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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my sister Mary.  She was joined by a jackdaw for breakfast at Kenwood House, but it came too late as she had cleared her plate.

jackdaw for breakfast

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so I might, if I had been energetic and well organised, gone out for an early pedal.  What I managed was a leisurely walk round the garden instead.

Outside, on the front wall of the house, everything was abuzz.  A cotoneaster horizontalis was attracting a lot of bees…

bees on contoneaster horizontalis

…although it hardly looked as though the flowers were open enough to let a bee in.

There was more buzzing at the other end of the middle lawn where the nectaroscordum had attarcted a different set of bees altogether.

bees on nectaroscordum

In fact, wherever we looked, there were more bees on flowers….

four bees on flowers

…and it was very good to see several different types of bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some pretty plants which she wants to put out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Unfortunately, because of the nearby bird feeder, pigeons and other birds tend to come and perch on the chimney pot, crushing any plants there.  We therefore decided to move the feeder pole to outside the dining room window, hoping that the birds would go with it and leave the chimney pot unmolested.

A blackbird soon arrived to check out the situation…

blackbird on hedge

…and it was followed by a siskin…

siskin on new feeder

…and then a goldfinch became the first customer.

goldfinch on new feeder

Soon it was business as usual in the new position.

full new feeder

In between times, I mowed the  front lawn and went up to the the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin top up.

When I got back, I had time to spot a white butterfly

butter white

…before we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to have a light lunch and listen to an illustrated lecture from the interesting young man who is running the Wild Eskdale project.  Kevin, the project leader, has two aims, outdoor education for youngsters and environmental tourism for visitors.  He demonstrated that there is more than enough wild life and scenery around the town to satisfy the most demanding visitor and we hope that his project is a great success. Those interested can see more here.

In spite of a gloomy forecast, it wasn’t raining when we got home and I had time to admire the 20cm flowers on the peony….

big peonies

…and an even bigger bee on the nectaroscordum…

large bee on nectaroscordum

…before I decided to defy the forecast and go for a bike ride.

There are fields of buttercups to be seen…

meadow of buttercups

…and the roads are still lined with cow parsley  in places…

verges of cow parsley callister

….and when I looked down as I took the parsley picture, I saw that there is a lot of English plaintain about too.

english plaintains

It was a much calmer day than yesterday so I cycled to the top of Callister before turning and coming sedately back down the hill back to the town.

I took a turn along the river and saw a lone gull…

gull by Esk

…and pair of oyster catchers along the water’s edge…

oyster catcher by Esk

…before deciding that the weather looked good enough to add another six miles to my total by going back up the road as far as Wauchope Schoolhouse.

I paused to have a look at my favourite little cascade at Bessie Bells on the way…

wauchope cascade june

…and this may have been a mistake because the rain started when I was still two miles from home and I got quite wet in the last ten minutes of my ride.

Still, I was pleased to have got another 20 miles to add to my miles for the week and after a cup of tea and a slice of toast, everything was fine.

Fine indoors that is, because it rained steadily for the rest of the day outside.  I kept an eye on the re-positioned feeder and noted a redpoll…

redpoll on new feeder

…and a mixed bag of chaffinch, siskin and sparrows…

busy new feeder

…so it seems that the new position is going down well with the birds.

We were visited by our friend Bruce who brought with him a bird ringer’s band.  He had recovered it from a siskin which had suffered a fatal accident when it crashed into one of his windows on the 10th May.  I took a picture of the ring beside the tip of a ball point pen to show how tiny the ring has to be to fit on the leg of a siskin, a bird which weighs about 13 grams.

 

siskin bird ring

Bruce had read the number on the ring and had sent it to the BTO, the British Trust for Ornithology, the body responsible for bird ringing volunteers in the UK.  In return he received a note saying that the siskin had been ringed (rung?) in Thetford, Norfolk, 386km away to the south of us.   It had been recorded there on the 9th April so in spite of its diminutive size, it had flown 386km north in a month.  Who knows where the siskin pictured at the top of this post has come from, though it might well be locally born and bred.

The rain is supposed to stop by tomorrow morning so I might get out for a pedal for the third day running.  This would be very welcome, as my feet are still not up to much in the way of walking.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, eyeing up the new feeder site.

flying chaffinch new feeder

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s stay in Northumberland and shows a colourful view from the bridge over the River Breamish which appeared in a previous post.

river breamish view

The strong winds of yesterday continued overnight and were still blowing this morning so I was happy to stay in and welcome Dropscone for a cup of coffee though I had time to go out into the garden and see what hadn’t been blown over first.

icelandic poppy June

Dropscone arrived with a story to tell.  Thanks to an accident when he was piloting a golf buggy while he was refereeing at a big golf event on the east coast last week, he had had to have an involuntary visit to hospital over the weekend.   He was interested to discover that he was not the only person in his ward to have come off worse in a contest with a golf buggy as another patient had also lost an argument with one.  Dangerous things these golf buggies.

Luckily for me, this had in no way diminished his ability to turn out tasty scones and as he had had to drink very indifferent coffee during his stay in hospital, we were both pleased to see each other.  He was in very cheery form but still has to go back for a check up tomorrow to see that he hasn’t suffered any lasting harm.

Just as we finished our coffee, an ace reporter from our local paper appeared to ask us questions about the little white electric thingy as the paper is doing a feature on ‘green’ issues.

When she had left, I walked round the garden again.

The early lupins are nearly at their peak

luopins nearly there

…while others are just coming out.

close up lupin

In the vegetable garden the chives thrive…

chives looking good

…and the peas progress behind their anti sparrow fortifications.

pea fortress working

The wind and the rain have taken a toll on the azaleas and there are many more petals lying in heaps on the ground than on the bushes.

fallen azalea petals

I went in to make soup for lunch and watch the birds.  The soup kept me busy but there was very little bird action.  The artificial tree was home to three hopeful young sparrows…

three young sparrows

…who were waiting for father to come back with some food…

adult sparrow

…but both adult and children got fed up and flew off and no other birds came to take their place.

After lunch, I decided that my need for a bike ride was greater than my dislike of pedalling in 30 mph winds so I got my bike out and went for ride.  I was helped in this decision by the appearance of some sun, so at least it was reasonably warm even if it was very hard work pedalling into the brisk breeze.

The sun brought out the colours of the red campion and wild geraniums in the verge as I cycled up the hill out of town.

wildflowers

…and everything was cheerfully green under blue skies.

I skulked about in the shelter of the Wauchope valley and only went four miles before turning back to get a whoosh home with the strong wind behind me.   I was so encouraged by the pleasure of downwind cycling that I went back up the road  and gave myself a little diversion to enjoy the views.

green view from Bloch road

The local estate has been busy selling land to forestry companies so that there is a danger that all our hills may be covered by blanket forests like the one in this view but this particular farm has been given a temporary reprieve.

looking to cleuchfoot

I cycled a little further up the road on my second lap but as I started to climb up the hill at Callister, I found myself being blown dangerously about by the strong wind so I abandoned thoughts of going to the top of the hill and turned for home after five miles.

Once more, I experienced the joy of downhill, downwind cycling.  Pedalling along a flat stretch at 25 miles an hour makes an old man feel young again, at least for a moment or two until he has to clutch nervously at the brakes as a sharp corner comes up.

I did stop to take a picture of one of my favourite views, not least because it is all downhill to home from here and on this occasion, wafted by a favouring gale, the three and a bit miles back to Langholm took me ten minutes…

view from above Wauchope schoolhouse

…not including the brief stop for a final picture of a very green corner.

green corner

When I got back to Langholm I was seized with decimal madness and cycled once round the New Town to bring my distance up to a neat 20 miles, a very reasonable distance for such a windy day in my view.

Since the sun was still shining, I took the opportunity to mow the middle lawn and then give it a neat edge with the strimmer.  If it hadn’t been so windy, I might have sat down on the new bench and admired my handiwork but instead I went in and hoped to see some birds.

Once again, there weren’t many to watch.  It is hard to say whether this was because of the strong winds or because the jackdaws have frightened them away.

jackdaw on peanuts

A lone redpoll did appear and after perching anxiously on the sunflower stalk…

redpoll on stalk

…it spent a little time on the seed feeder..

redpoll on feeder

…but it was the only small bird that I saw.

I just had time for another look at the garden, where I saw these clematis seed heads…

clematis seed head

…and a quizzical blackbird…

blackbird sideways look

…before my flute pupil Luke came.

We had another good session and it is good to see steady progress being made.

When he left, I sieved a little compost and mowed the drying green before we had our tea.

In the absence of any opportunity to take a flying bird of the day picture, the quizzical blackbird kindly consented to have its photograph taken to act as standing bird of the day.

full blackbird portrait

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who saw this all electric hire car getting a charge in a street the other day.

blue city car

It was warmer today but no less grey in the morning and we were pleased to get to church and back before it started to rain.  As I may have mentioned, our organist Henry was recently elected to act as the town’s standard bearer or cornet at our Common Riding at the end of July.  This means that he has many obligations and duties to perform in the weeks leading up to the great day so he will have little time to think of the church choir.  As a result, we are having a very quiet time as far as singing in church goes with a standby organist on duty again today.  As we are also short of a minister, there was rather a subdued air about the service this morning.

Thanks to the rain when we got home, it seemed like a good time to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so I did that.

The rain eased off and after lunch and I had a quick look at the bird. Once again, sparrows were the chief visitors.  Although they are common and often ignored, they are quite decorative in their own way.

decorative sparrow

Almost every time that I looked, there was  a sparrow looming up.

sparrow looming

I did see a single siskin…

sparrow and siskin

…and a great tit and a blue tit visited at moments when I didn’t have a camera to hand.

The second most common birds at present are jackdaws.

jackdaw looking keen

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The climbing hydrangea is gradually getting little specks of white all over it.  It should look very fine quite soon.

climbing hydrangea

There were some new flowers to be seen like this foxglove..

wet foxglove

…but generally, it was a day for spotting rain drops on roses…

wet yellow rosewet rose

…and geraniums.

wet geranium

…but no brown paper parcels.

The flowers beside the bird feeders, which I look at through the kitchen window when the birds have flown away, make a pretty picture.

flowers beside feeder

I didn’t have long to hang around as it was soon time to get in our little white electric thingy and go to Carlisle for a choir practice.  I had various reasons for getting an electric car but none of them were about what it would be like actually driving it, so it is a great bonus that it turns out to be a wonderful car to drive.  Just tootling along the familiar road to Carlisle at a modest speed brings me great satisfaction.

We had a new venue for our choir practice today, the large chapel of a local private school.  It proved to have very hard pews to sit on and quite an echoing acoustic so it took a bit of getting used to.  We are having our concert there next week and then using it as our permanent home when we start again in Autumn.  I may have to bring my own cushion.

When we came out after a really good sing, the day had miraculously turned from cool and grey to warm and sunny and there was a spring in everybody’s step as they went on their way.

It was still fine when we got home and I considered a bike ride but a very vigorous breeze and a rather overgrown hedge along the road…

hedge before trimmin June

…made me think that getting the hedge cut would be the best thing to do.  With Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, it didn’t take too long to get the hedge to look like this…

hedge after trimming june

…and the trimmings tucked away in the compost bin.

As I passed the front door, I couldn’t help stopping to note the clematis in the sunshine there.  It has lasted very well, possibly because it is in a sheltered spot against the wall of the house.

front door azaleas in sun

Turning to look the other way, I could see the azalea at the left hand end of the lawn which has spoiled Mrs Tootlepedal’s colour scheme by not coming into flower at all this year.

front lawn evening

Looking back from the far end of the lawn, it is only too easy to spot the large pale areas which are mostly moss..

front lawn looking back

…but considering that I seriously thinking of abandoning all hope of grass earlier this year, it has come on pretty well and the new moss eating treatment seems to be paying off.

As the sun was still out, I would have liked to take a few flower pictures but the wind was so strong…

windblown leaves

…that it would have been a waste of time to try.

I went in and we had a nourishing bowl of sausage stew with new potatoes for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a male sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was spotted by a deer on one of his walks.

ant's deer

It was another grey day today but although it promised to rain for quite a lot of the day, we got nothing worse than a few spots every now and again.

I went off to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and was very disappointed to find that neither the  fishmonger nor the cheesemonger were present.  I made do with some stewing steak and honey and made my way home again.

As it wasn’t raining, I mowed the front and middle lawns and was pleased to find a fair amount of grass growing on both.  Then, following up a suggestion from the gardener, I went into the greenhouse to check on the argyranthemum.  It was a surprise to me to find that it has such a cheerful flower.

argyranthemum

I look forward to seeing it out in the garden in due course.

Things were generally looking quite cheerful in the garden in spite of the cloudy weather and the two and half inches of rain which we have had this week.

six flowers

I went out to look at the hedge along the road and found that it need trimming.  While I was there,  I looked back into the garden and saw the view which the passer by gets.

garden from road

I looked at some of the paler flowers…

four yellow and white flowers

…and went indoors to look at the birds and have lunch.

A pigeon was taking time out on a garden seat…

pigeon ion chair

…while the sparrows rushed busily about.

two sparrows incoming

After lunch, we went to a recital by our church organist Henry, seen here consulting with his page turner.

henry at the organ

He played the recital which he used for his degree examination recently.  Mrs Tootlepedal had heard him play it in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh last month but it was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The recital is part of a series held to raise money for the restoration of the church organ.  I hope that they succeed in raising the substantial funds required as the organ is a delight to listen to, very clear and mellow in tone so that the audience doesn’t get the battering that some of the bigger cathedral organs administer.

We enjoyed a cup of tea and some dainty cakes after the performance and then we went home.

Once home, I spent some useful time practising the songs for our Carlisle Choir concert which is coming up next week and then I checked the weather forecast as I was thinking about a cycle ride.  Unfortunately the forecast was very gloomy, promising heavy rain shortly so I gave up the idea of pedalling and sieved some compost instead and had another walk round the garden.

A rhododendron which has been threatening to flower for some weeks, has finally got its act together.  It was worth the wait.

late flowering rhododendron

And on every side, hostas are growing.

four hostas june

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t  rain so I decided to put a brolly in my pocket and go for a walk until it started.

The recent rain has put a little water into the rivers but they are still pretty low as this view of the Kirk Brig shows.

daisies beside Wauchope

Beside the Esk, I spotted a pair of ducks.  The male was looking very calm while the female was making a big splash.

drake and duck

I crossed the river and walked along the Kilngreen under the supervision of a black headed gull.

black headed gull on post

The clouds were well down on the hills round the town…

cloud on Timpen

…but on the Castleholm, a cricket match was in full swing.

cricket in prgress

I didn’t stop to watch the game and turned to admire an ornamental horse chestnut tree instead.

red chestnut

I continued round the new path and enjoyed the new growth all around me, both looking up..

cones and wildflowers castleholm

…and down.

It was gloomy in the corner by the two noble fir trees and female and male fruits had an air of mystery about them.

noble firs castleholm

There were flowers beside the path including a lot of crosswort…

wild flowers castleholm

…and an unknown (to me) yellow flower and a superb hawthorn.

As I walked over the Jubilee Bridge and round the Scholars’ Field, the trees were full of interest…

tree fruits castleholm

…and there was lots to see at ground level too.

four wild flowers scholars

When I got home, I was amazed at how many pictures I had taken on such an unpromising day.  I have bunged a lot of them into the panels in spite of the poor quality of many of them just to show what I saw.

I was also rather annoyed to find that as time went on, there was no hint whatsoever of any of the forecast rain and much as I had enjoyed my walk, I could easily have gone for a decent cycle ride which would have done me more good.

Still, the lawns are cut, the compost buckets are full and I saw a lot of interesting things on my walk so I should regard it as a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life even it didn’t have a pedal in it.

The poor light made getting a good flying bird picture tricky so I have put in a gender balanced pair of sparrows today.

twi flying sparrows

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As well as seeing beautiful river scenes, Bruce has also met St Aidan of Lindisfarne on his Northumberland break, and his statue is the guest picture of the day.

St Aidan of Lindisfarne

There was an infernal racket in the garden this morning and anyone who extols the calming and peaceful nature of bird song has obviously not heard young starlings asking to be fed.

It was raucous.

starling parent and child

And sometimes the parents looked fed up with the demands for food.

two starlings

Young starlings grow quickly but they don’t develop the patterned feathers of the adult so it was easy to tell that this was a youngster waiting for a grown up to appear…

yoiung starling

…which it did in short order, carrying a beakful of worms…

starling bringing food

…which were gratefully received.

starling feeding child

I took a look at the burgeoning clematis flowers along the garage…

garge clematis

…and went off to help Mrs Tootlepedal distribute the wood chips that we collected yesterday on to the vegetable garden paths.

We laid down an impermeable lining and then added the chippings.  The result looked quite satisfactory.

chipped paths

There are more chips to be collected and more paths to be covered so it is ongoing work.

Beside the back fence, a small wild area added colour….

buttercups

…while further along, a transplanted clematis has flowered to Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight.

back fence clematis

I had a wander round, passing my favourite astantias…

two astrantias

…and noting the first flowers on the wiegela…

wiegela

…before stopping to check on the azalea which has been badly affected by lack of rain.

The recent wet weather has encouraged it to open some of its buds after all and…

thirsty azalea

…as it is due to keep raining for some days, all may not be lost.

The waxy leaves of lupins and hostas held the evidence.

two waxy leaves

The clematis by the front door is beginning to look a bit bedraggled so I took a picture of it while it is still looking stunning.

front door azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal is easing the frost bitten but recovering fuchsia out of the greenhouse day be day..

fuchsia out of greenhouse

…and I hope to see it in position in the garden soon.

When I had finished wandering, I set about doing a little more shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C.  The sieved bits are looking good.

buckets of compost

It was reasonably warm in the garden and there were threats of rain but it kept dry for the morning and only started to rain in earnest as we left to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

The train was even later than usual but as one disgruntled passenger pointed out as we arrived at Waverley Station 28 minutes late, this was two minutes too early for us to be able to claim part of the fare back.  Ah well.  And it was pouring with rain when we got out of the station so it was not our finest travelling day.

Matilda was in excellent form when we arrived.  Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly welcomed as she is making a dress for Matilda to wear at a school performance and had brought her measuring tape with her to get the size right.  After the measuring had been done, we played Go Fish and Beggar My Neighbour with Matilda and all I can say is that I didn’t catch many fish and I was utterly beggared by both Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal.  I have always had characteristically bad luck at cards.

The journey home was delayed too and it was still raining as we drove home so it was good to get back to a warm, dry house.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings returning to our neighbour’s holly tree where they are roosting.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on a break in Northumberland, where he took this picture of a bridge over the River Breamish.

River Breamish near Ingram village

It was a grey and faintly drizzly day here today so it was good to have a spot of indoor brightness supplied by the  charming flowers that Sue had brought when she came for coffee on Monday.

sue's flowers

Sandy came for coffee today.  He is suffering from sore feet too and we have been unable to go for a walk for several weeks so it was good to see him and catch up with his news.

When he left, I checked to see what the birds were up to and found a brisk demand for fat balls among the sparrows.

fat ball feeder with sparrows

The sparrows are eating anything they can get their beaks on at the moment and….

four sparrows

…they are monopolising the feeder for a good part of the day.

four sparrows (2)

I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal dispose of some of the surplus soil which we had removed from the lawn when we did the returfing. It was amazingly dry and dusty so we mixed it with some composted shreddings and Mrs Tootlepedal spread it on the front beds.

I did some shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C and then had a wander around to admire the azaleas.  Some of them have suffered badly because of the long cool spell and the lack of rain and have not been able to develop their buds into flowers but others have put on a fine show.

orange azaleared azalea

And the alliums don’t seem to have been affected by the lack of rain at all.

four alliums

We have had an inch of rain recently but it has only been enough to dampen the top layer of the soil in the flower beds and if Mrs Tootlepedal digs down to plant out something new, it is still dry as dust below.  Looking at the forecast though, we may be about to get a persistent spell of light rain over the next few days.  Unhappily, this may turn out to be light enough to be annoying without being useful.

All the same, new flowers are appearing and the Scotch rose is developing well…

scotch rose

…and a little patch of cornflowers appeared as if by magic.  One minute it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was fully formed.

cornflower

The sparrows were interrupted on the feeder by the arrival of a starling…

starling on feeder

…which I noticed as I was making some lentil soup for our lunch.

In spite of a forecast of a 60% chance of a long spell of light rain in the faternoon, I managed to get onto my cycling gear and get out for a pedal while it was dry.

The hillsides are bright with hawthorn blossom on every side.

hawthorn on hill

I passed one of the busiest trees that you will ever see.  It had growth bursting out of every twig.  I think that it is a Norway Spruce.

busy spruce tree

The forecast was looking likely to be ominously correct as a drizzle started up before I had gone far.  I pedalled on though and was cheered up by the sight of some late bluebells on a bank bedside the road.

late bluebells

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at too…

yellow wild flowers

…and  hawthorns and lambs made the day seem nicer than it was.

hawthorn and lambs

I had a good waterproof jacket on and the drizzle was very light so I pressed on to the top of Callister in the hope of seeing some developments in the wind farm that is being built there.  There were sounds of working but nothing to see yet.

The drizzle didn’t last very long, and it turned out to be a good day for cycling with a light wind, so when I came back down the hill into Langholm, I decided to go through the town and out again to the south to see if the new road at the Tarras landslip was open for cyclists yet.

It was.

A lot of work has gone onto making the steep banking below the road stable…

landslip repaired tarras

..and the road itself was a pleasure to cycle down with a beautifully smooth new surface.

new road tarras

I was intending just to visit the road and then turn back for home but having swooshed down the new road and got to the bottom of the hill and crossed the bridge over the Tarras Water, it seemed a pity not to go on, so I cycled along a road that I haven’t used for three years or more.

old road tarras

This took me down the east side of the River Esk and having passed a splendid broom bush…

broom

…I crossed the river by the Hollows Bridge and returned to Langholm up the west bank.

The bus stop at the Hollows, is a garden in itself.

bus stop hollows

The rain stayed away and I got home warm and dry after a very enjoyable 25 miles.

As it was dry, Mrs Tootlepedal and I then took the opportunity to go and collect some more woodchips for her vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t have time to spread them on the paths as it was now time to cook our evening meal.  I left this task in the capable hands of Mrs Tootlepedal and went and had a little sit down and rest.

My cycle mileage for the month has been very poor and I have only managed half the miles that I had originally planned to do by this time of the year, so I am hoping that June brings some very cycling friendly weather and I can make some progress.  I am still quite optimistic that the worst has passed as far as my feet are concerned although I haven’t tried a good walk yet.  Time will tell.

The flying bird of the day is one of our flock of sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On a recent tour, he stopped at Tewkesbury and took a picture of the bridge there.

bridge

Yesterday’s heavy work on the lawn was an experiment in ‘kill or cure’ and when I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the balance had tipped firmly down on the ‘cure’ side of things.  For the first time for ages, my feet weren’t painfully sore.  I didn’t let my feet go to my head though and took things pretty gently through the day.

I did go out into the garden and look at the flowers.  I liked a vetch which has come up of its own accord.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to leave it where it is as it is popular with bees.

vetch

New white flowers have appeared: Mrs Tootlepedal describes the one on the left as an educated onion and the one on the right is the first of the philadelphus.

four flowers

The Dutchman’s breeks and the Welsh poppies are adding an international air of gaiety to the garden…

…and the light was just right to take a picture of the yellow ranunculus.

yellow ranunculus

I noticed that the plain fuchsia by the back gate is producing flowers but it doesn’t look very well so there may not be the usual waterfall of blossom this year.

old fuchsia

As my back was in such good order, I did some shifting and sifting of compost.  I started to turn Bin C into Bin D but the material had rotted down so well that I was able to sieve a lot of it and just put the remains in Bin D.   I have been trying to layer the compost in Bin A more carefully lately, green and woody in turn, so perhaps this is a reward down the line for good behaviour.

I went in for coffee and watched the birds.  Sparrows were the flavour of the day but redpolls are frequent visitors too.  The goldfinches have almost entirely found a better place to feed.

sparrows and redpoll

The old sunflower stalk continues to provide a useful perch…

sparrow on stalk

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is growing a new sunflower nearby for next year.

We had other visitors.  There were quite a few jackdaws on the peanuts during the day and Mrs Tootlepedal witnessed some angry scenes among them.  I saw this one daring anyone to come and have a go if they are tough enough.

jackdaw going nuts

There are starlings nesting in a neighbour’s tree and one came to the seed feeder today.

starling feeling seedy

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I went for a cycle ride.  I had intended to try for some long, slow distance today but the forecast was very uncertain and there had been spots of rain on and off through the morning so I settled for some short, slow distance instead and went round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

It wasn’t hard to notice that the hawthorn had come out while we were on holiday.

 

hawthord on hill

And there were wild flowers all the way round.

verhe wild flowers

I took a closer look at the bird’s foot trefoil, a flower that I like a lot, and discovered a tiny creature among the petals.

birdsfoot trefoil

The back roads were lined with cow parsley and on this section it had a hem of buttercups as well.

cow parsley and buttercups

There was a lot of wild geranium to be seen.

wild geranium

I stopped to get a picture of the hawthorns beside the Hollows Tower and found that the managers have erected two flag poles beside the tower.

hollws tower and hawthorn

I was pleased that I had decided on a short ride because there were some very threatening showers further down the road and it rained a bit when I got back.

Back in the garden I found that a Rozeraie de L’hay had managed to survive yesterday’s rain showers.

rose in garden

I was struck by this single aquilegia which had grown through one of the golden box balls.  It looked odd.

aquilegia on box ball

When I had walked round the garden, I went in for  a cup of tea and a shower and then settled down to practice some of the songs for our Carlisle choir concert.

In the evening, our recorder group met for a play and for a change the group assembled at Wauchope Cottage which was very convenient for me.  Because the sun had come out again by the time that they arrived, we had a walk round the garden before we started playing.  We played Handel, Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Purcell, Morley and Scheidt so we had good material to work with.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was heading back towards the feeders but as it already had a mouthful of seed, I am not sure why it was bothering.

flying siskin

Footnote:  I was speaking to our daughter Annie on the phone today and she put in a  request for some more general pictures of the garden to put my flower pictures in context.  I am always anxious to please so I found a sunny moment late in the afternoon and took a random set of pictures of various borders.  In spite of the many colourful flower pictures which appear on the blog, the predominant colour in the garden is green.

 

garden bed 1garden bed 2garden bed 3garden bed 4garden bed 5garden bed 6garden bed 7garden bed 8garden bed 9garden bed 10

And of all the views, this one, taken from our new bench as the sun goes behind the walnut tree, is my favourite.

.garden bed 11

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