Posts Tagged ‘alder catkins’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who recently met this Glasgow tram at the Crich National Tramway Museum.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going to university’

glasgow tram

We had what is probably the last of our superbly sunny spring spell today.   As is all too common in life, instead of being out in the sun, I had to sit inside the Welcome to Langholm visitor centre for two hours in the morning as it has just opened for the new season.

At least I did get a couple of visitors to welcome and I was able to to spend some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so, although I would have preferred to be out cycling, it wasn’t time wasted.

I was also in a  very good mood as Dropscone had come  round for an early cup of coffee before I went to work, bringing a mountain of drop scones with him.  These disappeared so quickly as we drank our coffee that we could only consider that they must have been of the very top quality.  Naturally, as Dropscone had made them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having already put an undercoat of paint on another door upstairs.  I got the mower out and finished pressing the moss on the middle lawn and then I had a wander round.

There are a host of daffodils now…


…and new flowers as well.

bergenia and a mystery flower

A bergenia and a mystery flower. Mrs Tootlepedal can’t remember what it is called.

tulip and magnolia

Hints of things to come


A Pulsatilla, our entry into the hairiest plant of the year competition

The pond was alive in the sunshine.


A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass


A frog thinks of things.

After a late lunch and a quick look out of the window…


A forceful male berates an oncoming female chaffinch

…I did a bit more mowing and sieved some compost and then I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to stretch my legs.

I went far enough to see how the alder catkins are doing….

alder catkins

…but I didn’t get too far before I remembered that a friend had told me this morning that the wild goats on Langholm Moor were feeding right beside the road and would make a good photo opportunity.  I went back home and picked up Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and we went off on a goat hunt.

We saw the goats (Mike spotted them) but the phrase ‘beside the road’ did not spring to mind as they were grazing a good distance from us to say the least….

wild goats

…and they had managed to find the only spot on the moor where a photograph might be spoiled by electricity lines.

Even with the zoom at full blast, they were too far away but you could see their fine horns.

wild goats

We couldn’t wait about too long as I had to be home in time for my flute lesson.  We did stop for a moment on the way back because a small group of bird watchers were having a good time watching hen harriers and we wondered if they were in view.  There was only time for the briefest glimpse of a female before we had to move on.

After a glance at my favourite view….

Ewes valley

…and Mike’s cherry tree as we dropped him off…

cherry tree

…we got home in good time for another look round the garden….


The first aubretia has appeared

….and for my flute pupil Luke, who came for his lesson.  We are going to concentrate on tone production and technique for a week or two so I will have to practise hard myself if I am to set a good example.

The flower of the day is a scilla.  It is a pity that to get the best view of them, you have to be about three inches tall.


The flying bird of the day is a passing chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came upon this bridge over the River Dove when he was out with his walking group.  He points out that it is  unusual in that the later two lane bridge, to save costs, has been built on top of the old medieval one lane one.

River Dove bridge

We had a day of sunshine and showers here today and the trick was to choose the right moment to get the weather appropriate to your desired activity.  I started with finding a dry moment to cycle up to the Day Centre to get a key for the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then I entertained Dropscone to coffee (he brought the scones) and pondered about cycling when he had left.  Dropscone had found it pretty chilly when he had cycled through so that gave me pause for thought.

The sun was out and I walked round the garden while I thought some more about cycling (it was rather windy).

scilla and daffodil

The flowers were grateful for a dry spell.

Then I went back inside and considered things a bit more while I watched the birds.

Chaffinches approached the feeder in their own way.

chaffinch approaching feeder

Getting up close

chaffinch approaching feeder

Taking the long view

Some birds waited calmly…

chaffinch and siskin

On the pole or on the plum tree

…while others wasted time on the feeder by discussing politics.

chaffinch and goldfinch

Finally I thought that the weather looked sufficiently set fair and the wind just quiet enough for a ride so I got my cycling gear on and set out on the fairly speedy bike.

The wind turned out to be pretty fierce after all and I adopted my usual strong wind plan and skulked about in a cowardly way, going up and down the four miles in the sheltered  valley bottom to Cleuchfoot and back.   This may be a bit dull but it does mean that I get a regular break from pedalling into the wind and three trips gives me a 25 mile ride which is not to be sniffed at in testing conditions.

It also gave me chance to look for some female alder flowers which the New Hampshire gardener had told me that I ought to find as the male catkins were opening.  He was right of course.

I stopped at the alders beside the Glencorf Burn…

alder alders Glencorf Burn

…and there were the flowers.

alder flowers

On my second lap, I stopped for some hazel catkins and flowers….

hazel catkins

…and on my third and last lap, the lichens got my attention.


I also stopped to see how much water was going over my favourite cascade on the mighty Wauchope.

Wauchope cascade

Not quite as much as I had expected.

It looks from the pictures as though I had unbroken sunshine on my trip but there were some good looking clouds still about…


…and on the second lap,they produced a sharp and painful hailstorm in the middle of the most exposed section.  The temperature dropped and the wind got up and I was beginning to consider a shortened expedition when thanks to the brisk wind, the clouds and hail rapidly blew away and I was quite warm and dry by the time that I got home.

The trip took my distance to over 300 miles for the month and with ten days still to go, that is  very satisfactory.

When I got in, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal and our  neighbour Liz were planning a trip to the council dump.  Some people have all the fun.

When I went to put my bike back into the garage, I discovered a frog hopping about inside.  We left the door open and went away and the frog soon hopped out again and posed for a moment…


..before disappearing into the log pile.

With a view to taking a picture suitable for transforming into a monochrome flower study for the camera club meeting, I had a quick walk round the garden…


…and enjoyed the colour of the new spirea leaves..


..before going inside for a late lunch.

I waved Mrs Tootlepedal off on her joyride, promising to keep an eye on the washing which was drying in the garden but almost as soon as she had left, it started to rain so I had to jump up and get the washing in.  It was just as well that I did because the rain soon changed to pelting hail and then back to rain again, coming down in stair rods.  The temperature dropped three degrees C in a handful of minutes.

I had timed my bike ride well.

The rain didn’t improve the birds’ tempers and a chaffinch rudely booted a siskin off the feeder to the horror of the onlookers.

chaffinch and siskin squabble

By the time that Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz returned from the dump, the sun was out again.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and played the pieces which he is using for an exam later this week.  He has been learning these at school and he must have been practising very hard because he played them very well.  If all goes as it should, he ought to pass the exam.

Later on, I went to the Camera Club meeting and a good attendance of members had an excellent evening with a number of very interesting images to enjoy.  The monochrome flower challenge had brought out some innovative ideas and at the end, we agreed that a good time had been had by all.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin which almost squeezed into the frame.






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