me as though they are about to break into a wild dance.

three trees

New and bigger daisies are out on the Canonbie by-pass and ragwort is appearing all over the place.

daisy and ragwort

I pottered round my habitual Canonbie 20 mile circuit, worried about a brisk wind but finding it more across than against or behind for most of the ride so I was able to enjoy myself.

I had a last look round the garden when I got home and noted the first zinnia of the year..

first zinnia

…and a rather lonely fuchsia flower.

first fuchsia

It has not been a good year for our permanent fuchsias.

I was able to have my evening meal and still be in time to watch the very final moments of the final stage of the Tour de France.  It has been one of the best tours to watch for some time and we will miss it now that it has gone.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch which appeared among the clouds of siskins.

flying greenfinch

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »