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Posts Tagged ‘aubretia’

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 comes from my brother Andrew who met this violinist in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.  The exhibition is called “Too Cute”.

Brum fiddler

I had a restless but inactive day as my dratted foot went from being more or less pain free at breakfast to extremely sore by the end of the day.  I am frustrated.  What is best? Rest? Exercise?  A mixture of both?  I can’t wait to see the doctor on Friday.

Meanwhile a disjointed post will accurately reflect a disjointed day.  The best thing about it was that Mrs Tootlepedal was recovered enough to go off to an embroidery meeting in Hawick where they combined business with lunch and I have no doubt that the banter had them all in stitches.

I made frequent forays in search of flowers and found a promising tulip…

nearly a tulip

…an actual aubretia…

aubretia

…a dog tooth violet (a candidate for seeing if mirror photography will work)…

dog tooth violet

…and a little lamium.

lamium

Mrs Tootlepedal  is mildly vexed to find that the jackdaws have now removed nearly all of her wool mulch for their nests.

no wool left

It was a warmish day with a bit of chill still in the wind but we were short of sunshine and I had to rely on the daffodils along the back path…

daffodil path

…and some that our neighbour Kenny planted along the dam at the back of the house to bring some brightness into the day.

dam daffodils

Other flowers were available.

cowslippy thing

The magnolia has come out.

open magnolia flower

The birds emptied the feeder again today with siskins and goldfinches the first to get tucked in…

siskin and goldfinch and food

…but with chaffinches arriving to get their share too.

one chaffinche on each side

As the seeds  went down, things got heated.

arguing chaffinches

HEALTH WARNING:

The next part of the post contains composting pictures which those of a nervous disposition may find too exciting for their own good.

In the afternoon, while Mrs Tootlepedal was away, I turned my hand to some gentle composting.  I sieved some more of Bin D and finished emptying Bin B into Bin C.

This left Bin C (on the left) and Bin D (on the right) looking like this.

Bin C and Bin D

Bin B is now ready for refilling from Bin A…

Bin B empty

…but as Bin A is only half full….

Bin A half full

…I can take a break from turning compost for a bit.

The end product of the system is this.

two buckets of composy

Mrs Tootlepedal will soon find a home for it in the flower beds and vegetable garden.

Of course, you don’t have to do turning and shifting and sieving as you can just leave your compost in a great heap and let time do its work but where is the fun in that?

I had rung up the phone company in the morning to complain that the fallen telephone wire which is lying across our garden had not been fixed back up again.  The men who came on Friday had promised that someone would come on Monday to do the job.

Rather to my surprise, I got through almost immediately to a very competent and helpful lady in India who told me that the job had been marked as closed for some reason but she said that she would start a new job and get someone round as soon as possible….and with the right ladder!

She gave me a window of 48 hours in which to expect them but she must have added strong words to her case report as no less than three men came round in the afternoon.  I was pleased to hear that they had brought the blue ladder with them too.

Things went downhill a bit after that as having inspected the pole in our garden, they declared that it was so unsafe that they could not lean a ladder against it under any circumstances, blue or not, for fear of knocking the pole and its live wires over.

Of course the pole doesn’t belong to them as it is the property of the energy company so that means more delay.  They did think of taking the phone wire across the garden by a different route but that would have involved using one of their own poles beside the dam and when they looked at it, they found that it was decidedly wonky too, being over 60 years old.

New poles all round seems to be what is needed.

But as we have been waiting for six years to get the pole in our garden replaced, we are not holding our breath.  Something may happen as the phone company men are going to report to the electricity company  men that the pole is dangerous and the  telephone wire is still draped across our garden…

fallen wire with sandbags

..though it does have additional official sandbags on it now.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Choir and found that we have had a concert arranged for us next Tuesday for which at the time of writing, we have no conductor, no accompanist, not many singers and no music.  It promises to be an interesting event.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch female

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a boat trip that Dropscone took while on his holiday in Majorca.  He saw these  interesting rocks.

majorca cave

The forecast drop in temperature came about but it was not quite as dramatic as it might have been.  All the same, some light drizzle and clouds made the day seem very gloomy compared with the last two days.

It rained while we singing in the church choir in the morning but by the time that we emerged, it had stopped again and I paid a visit to the dam at the back of our house before going inside.  On our side of the new bridge, aubretia is beginning to drip down the concrete…

aubretia

…and on the other side of the new bridge, our neighbour Liz has a striking clump of marsh marigold.

marsh marigold

In the garden, evidence of the morning drizzle was to be seen…

daffodil

…and so I turned up the flower of a dog’s tooth violet to get a sunnier view of it.

dog's tooth violet

I went in and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker, checking on the birds outside from time to time.

The siskins seem to have found somewhere more attractive to eat and we are left with mostly goldfinches and chaffinches at the moment…

busy feeder

…who are always ready to exchange a few well chosen words.

_DSC3414

Once the stew was started, I took a second walk round the garden.

The hyacinths looked cheerful enough…

grape hyacinth

…but the tulips were missing the sunshine and stubbornly refused to display their charms.

closed tulips

After lunch, I had time for another quick look round.

There are some weather conditions which seem to make the hellebores lift up their heads. I haven’t quite pinned down what the requirements are but today was one of the days when it happened.

hellebores

The hellebores have been very good value this year and have been out for ages.

Something has been eating the petals of the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

We made an early start on the trip to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as we had some shopping in mind.

We visited a bookshop first and then went to a specialist tea and coffee supplier where I bought tea from India, China and Sri Lanka to go with the African teas that I am currently drinking.  Two packets of coffee beans from Nicaragua and Brazil also found their way into the shopping bag.  Sometimes, we take the wonders of international trade for granted but I reflect on a small part of it every day as I drink tea and coffee.  And am grateful.

We concluded the shopping by going to a well known clothing store where I bought a shirt just like that.   My ability to make such a bold and swift decision was greatly helped by the fact that my personal shopping adviser was holding my hand and she suggested that a shirt might be a good thing to buy.

The afternoon choir session did not turn out as expected.

We got there to find that our conductor and accompanist, who come down from Glasgow each week, had found that railway maintenance which should have stopped in time for them to get to the practice was still ongoing and they were trapped on the wrong side of it.

In the absence of anyone else, a pianist from the choir stepped forward to act as accompanist and I got the chance to take the choir for a shortened session.  As there is nothing more magical than waving your arms about in a casual way and being greeted by the sound of glorious singing, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The sun had come out by the time that we finished and the evening was so lovely that we took a longer and more scenic way than usual to drive home.

The stew was good too so the day ended very well.

A collared dove sat in the plum tree.

collared dove

I checked a weather site for local weather and it said that yesterday’s high was 69.3°F and today’s was 60°F and tomorrow’s will be 51°F.  This translates roughly as a drop from 20°C to 10°C so we will back to feeling the chill again.   April showers are also likely and I may be a bit pressed to get as many miles in on the slow bike as I would like before the new bike arrives with the new month.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

A literal footnote:  Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture to cheer me up.  It shows her husband leaving his mark on lawn in Denmark that is so mossy that it makes mine look not too bad at all.

moss in Denmark

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She was walking at Burrington Combe in North Somerset, when she saw this sight on the far side of the road.  It is the very crag which inspired the writer of the 1763 hymn starting: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself  in Thee’

Rock of Ages

We had another dry and mostly cloudy day today.  The dry weather was very welcome but once again the chilly and brisk wind took away some of the pleasure of being out in the garden.

After a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone, I spent a lot of time in the garden so felt the wind quite keenly.

I was finishing tidying up after the installation of the compost bins.  I sorted the old wood into ‘(possibly) usable’ and ‘totally rotten’ piles and then with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, I used some of the wood to improve the partition between Bins C and D.  It all looks very good now but I haven’t put in a photo of the finished set up because I have elderly readers and don’t want to over excite them two days running.  This is a responsible and caring blog.

In between the compost work, I mowed the two lawns and looked at the moss, which always seems more conspicuous after a cut, in a slightly depressed way.  I am waiting for some warmer weather to encourage grass growth before getting the scarifier out.

Mrs Tootlepedal has transplanted some hellbores and a fritillary as she thought that they were blooming rather unseen where they were and she has put them beside the other hellebore near the feeders….

hellebores

…where they will make up a new ‘spring corner’ if they survive the transplanting.

I couldn’t resist another look at the amazing euphorbia…

euphorbia

…although the brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky.

We are getting quite excited by the prospect of azaleas….

azalea buds

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is impressed by her rosemary beside the greenhouse.

rosemary

I find it a very difficult plant to photograph well as my camera sees the leaves much more clearly than the elegant flowers.  I will try again with the macro lens on a sunnier day.

I thought that I had found a nascent tulip afflicted by a dread disease….

fancy tulip

…but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a fancy variety and is supposed to be like that.  I look forward to seeing it when it is fully out.

The aubretias overhanging the side of the dam are thriving.

aubretias

In spite of having had quite an energetic time in the garden, I had enough oomph left to go for a short cycle ride late in the afternoon.  It was still very windy so I settled for a valley-bottom-hugging ride up and down the road beside the Wauchope Water to Cleuchfoot and back a couple of times with a bit added on to make up twenty miles.

I was rewarded for my get up and go spirit when the sun came out just as I started cycling

I saw a towering gorse bush…

aubretias

…and some very young lambs in a field.

cleuchfoot lambs

I went along the banks of the Esk in the town on one of the laps, hoping to see some interesting birds but had to settle for a small meadow on the bank beside the suspension bridge…

cleuchfoot lambs

The flowers that look quite white in the sunshine are in fact a very pretty purple when seen from closer in.

wild flower

Whenever I had a chance through the day, I looked out of the kitchen window.  It was not hard to spot birds lining up to try the new feeders.

goldfinch

siskin and chaffinch

Some customers got impatient though…

chaffinches

…which led to some unedifying moments. ..

chaffinch, goldfinch and siskins

…while off feeder, discussions on the value of a second Scottish Independence Referendum became heated…

chaffinches squabble

A goldfinch wished that all this bad behaviour would cease immediately.

goldfinch

All this bird action is very entertaining to watch but it leads to mess under the feeders and Mrs Tootlepedal is justifiably starting to complain about the smell.  My sense of smell is so poor that I don’t notice anything myself but I will have to put my mind to clearing up and disinfecting the affected area.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see some high class ballet being streamed to the screen in the Buccleuch Centre and but as I find ballet very impressive to watch from a technical and athletic point of view but painfully slow and repetitive from the point of view of advancing a plot or telling a story, I left her to go alone and did some catching up on blog reading.

There are two flying birds of the day,  a goldfinch absolutely delighted by the prospect of one of the new feeders….

goldfinch

…and a siskin.  Not a good picture but siskins don’t hover so getting a picture at all on a dull day is a bonus.

siskin

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After yesterday’s railway bridge over the new Borders Railway, Dropscone’s guest picture of the day shows the shiny new railway itself as seen from the bridge.

Borders Railway

It was another fine day today but it was quite crisp in the early morning so I was happy to arrange to have  a cup of coffee with Sandy rather than have to wrap up in many layers and go for a pedal.

While I was waiting, I went to the shop and on my way back, I noticed that the aubretia that overhangs the dam at the back of the house was looking good…

aubretia

….but I was surprised to see that the potentilla beside it had an additional feature…

aubretia

…but at least it wasn’t chasing birds in the garden.

I am finding it very hard at the moment to pass the magnolia at the front gate without my shutter finger twitching.

magnolia

The very first plum blossom is out.

pied wagtail

Sandy arrived and we were joined by our fellow archivist Nancy.  She came round not only for the pleasure of our charming and sophisticated company but also to get a fiver from each of us as we had sponsored her on a recent charity walk.  She raised £100 for the Archive Group so we were very happy to put in our contributions.

After coffee, it had warmed up a bit and in spite of a cool wind, I might have gone for a pedal but Sandy and I went for a walk instead.  He had been asked to provide some shots of efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the town so we focused on daffodils.

We went to see the daffs at Pool Corner first….

Pool Corner daffs

…and on our way we passed some fungus and lichen which detained us for a moment or two…

fungus and lichen

…and while we were there, we checked to see if the slow worms had been attracted by the warmth of the sun.  They had.

slow worm

Pool Corner itself, being well sheltered from the wind, was looking very peaceful.

Pool Corner

Our next stop was the stretch of daffodils along the Wauchope at Caroline Street.

Caroline Street daffodils

Then we walked along the grassy bank beside the Esk.

As well as more daffodils….

Elizabeth Street daffodils

…there were more delicate wild flowers…

cuckoo flower

As far as I am concerned, this was the first cuckoo of spring.

…and a wagtail to see as well.

pied wagtail

Our next stop was the Kilngreen where we met a very grey duck….

kilngreen duck

….though if we could have seen them, it would probably have had red feet like this other duck nearby….

duck feet

…and then we admired more daffodils leading up to the Sawmill Bridge.

duck feet

A dedicated band of volunteers have made great efforts over the years to make the town seem welcoming to visitors and residents alike.

A fine rock garden has been created at Clinthead.

Clinthead gardens

We had nutchtaches at the back of our minds so we walked along the path round the Castleholm, stopping once or twice….

Castleholm things

..or even three times, when things caught our eye.

We didn’t see the nuthatches but as we didn’t wait very long, this was not too surprising.  The call of lunch drove us home.

After lunch, I once again consider a pedal but the call of the front lawn demanded to be answered first…

Front lawn

Who knew that you can get stripes on moss?

…and when I had done that and sieved a little compost too, all thoughts of cycling were subordinated to the pressing need for a cup of tea and a sit down.  Mowing a very mossy lawn with a push mower is hard work.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy in the garden so I was able to do some light supervising after my rest and I combined this with some plant snapping…

euphorbia, dog tooth violet, daffodil

A developing euphorbia, our first dog tooth violet of the year and a smart, daffodil

…mixed in with a bit of bird staring.

chaffinch

Who needs a perch? A chaffinch pays the seed a flying visit.

chaffinch

Goldfinches working on a shift system, one in and one out

busy feeders

The feeders were as busy as ever.

The evenings are drawing out now and there was still plenty of time for a pedal in the early evening but by now, not cycling had become an ingrained habit and I didn’t cycle yet again.

It doesn’t need much of a chilly north westerly breeze to make me find other things to do these days.  I will try to be a bit more courageous tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the wonderful “Trees” in the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.  It was taken by Mike Tinker on his way home from NZ.

Singapore treesWe had a very welcome day with lots of sun and no rain.  It even felt pleasantly warm if you could get out of the wind.  The down side, as you will gather, was that the wind continued to blow.

I managed to get out out on the bike and I set off after breakfast with an elastic view of how far I might go.  After a week off the bike thanks to the weather, my knee wasn’t very happy at all at first but it soon remembered that it enjoyed cycling and settled down to some steady, painless work.  I was less happy than my knee though and after 12 miles of being buffeted by the wind, I gave up and came home.

I went out past Paddockhole and when I saw a bright yellow field there….

Paddockhole field…I thought it was some early buttercups but on examination, it turned out to be a field of dandelions.  They have really enjoyed the cool spring and are to be seen everywhere.

When I got home, I had a wander round the garden to see if the sunny day had brought on some flowers.  It had.

Rhododendron

Two Rhododendrons were out, one big and one small.

geum and clematis

Some geums are out under the feeder and the clematis at the back door is just starting to flower.

Established flowers were enjoying the sun too.

rhododendron and rosemaryBut the star of the day was one of the last of the tulips.

yellow tulipI had a check on the apple blossom and the insects were obviously embarrassed by making an old age pensioner go round with a brush yesterday so they were out in force today.

apple blossom

Plenty of pollen.

We have hung one of the old feeders on the variegated elder outside the sitting room window so Granny can enjoy watching the birds without me standing in front of her with a camera.  The birds soon found it…

granny's feeder…and she was well entertained.  Every now and again she would cry out, “Big bird!” and on one occasion, I managed to catch the big bird before it flew off.

rookRooks are very impressive and could easily rule the world if they were aware of their powerful image.

The starlings keep trying the new feeder but it doesn’t give them enough to hang onto and they have to flap like the clappers to stay on for long enough to get something to eat.

starlingMrs Tootlepedal made an excellent pan of mushroom soup for lunch which Granny enjoyed a lot.  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal did some serious pruning of the potentillas along the back wall of the house and I helped by putting some of the prunings though our shredder.

The aubretia beside the dam is looking delightful.

aubretiaWhile I was going to and fro with the shreddings, I saw what I think must be a dunnock having a really good spring clean and shake out.

dunnockIt was too good an afternoon to hang around though so I pedalled off to the Kilngreen and Castleholm on the slow bike in pursuit of dippers.  I didn’t see  a single dipper and saw but failed to take a photograph of two nuthatches who were making a lot of noise on a tree near the bridge.  A chaffinch was sitting on a branch above my head and laughing at me.

chaffinchI pedalled on to the Jubilee Bridge and waited for a blue tit to appear at the nest hole.  This time I was more fortunate.

blue titTwo of them came and went several times but they tended to coincide with passers by engaging me in conversation and that was my best effort.

I cycled back to the Kilngreen, pausing for another fruitless dipper watch on the way.

Mr Grumpy was posing on the water’s edge…

heron…but there was not much else of avian interest so I looked up the Esk…

View of esk…and then cycled home, stopping on the town bridge to look down the Esk.

Suspension bridge in SpringTwo ducks were swimming upstream, feeding as they went.

ducksIn the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I left Granny to her own devices (watching the Chelsea Flower Show on the telly mostly) and went off to the penultimate rehearsal of our Langholm choir before our two concerts at the end of the month.

We worked hard and although our performances at the concerts will not be flawless, they will be all the better for a good two hour’s work tonight.

The flying bird of the day is a herring gull, high over the river at the Kilngreen.

herring gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been forced to go and work in Malta for a while and is having to put up with surroundings like these.

MaltaWe had another lovely day here today, genuinely warm and with gentle winds.  I would like to have used it to go cycling but the pressing need to have a lie in wasted the early part of the morning and then the pleasure of entertaining Dropscone, who was also recovering from yesterday’s efforts, took up the next hour.  This was followed by a visit to the health centre for some regular maintenance and before I knew it, the morning had gone.

After lunch, my plan was to have a quick visit to the Moorland bird feeders and follow that with a bike ride.  As a plan, it wasn’t one of my most successful.

When I got to the road to the bird feeders, I found that teams of pothole fillers were hard at work and while this is a very welcome activity, it put paid to my scheme for a little bird watching.  Watching men filling potholes is not so much fun as spotting woodpeckers so I came home.

Once home, something in the air got my asthma interested and far from cycling, I needed a quick sit down.  This was enhanced by a good snooze and the desire for a pedal had evaporated by the time that I woke up.  I was some what recovered though and managed to mow the middle lawn and sieve a little compost so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.

In the absence of any adventures, my exploring was limited to the garden.  There was enough there to keep me fully entertained.

pink and yellow tulips

Multicoloured tulips are brightening the garden up.

tulips

Plainer ones still have plenty of ping.

tulip

Plenty of ping.

There was activity in the pond.

pond skater and frogAnd in the dam at the back of the house.

little fish in dam

I was surprised to see a shoal of tiny fish there.  Perhaps some expert can tell me what they are.

aubretia

And delighted to see the flourishing aubretia.

I always keep an eye for new flowers and although I am not entirely happy to see them in the middle of the front lawn, these daises looked very cheery.

daisiesThe marsh marigold in the pond was more suitably placed.

marsh marigoldAmong the established plants, the pulsatillas are going great guns….

pulsatillas…and the magnolia is looking better every day.

magnoliaAlthough we always nervous about late frosts, it was very pleasing to spot the first plum blossoms on the year…

plum blossoms….and even more pleasing to hear the buzzing of many bees in the garden.  They were very keen on the hyacinths today.

bees on hyacinthsbees on hyacinthsOther insects could be seen too.  Although they didn’t seem ready to spread their wings open and enjoy a little basking, I did see both a peacock and a small tortoiseshell butterfly.

butterfliesSo in spite of not getting much accomplished, I was able to enjoy the sunshine and not dwell on missed pedalling opportunities too much.

In the evening I went off to our local choir practice and had a most enjoyable sing.  Mrs Tootlepedal spent almost the whole day working on the floor in the front room and was still working in the evening and as a result, she missed the choir.  Still, her work is paying off and the floor is going to look very good when she has finished.

The only fly in the ointment of the end wall development is to be found in one of the old sandstone blocks which we saved from the old fireplace and re-used in the new one.  The plaster beside it is not drying and when our project manager came round with his nifty damp-meter, the reason for this became clear.  The old block is still very wet after years in a leaking end wall.  We will just have to be patient while it dries out but it does mean that the decorating won’t be finally finished for quite a bit yet.  The room will be quite usable though and Mrs Tootlepedal plans to start moving the furniture back in tomorrow.

Mr reason for wanting to visit the Moorland bird feeders was the lack of birds in our own garden but I did manage to find a flying bird of the day as the shadows lengthened in the evening.

flying chaffinch

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