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Archive for the ‘Singing’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who spotted this bird flitting along the shore of the Firth of Forth.   I like the delicate colour combinations a lot.

east wemyss flying bird

We had a grey but dry day here and although the temperature is getting more autumnal by the day, it was still warm enough for me to cycle to church without the need for extra cold weather clothing.  I went by myself as Mrs Tootlepedal is suffering from a cold and was not in singing fettle at all.

She joined me for coffee when I got back from church, where once again the choir had been seriously lacking in numbers.

After coffee, there would have been enough time for me to go for a short pedal or a walk but my legs are still in a non co-operative mood so I gave them a chance to get better and confined my walking to a stroll round the garden.

I was interested to note how much colour one of the dahlias loses as it ages.  Here is the youth…

young dahlia

…and here is the adult.

okd dahlia

Across the garden, another dahlia showed off the plant breeder’s skill.

fancy dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal has several potentillas spread about the place.  It hasn’t been a great year for them but most of them still have some flowers left.  This is one of the few on the red variety.

red potentilla

The rudbeckias have enjoyed the weather and are still flowering well.

rudbeckia

In a sheltered corner, a begonia which Mrs Tootlepedal picked up as a bargain on a garden centre visit is proving to be well worth every penny spent on it and more.

begonia

I am drawn to the honeysuckle on the fence because I pass it a lot and I tried to get a different take on it today.

close up honeysuckle

And I noticed these little flowers when I looked at the bright red leaves on the creeper.

creeper flower

A little geranium is soldiering on.

white geranium

A jackdaw is kindly helping us with picking the last of the plums…

jackdaw in plum tree

…and the garden is still full of odd looking blackbirds…

odd looking blackbird

…swallowing the last of the rowan berries.

swallowng berry

I haven’t been dead heading the Icelandic poppies lately and this might explain why one of the few poppies flowering had such a large attendance of insects.

icelandic poppy with four insects

We can look forward to some colour from the nerines.

nerine flowers

In the afternoon,  I once again left Mrs Tootlepedal nursing her cold at home, while I went off to sing with our Carlisle Community Choir.  The choir committee had been very conscious of the difficult conditions at last week’s practice and as a result, they had changed the seating and this week’s practice was much more satisfactory.  Two of our new tenors came back for a second go and it looks as though they will stay on, giving us a much needed number boost.

Our regular conductor was not there again this week but she had organised a very charming and competent young man to take her place and he got through a power of work.

I cooked a comfort meal of ham, egg, mushroom and tomato for our tea when I got back home and it was followed by a second helping of the tarte tatin.  This brought a bit of joy to a somewhat subdued day.

That odd blackbird in pursuit of rowan berries is the flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Paris.  She went to the Musee D’Orsay while she was there.  The clock is very fine, I think.

paris museum

We had another fine and dry day today but as it coincided with a two choir day, I couldn’t make much outdoor use of the good weather.  I could have made a bit more use of it than I did though, if my legs hadn’t still been mentioning yesterday’s ride from time to time.

As it was, my longest cycle ride of the day was the few hundred yards to the church in the morning.  I did the trip twice though because I had forgotten my music and had to go back for it.

I did think of a walk or a short cycle when we got back from church, but in the end I frittered away the time in drinking coffee, chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and reading yesterday’s papers.

I went out into the garden and picked and ate a few plums.  I was hoping to catch more birds eating berries, but they have unsportingly been eating them behind my back.  I looked at a few flowers instead.

The rambler rose is till showing some vigorous blooms…

rambler rose late flowers

…and nearby, Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure mustard plants are flowering freely.

mustard flower

She has planted sunflowers here and there all round the garden and on a sunny day like today, you find one smiling at you wherever you turn.

sunflower on fence

Phlox is hanging on….

[hlox

…and the red astrantia is having an excellent second flowering.

astrantia

When I went back in, I frittered away some more time in eating Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent courgette fritters for lunch and then it was the moment to jump into the car and go to Carlisle for the first meeting of the new session for the community choir there.

I was looking forward to this a lot, but it turned out to be a bit disappointing.  Our regular conductor and accompanist were not there, the acoustics in our new rehearsal venue made it hard to hear what the stand in conductor was saying and we sang a lot of songs that we have sung many times before,

We have got several new members this session, which is very good news, but owing to a failure of communication, there were not enough copies of all the music for them and as several of the new tenors can’t read music, it was hard for them to cope with shared copies when the rest of the choir new the songs very well.  However, all four of the new tenors seemed to enjoy themselves and have promised to come back which was heartening.   It was good to be back singing in a large choir again, and as always, things can only get better, so I am looking  forward to future meetings.

The nights are beginning to draw in now and there was not enough time for a late walk or pedal when we got home.  The birds had gone to bed so the flying bird of the day is a butterfly enjoying one of the last flowering spikes on the blue buddleia.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal who used her new phone to take this handsome group portrait of her brother, sister-in-law, niece and great niece whom she was visiting while on her jaunt to the south.  As she had visited her mother too, she had seen four generations in one day.

mike frankie and manny

Unlike yesterday, when coffee and bun on the bench in the sunshine was the way to go…

iced bun and coffee

…there was no respite from continuous rain all day today.

puddle

It was raining in the morning when I drove down into England for my singing lesson which was enjoyable and useful, and it was raining in the afternoon when Sandy and I drove up to Eskdalemuir to put up our camera club exhibition there.

the hub

It took longer than we expected to hang the 30 odd pictures but the result looked satisfactory and the Hub manager was very pleased with the show.  Seven members of the club are taking part.

It was still raining as we drove back, but things did begin to brighten up a bit until Sandy most unwisely remarked that it was looking better.  At this point it began to rain very heavily.

It was still raining when my flute pupil Luke came.  He showed clear evidence of having practised and played with some very nice tone today.

I had some more sausage stew for my tea and was not surprised to find that it was still raining when the recorder group assembled in the evening for our monthly playing session.  We had a hard working and enjoyable time, but as it was still raining when we had finished, they made tracks for home and I will be forced to eat all the biscuits which I had bought for our post-playing cup of tea.

All in all, in spite of the miserable weather, I had a pretty good day.  Photographically, it was a day for standing in the shelter of the front door to take a flower picture across the drive and luckily, the dahlias didn’t seem to mind the rain…

dahlias in bed

…and at least I got a little sun.

soggy sunflower

It is going to rain again tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Mary who visited the Regent’s canal near  St Pancras lock and found that it was pretending to be a lawn.

canal with weed

The weather here today was dismal, wet and very windy from morn till night.  Once again, it was a day for finding things to do indoors and I was fortunate that both Dropscone and Sandy were on hand for coffee (and treacle scones) in the morning.  When Sandy left, Dropscone and I had an extensive and amicable discussion on the politics of the day as seen from different viewpoints.

Dropscone departed, unconvinced by my arguments but with a bagful of plums for some crumble.  To be fair, I wasn’t convinced by his arguments either.

That was the high spot of the day and after that, I settled down to some catching up with correspondence, preparations for the camera club exhibition, and flute and singing practice.  I am never going to be any good at singing or flute playing but I do enjoy trying to get better, even if only by minute steps.

It wasn’t a day for taking photos and looking out of the back door was as far as I got.

view from back door

Flowers were waving about in the wind so wildly that getting a focus was impossible.

crocosmia in breeze

…and it always seemed to be drizzling…

washing line with drips

…even when it wasn’t actually raining.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a nice time in London, where she took the opportunity to do some much needed watering in our daughter’s garden.

There are some days when there is not a lot to be said, and this was one of them.  We are promised some sunshine tomorrow afternoon.  I hope that the forecasters are right.

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Today’s guest post comes from my brother’s latest group walk.  They covered eight miles with enough climbing to offer some fine views like this one over the village of Crich.

crich

It was another day of frequent heavy rain showers and brisk winds here, and we chickened out and drove the few hundred yards to the church to sing in the choir to avoid getting soaked before we sang.

After church, we went shopping and bought a Sunday newspaper, and reading this kept us occupied for the rest of the morning.  We have been getting some good sized potatoes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s potato patch, so I had a baked potato for my lunch.  After lunch, I made some ginger biscuits for want of anything better to do.

By mid afternoon we were feeling a touch of cabin fever,  so when we found a moment when the sun was shining and the forecast offered a mere 20% chance of rain over the next two hours, we decided to go for a walk.  As we left the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal sagely pointed out the looming clouds on the horizon but I laughed them off and we continued.

I was laughing on the other side of my face half a mile later when we sheltered under some trees as torrential rain fell from the grey skies above us.

We waited for some time and then got bored and headed home, getting quite wet as we went.

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing 5 inches of rain for the week.  This was the second week running with 5 inches of rain in our rain gauge.

Of course the sun came out half an hour later but we were discouraged by then and stayed at home.

I did walk as far as the garden.

I was surprised to see that a red admiral had the flying power to get into the garden in one of the dry spells in the afternoon in spite of the strong wind and heavy showers.

red admiral butterfly august

Some flowers seem impervious to bad weather and the Abyssinian gladioli are flowering away very well.

abyssinian gladiolus

There is still colour about but not a lot…

anemone, foxglove, zinnia, poppy

…although the Michaelmas daisies are getting more plentiful by the day.

michaelmas daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal came out in the late afternoon and we dug up most of the rest of our potato crop.  She was very impressed by this nine inch long specimen which was by no means unique.

nine inch potato

I cut up the haulms and added them to the compost in Bin A.  The bin is getting quite hot and the haulms looked quite healthy, and as we won’t add the compost to any potato bed next year, it should be safe enough.

full compost bin

We keep on filling the bin to the top and it keeps going down so it must be decomposing quite well.

Nearby, the apples look to be ripening well.

ripening apples

Since the sun was out after our evening meal and the wind had dropped, I took the opportunity to go out for a quick walk round three bridges.

The fact that the Wauchope Water was flowing a lot more strongly than the Esk during the recent spates has led to the Wauchope dumping a lot of gravel well out into the bed of the Esk.

gravel brought down by wauchope

Even though the Esk had not been very high, it had still washed a small tree under the Langholm Bridge.

tree under town bridge august

As I got to the Kilngreen, the sun came out from behind a cloud and lit up the mallards who were resting on the bank.

ducks at sunset

The light was mellow all around.

lodge cottage

I crossed the sawmill brig and…

sawmill brig sunset

…enjoyed the light on the other side too.

trees on castleholm sunset

The cricket ground was looking very peaceful after what must have been a very poor day for cricketers.

cricket ground sunset

My walk wasn’t all plain sailing as I had to keep an eye out for large puddles…

puddles on path

..but I negotiated them all with care and got home dry shod.

I took a picture of the corydalis growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field and was pleased to get home without encountering another heavy shower.

corydalis park wall

The flying bird of the day had come to earth.

blackbird on lawn august

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows one of the glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly at Kew gardens.

(This is the second of his glass sculptures to appear in the blog as Mary Jo from Manitoba sent me another when she was on her London visit earlier in the  year.)

a glass sculpture by Dale Chiluly

As has frequently been the case lately, the weather here was a good deal better than the forecast and we had another warm and often sunny day today.  It might have been a day for a cycle ride but I had non cycling business in hand and went off to England to have another singing lesson from our ex Langholm Sings conductor, Mary.

She is endlessly patient and helpful as well as being very knowledgeable and I am trying my best to take on board the useful things she tells me, with variable success.  Still, practice makes perfect so I haven’t entirely given up hope yet.

I had time for a walk round the garden before lunch when I got home.

I noticed a bee making itself very much at home in a zinnia…

zinnia with bee

…and after seeing  a good variety of butterflies over the last few days, there were only peacocks today….peacock butterfky

…though there were a lot of them and a lot of whites too who were too flighty to pose for a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal has put her Abyssinian gladioli out into the flower beds still in their pots as they will need to be taken in over winter, but they seem to be enjoying themselves all the same.

 

abyssinian gladiolus

I was very happy to see a little robin on the lawn, the first that I have seen in the garden for some time.

august robin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her shopping bike.  This time she was actually going shopping, though she combined it with some business too.  While she was out, I mowed the front lawn and then attacked the greenhouse grass.  Although it is not cut to the same standard or by the same mower as the front lawn, it provides a cheerfully green welcome to the vegetable garden.

greenhouse grass

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and we had a quick stroll round before it was time for afternoon tea.

The Wren keeps producing flowers in a very satisfactory way…

rose Wren

…but the dahlias haven’t done so well this year yet as something seems to be nibbling at them.  One of the plants is producing flowers but they are hanging their heads.

hangdog dahlia

The Sweet Williams are over and Mrs Tootlepedal has replaced some of them with dianthus which she bought the other day.

new flowers

When the tea and biscuits had gone to a good home, I had to get ready for my flute pupil Luke who was coming to play after taking a short break.  As he came in, I noticed that the white clematis by the front door, which has long been over, had mysteriously produced a lone late flower.

last clematis front door

Luke and I knocked a few cobwebs off our flute playing and when he left, I had a last tour of the garden before our evening meal.

The rowan berries are getting more colourful every day…

rown berries ripening

…and underneath the rowan tree, the snow berries are reminding us of what is to come.

snow berries

A reminder of things past is provided by the lupin next to the greenhouse which has got some side shoots still producing flowers.

late lupin

And the evenings now provide the delightful scent of nicotianas.

nicotiana

The pond has a leak which Mrs Tootlepedal can’t find and so we had to top it up again today but the water lilies don’t seem to mind their up and down existence.

water lily

My recorder playing friends arrived in the evening and the four of us enjoyed a varied evening of music from J S Bach to Scott Joplin.

A brisk wind had been blowing all day so I was quite pleased that I had had good musical excuses not to battle into the breeze on my bike.

The non flying bird of the day is that robin which appeared again in the early evening.  I hope that it will be a permanent garden resident from now on.

august robin 2

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