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Posts Tagged ‘apple blossom’

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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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew’s visit to Spain shows the cathedral at Santiago.  It seems to defy the laws of gravity a bit but that might be lens distortion.

Santiago cathedral

We had the promised lovely day today, with light winds, gentle sunshine and genuine warmth, ten degrees C above the seasonal average.

I laid aside thoughts of the new bike and slight worries about a sore hand and got the slow bike out for the first time this month and went off for a pedal.

I waved good bye to the  poppies tulips in the garden as I left.

tulips

It really was a perfect day for cycling….

Skippers Bridge

…as I crossed the Skippers Bridge and headed for England.  As it was a bank holiday and lorries were few and far between, I cycled south on main roads until I got to Gretna.  Dandelions decorated the verges in great numbers.

dandelions

I didn’t see many other wild flowers as I went towards Carlisle’s northern by-pass which has a fine cycle path beside it but this ‘bluebell and pinkbell’ combination near Hespin Woods caught my eye.

bluebells

The day was so ideal for cycling and my hand was giving me so little bother that I continued along the southern shore of the Solway until I came to this splendid place…

Drovers Rest

…where I stopped for an early lunch of egg and chips, my staple cycling diet. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to sample their many fine cask ales and had a cup of coffee instead.

Leaving the pub, I turned inland on a road new to me and was very surprised to see this old windmill tower, now converted into a private house.

Monks hill windmill

The name of the road, Vallum Close, reminded me that I was cycling across the line of Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle to the coast.

I head back round the by-pass and then meandered up the delightful back roads of North Cumbria…

Cumbrian back road

..until I came to a bike path, described by a local author as the narrowest bike path he had ever seen.  I hadn’t used this track for some time and didn’t think of it as narrow but when I got onto it, I saw what he meant.

Cycle track 7

The path runs along the route of the old Carlisle to Longtown railway for a miles or two and enables a cyclist to cross the river Lyne in peace and quiet.

River Lyne

The views from the bridge

A new bridge has been constructed on the piers of the old railway bridge.

River Lyne

In a perfect world, the whole of the old railway trackbed would have been preserved for cyclists but that would have required good sense and forethought, never qualities readily associated with the Ministry of Transport.

Still, leaving the railway took me past Arthuret Church…

Arthuret Church

…one of my favourite buildings so I shouldn’t complain.  The view across the road from the church could hardly offer more of a contrast  between the ancient and the modern.

Arthuret Church

There is a fine copper beech  opposite the church.

P1090760

During the ride, I made  regular stops to make sure that I was keeping my hydration well topped up and to take in a little snack or two and I enjoyed this pastoral scene not far north of Longtown.

Near Kirkandrews on Esk

Nearby two trees seemed rather oddly shaped.

P1090764

Had a blot of lightning passed between them, I wondered or perhaps they had been deliberately trimmed to provide a view for a local bigwig.

Although dandelions were the pervasive wild flower of the day, other flowers were available if I happened to be going slow enough to notice them.

wild flowers canonbie

I passed a good number of butterflies including orange tips and peacocks but they were too nippy for me to record them.

Trees were easier to catch.

These were beside the bike path as it meets the A7 just south of Langholm.

conifers A7

conifers A7

When I got home after 52 miles of unalloyed pleasure, I was welcomed by the tulips with open petals.

tulips

It is not often that I am grateful for a little wind that is not helping me from behind but the light cross wind on the way home kept me just cool enough to be comfortable.  On the few occasions when it was straight behind me, it was too hot for pleasant pedalling.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden the whole time that I was out  so I was moved to scarify  and mow the middle lawn to show willing…

scarified lawn

It turned out well.  It was just a light scarifying.

…before we sat down to a cup of tea on our new bench.  Mrs Tootlepedal brought the tea out on a seasonally correct tea tray.

Tea tray

While we were sipping and chatting, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that my new helmet was well co-ordinated as  far as colour went with the tulips  across the lawn.

tulips and helmet

She also remarked that she was pleased with combination of tall orange tulips with the small darker red ones on the end bed.

tulips

She wished that time would freeze so that she could enjoy the warmth, the colour and sense of order in the garden for many weeks.

On the other hand, I am pleased that time progresses, though I wouldn’t mind keeping the heat for a bit longer, otherwise I would never get to eat the apples that should follow from this first apple blossom of the year.

apple blossom

The day was rounded off by a little music when Luke came for his lesson, which went well.

Following our evening meal, we both felt inexplicably tired and we didn’t go back out into the garden.

In the midst of all this activity, very few birds came to the feeder today so there is no flying bird of the day  and I have had to make do with an indifferent shot of a pair of floating  ducks on the pond at Longtown.

ducks

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the bike ride.

garmin route 7 may 2108

It was a lot hotter than that by the time that I finished and the wind was coming up the Solway Firth from the west not the south.

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Today’s guest picture was sent by Gavin, who was on holiday in the north when he took it.  It shows part of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney.

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney, Scotland.

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today and is now stretching out into something slightly freakish for such a normally wet corner of Britain.  The brisk north easterly winds are keeping the rain away but are also keeping the temperatures lower than you would expect for such sunny days.

The winds are battering the tulips and they are showing quite a bit of wear and tear.

white tulips

Welsh poppies are popping up all over the garden in sheltered spots.

Welsh poppy

I was intending to go out for a rather longer cycle ride today but once I got going, the wind blew my determination away and I settled for a stately ride down to Canonbie and back.

I had another look at the spruce flowers on my way.  It was hard to miss them as the whole tree is absolutely covered with them.

spruce

I was not the only one who thought that this might be a good day to sit down rather than rush about.

sheep and lambs

Everyone was at it.

bulls

All the same, I pedalled on as best I could until the heavy crosswinds knocked the stuffing out of me and then I pedalled on as slowly as I could, consistent with getting home in time for lunch.

I stopped to look at my three favourite trees…

canonbie trees

…and a burst of blue flowers in the verge a little further on which weren’t there the last time I pedalled past.

blue wild flowers

I took quite a few more pictures of the wild flowers in the verges as I went past but the stiff wind meant that when I checked them on my computer at home, it turned out that they were too blurred to use.  I had thought that this might be the case so I took a picture of a more stable scene near the end of my ride.

Spring at Skippers

When I got home, I checked out the busy bees on the apple blossom.

bees on apple

There were an encouraging number of insects on the apples today.

Matilda has been kind enough to invite us to join her on a week’s holiday and we are going away tomorrow.  The forecast is offering no sign of rain for the week while we are away so we thought it would be sensible to water the soft fruits before we went, just in case they got thirsty.

When we had finished, I had a look at the new euphorbia which Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick.  It has settled in well.

euphorbia

I will try to take a better picture on a less windy day when we get back.

A little ornamental strawberry, hidden among other plants was blushing unseen until I poked about a bit.

ornamental strawberry

Although many tulips have been dead headed and are now composting quietly in the new bin, some are just coming out.

ornamental strawberry

I am hoping that these will last until we get back

When I checked my bike computer to see how I had done on my morning ride, I discovered that it had eaten the statistics and wouldn’t regurgitate them for my spreadsheet.  This was a bit alarming so I put the computer on my slow bike and went out for a short run to see if it was still working.

I combined the test with a visit to the nuthatch tree and was able to catch a glimpse of one of the pair emerging from the nest…

nuthatch

It didn’t hang about and I waited for several minutes to see if it would return.  I was just checking my phone to see how long I had waited, when I saw it return to the nest out of the corner of my eye. and I missed the picture opportunity.  I shall come back in a week to see if they are still there.

I went over to the Lodge Walks on my way back….

Lodge walks

…and was pleased to find them greening up nicely.

I tested the bike computer when I got home and it behaved perfectly, giving up its secrets without complaint.  It must have been just one of those inexplicable blips which seem to affect all digital devices from time to time.

I had a moment to watch a redpoll on the feeder.

redpoll

But I couldn’t spend too long watching nuthatches or redpolls as I had an appointment at the Health Centre for my annual asthma review (still living and breathing, as it turned out) but it is no hardship at all to have to walk across the Suspension Bridge on a day like today.

River Esk

In the evening, Mike and Alison came as usual on a Friday and Alison and I battled away at some of our pieces, neither of us having done quite as much practice as maybe we should have done.  Still, music is music and gives great pleasure even when it is not played absolutely perfectly.

The flying bird(s) of the day are an oyster catcher and a crow which passed over the garden in the early evening making a great commotion.  It was hard to see who was chasing whom but we thought that the oyster catcher was mobbing the crow.

oyster catcher and crow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was half way up Snowdon in Wales when he saw this view yesterday.  He says that the best thing about climbing Snowdon is that you can get a cup of tea at the top but the view is pretty good too.

Snowdon

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today with both more sun and more wind than yesterday.  It seems a long time now since we had any serious rain.

The garden is enjoying the weather and doesn’t seem to be needing rain yet though.  It is hard to beat a sight like this when I went out into the garden after breakfast.

apple blossom

It is apple blossom time.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s front beds don’t get the sunshine until a bit later but the mixed tulips were quite bright enough without any help.

tulip beds

I had intended to go for an early bike ride but I wasn’t feeling very perky, probably because my asthma was playing up a bit and definitely because the wind seemed to be very strong so I idled quite a bit of the morning away before I finally chased myself out of the house.

I was glad to be out.  It was a sparkling day and the wind blew me up the hill and made the start of my ride very easy.  Because of the stiff breeze, gusting at well over 25 mile an hour at times, I decided to use my valley bottom ‘outdoor gym’ and cycle 25 miles by repeating the four mile trip up to Cleughfoot and back three times.

The wind was so strong that I took more or less exactly the same amount of time to cycle up the hill as I did to cycle back down again and on the third iteration of the route, I set my fastest ever time for the three uphill miles from Pool Corner to Wauchope School.

I also stopped for photos, as my modest speed let me keep an eye for points of interest like these bright things on a conifer.

Spruce flower cones

Spruce flower cones

I couldn’t miss the gorse which is as good as I have ever seen it this year.

gorse

There were lambs bleating in every field.

lambs

And the blackthorn blossom at one point was sensational.

blackthorn

My favourite cascade on the Wauchope has been reduced to a mere trickle…

Wauchope cascade

…but this did let me appreciate just how bent the rocks beside it are.

bent rocks

Our peaceful countryside has been the subject of some powerful forces not so long ago.

I had another look at the apple blossom when I got back to see if there were any bees about.

bee on apple blossom

Good work.

The bird seed was going down at the usual speed.

redpoll, siskin and goldfinch

A redpoll looks rather disapprovingly at a goldfinch tucking in

Mrs Tootlepedal had been helping out with the lunches at the Buccleuch Centre so we had a late lunch when she got back and while she had a well deserved rest, I pottered around the garden, dead heading yet more daffodils and some of the early tulips.

I roused Mrs Tootlepedal and we drove down to the animal feed shop south of Longtown where I get my bird seed.  I bought a big bag of seed which I got free, courtesy of a generous bribe from BT in the form of a prepaid card which they gave me when I changed my internet supplier to them recently.   I may well repay them by changing to another supplier when my cheap first year runs out.

We stopped in Longtown on our way home and I took a quick walk along the river.  The bridge of many arches was looking good in the sunshine.

Longtown Bridge

In fact it was looking so good that I thought I might try taking three pictures and merging them using Photoshop, a technique I learned at the last Camera Club meeting.

This was the result.

Longtown Bridge 2017 photomerge

You can click on the picture for a larger view.  The technique works pretty well. I couldn’t see the joins.

The river looked inviting….

River Esk at Longtown

…so I strolled down the riverside path…

Longtown path

…and in the shelter of the trees, it was a beautifully warm day.

I was delighted to see an orange tip butterfly and even more delighted when it thoughtfully posed for me.

orange tip butterfly

A small tortoiseshell was not so obliging.

There were wild flowers on view as well.

nettle and silverweed

Some sort of dead nettle and the aptly named silver weed

umbellifera

Various umbellifera which I should be able to identify but can’t

Between the cycle ride, pottering about the garden and the riverside walk, I took far too many pictures today but the weather is due to be fine again for the next two days so I will have plenty of opportunity to take many more.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Archaeological Society meeting and I went to sing with the Langholm Community choir.  When I came out, there was a very beautiful sunset to round off an enjoyable day.  Luckily I didn’t have my camera with me as I think that the 80,000,000 pictures of lovely sunsets already on the internet are probably more than enough….but it was a particularly good one.

The title of the blog today refers both to the wind, which was hard to beat when I pedalled against it in the morning, the beautiful river views at Longtown in the afternoon which were looking as good as I have ever seen them and finally the speed at which our conductor in the evening took one of our pieces.  A beat that I found it was very hard to keep up with.

I didn’t have much time for flying birds today and this goldfinch, threading its way towards the feeder, was the best that I could do.

goldfinch

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