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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother.  They were having a family day out in Durham before the start of the new school term and found the cathedral looking at its best in the sunshine.

durham cathedral

I had a Utopian plan for the day which involved getting up early and being out on my bike by about seven o’clock.  I would be back in plenty of time to allow Mrs Tootlepedal to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda while I waited for the plumber to come. He would finish his work in plenty of time for me to get out for a walk before having my tea and going off to Carlisle with Susan to enjoy an evening of recorder quintets….and the sun would shine all day.

And it all came true.

Almost.

I did get up early and get out on the bike.

misty morning

The mist was just lifting as I cycled across the town bridge.

Esk with mist

The river was still shrouded with mist as I cycled south

Esk at Longtown

But by the time that I had got to Longtown, the mist had cleared. It had been raining heavily overnight as you can see.

I headed a bit further south and then turned west to Rockcliffe before heading back up to Langholm.

Trees in Cumbria

It was beautiful day and I passed many trees…

arch and bridge

…and arches both natural and man made…

Kirtle Water house

…and a fine house too.

But the most interesting thing that I saw was a flock of starlings on a farm silo near Rigg.

starlings

I pedalled 48 miles at a steady speed and got home in plenty of time to have a walk round the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a flock of butterflies on the buddleia.

peacock and red admiral butterfly

There were peacock and red admiral butterflies….

white and peacock butterflies

…and I saw a white butterfly on a Michaelmas daisy and took a close look at one of the peacocks.

I admired the poppies as usual and had a first look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new pink Japanese anemone.

pink Japanese anemone.

The sun continued to shine.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was away, I cut down the orange hawkweed which had finished flowering  but some new flowers have appeared as if by magic….

orange hawkweed

What looks like shadows are buds waiting to open

…and once again I was thwarted in an attempt to take a picture of a cornflower, this time by a positive crowd of visitors.

orange hawkweed

Bumble bee, honey bee and a fly

Mrs Tootlepedal went and the plumber came, finished his task and went off as well.

I went for a walk.

I was trying to take yet another picture of the Auld Stane Bridge but a procession of cars kept driving across it…

auld stane bridge

…and when I looked, it turned out to be a rally of convertible beetles.

vw at the auld stane bridge

They had a good day for it.

I walked past the Hallcrofts, down through the woods and back along the track to Holmwood.

The forest floor was carpeted with these.

wood sorrel

I saw fruits…..

Rose hip, crab apple and blackberry

Rose hip, crab apple and blackberry… the blackberry was delicious

…a snail….

snail

…and a brand new bridge taking the path across a dangerous bit of banking that is being undermined by the Becks Burn.

new bridge by Becks Burn

It is good to see that our popular paths are being looked after.

There were of course many views to enjoy on such a good day.

view of Whita from Hallcrofts

I ended my walk by visiting Sandy in his new house and enjoying a cup of tea as I sat on his new suite.  He has been very busy tiling.

Sandy's tiles

Very neat work.

I got home in time to look over my photos for the day and have my tea and at this stage, the only part of my Utopian that didn’t fully work out came into play.  It started to pour with rain. It lashed down as Susan fearlessly drove through the storm and happily, by the time that we got to Carlisle, the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable and as always the tea and biscuits afterwards were of the highest quality.  The rain stayed away as we drove home and that rounded off a day that could hardly have gone better….

….except that I had no time for a flying bird of any sort so I will put in the map of my cycle ride instead.  Click on the map for details of the ride.  Note the light wind.

garmin route 17 Aug 2017

 

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Today’s guest picture, from my ex-colleague Ada, shows a passing traveller whom she ran into (but not over)  on the road.

frog

The forecast said that it would start to rain at 3pm today and it was absolutely spot on which made it lucky that I had managed to get my day organised on that basis.

I am still struggling to persuade my back muscles to relax on a full time basis so I went for a gentle 20 mile circuit of Canonbie on my bike after a leisurely breakfast.  I had time while I was getting mentally and spiritually prepared to pedal to walk round the garden admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of poppy seeds in action.

shirley poppies

Although she had to re-sow because of the poor weather and thus had to buy a second set of packets of seed, it still looks like good value for £15 (and quite a bit of gardening time) to me.

This was one of the few days when Dr Velo didn’t have a cure for feeling a bit old and tired so I let the wind and the hill discourage me for the first five miles but once I had first gravity and then the breeze helping me, I perked up a bit and got home safely.

I stopped three times, all on the first section of the ride, to take pictures.  The flowers on the rosebay willowherb beside the Wauchope road are going over but its red stems still give it a lot of colour.

rosebay willowherb

I stopped half way up the hill past the Bloch to admire the view….

Wauchope valley

…and the picture reflects the alternating sunshine and clouds that accompanied me on the rest of the trip.

I stopped again at the top of the hill when a mixture of heather and young trees in a replanted wood caught my eye.

heather and young trees

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed that it might be worthwhile to take the car up on to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see birds or goats.

I had a shower and a light lunch and off we went.

We saw lots of birds but no goats.  I had my new lens with me and although the light was quite poor by this time, I made an effort to record a bird we saw hunting near the road.

hen harrier

It was too quick for my trembling hand and the autofocus

hen harrier

I did a bit better when it hovered.

We are not very knowledgeable bird watchers but we think this is a female hen harrier.

After watching the bird for some time, we  drove on up to the county boundary….

County boundary

…which is marked by a fence at this point, in the hope of seeing some goats but there were none to be seen so we turned for home.

We stopped here  and there on the way back for me to enjoy the views and Mrs Tootlepedal to watch raptors through binoculars.

I like the bubbling little burn that runs down the hill beside the road.

Langholm Moor burn

Even though it was a bit gloomy, I could see the Lake District mountains, which I had visited not so long ago, across the other side of the Solway plain.

Skiddaw

Nearer to hand, there was plenty of heather in bloom.

heather

And it is always a pleasure to up on the moor.

Whita

Especially when there is a nice bridge to be seen on the way.

Tarras Bridge

We stopped to look at gulls on the Kilngreen when we got back to the town…

black headed gull

…and got home shortly before the forecast rain started.

I had time for a quick garden wander.

rambler roses

The very last of the rambler roses on top of the arch

sweet pea

A sweet pea in the cage that is necessary to keep it safe from the sparrows when it is young

two cosmos

The only cosmos in flower yet

I tried to take a picture of one of the cornflowers among the poppies but I got distracted…

Heliophilus pendulas

…by a Heliophilus pendulus, one of the many hoverflies.  It really enjoyed the flower.

Heliophilus pendulus

For once I am fairly sure about the identification (so I am probably wrong).

It didn’t rain very hard and occasionally even gave up in a half hearted sort of way but the afternoon remained dark and gloomy enough to persuade us to find things to do indoors.

Sandy dropped in and kindly collected my entry form and fees to take down to the Canonbie Flower Show secretary.  He has been tiling in his new house and will be pleased when he has finished the job.

The flower of the day is a dahlia with its own internal illumination….

dahlia

…and the official flying bird of the day is one of the three black headed gulls that we saw on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull

 

 

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There are two guest pictures from Clare today which show why Matilda was so cheerful yesterday.  She went on a boat trip round the Bass Rock with her aunt and cousin……

Bass Rock Matilda

…and saw lots of gannets. (This one was taken by Clare with her phone while holding Matilda in a rocking boat.  That takes great skill.) …..

gannet

…which is quite enough to make anyone feel cheerful.  I am very envious.

We had one of those days today.  If it was raining, the sun was about to come out and if it was sunny, it was about to rain.

I should have got up earlier because the best sunny spell was before and during breakfast.  The lawn was busy with thrushes and blackbirds.

thrush and blackbird

There were  two thrushes and lots of blackbirds.

blackbirds

I don’t think that we have ever had so many blackbirds in the garden in summer.  I wouldn’t mind but they are eating all my raspberries.

I got up into my cycling gear but wasted a lot of time in sitting and thinking before I finally got going.  There had been a lot of overnight rain and the river was quite full as I cycled over the Hollows Bridge…

River Esk

…but it had obviously been quite local as I passed from dry roads to roads awash with enormous puddles several times.

I was taking things easy again as my back is not quite at 100% yet but managed a few more gentle hills than on my last excursion.  I didn’t take many pictures as it kept on raining and I spent a lot of time putting my rain jacket on and taking it off again.

I did take a picture of the old church at Half Morton, now a family home…

Half Morton church

…and although it was in the sun, you can see the next shower looming up behind it.

On one of the occasions that I stopped for my rain jacket, I saw a fungus by the roadside. ..

fungus

…and I am surprised that I haven’t seen more considering the wet weather.

The rain showers didn’t last long and it was reasonably warm so I enjoyed my ride well enough.  I was rather clammy when I got home though.

I had a late lunch and a shower and then I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden.  She was planting out her three new purchases and I hope that they will flower soon so that I can take a picture or two of them.

In the meantime, I sieved a couple of barrows of compost and mowed first the middle lawn and then the front lawn.  Although they were both very soggy at one stage of the day, a brisk wind and a warm sun dried them out just enough to be worth cutting.

I also looked at a flower or two.

sunflower

We may get more sunshine in the garden soon

battered poppy

The weather was too much for the poppies today

Rudbeckia

I had to stand on tiptoe to take this shot of a Rudbeckia. Mrs Tootlepedal has just bought a shorter one.

clematis

The clematis on the fence is battered but (mainly) unbowed. It has its back to the prevailing wind.

With the poppies keeping their heads well down today, dahlias and nasturtiums were the most colourful things on display…

nasturtiumdahlia

…with the exception of the phlox which has been brightening up our dull weather a great deal.

phlox

I even saw a red admiral butterfly on the phlox today but it fluttered off before I could fetch a camera.

More rain showers drove us indoors and we rounded off the day with a meal of lamb garnished with courgettes, spring onions and potatoes from the garden.

It is very difficult to make a good plan when the weather is so changeable but sadly, the forecast for the next few days shows that the cool showery spell is going to continue.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grey cow from my bike ride, not a colour that you often see.

grey cow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was visiting the Derby Silk Mill when he found that it was an absolutely windless day.

Derby Silk Mill

It was a pretty good day here today too and after I had made a lamb stew for the slow cooker, I went out to see the poppies.

poppies

Not a drop of rain to be seen on them!  Mrs Tootlepedal has got a very good variety of specimens from her packet of mixed seeds.

The bees were exceedingly happy…

poppy with bees

…and were lining up to visit this well stocked larder.

poppy with bees

This poppy was just as beautiful but was less popular, having less to offer.

Poppy with insect

A late Fuchsia is waiting to deliver.

fuchsiaIt was difficult to walk round the garden without being buffeted by white butterflies.  They were everywhere.

white butterflies

As were sparrows.

sparrow

I went upsatirs to get my cycling gear on and when I looked out of the window, blackbirds were taking in the rays down below…

blackbirds

…in a rather anguished way.

I got on my bike fairly gingerly as I didn’t know how things would go but in spite of the odd twinge, I was able to pedal at a gentle pace without any great trouble.

John, the purveyor of all things useful from his corner shop, had suggested that I should look at an arboreal dog near Hagg-on-Esk so I did.

dog tree

I have cycled past this spot many times without seeing the poodle in the trees before.

I chose a very flat route (650 ft of elevation in 27 miles) so I was able to turn my legs over gently without putting any pressure on my back and thanks to a gentle wind, I managed a reasonable speed.

I didn’t want to get off and on the bike more than necessary but it was such a nice day that I stopped for a few photo ops.

Woodhouselees

I lied the sheep marching along below the ha-ha at Woodhouselees.

Penton road

The trees near Longtown definitely seem to be getting an autumn tinge

Monkey Puzzle

A monkey puzzle tree commands the view over the Knottyholm

Hollows Tower

The roof of Hollows Tower rising above the trees

I took another look at the ‘poodle tree’ on my way back.

prancing horse

More like a prancing horse with rider perhaps from this angle

I got home in time for a late lunch.  I looked at a poppy before I went in.

poppy with crocosmia

The crocosmia is trying its hardest join in.

I had made some more baps yesterday with the help of the breadmaker and they were just as good as the first lot.  I had one with lettuce and marmite for my meal.

After that, it was back out into the garden for an afternoon of useful, gently paced work.

I strimmed the clippings of the rambler rose which Attila the Gardener was attacking with her new secateurs, I mowed the green house grass, I sieved a couple of buckets of compost, I mowed the green house grass and I emptied the strimming receptacle into compost bin A twice.   In all, this was about half to three quarters of an hour’s work spread over three hours so it wasn’t quite the hard labour that it might seem.

Then I had a last walk round with a camera.

Michaelmas daisies

Michaelmas daisies arriving well before Michaelmas

The evening sun was catching the poppies…

poppies in the sun

…but it caught this one the best, I thought.

poppies in the sun

The lamb stew turned out very well after Mrs Tootlepedal had worked a little magic on some last minute flavouring.

The breadmaker makes dough for more baps than we can eat at one go so I had saved half the dough from yesterday and kept it in the fridge  over night.   I knocked it back and made another set today and we were pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out.  They went very well with the stew in place of potatoes.

Sadly, the very good weather of the day had clouded over by the time that I wrote this so our chance to watch the meteor shower had gone.  I did wake up at three o’clock last night when there was a clear sky but I couldn’t make myself get up and go out and just rolled over and went back to sleep.  I am sorry about that now.

Tomorrow, it says, it is going to rain all day so I am glad that I made good use of today.

No flying bird but I did catch a flying butterfly as it passed a nasturtium.

flying butterfly

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a walk on The Edge in Derbyshire which my brother Andrew shared with his walking group….and some cows….and some very nice weather.

The Edge

Our weather improved today but it was still pretty damp in the morning. I didn’t go out to take a flower picture until nearly midday.

poppies

Oddly, many of the poppies were facing the wrong way and I had to go out into the road and look into the garden from over the hedge to see these two pairs.

poppies

Yellow crocosmia have just started to come out and they should blend with the poppies if we get some warmth.  The dahlias also need warmth but the nasturtiums are doing very well in the cool and damp.

crocosmia, nasturtium and dahlia

Along with the weather, my back was quite a lot better too and I was able to trim a box ball and prune the espalier apples…

box and apples

…which are cropping well this year.

After lunch I did a bit more work in the garden and admired a hosta and an indefatigable Icelandic poppy which will keep flowering as long as I keep dead heading it.

hosta and poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal spent as much as time in the garden as she could but I went in to give my back a rest and watched a bit of the World Athletic Championships.  I was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal when it started to rain but the rain didn’t last so I went off for a walk to see how my back would hold up.

It held up well as I pottered down to Skippers Bridge and back, a distance of two miles which took me exactly an hour.

It wasn’t sunny but at least I could see the hills today.

Whita

There was plenty more to see on the way.

fruit

Fruits

flowers

Flowers present and past

Garden escapes by the river

Garden escapes by the river

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam

Skippers Bridge was looking as good as ever….

skippers bridge

The recent repair is holding up well at the moment.

I thought that the trees were starting to get an autumnal tint when I looked through the bridge.

skippers bridge

There was enough water coming down the river….

River esk

…to keep me well back from the edge.

On the way back there was more to see.

swallows

I hope that it not time for the swallows to leave already

leaf problems

Problems on the leafs of trees

fly on ragwort

A ragwort with visitors

It was almost sunny as I walked back…

Castle Hill

…and it was a very pleasant evening to be out walking.

I tried a black and white shot of the walnut tree when I got back to the garden….

Walnut tree

…as I liked the pattern of the trunks.

We are promised some sunshine tomorrow and that will be very welcome.  If we get it, I will try my back out on a short bike ride.

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Today’s guest picture of helmet hair was sent to me by my Maine correspondent.  She had been for a 13 mile cycle ride and tells me that she, Laurie is in the picture  with her husband Clif . They live in Winthrop, Maine, and that picture was taken at Norcross Point, which is by Maranacook Lake in Winthrop.

Helmet heads

There was  no chance of me getting a helmet hair shot today as I woke up with a very bad back and struggled to walk let alone cycle.   I have had long standing back problems but today’s trouble was a nasty surprise as I have been quite pain free and flexible for some time.  It was probably caused by something as simple as sitting in an unaccustomed chair and will soon go away with careful use.  Still, it wasted a genuinely warm and sunny day which was a pity.

poppies

I staggered out into the garden after breakfast just to record the sunshine.

I really liked this crumpled paper poppy with a bee flying in.

poppies

That completed my activity for the morning.

The other surprise of the day was a triumph of good service.

A few days ago I decided to take advantage of a part exchange offer from WEX, a photographic supplier.  I sent off the details of the the lens I wanted to exchange and got a very good offer which I accepted. The firm sent me prepaid labels and I posted off my lens on the understanding that they might well alter their offer when they had examined the lens closely.

I thought that the offer was a bit too good to be true and wondered whether my description of the lens as ‘lightly used’ might be a bit optimistic.  The firm rang me and told me that their examiner had indeed downgraded my view of the state of the lens by a grade and naturally, I feared the worst.  Would the offer be halved?  It had seemed too good to be true.  I held my breath.

The price will have to be reduced they said.  Then they told me by how much and I breathed out.  Since the reduction was only about 8% of the total this was but a trifle and I accepted the new valuation with alacrity.

When I rang up the sales team half an hour later, my trade in was safely credited to my account and I was able to purchase not only the new lens that I wanted but a new photo printer to go with it.

This was yesterday.  The printer and the lens arrived today! I don’t believe that I have ever received such prompt, fair and reliable service.

To add to my happiness, the printer was soon set up and worked well.

As far as the lens went, Mrs Tootlepedal drove me up to the Moorland Feeders and I pointed it at some birds.  It is early days but it looks quite promising to me.  Here is a selection of the results.

blue titcoal titcoal titgreat titblue tittree creeperwoodpeckerwoodpeckergreefinchchaffinch

For the technically minded, the new lens is a Sigma 150-600mm and it should let me improve the quality of my bird pictures when I have mastered it.

On our way home, Mrs Tootlepedal first stopped to buy a battery for a humane cat scarer which she recently purchased as she is fed up with cats making a mess of her flower and vegetable beds and then stopped again at the Kilngreen.

I was hoping for a flying gull to test the new lens but instead I found Mr Grumpy sitting down, a most unusual sight indeed.

Heron

Perhaps he had a bad back too.

When  we got home, my back was eased enough to let me mow the middle and front lawns although my mower pushing style was a bit inelegant.

Then I took a picture or two.

Cat scarer

The cat scarer in position. It works with ultrasonic noise.

The handbook says darkly that it doesn’t work at all on deaf cats….or white cats…or very old cats…or perhaps any cats.  They offer no guarantees.  We shall see.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hanging the onions up to dry in the greenhouse.

onions

The last of the rambler roses.

rambler rose

Then I went in and sat down for the rest of the day.

There have been quite enough birds already in the post so no flying bird of the day in any shape or form.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my son Tony.  He is the one on the hindmost of the two greys galloping along at the Lauder Common Riding. The photo was taken by ‘Lord Spencer-Taylor’, aka Robbie

Tony Galloping

We were expecting guests in the early evening so the morning was spent making ready for their arrival and after a fortnight of my solo housekeeping there was plenty for Mrs Tootlepedal to do.  I offered a hand where it was helpful but also found time to mow the drying green and greenhouse grass between showers.

We got a load of washing out onto the whirlygig in perfect time to catch a shower but the gap before the next one was long enough to get everything dry.

The flowers are still playing catch up as when the sun is not out between showers, it is still rather cool.

dahlias

Not all the dahlias have been nibbled

poppies

And the poppies are still attractive

There are lots of different shades to be seen…

hosta and ligularia

…even when the flowers are finished.

I found a rather unusually elongated radish and the first plum of the season.

radish and plum

I had the radish with my lunch but the plum has not been eaten yet.

I put the mixture for some soft baps into the breadmaker after lunch and went off for a pedal.  Mrs Tootlepedal was going to take the dough and shape the baps for me but my dérailleur malfunctioned and I had to make a repair stop at home after eight miles which coincided nicely with the moment to take the dough out of the machine.

With the baps rising, I went out again for another eight miles and stopped to take a picture or two on the way.

There was a pretty outbreak of ‘bonnie purple heather’ beside the road…

heather

…and plenty of yarrow to go with it.

yarrow

I went up the little road to Cleughfoot….

Cleughfoot road

…and stopped to check on the sloes.

sloes

The crop looks very good but a closer look…

sloes

…revealed ominous looking scabs on some of the berries.  I don’t know what has caused this but I hope it doesn’t spread.

I got home before the next rain shower and had time to look round the garden again.  It looked all white to me….

hosta

water lily

the first cosmos of the season

The bright berries if the rowan in the sunshine over the garden made a contrast with the grey clouds in the background…

rowan

…but luckily our visitors arrived before the rain did.

We had a cup of tea and then Sara and Janet agreed to stretch their legs before our evening meal.

They had had a very wet visit indeed to the celebrated garden at Glenwhan in the west of our region yesterday so they weren’t at all discouraged by another shower as we walked along the banks of all three of our rivers.

We nodded to Mr Grumpy as we crossed the town bridge…

heron

…and crossed the Sawmill Brig and the Jubilee Bridge before posing for a picture on the Duchess Bridge, the oldest cast iron bridge in Scotland.

Sara and Janet

Sara and Janet suitably dressed for high summer in Langholm

It wasn’t really a day for hanging about looking for photo opportunities but a bunch of fungus on a tree stump couldn’t be ignored.

fungus

The rain stopped before we got back and we were soon seated round the kitchen table enjoying an excellent meal, courtesy of Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sara sings with an Edinburgh community choir and we were able to sample some of their work very professionally presented on YouTube.  They sing unaccompanied which is very impressive but I think it would be too hard for me.

The flying bird of the day is an insect visiting the raspberries.  It looks a bit like a wasp to me.

insect

 

 

 

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