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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Our daughter sent me today’s guest picture just to show that there are good looking bees in London too.

London bee

The wind moved round to the east today and brought a little touch of coolness with it so although the day was agreeably sunny again, it was much more pleasant to be out and about.

All the same, it looked as though it was going to be hot enough to make serious cycling hard work in the afternoon so I got up early and went for a ride in the cool of the morning.

I had an appointment at ten o’clock and this time pressure limited me to my usual twenty mile run down to  Canonbie and back.  I had my camera with me and might have had time to take a picture or two if I hadn’t realised after I had gone a mile that I had forgotten to put my helmet on.

There are those who claim that helmets make no difference to cycle safety but they are wrong so I went back and started again with my helmet clamped firmly above the space where my brains should be.

(As far as the safety argument goes, my thought is that there are no conceivable circumstances when I am in the middle of falling off my bike that I would ever say. “Thank goodness I am not wearing a helmet.”)

The conditions were just about perfect – warm, sunny and with a light cooling wind – and I got round in good order and at a brisk pace for me and was showered and ready for my appointment in good time.

I even had time to check on some of the blue-ish flowers in the garden before I went.

blue flowers

delphinium

The heart of a delphinium

dutch iris

A Dutch iris

The bees were so noisy that I went to have a look at what was attracting them.

cotoneaster

It was the cotoneaster. It does look inviting.

bee on cotoneaster

Getting stuck in

I got back from my appointment and had another walk round the garden.  This time, I had a mower and not a camera with me and I mowed the drying green and then adjourned for a cup of coffee.

It wasn’t long before I was out again.

There were roses to look at….

roses

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the bottom right rose is a Ginger Syllabub and not a Golden Syllabub as I have been calling it……but a rose by another name looks just as good in my view.

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping to serve lunches at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar and while she was away, I picked some strawberries, sieved some compost, trimmed a hedge and mowed the middle lawn.  You can tell that the weather was a lot kinder today.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, she had a little work to do in the garden and while she toiled, I admired the flowers.

Sweet William

I love the contrasting delicate pale purple of the stamens compared with the zing of the petals

I thought that I had seen an orchid or two beside the road a mile or so out of town  on my morning pedal so we decided to go out on our bikes to check if my eyesight had deceived me or not.

It turned out that I had seen literally only two orchids and not fully out at that….

wauchope orchid

…so the orchid hunt was less than exciting.

So we pedalled on a bit and left the bikes while we took a short walk through woods and fields along the Wauchope.

We were serenaded by a buzzard circling high above us, emitting its characteristic plaintive cry.

buzzard

We walked.

manure mountain path

It was a good choice.  The path through the woods is delightful and we paused beside the river…

Wauchope water

…in the vain hope of seeing kingfishers, otters and deer.  Even without exotic wild life, the scene was a balm to the soul.  Mrs Tootlepedal blended in with the scenery…

Mrs T in the woods

…while I roamed around looking for things to photograph.

I found a gate.

Gate beside wauchope

Leaving the wildlife to laugh at us behind our back when we  were gone, we used the gate and walked back to the bikes through the field.

If you like meadows full of wild flowers and grasses….

wauchope field

I would welcome a name for the tiny flower on the left.

…fringed with interesting trees…..

conifer

conifer

…this was the place to be.

We cycled gently home, grateful for the cool breeze in our faces and enjoying the warm sun on our backs.

The garden had not been idle while were out.

Lilies were on the move.

martagon lily

A Martagon lily was showing the first Turk’s Caps of the year.

Day lily

And a day lily had decided that this was the day

Both had come out while we were walking. It is amazing what some sunshine will do.

After tea, I set my hand to making a couple of jars of strawberry jam.  Time will tell but I fear I may have overboiled the jam a bit.  It was not entirely my fault.  I was keeping a careful eye on it when I was summoned outside by Mrs Tootlepdal to look at a kite in the sky.  A sharp eyed neighbour had spotted the bird upsetting the oyster catchers in the park and come to tell us.

By the time that I had fetched my camera, the kite was high above us in the evening  sky but although the resultant picture was poor, it does show the characteristic shape of the red kite.  I hope that we will see many more as time goes by.

Here then is the rather distant flying bird of the day.

red kite

It was worth spoiling the jam a bit to see such a glorious bird.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our daughter’s visit to Knightshayes.  There were animals everywhere.

knightshayes

Yesterday had left my legs feeling rather elderly so I was quite pleased to spend most of the morning sitting quietly in the Welcome to Langholm office.

I took a picture of the two roses beside the path from the front lawn before I went up to the town.

Lilian Austin

Lilian Austin

Rosa Wren

Rosa Wren

I was working away at the Langholm Archive Group newspaper index, largely untroubled by having to welcome any visitors in the office. The only downside of this quiet spell was that it was extremely warm so just sitting there felt like quite hard work.  It did give my legs a break though so I mustn’t grumble.

I spent the afternoon pottering about in the garden watching Mrs Tootlepedal work.  I sieved a bucket or two of compost and was pleased to find that it was in good condition.  It has been so warm that I set the sprinkler onto both the front and the middle lawn.

In between times, I tried to turn the bright sunlight into a photographic bonus rather than a hindrance.  The roses drew me to them.

Rosa Wren

Rosa Wren at lunch time

golden syllabub

A young Golden Syllabub

golden syllabub

And a grown up

We have been visited by royalty.

Queen of Denmark

Queen of Denmark

Queen of Denmark

She leads a complex inner life

Things caught my eye as I passed them…

allium

geranium

…on my way between roses.

A new clematis has joined the party.

clematis

The butter and sugar iris is doing well…

butter and sugar iris

…which Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased about this as she transplanted them and that is always a risky business.

The Rosa Complicata is bursting with flowers.

Rosa complicata

The new petunia is in the greenhouse waiting for a home…

petunia

…and you can probably see why it attracted Mrs Tootlepedal’s attention.

The peonies are in various states of dress and  undress.

peony

peony

The white ones offer bees every chance of a profitable visit.

In the evening, Luke came for his flute lesson and we battled away in the heat without making much progress but as always, it was enjoyable to play a duet with him. He had been playing for the old folk yesterday and told me that his performance had been received well.

I was hoping to go for a pedal in the evening again but couldn’t summon up the energy as it was still pretty warm and my legs, when consulted,  were against unnecessary exercise.  They are much improved after a day of rest though.

The flying bird of the day is a bee which is definitely not flying any more as it has fallen victim to a spider lurking among the astrantia.

spider and bee

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew and shows the Japanese garden there.

Japanese garden Kew

Japanese garden

We got up at six o’clock, greatly to our own amazement, and were  at the Rugby Club where we were volunteering with the Muckletoon Adventure Festival by ten to seven.  We were not being very adventurous ourselves, as we were only helping with the car parking and the marshalling of the ins and outs to and from the rugby ground where the event is based.

I took the earliest photo of astrantias that I have ever taken before we cycled up to start work.

astrantias

Mrs Tootlepedal lasted three hours before going off to a 150th anniversary service at Ewes Church but I lasted for five hours, standing at the roadside and waving my arms about in a vaguely directional way.  It was a long stand and when the sun got up in the sky, it was a hot one too but there was quite a lot going on to take my mind off my troubles.

There was a mass start of 120 cyclists for the cycle sportives…..

cycle sportive MTAF

…though owing to the narrowness of the bridge that they had to cross before getting to me, it was more of a mass trickle.  There were three rides of  30, 60 and 100 miles and as there was a bit of a wind as well as the hot day to contend with, I was quite happy to wave them on and not take part myself.

After the cyclists had gone, a party of walkers assembled to do three and five summit challenges.

summit challengers MTAF

Red shirts doing five and green shirts three, I think.

They crossed the road and set off up the same road that I had followed yesterday.

summit challengers MTAF

The final event of the morning was a 5km run and this time the massed start was quite massive.

5km run MTAF

Youth to the fore

5km run MTAF

The toiling masses behind

I was very happy to leave them to it and when my relief arrived a few minutes later, I headed home and collapsed on the sofa.

Readers of a certain age will know that standing around is probably more tiring than walking or cycling by a long way, especially if it is hot so it took me some time to recover but I made a few forays into the garden when I had got my legs back in working order and my brain had cooled down a bit.

The sunshine had done the flowers no harm at all.

viola

rosa goldfinch

And the Golden Syllabub rose was looking very fine.

golden syllabub

There is a new iris getting ready to spread its wings.

iris

I mowed the middle lawn and watered some buck–u-uppo into the front lawn and then sat for a while and looked at my best friend.

lawn mower

A Webb Witch which has seen a lot of service.

In the course of the afternoon, I spent some time watching the numerous bees in the garden.  Once again the cotoneaster was a popular resort.

cotoneaster with bee

But with so much choice, the bees flitted about a lot and were hard to catch.

cotoneaster with bee

The visitors  to the astrantria were more placid.

bee on astrantia

bee on astrantia

I took a picture of a frog in the pond but my Blackpool reader, who doesn’t like frogs at all,  will be very pleased to know that it didn’t come out well so will not appear here.  There are still plenty of tadpoles about.

As the shadow of the walnut tree lengthened over the garden, I took a picture of a pink….

pink

…and went in to have a nourishing evening meal of mince and tatties cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Fortified by this, I waited until the temperature had dropped a bit and went out for a gentle 20 mile cycle ride to round the day off.

A cow was surprised to see me out so late….

cow

…and I cycled up a gentle hill purely for the pleasure of cycling straight back down it with the wind behind me.

Callister

A simple pleasure but hard to beat all the same.

The flying bird of the day is an iris, Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite. called ‘Butter and Sugar’

butter and sugar iris

Note:  Langholm is commonly known as the Muckle Toon because at its peak as a centre of wollen weaving , it was a big or muckle town.

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The guest picture of the day comes from my daughter’s recent visit to Knightshayes garden where she encountered this interesting animal.

Knightshayes

It is the Muckletoon* Adventure Festival weekend and we were blessed with good weather today as I went off in the morning to help with one of the guided summit walks.  There was a set of walks taking in five, three or one of the summits round the town and fortunately, my walk was the ‘one summit’ effort.

It was a family affair and we stopped for a picture when we got to the McDiarmid memorial…

Summit walk MTAF

…and then Billy, our leader, gave a short historical talk appropriate to our location.

Summit walk MTAF

With gestures

Our next stop was at the summit of Whita Hill where we paused for refreshment….

Summit walk MTAF

…and another short talk.

We were often passed by mountain bikers as we walked up the track to the summit.

mountain bikers

Our final stop was at Whita Well on the way down the hill…

Summit walk MTAF

…where we could enjoy the view and another short talk….

MTAF summit walk

…and a refreshing drink of spring water from the well.

Fortunately, at least as far as I was concerned,  the sun continued to shine on the town…

Ewes valley

…and up the Ewes valley but the hill that we were on had its own cloud and as a result, we walked in a very comfortable warmth rather than a searing heat.

All around us, the hill was alive with mountain bikers enjoying, if that is the right word, the many trails across the hill as part of a thirty mile cross-country ride.

mountain bikers

The sections  of the cycle route were well signposted but not all of them were sympathetically titled.

MTAF

We finished our three mile walk in the centre of the town and I think that everyone enjoyed themselves.

Some of the walkers were going on to do a 5km run in the afternoon but I preferred to spend some time relaxing at home where the sunshine made everything in the garden look lovely.

garden flowers

That is a new clematis beside the front door on the right

The roses are thriving.

roses

Lilian Austin, Golden Syllabub and Special Grandma

New flowers had been encouraged by the sunshine.

lily

A very secret lily

delphinium

A conspicuous delphinium

The sun had encouraged the white peonies to open up…

white peony

…which made life easier for visitors.

There was colour everywhere.

geranium and rose

I mowed both the middle and front lawns and the combination of recent rain and a good day today has left them looking much more like  lawns and less like ploughed fields and marshes so I am very happy.

We went off in the car to do a little food shopping and then to buy some necessities at a DIY store (some paint, a petunia and some lawn feed. The petunia jumped into Mrs Tootlepedal’s hands without even being asked.  It was amazing.)

We finished out trip by a visit to a farm where the farmer, the  husband of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ex work colleagues, had kindly bagged up some farmyard manure for our garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very happy.

Ryehills Farm

When we got back, I had another look round the garden….

lambs ear and a moth

There are always interesting things to see.

…and then went in to cook bacon and eggs for my tea.

After tea, the wind had dropped and so had the temperature so I got the fairly speedy bike out and gave it a through wash and brush up and then set off to do 23 miles in the cool of the evening.

I kept an eye for orchids but only saw this….

wild flower

…which was pretty but a disappointment.

The conditions were perfect for cycling so I enjoyed myself a lot more than I have recently when I have been battling strong winds and the 23 miles brought up 200 miles for the month so far.  Satisfactory all round.

We have to get up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning to help with the Adventure Festival again so it is going to be an early night tonight.

Two flying birds for the price of one today.

oyster catchers

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited Kew Gardens yesterday with my sister Susan.  They went to the water lily house.

Inside the water lily house

I had had a look at the weather forecast last night and as a result I had thought that an early start would be best for cycling.  These sort of plans often turn out to be more theoretical than actual but today I managed to achieve my object and was off on my bicycle while Mrs Tootlepedal was still in the land of dreams.

I had an appointment with some coffee and treacle scones later on so I stuck to my standard 20 mile round trip to Canonbie and back.  The wind was brisk but in a helpful direction, the sun was shining and my legs were in a good mood so I stuck to pedalling and didn’t stop for any pictures.

This left me with time for a walk round the garden before Dropscone arrived for coffee.  It was a good morning to be out among the flowers, with plenty of gently sparkling colour….

geranium and potentillas

A geranium and two potentillas

…and some ‘in your face’ wow factor.

geranium

Hard to ignore

peony

Very hard to ignore

The peonies were at their best…

peonies

…and the Sweet Williams were dazzling.

sweet williams

The orange hawkweed was attracting insects….

orange hawkweed

…and the pond was rich in frogs.

frogs

I enjoyed the the effect of the surface tension of the water.

A young Rosa Goldfinch flower was almost perfect…

Rosa Goldfinch

…and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed the waterfall of tropaeolum down the side of the yew.

Rosa Goldfinch

I just had time to admire a white campanula….

campanula

…before Dropscone arrived for coffee.

He had been playing golf at Kelso yesterday but he had been afflicted by an appalling outbreak of shanking which had spoiled his day.  (Shanking would spoil any golfer’s day to be fair.)  As one who was been afflicted with the same disease in my playing days, I was able to offer a sympathetic ear to his troubles…..and enjoy his treacle scones at the same time.  This eased the pain.

By the time that he left, the sun had gone too but it was still dry so I mowed the middle lawn, thinned out the abundant gooseberries on the gooseberry bush with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help and had another look at the flowers.

Even without the sun, they were still looking good.

The clematis at the back door is over but fortunately the climbing hydrangea is stepping to fill the gap.

Hydrangea

I saw a little stem of Rosa Goldfinch which. showed neatly how the flowers turn from yellow to white as they mature.

Rosa Goldfinch

A cotoneaster in the back bed was buzzing with bees but they were rushing around in such an excited fashion that I couldn’t get a picture of them so I settled for the flowers themselves.

cotoneaster

An overview with bee

cotoneaster

A close up

I looked at three old friends….

iris, clematis and peony

…checked out the blue lupin which has reached the opening up stage…

lupin

…and went in to stew the gooseberries and make some soup for lunch.

And that was that.

I arranged to go for a walk with Sandy in the afternoon but shortly after lunch it began to rain and didn’t let up for ages so I did the crossword, put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised being a bass and in this way, managed to fill in the rest of the afternoon.

Without the sunshine, it turned into a rather cold and miserable day and Mrs Tootlepedal, who would have liked to be out in the garden doing useful things, got rather gloomy too.  It didn’t feel like June at all.

Earlier in the morning, we had thought of going on an outing but it was just as well that we couldn’t think of anywhere to go.

On the plus side, the rock hard gooseberry thinnings turned out to be quite eatable when stewed…..and with a good splash of sugar added.

The forecast is for a much better day tomorrow and I hope that they have got that right as I am helping out on a guided walk and it won’t be much fun if it is raining.

The flying bird of the day is a single cotoneaster flower taken in the morning sunshine.

cotoneaster

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker who is on holiday in Wales.  He tells me , “I came across this interesting ancient monument while walking here in New Radnor -it is strangely called Four Stones.”  I think that I have worked out how it got its title.

Four Stones Radnor

We had a really pleasant day today – warm and dry, not too windy and with some occasional sunny spells.  I should have been out on my bike all day as I am still short of miles for June but a combination of mild asthma and sore feet kept me off the bike in the morning.

This gave me the chance to go bee hunting again.

bee on geranium

This one was exploring a chive

bee on geranium

This one was getting really stuck into a geranium.

We are getting a good variety of bees which is pleasing.

There are plenty of  bright flowers for the bees to visit.

iceland poppy and iris

And lots of detail for the bees to admire when they make their visits.

flower hearts

I was very pleased to see some flowers on the potatoes…

potato flowers

…and I am looking forward to some new potatoes from the garden in the not too distant future.

After a look at the tropaeolum….

tropaeolum

…which I see has had to be tied down to stop it flying off, I got the hover mower out and gave the greenhouse grass and the drying green a haircut.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy with the strimmer so although these areas are in the working part of the garden, they look very neat.

I was just thinking about going for a cycle ride after lunch when a knock on the back door heralded the arrival of Dropscone at a very non standard time.  He had purchased four brioche rolls at such an advantageous price (10p for all four) when passing through Hawick just before the supermarket closed for the night that he felt he had to share them with me.  This was very kind of him and we enjoyed two each over a cup of tea.

After he left, I finally got kitted up and went off on the fairly speedy bike.  I pottered round the 20  mile trip down to Canonbie and back with plenty of stops for photos.  They haven’t got round to mowing the verges immediately out of the town so I was able to enjoy a colourful mixture of buttercups and clover….

buttercups and clover

…with an attendant bee…

bee on clover

This bee really is in clover.

..before pedalling on wondering how they could bring themselves to cut verges when they look like this.

There was a different sort of growth beside the road at the top of the hill on the Kerr road.

new trees

These tubes all contain broad leaved saplings as the landowners can’t get permission to plant conifers unless they provide a fringe of native trees round the new plantations.  On the other side of this little summit are rows of identical conifers.

I am looking for views taken in Canonbie Parish to enter into the Canonbie Flower Show in August so I tested out a few possibilities as I went from Langholm Parish into Canonbie and then back out again.

Chapelhill

A typical scene

baling the silage Canonbie

Baling the silage

The natives were interested in what I was doing.

Canonbie cows

In between taking those two views, my route took me down the main Canonbie by-pass. This is quite a busy road with fast traffic  and and I don’t usually stop for picture opportunities while I am on it but some bright colour caught my eye today and I applied the brakes.

orchid

More orchids

orchid

Lots more orchids

For a short section of the road, the verge was full of orchids.  They must bloom there every year but I have never noticed them before.  I couldn’t miss them today.

I stopped for my three favourite trees in full summer rig out….

Canonbie trees

…before cycling through the village and back up the Esk to Langholm.

The verges on the old road hadn’t been cut and I stopped twice for things that got my attention.

ragged robin

Ragged Robin

an umbellifer and friend

An umbellifer and friend

I was going to take a picture of a yellow rose in the garden when I had a walk round after I got home but on closer inspection, I decided that it might not be quite what the readers would want to see…

rose with flies

The downside of a warm and calm day

…so I didn’t take it.

After tea, another excellent fish pie from Mrs Tootlepedal, I went off to sing with the small choir that is practising to sing three songs in a concert in the town in July.  There were nine sopranos and trebles, four altos and three tenors.  I modestly took my place as the one  and only bass but I certainly didn’t oompah up and down the square.

We had a most enjoyable practice and I have got a month to try and get a bit of tone quality into my unused low notes.

No flying birds or bees today.

 

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Today’s guest picture is possibly the last from our daughter’s Devon jaunt.  She visited the celebrated garden at Knightshayes and thought that I might enjoy a view of some handsome grass.  I did.

Knightshayes

I had no commitments so I was able to ease through the day at a gentle pace.  It was fortunate that it was a day of better weather, still breezy but almost entirely dry and occasionally even sunny in the afternoon.

I mowed the middle and front lawns in the morning and that was the most energetic thing on my programme.  For the rest of the time, I enjoyed the garden, a cup of coffee and a crossword until it was time to make some lentil soup for lunch.

Before coffee, I took a camera out with me.  The peonies were at their best today.

peony

peony

The tropaeolum tadpoles are turning into flowers.

tropaeolum

There is no shortage of colour.

sweet william, campanula and Lilian Austin

After coffee, bees became the focus.  For the first day this year, there were really a lot of bees about and it wasn’t a matter of finding one to photograph so much as not being able to choose which one to shoot.

The pale blue lupin was a popular spot.

lupin with bee

But lots of other flowers had their admirers.

allium, iris and weigela

The peonies and lupin in the vegetable garden joined in.

lupin and peony with bee

It was very cheering to see so much activity.

I took a couple of pictures of a more general nature….

orange hawkweed

We like the orange hawkweed a lot

kitchen window colour

Mrs Tootlepedal has provided a rich tapestry of colour to enjoy when looking out of the kitchen window.

…and went in to cook the soup.

After lunch (the soup turned out well and there was a good selection of cheese to go with it), I got the fairly speedy bike out and went out to face the wind again.  Although there were some very heavy gusts as I started which nearly tempted me into hugging the valley bottom, I stuck to the task and took to the open country and was rewarded when the gusts calmed down and later in the ride, the sun came out.

The downside of the trip was that the council had been very busy mowing the verges so there were no wild flowers for me to see.   This blatant pandering to the supposed needs of motorists is reprehensible and I had to find other things to use as an excuse to pause and catch my breath from time to time.

Middlebie Church

Middlebie Church

A virgin train sweeps across the little viaduct over the Mein Water

A Virgin train sweeps across the little viaduct over the Mein Water near Middlebie

Mein Water Bridge

This is the road bridge that I crossed. In spite of the recent rain the water is very low.

When I got to the old A74, I was so cross about the verge cutting that I got off my high horse and stopped to take a picture of it…

A74 and orchid

…and was glad that I  did so because right on the edge of the long grass was an orchid, the first that I have seen this year.

Now that I had my eye in,  as I went on down the road towards Kirkpatrick Fleming, I saw dozens more orchids in the long grass.

orchids

This was the moment that the sun chose to make its appearance and as I was no longer cycling into the wind, I stopped muttering grumpily and started to really enjoy the outing.

Once I had the wind behind me, I was going too fast to look at the verges carefully, whether they were  mown or un-mown and it needed something bigger to attract my attention.

Gretna Windmills

As you can see, two of the newly installed Gretna wind turbines were not going round.  This is disappointing when there was plenty of wind to be harvested.  The dark clouds soon passed over.

I stopped one last time to admire a neatly scalloped roadside fringe of bird’s foot trefoil on the old A7 near Irving House.

bird's foot trefoils

Fortunately the council had not got to this verge with their mower yet.

My trip came to 36 miles and although it took me a long time, thanks to the wind in my face for the first and most hilly 12 miles, I enjoyed the outing.  After not cycling at all for the first six days of the month thanks to unhelpful weather, I have managed six outings in the last eight days which is a bit better.  If only the wind would drop, I would be very happy.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been trimming a Forsythia while I was out and she wondered if any knowledgeable reader can tell her what this curious growth is.

forsythia growth

It was on many of the branches.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fish pie for our tea and then went off to watch a live screening from the Royal Ballet, leaving me to have a restful time at home.  I admire the skills employed in ballet but the fact that it takes ten minutes to say something as simple as “Ooh, you look nice,”  taxes my patience beyond its admittedly small limits.  Also my joints hurt when I look at the performers.  I feel their pain.

The flying bird of the day is visiting the peonies and is not a bird.

flying bee

 

 

 

 

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