Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Tootling’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss.  He wanted to show me that they have butterflies there too but their ones come indoors.

wemyss butterfly

It was a stop start sort of day.

Our car had two warning lights when we got back from Carlisle yesterday and they were still sending out bad vibes when I switched on the engine this morning.  I rang the garage to see if they could do anything and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and sighing.  “Very busy….not taking any more work this week…(sound of Tootlepedal crying) ….oh well, bring it in and we’ll see if we can look at it….no promises.”

I took it in.  They looked at it.  No more warning lights.  I collected it.  It was raining lightly by this time but I was very sunny.  Fingers are firmly crossed as I have to drive fifty miles tomorrow.

When I got home, the sun was shining so I went out into the garden for a walk round with Mrs Tootlepedal.  There had been ice on the car windscreen with a temperature of 2°C before breakfast and a lot of the dahlias had turned up their toes as a result.  However, it had warmed up quite quickly and there were survivors all around.

late garden flowers

Clockwise from top left: Gaura, calendula, rudbeckia and perennial wallflower

The upside of the demise of the Sunny Reggae dahlias was more space and light for the two fuchsias behind them.

fuchsia October

fat fuchsia october

And I did see a red admiral butterfly.  It was on the remains of the French marigolds which did such a good job of protecting the carrots earlier in the year.

red admiral on marigold

In the vegetable garden, chive and mint are still in flower.

chive and mint

Mrs Tootlepedal was mourning the loss of some nasturtiums to the cold when she noticed that there was some damage that wasn’t weather related.

cabbage white caterpillar (2)

Cabbage white caterpillars were chomping their way through leaves and flowers.

cabbage white caterpillar

Our kitchen was being painted and I had to wait in for the call from the garage so I put the morning to good use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I am well behind schedule at this task so this was not before time.

When the painter went off to let the first coat of paint dry, I watched the birds from the kitchen window.  It was another busy day.

There was a mixture of greenfinches, sparrows and chaffinches at first…

busy feedr

…but a small gang of goldfinches soon turned up too.

goldfinches

Political discussions grew heated and a sparrow had to fly in to calm down two goldfinches who were debating the merits of Canada ++ and/or of falling of a cliff.

goldfinches in discussion

Greenfinches pursued sparrows…

greenfinch in pursuit

…and then goldfinches pursued sparrows.

goldfinch and sparrow

But the goldfinches couldn’t stop arguing.  The one on the left is practising the ‘no deal’ Brexit position.

goldfinch coming and going

A coal tit rose above the bickering…

coal tit on pole

…and a chaffinch showed her disgust at the whole situation.

fierce chaffinch

One of our visiting jackdaws has some elegant white wing feathers to show off.

jackdaw with white

Over lunch, we watched a re-run of the last kilometres of the men’s world championship cycling road race and felt for the riders as they had to battle up an extremely steep hill.

When the painter came back, we went out into the garden and did some useful work.  I mowed the drying green and the green house grass, did some shredding and sieved some compost.  The compost went on to the first of the new beds at the top of the vegetable garden which Mrs Tootlepedal had been preparing.

new bed back veg

I trimmed the top of the white clematis round the back door as it was creeping up in to the gutter and while I was in clematis mode, I noticed that we still have two clematis on the go in a modest way.

late clematis

I rounded off my photographic day with a glimpse of a dunnock…

dunnock

….the first to appear on the blog since early June.

Mike Tinker dropped in to report that his son David and family were safely on their journey back to New Zealand.  They will be looking forward to some warmer weather no doubt.

In the early evening, Luke came to play flute and once again we made steady progress (hemidemisemiquavers are meat and drink to us now) and then after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t been playing a lot recently and it was good to get together again even though some rustiness was apparent all round.  The Reader’s Digest used to suggest that laughter is the best medicine but I think it is music.

The flying bird of the day is a determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a wonderful sunrise over the Forth captured by our older son Tony as he walked his dogs near his new house on the shore.

wemyss sunrise

We had a sunny day here but after a clear night, it was only 2°C when Mrs Tootlepedal got up and she was worried about the garden.  The cold had done for the courgettes which had collapsed but a lot was untouched by the chilly hand of autumn and she was able to garden usefully through the day and into the early evening.

After a leisurely breakfast, I cycled up to the Archive Centre to take a meter reading  and then cycled home again to collect the key which I had forgotten.  The second journey was uneventful and the meter got read.

In spite of the cold start to the day and the fact that it never got very warm out of the direct sun, the butterflies were not discouraged.

The buddleias are fading so a red admiral tried a cosmos.

red admiral butterfly on cosmos

On the red buddleia, the flowers are now so scarce that multi occupancy was the order of the day.

red admiral butterfly groups on buddleia

I watched the birds when I went in.

There were a good number of goldfinches about….

goldfinch group

…and some rough sparrows too.  A hefty one footed kick soon dislodged the bird on the right.

sparrow stamping

I had an early lunch and got my new bicycle out and set off to see how strong the wind was.

It was gusty at times but after a slow first 14 miles over Callister and out to Eaglesfield, I had chosen a route that made it more of a friend than a foe and I enjoyed a peaceful ride back to Langholm by way of Gretna.

Although it was sunny when I set out, there were some dark clouds about…

dark cloud over callister

…and I had to stop and put my rain jacket on for a few miles between Gair and Eaglesfield.  It was unfortunate that a buzzard should have chosen some poor light to pose for me on a telegraph pole….

buzzard pn pole

….because they usually fly off long before I can get my camera focused so this would have been a rare opportunity.

My bike routes often taken me along rivers and over their bridges but today’s route took me to the motorway….

M74 from bridge

…which I crossed by a bridge.  Then I pedalled against the stream of traffic down the old road which runs beside this new road before crossing under the motorway this time on my way home.

I stopped to take my rain jacket off while I was on the bridge because as you can see, the sun was out by this time.  For the rest of my trip I was often cycling on wet roads  but in broad sunshine as the rain clouds were pushed just ahead of me by the wind….

windmills in the sun

…which was very busy making electricity as it shoved the clouds along.

The sound of honking caught my attention as I approached Englishtown near the border and looking through a gate in the hedge, I could see a flock of geese in the field…

geese at Englishtown

…another sign that autumn is here to stay.

I added 37 miles to my total for the year and now I am at just under 300 miles for September.

Before I had my shower after cycling, I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal chop up some of the rhubarb roots which have come out of the new back bed.  Then as Mrs Tootlepedal was rather gloomy about prospects for the garden if the cold nights continue, I made a quick record of just some of the flowers left standing.

I thought that they might be saying, “Nos morituri, te salutumas” to the readers….

garden flowers 24 Sept (3)

From top left clockwise: potentilla, verbascum, niocotiana and Japanese anemone

garden flowers 24 Sept (2)

From top left clockwise: geranium, fancy primrose, nasturtium and fuchsia

garden flowers 24 Sept

From top left clockwise: euphorbia, lamium, potentilla and dahlia

special grandma

Special Grandma with buds still hoping for some more warm weather.

…but I hope that Mrs Tootlepedal’s gloom is unjustified as the forecast is offering us some generally warmer weather to come over the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did more work on a Quantz trio sonata with my computer supplying the continuo.

There was no trio playing with Mike and Isabel tonight so I had a quiet evening at home.

There is another gender balanced flying bird of the day scenario today with male and female chaffinches sharing the duty.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch (2)

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent, Edward.  He and his wife went to Singapore for the FI Grand Prix and stopped off at Phuket in Thailand where he was very impressed by the wiring.

Wiring in Southern Phuket

I footered away a fine morning, firstly through a failure of communication with Dropscone about the availability of scones and secondly through indolence when the scones turned out to be a mirage.

I didn’t really do anything…

….though I must have gone out into the garden fro at least a moment or two as I did some shredding of fallen sunflowers and noticed a butterfly on the bench…

red admiral butterfly on bench

…and a bee on a lamium.

bee visiting lamium

They were obviously tucked up snugly during yesterday’s gales.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh, catching the first train to run from Manchester to Edinburgh after the line had been cleared of fallen trees.

I watched the birds.

A blackbird boogied on the lawn….

blackbird dancing on lawn

…a chaffinch put a hex on a goldfinch…

chaffinch putting the hex on goldfinch

…a male chaffinch told a female where the really good berries are….

chaffinch showing the way

…while a determined goldfinch practised its breaststroke…

Goldfinch swimming to the feeder

…and a sparrow kept an eye out for new arrivals.

sparrow checking out a chaffinch

From time to time a jackdaw dropped in to supervise.

jackdaw swing on the fat balls

I had an appointment with the dentist as I had carelessly bashed one of my teeth and I needed to know if I had broken it.  He took an x-ray and reassured me that it was sound.  However, if it is still sore after a few days, it might have to come out so I am hoping for the best and eating very soft food.

On my way to the dentist, I saw many bunches of bright red berries….

red berries by river

…and on my way back, I looked at the foliage that I had seen stuck under the town bridge yesterday.  It turned out to be quite a substantial tree, with its head on one side of the bridge….

tree under bridge top

…and its foot caught on the cutwater on the other side.

tree under bridge bottom

On the bank of the river beside the bridge, I was amused by this little family group of fungi with mother sheltering her two affectionate children.

riverside fungus group

I looked at the forecast when I got home and as it said, ‘rain later’, I decided to go cycling ‘now’.

It started to rain just as I got onto my bike.

However, the rain was very light so I decided to chance it and go anyway.  The rain stayed light as I cycled to the top of Callister and back (13 miles) and faded away as I got back to the town so I pedalled on over the river and went a few miles up the main road. This let me get to the magic twenty miles which is the minimum trip I like to do when I have gone to the trouble of getting the bike out.

After several very windy bike rides this month, it was a treat to find that the wind had dropped entirely and in spite of the light rain, cycling was a real pleasure.

The country is getting browner every day…

brown bracken

…so I looked for a bit of colour in the garden when I got back.  A lot of flowers got blown over yesterday but the verbascum just bent with the breeze rather than breaking…

verbascum leaning

…but the tall cosmos, which should be standing up and looking over the front lawn, is now leaning perilously low over the pond.

cosmos drooping

The Japanese anemone is small and tough enough to have survived quite well.

Tired Japanese anemone

After a nourishing meal of fish cakes, I was picked up by Susan, who was driving her very smart new red car, and driven to Carlisle where we played with our recorder group for the first time for a couple of months.  Roy, our librarian, had picked out a fine selection of music for our delight so we had a very good evening.

It was pouring with rain as we drove home.

I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had got home safely in spite of her train being delayed a bit on both the up and down trips.  She had had a good time in Edinburgh.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch yet again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her father, shows Matilda posing with flowers in the botanic gardens in Edinburgh.

Matilda and flower

The forecast had suggested that if I wanted to cycle in dry conditions, a prompt start might be advisable as rain was on the way by midday  It seemed like a plausible prediction so I arranged with Dropscone for coffee at eleven and set off after breakfast to go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Although I could see rain across the plain below when I got to the top of the hill after 5 miles, I stuck to my belief in the forecast and pedalled on.  I took the precaution though of not stopping to take any pictures as I went round and my only pause was to answer a text from Sandy on the possibility of coffee.  I got round dry.

Both Dropscone and Sandy arrived on cue for coffee (and scones with apple jelly) and I was interested to find that Dropscone had a acquired a new second hand car as his previous vehicle after well over 100,000 miles had come to the end of its useful life.  His new vehicle is a youthful 7 year old.  It was also interesting to find out that Sandy had bought a new camera as his old pocket camera had also come to the end of its days.

After coffee, with the rain still holding off, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some gardening.  I mowed a lawn and did some shredding while Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and did useful clearing up and letting light in.

I let some light into my camera.

The new bed continues to thrive and there are even a few second flush delphiniums threatening to come out.

poppies in new bed

Old friends are still flowering:

fuchsia, camanula and cornflower

It has been a good year for the fuchsias, the campanula is on its second burst and the cornflowers have been out all summer.

cosmos, marigold and anemone

The cosmos continues to delight, the French marigolds shine on after the carrots they protect have all been eaten and the Japanese anemones light up a dark corner of the garden.

Elsewhere there were small insects to make up for the lack of butterflies.

bug on dahlia

Easy to spot on the dahlia but harder to see hidden in a lamium flower.

bug in lamium

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried a new more dainty hosta this year and they are just coming into flower.

little hosta

A few flowers on a new dicentra offer promise of a great sensation next year.

new dicentra

And the onset of autumn can no longer be denied…

virginia creeper

…even though summer sights are still to be seen.

sunflowers

A small yellow weed with a prickly leaf has sprouted in the soon to be dismantled strawberry bed.

yellow weed

We had to leave the garden when the promised rain started at lunchtime and as it is still continuing as I wrote this in the evening, the only other flowers that I saw today were tastefully arranged by the head gardener in a vase indoors.

vase of flowers

I had plenty of Archive Group work to do though so I wasn’t bored and I found time to set up the tripod and get the camera to do some bird watching.

The sparrows were back, both on the seed feeder….

four sparrows

The one on the right looks as though it is smoking not snacking

…and on the fat balls.

sparrows on fatballs

A few chaffinches appeared and with the sparrows went in for sideways flying in a big way.

sideways birds

There was formation flying as well.

flying sparrow and chaffinch in unison

Later in the afternoon, while Mrs Tootlepedal did her embroidery accounts on the computer, I made a pound of raspberries that I had picked before the rain arrived into two jars of quick raspberry jam.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we started work on a trio sonata by Quantz which is quite demanding on finger agility and counting skills so we won’t be short of things to practice when the long nights draw in.

We are in for that meteorological paradox, a steady spell of changeable weather and gardening, cycling and walking will be a hit and miss affair for the next ten days.  It helps when, like today, the forecast is accurate.  I live in hope on that front.

The flying bird of the day is an elegantly arched  chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows an 18th Century mill near Derby and the dam that was built to provide it with water.18th C mill

(I am in the market for new guest pictures)

I had a quiet morning today and was content to potter about indoors for the most part in spite of some fine weather.  When I did poke my head out into the garden, I had to look sharp to avoid being run into by butterflies.  There were a lot about again.

I shot pictures of them with my little Lumix and my Nikon and got reasonable results with both.  The big blue buddleia was still attracting a good number of butterflies and because the number of stems with flowers is getting smaller,  I often saw the butterflies pushing each other about just like the birds on the feeder.  I didn’t manage to catch them at it and had to settle for some fine posing.

We had a full house today.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

Small tortoiseshell.  The blue on its wingtips is fading.

peacock butterfly

A peacock still with good colour

white butterfly

There are still a lot of whites about

painted lady butterfly

One of several painted ladies

another painted lady butterfly

And because I like them so much, another painted lady

Perhaps because of the fading of the blooms on the big buddleia, the smaller red buddleia by the back fence was also doing a brisk business today.

peacock butterfly (2)

red admiral butterfly

small tortoiseshell butterfly on red buddleia

It provided better backgrounds for the shots and the zoom lens on the Nikon let me blur them to good effect.

After lunch I fully intended to go for a cycle ride but first of all the chance of watching the Tour of Britain cycle race going up a Lake District climb was too tempting and then when I did get more active, a really severe gust of wind persuaded me that some gardening might be more fun.

As part of the remodelling of the vegetable garden, I found out just how big and deep the roots of a rhubarb plant can be.  It needed a pickaxe to shift it.

While Mrs Tootlepedal cooked our tea, I thought that I ought to make some use of the good day and went for a short walk over three bridges.

As I walked over the first bridge (The Langholm Bridge), I could see two goosanders at the water’s edge below me.

two goosanders

I crossed the second bridge (The Sawmill Brig) and walked along the Lodge Walks seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Lodge Walks september

I then strolled over the Castleholm and came to the third bridge (The Duchess Bridge) ….

duchess bridge

…and crossed it and made my way home.

On my way I saw a lot of fungus again of many shapes and sizes…

castleholm fungus

…and some lichen, which needed a very close look to see the red tip.

lichen

Sheltered from the wind and with the sun occasionally out, it was a fine evening for a walk….

Castleholm copse

…with shades of green everywhere you looked.

view of castleholm

And the finale was this brilliant display of Russian vine on our neighbour Liz’s garage.

russian vine

In the evening Mike and Alison came round.  Alison and I put some useful practice into our French pieces and played an old friend to finish off an enjoyable session.

Mike and Alison are quite excited as their son with his wife and their two children have just touched down in Scotland on a visit from their home in New Zealand.

I didn’t have much time to look at birds today and when I did look, there weren’t many birds to watch so there is no flying bird of the day today, just one who had recently finished flying…

greenfinch

…who was joined by another who also had just finished flying.

blue tit and greenfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s visit to the Netherlands.  She and her family camped beside the river Vecht.  She tells me that she passed up the opportunity to swim in its welcoming waters.

Vecht

We had plenty of water on hand today but most of it was coming directly from the sky which was not very helpful and we have had more rain in the first two days of this week than we had in the whole of last week.

The result was another very quiet day, though it was brightened up by a visit from Scott the minister which quite coincidentally turned out to be at coffee time.  He is off to his new parish near Glasgow soon and we shall miss him.

I watched the birds while I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch.

Sometime it is easy to imagine that birds are chatting to each other across the feeder….

chaffinch and sparrow chewing

…but a closer look reveals that they are simply finding the seed hard to swallow.

sparrow chewing

I did spot the occasional chaffinch and blue tit again….

chaffinch and bluetit on feeder

…but mostly it was the sparrow maelstrom as usual.

sparrow whirlwind

I have put up a subsidiary feeder on the elder tree and filled it with seed which, according to the packet, will entice an extraordinary variety of small birds to the garden.

It is attracting sparrows.

sparrow on elder feeder

I live in hope.

It stopped raining after lunch and I might have gone for a walk but by this time I had embarked on a scheme to make apple jelly with our windfalls so I cycled down to the Co-op to buy some preserving sugar.

The river was up enough after the rain to make use of all three arches of the Langholm Bridge….

Langholm Bridge in early September

…and create a bit of a ripple here and there.

Esk in minor spate

As I cycled along the river bank, I could see the first signs of impending autumn.

early autumn leaves

I stopped for a look on my way home and was delighted to see a dipper on a rock.  It was one of a pair but the other one flew off before I could catch it.

dipper september

I noticed how well the potentillas along the dam are doing  as I got home.  They started slowly this year but are making up for lost time now.

potentilla along dam

I walked round the garden when I got in.

The dahlia with apparent internal lighting was brightening up the gloomy day…

internally lit dahlia

…but this one looked more as though it was huddling up for some warmth.

huddled dhalia

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different sorts of cosmos on the go (one from a free packet of seeds on a magazine) and they are generally thriving.

four cosmos

There are even two buds on the Lilian Austin rose but they may need some better weather if they are to come out properly.

two rose buds september

Fuchsias are appearing in several different parts of the garden which is good as I like them a lot.

old fuchsia

The chives have produced some late flowers which are a bonus for insects.  I can see at least four on this flower.

chive with insects

And the sedum is getting ready to welcome butterflies should the sun ever come out again.

sedum nearly out

I went in and set about making the apple jelly. Our apples are not ideal for this task and I will have to leave the mush to drip over night to get enough liquid to make the jelly.

Mrs Tootlepedal came out into the garden and while she dug up the rest of the roots of the blackcurrant bush, I cut down the gooseberry bush as part of the projected remodelling.  It is an ambitious plan and we hope to have the energy (and the weather)  to carry it through.

The evening was devoted to music making as first my flute pupil Luke arrived and showed the value of practice once again and then I went off after tea to play trios with Mike and Isabel (and demonstrate my need for more practice).  The playing was as enjoyable as ever and rounded off an otherwise rather quiet day in a very pleasant way.

The flying bird of the day is one of the great tribe of sparrows.

flying sparrow

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started a nine mile walk today by crossing the River Manifold over this handsome bridge.

Manifold Bridge

We had a lovely day here as well but it was decidedly chilly at first so it took me some time to get going on my bike.

I checked on the buddleia after breakfast….

Three butterflies

Mixed sunbathing for two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell

…and I was just in time to take a gift of eggs from Scott, the minister (but not offer him coffee in return) just before I set off.

I was slightly nervous about how my legs would be feeling after the slow and arduous effort on Wednesday but a day visiting Matilda had worked wonders and they were in a cooperative mood today.  I took care not to upset them by going up any steep hills.

I hadn’t gone far before I noticed two buzzards which were very agitated about something and circled around above my head crying out loudly.

One hovered long enough for me to take a picture.

buzzard

I rode past banks of rosebay willowherb seed heads as I went along…

rosebay seeds

…and was impressed by the fact that the wind hadn’t dislodged them yet.

I rolled down out of the hills and into Gretna where I saw a wedding party get ready to attend their ceremony at the ‘Famous Blacksmith’s Shop’.

Gretna wedding

They avoided getting run over.

I continued down into England, passing churches with steeples and square towers.

Rockcliffe Church

Rockcliffe

Scaleby Church

Scaleby

The church at Scaleby had a shiny new padlock on the door and warning notices from the police.  Not the most welcoming of sights.

I turned off at Scaleby and followed this unassuming road.

new road to Smithfield

It was a moment to note for me though, as it was one of the few roads in the area that I had never cycled along before.

Thanks to my perky legs, I didn’t need to stop for many breathers so there are fewer pictures today and  this picture of the welcoming sight of the monument on Whita Hill is the only one that I took in the last fifteen miles.

Whita

The jaunt was almost exactly 50 miles and this took me over 3000 miles for the year so it was a satisfactory ride both for itself and statistically.  It also brought up 565 miles for the month, my biggest monthly tally for four years.  It is amazing what some good weather will do.

When I got home, I did a bit of bird watching….

goldfinch

The single goldfinch soon got swept away by an incoming tide of sparrows.

sparrow melee

…and then I had a look around the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spotted a ladybird…

ladybird

…and I spotted a small tortoiseshell stretching its wings….

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and then I spotted it again!

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2

Among the more flashy flowers, the feverfew sparkles away quite modestly…

feverfew

…but persistently.

And Mrs Tootlepedal’s new cosmos, which is improbably called ‘Double Click Cranberries’ raised its head to the sun.

cosmos

I cut down the head of the giant sunflower and put it out for the birds…

sunflower head

…and picked up one of the fallen flower heads and rested it on my knee.

sunflower flower

My neighbour Liz was trimming her cherry tree and the job seemed to call for a tall person so I went across to give her a hand and ended up with a good collection of branches for shredding and adding to our compost heap.

I had a relaxing bath and came downstairs to a delicious evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, the highlight of which was an enormous courgette fritter.

It took some time to recover from this but I was back in good order by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit.  Alison and I were playing early music in the French style and had  a hard working and enjoyable time getting to grips with some tricky pieces.

It was a good way to spend the last day of summer.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, putting down the landing gear.

flying sparrow

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »