Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘astrantia’

Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan visited Loch Ness but resisted the charms of the cruise boat and drove round the loch by car instead.  They didn’t see a monster.

Loch ness cruiser

It was another gloomy, damp day here with the clouds hanging low over the  town and frequent spells of miserable drizzle to make things damper and gloomier.

Mrs Tootlepedal found a nearly dry moment to take our visitor Riley for a walk after breakfast, and Riley enjoyed a well earned rest when he got back.

riley

I had a pretty good rest all morning myself and it was only interrupted by the arrival of Sandy for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.  He had had a very good ride on his new electric bike yesterday and was full of praise for the way it had carried him up steep roads and over the hill and far away.  He has written about his trip here.   This might interest anyone thinking about getting an e-bike.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see if it was raining.

It was.

sparrow in rain on fence

Looking around, I could see that our power lines were busy.  I don’t usually expect to see a robin perching on one.

robin on wire

I do expect to see starlings at present.  They were adopting varying formations today,

three starlings on wirefour starlings on wire

A blackbird preferred to remain at a lower level and took the chair.

blackbird on chair staring

Sandy went off to the Archive Centre and brought back some sheets of the newspaper index for me to put onto the database.  Spurred by this, I caught up on my backlog, and it looks as though there will be plenty more gloomy weather to come which will encourage me to put in these new sheets soon.

As the afternoon wore on, the drizzle stopped and I found myself with just enough time for a quick three bridges walk before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

I nodded at some flowers as I left the garden…

roses and dahlia panel

…and walked down to the suspension bridge from which I looked up river towards the first bridge that I would cross…

 

Town Bridge October

…and down river to where the poplars are just beginning to change colour.

poplars beside Esk

The best leaf colour of the day was lying in a gutter beside the bridge..

fallen leaves

…and there is a bit of worry that the leaves may fall off the trees this year without giving us a good show of autumn tints.

I walked along the river bank and crossed the town bridge.  I was hoping to see some riverside birds, but the only one that I came across was Mr Grumpy, standing on one leg.

heron one leg

I then walked up to the Sawmill Bridge and crossed it.

sawmill brig

Looking up the Lodge Walks from under the canopy, the trees look pretty green still…

lodge walks inside

…but looking at the same trees from outside in the field, they look rather brown.

lodge walks outside

Across the Castleholm, there was a mild show of colour but the birch trees have lost all their leaves already and give the scene a rather blurred look.

trees across castleholm

A little burst of sunshine appeared but it lit up Whita Hill and the monument while I remained under a cloud.

sunshine on whita

When I got to the Jubilee Bridge, the third of my three bridges, something had changed since my last walk.

jubilee bridge october

I realised that I could see more of the bridge than usual and this turned out to be because someone had cut down one of the two big trees that stood beside the bridge.

felled tree jubilee bridge

Why they should have done this is a mystery at present.

I stood on the bridge and looked upstream.

 

upriver from jubilee bridge october

And then I walked home and saluted a beautiful astrantia which welcomed me into the garden.

astrantia october

My flute pupil Luke came and we practised some new pieces which was exciting.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been looking at recipes and made a delicious red lentil dal to go with a second helping of the venison stew.  The day ended well.

There are two flying birds of the day today just because I didn’t have much else to do in the morning except look up at distant birds.

First, a rook flying high over the garden…

flying rook

…and then a starling, trying to find a better power line to perch on.

flying starling

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He noticed a small water wheel which has been installed not far from his house.  It has a helpful explanatory diagram drawn on the side of its hut.  It is providing power for some lights on a bridge.

burst

Just how lucky the agricultural show was to get a fine day yesterday was made clear by the rain which greeted me as I got up today.  It kept raining as I went to church to sing in the choir.  It was the harvest festival service today so it would have been nice to have some better weather to go with it.

When I got home, the rain died down to a drizzle and in between drinking coffee and doing some desultory tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out into the garden to have a look around.

I always like to see how raindrops sit on flowers and leaves….

wet michaelmas daisy

…and I found that I was not the only one interested in the Michaelmas daisies.

wet michaelmas daisy with hoverfly

The astrantia was attractive too.

astrantia with insect

One of the fuchsias that Mrs Tootlepedal moved has finally decided that some flowers would be a good thing….

transplanted fuchsia

…but it looks as though they might be too late with some cold weather forecast later in the week.

An insect visiting Crown Princess Margareta seems to be a bit lost.

Princess margareta rose

The silver pear has got quite a lot of little pears on it this year.  They are about the size of a cherry and unfortunately they are hard and inedible.

silver pear

The nasturtiums are still bringing their own little bit of sunshine into the garden…

yellow nasturtium

…and the late flowering nerines are looking very cheerful too.

nerine close up

By the back gate, the old fuchsia continues to surprise after a couple of very poor years.

backgate fuchsia

I went back indoors and looking out of the kitchen window, I though that I saw a sparrow on the lawn but a second glance told me that it was something else, so I snatched a poor picture of it as it hopped away.   I wonder if it is a wheatear but I would welcome a suggestion from a knowledgeable reader as to what it might be.

unknown lawn bird

At the far end of the lawn, a thrush was having its head turned by a showy begonia.

thrush and begonia

After lunch, I drove to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir and on my way, I passed over the bridge at Longtown.  There were traffic lights in place but there was no restriction on the traffic going over the bridge and the damage which had caused it to be closed yesterday looks minor.  I hope that the repairs won’t be a major business.

We were very pleased to welcome back our regular conductor Ellen at the choir practice and we worked as hard as we could to keep her happy.

After the choir was over, I was even more pleased to drive to station and pick up Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived back from London on a very punctual train having had a very enjoyable week there with our daughter and new granddaughter.

After a gloomy week of miserable weather in her absence, it is very good to have a ray of metaphorical sunshine back in the house.

The flying bird of the day was just passing by during the rainy morning.

flying rook

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who is back from Spain.  He was quite surprised to find the moon in his local cathedral.  It had had a very beneficial effect on numbers attending evensong. He tells me that ‘The Museum of the Moon’ is touring the provinces, and will be with him for a month.

Church moon

Rather ominously, it was raining when I woke up this morning, but by the time that I had had breakfast, things had brightened up a lot and the rest of the day was dry and often sunny.

I dawdled over breakfast and then made a venison stew for the slow cooker and finally, after a cup of coffee and a preliminary battle of wits with the prize crossword, I took advantage of the fine weather by going out for a pedal.

A small crop of mushrooms by the side of the road caught my eye soon after I had started….

roadside fungus

I didn’t stop a lot on my ride as I wanted to get back in time to go up to the Agricultural Show but I took a few pictures on my way.

I thought that this one summed up the day well:  sunny and cloudy with a brisk wind.

minsca widmills

I saw some standing bulls…

three bulls

…and some sitting cows…

sitting cows

…along my way.

And it was clear enough for me to able to see a hint of colour on the Lake District hills, 30 miles away.

lake district hills

I plugged away into the wind on my way out and then had a helping hand for the return journey.  With this assistance, I managed 38 miles at a modest pace (13.2 mph) and got home in time to have a quick look round in the garden before going up to the show field.

The astrantia was very popular..

astrantia with three insects

…and a rose, a fuchsia and a cosmos were enjoying the dry sunny weather.

rose, fuchsia, cosmos

When i got to the show field, there were horses…

pony at Ag show

…sheep…

sheep at ag show

…and cattle…

bull at ag show

…to be seen.

There were prize vegetables, cakes, flower arrangements, and many other treats in the industrial tent.  Mrs Tootlepedal had won first prize for a small embroidery but it was disappointing to find that it was the only entry in her class.  Still, as the Castleholm, where the show is held, is a big piece of ground, I can truthfully say that she won first prize in a large field.

As at the Canonbie Flower Show last month, a falconer had turned up with some handsome birds…

three hawks at ag show

…and his assistant was flying an owl.

owl at Ag show

…which got fed up at one point and retired to the top of a public address pole and refused to do any more flying.

errant owl at Ag show

Considering the rotten weather through the week, the show was pretty cheerful.  This picture doesn’t show you the full extent of the mud where people had been walking…

ag show view

…and I was pleased to have my wellies on.

I didn’t stop long as I was a bit peckish after my bike ride and I walked home across the Jubilee Bridge, passing a football match on my way.  I was a touch slow with my shutter finger and the ball had left the shot by the time that I took the picture.

football match

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to find that the garden is looking a little worse for wear when she comes home tomorrow…

droopy rudbeckia

…but there are still some butterflies about.  There are hardly any flowers left on the buddleias and there was keen competition to get on to the last ones today.

butterflies on scarce buddleia

I finished the crossword and then had a quiet sit down until it was time to eat some of the slow cooked venison stew for my evening meal.

As I was walking back from the show, I met my friend Gavin and he told me that part of the fine bridge at Longtown…

Longtown bridge

This was the bridge in July

…had collapsed and the road across it had had to be closed.  I looked on the internet this evening and found that the damage can’t have been too catastrophic as one lane over the bridge has now been re-opened and traffic lights installed.  I shall see if it still open tomorrow when I go down to Carlisle for the choir and to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up. Luckily there is an easy and convenient diversion if required.

The flying bird of the day is that owl while it was still behaving well.

flying owl

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Orviedo while he is in Spain.  It shows the  800 AD church of St Julian, built in the Byzanto-romano style, which the ruling Visigoths of Asturia liked.

orviedo church

The advance forecast has been rather gloomy about the weather this week, but we got a stay of sentence today and enjoyed a dry day which got better as it went along.  I had a quiet morning in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, involving paying a bill, doing a load of washing and hanging it out, some random dead heading and occasional looks round the garden where I could see blackbirds early in the morning ….

two blackbirds

…and, as the sun came out, a full house of butterflies later on.

four butterflies

I spent quite a lot of time making a little spreadsheet of the amount of electricity that we have used charging the Zoe.  We have charged the car three or four times while away from home but mostly we have used our home charger and it looks as though we are paying about 3.5p per mile, which is a lot less than we used to pay for petrol for our old car.  An added bonus is that our electricity supplier claims to be getting its electricity entirely from renewable sources.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and ate it with an apple and some cheese and then set off for a short cycle ride.

I didn’t want to go too far from home with the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service unavailable and other friends on holiday, so I  went up and down the roads around the town.

The upland country is turning brown and won’t go green again for about eight months…

callister brown

…but there are still a few flowers in the roadside verges…

roadside yellow flower

…and there is now a lot of interest on walls, with lichen…

callisterwall lichen

…and moss…

callisterwall fungus

…and more lichen to be seen.

callisterwall lichen (2)

From the top of Callister, I looked  down past Chapelcross and across the Solway Firth to Skinburness on the English side, with the Irish Sea beyond.

view of skinburness from callister

On my way back to the town, I stopped to admire this fine show of hawthorns on the hillside.

hawthorns on wauchope road

I cycled through the town and headed south, stopping to admire Skippers Bridge..

skippers bridge in the round

…and enjoying more lichen on the wall at Broomholm.

broomholm wall lichen

There is more than a hint of autumn about…

broomholm view

…and I enjoyed this burst of colour at Whitshiels when I cycled back through the town.

whitshile colour

I would have gone a bit further but I wanted to look round the garden while the sun was out and I had my flute pupil Luke coming, so I settled for 21 miles, and as this was 21 miles more than I had expected to do, I was content.

I took far too many pictures in the garden over the day so I have put them into panels, mixing morning and afternoon shots together in a haphazard way.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s transplanted nerines are enjoying life among the calendulas.

clrematis, daisies, nerines

…and clematis and Michaelmas daisies are doing well too.

It is often easier to take flower shots when the sun isn’t shining as the detail can be clearer.  The cosmos and red zinnia were cloudy shots…

four flowers am and pm

…and the orange zinnia and the Icelandic poppy came later.

The garden had a summer feel to it when the sun shone in the afternoon…

bee, butterfly and flowers

…and butterflies tried new flowers.

red admiral butterfly on verbena

My flute pupil Luke appeared and we had a really good time playing duets.  I am not a very good flute player myself so I have to practise quite hard to keep up with him.  It does me a lot of good.

I am spiking the middle lawn with a garden fork and brushing sand into the spike holes in an effort to improve drainage and keep moss at bay (ha ha) but because I am having to take care of my feet, the work is proceeding at snail’s pace.  I did two rows across the lawn in the course of today and I will be lucky to finish before winter comes.

I was hoping to get a genuine flying bird of the day today and spent some time lurking in the garden with my camera at the ready.  Starlings were keen to help…

four flying starlings

…and a co-operative bird flew over the garden at a modest speed…

passing flying bird

…but in the end, I couldn’t go past a delightful white butterfly in mid flap, a shot that I have never managed to take before. Not quite a flying bird of the day, but quite satisfactory all the same.

flying white butterfly

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz.  She went for a walk in the woods today and got a big surprise.  The wood carver has been at work again.

Liz's monster

We had another lovely day today, but in spite of the sunshine it was still a bit autumnal as far as the temperature went.  I walked up to the town to do some errands in the morning because just as I was cycling out of the gate, I met Mike Tinker so I pushed my bike beside me as we walked companionably up to the paper shop.

I had a couple more things to do while Mike walked back, and I cycled back a little later, deciding that any more serious cycle outing could well wait until the sun had warmed things up a bit.

Between drinking coffee and not finishing the crossword, I walked round the garden.  The pale yellow dahlia looked rather chilly in the shadow of the house….

pale yellow dahlia

…but elsewhere the sun  made everything look very cheerful…

nerine, begonia, euphorbia

…especially the poppies.

bright red poppy

I have been dead heading the Icelandic poppies and they have repaid me with several new flowers.

morning icelandic poppy

I liked this leaf of a variegated dogwood which looks as though nature has been out and about doing some hand quilting.

embroidered leaf

Once again, the most conspicuous element in the garden was the flitting about of butterflies.  There were lots about, including this white on a spirea…

white butterfly on spirea

…and all four of our regular coloured types – the peacock…

peacock butterfly

…the small tortoiseshell…

tortoiseshell butterfly on daglia

…the red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…and the painted lady.

painted lady on sedum

It wasn’t hard to find two or three together, jostling for space on the same flower.

three butterfly pairs

There weren’t as many blackbirds about as there have been, probably because the rowan berries have nearly all been eaten.  This blackbird was reduced to foraging for fallen berries on the ground.

blackbird with scavenged berry

A pale astrantia reached up to the sun.

pale astrantia

After lunch, with the thermometer at a heady 12°C, I got my bike out, spoke severely to my legs and set off to see how far I could go.

For once, the wind had dropped and although there was still a very light breeze, it wasn’t a great help or a great inconvenience.

The good forecast had encouraged farmers to cut more grass.

cut grass mid september

I cycled down to Longtown by back roads and dropped in at the bike shop there.  My bike has had a squeaking problem which had baffled the best brains among the bike shop boffins and although they hadn’t cured it when it was last in the workshop, they had made the bike ride-able again.  When the problem reappeared on a recent ride, I followed up on the mechanic’s suggestion and applied a little WD40 to a crucial point.  This had cured it, so I went to thank the mechanic.

He was very pleased to find the cause of the problem and undertook to provide a more permanent fix next time my bike comes to the workshop.  As it was, I was lucky that I was carrying the WD40 with me because when I went over a very dirty section of the road a few miles further on, the problem raised its ugly head again.  A good squirt cleared things up though, and I was able to pedal on without a problem.

From Longtown, I went past Arthuret Church…

Arthuret Church

…and enjoyed this little carving on a gravestone.

Arthuret Church carving

I then took a short off road section of National Bike Route 7.  It follows an old railway line across the River Lyne on a new bridge which they plunked down on top of the old piers..

NR 7 bike path

Although I had to duck to avoid brambles hanging over the path, and the final section was both muddy and very narrow, I reached the artistic signpost  at the far end of the track safely and rejoined the road gratefully.

I wound my way round the flat roads of North Cumbria, and then headed home past Gretna and through Canonbie

I paused for a drink as I crossed the main railway line near Gretna.  I love the geometry of railway lines.

railway geometry

I didn’t stop a lot to take pictures on my way but there were wild flowers to enjoy when I did stop.

three biking wild flowers

I was hoping to manage 50 miles but I came to a compromise agreement with my legs and settled for 43 miles instead.  The forecast is still good for tomorrow so I didn’t want to discourage my legs by doing too much today.

I had a cup of tea and some toast with plum jam when I got home and then had a last walk round the garden.  The calendulas are hanging on well.

evening icelandic poppy

I am off to see the podiatrist tomorrow to see if I can do something about getting walking comfortably again.  Cycling is all very well but you don’t see anything like as much detail as you do when you are walking.

The non flying bird of the day is a starling, standing fearlessly among the mess of wires on the top of our new electricity pole.

starling among wires

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She is visiting the Netherlands for singing purposes, and saw this fine selection of bridges crossing the river Waal at Nijmegen through the tinted windows of her coach.  The Waal is a distributary* of the Rhine.

Nijmegan bridges

We had a fine day here today.  Indeed, we are promised a week of fine weather.  This will be very welcome after our recent very changeable conditions.  The temperature is due to rise steadily until Sunday when it will start to rain again.

A bit of warmth will be very welcome as it was definitely felt autumnal as I cycled about the town on various errands after breakfast.   I almost felt as though I should have been wearing gloves. However, it soon warmed up and Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough from her cold to have a wander round the garden and do some light work.

I did some dead heading and clearing up of fallen plums and, of course, looked around as I did so.

After a very slow start, the fuchsias in the garden are beginning to make a better effort…

garden fuchsia

…and together with the second flowering of the red astrantia….

red astrantia

…they are bringing some late colour to the garden.

An Icelandic poppy and a cosmos were doing a grand job of providing for insects.

insects on flowers

The most striking thing about the garden though was not the flowers, but the butterflies on them.  There were red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

on buddleia and sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and peacocks on both blue…

peacock butterfly

…and red buddleia.

peacock butterfly on buddleia

They were joined by the usual collection of white butterflies too.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a very curious white butterfly with odd yellow wings fluttering about.  It was so unusual that we tracked it carefully as it flitted from plant to plant.  Finally, it rested long enough to be caught on camera and it turned out to be not one butterfly but two butterflies engaged in the business of producing more butterflies.

white butterflies mating

We politely left them to it and went off to a admire a lone small tortoiseshell completing our butterfly collection for the day.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I went back indoors and spent some time getting things ready for the first camera club meeting of the season, testing the projector and making sure that the laptop that we use wasn’t suddenly going to demand an update at an inconvenient time.

After lunch,  I was finally ready to go for a cycle ride.  The wind was supposed to be quite light but turned out to be quite brisk and gusty at times so I had a battle over the first eleven miles to get to the top of a hill on this little used road at Kennedy’s Corner.

Kennedy's Corner

From then on though, it was almost all downhill with good views over the Solway to the Lake District Hills 25 miles to the south

view of solway from Kennedy's corner road

…and looking back I could see Burnswark Hill just behind me where forts have guarded the route north from iron age and then Roman  times.

view of Burnswark from Kennedy's corner road

To the west, I could just make out Criffel on the far bank of the Nith Estuary, 20 miles away.

view of vriffel from Kennedy's corner road

It is an airy spot and I enjoyed the swoop down the hill to Chapelknowe, with the now helpful wind giving me an extra push.

Some time ago, I had been sent a guest picture of some Korean pine cones at Half Morton church and I remembered to have a look for them as I passed the churchyard today.  There are none so blind as those who will not see and I was quite impressed that I had managed to cycle within a few yards of these wonderful trees…

korean pine tree Half Morton

… many, many times without ever noticing them especially or the astonishing crop of cones right under my nose.

korean pine cones

The fact that the church lies at the top of a small hill and I am always slightly puffed when I get there might explain it.

While I was there today, I also noted the the stone steps laid into the wall which enabled people to approach the church without opening the gate and letting the minister’s sheep, which grazed the grave yard,  out onto the road.

half morton church wall

I stopped for a drink of water just before the final little hill on my route and can tell you that there is a stone wall under this jungle of ferns.

ferny wall

I got home after 27 miles in time to have a cup of tea and a slice of bead with plum jam followed by a shower, before my flute pupil Luke arrived.   Our hard work on improving our breathing is beginning to pay off and we are progressing steadily.

When Luke left, I enjoyed an excellent evening meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to set up for the camera club meeting.

We had rather a thin attendance and I would have been disappointed except for the fact that the members who came produced such an interesting selection of images that the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile.

The meeting was short though and we didn’t need a half time break for tea and biscuits.  This left me with an unopened packet of bourbon biscuits and a temptation….into which I have happily fallen while writing this post.  I don’t know how many calories my cycle ride used up but I am perfectly sure that they have all been replaced now.

The flying bird(s) of the day are a small bunch of swallows.  They were sitting on a wire as I passed on my bicycle and I stopped, meaning to take picture showing swallows getting ready to depart when they suddenly departed.

swallows disturbed

* A distributary is a river which, instead of joining like a tributary, has split from the main river as it enters the delta at an estuary.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Paris.  She went to the Musee D’Orsay while she was there.  The clock is very fine, I think.

paris museum

We had another fine and dry day today but as it coincided with a two choir day, I couldn’t make much outdoor use of the good weather.  I could have made a bit more use of it than I did though, if my legs hadn’t still been mentioning yesterday’s ride from time to time.

As it was, my longest cycle ride of the day was the few hundred yards to the church in the morning.  I did the trip twice though because I had forgotten my music and had to go back for it.

I did think of a walk or a short cycle when we got back from church, but in the end I frittered away the time in drinking coffee, chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and reading yesterday’s papers.

I went out into the garden and picked and ate a few plums.  I was hoping to catch more birds eating berries, but they have unsportingly been eating them behind my back.  I looked at a few flowers instead.

The rambler rose is till showing some vigorous blooms…

rambler rose late flowers

…and nearby, Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure mustard plants are flowering freely.

mustard flower

She has planted sunflowers here and there all round the garden and on a sunny day like today, you find one smiling at you wherever you turn.

sunflower on fence

Phlox is hanging on….

[hlox

…and the red astrantia is having an excellent second flowering.

astrantia

When I went back in, I frittered away some more time in eating Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent courgette fritters for lunch and then it was the moment to jump into the car and go to Carlisle for the first meeting of the new session for the community choir there.

I was looking forward to this a lot, but it turned out to be a bit disappointing.  Our regular conductor and accompanist were not there, the acoustics in our new rehearsal venue made it hard to hear what the stand in conductor was saying and we sang a lot of songs that we have sung many times before,

We have got several new members this session, which is very good news, but owing to a failure of communication, there were not enough copies of all the music for them and as several of the new tenors can’t read music, it was hard for them to cope with shared copies when the rest of the choir new the songs very well.  However, all four of the new tenors seemed to enjoy themselves and have promised to come back which was heartening.   It was good to be back singing in a large choir again, and as always, things can only get better, so I am looking  forward to future meetings.

The nights are beginning to draw in now and there was not enough time for a late walk or pedal when we got home.  The birds had gone to bed so the flying bird of the day is a butterfly enjoying one of the last flowering spikes on the blue buddleia.

red admiral butterfly

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »