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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss where the perpetual sunshine has brought his well protected vegetable plot on nicely.

Having had fine weather suitable for June in May, we are back to having cool and changeable weather suitable for May in June. It was a day of occasional showers and no sunshine with the temperature eight to ten degrees C less than last week.

Mrs Tootlepedal was leaning out of an upstairs window when she saw what she thought was a blackbird making a rush for the hedge by our front gate. She didn’t think much of it at the time as blackbirds often dive into hedges, but she was surprised to say the least when she saw the bird still there an hour and a half later.

She took a closer look. I kept well away because although I like to photograph birds, I am rather bird phobic if they get too close to me.

After some consideration, Mrs Tootlepedal decided that the bird was a swift. It was trapped in the hedge as it couldn’t get its long wings into a position where it could turn and take off. Very bravely, in my view, she leaned down and picked the bird up, getting an ungrateful peck for her troubles. It was indeed a swift and when she released it, it flew off at speed. Why it flew into the hedge at ground level in the first place is a complete mystery.

After this excitement, I calmed myself down by a walk round the garden. Not wanting to lie on wet grass to look up, I stuck my camera under a nectaroscordum and took pot luck. The photo editor helped in getting this result.

Weddings may not be allowed at the moment but our Spirea Bridal Wreath is doing its best to look happy.

The first flowers have appeared on a philadelphus….

…and we have a mystery flower waiting to come out. I shall be interested to see what it is.

Some things are doing well, like the thoroughly protected peas showing lots of flowers behind the netting…

…but other things are showing frost damage and the climbing hydrangea has lost of a lot of its potential flowers. There are some which look as though they will come out in time.

In the back border, Mrs Tootlepedal has cut the cow parsley back as it has finished flowering but the honesty is still going well…

…while the alliums are fading away.

There wasn’t a lot of insect action but I did spot a bee busy in a Welsh Poppy. Looking at its pollen sacs, it had found a good place.

We went in to have coffee and a WhatsApp meeting with Matilda and her father in lieu of the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to meet in person. Matilda read us a good story and then we played several games of colour bingo. I am happy to report that we all won.

After the call, I had time to watch the birds. A greenfinch watched me.

Chaffinches lined up for the feeder in a very neat and methodical way, one on the left…

…and one on the right.

A sparrow and a goldfinch played a waiting game.

…while a blue tit, an infrequent visitor, got tucked in.

It was an afternoon for inside work for me, with a light drizzle making life hard for Mrs Tootlepedal while she planted out some leeks. I sat at the computer and added two parish magazines from 1969 to the Langholm Archive Group’s website. Sandy had scanned these and done the OCR and HTML formatting on these so I just had to check them over and upload them to the site.

We have had a slow puncture in one of the Zoe’s tyres. It hasn’t mattered much as we have not been going anywhere, but the car has to go to Carlisle next week for a service so Mike Tinker very kindly came round with an accurate tyre pressure gauge to check that we had enough air for the trip. We did.

He had had an interesting morning as people dug holes in his garden to find a fault with an underground telephone cable. As the fault wasn’t even on his own line but someone else’s, he was remarkably calm about having had to dig up and replant things so that the engineers could dig their holes. At least they had pinpointed and corrected the fault.

It was still drizzling but there was little wind and the forecast promised a gap in the rain, so I set out to pedal round my twenty mile Canonbie circuit for the sixteenth time this year. It may sound a bit dull to do the same ride sixteen times but the weather is always different, the seasons and the willingness of my legs to co-operate change all the time, so the ride is new every time that I do it.

The promised gap in the weather did appear but it didn’t look like a big gap to me so I didn’t stop for pictures until I saw brave men hard at work up the pylon at Canonbie in the drizzle…

…and once more with five miles to go when the looming clouds…

…stopped looming and started to rain quite heavily. I was suitably dressed though, and with the light wind it wasn’t too cold for comfort at 12°C, so I pedalled along quite happily, The rain stopped after ten minutes or so and I got home damp but not soaking.

I had a quick look round the garden when I got in and was happy to see that a pink peony had almost come out.

While I Zoomed with my siblings, Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a very tasty chicken casserole for our tea and that ended the active part of the day.

The flying bird of the day should have been the swift but it was far to quick for me to capture on camera so a chaffinch takes the honour.

Footnote: On our walk yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a tiny blue flower on the hill. It is very pretty…

...and it turned out to be a heath milkwort. That is a new flower for this blog. It is very enlarged in the photo.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon who noticed these interesting additions to a pylon when he was out and about near Canonbie. They are going to renew the cables.

We had another beautiful day here today. As this was the first day of summer, there is a slight worry that summer can only go downhill from here on. It will be hard to get a better day day than this.

We had our morning street coffee off the street today, tucked round the corner beside the dam where two of our number could sit in the shade of Margaret’s shed, while Liz and and I sat in the sun holding umbrellas to provide our own personal shade. Passers by, used to finding us in the street, were amazed to find us on the grass looking for all the world like an impressionist painting by Monet.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal did some work in the garden while I wandered about looking for new flowers. There were new flowers to be found.

The wiegela has started flowering.

A red geum has come to join the geum flock.

A new lupin is probably my favourite lupin now it has come out.

Both the red and white astrantias are not at their peak yet but full of promise.

And the stars of the show today are the silver lined irises.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the progress of the vegetable garden and I was able to snip some leaves from her cut and come again lettuce patch to have in a lettuce and marmite sandwich for my lunch.

After lunch, I looked at the feeder through an open window and saw a goldfinch there…

..and in the distance, I could see Mrs Tootlepedal putting the new bench to the very use it was designed for on a sunny afternoon.

it seemed to be a couple of degrees cooler than it had been yesterday, so I decided to mark the start of the summer months with a cycle ride. Wanting to avoid the Wauchope road where the tar was melting last time that I went that way, I headed south out of. Instead of crossing the river at Skippers Bridge, I kept on going down the east bank of the river and then crossed the Tarras and went through Claygate towards the Hollows.

This route is quite hilly and I was concentrating so hard on pedalling sensibly and not getting too hot that I forgot to take any pictures until I got to the shade of the old road at the Hollows.

I headed down to Canonbie, hoping to see the pylon devices that Simon had photographed but instead of the devices themselves, I saw workmen on another pylon getting ready to install them.

I heard a man on a news programme recently complaining that young barristers could only expect to earn as much as an electrician but I think that these super electricians deserve every penny that they get.

Away to my left, Canonbie Church looked at its best.

I pedalled on south and joined the main road for a mile or two at the end of the Canonbie by-pass. The traffic was still light and nowhere near back to pre-lockdown levels.

After a very unpromising winter, farmers must have feared the worst, but things have improved a lot recently as this field of waving barley near Longtown shows.

I left the main road here and turned up towards Milltown of Sark, crossing the border back into Scotland on my way. The last tree in England is also the last to get its leaves.

I looked back at the tree after I had passed it and you can see from the direction that the Gretna turbines are pointing that the wind was helping me up the hill here. I was grateful for the help but having the wind behind me and not blowing in my face meant that it was hot work for a mile or two.

Readers may have noticed how completely weed free the field of barley that I passed earlier was. I worry that this is part of the reason for the drastic drop in the number of insects about, so I was happy to see an uncultivated field full of buttercups further along my journey.

The wind continued to be helpful all the way home, and I arrived back after 26 enjoyable miles in perfect time to have a shower, a cup of tea (and a ginger biscuit or two) and join in the evening Zoom meeting with Mrs Tootlepedal and my siblings.

After the meeting, I watched the birds for a bit. Mrs Tootlepdal’s fake tree may not have any leaves but it is still a useful spot for birds waiting for a perch at the feeder to have rest.

We needed to have a queuing system as the feeder was busy.

I had time for another wander round the garden before scrambled eggs for tea and found another new flower out. This is the first of many foxgloves to come.

And I feel a bit guilty that I usually show the garage clematis en masse when the individual flowers are very pretty in themselves.

But if the silver lined irises were the morning stars, the evening star was Lilian Austin, a really lovely English rose.

The scrambled eggs (on toast) brought the first day of summer to a satisfactory close. I hope that there are many more like it as far as the weather goes, but mixed with overnight rain from time to time of course. We need rain badly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my cycling reader Paul. He lives in Lancashire and he sent me this picture of a reservoir to show that we are not the only ones having a dry time just now.

I am starting today’s post with a picture from yesterday. I almost always only use pictures in a post which I have taken that day as this blog is a daily diary, but I had this one ready to put in yesterday’s post when the new block editor made me forget about it. The blackbird had made such a good effort to pose nicely for me that I thought that it would be a sin not to reward him.

Back to today.

It was another day of wall to wall sunshine but with a brisker breeze to keep things a little cooler.

Neither of us had slept well in the heat last night so we had a quiet start to the day. Then, instead of street coffee, we enjoyed Zoom colour bingo event curated by our granddaughter Matilda. Through the wonders of technology, it involved all four of her grandparents, two of her aunts, a cousin, and her own parents (and three of the four countries of the United Kingdom). The rules were simple enough for even me to grasp and the method ensured the games ended in good time so we had space to chat and catch up as well as play.

After Zooming, we went out into the garden, where Mrs Tootlepedal did useful thinks and I wandered around, a bit at a loss to find something to do. In lieu of anything more productive, I looked at flowers.

There are new arrivals, an orange hawkweed…

…the first of many Sweet Williams…

…a beautifully dark pansy…

…and the first bud on a rose.

I was passing the bird feeder and noticed that a greenfinch was ignoring me. I didn’t ignore it and got the benefit of photographing a bird on the feeder in good light and not through a window.

I was happy even if it it was not.

Our neighbour Kenny, who gardens the far bank of the dam, has produced a really lovely lily there…

We went back in to have lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal took the sensible view that it was a good afternoon to sit quietly indoors out of the heat. I was restless and split my time by being bored indoors and doing nothing useful outdoors. As usual, when left with nothing better to do, I pointed cameras at things. The bright light was a problem so I looked for shady corners with Welsh poppies…

….ranunculus…

…and musk.

And I found an ornamental onion.

At one stage, I went for a shady sit down on our new bench and was joined for some quality time by a blackbird on a nearby hedge.

I checked to see what had captured the bees’ fancy today. It was chive diving.

I went back in to get set up for my second Zoom meeting of the day and while the computer was warming up, I looked out of the back door at the dam to see if any birds were cooling off there. Starlings were making use of the facilities…

…but they flew off in a huff when I got too close.

The afternoon Zoom meeting was the weekly Carlisle Choir virtual rehearsal with our energetic leader Ellen. Once again she was well prepared with a really good grip on the technology. All the same, the current technology will still not let everyone sing at the same time so it was more of a chance to get together and keep the spirit of the choir going than a great singing experience. About 50 members signed in and I enjoyed it.

There was another gap in the day now, with nothing much to do so I made a batch of 30 ginger biscuits as the last lot of 30 biscuits has mysteriously disappeared.

Then I had to time to check to see if there were more birds swimming in the dam. There were none but a white clover by the back door caught my eye instead…

…and I had to look out of the front window to see some birds. The feeder was half full and the bottom layer had been taken over by three greenfinches…

…who weren’t going to let any other bird get a look in. This led to some wistful flying birds, hoping for a perch but not succeeding in dislodging the incumbents.

And then it was time for the third Zoom meeting of the day, the usual get together with my siblings. My brother was absent but my sisters were in good form. I didn’t stay for the whole meeting as I wanted to get out for a cycle ride in the comparative cool of the early evening and still be back in time for our evening meal.

it was 25°C but the sun was down in the sky a bit and a cooling breeze kept conditions ideal for the elderly cyclist. I headed north up the main road out of town, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road and that the wind would be helpful as I headed uphill.

Both hopes were fulfilled. There was hardly any traffic and the wind was not only helpful up the hill but by some fluke of meteorology, helpful to me on the way back down again. As a result, I was home in plenty of time for a delicious meal of liver and onions prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I took two pictures just to show that I had been out. The first was soon after I had set off, and shows the Ewes valley at its best…

…and the second was at the head of the valley as the shadows were closing in on the road to Mosspaul.

I was passed by two cars in the ten miles back home. Cycling heaven.

Looking at my cycling spreadsheet when I got home, I see that I have cycled 15 times this month and covered 450 miles, my best month this year by a good distance. As I have gone for a walk on the other 16 days, it has been an excellent month for exercise.

The flying bird of the day is a duck who was passing over the garden while I was wandering about.

Footnote: As an experiment because I am using the new block editor, I have put the pictures in at a larger size than usual. I don’t know if this will make any difference but if it does for good or bad, I would be grateful for any feedback.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy.  He has attached a bird box to his shed and is very happy to see that it is getting used by blue tits.

sandy's blue tit

The day started with a WhatsApp conversation with Annie and Joe and our granddaughter Evie.  Evie is ten months old now and very grown up.

We had another chilly morning here but it was sunny again and when I went out into the garden, I was happy to see a hoverfly visiting and allium.

hoverfly on allium

All seemed reasonably well with the world until I went across to look at the azaleas with the intention of getting some colourful shots.

Alas, it had been just too cold in the night and the azaleas (and rhododendrons) were ex azaleas (and rhododendrons) now.  Pretty well everyone of them was  damaged beyond repair.  We were told that it had been -3C overnight and that had been enough to finish them off.

six dead azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal was very sad, to say the least.  Her garden comes on in a succession of spring waves; the snowdrops, the daffodils, the tulips and then the crowning glory, the azaleas.

Not this year.

Annoyingly, some of the tulips, which are at the very end of their useful gardening life, survived the frost.

last of the tulips

I didn’t really have the heart to look round for other flowers but the sight of iris buds was at least a promise of something to come…

iris bud

…and the magnificent poppy on the back wall of the house laughed at frost.

oriental poppy out

Instead of having a cup of coffee with the regular street gang, I took some Garibaldi biscuits up to Sandy and got some of his flapjack in return.  His foot is very slowly on the mend after his operation, but it is a slow business and he has been cooped up in his house for far longer than the rest of us.  Under the circumstances, he is still remarkably cheerful.

I met a butterfly on my way.

white butterfly

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was increasing the wideness of her wider view and more box bushes had bitten the dust.

cut box

I gave a hand with some of the tugging and pulling needed to uproot the toughest of the bushes and had a look round while I did so.

A sparrow was on the look out for tasty vegetable shoots to plunder.

sparrow on fence

I tested out the new bench and found some lily of the valley nestling beside it.

lily of the valley

The morning slipped away and I went in to make lunch and watch the birds.

I saw a siskin socially distancing itself from a sparrow.

socially distanced siskin

After lunch, we had a video conversation with Clare, Alistair and our other granddaughter, Matilda and then we downloaded a clever app that let us play games with Matilda in real time.   It was nowhere near as good as seeing Matilda and her parents in person, but it was a lot better than not seeing them at all.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off in search of some more horse manure, and I went  for another very slow cycle ride round my Canonbie circuit.

For some reason, my breathing is not good at the moment, possibly the combination of pollen and dust after all our dry weather, and I didn’t have much get up and go at all so I was quite pleased to have managed to get out for a ride  however slow and I quite enjoyed it

I stopped to see a new addition to a local Belted Galloway herd…

belted galloway calf

…and when I looked up, I was rather alarmed to see a hole in the sky.

hole in te sky

However, nothing fell through it and I pedalled on unscathed.

I passed a field full of cows who were feeling much like I was from the look of them.

lazy cattle

I don’t think that I have ever seen so many collapsed cattle before.

As I got near to the Canonbie by-pass, I cycled by some fields that had been mown for silage.  I can’t feel that there has been much growth in the grass but maybe the farmer felt that it needed to be mown before it dried out completely.

mown field with crows

As I got near Canonbie itself, I noticed the first hawthorn blossom of the year in a hedge.

first hawthorn

I liked this copper beech among all the greenery as I got nearer home….

copper beech

…and there were wild flowers in the verges a little further on…

gernaium and red campion

…and fine new cones on a larch tree by the river on the bike path.

larch cones

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy taking out more box bushes and shaping some of the ones that are left.  She should finish the task tomorrow.

Near what is left of the hedge, a cheery potentilla has started flowering.

potentilla

I said good afternoon to a blackbird making use of what is left of the hedge…

blackbird on hedge

…and went in for a Garibaldi biscuit and a cup of tea.

After my regular sibling Zoom conference, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and then finished a day of video conversations by calling our recorder playing friend Sue.  Living in England, she is now able to go and visit her daughter who lives not far away, and this has cheered her up immensely.

That sharp frost and the death of the azaleas has really cast a long shadow over the day, especially as the azaleas were looking in good shape after a poor season last year.  Ah well, gardening is a vale of tears.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfi nch

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