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Posts Tagged ‘astrantia’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows one of his dogs relaxing in his garden.  He tells me that he sun (almost) always shines in East Wemyss.

cof

When I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the sun was shining and my feet were not hurting.  Life was good and it got better when I went out into the garden after breakfast and found a painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) sunning itself on a Sweet William.

painted lady on sweet william

Things improved even further when Dropscone arrived for coffee, bringing scones of the highest quality with him.  Add to that a passing visit from our friend Gavin who stayed for a cup of coffee and happiness was to be found all around.

In the garden, when the visitors had departed, there was plenty of cheerfulness too. We have three different astrantias and they are all doing well…

three astrantia

…and the painted lady was back showing both sides of its wings.

painted lady panel

On the feeder, a siskin stood for a moment before getting a seed.  (This is a rare siskin picture for me as it wasn’t taken through a window.)

siskin not through window

Mrs Tootlepedal was doing the garden equivalent of housekeeping after the pole excitements when she found this quite unexpected but very pretty iris in the middle of a bed.  Where it has come from is a mystery, as she didn’t plant it.

new yellow iris

Long established irises should not be overlooked though.

old blue iris

Two days of warm sunshine had brought life to the garden and plants asked to be photographed, both in the form of Jacobite roses…

Jacobite rose

…and the butter and sugar iris.

butter and sugar iris

The painted lady returned to another Sweet William and let me get a close up.

painted lady on sweet william 2

The tropoaeolum has burst into flower as well.

tropaeloum flower out

In between running around snapping at flowers, I mowed the front lawn and lent a hand with the garden tidying until it was time for Mrs Tootlepedal to drive off to Newcastleton for an embroiderers’ lunch.

I made a pan of soup for my lunch, did the crossword and then headed out on my bike to see how my legs were feeling after yesterday’s effort.

I chose a route where the wind would be across and hoped that bends in the road would mean that it would frequently change from hostile to helpful as I went along as I didn’t fancy another long spell of battering into the brisk breeze.

I chose a more hilly route but my legs were unfazed and carried me along without complaint.  My windy plan worked well and I didn’t have any long struggles into the teeth of the breeze, but all the same, I adopted a very gentle pace and stopped to take many pictures as I went along.  Here are a sample.

A mown field and a variety of greens made a interesting picture as I cycled down the hill from Peden’s View.

mowed field

There was a pretty selection of hawkweed and daises at Bentpath village (and another painted lady which didn’t get into the picture).

wild flowers at Bentpath

The Esk looked serene when viewed from the Benty Bridge.

esk from benty bridge

The shadows on the back road past Georgefield look attractive but they are a snare for cyclists as it is hard to spot potholes among them and there are plenty of potholes on this section.

road ar Westerhall

I got through safely though and was able to admire this small prairie of buttercups near Enzieholm Bridge.

filed of buttercups enzieholm

When I looked more closely, I found that below the buttercups, the field was also full of yellow rattle.

sweet ratle in buttercup filed

There was a lot of traffic on the road on my way home…

sheep on Benty road

…but I got back in good spirits after fifteen very pleasant miles.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her lunch and was busy in the garden again so I joined her in a supervisory role and took more flower pictures from time to time.

six brilliant flowers

It was a perfect day and all the better because we have had so few good days lately.

The only fly in the ointment came in the evening with the news that Scotland had failed to hang on to a three goal lead in a crucial game in the Women’s World Cup football tournament.  I wisely hadn’t watched the game because I wasn’t in the mood for needless suffering.

I didn’t find the necessary time to catch a flying bird today as it wasn’t a good day to spend a lot of time indoors, so a sitting blackbird of the day takes the position instead.

blackbird on fence.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Wells with her friend, my Somerset corespondent Venetia, and took this reflective portrait of the cathedral from the bishop’s garden.

wells cathedral from Bishop's garden

We had a colder, windier day than yesterday, but as it was drier than forecast and the sun even came out briefly once or twice, we were grateful at a time when elsewhere in the country, torrential rain was making life hard.

I started the day by going to collect my bike from the bike shop where it had been serviced.  Because it has a gear box rather then a derailleur, it had had an oil change instead of a new cassette after just under four thousand miles.  The oil change was cheaper than a new cassette and chain but it still made my eyes water.  I will have to learn how to do it myself.

When I got home, I did a little shredding, put the results in compost bin A and then sieved more of compost bin C and put the bits that didn’t go through the sieve into compost bin D.  I lead a deep and exciting life.

Then I compounded the excitement by wandering about with a camera in hand.

The orange hawkweed is also known as ‘fox and cubs’ and this foxy flower looked as though it was brooding its cubs.

fox and cubs hawkweed

We have spireas that have showy leaves and dull flowers and we have spireas with dull leaves and showy flowers, very showy flowers.

spirea blossoms

Although we have had plenty of bees, I haven’t seen a great many smaller insects so I was pleased to see this one on a doronicum.

insect on doronicum

The tropaeolum flowers on the yew were lining up in attacking formation.

three tropaeolum attack

Apart from the rosa moyesii, which is in full flower, the other roses are still mainly work in progress. Like almost everything else in the garden, they could do with a bit of warmth.

four roses

The chives were still attracting various bees…

two bees on chives

…and I managed to get a wing as well as two bees knees in today’s shot.

close up on chive bee

By the front door, one clematis keeps fading while the other keeps flourishing.

clematis seed head and flower

It is hard to say which is prettier though.

By this time, lunch was calling and after lunch, I settled down for a while to watch the birds.

It was still very windy and this siskin was keeping firmly plunked down on the perch.

flat siskin

An anxious sparrow checked to see if there was a vacancy.

hopeful sparrow

I did think of going for a ‘bicycle walk’ just to get out of the house, but the weather was so unforgiving, cold and very windy, that I stayed in and caught up on some of the hymns for next Sunday’s service.

After a couple of hours, I went out to check the weather and noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine crop of doddering dillies growing in the bed at the end of the drive.  This grass has the Sunday name of Briza Media and it is also known as Common Quaking Grass and in the wind today, these doddering and quaking grasses were certainly living up to their name.  I had to pinch a head off one stem and take it inside to get it to stop quaking long enough for me to take a picture.

doddering dillies

The first candelabra primula flowers have appeared beside the pond.  I hope that they do well in spite of the weather, as they are among my favourite flowers…

early candelabra primula

…though of course, this is my absolute favourite.

astrantia

The day hadn’t got any better so I went back in and watched the birds again.

The squad of goldfinches was back….

four goldfinches

…though a siskin managed to sneak in at one point…

five goldfinches

…and occasionally there were more goldfinches than perches.

four goldfinches and a siskin

A greenfinch had no difficulty in persuading a goldfinch to offer it a seat at the table…

greenfinch close

…and when they had all gone off, a redpoll appeared and wasted my valuable seed.

redpoll spitting

My view of redpolls as charming little birds has been somewhat dented by seeing a redpoll nest live on the Springwatch programme on the telly.  It was the most disgustingly untidy nest that you could ever see.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious one pot penne, tomato and cream cheese dish for our tea.  As the rain taps on our windows as I write this, we are just hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow.  A tree had fallen on the line today but it has been cleared, so all is well at the moment.

As a bonus for another ‘stay at home’ post, there is not one but two flying sparrows of the day.

flying sparrow looking

In the strong winds, birds had to approach the feeder with care.

flying sparrow hanging

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who went to the Kirkcaldy Highland Games on a very wet day last weekend.  For reasons which are not entirely clear to me, the games are held on the beach.   These cyclists must have been working very hard.

cycling on the beach

After yesterday’s calm and sunny weather, we retreated into chilly, windy and grey conditions today.  As I wasn’t feeling at my perkiest, I was content not to to try to go out on the slow bike and settled happily for coffee with Sandy instead.

Before he arrived, I had a look round the garden.  The chives had several somnolent bees lying motionless on them.

P1020722

Mrs Tootlepedal wondered if they were drunk.  They weren’t paralysed because they had moved when I checked later.

I am very taken with the new irises and find it hard not to take another picture if I walk past them.

P1020731

Sometimes, I walk past them on purpose.

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The first of the pinks has appeared…

P1020734

…and the astrantias are going from strength to strength.

P1020735

I went out of the garden and walked along the dam at the back of the house.  As I went along I saw a flourishing potentilla and a clover trailing down the concrete side of the dam…

P1020738

…a lovely lily which our neighbour Kenny has planted on his side of the dam and one of the few flowers on the old fashioned fuchsia at the back gate.

When Sandy came we shared foot woes as his feet are in an even worse state than mine.

After he left, I took some time to watch the birds while I did the crossword.  We had a bit of variety with siskins and a greenfinch…

_DSC2363

…and a  sparrow had a go at a chaffinch for daring to share the feeder.

_DSC2366

I was rather surprised to look up from a tricky clue at one point and see a full house of goldfinches.

_DSC2369

I finished the crossword and went back out into the garden where I did some shredding of hedge clippings and some more sieving of compost.  Then I went in and made some lentil and bacon soup for lunch.  I have taken to using as much turmeric as possible in my soups because it is is supposed to be beneficial for arthritis sufferers but I am still waiting for the miracle cure.  Still, the soup tasted good so I am not complaining.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn to clear the remaining moss after yesterday’s scarification and felt a bit depressed when I looked at the result.  The grass will need feeding but what is really needed is a spell of warm weather to get it growing.

While I was out, I had another look round.  More educated onions are out…

P1020741

…and I had a close look at my favourite lupin.  When you stick your nose in it, it seems to be lit from within.

P1020742

One of the stalks had been snapped off by wind or rain (or both) near the top and this gave me a chance to take an unusual angle on the flowers.

P1020743

In spite of the brisk wind, there were plenty of bees about.

P1020746

Some plants, like a couple of our azaleas and one of the rhododendrons did not take well to the combination of cool and dry weather after an early short hot spell and produced buds but no flowers.  Now we are worried that even after some rain, the pale peonies look as though they might be going the same way.  They have looked like this for weeks…

P1020752

…and don’t seem to have any intention of bursting into flower.

I made the mistake of going in and sitting down i a comfortable chair for a moment, and mysteriously I fell asleep  and wasted two hours of my life.

I hadn’t got anything better to do and it gave my sore feet a rest so I expect it was a good scheme after all.

I roused myself and went out for a last look round the garden.  Another of the new irises has popped up and it called to me.

_DSC2371

There were still slow moving bees on the chives so I took the opportunity of capturing one of the bees knees.  I thought that it was very good.

_DSC2376

Not all our lupins are brightly coloured.

_DSC2378

As I was going back in, I noticed a rather odd looking foxglove. For some reason, It has put out a large misshapen flower on the very top of its stalk and to my eyes, it looks rather like one of the Chinese dragons that you see at festival times.

_DSC2379

I got back in and made a dish of baked spinach and eggs with a cheese sauce for our tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal only had time for a mouthful or two before she went out to act as a front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and as she is not back yet, I can only hope that she enjoyed the show.  The show is a screening of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Ballet.  I didn’t tell her, but it turns out badly in the end so I hope that she is not upset.

I just managed to catch a flying bird of the day as a siskin navigated round the feeder pole.

_DSC2365

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  He sent me this shot of the three bridges over the Forth as seen from the ship that was about to take him to Sweden.

three forth bridges

We were due to go to Edinburgh today to visit Matilda but I got up early and cycled twenty miles and got home in time to mow the middle lawn, have a cup of coffee and look at a few flowers, including the first orange hawkweed of the year…

Orange hawkweed june

…some Rosa Complicata (a very simple rose as it happens)….

rosa complicata

…one of the Rosa Moyesii which are doing the best of our roses at the moment…

rosa moyesii

…a very bright oriental poppy…

oriental poppy

…some delicate ornamental strawberries with don’t seem to mind the rain at all…

pink strawberries

…and an astrantia, always one of my favourite flowers.

pink astrantia

The cotoneaster still has a good number of bees buzzing about it, so new flowers must be opening every day.

bee on cotoneaster

Jackdaws are very busy at the peanuts these days.

jackdaw on peanuts

And today’s hedge sitter was a young blackbird.

young blackbird on hedge

We went off to Edinburgh earlier than usual as we had a shopping visit on the schedule and this meant driving to Tweedbank to use the Border Railway.  The train was on time and when we got to Edinburgh, we walked down to John Lewis.  As well as doing some successful shopping, we had a cup of coffee in what must be the department store cafe with the best view in Britain.  My phone can’t do it justice at all.

sdr

After we had done our shopping we went to Matilda’s house.  As it was such a sunny day, she was very happy to show us her local park.  It is called Lochend Park and this is the end of the loch in the park.

dav

I didn’t have a good camera with me which was a pity as there were two sorts of geese, gulls, moorhens and ducks to look at, not to mention a fine doocot.  The moorhens put on a fine show of ducking and diving and swimming underwater.  Matilda was impressed.

She was also impressed by the roundabout which turned very smoothly…

dav

…and the intricate web of ropes which gave her an opportunity to show her adventurous nature.

dig

We were impressed by the wild irises growing along the banks of the loch.

dig

We had a very  cheerful time sitting on the benches thoughtfully provided by Edinburgh Corporation for the relief of the elderly while Matilda spun and climbed and slid.

The road to the park from Matilda’s house is called Butterfly Way so we were able to remark (many, many times) that we had had a lovely day on Butterfly Way.

Alistair cooked us a tasty meal involving roast aubergines, cherry tomatoes and rigatoni so we were two happy people as we caught the train home.

Going to Tweedbank, rather then Lockerbie means a much longer drive, but there is still so much novelty in driving the electric car that the time passed quickly enough.  We had done 97 miles since the last charge by the time that we got home and when I plugged the car in, it said that there was just under half the charge left in the battery.  This gives us a very satisfactory range for summer driving although we realise that it will be considerably less in the cold winter months.

The flying birds of the day are a very unsatisfactory phone picture of pigeons returning to the doocot in Lochend Park.  I will take a proper camera next time I visit.

dig

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As well as seeing beautiful river scenes, Bruce has also met St Aidan of Lindisfarne on his Northumberland break, and his statue is the guest picture of the day.

St Aidan of Lindisfarne

There was an infernal racket in the garden this morning and anyone who extols the calming and peaceful nature of bird song has obviously not heard young starlings asking to be fed.

It was raucous.

starling parent and child

And sometimes the parents looked fed up with the demands for food.

two starlings

Young starlings grow quickly but they don’t develop the patterned feathers of the adult so it was easy to tell that this was a youngster waiting for a grown up to appear…

yoiung starling

…which it did in short order, carrying a beakful of worms…

starling bringing food

…which were gratefully received.

starling feeding child

I took a look at the burgeoning clematis flowers along the garage…

garge clematis

…and went off to help Mrs Tootlepedal distribute the wood chips that we collected yesterday on to the vegetable garden paths.

We laid down an impermeable lining and then added the chippings.  The result looked quite satisfactory.

chipped paths

There are more chips to be collected and more paths to be covered so it is ongoing work.

Beside the back fence, a small wild area added colour….

buttercups

…while further along, a transplanted clematis has flowered to Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight.

back fence clematis

I had a wander round, passing my favourite astantias…

two astrantias

…and noting the first flowers on the wiegela…

wiegela

…before stopping to check on the azalea which has been badly affected by lack of rain.

The recent wet weather has encouraged it to open some of its buds after all and…

thirsty azalea

…as it is due to keep raining for some days, all may not be lost.

The waxy leaves of lupins and hostas held the evidence.

two waxy leaves

The clematis by the front door is beginning to look a bit bedraggled so I took a picture of it while it is still looking stunning.

front door azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal is easing the frost bitten but recovering fuchsia out of the greenhouse day be day..

fuchsia out of greenhouse

…and I hope to see it in position in the garden soon.

When I had finished wandering, I set about doing a little more shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C.  The sieved bits are looking good.

buckets of compost

It was reasonably warm in the garden and there were threats of rain but it kept dry for the morning and only started to rain in earnest as we left to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

The train was even later than usual but as one disgruntled passenger pointed out as we arrived at Waverley Station 28 minutes late, this was two minutes too early for us to be able to claim part of the fare back.  Ah well.  And it was pouring with rain when we got out of the station so it was not our finest travelling day.

Matilda was in excellent form when we arrived.  Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly welcomed as she is making a dress for Matilda to wear at a school performance and had brought her measuring tape with her to get the size right.  After the measuring had been done, we played Go Fish and Beggar My Neighbour with Matilda and all I can say is that I didn’t catch many fish and I was utterly beggared by both Matilda and Mrs Tootlepedal.  I have always had characteristically bad luck at cards.

The journey home was delayed too and it was still raining as we drove home so it was good to get back to a warm, dry house.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings returning to our neighbour’s holly tree where they are roosting.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who knows that I like a neat lawn.  She found this one near a well known large house.

Buck house gardens

It was one of those days when it might have rained at any time and there was evidence that it had rained…

rain on hosta

…but in the end, it kept reasonably dry until the late afternoon and I was able to wander round the garden after breakfast looking to see what was going on.

There was the familiar:  the purple stemmed cow parsley is going from strength to strength…

purple cow parsley

…and there was the fresh: the nectaroscordum has started to flower.

nectaroscordum

There was old: the pulsatilla seed heads  are having fun…

pulsatilla

…and there was new: a fourth geum has joined in with the others…

four geums

…and a second astrantia has arrived as well.

pale astrantia

There was plenty of bright colour but sadly a rose had come out and been knocked about by a rain shower before I had a chance to get a good shot of it.

four reds

There were a good number of bumble bees about…

bee on allium

…and the alliums were on their visiting list.

I like the geometry of the alliums….

bees eye view of allium

…and of the sweet rocket too.

sweet rocket head

I was still pottering around the garden when a guest arrived for a garden tour and a cup of coffee.  Sue has recently come to live in Langholm and while she was searching online for information about the town, she happened upon my blog and has since become a regular reader.  It was very nice of her to take the time to come and visit us and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a good chat with her.

She lives on the edge of town and has many interesting visitors to her garden.  She has invited us up to see woodpeckers, nuthatches and squirrels so I hope to take up her offer soon.

When  she left, I mowed the middle lawn and then took some time to watch our own birds.  Just the usual suspects were about…

three birds

…though I was pleased to see a chaffinch.  They are normally our most common visitor but they have almost entirely disappeared from our garden lately for some unknown reason.

chaffinch and siskin

After lunch, I went up to the town to keep an appointment but as the person whom I was supposed to meet wasn’t there, I came home again and set to work with Mrs Tootlepedal on some lawn improvement.

The front edge of the middle lawn has lifted up over time and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted it lowered so it looked better and was easier to step off.  This involved raising the turfs, removing soil from underneath and replacing the turfs.

A straightforward task which we approached methodically.  First cut the turfs…

lawn renovation 1

…then remove them and lay them on the drive in the right order…

lawn renovation 2

…then shoogle and level the soil underneath, removing quite a lot of earth and three  buckets of stones…

lawn renovation 3

…before raking the soil flat and putting some compost in…

lawn renovation 4

…and then the turfs that have been removed are sliced to a uniform thinness using a turf box and a knife and replaced in position….

lawn renovation 5

…until it starts to pour with rain and we have to break off and have a cup of tea.

As it was then the tome when my flute pupil Luke came, I left Mrs Tootlepedal replacing the last of the turfs between showers and when Luke left, I helped her to finish off the task. Then we gave the replaced lawn a thorough watering and generally tidied up a bit.

lawn renovation 6

As well as the three buckets of stones, we had removed about two wheelbarrow loads of soil so although it may not look much in the photos, we made quite a difference.  Everything will take a few days to settle, but we were very pleased with the result of the afternoon’s work. The lawn will never be bowling green flat but it is much more level than it was.

Luke has been practicing so the lesson went well too.

Tomorrow will tell whether a couple of hours of vigorous bending and stretching was a good idea.  At the moment, all is well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is a look back at Venetia’s African trip.  There are so few bees in our garden that I wondered whether a relative of this handsome carmine bee eater might be responsible for the dearth….but it is probably just the cool weather.

carmine bee-eater

A cold and sometimes drizzly day made it easy for me to persuade myself that another more or less complete day of rest might be good for my feet so it was fortunate that we had plenty of visitors to brighten our day.

Our first visitor was Sandy, who came round to enjoy a cup of coffee and some biscuits.  He has been very busy in his garden organising new fencing and a sitting area in front of his garden shed.   He is also about to fly away from our cold climate and visit the Canary Islands with friends.  All in all, he was very cheery as a result.

Just as we had finished the coffee pot, Scott our ex minister turned up with his wife Jane.  Obviously living in a big city has slightly blunted his coffee radar but it was easy enough to brew another pot and we sat and caught up with their doings.

While we were sipping and  chatting, the third visitor of the morning arrived in the plum tree.

rook peering

It was a rook demanding attention.

rook shouting

Always eager to please, I picked up my camera and took two profiles…

rook right profile

…showing the rook as both sensitive and serious….

rook left profile

…and then, happy with the result, the rook flew off, leaving the centre of attention to a blackbird.pecking blackbird

When Scott and Jane left, I took a moment to wander round the garden. There is little novelty at the moment because of the cold mornings and grey afternoons.

Such tulips as are still around are in a state of suspended animation…

 

thin tulip

…and only one more flower has appeared on the garage clematis.

two white clematis flowers

I went back in and when I looked out of the kitchen window, I saw the power of a pigeon’s stare.  The one on the left had caused the one on the right to completely lose its focus.

hard stare pigeon

A chaffinch, though larger than  the tiny siskin, still thought it wise to nip round the back of the feeder rather than try to oust the sitting tenant.

chaffinch nipping round the back

I made some vegetable soup, with added turmeric which is rumoured to benefit arthritic joints, for our lunch, and having eaten some, I went out and mowed the middle lawn in a very gentle way.  While I was out, I noticed that the very first astrantia of the year had appeared.

first astrantia

Regular readers will know that they can expect many more shots of this flower before summer is over.

I went in and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.  I am a bit behind the data miners and will have to find time to put in more weeks soon.

When the week was entered, I went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing in the garden all afternoon.  She had done a lot of tidying up of the early spring growth and is busy getting ready for the next stage.  Because of the stop start nature of the weather, the first azalea is now nearing its full glory before the others have hardly produced ten flowers between them.

red azalea out

It will be a pity if it goes over before the rest have come out as it will spoil the picture which the gardener has designed.

The marsh marigolds in the pond are out of my reach and so escape dead heading but the seed heads look quite pretty in their own right.

marsh marigold

The bergenias are reaching up and still putting out new flowers…

bergenia

…but this is just about the last of the trout lilies which have come and gone quite quickly this year.

last trout lily

I was just looking at a sturdy row of pea shoots growing in an old gutter in the green house…

prize peas

…..when our fourth visitor of the day arrived.  This was Mike Tinker and as it was four o’clock, we went in for a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.

I am adding the shreddings and sawdust from his felled cherry tree to compost bin A in judicious amounts with other materials to try to get the perfect combination of green and woody layers which will result in rich compost later in the year.

After Mike left, the fifth visitor of the day was my flute pupil Luke.

We have been working hard on improving his breath control and today I finally managed to get my thoughts about this into an order which made sense to him and we made good progress.  It is always useful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something which has been explained clearly to him, then it is the fault of the teacher and the explanation not the pupil.  Don’t just say the same thing again, try something different.  This is sometimes a hard lesson for a teacher to learn.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a way with quorn mince that makes it very tasty so we enjoyed a good meal to round off an interesting day.

I did spend a few minutes before tea on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to make sure that my legs won’t drop off entirely from inactivity.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, one of our most frequent visitors of the day.

flying siskin

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