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Posts Tagged ‘apple blossom’

Today’s guest picture is a puzzle.  Is it the south of France? Is is a tropical Isle? No, it is sunny Wemyss turning up trumps yet again for the lens of our son Tony.

another wemyss view

We had a touch of frost in the very early morning but by the time that I got up the sky was as blue as the lithodora….

lithodora

…and it stayed that way all day.

In spite of coming from the south west, the wind had a distinct nip in it as I walked round the garden after breakfast.

As long as I was in the sunshine though, it was a pleasure to be out enjoying Mrs Tootlepedal’s flowers.

rhododendron

The tulips look delightful when they are backlit by the morning sun.

mroning poppy

And the sun must surely encourage the advent of the age of the azalea and alliums which is reluctant to to dawn while the mornings are so cold.

allium and azalea

To be fair to them, I looked back at previous years and found it is really a bit early to expect full blown alliums and the azaleas are often later too..

The very first honeysuckle flower is trying to creep out unobserved…

first honeysuckle

…while the clematis round the garage doors is secretly adding a flower or two every day.

growing clematis

The street socially distanced coffee morning convened at the usual time and as well as our Garibaldi biscuits, Liz provided a very tasty mixed fruit cake and the general consensus was that there wouldn’t be much call for a big lunch later on.

Because of the continuing lack of rain, there was a lot of watering to be done in the garden.  While the water was spraying,  I dead headed tulips and tore up a cardboard box to add to the compost in Bin A.

While I was there, I was very happy to note that professional pollinators were on the job in the espalier apple trees.

bees on apple blossom

The sun had encouraged an Icelandic poppy to give us a smile.

first icelandic poppy

I was encouraged to go indoors for an early lunch in order to make use of the fine day by going for a good cycle ride.  I foolishly glanced at the crossword and wasted time before I finally managed to get organised enough to actually go out on my bike.  (It was an enjoyable crossword.)

The cold wind of the morning had eased off a bit, but it was still noticeably chilly for such a lovely day.  This had the good effect of keeping me cool under a cloudless sky and the breeze wasn’t strong enough to make much of a difference to my speed.  I averaged 14 mph down to the coast over the only substantial uphill section of the ride and then I managed 14 mph on the much gentler return journey.  The joy of cycling when there isn’t a strong wind is indescribably great, if only because it is so rare.

It would have been hard to find a better day for a ride.  There is still very little traffic on the road.  I met a few but not many other cyclists and they were all going in the opposite direction to me so there was no call to try to keep up with people passing me or to get depressed when they shoot off into the distance.

The verges are perking up and I saw quite a lot of crosswort today.  By dint of putting my shadow over one example, I even got a half decent picture.

crosswort

I never cease to be amazed by the design work that goes into building flowers.

We are not quite in full leaf yet as this study of clothed and naked trees staring at each other across the Kirkpatrick Fleming road shows.

bare and clothed trees

I was aiming to do 50 miles so I stopped every twelve and a half miles to rest my legs, drink some water and eat some guava jelly and a date.  At my first stop, I leaned my bike against a road sign and had a close look at the reflective surface.

road sig pattern

The signs are so bright these days that they constitute a dazzling hazard themselves for elderly night drivers.

The cow parsley is thriving and I just had to be careful not to take my eye of any potholes while I was admiring the flowers.

cow parsley and potholes

Sometimes, both verges joined in the fun.

cow parsley both sides

When it came to trees, these four near Eastriggs were my favourites of the day…

eastriggs trees

…but they were run close by this attractive newly planted avenue near Rockcliffe in Cumbria…

avenue at rockliffe

…and this specimen with an added gorse hedge at its foot near Whamtown.

leaning tree and gorse

I realised that I was going to miss the regular family Zoom meeting, so I stopped on the road below Canonbie School to check in for a moment and apologise.

When I looked around I could see some striking red campion beside the road….

red campion canonbie

…with a shady wild flower mixture nearby…

red campion and violets

…and a Pyrenean Valerian in flower on the opposite side of the road.

pyrenean valerian canonbie

So that turned out to be a good place to pause.

After that, I headed home for a much needed sit down, having covered 54 miles, my (just) longest ride of the year so far.

I sat out in the garden for a moment with Mrs Tootlepedal while our evening meal was cooking and we enjoyed the evening sun lighting up the tulips.

evening tulips

I was getting ready to sit down and write this post, regretting that I hadn’t got a flying bird of the day to finish it, when I noticed a very nearly full ‘flower’ moon out of a window.  It may not be a flying bird, but at least it is up in the sky.

moon may

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The guest picture of the day is another from Dropscone’s recent walk.  He passed this fine tree on his way.  It seems to be involved in an intricate ballet step.

dennis's tree

We woke to a chilly morning, so chilly in fact that the street coffee morning meeting needed coats and was adjourned early on account of freezing fingers.

In spite of that, it was a fine enough day and when the sun got high enough to warm things up, it was another good day to be out in the garden.

This was lucky because in the lockdown, after coffee we go out into the garden.

I wandered around.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some very nice tulips with subdued but rich colours and they are being joined by very slender, brighter newcomers.

four tulips april 30

There were delicate and tiny flowers…

four garden flowers

…and more robust ones too…

…but the top joy of the day for me was this espalier apple going the whole hog.

apple in blossom

I was so enthused about life after seeing the apple, that I sieved some more compost.

In view of the enormous international interest, (largely unexpressed, it is true), in compost sieving,  I thought that I ought to take a picture of the high tech kit required for the process.

compost sievinh kit

The bucket beneath the barrow is for the rough bits that don’t go through the sieve.  Mrs Tootlepedal takes them away and does mysterious things with them.   The success of the compost making is measured by the proportion that ends in the wheelbarrow compared with the amount left in the bucket.  This spring the compost has been very rewarding.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the vegetable garden and I helped by tying up the runner bean poles, one of the few jobs in the garden for which I am suited by nature.

Mrs Tootlepedal planted some onions and told me that she hopes to take seed from the turnip that is flowering and get more turnips from them for this year.

turnip and onions

We were in the front garden when our friend Gavin loomed up over the hedge and we enjoyed a chat.

gavin over the hedge

Then it was time to go in and make potato soup for lunch.  While it was cooking, I watched the birds.

sparrow goldfinch chaffinch

The soup went down well with some freshly made bread and a fine selection of the cheeses which our daughter Annie had kindly sent us.

cheese board

I should have mentioned that I was very impressed that the cheese parcel came with refrigerated wrapping.

The forecast for the day was unreliable to say the least.  It promised rain at various times and finally settled on an 80% chance of heavy rain at 3 o’clock in the afternoon for an hour or so, followed by better weather.  Bearing this in mind, I settled for baking some date rolls after lunch, intending to go for a walk after the rain in the hope of catching refreshed bluebells in subdued light.

As I don’t like rubbing butter into flour, I got Mrs Tootlepedal to show me how to use the food processor to do the job.  This turned out to be a really good idea and made making the pastry a piece of cake.

I didn’t get my arithmetic quite right when it came to assembling the rolls and ended up with half the batch heavy on pastry and light on filling and the other half vice versa.  However, as the pastry turned out to be as easy to eat as it was to prepare, there will  be no difficulty in finding a home for the finished rolls.

This was satisfactory but the weather was less so.  Far from bringing any much needed rain, the afternoon was as sunny as the morning and I was forced to go out in search of unrefreshed bluebells.

They weren’t hard to find as the wood along the river was carpeted with them.

eastons walk bluebells

I wasn’t the only one out enjoying the spring colours.

beechy plains

I walked up the little path through the bluebells at the end of the wood and took far too many pictures as I went.

bluebells Apr 30 5

You can perhaps see why…

bluebells Apr 30 4

…it is so difficult to stop clicking.

bluebells Apr 30 3

At the top of the hill, I met our friend Nancy going in the opposite direction.  After some conversation, we went our separate ways but I noticed that Nancy had taken the trouble to dress in sympathetic colours for her bluebell walk.

bluebells Apr 30 2

I took a final bluebell picture in the little clearing next to the Stubholm track….

bluebells Apr 30 1

…and walked on.

There were other delights besides the bluebells and if we hadn’t needed rain so badly, this little view would have been pure pleasure.

stubholm track

At the junction at the end of the track, I decided that a larger view would be a good idea and headed up the Warbla road.

bare tree late april

Once on the open hill, I turned down the track back towards the Auld Stane Brig and  passed below my old friend Tom.

He was sitting on a handy bench, recouping his strength before the final assault on the lofty summit of Warbla.  You can see the communications mast on the top of the hill in the background to the picture.

Tom on a bench

I enjoyed the view that I had come to see…

view from Warbla

…and dropped back down into the Wauchope valley.  I crossed the Auld Stane Brig and headed up the road towards Becks Farm.

I saw some wild geums in the hedgerow and didn’t think that they were out until I saw a bee proving me wrong.

bee on wild geum

I crossed the Becks Burn and took the track back to the town.  I have been along here quite a few times recently so I won’t add to the pictures that have already appeared on the blog.  (I am over my limit for the day already.)

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and several date rolls.

After the daily Zoom chat with my siblings, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and while it was cooking, I had a final walk round the garden to enjoy the tulips again.

azalea tulips evening

It may or may not rain tomorrow.  The forecast is not committing itself definitely.  After that it says it is not going to rain for another ten days.  We will be seriously parched if this turns out to be true.  Rather annoyingly, it seems to be raining almost everywhere else.

Still, the sunny weather is making the lockdown more tolerable than wet weather would make it so I should look on the bright side.  There is no other side to look on as far as the weather goes.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch looking for a free perch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s recent walk.  She met a nesting swan and was very careful to keep her social distance.

venetia's swan

Our spell of dry weather continued today and it has reached the stage that talk of drought and water shortage is appearing in the national press.   Certainly it has been dry enough for cracks to begin to occur in Mrs Tootlepedal’s flower beds.  Considering that we were suffering from incessant rain and floods only two months ago, the change has been remarkable and a little disturbing.  We should have changeable weather, not weeks of one thing at a time.

Anyway, the street socially distanced coffee morning enjoyed the sunshine once again (and polished off the last of the date rolls).  I had a look round while I was there and saw the first Welsh poppy of the year against the wall of our house, aubretia and hosta beside the dam, and marsh marigolds in it.

poppy, hosta, aubretia and marsh marigold

Sparrows flitted about, one pecking at the mortar of our neighbour Liz’s house and they were joined by other sparrows and a collared dove when I went back into the garden.

sparrows and dove

The sparrows in the garden were doubtless hoping to get a peck at Mrs Tootlepedal’s  young lettuce but it is well protected.  They don’t seem to enjoy broad beans so Mrs Tootlepedal has been able to take the mini greenhouses off them.

lettuce and beans

She is very pleased with the progress of the cow parsley which will soon be in full bloom…

cow parsley

…and with the trilliums which are coming along splendidly.

trilliums

Because I like eating fruit a lot, I am particularly pleased to see that it is apple blossom time.

first apple blossom

And of course, there are always tulips…

tulip panel

…my current favourite being ‘Queen of the Night’ (bottom right) , a very dark variety.

Daffodils are piling up in the compost bin…

daffs in compost

…but they are not all dead and gone yet.

daffodil pair

I don’t use weed killer on the lawn any more, as it is generally a bad thing and also means that you can’t put the grass cuttings in your compost unless you leave them there for ages.  And a result, there is a bit more colour on the middle lawn than an obsessional lawn person would want…

weeds on lawn

…but I am quite relaxed about it these days.  I may dig the worst of the weeds out later in the spring or I may just let them alone.

I sieved some compost and held the cable while Mrs Tootlepedal mowed along the back of the house beside the dam.  She also mowed the drying green, trying not to behead any of her new tulips.   She is aiming for a forest of tulips but has a little way to go yet.

drying green with tulips

After lunch something on the lawn made a thrush and a blackbird find things to interest them.

thrush and blackbird on lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal had scattered some chopped up cashew nuts and they also caught the attention of a rook.

rook on wire

I left the nut hunters to it and went off for my permitted cycle ride, my third in three days after three days of walking.  I will get back to my walk/ride alternation from tomorrow.

At 65°F (18°C) it was like a summer’s day and not only the cycling shorts but sun cream were necessary for a comfortable ride.

I went for a shorter and easier ride than yesterday and stuck to the lowlands.

Marsh marigolds and dandelions lit up the verges

marsh marigolds and dandelions

Gretna was eerily empty as I cycled through it, with weddings, tour buses and the shopping village all out of the picture.  The motorway was eerily empty too.

empty motorway

Strange times.

The trees on the Gretna to Longtown road were beautiful to behold….

trees at CAD

…and the Longtown pond wasn’t bad either.

Longtown pond

I was pleased to see this handsome tree in full leaf…

tree with leaves

…and I was happy to have the opportunity to set the record straight on a wild flower I had misidentified in yesterday’s post.  It wasn’t valerian at all, but wild garlic, also called Jack in the Hedge.  As you can see, this lot was living up to its name.  (Thank you to the kind readers who put me right.)

jack by the hedge

When I got back to Langholm after 32 miles of warm and sunny pedalling, I paused as I crossed the bridge to get the riverside blossom and the river in the same shot.

river with blossom from bridge

During the outing, I did finally eat the last date in my collection and I will now have to wait, possibly many months, until I can get to the shop that sells them. The lack of dates and interesting cheese is annoying but it is keeping me relatively slim.  Every cloud….

The trip took me over 300 miles for the month and I have also passed 1000 miles for the year.  These are not great distances but they are nevertheless satisfactory with a few days still left in the month.

WhatsApp and Zoom are keeping the family well connected and neighbours are always available across a road, hedge, dam or fence so we are constrained but not lonely and count our blessings.

The flying bird of the day is that rook going nuts.

flying rook

Footnote:  As I was writing this post, Mrs Tootlepedal called my attention to a nearly new moon.

_20S8976

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Today’s guest picture is a second one from my brother Andrew’s recent walk in the Peak District.  He enjoyed this fine view of Wetton Hill from a nearby peak.

wetton hill

My feet were giving me some grief this morning so I had a very quiet time, rising late and doing no more than a little light mowing and some garden wandering.

A few new flowers were to be seen.  This is a polemonium or Jacob’s Ladder…

polemonium

…and this is the first of dozens, if not hundreds of clematis flowers on the plant that surrounds the garage door,

first garage clematis

Although parts of the garden are very neat and ordered, the back border has a more natural look.

back border

I was pleased to see that at least one of the poached egg flowers has developed a little white to go with a big yolk.

poached egg flower

The Charles Ross apple has so many blossoms that I thought that there wasn’t room for any more but a closer look showed that there are still a lot of buds waiting to open.

very blossomy charles ross apple

As there were no bees about, I went around with my little pollinating brush, buzzing in an encouraging way as I dusted the flowers.

A euphorbia won the prize as the greenest thing in the garden today.

green euphorbia

The birds were hard at work and the feeder was half empty by lunchtime, leading to vigorous competition for places.

goldfinch and siskin in a scrap

Doubtless correctly worried by the possibility of being caught by a passing sparrowhawk, most birds are unwilling to risk sticking their necks out, but this goldfinch plunged right in.

goldfinch tucking head in

I filled the feeder though before we left to drive to Lockerbie in the new little white thingy to catch the train to Edinburgh.

Mrs Tootlepedal drove, her first go at driving an electric car any distance.  Like me, she found it very easy to drive, light on its feet and very responsive.  We arrived safely and made our way to the station where everything went wrong.  Our train wasn’t just late as usual, it was cancelled entirely.   They offered us the chance to wait for an hour and catch a train to Glasgow and then change to a train to Edinburgh.   As this would have got us to Matilda’s with roughly an hour in hand to talk, play, eat before leaving to catch our train home (if there was one), we declined the offer gracefully and went back to the car.  What made the whole thing worse was that Mrs Tootlepedal had made sticky toffee pudding especially.

It tuned out to be the fault of a signal failure somewhere up the line.

To cheer ourselves up, we extended our trip home to include a garden centre where we had a modest cream tea and Mrs Tootlepedal bought some stout garden string.  Not an entirely wasted outing then.

The sun was out and the first azalea of the year was enjoying itself.

red azalea

With the lilac and other azaleas on the way in and the tulips on the way out, there is plenty of colour about.

lilac, tulip, azalea

It was even warm enough for a blackbird to do a little sunbathing on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.

blackbirds on betty's garage

A lone bee was doing its best among the apple blossom…

bee with full sacs

…and I thought about a short cycle ride until I looked up and saw some very threatening clouds massing over the town….

clouds over holmwood

…so I went in and read the papers….and looked out of the window from time to time.

partridge and pigeon

Once I had decided to not to go for a bike ride, the clouds drifted off and the bird action continued.  Siskins are equal opportunity bullies and will attack anyone, friend or foe.

two fierce siskins

We were forced to have big helpings of sticky toffee pudding after our evening meal.  Ah well, it’s an ill wind…

According to the forecast, we are in for a week of much chillier weather starting tomorrow, with some early morning temperatures drifting down towards freezing again.  The cycling shorts are going back in the draw and we will welcome the return of the winter vests.

The flying bird of the day is a redpoll.  I see that it has been ringed so I wonder where it has come from.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture comes from my occasional correspondent Elaine.  She and our neighbour Liz were visiting a garden centre when they met some unexpected customers in the aisle of the polytunnel.

big pigs

We had another day here that started with sun but turned rainy in the afternoon.  I had a very quiet day as I was recovering from an outbreak of very sore feet (for no reason) yesterday.  I did think of going for a gentle bike ride in the afternoon but the rain put paid to that.

I had a wander round the garden in the sun after breakfast, dead heading almost the last of the daffodils and some of the first of the tulips, while keeping an eye out for colour as I went.

The orange wallflower was too bright for the camera in the sunshine so I had to stand in front of it to put it in some shade and tone it down a bit.

orange wallflower

The aubretias were fairly bright too.

aubretia red

Both the pink and the blue.

aubretia blue

All three espalier apples have now got blossoms on them and as there are very few bees about, I will get busy with my pollinating brush when the weather permits.

three espalier apple blossom

Another pale flower caught my eye.  This is the very first potentilla flower of the year.

first potentilla

I had a doubly sunny morning as Dropscone dropped in for coffee.  In a salute to the changing season, he didn’t bring the traditional winter Friday treacle scone but came with a good pile of eponymous drop scones instead.

dropscone and coffee

In case anyone is wondering if there were too many drop scones for two grown men to eat with their coffee, don’t worry.  We managed to dispose of them all with the help of some home made raspberry jam.

After Dropscone left, the clouds wasted little time in covering the sky and the first drops of rain arrived just as I cycled round to our corner shop.  Luckily they stopped while I was in the shop and the rain didn’t start seriously again until after lunch.

I looked at the hymns for Sunday’s service and then I looked at the birds.

Everyone was busy getting stuck into the seed…

birds eating

…and then chewing it thoroughly.

redpoll and siskin munching

Siskins, goldfinches and redpolls were keeping chaffinches away from the perches…

chaffinch hoping for a seat at the table

…but as the rain started and the traffic grew heavier, the siskins began to have trouble with more siskins…

more siskins in conflict

…and goldfinches.

siskins in conflict

A sensible siskin deserted the sunflower seeds and turned to the easily available peanuts instead.

upside down siskin on peanuts

Despite the rain, Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz went off to plant out Mrs Tootlepedal’s little oak trees.  They returned having accomplished the task, thoroughly wet but remarkably cheerful.

While they were out, I made a batch of ginger biscuits.

As a contrast to the rain falling from above, the water coming out of our taps decreased in volume quite alarmingly in the evening and a call to the water company revealed that there is a leak somewhere nearby.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that they can fix it promptly, because not having running water is very boring.

Thanks to the quiet day, my feet are feeling much better as I write this and I hope to be out and about again tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches who couldn’t get a seat at the table.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a weather vane from the Somerset Rural Life Museum sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  The weather vane is a memorial to a long serving volunteer at the museum, a nice idea.

weather gauge somerset

The weather here was warm and sunny but not quite as warm and sunny as yesterday as the wind was stronger and the sky a bit hazier.  Nevertheless, it was a great day to be out in the garden, and after an early visit to the town for a bit of business, I spent a lot of the day in the garden.

Before I went out into the garden, I took the advice of a correspondent and tried applying some ice (in this case, a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a  tea towel) to my tender Achilles tendon.  It gave me some relief and I repeated the process a couple more times through the day.

There was plenty to look in the garden as well as to do so in between dead heading daffodils, sawing the sweet pea frame down to fit the new beds, and sieving compost, I admired a small corps de ballet of Ballerina tulips…

ballerina tulips

…and a single in-your-face orange variety of which I do not know the name.

bright orange tulip

Pond skaters have come to the pond in numbers.

three pond sketers

Blossoms have come out on two of the three espalier apples…

two apple blossoms

…and it shouldn’t be long before they are joined by the third one.

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with her trilliums which have just come out too.  They were given to her by Mike Tinker and by coincidence, he passed the garden just as we were looking at them and came in to share the experience.  They are beginning to multiply so we are hoping for more next year.

trillium april

I am noting new things all the time and these tulips, the bluebell, the Solomon’s seal and an alpine clematis have all appeared over the last couple of days.

new flowers april

On top of that, we are getting very excited by the prospect of entering the age of the azalea.

first azalea

If you want eye catching green, then euphorbias are the thing to have.  Mrs Tootlepedal has them in flashy and discreet but they are both very green.

euphorbia panel

We had to stay at home as we  were expecting a visit from an electrical engineer who was going to do interesting things to our meter.  He arrived bang on time, was very polite and efficient, did some extra work beyond the call of duty to make things convenient for another engineer who is coming next week, complimented me on the coffee that I made for him and tidied everything up very neatly before he left.  Not everything in the modern world has gone to pot!

I was interested to see that he took photographs before, during and after he had finished his task as a record of what he had done.   That seemed like a very good idea to me.

While he worked, we stayed out in the garden and I looked at the trout lilies which are enjoying the good weather a lot…

trout lilies

…and the Christmas tree which is growing in every possible direction.

christmas tree busting out

We went in for lunch when the engineer had gone and I saw this blackbird with nesting material on the chimney pot outside.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is nesting in the climbing hydrangea growing on the front wall of the house.

blackbird wirth nest material

On the feeder itself, things were much as normal…

normal feeder

..but we did have visits from too very contrasting birds, a dove and a hawk.

collared dove and sparrowhawk panel

The hawk paid us several visits over the day without catching any of our little birds…

sparrowhawk staring

…and gave us a very exciting chase sequence to watch as it pursued a little bird across and out of the garden with many a squeal of rubber and handbrake turns on the way.

In the afternoon, I looked at the front lawn and felt that this was the day to scarify it.

The panel below shows the unscarified lawn on the left, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, and on the right, the very large amounts of moss that the machine lifted as it passed.

lawn scarifying

The bottom panel shows the results of going over the lawn a couple of times with the mower on a high setting to pick up the moss and one of the three wheelbarrow loads of moss that I took away.  Don’t be deceived, there is still a mass of moss in the lawn.  I will scarify it again in a few weeks time.

A poor peacock butterfly was trying to sun itself on the drive and had to keep flying up into the air as I passed with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.  It settled down again each time and must have been really fed up by the time that I finished disturbing it.

peacock butterfly sunning

The peacocks are appearing about a week earlier than usual this year.

While I was caring for the lawn, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing her sweet pea fortress for the coming hostilities with the sparrows.  I predict a win for Mrs Tootlepedal this year.

sweet pea cage

As the afternoon wore on, I felt that I should make good use of the day by going for another short cycle ride and went out for fourteen miles at a gentle pace, clad in a T shirt and shorts.

The wind was gusting up to 20 mph and blew me up to the top of Callister.  I stopped on the way down to take in the view.  The garden may be springlike but it will the best part of another month until the hills go green.

callister view

I had to pedal hard just to get down the hill into the wind but I made it back to the town and enjoyed the cherry trees along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

cherry tree beside esk

Our good spell of weather is coming to an end and it is going to get gradually but steadily cooler over the next few days and we may even see some much needed rain soon.  I just hope that it knows when to stop.  I won’t need my cycling T shirt and shorts again for a while, I fear.

The flying bird of the day was almost a sparrow hawk…

missing sparrowhawk

…but as you can see, I was too slow, so a goldfinch takes over the duty instead (no doubt keeping a sharp eye open for any hawks).

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who strayed as far as Berkshire to take this picture on a sunny walk in Twyford a day or two ago.

Twyford, Berkshire

Our brief summer has gone and we are back to normal spring temperatures.  It felt a bit chilly as a result this morning but it was quite a fine day and there was even a brief glimpse of sunshine to light up Dropscone and Sandy who were doing a bit of bench testing after our morning coffee.

Dropscone and Sandy

They are both keen travellers and as Sandy has just come back from a holiday in the Canary Islands, he was complaining of feeling the chill as a result.

Needless to say we had some good scones with our coffee.

While I waited for them to arrive, I spent a little time staring out of the window in the effort to catch a flying bird.  Birds were scarce though and only goldfinches arrived in any numbers…

golfdfimch

…and they either spent their time deliberately turning their backs on me…

_DSC3857

…or nipping quickly into the feeder before i could catch them.

goldfinch

When Dropscone and Sandy had gone on their way,  I wandered about the garden.

I ignored the tulips today and spent a lot of time dead heading daffodils as the day of the daffodil is almost done.  There are some late comers to the feast…

daffodil

…and this is my daffodil of the day…

daffodil

…but most of them are gone now.

They will soon be replaced by these…

allium

…which are lining up to come into flower.

The silver pear is doing its best…

silver pear

…but although it is covered in flowers, they are so discreet that a casual passer by would hardly notice them.

A single clump of  apple blossom packs more punch than the whole pear tree.

apple blossom

I heard a lot of buzzing on the gooseberry bush and managed to take a striking but indeterminate shot of a visitor to the flowers on its way.

wasp

It looks like a wasp but I couldn’t get it to pose nicely for me.

wasp

It has been a regular visitor to the gooseberry so I hope that I will get a better look at it soon.

Things are going over….

hellebore

The hellebores have been great value this year

…and things are coming on

willow

The willow showing three stages of development on one twig.

Mrs Tootlepedal has three trilliums in the garden and although they are not quite showing up like the carpets of trilliums that appear in America, two of hers are looking quite healthy.

trillium

This is the best of them

I got the hover mower out and mowed the grass round the greenhouse.  Just to annoy me, it has been growing more quickly than the grass on the lawns.

I woke up very early this morning and was nearly deafened by the dawn chorus outside.  Some of the noisiest birds in the garden are the blackbirds and one has taken to sitting on the silver pear during the day and singing as loudly as possible.

blackbird

Mrs Tootlepedal has seen a mother blackbird feeding a youngster and I hope to be able to catch some blackbird family action with the camera.  There are plenty of blackbirds about…

blackbird

…but I haven’t seen a baby blackbird yet.

It started to rain after lunch but that didn’t affect us very much as we spent the afternoon going to Dumfries where Mrs Tootlepedal had an eye appointment.  The eye department is still in the old hospital which has recently been superseded by a brand new building elsewhere in town.  This has the wonderful effect of  letting us park without problem in the vast and largely unoccupied car park.

It made going to hospital a pleasure and we added to the jollity of the day by stopping off at a garden centre on the way home.  We met another Langholm couple there who had been visiting the new hospital.  They told us that parking there was a nightmare.  Land values in the UK are curious and it is an oddity that they can find millions to build a new  hospital but still can’t afford to acquire enough land for adequate car parks for the patients.

A little rain won’t come amiss in the garden after some hot dry days but we just hope it knows when to stop.  The forecast is ominously unsettled.

I couldn’t get a good flying goldfinch today and this rather pointillist effort was the best that I could manage but at least it is flying and it is a bird.

goldfinch

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