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Posts Tagged ‘Azalea’

Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s recent walk.  As well as his uncommunicative stranger, he encountered fifty shades of green.  I don’t think there can be a greener local view than this one.

bruces esk valley view

After the excitements of yesterday, it was back to the well trodden paths of lockdown today.  I rose late, ate a leisurely breakfast, did the crossword and then got up in time to have a walk round the garden before coffee.  Everything was as it should be.

In the garden, alliums are working towards spherical perfection…

allium close up

…and the flowers on the tree peony are looking promising.

potentional peony tree

The downside of the tree peony is that by the time that the flowers come fully out, they are often covered up by the leaves.

I liked the delicate red trim on the petals of the last of the yellow tulips…

tint on yellow tulip

…and the way that the yellow azalea encourages visitors.

yellow azalea stamens

Pollinators have been doing their work in the garden as these potential plums show.

potential plums

I had time to wonder about what had caused the petals on this Icelandic poppy to go white…

tinted poppy

…before it was time for our socially distanced street coffee break.

It was a bit warmer today so we chatted for longer and the world must be a better place as we certainly put it to rights.

After coffee, we went back into the garden and had a wander round before getting down to work.

The peonies are just about ready to burst into flower.

potentional peony bed

This azalea was part of a panel yesterday but it is so rich that I thought that it deserved a place of its own today.

deep red azalea

It was a cool morning again but the sun was warm enough to encourage petals to open generously on tulips….

tulip

…and the lilac.

lilac

Mrs Tootlepedal, being a true artist, is never quite satisfied with the way the garden is, so today’s task was to open up the view from the front door by cutting back the box hedges on each side of the path to the lawn.

I remembered to take a before and after picture for once.  This was the scene at ten to twelve…

P1050992

…and this was a scene an hour later after a lot of hard work had removed four of the little box bushes that make up the edges.

 

hedge trimming start

When I looked at the pictures on the computer in the evening, it became apparent that I had chosen totally the wrong angle for the shot and it doesn’t look as though Attila and her henchman had made much difference at all.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned to the task of widening the gap and I went off for a cycle ride.

It was reasonably warm in theory but a cold and blustery wind made picking the right amount of clothes to wear a tricky problem.

I put on too many and since I was feeling a bit tired and grumpy because of the wind, I didn’t enjoy my ride as much as usual and it took me a long time to get round my familiar Canonbie circuit.

It was a pleasant enough day with plenty of sun on my route but I only stopped for two pictures, this one of the big structures which have been put up under the power lines at Canonbie, prior to work on the lines….

canonbie pylons

…and this one at Byreburn where the varied colours caught my eye.

byrebrun houses

When I got home, I took a third picture to show Mrs Tootlepedal’s hedge reducing work in my absence…

hedge trimming

…and she reckons that about six foot of hedging has been removed.  That may not sound much, but she had done an amazing amount of work.

There may be another plant to be removed tomorrow to make the gap exactly equal on each side of the path but the task is almost complete.  Most of the box cuttings have been shredded and some are already back in the garden as mulch round the bottom of another portion of the hedge.

I walked up the road from the front gate to record the first honeysuckle flower in the hedge there.  I had noticed it as I cycled back home.

honeysuckle road

Beside it a viburnum is in flower.

viburnum

This plant comes from a cutting from a plant that came from a cutting that Mrs Tootlepedal took near an underpass while going shopping in Carlisle many years ago.

I looked over the hedge to get a ‘passer by’ look at a colourful corner…

colourful corner from road

…and went in to have a cup of tea and a late look at the bird feeder.

chaffinches and sparrows

Chaffinches and sparrows were stocking up.

In the morning, the postman had delivered a parcel containing no less than  six sorts of tea: Orange Blossom Oolong, Keemun Black Tea, Lapsang Souchong, Nuwara Eliya Black Tea, and Assam Broken Gold Tips Tea ~ GFBOP ~ Summer, so I should be alright for a cuppa for the next few days at least.

In a turn up for the books, we got a little rain this evening, just a little rain to be sure, but very welcome all the same.

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

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  Meeting a stranger while out on a recent walk, he engaged him in polite but socially distanced conversation but found him rather uncommunicative.

bruce's friend

I had a disturbing morning.  We had arranged a visit from our bench supplier to discuss a modification to the new bench and he arrived at nine in the morning.  This seriously upset my normal routine of letting breakfast, the newspapers and the crossword run almost seamlessly into getting dressed just before coffee time.  As a result of being dressed and shaved so promptly, I had two hours of wandering around wondering what I was supposed to do before we even got to coffee.

I did go out and look at flowers.   They were not hard to see.

six flowers

It was another decidedly chilly morning with a brisk wind so although we had our customary socially distanced street coffee morning with ginger biscuits, it didn’t last as long as usual, even in the sunshine.

Someone remarked that our tulips are nearing the end of the road, but they are not going out without a final show.

four old poppies

The droplets on the petals are not rain but more of the endless watering that we are doing every day.

New flowers are coming to replace the tulips so we won’t be wanting for colour.

iris, cornflower, geranium, polemonium

My favourite flower of the moment is the aquilegia.

aquilegia close up

There was plenty of bird action today with the feeder appealing to goldfinches and siskins…

siskins and goldfinches

…and an assortment of other birds posing round the garden.

blackbird, jackdaw, thrush and pigeon

The birds that were making the most noise were baby sparrows clamouring for attention from their parents.

sparrows feeding babies

A young blackbird was less successful.

_20S9629

After lunch, I went for a cycle ride.  This was a surprise to me, as the brisk chilly wind in the morning had been enough to make me think of having a day off.  It had warmed up under the sun though, and the wind had eased off quite a bit by the afternoon with the result that taking a spin up the main road north of the town felt like the right thing to do.

This was a good decision, with the Ewes valley looking at its best…

ewes valley view

…and Ewes Kirk, pretty as a picture when framed by green leaves.

ewes church

I was cycling into the wind so i wasn’t unhappy to pause to enjoy the view…

view from A7

…and I think that you may well agree that there might be worse roads to be cycling up.

A7 near Unthank

There was a bit more traffic than there has been lately but it was still pretty peaceful.

I cycled 15 miles north into the wind, and this brought me to the bottom of the hill that has this strange conical monument to the local poet and minister Henry Scott Riddell on it.

ridell monument

The people who spoil views with power lines have done superb work here!  And yes, that is a gull perching on the very top of the monument.

The return journey, with the wind behind, was glorious.

At one stage I was bicycling up a gentle hill though wooded country at exactly the same speed as the wind was blowing.  There was no a whisper of wind in my ears. The road surface was newly laid and silky smooth.  My bike has a superior hub gear and a belt drive so it has none of that loud clanking that goes with a chain and derailleur gear.  There was no traffic.

The upshot of these happy coincidences was that for a good few hundred yards, I was pedalling along in complete silence, in a world of my own, entirely at peace.

And then there was the rush down hill for the last ten miles of the trip, accomplished in just over half an hour.  What fun for an old man.

After a slightly unsatisfactory Zoom meeting bedevilled by technological mysteries and a very satisfying meal of scrambled eggs, baked beans and fried potatoes, the second shock to my well drilled lockdown life occurred.

The powers that be have decreed that we may now go out more than once a day for exercise, so Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up to the White Yett car park and walked up to the monument.

track to monument

We had coats and gloves with us but while the sun was out, it was warm enough to keep the gloves in our pockets.

Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the moorland for signs of harriers and thought that she could see a couple of them flying in the distance below us…

view of tarras from whita

…but we were totally unprepared to see a bird of prey sitting on a fence not far in front of us.

Although it sat and let us watch it for some time, it was too far away for a definite identification, but looking at the picture when we got home, we think that it was a short eared owl rather than a hen harrier.

short eared owl

When we got to the monument, the view over the town was a reward for the climb…

langholm late evening from whita

…but Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t come up here to see local views.  Her ambition was to take advantage of the currently unpolluted skies to see if she could see the Isle of Man, eighty miles away.

Quite amazingly, she could.  It wasn’t the clearest sighting but with her binoculars, the island could be seen.  She gave me a go, and I could see it too.

My camera was quite a bit less sucessful!!

iom

It’s out there somewhere.

It had better luck looking at the Lake District hills which are a lot closer than the Isle of Man.

lake district

The sun had gone behind clouds by the time that we walked back down the hill and it had got quite chilly.  A sheep suggested that we shouldn’t hang about.

sheep on whita

The shades of night were falling fast as we got back to the car.

evening view from white yett

Thanks to the wonders of technology, we are in constant communication with our families so we will be quite happy to remain very vigilant and homebound for the foreseeable future whatever the government may say.  The second daily outing for exercise will be welcome though.

The flying bird of the day is a lark which we saw on our way down the hill this evening.

lark in sky

You don’t believe me?  Here it is.

lark close up

You can spot it in the middle of the big picture just below the line of blue sky if you look very, very carefully!

In the end, it was not the early rise or the second walk that was the biggest surprise of the day.  It was putting that failed picture of the view towards the Isle of Man into the photo editor and finding out what the camera had really seen.

iom contrast

Now that was a surprise.

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

another wemyss view

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

lithodora

…and it stayed that way all day.

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

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

rhododendron

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

mroning poppy

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

allium and azalea

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

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

first honeysuckle

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

growing clematis

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

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

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

bees on apple blossom

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

first icelandic poppy

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

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

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

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

crosswort

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

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

bare and clothed trees

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

road sig pattern

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

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

cow parsley and potholes

Sometimes, both verges joined in the fun.

cow parsley both sides

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

eastriggs trees

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

avenue at rockliffe

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

leaning tree and gorse

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

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

red campion canonbie

…with a shady wild flower mixture nearby…

red campion and violets

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

pyrenean valerian canonbie

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

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

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

evening tulips

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

moon may

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia.  She has ‘lent’ her lawn to neighbours and they are making it very productive.  She tells me that they have planted broad beans, perpetual spinach, chard, Jerusalem artichokes, and later today plan to plant potatoes, with runner beans to come.  She is going to get a share of the produce as ‘rent’ and she has no mowing to do.  Win, win.

venetia's lawn

We woke to a rather grey, rather windy and definitely chilly morning.

I have been dead heading a lot of the standard tulips that have been brightening the garden over the past few weeks but the lily flowered tulips are still in full swing.

After breakfast and the crossword, I went out to admire them.

lily flower tulip 3lily flower tulip 2lily flower tulip1

While I was there, I enjoyed the ever expanding cow parsley…

cow parsley garden

…checked on a dogwood that Mrs Tootlepedal was a bit worried that she had over pruned…

dogwood flower buds

..and noted the first flower on the big yellow azalea peeping up at the back of the bush.

yellow azalea

I peered closely at the inner workings of the white rhododendron…

rhododendron close up

…and enjoyed the never ending curiosity show that is Euphorbia.

euphorbia

We had a rather chilly socially distanced street coffee morning but it didn’t go the full distance once again on account of freezing fingers.

Then we returned to the garden.  I sieved another barrow load of compost and had a look in the vegetable garden.  Salad leaves are coming on and the beetroot is looking promising, while chives and apples are thriving.

hives, lettuce, cbeetroot apples

There didn’t seem to be many pollinators about in the cold conditions so I got busy with my pollinating bush on the apples.  I don’t know if it actually helps at all but it makes me feel useful even if I am not.

The first ornamental strawberry flower has come out.  There should be many to follow.

ornamental strawberry

Three parcels arrived during the morning.  Once again, our children are showering us with gifts.  Alistair and Clare sent us both bacon and booze.  This is a reward for us not visiting shops any more but getting food delivered.

The other parcel contained gold nuggets!

Honestly.  It did.

Our daughter Annie had sent me these:

IMG-20200505-WA0000

We had the bacon for lunch and then I was intending to go for a long walk but I suddenly remembered that I was due to pay attention to my latest venture into cookery and make some Garibaldi biscuits.

The baking went well, although the arithmetic required to get each biscuit exactly the same size was not quite so successful.

burst

But the main thing was that they turned out to be absolutely delicious.  The currants, from our corner shop, were just the right quality, and the biscuit mixture was crisp and sweet.  They will definitely appear again.  (Quite soon, judging by the speed that they are disappearing.)

After the biscuit making, I was intending to go for a medium walk but the sun had come out and Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that the soil was nice and warm so I took the opportunity to put my moss eating and fertiliser mixture on both the middle and front lawns while the going was good.  I will have to water the lawns soon if it doesn’t rain.

Then I went for a short walk.

The Inuit somewhat apocryphally are supposed to have 85 words for snow.  We could easily have 85 words for different shades of green at this time of year.

green opanel

I passed the result of lockdown activity in the shape of a newly painted roof on John’s stable at the Stubholm…

john's stables

…and any amount of delightful bluebells…

bluebells

…as I walked though the woods, up the Hungry Burn and through the Kernigal.

From the gloom of the conifer plantation, I sought the sunlit lowlands.

track to skipeprscleuch

…passing butterflies and larch trees on the way, sometimes simultaneously.

peacock white larch

There were more shades of green at the bottom of the hill…

skipperscleuch

…and wild flowers to see at various times on my walk.

stichwort, wood sorrel

I was hoping to see herons at the herony but had to settle for yet another view of Skippers Bridge from the river bed…

skippers from middle of river

…before nipping briskly home to be in time for my evening Zoom meeting.

I did pause for a few more wild flowers on the way.

marsh marigold, bird cherry, wild garlic, vetch

At one point during the day, I loaded Zoom on to my laptop and had a meeting with our friend Sue from the recorder group.  We wanted to see if it was possible to play recorder duets remotely.  The technology is brilliant but not brilliant enough to allow for remote simultaneous music making which is a pity.

However, it did mean that I was able to have the evening Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters on my laptop and not using my mobile phone.  This was much more relaxing than peering at a tiny screen.

We had a bottle of cider, courtesy of Al and Clare with our evening meal and thought kindly of all our children.  They are looking after us very well, sending us gifts, videos and beautiful photographs to keep us happy.

The ever so nearly flying bird of the day is an evening chaffinch.

nearly flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She mowed her lawn today but tells me not to look too closely at it.  It looks good to me.

mary's garden

We had another lovely morning and as a result, Mrs Tootlepedal had to spend a good deal of the day watering the garden.  Even after a good soak, things stayed very dry and more watering is on the cards for the coming days.

I went out into the garden after breakfast and poked my nose into tulips.

tulip closeup 4

They come in all shapes…

tulip closeup 3

…and colours…

tulip closeup 2

…and styles.

tulip closeup 1

I was pleased to see a Welsh poppy developing…

welsh poppy

…and an azalea too, although there are still only a few flowers opened so far.

azalea blossom

Willows are a source of endless fascination for me.

willow cloe up

Instead of having coffee, I drove down to Longtown to pick up my bike from the bike shop.

The drive was fine as there is still hardly any traffic on the roads but I had to wait for quite a long time before I could pick up my bike, standing physically distanced from other bike enthusiasts, while the reduced bike store staff dealt with a queue of customers.

However, it was my turn in the end, and I packed the bike into the car and drove home.

I didn’t have to pay anything as this was the final after-sales free service for the bike. I have had it for two years so that seemed very generous to me.  I had to pay for a new back tyre though.  Looking at my records, I see that it has covered 6800 miles since I bought it, so the old tyre served me well.

When I got back, I put the Zoe on charge for the first time for ages and then joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden.  She has been using compost steadily as she plants things out, so I sieved another barrow load.

Then I wasted time by running the mower over the front lawn.  There was nothing to cut as the grass has simply not been growing through a combination of cold mornings and lack of moisture. The lawn had to wait its turn to get watered but I am hoping to see a little growth soon.

After lunch, I did some high quality procrastinating by wandering around the garden as if I was going to do something useful without actually doing anything.  Then I leapt into action (rather slowly).

It should have been a walking day but as Mrs Tootlepedal is considering a walk tomorrow, I got my newly serviced bike out and went for  a pedal instead.

I wasn’t in the mood for an adventurous ride, feeling rather creaky and a bit tired, so I headed straight up the main road north out of the town for twelve and a half miles and then turned and headed straight back home again.

It started to rain at the very moment that I got my bike out of the garage but I wasn’t alarmed as I thought that it wouldn’t come to anything.  I was quite right, the drizzle stopped half a mile later, and I was treated to some lovely sunshine and shadow as I cycled up the Ewes valley.

hill view ewes valley 3

A lot of the land here has recently been sold to a timber company and I could see that work on new forestry has already begun.

preparing for planting ewes

There is a drive for new trees and land has become more valuable for timber than sheep.

I wasn’t always in sunshine myself but there always seemed to be sunlit uplands ahead.

hill view ewes valley 2

But always some little distance ahead.

road up to mosspaul

All the same, it was warm enough and the wind was light so I did my twelve and a half mostly uphill miles north at twelve miles an hour.

I turned at a quarry beside the road.

quarry over mosspaul

The ride out had been so pleasant that I was afraid that I might find the wind blowing in my face on the way back  but it turned out to a cross wind and more behind and in front so I had an easy ride home too.

I stopped for a drink and a cube of guava jelly at Mosspaul on my way back, and once again admired the ability of this tree to grow straight up from a steeply angled bank…

tree at mosspaul

…and enjoyed a the warmth of the sun.  The old Mosspaul Hotel is no longer open to offer refreshment to passing cyclists so I headed back home to get my cup of tea and date roll.

mosspaul hotel

I had more sunshine on the way back than I had had on the way out…

hill view ewes valley

…and had a thoroughly refreshing and invigorating ride, finishing  it feeling a lot perkier than when I started out.  That Dr Velo knows a thing or two.

I got home in time for my daily Zoom meeting with my siblings.  Mrs Tootlepedal joined in for a while and was a useful source of gardening information.

I had a moment after the call and before tea to look out of the window.  Jackdaws have been pecking at my lawn again, and we name one of the guilty parties.

jackdaw pecking lawn

The feeder was unusually busy and a goldfinch and chaffinch gave a sparrow  a hard stare as he tried to move them on.

sparrow in waiting

He had to sit at the side until the goldfinches were finished.

busy feeder May

Yesterday’s mince and tatties turned into an excellent spaghetti bol today and as I have enjoyed first rate cheese and delicious dates as well, it has been a good eating day.

After tea, it actually rained properly for ten minutes while I was talking to Dropscone on the phone….and then it stopped!  The weather gods do this sort of thing just to annoy.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch talking politics with a friend.

flying greenfinch quarrel

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