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My feet got a good workout today. We started out with a visit with my sister Mary to Regent’s Park.

We went to see the roses and have a cup of coffee.

There were plenty of roses to see.

And a splendid willow tree too.

After we left the park (and my sister) we walked up Primrose Hill to visit one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s nieces and her partner and their new baby. She unsurprisingly turned out to be the world’s greatest baby.

Then we took the underground to visit our daughter Annie and took part in the Stockwell Garden tour with her, her partner Joe and his mother. This was a most sociable occasion and we thoroughly enjoyed poking our noses into the charming gardens of the neighborhood (followed by tea and cake)

They was lots to enjoy…

… and too much going on to record it all.

After we had exhausted the delights of Stockwell (and ourselves), we took the underground back to Euston and attended a choral evensong with my sisters. The small professional choir of five filled the whole church with a glorious sound.

We followed that with a light meal at an Italian restaurant across the road and took the bus home, tired but happy.

We will need a holiday when we get back to Langholm.

The non flying bird of the day is Mr Grumpy’s London cousin in the park.

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While we are in the deep South, our son Tony is on holiday in the far north in the Highland’s This is the view from his holiday cottage.

We didn’t have such a fine view but we did have a sunny walk up to Kenwood House with my sister Mary for a coffee and croissant.

There were fine trees on the way..

.. And the park keepers have let a lot of the grass grow which is good to see.

Then we left Mary and headed into the bustling shopping centre of the big city.

Where we met our daughter Annie and had lunch..

.. And then we did a little shopping.

Then Annie went home and we took my sisters out for a meal.

Another good day

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Down south

After spending some time in the garden mowing and watering lawns and looking at flowers…

.. which were well worth looking at in the sunshine…

… and trying out the macro ability of my phone camera on a bee…

… we left for London and arrived safely.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Wells with her friend, my Somerset corespondent Venetia, and took this reflective portrait of the cathedral from the bishop’s garden.

wells cathedral from Bishop's garden

We had a colder, windier day than yesterday, but as it was drier than forecast and the sun even came out briefly once or twice, we were grateful at a time when elsewhere in the country, torrential rain was making life hard.

I started the day by going to collect my bike from the bike shop where it had been serviced.  Because it has a gear box rather then a derailleur, it had had an oil change instead of a new cassette after just under four thousand miles.  The oil change was cheaper than a new cassette and chain but it still made my eyes water.  I will have to learn how to do it myself.

When I got home, I did a little shredding, put the results in compost bin A and then sieved more of compost bin C and put the bits that didn’t go through the sieve into compost bin D.  I lead a deep and exciting life.

Then I compounded the excitement by wandering about with a camera in hand.

The orange hawkweed is also known as ‘fox and cubs’ and this foxy flower looked as though it was brooding its cubs.

fox and cubs hawkweed

We have spireas that have showy leaves and dull flowers and we have spireas with dull leaves and showy flowers, very showy flowers.

spirea blossoms

Although we have had plenty of bees, I haven’t seen a great many smaller insects so I was pleased to see this one on a doronicum.

insect on doronicum

The tropaeolum flowers on the yew were lining up in attacking formation.

three tropaeolum attack

Apart from the rosa moyesii, which is in full flower, the other roses are still mainly work in progress. Like almost everything else in the garden, they could do with a bit of warmth.

four roses

The chives were still attracting various bees…

two bees on chives

…and I managed to get a wing as well as two bees knees in today’s shot.

close up on chive bee

By the front door, one clematis keeps fading while the other keeps flourishing.

clematis seed head and flower

It is hard to say which is prettier though.

By this time, lunch was calling and after lunch, I settled down for a while to watch the birds.

It was still very windy and this siskin was keeping firmly plunked down on the perch.

flat siskin

An anxious sparrow checked to see if there was a vacancy.

hopeful sparrow

I did think of going for a ‘bicycle walk’ just to get out of the house, but the weather was so unforgiving, cold and very windy, that I stayed in and caught up on some of the hymns for next Sunday’s service.

After a couple of hours, I went out to check the weather and noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine crop of doddering dillies growing in the bed at the end of the drive.  This grass has the Sunday name of Briza Media and it is also known as Common Quaking Grass and in the wind today, these doddering and quaking grasses were certainly living up to their name.  I had to pinch a head off one stem and take it inside to get it to stop quaking long enough for me to take a picture.

doddering dillies

The first candelabra primula flowers have appeared beside the pond.  I hope that they do well in spite of the weather, as they are among my favourite flowers…

early candelabra primula

…though of course, this is my absolute favourite.

astrantia

The day hadn’t got any better so I went back in and watched the birds again.

The squad of goldfinches was back….

four goldfinches

…though a siskin managed to sneak in at one point…

five goldfinches

…and occasionally there were more goldfinches than perches.

four goldfinches and a siskin

A greenfinch had no difficulty in persuading a goldfinch to offer it a seat at the table…

greenfinch close

…and when they had all gone off, a redpoll appeared and wasted my valuable seed.

redpoll spitting

My view of redpolls as charming little birds has been somewhat dented by seeing a redpoll nest live on the Springwatch programme on the telly.  It was the most disgustingly untidy nest that you could ever see.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious one pot penne, tomato and cream cheese dish for our tea.  As the rain taps on our windows as I write this, we are just hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow.  A tree had fallen on the line today but it has been cleared, so all is well at the moment.

As a bonus for another ‘stay at home’ post, there is not one but two flying sparrows of the day.

flying sparrow looking

In the strong winds, birds had to approach the feeder with care.

flying sparrow hanging

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz.  She has been going through her photographic archives and found this very odd picture from 40 years ago of me pushing her late husband down the street in a wheelbarrow.  Our strange expressions may be because we have large moustaches painted on our faces.  Memories have  faded but the feeling is that we must have been getting ready to take part in a charity fancy dress wheelbarrow race.

dav

It was a miserable day here today and it didn’t stop raining until the late afternoon.  At times it was very windy too, so I was happy to idle about indoors doing the crossword, making soup and looking out of the kitchen window…

…where there was a lot of action all day.  The sparrows like the fat balls and the little shelter keeps the food and the eaters dry.

sparrows on fat balls

Other birds were soggier like this pigeon…

soggy pigeon

…and this starling…

soggy starling

…and this goldfinch…

soggy goldfinch

Somehow blackbirds seem to be more water resistant than the other birds and the raindrops roll off their backs.

damp blackbird

None of the birds looked very happy…

greenfinch and sparrow in the rain

…until this collared dove turned up looking very calm and dry.

collared dove on ground

The starlings are very busy feeding their young and this little fellow was waiting patiently while its parent collected some seed from the feeder.

baby starling

After lunch, we went off to get some more bird food and pay a visit to a popular DIY chain store  in Carlisle where we hoped to buy a decorative lampshade.  Mrs Tootlepedal knew what she wanted so we looked on the internet before we left and found that our local branch of the store had 20 in stock.  This was good news.

The bird food purchase went smoothly and we also got some straw for our strawberries so we were in a good mood when we got to the store.  Our smiles turned down a little when we searched the lampshade section and could not find the shade we had in mind.

We summoned assistance.  “I don’t think we’ve got any of them,” she said, “but I’ll have a look.”

She looked and she couldn’t find them either.

“They’re not in stock,” she said.
“Your computer says you’ve got 20 in stock”, I replied.
“Hmmm.”

She consulted the computer and it did indeed say that they had twenty in stock.

“Ah,” she said, “but that doesn’t mean that we actually do have twenty in stock. They often say that they are sending us stuff, put it on the computer but don’t send it.”
“Ah” we said,
“Sorry,” she said…

…and we went on our way, sadder but wiser.

Still, we had other shopping to do nearby and that went well so we got home happy enough and found that the rain had stopped at last.

jackdaw going nuts

After a cup of tea, I went out and did some more compost shifting and sieving and then as it was very grey and windy, I went back in and resumed looking out of the kitchen window.

I thought that these sparrows were just doing the usual shouting at each other…

sparrow feeding 1

…but it turned out to be…

sparrow feeding 2

… another feeding experience.

sparrow feeding 3

The young are very demanding….

sparrow feeding 4

…and the parents have a very busy time…

sparrow feeding 5

…indeed,

sparrow feeding 6

In the evening it started to rain again but the gloom was lifted when Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed playing Telemann, Parcham and Rameau duets before joining Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike to catch up on all the news.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in the rain.

flying sparrow

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It was a day of undiluted fun in London.

There was time to read the Sunday papers before we met up with my sisters Susan and Mary and stepmother Patricia for an early lunch at a French cafe in Camden Town.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal and I caught the tube from the legendary Mornington Crescent underground station down to Leicester Square to go to a film gala at the lavishly refurbished Odeon cinema.

When we arrived, Joe Cornish, the writer and director of the film, was being interviewed in front of a lively crowd.

He is our daughter Annie’s partner and they had kindly fixed up plum tickets for us to see Joe’s new film…

… The Kid Who Would Be King.

After testing out our seats…

.. which were quite comfortable and admiring the enormous screen….

… we met up with Annie…

… and milled around in the foyer goggling at stars of stage and screen.

Then we enjoyed the film itself, which collected a rousing ovation from the audience when it finished.

The amount of work and creative effort, not to mention the money, that goes into making a feature film is almost unimaginable so it is a great relief when the end product is as much good solid exciting fun as this film was to watch.

We were immensely proud of Joe.

As an added bonus, after all the film fun was over, we got a chauffeur driven car to take us to our next engagement which was a choral evensong at the church which my sisters attend.

The music was provided by a professional choir of four singers who were very accomplished and as one of the lessons was read by my sister Susan and the sermon was short and very much to the point, the whole service was most satisfactory.

It was followed by yet another meal out with my sisters, this time in an Italian restaurant.

We will definitely be needing a lie down when we get back to Langholm tomorrow!

What a great day thanks to all concerned and special congratulations to Joe for providing such an enjoyable film.

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Sitting pretty

I do have a guest picture today as our daughter gave me this handsome portrait of her cat Smudge to head today’s post.

After breakfast with my sister Mary, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit her mother and I bought a newspaper, walked past these colourful houses…

..and enjoyed some quality lounging on my sister Susan’s excellent reclining chair. I did the crossword in the morning and watched some rugby in the afternoon so it was a day well spent.

The lounging paid off and I was on pretty perky form when I set off to meet up with Mrs Tootlepedal. It was a fine…

…but chilly evening.

We met successfully south of the river and had a good meal with Annie and Joe (and Smudge). Annie’s cottage pie was a triumph

Joe has been very busy making a film recently and we are going to a gala showing of it tomorrow. We are very excited.

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