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Archive for the ‘Tootling’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s trip to Sweden and shows the Stockholm’s Gröna Lund amusement park as seen from the water.  With my head for heights, there would be little amusement there for me.

stockholm funfair

We had another fine and sunny day today with light winds, just perfect for cycling.  The day had been provided by those amusing weather gods as they knew perfectly well that I had arranged to take my good bike into the bike shop for its annual service this morning.  I could hear them chuckling as I drove down the road to drop the bike off.

However, I had other things to do in the absence of cycling and having put the bike in for its service, I drove further south and enjoyed an informative and useful singing lesson from Mary, the now ex-musical director of our Langholm choir as she has retired from the post.  She is an excellent teacher and if I keep going, I may even become a singer.  I live in hope.

I got home about lunch time and would have gone to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal if we hadn’t remembered that it is shut on a Monday.  Instead we brought an egg roll from our corner shop and lunched modestly at home.

After lunch, I suggested that Mrs Tootlepedal might enjoy a ten mile cycle ride using the newly repaired Tarras road and was delighted when she agreed.  We set off for a gentle excursion with wild flowers in mind.

It is an undulating route with plenty of slow sections were there is time to scan the verges…

yellow wild flowers tarras road

The hawkweed was very prolific at one point and as it was on the longest of the hills, I was happy to stop and take a picture while Mrs Tootlepedal headed ever upwards.

yellow hawkweed

I caught up with her in time to catch her enjoying the smooth surface on the newly repaired road…

Ally on new road tarras

..and she rolled on down the hill and took a moment to admire the view from the bridge at the bottom.

tarras bridge

This was the view that she was admiring.

tarras cascade

As we went up out of the valley on the other side of the bridge, we were going slowly enough to note tightly wound thistle buds, cheerful daisies, baleful horsetail and a fine grass, possibly Yorkshire Fog.

dull wild flowers

And it was here that we saw the best treat of the day, a lone orchid.

first orchid

When we got to Claygate, we headed on down the hill….

going down to Byreburn

…and did a little gentle off road cycling along the track beside the Byre Burn.

fairy loup track june

Normally it is illegal for a man with a camera to pass the Fairy Loup waterfall, which is beside this track, without stopping to take a picture, but the leaves on the trees are so lush at the moment that I could hear the waterfall but I couldn’t see it at all today.

We got down to the Esk at Hollows and took the old A7 bike route home.  We had passed many wild geraniums on our way and I took this picture to represent them all.

wild gernanium

Before we set out, I had asked Mrs Tootlepedal to keep a special eye out for ragged robin as I thought it was about the right time to see this pretty plant, and she duly spotted a clump near Irvine House.

ragged robin

I was keeping my special eye out for yellow rattle and not far from the ragged robin, I was rewarded with a sighting.

yellow rattle

I looked it up when I got home and can tell you that Rhinanthus minor, the yellow rattle, little yellow rattle, hayrattle or cockscomb, is a flowering plant in the genus Rhinanthus in the family Orobanchaceae, native to Europe, northern North America, and Western Asia.  I thought that you might like to know that.  There is obviously a lot of it about.

yellow rattle (2)

Nearby, a clump of vetch was playing host to a large number of bees.

bees omn vetch

My final picture from the outing was this set of developing larch cones….

three larch cones

…taken just before we joined the main road for the last couple of miles home when we were too busy thinking about passing cars to worry about wild flowers.

Luckily from the point of view of taking pictures of flowers in the verges and not getting too hot while cycling, the sun had retired behind some handy clouds for most of our trip, but it was out and shining again when we got home.  As a result, after I had had a cup of tea, i went out into the garden and scarified the front lawn.

I was rather dashed to find that there were three full wheelbarrows of moss to be cleared when the scarifier had finished its work.  I had hoped that I was winning in the battle against the moss, but it is more like a stalemate at the moment.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we practised a simple arrangement of a Scott Joplin tune which I had acquired from the internet at a modest price.  It is a wonderful world where I can think that I might like to play a piece by Joplin, look on the internet, find a piece, buy it, print it out and be playing it within five minutes of having had the idea.

After Luke went, I had a walk round the garden in the evening sun and enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s French rose…

rosarie de

…and a glowing Icelandic poppy (the dead header needs to work harder)….

icelandic poppy

…and the argyranthemums which Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out in the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.

argyranthemum in chimney pot

A new clematis has come out near the pond.

purple clematis

Then it was time for tea, a second helping of yesterday’s slow cooked beef stew.

Since it was still a lovely evening after tea, I improved the shining  hour by mowing the middle lawn.  I am definitely winning the battle against the moss there.

In all this activity, I didn’t have any time to spend watching the birds, so there is no flying bird of the day today.  A flower of the day appears in its place,  a case of going from the  sublime sparrow to the ranunculus.

pale ranunculus

 

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She recently took a break in the Highlands of Scotland where she saw this lovely little tree creeper.

tree creeper

The forecast was for sunshine and light winds in the morning and rain and strong wind in the afternoon.  As I was hoping to have coffee with Dropscone to find out about the state of his health, this meant that I would have to be up early and be well organised to get a bike ride in before coffee time.

To my own astonishment, I managed it.

It was a lovely morning for a pedal…

Chapelhill road

…but as I didn’t have a lot of time in hand, I pressed on without looking for cows or wild flowers in the verges to photograph.   I couldn’t miss Canonbie Church though.,..

Canonbie Church june

…or the ‘leaping poodle’ tree…

laughing poodle tree

…and the beauty of the River Esk at Irvine House called me to a halt too.

river esk at Irvine hiuse june

I got back after twenty miles in good time to get changed and grind the coffee before Dropscone arrived.

He has been given the all clear by the hospital after his golf buggy accident, but he will have to take things easily for a couple of weeks.  As he had just got his golf game working well after some months of poor form, he feels the accident was very badly timed but he is bearing up well and went off with some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s surplus runner beans to plant.

When he went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a walk round the garden.  Just as the sensational white clematis flowers to the left of the front door are fading away, a new set of blue ones has arrived to the right of the door.

two front door clematis

Elsewhere in the garden, the flowers were reflecting the sunshine with bright colours…

four bright flowers

…and more subdued ones too.

four yellow flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the first of our melancholy thistles…

melancholy thistle june

…and it was hard to miss the bright Sweet Williams which are beginning to make a splash.

early sweet williams

Other flowers were to be seen…

four garden flowers

…and once again, there were a lot of bees about.

I put down the camera and got to work mowing the front and middle lawns.  As I was able to do this without having to use the box to collect the grass cuttings, it was an easy and pleasant task.  Cutting lawns every day or every other day is the secret of a happy life….and leads to good looking lawns.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy clearing nerines away from the base of the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Now that the bird feeder has been moved, she has plans for creating a little colourful spot to please the eye of the cook or washer up when he or she looks out of the window.

At the moment it is a blank canvas.

cleaned up sundial

I dug holes ready for her to plant the nerines in a different bed and then edged both lawns, shredded some hedge cuttings and sieved some compost.

By this time, we were both ready for some lunch and a sit down!

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had had a very heavy morning in the garden, went off for a siesta and I did the crossword and then looked at the weather.

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t look as though it was going to rain so I went for a walk.  I have cycled 100 miles in five lots of twenty gentle miles over the week and my feet and Achilles tendon have survived very well so I thought that I would see if some pedestrian exercise would help too and went for a two mile walk ’round the Becks’.

I went up the road first and passed under this very interesting tree with leaves within leaves.

varied leaf

As I was going slowly enough to stop easily, I kept my eye out for wild flowers…

four wild flowers

…but to tell the truth, I didn’t have to look very hard to find  them….

lots of wild of flowers

…as they lined my whole route from start to finish.

four more wild flowers

It was good to be out and about after not doing much walking at all for a month and I enjoyed the views even if the sun had gone in and the blue sky was disappearing.

view of whita from becks road

I crossed the Becks bridge when I came to it…

becks bridge june

…and very much enjoyed the little sunken buttercup meadow on the far side.

buttercup meadow becks

I haven’t had a good gate on the blog for some time so I thought that i ought tor repair that omission today.

gate june

I could have stopped for a picture very few yards but I didn’t want to get caught in the rain so I pushed on as fast as my feet would let me.  All the same, there were things to see on every side, slow worms at Pool Corner, moss recovering after the dry spell….

slow worm, hedge rose, moss and hawthorn

…hawthorn flowers turning pink as they go over and the first hedge roses of the year.

Two miles was as far as my feet would let me go, but the walk doesn’t seem to have made them worse and rest doesn’t seem to make them, better so I will try walking again as soon as weather permits.   The hills beckon.

When I got home, I had a look at the feeder in its new position.  Business was quiet with just a few sparrows coming and going…

sparrows coming and going

…so I went off to practise the songs for our forthcoming choir concert and the hymns for church on Sunday.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round.  They had brought a bottle of white wine with them and this provided fine lubrication for music and conversation.

Altogether, it was a full day, both useful and enjoyable.  The forecast is for a mixture of sunshine and showers in the week to come so I hope to be able to keep cycling and walking if my feet permit.

The flying bird of the day, taken when the sun was long gone, is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On a recent tour, he stopped at Tewkesbury and took a picture of the bridge there.

bridge

Yesterday’s heavy work on the lawn was an experiment in ‘kill or cure’ and when I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the balance had tipped firmly down on the ‘cure’ side of things.  For the first time for ages, my feet weren’t painfully sore.  I didn’t let my feet go to my head though and took things pretty gently through the day.

I did go out into the garden and look at the flowers.  I liked a vetch which has come up of its own accord.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to leave it where it is as it is popular with bees.

vetch

New white flowers have appeared: Mrs Tootlepedal describes the one on the left as an educated onion and the one on the right is the first of the philadelphus.

four flowers

The Dutchman’s breeks and the Welsh poppies are adding an international air of gaiety to the garden…

…and the light was just right to take a picture of the yellow ranunculus.

yellow ranunculus

I noticed that the plain fuchsia by the back gate is producing flowers but it doesn’t look very well so there may not be the usual waterfall of blossom this year.

old fuchsia

As my back was in such good order, I did some shifting and sifting of compost.  I started to turn Bin C into Bin D but the material had rotted down so well that I was able to sieve a lot of it and just put the remains in Bin D.   I have been trying to layer the compost in Bin A more carefully lately, green and woody in turn, so perhaps this is a reward down the line for good behaviour.

I went in for coffee and watched the birds.  Sparrows were the flavour of the day but redpolls are frequent visitors too.  The goldfinches have almost entirely found a better place to feed.

sparrows and redpoll

The old sunflower stalk continues to provide a useful perch…

sparrow on stalk

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is growing a new sunflower nearby for next year.

We had other visitors.  There were quite a few jackdaws on the peanuts during the day and Mrs Tootlepedal witnessed some angry scenes among them.  I saw this one daring anyone to come and have a go if they are tough enough.

jackdaw going nuts

There are starlings nesting in a neighbour’s tree and one came to the seed feeder today.

starling feeling seedy

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I went for a cycle ride.  I had intended to try for some long, slow distance today but the forecast was very uncertain and there had been spots of rain on and off through the morning so I settled for some short, slow distance instead and went round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

It wasn’t hard to notice that the hawthorn had come out while we were on holiday.

 

hawthord on hill

And there were wild flowers all the way round.

verhe wild flowers

I took a closer look at the bird’s foot trefoil, a flower that I like a lot, and discovered a tiny creature among the petals.

birdsfoot trefoil

The back roads were lined with cow parsley and on this section it had a hem of buttercups as well.

cow parsley and buttercups

There was a lot of wild geranium to be seen.

wild geranium

I stopped to get a picture of the hawthorns beside the Hollows Tower and found that the managers have erected two flag poles beside the tower.

hollws tower and hawthorn

I was pleased that I had decided on a short ride because there were some very threatening showers further down the road and it rained a bit when I got back.

Back in the garden I found that a Rozeraie de L’hay had managed to survive yesterday’s rain showers.

rose in garden

I was struck by this single aquilegia which had grown through one of the golden box balls.  It looked odd.

aquilegia on box ball

When I had walked round the garden, I went in for  a cup of tea and a shower and then settled down to practice some of the songs for our Carlisle choir concert.

In the evening, our recorder group met for a play and for a change the group assembled at Wauchope Cottage which was very convenient for me.  Because the sun had come out again by the time that they arrived, we had a walk round the garden before we started playing.  We played Handel, Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Purcell, Morley and Scheidt so we had good material to work with.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was heading back towards the feeders but as it already had a mouthful of seed, I am not sure why it was bothering.

flying siskin

Footnote:  I was speaking to our daughter Annie on the phone today and she put in a  request for some more general pictures of the garden to put my flower pictures in context.  I am always anxious to please so I found a sunny moment late in the afternoon and took a random set of pictures of various borders.  In spite of the many colourful flower pictures which appear on the blog, the predominant colour in the garden is green.

 

garden bed 1garden bed 2garden bed 3garden bed 4garden bed 5garden bed 6garden bed 7garden bed 8garden bed 9garden bed 10

And of all the views, this one, taken from our new bench as the sun goes behind the walnut tree, is my favourite.

.garden bed 11

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was hit in the eye by this burst of colour on her morning walk to Kenwood House.

Kenwood colour

After breakfast, I cycled up to the town to do some business including paying in a handsome cheque kindly sent to me by the government.  This was a refund for the very expensive road tax which I had paid on our old car.  One of the benefits of the little white zingy thingy is that it is tax free to put on the road, part of the inducements to go electric.  These benefits will doubtless disappear when more people start buying electric cars but judging by the published figures on the rate of sales, I should be safe for a while yet.

Then  I drove off into England for the third day running, this time to see my singing teacher Mary.  My ambition is to be able to sing a simple song more or less in tune and in a pleasant manner so she has her work cut out on both fronts.  However, she is a first rate teacher and I came away feeling that with work, I might be able to achieve my goal.

An added bonus was being able to watch a small flock of lapwings flying around in the field opposite her house after the lesson.

It was another fine day so when I got home, I took a walk round the garden in the hope that more azaleas would have come out.  They are very reluctant.

not out azalea

This one has been covered with  promising buds for ages but it is still strangely reluctant to burst into flower.  Our warmer weather is set to continue for a day or two so I am keeping my hopes up.

When I went in, I found that Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and chief data miner for our local newspaper index, had brought round the sheets which will mean when they have been entered into the database that we have reached 1900.  Three cheers to all involved.

It was soon time for lunch and after I had eaten my soup and cheese and done the crossword, the downside of the little white thingy came into play.  The crucial word here is “white” and some pointed remarks from Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to the fact that a white car shows the dirt.  For many years now I have avoided washing our car because in my view, it just encourages more dirt, but even I could see that the new car is going to require regular washing.  Ah well, nothing in the world is quite perfect.

After I had washed to car, the middle lawn called to me.  The moss eating mixture which I applied a few weeks ago seems to have had an effect but there was still a very mossy patch in the middle of the lawn so I got out the scarifier and gave the whole lawn a going over.  When I had collected the moss with the mower, the lawn looked quite potential…

scarified lawn

…though my assistant thought that there was still work to be done.

scarifying assistant

…and to be fair, there is still quite a bit of moss about.

As you can see from the lawn picture, we are between colour at the moment with the tulips and daffodils past but there is a lot of green about…

green garden May

…and there are spots of colour here and there.

The sweet rocket is coming out…

sweet rocket

…the tree peony is very nearly out…

tree peony flower nearly out

…and the Japanese azalea is doing its best too.

japanese azalea

The cow parsley in the back border is beginning to look really impressive…

rampant cow parsley

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has a purple stemmed variety in another bed.

purple stemmed cow parsley

I went round to the back of the house, to check what flowers could be seen along the dam…

flowers along dam may

…and found daisies, potentilla and the first of the aquilegia, one of my favourite flowers.

I came back into the garden and found that the white polemonium…

white polemonium

…had been joined by a blue variety…

blue polemonium

…and the first geraniums have arrived too.

cranesbill

I took a view from an upstairs window which showed that only two of the five azaleas in the bed along the road have come out…

azaleas in sun

…and then went off for another short and gentle therapeutic pedal on the slow bike.

I passed the bluebells on the hill again without walking up to visit them this time.

bluebells on hill

When I had been down in England in the morning, I had noticed that quite a few hawthorns had come out and I was interested to see if ours were out too.  They weren’t….

hawthorn not out

…but they are going to make a good show when they do arrive.

Although most of our trees are now green, the alders along the river sides are still waiting to join in, as this picture of the Glencorf Burn shows.

leafless alders glencorf burn

Normally, if I have a good bike ride, as I did yesterday, I would try to go further the next day but as I had my sensible head on today, I went slightly less far than I did yesterday and my ankle thanked me for it.  I was very happy to find my sensible head as often it is well hidden away.

I didn’t have much to time watch the birds today but I liked the concentration shown by this pigeon…

concentrating pigeon

…and checked out the usual customers on the feeder.

redpoll, siskin, goldfinch

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and I was able to use a tip which I had picked up from my singing lesson to help him get over an awkward corner in one of our pieces.

I also introduced him to Scott Joplin as a change from baroque sonatas.

As the sun sank after a full day’s work, I resisted the temptation to take a sunset picture as I already had too many for the post and so all that is left now is the flying bird of the day.  Or rather, in today’s case, the fleeing bird of the day.

fleeing siskins

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Today’s guest picture has gone all Instagram and shows a rather dainty meal that my two oldest sisters enjoyed on  a bank holiday outing last Monday.  It is only here because I have run out of up to date guest pictures again.  I thank everyone who sent me pictures that I didn’t use because I had too many at the same time and if necessary, I will delve into the archives to retrieve one or two.

sisters' lunch

We had another frosty morning here today but things warmed up quickly and with a light wind and some sunshine, it turned unto a very reasonable day.

I echoed the frosty start by applying a pack of frozen peas to my ankle and this had the effect of enabling me to walk about a bit more comfortably than I had been able to do yesterday evening.

All the same, I kept pretty quiet and cycled very carefully up to town to run a couple of necessary errands.

When I got back, the sun tempted me to walk round the garden.

There are Welsh poppies on every side now…

welsh poppy in sun

…and it is lilac blossom time too.

lilac in shade

Edible and decorative strawberries are showing new flowers…

two straberries

…but the alpine clematis looks as though it has had one too many chilly mornings and seems a bit depressed.

droppy alpine clematis

Generally though, the garden looked a bit more cheerful in the sun and there were more bees about…

three purple flowers

…though not nearly as many as we would like.

The house was in some confusion as we had the joiner in doing repairs but I found a quiet corner to do the crossword and catch up with the news in the paper and when the joiner had finished, I made some lentil soup for lunch.

I wasn’t the only one thinking of food…

jackdaw on peanuts

…but at least I got something to eat unlike the sparrowhawk who flew through without success and turned its back on the feeder in disgust.

back view of sparrowhawk

I don’t know whether this is a young bird but we have have several visits from it without losing any of our smaller friends lately so maybe it needs practice.

After lunch, I had another wander around.  With a forecast of warmer weather to come, perhaps the rhododendrons and azaleas will at last come fully out.  They are ready.

early rhododendron

I lied this composition of straight lines provided by alliums in front of the vegetable garden fence…

starightlines with alliums

…and I was very pleased to see the first pair of Dutchman’s Breeks of the year.

dutchman's trousers

It is also known as Bleeding Heart and I would call it a Dicentra but I see that I should really call it Lamprocapnos spectabilis now.   It is easier to spell Dicentra so I may keep calling it that.

The sun had persuaded the last of our tulips to stop being so straitlaced and relax a bit…

late tulip

…and in the pond, this tiny little creature was whirling round in circles creating waves.

small circulating pond creature

I think it may be the aptly named whirlygig beetle.

With a walk being out of the question, Mrs Tootlepedal came out with me for a short drive.  We started by visiting a very fruitful conifer a little way up the Wauchope road

red cones

It is very colourful sight with its mass of cones, some red and some brown.  I would welcome information from those who know as to whether the red cones are flowers and different from these cones on another branch…

cones in plenty

or whether they just the first stages and in the end they will all look the same.

We turned and drove back through the town and then up the hill onto the moor in the hope of seeing a hen harrier for Mrs Tootlepedal.  And on this occasion, her hopes were fulfilled as she was able to track a harrier flying across the moor and then soaring into the sky.

She followed it with binoculars but it was too far away for a photograph so I settled for a scenic view instead.

view up Tarras valley from Whita

The moor is not being grazed by sheep at the moment and this has led to young trees being able to take root and grow without being nibbled and I liked the symbolism of fresh trees growing in a disused sheep pen down in the valley below.

sheep pen on moor

Driving our new electric car is a roller coaster experience and as we went up the hill, the gauge which shows how many theoretical miles we have left dropped like a stone and we lost many more miles than we actually travelled.  However, as we came gently back down the hill, the gauge rose like a lark and we got back all our lost miles.  From a purely driving point of view, the car floats up the hill effortlessly.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike discussed gardening, Alison and I played a few sonatas.  We haven’t played for a bit and I found my fingers were very rusty but we had an enjoyable time nevertheless.

It was election night in Langholm, the time for the townspeople to chose the young man who will be cornet and carry the town’s standard at the Common Riding in July.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had cycled along to vote earlier and as Alison and I played, the Town Band marched past our window, leading latecomers to the ballot box.  As they weren’t playing at the time, I didn’t notice them until they had gone past.

election night

I didn’t find a flying bird today and I name the guilty (but hungry) party.

sparrowhawk on garden chair

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this wonderful cave on one of his walks.  Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave) is a natural cavern located at in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire,

thor's cave

I got up quite early for me but an early bird had got up even earlier.

partrisge at breakfast

A partridge was out after seed rather than worms.

After breakfast I drove our Kangoo down to Carlisle where I traded it in for a smaller little white thingy which we hope is going to carry us about but need a lot less in the way of running  repairs.

I checked that the new car was going to be fit for purpose by stopping off on the way home to buy a big bag of bird seed.  The car carried it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal couldn’t come with me as she had to stay at home as the garage doors were being painted and she was waiting for a gas engineer to arrive.  The gas engineer had not arrived by the time that I got back and I had time to look at a bee on a dicentra..

bee on dicentra

…the trillums, which continue to do well in a shady corner…

trillium

…and signs of good things to come.  The first flower on the strawberries, the first row of lettuces and some broad beans waiting to be planted out.

strawb, lettuce and beans

The painter finished the undercoat and the gas engineer arrived.  He came to service the boiler which had developed a fault. He discovered that the boiler needs  a new part and we need a new thermostat and as he didn’t have either, he will come back tomorrow and fit them then.

After lunch, we tested the new little white thingy to see if it was up to Mrs Tootlepedal’s requirements by going off to collect some wood chippings to cover paths between the new beds in the vegetable garden.  We filled up the boot with buckets of chippings and we were nearly home, when I forgot that the new car is an automatic and stood heavily on the brake thinking that it was the clutch.  This brought the car to a sudden stop and tipped all the buckets of wood chips over.  What fun we had clearing the chippings out.

I will have to practice driving without a clutch and gear stick.

I sat down to watch the birds for a while and to recover from all this excitement.

The birds were rather dull.  First a set of goldfinches…

four goldfinches

…and then a more varied selection.

siskin, repoll goldfinch

But there weren’t many and so I went out and looked for bees in the garden.  They were quite a few buzzing about, visiting the apple blossom…

bee on apple

…and hanging out on the rosemary with well filled pollen sacs.

bee on rosemary

Back on the feeder pole, a blackbird issued a challenge to all comers…

blackbird speaking

…and waited to see if anyone would take him up.

blackbird silent

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a useful session, concentrating on musicality and phrasing to good effect.

After he left, I got my bike out and went off to see if my feet were up to a few miles pedalling.

It had been a beautiful sunny day but I hadn’t got far before the clouds gathered together to blot out the sun .  However, it was warm and dry so I enjoyed my ride.

clouds assembling

I stopped to look at two lambs…

two lambs

…which were bleating loudly.  I soon found out that this was because they were part of a small group of lambs on one side of a little stream and their parent were on the other side, also bleating loudly.

lost lambs

The lambs got safely back across though and by the time that I came past on my way back, the families were reunited.

While I was taking these pictures, I was passed by a couple of young ladies out for a bike ride themselves.  Seeing them whizzing up the road, I thought that I ought to try a bit harder too and although I couldn’t catch them up, I pedalled a lot more quickly than I usually do.  Luckily they turned off before I killed myself but all the same, my average speed for my little 12 mile ride was considerably faster than of late.  Pride is a great motivator.

Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked an tasty meal and I was pleased to sit down and eat it when I got home.

We are expecting the painter, the gas man and an electrician tomorrow so it will be a full day.

Flying birds were few and far between and this one nearly got a way before I could catch it.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who is back from Wales.  She found herself looking across the Thames and reflecting on how enormous the new buildings in London are when compared to the Tower of London which can be seen cowering on the extreme right of her shot.

London skyline

We had another dry day today and it is now so long since it has rained that Mrs Tootlepedal was heard to say (very quietly), “We need a bit of rain.”  She is right as things are starting to dry out too much.  But at least it was slightly warmer today with less bite in the wind and things are forecast to get warmer still over the next few days.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning and afternoon with things to do, including getting her hair cut  and then helping out at the Buccleuch Centre Coffee Shop, followed by doing the front of house duties at a screening of a film about the current big Rembrandt exhibition.

I, in contrast, had a very quiet day involving a crossword, coffee, biscuits and bird watching and two very short spells on the bike to nowhere in the garage.

The birds at first were very excitable…

all action goldfinches

…but getting out a different lens slowed them down a lot until they….

still life goldfinch and chaffinch and siskin

…almost looked as though they were frozen in time.

still life goldfinch and chaffinch

We had another siskin at the feeder today.

sisikin april

In an effort to improve my brain power I had a sardine sandwich for lunch on the grounds that P G Wodehouse always claimed that Jeeves, who was a clever fellow, ate a lot of fish.

Then I went for a gentle walk.

I decided that it was time to go up a hill so I walked up the Kirk Wynd from the middle of the town and took note of some colour on the way.

There was a fancy garden escape just at the entrance to the golf course…

colour on Kirk Wynd april

And a native berry a bit further up but how such a fancy daffodil found its way all by itself even further up the track and far away from a garden is a mystery.

The noise of creaking and groaning as I got to the top of the golf course alerted me to the fact that elderly golfers were playing nearby.

Jim and George were basking in the glory of having won prizes in the winter competition which has just ended.

two old golfers

I went through the gate at the top of the track and walked on to the open hill.  It was rather misty so there was not much in the way of views but there was sea of gorse…

sea of gorse whita well

…and trees…

two trees above hillhead

…. silhouetted against the misty hills.

conifer above hillhead

These three trees are remarkable in that a closer look will show…

three trees whitshiels track

…just how slimly attached to reality they are.

wholly holey tree

I had crossed the Newcastleton road and I made my way back down into the valley by way of these sheep pens.

 

bw sheep pens

I walked back to the Sawmill Brig where I saw a dipper again.  It flitted away before  could catch it so I walked on round the bottom of the Castleholm on the new path.

There was plenty of variety in the conifers beside the track.

conifers blooming

And plenty of signs of life on all sides.

spring growth

I enjoyed the sight of this tree plainly stretching its back beside the river.

stretching tree

I know just how it feels.

I waited for a while on the Jubilee Bridge to see if a nuthatch might be using the nest site in the big tree there.  In the end, I was disappointed to see a blue tit popping in instead.

blue tit at nest

I met Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal when I was nearly home.  They were admiring Mike’s handsome new fence.  I walked home with Mrs Tootlepedal and we enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and a biscuit or two.

Because I was going out in the evening, I put my pictures onto the computer straight away and then made a shepherd’s pie for tea.

While it was cooking, I walked round the garden and took a final picture.

yellow and orange tulip

After tea, I picked up my friend Susan and we went off to play recorders with our group in Carlisle.  I had missed last month’s meeting because of a clash of dates so it seemed a long time since I had last played.  As a result, the music was even more welcome than usual and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time puffing away on the bass recorder while Jenny, Sue and Susan played the more elaborate upper parts.  We had a good selection of music and some excellent biscuits to go with the after-playing cup of tea so the evening could hardly have been better.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch in full aerodynamic mode, heading into the wind.

determined flying chaffinch

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