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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this very colourful field on one of his permitted walks.  He can’t say what it is that the farmer is growing.

andrew's red field

My day started with a Zoom visit to Australia. My sister Susan’s friend Stephen has contributed guest pictures to the blog and as she was scheduled to talk him, she thought that I ought to take this opportunity to visit him digitally too.  The technology is amazing and there seems to be no difference at all in talking to someone in Edinburgh or someone in Sydney.  My sister and I had a very enjoyable conversation with Stephen and his wife and I hope to get more guest pictures from him when he is able to get out and about freely again.

It was very cold here today and there had even been a little rain overnight.  A very brisk and cold wind was making an urgent case for a return to winter clothing and this was particularly annoying as it was the 89th birthday of our socially distanced street coffee morning participant Margaret.  We had hoped to give her a socially distant street birthday party.  In the end, it was a rather brief and huddled experience but we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake so we did our best.

All being well, we will have a really good street do for  Margaret’s ninetieth next year.

Although it wasn’t really a day for gardening, some gardening needed to be done.  Things needed watering as the overnight rain was pathetic, and things needed to be propped up and protected from the cold wind, and of course, things needed to be photographed.

I like the contrasts that Mrs Tootlepedal has between the softness of cow parsley and honesty and geums, and the brilliance of hostas and rhododendrons.

rhododendron, wild garden flowers, hosta

And I liked the prospect of lettuce and marmite sandwiches for lunch today and mashed potato in the future.

lettuce and potato

We didn’t stay out for too long and I was soon looking out of the window at the birds on the feeder.

There were contrasts there too, between small greenish birds having a nibble…

greenfinch and siskin

…and very big black birds eating us out of house and home..

rook on feeder

We went back out into the garden to check on a new bench.  It had been delivered with such expert social distancing that we didn’t even realise that it had arrived.

new bench

It will replace an old favourite which unfortunately has started to fall to pieces becuase people will insist on sitting on it.  As this one has been made long enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to stretch out and relax on it during those lazy, hazy days of summer still to come, we think that it might need another plank on the seat to stop her falling through the crack at the back.

While we were out, I noted the first flowers on a Sweet Rocket…

sweet rocket

…more euphorbia madness….

euphorbia

..and some lilac blossom.

lilac blossom

Not everything in the garden is full colour though.  There is always an element of greenness about too.

green garden

Then it was back inside for lunch and another look at the birds.

There was considerable goldfinch and greenfinch traffic…

goldfinches

…and one naughty goldfinch thought that it could hide behind the feeder pole and behave badly undetected.

goldfinches kicking

The forecast had been very gloomy and the morning matched the forecast, but by the afternoon, the sun was shining brightly enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal to go out for a walk, ignoring the still very chilly and brisk wind.  As it wasn’t an attractive day for bicycling, I was more than happy to go with her.

We stood on the town bridge and looked down. The rocks appeared under the clear water in the shadow of the bridge and the sun glinted on the ripples beyond giving this curious result.

reflection on bridge

We saw a gull, a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a thrush all enjoying their moment in the sun as we walked along.

gull, small tortoiseshell, thrush

We headed up the hill for the track along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and marvelled at the freshness of the colour…

track abive pathhead

…and the bluebells which were to be seen on every side.

bluebells near north lodge

I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the track above the North Lodge which I had followed for the first time a few weeks ago.  It ended at this beautiful tree.

bright tree

Going along the forestry road at the end of the track, we passed a lot of this lysimachia nemorum or yellow pimpernel.

lysimachia nemorum

I haven’t seen it anywhere else this year, but perhaps I haven’t been looking carefully enough.

There has been tree felling here, and as is often the case, the timber company has left one or two lone trees still standing.

tree above longfauld

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a particularly strong violet and it made the blues of the bluebells and bugleweed look a bit pale in comparison.

bluebell, violet and ajuga

We dropped down through another patch of bluebells…

bluebell woods longfauld

…and joined the track back to the Castleholm, passing any number of lovely trees on the way.

trees on castleholm may

If we had stopped for every photo opportunity on our walk, we would never have got home in time for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two.  (I had providentially made the biscuits during the morning.)

The walk was three and a half miles of pure springtime pleasure, and it was all the more enjoyable because we hadn’t expected the weather to let us get out for a walk at all, let alone one that was so sunny and relatively warm (when we were sheltered from the wind).

I had my second Zoom conversation of the day with my brother and sisters and then enjoyed an excellent evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal (I did the washing up).

Looking at the forecast, we are due for another near freezing morning tomorrow but there is still no proper rain in sight so it looks like more watering in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably searching for someone to kick.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  The sedentary minded can view the gardens from this land train.

Kew Gardens 6 May 2018 006

We had a fair day here today with very occasional sun, a good breeze and some late rain.  It meant that Mrs Tootlepedal could garden until she was exhausted and I could do some lawn care and go for a walk.

I had hoped to have my new bicycle by now but an enquiry to the bike shop revealed that it might not even be ready for tomorrow.  I hope that it will be but I have steeled myself for more delay.

Anyway, in the absence of cycling, I scarified the front lawn and collected up huge quantities of moss to the great interest of our resident blackbird who followed behind me pecking up food for his family.

baby blackbirds

I got a better picture of one of the youngsters later in the morning.

baby blackbird

They seem to be bigger than their parents so it is no wonder that the parents have to keep busy to feed them.

The dead heading of daffodils goes on (Mrs Tootlepedal must have hundreds of daffs in the garden) and the dead heading of the tulips has just started (she has hundreds of these too)  I counted over eighty of the red tulips in the narrow bed at the end of the drive and as Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she only planted twenty, they have done remarkably well.

There is other colour about.

lithodora and primula

But still some daffodils and lots of tulips….

daff and cowslips

…and the long lasting cowslips too.

tulips

I sieved a little compost which Mrs Tootlepedal promptly used for planting out a recent purchase and then it seemed to be lunchtime.  Time flies when you are having fun.

After lunch, I went for a walk in the hope of seeing bluebells.

I saw fine blossom in the park as I walked though…

park shrub

…and many unfolding ferns along the way…

fern unfolding

…but best all, I saw the bluebells.

bluebells

I had time on my hands so I followed a track that the local mountain cyclists use through the woods.  At times it looked very inviting…

cycle track through wood

…and at times it looked truly terrifying.  I wouldn’t be able to tackle a track over bumpy roots and  fallen trees, through small streams and up and down steep banks so I take my hat off to those who do.

I am more interested in looking at things as I walk along.

There was a lot to look at.  As I took too many pictures, I am going to add only the barest number of words.

ajuga

Ajuga

larch cones

Larch keeping its cones over the winter.

view

A view at the end of the track down the hill

lichen

Lichen on a wall

blossom

Blossom

blossom

And more blossom

bluebells

I went to another bluebell wood but it wasn’t quite ready yet.

moss

There was interesting moss to make up for the lack of blue

hairy moss

Very interesting moss

dandelion

The dandelions were in good condition

distillery

Spring comes to the old Langholm Distillery

river esk

Looking down the river Esk from beside Skippers Bridge

skippers Bridge

And looking back at the briodge

wildflower

Wild flowers beside the river

heron

An old friend getting his feet wet

cherry blossom river esk

Blossom between the bridges

It was a delightful stroll and only needed a drop or two of golden sun to make it perfect.  I got a little splash of sunlight near the end of the walk but it only lasted a moment or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working hard in the garden while I was out and by the time that I got back from my walk, we were both quite tired enough to make going inside and having a cup of tea seem like a really good idea.

Once inside, we got planted and didn’t go out again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike I enjoyed a small glass of Old Speckled Hen, a quality bitter beer, and then, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on all the news that was fit to hear, Alison and I enjoyed some good music, ending with a Partita in G by Telemann .  This was a really good way to end an enjoyable day.

If only my new bike would appear all would be well with the world.

I have put out some fat balls at the feeder and they attracted the attention of a sparrow today.  It is the perching bird of the day.

_DSC3957

 

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Today’s guest picture from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia, shows what is going on on the street….or to be more accurate, a sunset in the churchyard in the village of Street in Somerset.

Street

I felt rather weedy in the morning with very little get up and go in evidence and as a result when Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing in the church choir and I had made a allegedly Bulgarian chicken dish for the slow cooker, I didn’t take advantage of  a very calm and pleasant day to do anything energetic at all.

I did manage to take my lethargy for a walk round the garden late in the morning.

The shrub roses are doing us proud.

shrub roses

I lifted my eyes from the flower for long enough to notice a row of starlings practising a Leonard Cohen number….

starlings

With some good one-legged work in evidence

…but soon got back to looking the flowers.  It is a wonderful time of year with new flowers appearing almost every day.

philadelphus and weigela

Philadelphus and weigela

dark irises

These irises appear nearly black in real life.

The later rhododendrons are coming into their own.

rhododendron

rhododendron

One bee was enjoying the Japanese azalea…

bee on Japanese azalea

…and another one was tucking into an Iris…

bee on iris

…showing the white tail which give the bee its name.

In spite of the good weather, the garden has not been full of bumble bees as I would have expected.  I really had to search around for these two.

.I hope that we will see more soon.

There are any amount of aquilegias to see though, which makes me very happy.

aquilegias

I am very impressed by the beneficial effect Mrs Tootlepedal’s pea fortress  has had on the peas.  If you keep the sparrows off, then you get good results.

pea fortress

Some flowers can look interesting even after the petals have fallen off….

fancy buttercup

…but most probably look better with the petals on.

fancy buttercup

Although I enjoy loud flowers, I like soft ones too.

pale pink flowers

The comfrey on the right is grown as green manure and will be cut down soon.

I was greatly perked up by a light lunch and felt a good deal more cheerful as we went to Carlisle for the final rehearsal with the Carlisle Community Choir before its end of term concert next Sunday.

As always, it was a pleasure to work hard under the eagle eye of our conductor, Andrew Nunn but there is no doubt that I will have to do a good deal of work at home over the next week to drum the songs that we have to learn by heart into my reluctant brain.

Although I may think that I have learned a song at home, when the time for actually singing with the choir comes round and I am trying to remember to shape the vowel sounds correctly,  get the volume right and relax the space inside my head to avoid any hint of tension on the voice, it is all to easy to forget what song you are singing, let alone whether this is the moment when you go up instead of down.

I am going to be a soprano and sing the tune when I come back in my next life.

When we got home, I was happy to find that I had remembered to turn the slow cooker on and the Bulgarian style chicken went down well for our tea.  I even had enough energy to mow the middle lawn while the potatoes were cooking.  It always looks at its best on a sunny evening…

middle lawn

…but you can still see the holes that the jackdaws made in the middle of the lawn.

Since the forecast for tomorrow is for temperatures ten degrees lower than recent days (and with added rain), Mrs Tootlepedal and I thought that we should mark the end of the short good spell of weather by going for a little cycle ride after tea.  Sadly, the sun failed to live up to the moment and hid behind thin clouds just as we set out.  Still, it was warm and the wind was light so we enjoyed our 6 mile pedal.

To make up for the lack of sunshine, a heron posed for me at Pool Corner.

heron

It had very good balance to be able to stand on a sloping caul with a good flow of water going over it.

I couldn’t help noticing the hawthorns again.  The banks along the road are lined with them for much of the distance up to Wauchope School.

hawthorns

The verges were interesting too.  We saw Helvetian bugle (ajuga)….

bugle

…and lesser yellow rattle…

rattle

…among the crosswort, silverleaf, trefoil, campion and clover which have appeared in recent posts.

We also saw dippers on the river and hares in a field but the fading light combined with the speed of the creatures meant that they went unrecorded.

As the leaves grow on the trees, getting good shots of rivers and bridges becomes harder.

Wauchope

The Wauchope Water seen from the School bridge

A good sing, a nourishing meal and the sight of some new wild flowers left me feeling a great deal better at the end of the day than I was feeling at the beginning and I look forward to next week, even though it has two choir concerts in it, with renewed vigour.

 

 

 

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