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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s northern tour.  He visited Newcastle-on-Tyne and sent me this picture of a castle.  He doesn’t say if it is the new one or not.

Newcastle castle

It was relatively cool and cloudy when I got up and although it had rained overnight, once again the amount had failed to register on my scientific rain gauge so I did a little watering and took a walk round the garden after breakfast.

The Crown Princess looked lovely surrounded by phlox.

crown princess among phlox

A new flower has appeared next to the front lawn but I cannot name it without Mrs Tootlepedal’s help.

mystery flower

I can recognise this astilbe which is looking charmingly  pretty in pink.

pink astilbe

The wind was still about but as it was rather calmer than recent days, I set out on my new bike with hope in my heart, aiming at 50 miles or more.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I might have had hope in my heart but I didn’t have much stuffing in my legs and my hopes gradually faded as I pedalled along.

I did enjoy myself all the same.

The ragwort is at its best…

ragwort

..but I have been unable to find any with the colourful caterpillars of the cinnabar moth on it yet.  These caterpillars love ragwort so there should be some about somewhere.

My route took me across country to Annandale.  There is no more water in the Annan than there is in the Esk….

Annan Water at Hoddom

…but I was still glad to have a handsome bridge to cross the river when I came to it.

Hoddom Bridge

There is a lot of Himalayan Balsam on the banks of the river and although it is very pretty…

himalayan balsam

…it is regarded as an invasive pest now that it has escaped from gardens.

I toiled up a hill after I had crossed the bridge at Hoddom and then scooted down the other side until I came to the Bridge at Brydekirk which crosses the same river a few miles downstream.

Brydekirk Bridge

Here I paused for an egg roll and a chocolate biscuit.  (My cycling nutrition is about as scientific as my rain gauge.)

I was sitting on a low wall which was covered in interesting lichen.

Brydekirk lichen

Leaving the river behind, I headed homewards, thinking that I might make a detour into England at Gretna to bring up my fifty mile target.  It was at this point that it became finally apparent that my legs weren’t really up to much more than forty miles and when I looked around and saw that recent rarity, a rain cloud…

rain clouds

…and felt a few spots of rain on my knees, any thoughts of England evaporated and I headed for home.  I had obviously been lucky to avoid being rained on as quite a bit of the road to Canonbie was wet.

I arrived home after 42 miles to find that it hadn’t rained in Langholm at all.  Boo.

It was the first day for weeks when the clouds were thick enough to make the day seem quite gloomy even though it was quite warm enough to cycle in shorts again.

I had some green soup for a late lunch, checked out the birds…

bee passing birds on feeder

…which were ignoring passing bees…

,..and then settled down to watch a thoroughly engrossing stage of the Tour de France.

After the stage ended, Mike Tinker came round and we had a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.  Any day with ginger biscuits is a good day.

When Mike left, I saw that the birds had been busy while I was relaxing and the feeder was getting empty.

sparrows and greenfinch

I really liked the cool attitude of this greenfinch, looking for all the world like a regular customer leaning on the bar in a pub.

cool greenfinch

Filling the feeder led to more birds arriving in a rush…

sparrows on feeder

…and occasional regrettable outbreaks of sparrow stamping.

sparrow stamping on sparrow

I did some more watering and weeding and noted that Mrs Tootlepedal will have a few poppies to greet her when she comes home tomorrow.

poppies

And a lot of cheerful phlox.

phlox

The bed beside the front door is looking quite welcoming too.

front door bed

After a shower, some tidying up and a basic evening meal, I went off to the church for a practice with the choir.  It is the Common Riding service on Sunday so we will have to be at our best as there will be a large turn out of people who do not normally come to services.

I am not entirely sure that my new asthma treatment is as good as it should be and this might account for my soggy legs when bicycling and certain lapses of concentration when singing.  It is useful to have something to blame of course.

The flying bird of the day is a grenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who got the chance of a ride in a hot air balloon.  Her picture shows how far I would have gone on the journey before finding something else to do.  I don’t like heights.  She was very brave and has put lots of pictures from her flight on her blog.

filling the balloon

It rained again here….

wet philadelphus

…but once again only very lightly and not enough to register on the scientific rain gauge.

I had time to put in a load of washing and  do a little gardening after breakfast before a visitor arrived.  It was Murray, an old university friend .  His wife was working for the day in Carlisle so he took the opportunity to come up for a coffee.   He brought some very nice biscuits with him and Scott the minister’s finely tuned biscuit radar must have been working well because he  arrived not long afterwards.  As Murray is an ex church organist and from a family of ministers, he and Scott and plenty to talk about.

Scott says that his chickens are enjoying the coconuts and as our birds don’t seem to like them, I think that the coconuts will soon  be returning to the manse.

Murray, who has spent most of his working lifetime in the theatre, went off to inspect the Buccleuch Centre before going back to Carlisle, promising to come again soon when he and his wife return to the area.

I had the bird watching camera up both before and after the visit (but not during it, of course).

The birds got stuck in early today…

chaffinch and siskins

…and were still at it when the evening came…

siskin, greenfinch, sparrow

…though some wasted time in shouting…

siskin shouting

…when they could have been eating.

A sparrow concentrated on the important thing in life.

sparrow on feeder

There were plenty of insects about in the garden, some more welcome than others.

greenfly on cornflower

The stachys is going over but it still has enough flowers to make it attractive…

bee on stachys flower

…to all and sundry.

bee on stachys

There are still no coloured butterflies about but I did catch a moth, which obligingly stopped right in front of me.

moth on hairy leaf

(The general whiskeriness of plants when you look at them closely continues to delight me.)

For a cloudy day, there was plenty of sunshine about…

tall sunflowers

…and the zinnias would brighten any day.

zinnia

After another bowl of nourishing green soup for my lunch, I went to hang out the washing before going cycling and, of course, it started to rain.

However this was another false alarm and it soon stopped and I got the washing hung up and my new bike out.

It was windy again.  The new cooler weather pattern is bringing winds from the Atlantic across the country and while the relative coolness (18°C) was most welcome to me, the wind was less so.

It was strong enough to make me concentrate on cycling so I didn’t stop for many pictures but the mass of meadowsweet near Wauchope Schoolhouse did stop me in my tracks.

meadowsweet at wauchope Schoolhouse

And I like the little carpet of birds foot trefoil beside the cycle track at Hagg on Esk.

birds foot trefoil

I stopped for a breather, a drink and a wildflower check at Irvine House before the final push back to Langholm.

I have passed a lot of these over the past few weeks without recording them.

wild geranium

And I managed to find an umbellifer without a red soldier beetle on it.

hoverfly on umbellifer

We have had another new bench delivered from our local benchmaker and it provided a handy place to sit down and rest when I got back after 32 miles.

post cycling selfie

In  spite of several hundred miles in the sunshine, my legs refuse to acquire a cyclist’s tan and remain as peely-wally as ever.  It is embarrassing.

As the sun had come out by this time and there is still no rain in the forecast, I set about doing as much watering as I could bear before going in to make my tea.

The usual beans were accompanied by fresh carrots today.

carrots and beans

 

I think Mrs Tootlepedal may have won this year’s battle in the eternal war against carrot root fly. (Fingers crossed)

Mrs Tootlepedal returns later this week so some serious time will have to be spent tidying up before she comes, both indoors and in the garden.  You just don’t realise just how fast weeds grow until you are personally responsible for them….and the same applies to piles of dust.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who is visiting the north east of England.  He was able to locate a handy cafe at one of his stops by following a cryptic clue.

ornamental teapot

It rained  during the night and when I woke up, there was evidence to be found.

wet lupin leaves

But that was all there had been, some raindrops and not enough to register at all on my scientific rain gauge (the wheelbarrow).  It was welcome all the same but I still had to do some watering.

I was delighted to see a poppy of the right sort in an intended place in a flower bed.

shirley poppy

I hope that there will be more to come.

The Jacobite and moss roses have passed but our aristocratic roses are pressing on.

double queen of denmark

Two Queens

Crown Princess margareta

And a Crown Princess

And the Ooh La la clematis is plugging away too.

Ooh la la clematis wet

I did a little gardening and then went off on a mission.

I had received an email through the Langholm Archive Group account saying:

 “I am a researcher working on behalf of Acker, Merrall & Condit. We are working to acquire images for a commemorative coffee table book celebrating the company’s 200th anniversary. We have found reference to a plaque that was donated to the Thomas Hope Hospital by the founders of the business and were wondering if you could provide any information about it, or might know where it currently is being held.”

There is indeed a Thomas Hope Hospital in the town, founded by a Langholm migrant, Thomas Hope, who had made money as a grocer in New York and left a lot of it to the town to build the hospital.  He also left his business to his staff when he retired.  An unusually good man.

I went up to the Day Centre which has a Thomas Hope Lounge where there is a display of silver and there I was shown a fine tray ….

Thomas Hope Tray

…which had indeed been inscribed by Acker, Merrall & Condit among others in 1858.

Thomas Hope Tray inscription

It was really interesting to see the tray and to know that the business of these three men is still surviving today, described on its web site as America’s oldest wine shop.

However, I don’t think that it was given by the donors to the Hospital at the time that it was inscribed as the hospital wasn’t built until the late 1890s.  I noticed in passing that Thomas Hope may have been a good man but our newspaper stated in 1890 that a report from New York said that the family of Thomas Hope intended to contest his will when they discovered that he had left money to build a hospital in Langholm.  They failed.

I have sent the researcher these two pictures and await her reply.

When I got home, since I had Archive Group business on my mind, I spent an hour putting  another week of the newspaper index into the group’s database.

Then I mowed the middle lawn to celebrate the sprinkling of overnight rain.

Soon it was time for lunch.  I have more peas and beans than I can eat so I picked some courgettes and combined them with peas and beans to create a green soup.  Rather to my surprise, it tasted very good and I will certainly make some more.

I took some time out to watch the birds.  There were compact flying birds coming and going today…

flying siskin compactflyinch chaffinch compact

…and wide open flying birds too.

busy feeder

Inspired by the activity of the birds and fortified by the green soup, I got my new bike out after lunch and went off for a pedal.

The skies were cloudy and there was a spirited wind blowing but as the temperature was 20°C, conditions were pleasant and after a slow start into the wind, I had a good run back home with the wind mostly behind.

The government has been accused of kicking Brexit into the long grass again so I kept my eye open when I passed any long grass to see if I could spot Brexit lurking there.  I saw sheep lurking..

sheep in long grass

…and cows lurking…

cow in long grass

…but no sign of Brexit.

I also saw a patch of what might look like seed heads on reeds at first sight….

great burnet in verge

…but a close look confirmed that the ‘seed heads’ were in fact flowers of Sanguisorba officinalis or great burnet.

great burnet flower

I don’t see them very often but the road junction at Gair seems to be a favourite place for them.

I didn’t have the opportunity for many stops as I had to be back in time to have a shower and be ready for my flute pupil Luke.   I managed 27 miles in the time available which took me over 200 miles for the month.  I noticed, when I looked at my spreadsheet in the evening, that I have done 1088 miles on my new bike since I got it on the 12th of May and every mile that I do on it tells me that I made a good decision when I bought it.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden.

A new euphorbia is flowering…

late euphorbia

…and the tropaeolum is  threatening to take over the world.

tropaeolum profusion

The hostas don’t seem to mind the hot weather and are flowering in great profusion.

hosta flowers

I am not a good flute player but teaching Luke is making me improve my own technique as we go along and so we are both getting better as time goes by.  We could both do with practising a little more.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Isabel and Mike for the first time in what seems like ages and we had an enjoyable time going through some friendly and familiar pieces.

Isabel had been in the congregation when Mike and I were in the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus on Sunday and she felt that we had done a good job so that was very heartening.

As I left Isabel’s it was raining but once again it was in a very desultory manner and I fear that watering will be needed again tomorrow. After I had written that last sentence, I went out into the garden to see if it was still raining.  The rain had stopped but the garden smelled moist and delicious.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch at feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to Mrs Tootlepedal who passed it on to me.  It shows her brother and his wife (and several family members) roughing it on their holiday on Tresco in the isles of Scilly.

tresco

We can’t run to palm trees in Langholm but we did have another lovely summer day in Langholm and the temperature had got up to 25°C (77°F) before midday.

I did a little gardening after breakfast but I couldn’t spend long because it was soon time to go to church. Our little choir (18 strong) sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah for the anthem today and it went off not too badly.  It was more a rehearsal than anything else as we are singing it again next week at the Common Riding service when the church will be a great deal fuller.  The choir should be a bit larger too.  Our organist and choir master had been among among the riders on the Benty ride-out yesterday but managed to play very well in spite of some aching muscles.

When I got home, I prepared a beef and mushroom stew for the slow cooker and then spent an enjoyable time showing the daughter-in-law of one of our neighbours round Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden.  She has just started a small vegetable garden herself and was impressed by the amount of work that Mrs Tootlepedal puts into her garden.

I did some more gardening when she had left and then retired from the heat for lunch and Tour de France viewing.

After the cycling was over, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to watch more than a bit of Wimbledon or the World Cup final and went out to both water and photograph some flowers.

The zinnia is unfolding more tubes into petals…

zinnia

…but the beautiful moss roses are folding up and I think that these may be the last two flowers of the summer.

moss roses

In spite of some constructive neglect, the nasturtiums at the front door are producing more flowers every day…

nasturtium

…and the clematis beside them is doing the same.

clematis

I watered them both today so they will probably die now.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s stock of miniature nicotiana are continuing to provide some bright colours in pale pink….

pink nicotiana

…lime green…

green nicotiana

…and shocking red.

red nicotiana

The wind had risen a lot during the day as the pressure fell steadily on the barometer but I felt that another day with no cycling would be a bad thing and got my new bike out.

The wind was strong, 16 mph base with gusts of well over 20 mph, but it kept me cool even if it slowed me down a lot.  I took 12 more minutes to go round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit than I did last Thursday.  If I had been in a race with myself, I would have been more than two miles behind.

I stopped to admire the view back towards Langholm from Chapelhill…

view of whita from tarcoon road

All the clouds behind Whita Hill had passed over the town without depositing a drop of rain on us as they passed.

I rather liked the subdued light.

tarcoon road trees

As I approached Canonbie, I nodded at a couple of old friends.

black cowbrown cow

…and stopped to take a picture of one of the many banks of fireweed that are lining  our roads just now.

rosebay willowherb

This weed is one of those photographic oddities where the camera and I see things in a very different shade.  To me it is pink or even red but to the camera is is much more purple.

When I got home, I set the tripod up in the kitchen to keep an eye on the birds and a greenfinch kept an eye on me in return.

greenfinch

We are getting regular visits from greenfinches which is very encouraging.  In recent years, they have been subject to a deadly disease and numbers dropped a lot so it is good to see healthy looking birds back on the feeder.

greenfinches

Once home, I set about eating the stew and doing more watering (not at the same time).  The forecast claims that there is a 75% chance of noticeable rain tonight.  I would be much obliged if this turns out to be true but I am not holding my breath.

The flying bird picture of the day shows that even if they are flapping their wings furiously, siskins keep their heads very still as they approach the feeder.

flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wetherby.

wetherby

This post has double the usual amount of pictures for reasons that will become apparent for those with the time and energy to slog through them.  If you make an excuse and leave now, I will quite understand.

Our spell of good weather continues and it is a bit irksome that it is somewhat wasted on a grumpy old man with dodgy joints and a sincere wish that it would rain so that he can stop watering the garden. It is the best summer for 40 years.  And it is not even too hot any more.  After the excessive heat a couple of weeks ago, the temperature is nearly perfect and there are enough passing clouds to give an occasional break from the sun.  I should be running across the hills and swimming in the rivers.  Ah well.

There just isn’t any rain.  It has rained twenty miles away to the south and twenty miles to the north but not on us.  Still, not so long ago there were severe floods twenty miles to the south and twenty miles to the north of us but not here so we should take the rough with the smooth.

I started the day with a little watering and flower watching.

There have been quite a few white butterflies about in the garden but no coloured butterflies at all.

white butterfly

This is a small white (I think)

I have been watering the verbascum and it is thriving.

verbascum

The privet is thriving without any help from me.  It is usually loud with bees.

privet

Knapweed has appeared in one of the beds.

knapweed

And I think that this is a zinnia just coming out.

zinnia

It is pretty warm in the direct sunshine and this blackbird was having a puff and pant in the vegetable garden.

blackbird

I stopped watering and did a load of washing and hung it out to dry (a speedy process these days) and then went off to collect my new improved asthma puffer from the chemist.  I am expecting a miracle cure.

I watched the birds when I got back and enjoyed a complete set of greenfinches on the feeder.

greenfinches

Somehow the morning seemed to slip away without much more input from me but after lunch, I leapt into action and walked up Meikleholm Hill.

There were still no orchids about but there things to be seen.

Meikleholm hill flowers

Harebell, tormentil and pineapple weed

But I hadn’t come to look at wild flowers or birds, though I enjoyed this meadow pipit piping away on top of a little tree…

meadow pipit

…and couldn’t resist one of my favourite views.

view of esk valley

What I was interested in was the first ride-out of the Common Riding fortnight.  It goes from the town…

View of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…across the hills to the village of Bentpath and back and is thus universally known as “The Benty Ride out”.

Looking over the edge of the hill, I thought that I could see movement on the town bridge…

horse cross bridge

…but I needed the big zoom on the little Lumix to see the cavalcade setting off from the Kilngreen….

benty rideout leaving kilngreen

…and crossing the town bridge.

benty rideout crossing bridge

The results are a bit fuzzy to say the least but as there was a brisk wind blowing and the horses were about a mile away, it is a tribute to the Lumix that it could pick them out at all.

I didn’t have to wait too long until the cornet, who carries the flag round the town on Common Riding day and leads the rides-out, came round the corner of the hill….

benty rideout cornet

…waved graciously at the cheering crowd (me)…

benty rideout cornet 2

…and cantered on to the top of the hill with his right and left hand men behind him.

benty rideout hunter's gate 1

(The right and left hand men are the cornets from the previous two years who offer experience and support to the current cornet in his many duties.)

Soon the other riders followed on…

benty rideout hunter's gate 2

…some at a good canter over the rough ground…

benty rideout hunter's gate 3

…until the whole group stopped for a breather at the gate onto Timpen (at just over 1000ft, Timpen would be  the highest point of the day).

benty rideout hunter's gate 4

An advanced marshall on a quad bike checked that the route was ok…

Timpen lead out

…and after some deliberation…

benty rideout hunter's gate 7

The cornet led the way…

benty rideout hunter's gate 8

…through the gate…

benty rideout hunter's gate 9

…followed by the other riders…

benty rideout hunter's gate 10

…and set off towards  the summit of Timpen.

benty rideout timpen 1

This was an opportunity for another canter…

benty rideout timpen 2

…and one or two minor upsets.

benty rideout timpen 3

…which led to a pause while loose horses were collected and reunited with their riders…

benty rideout timpen 4

…and then while those at the back caught up…

benty rideout timpen 5

.. the leaders sailed over the top of Timpen and disappeared along the ridge towards the Black Knowe.

The delay to catch the loose horses gave me the opportunity to walk up to the top of Timpen too and watch the riders for a little bit longer.

benty rideout leaving timpen 1

This is not country for the faint hearted rider.

benty rideout leaving timpen 2

…but on a day like today, it offers superb views of the Esk valley.

I liked the view of the cavalcade stretched out along the hillside with the Craig windfarm in the background, a pleasing blend of the traditional and the modern.

benty rideout leaving timpen 3The recent dry weather hadn’t made the ground too hard for comfort but it had done a good job in drying out many of the boggy bits that might dislodge an unwary rider.  It was wonderful underfoot for an elderly walker and I even ventured to run for a few yards to make sure I was in position to get that last shot.

The cornet waited for his followers to catch up

benty rideout black knowe

..and then as the procession disappeared into the distance…

benty rideout black knowe 2

…I was left to enjoy a last look up the Esk valley…

View from timpen

…and a stroll back down the hill in the company of two keen walking ladies who had also taken to the hills to watch the riders go by.

two ladies

This was the first time that the Benty ride-out has taken this particular route on the way to Bentpath and I was surprised that I was one of only four adults and two children who had come out to see this historic occasion, considering the good weather and fine views of the riders.  I suppose though that if you wanted to catch up with the riders again at Bentpath itself, it would mean a long walk back to the town to pick up your car to drive up to the village.

I had considered a cycle ride after the ride-out but the brisk wind and stiff legs after coming down the steep hill to the town allowed me to imagine that watching some sport on the telly might be almost as good as taking exercise on my own account.  There was plenty to watch, with a sprint finish in the Tour de France, a deserved victory for Belgium in the third place play off in the World Cup and some entertaining tennis too.

I was quite exhausted by the time cooking my tea came along.  I added spinach, peas and potatoes (sautéed) from the garden to some very reasonably priced fish cakes for a nutritious and economical feast.

It was a beautiful evening as I finished my watering tasks.

garden in evening

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my eldest sister Susan, an inveterate traveller, who has just come back from Italy.  She saw this handsome church door in Ortesi in the Dolomites.

ortesi door

Like King Lear, I was going to do such things today but also like the King, I didn’t know what they were so in the end, I didn’t do them.  Instead, I took a leaf out of Brer Terrapin’s book and did a lot of lounging about and suffering.

The lounging was serious but the suffering was very slight and was greatly alleviated by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had done some watering and weeding before he arrived and I did some more afterwards and as always looked at the flowers as I went along.

The first sweet peas are out…

sweet peas

…and ever more lilies appear each day.

lily

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two new roses this year and I saw that one was looking rather dry and droopy a day or two ago so I have watered it carefully and it was looking much more cheerful today.

rose Fru Dagmar Hastrup

The Queen of Denmark has responded to some water too.

Queen of Denmark

And the Common Riding rose is just sensational without any water at all.

rose excelsa

The camera simply can’t do its luxuriant growth justice at all.

While I was having coffee with Dropscone, the phone rang and a mystery voice asked if I was Tom.  I admitted to this and the voice said my wife was having trouble with her mobile phone and since I was the account  holder, he wanted to ask me a few security questions.   This was so obviously a scam that I put the phone down without saying any more.

A moment or two later, Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say it wasn’t a scam and she was having trouble with her phone and I was the account holder for it.  I checked for a reputable number for the phone company, rang it, got a really helpful human on the line with minimum delay, talked the problem through and solved it within minutes.   The shock of getting a sensible and prompt  corporate response was so great that I had to have a sit down to recover.

Then  I watched birds for a bit.

A greenfinch arrived to take advantage of the sunflower seeds.

greenfinch

Greenfinches are a lot bigger than siskins but don’t always get their own way.

siskin and greenfinch

On the ground below the feeder, a blackbird with an elegant grey feather was finding its own food.

blackbird with grey

I had lunch and thought of a walk or a bike ride but actually did some more lounging instead and had to suffer by sitting through much of a Tour de France stage and two simultaneously  never ending tennis matches from Wimbledon.

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that although her phone was working, now she was having trouble reading her emails on her tablet although she was properly connected to her brother’s internet router.  This was a puzzle.

I popped out from time to time to do more watering and weeding and dead heading too.

The melancholy thistle is looking more  cheerful every day…

melancholy thistle

..and looming over it, is the prettiest sunflower that I have ever seen.

tall sunflower

In the vegetable garden Mrs Tootlepedal has planted many small sunflowers and they are blooming freely with a great heap of honeysuckle on the fence behind them.

sunflowers and honeysuckle

Also in the veg garden, the French marigolds are thriving and time will tell whether they have helped to keep the carrot root flies of the carrots.  I thinned out a test carrot the other day and it looked straight, clean and promising…

french marigold

…but it was rather small still.

A new potentilla has come out.

new potentilla

In the course of time, I dug up another potato, picked lettuce, peas, beans and gooseberries and a large turnip for my evening meal.

broad beans

There are many more beanfeasts in store

The turnip was so large that I cut it in two and gave half to Mike and Alison when they came round in the evening for their customary Friday night visit.  Alison and I enjoyed some good playing of sonatas by old English masters while Mike, in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to, watched the tennis.

I had further talk with Mrs Tootlepedal on the matter of her internet connection and suggested that although she was connected to the router, maybe the router was not connected to the internet.  This turned out to be the case and the problem was solved by the time honoured method of turning the router off and then on again.  I wish all problems were as simply solved as Mrs Tootlepedal’s technical glitches were today.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who stopped on Wetherby on a trip and enjoyed the colonnaded market there.  The street sign says ‘The Shambles’ suggesting it was a place for butchers at one time.

the shambles, Wetherby

I got up early and went for a cycle ride straight after breakfast, pleasantly surprising myself.

The conditions were good and having been a bit depressed by how slow I have been on recent rides, I stopped trying to blame old age today and just tried harder.  This worked well.  You can almost always cycle faster than you are going at any given time, the only question being how long you can keep it up.

I found it necessary to stop for a wild flower inspection after about 16 miles!

I was just too late to get the best of this thistle…

thistle

…but there were plenty of docks in fine fettle.

dock

Some umbellifers are already going to seed….

umbellifer seeds

…but once again there were plenty playing host to the ubiquitous red soldier beetles.

red soldier beetle

I liked this tree in a neighbouring field which seemed to be having difficulty in deciding whether to grow up or down.

irvine house tree

I caught up on a little computer work when I got home but not before I had had a watering wander round the garden.

The was enough sunshine to bring out the colour in the calendulas…

calendula

…and the rose mallows.

rose mallow

The ligularias are building up a bit each day….

ligularia

…and the doddering dillies (Sunday name Breza Media or common quaking grass) are doddering all over the place.

doddering dillies

I like this combination of delphinium and phlox beside the front lawn.

delphinium and phlox

I only shot a few bird pictures…

siskin

A regal looking siskin was the best of them

….as I didn’t have long to hang about before I went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  I got there in plenty of time so naturally the train was a quarter of an hour late.

When I got to Matilda’s, I only had a moment to wave at her before her father took me off to visit the site where the family are going to buy a new house.  It is in the process of being built but as it is exactly the same as the show house on the site, I was able to get a good idea of what it will be like.  It looks ideal so I hope that everything goes well with the build and the purchase.

It is only a few hundred yards away from their present house so it wasn’t long before I was back playing with Matilda and then watching a first class dance routine from her followed by the usual excellent evening meal.

After some unpleasantly hot days in Edinburgh, it was much cooler and I walked back to the station keeping my eye out for things of interest on the way.

I passed a queue of runners descending from Salisbury Crags…

runners on Salisbury Crags

…and a squirrel not descending a tree.

Edinburgh squirrel

After a momentary pause to look at the old town across the roof of Waverley Station…

Waverley

I went down and caught the train home.  It was late too (but not very).

The drive home was illuminated by a sensational sunset which I was rather sad to see.  We had come through some heavy rain at Beattock on the way down in the train and I was hoping that the clouds would stretch all the way to Langholm.  They didn’t.  More watering tomorrow.

The best I could do in the way of a flying bird, since most of my intended subjects today either hid…

sparrow behind pole

…or flew off before I could catch them, was this rather curious two headed, four footed sparrow.

two sparrows

 

 

 

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