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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent, Edward.  He and his wife went to Singapore for the FI Grand Prix and stopped off at Phuket in Thailand where he was very impressed by the wiring.

Wiring in Southern Phuket

I footered away a fine morning, firstly through a failure of communication with Dropscone about the availability of scones and secondly through indolence when the scones turned out to be a mirage.

I didn’t really do anything…

….though I must have gone out into the garden fro at least a moment or two as I did some shredding of fallen sunflowers and noticed a butterfly on the bench…

red admiral butterfly on bench

…and a bee on a lamium.

bee visiting lamium

They were obviously tucked up snugly during yesterday’s gales.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh, catching the first train to run from Manchester to Edinburgh after the line had been cleared of fallen trees.

I watched the birds.

A blackbird boogied on the lawn….

blackbird dancing on lawn

…a chaffinch put a hex on a goldfinch…

chaffinch putting the hex on goldfinch

…a male chaffinch told a female where the really good berries are….

chaffinch showing the way

…while a determined goldfinch practised its breaststroke…

Goldfinch swimming to the feeder

…and a sparrow kept an eye out for new arrivals.

sparrow checking out a chaffinch

From time to time a jackdaw dropped in to supervise.

jackdaw swing on the fat balls

I had an appointment with the dentist as I had carelessly bashed one of my teeth and I needed to know if I had broken it.  He took an x-ray and reassured me that it was sound.  However, if it is still sore after a few days, it might have to come out so I am hoping for the best and eating very soft food.

On my way to the dentist, I saw many bunches of bright red berries….

red berries by river

…and on my way back, I looked at the foliage that I had seen stuck under the town bridge yesterday.  It turned out to be quite a substantial tree, with its head on one side of the bridge….

tree under bridge top

…and its foot caught on the cutwater on the other side.

tree under bridge bottom

On the bank of the river beside the bridge, I was amused by this little family group of fungi with mother sheltering her two affectionate children.

riverside fungus group

I looked at the forecast when I got home and as it said, ‘rain later’, I decided to go cycling ‘now’.

It started to rain just as I got onto my bike.

However, the rain was very light so I decided to chance it and go anyway.  The rain stayed light as I cycled to the top of Callister and back (13 miles) and faded away as I got back to the town so I pedalled on over the river and went a few miles up the main road. This let me get to the magic twenty miles which is the minimum trip I like to do when I have gone to the trouble of getting the bike out.

After several very windy bike rides this month, it was a treat to find that the wind had dropped entirely and in spite of the light rain, cycling was a real pleasure.

The country is getting browner every day…

brown bracken

…so I looked for a bit of colour in the garden when I got back.  A lot of flowers got blown over yesterday but the verbascum just bent with the breeze rather than breaking…

verbascum leaning

…but the tall cosmos, which should be standing up and looking over the front lawn, is now leaning perilously low over the pond.

cosmos drooping

The Japanese anemone is small and tough enough to have survived quite well.

Tired Japanese anemone

After a nourishing meal of fish cakes, I was picked up by Susan, who was driving her very smart new red car, and driven to Carlisle where we played with our recorder group for the first time for a couple of months.  Roy, our librarian, had picked out a fine selection of music for our delight so we had a very good evening.

It was pouring with rain as we drove home.

I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had got home safely in spite of her train being delayed a bit on both the up and down trips.  She had had a good time in Edinburgh.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch yet again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She set herself up with this splendid view with the intention of enjoying the Red  Arrows display team as they flew towards her.   Unfortunately, owing to a failure of communication, they appeared from behind her and were past before she could get a good shot.  Still, the  countryside is lovely.

somerset view

We had dawn till dusk sunshine today (with the occasional cloud) and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside.

I was going to go cycling in the morning but Mrs Tootlepedal had asked if I could clean the tray which catches the fallen seed below the bird feeder so while she went off for a meeting, I did that.  Bird poop and soggy seed are difficult to get off so this took me some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and it was such a  fine day that it seemed like a really good time to dig up the remaining potatoes and let them dry before storing them.

There were quite a lot to raise.

potatoes on bed

Some of them were definitely not small potatoes.

big potato

And the haulms needed chopping up and putting into the compost bin.

compost bin full of haulms

And I couldn’t spend time in the garden without looking around a bit.

yellow bee

three poppies

two reggae

And after all this, it was suddenly time for lunch and I still hadn’t gone cycling.

After lunch, I checked on the butterflies.  There were a lot about and as the buddleia blooms are going over, it wasn’t surprising to find a peacock and a red admiral sharing one of the ones that is still out.

peacock and admiral butterflies

I finally got cycling and soon found out that although the sun was out, there was a brisk wind to go with it so it was warm but hard going.  I set off to go over Callister but found that the loose gravel merchants had been at work there very recently so I turned back and took a diversion.  At one stage, this entailed going along a narrow road with a very poor surface, gently uphill and  straight into the wind.  I was pleased to take a rest and nibble on a bramble in a hedge…

bramble

…and make up for the recent lack of gates in the blog.

gate

I passed several farmers in the process of getting a second cut of grass for storage.

grass cutting in field

They must be pleased because when the cold wet spring was followed by a drought, things didn’t look very promising.

In spite of the constant verge cutting, some (short) wild flowers are showing again beside the road as I pedal along.

wild flower

For one reason or another, my legs were in a very uncooperative mood and the wind was coming from a rather unhelpful direction so my progress would have made a snail feel quite comfortable.

I needed a few stops to let the legs recover and I took one of them at this small bridge over a little burn a few yards from the border with England.

bridge near Springfield

It was a pretty spot…

path at bridge near Springfield

…with a lot of Himalayan balsam about.

balsam at bridge near Springfield

I took my last breather, about three miles from home and was impressed by the seediness of the area.

rosebay willowherb seed

seed head

In spite of my lacklustre legs, I managed 43 miles and found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.  She had collected up the potatoes…

potatoes in barrow

The ones in the bucket are damaged and have to be eaten first.

…and sorted out the bed.

potato bed

She is going to sow green manure in the bed now.

I checked on the butterflies and saw five peacocks at once….

five butterflies

…and then went in for a cup of tea and a look at the birds among the plums on the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing a home made pizza for our tea (our breadmaking machine makes a very good dough for pizza bases) and while she was doing this, I had another check on the butterflies….

four butterfleis and a bee

Four butterflies and a bee on the same flower head this time.

…before going off for a shower and coming down to eat the delicious pizza.

We are taking a keen interest in La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain cycle race) and I was very envious of the beautifully surfaced roads that they were cycling along today though I was happy not to be going down the final hill with them at 76 kph.  My nose starts bleeding at 48 kph.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow threatening the position of a greenfinch.

incoming sparrow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s trip to Amsterdam.  She was taken by this structure which combines art with lost and found.  If you find something, hang it here and if you have lost something, search for it here.

Amsterdam artwork

The scientific rain gauge wasn’t called into action overnight and the day remained dry and warm.  All that was missing was sunshine.  Still, at 19°C almost from the start, it was an ideal day for lawn mowing and I mowed both lawns before Dropscone appeared (with scones) for coffee.

The butterflies made an early appearance too.

butterflies on buddleia

And the bees were on hand as well.

bee on buddleia

Dropscone had been to two golf competitions and had a family holiday in Islay since I had last seen him so there was plenty to talk about as we sipped and sconed.

When Dropscone went about his business, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green as well to complete the full set of mowing for the day…

…and then I looked about.

I couldn’t fail to notice the dahlia of the day…

bright red dahlia

…but it took a closer look to spot not one but two hoverflies enjoying another dahlia nearby.

two hoverflies on dahlia

I had a nourishing sardine sandwich for my lunch and put up the bird watching camera.

Mrs Tootlepedal reckons that we must have about forty to fifty sparrows in the garden at the moment.  She regards this as an invasion of vegetable destroyers and I regard it as a photo opportunity.

Which I took.

perching sparrow

I try not to neglect the chaffinches which visit us all year round.

PERCHING CHAFFINCH

And I was pleased to see that the blue tits have become regular visitors over recent days.

blue tit on fatball

After lunch, I got ready to go for a modest cycle ride.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden so before I went, I had a walk round.  I showed her a red admiral butterfly in the buddleia…

red admiral butterfly

…and when she had gone back to work, I noticed a less glamorous winged creature on the Michaelmas daisies.

moth's back

Less glamorous but utterly charming when met face to face.

moth's head

Research tells me that this little charmer may be a brown line bright eye moth.  As always, I am happy to be corrected.

Reluctantly abandoning any further bug hunting, I set off for my pedal.

The two great perils for cyclists at this time of year are hawthorn hedge cutting and the habit of the council of dressing the roads with loose gravel before the winter.  The theory is that passing cars flatten the gravel and then the council sends round a sweeper to clear off the surplus.  Until the cars and the council have dome their jobs,  the loose gravel is both hard work and  dangerous for cyclists so it is best to avoid it.  I had been warned of one section so I carefully chose a different route only to find that part this route had been gravelled too.

This led to to or three miles of very slow and careful cycling and this, combined with a light but very unhelpful wind and extremely uncooperative legs which were not interested in trying hard, led to a a very stately pace for the 31 miles.

The grey weather didn’t lend itself to views so I stopped for this mildly pastoral scene, with added pylon…

pastoral scene

…a look at the great burnet which only seems to grow on one fifty yard section of the whole route…

great burnet

…and an inhabitant of a field full of goats.

goat at Cubbyhill

I was alerted to the goats by some noisy bleating behind a hedge.  I have passed this field before on many occasions and never heard the bleating so I wonder if the goats are newcomers to the area.  There were a lot of them in the field.

My back was a bit sore at times so I paused to rest my bike on this handsome wall topped with variegated holly.

wall and holly

The moss on the wall is growing back after the drought and further on, I saw some promising brambles and a little green fly.

autumn sights

So, although slow, the ride was not entirely without interest.

The garden was empty when I got back but Mrs Tootlepedal soon returned…

Mrs T entering on cycle

…and then Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea in the garden in the pleasant warmth of the late afternoon.

My flute pupil Luke turned up as usual on a Monday and we worked on concentration while playing with some  heartening results.

After the wet and windy spell, the last two days have been good for cycling and I am now ahead of my schedule for the year, though not by as much as I would like so I hope to get out for at least another couple of rides before the end of the month.

Still, mustn’t grumble.

The flying bird of the day is one of the sparrow army.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another of Tony’s seals among the seaweed.  That looks like an eider duck in the background.

another tony seal

Apology: There are far too many pictures in today’s post.  If you like garden pictures of flowers, birds, bees and butterflies scroll rapidly through to the end and if you like views start at the beginning and miss the finish.   For some inexplicable reason I was a bit tired when it came to sorting the photos out and I couldn’t summon up the energy to throw many away.

After another rainy night (2cms), the morning was grey but dry and importantly from my point of view, the wind was a great deal calmer than of late.

The church choir is still on holiday and I am resting my rather ragged voice so while Mrs Tootlepedal cycled off to sing, I got my bike out.  The forecast rather improbably suggested that if I set off cycling north, I would find the wind behind me but by the time that I had got to Hawick, 23 miles away, it would have come round and would blow me back south again.

I set off northwards with hope in my heart but a considerable degree of scepticism in my mind.

The ride started well with a view of a large family of goosanders just above the Langholm Bridge.

goosander family

The wind did indeed help me up the hill to Mosspaul and crossing the watershed there improved the weather too.

Mosspaul

Looking back in some welcome sunshine at the grey clouds that I had left behind

The helpful wind didn’t quite last all the way to Hawick and it was evidently doing what the forecasters had suggested and coming round to the north so I had to push a bit harder for the last five miles.  The recent rains have got the rivers flowing now, and there was plenty of water rushing down the Slitrig Burn in the middle of the town.

Slitrig Burn

The nearby sculpture….

Hawick sculpture

…looks strangely out of place in a borders town but celebrates the moment when the Turnbull family got its name.  (By turning a bull!)

The ride up to Hawick had been very enjoyable and the changing of the wind was very encouraging so instead of just turning round myself and going back by the same road, I decided to follow the Slitrig Burn and come home by the scenic route.

garmin route 19 Aug 2018

Up on the left and back on the right

The journey back by Whitrope summit and Liddesdale has much the same shape as the journey up over Mosspaul but as you can see from the elevation profile above, it is slightly longer and the the hill is bigger, topping out at about 1100 feet.  However both parts of the journey have very steady gradients and very little gratuitous loss of height so with the wind behind, as it was both ways today, they offer no great challenge to the elderly cyclist.

I saw some things as I cycled along the valley bottom beside the Slitrig burn.

mill wheelpig

Once up in the hills, there are extensive views…

view at Shankend

..with added viaduct.

Shankend viaduct

If the campaign to extend the Borders railway is successful, we might once again see train crossing the Shankend Viaduct.

Further on, I looked back northwards.  An information board told me that I was looking at the Catrail, a large and very long ditch.  Wikipedia tells me that: It is not known when or by whom the Catrail was made, or for what purpose. However, since it is not substantial enough to be an effective military barrier, it seems likely to have been a territorial boundary marker, possibly dating from the Early Middle Ages.

Since I couldn’t actually see the ditch, I enjoyed the splendid view instead.

catrail

From the same spot, I could see an excellent example of the modern land use….

forestry

…and a faint reminder of its former use.

sheep fold

A cycle sportive based in Hawick was taking place today and as I was going up the hill to the summit, I passed many cyclists going in the opposite direction to me.  As they were cycling into the wind and I wasn’t, I didn’t mind.  I had my wind assisted downhill still to come.

A small group of enthusiasts have preserved a mile or two of the old railway at the summit and I passed several parked items of rolling stock

Whitrope railway

Although the stock is a fine sight, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the road south.

Whitrope road

It is my favourite piece of road, especially on a day like today, sunny and with a light following wind and the knowledge of ten miles of gentle and continuous descent ahead.

The road and stream go down the hill together…

whitrope burn

And at this point the road crosses the stream by this fine bridge…

bridge and waterfall

…at the same time as the stream rushes across a small cascade.

As an added bonus, the bridge carries both moss and lichen for the delight of the discerning passer by..

moss and lichen

It became obvious that I was cycling a bit too fast down towards the village of Newcastleton as there were ominous black clouds ahead and the roads were getting progressively wetter so it was clear that I was catching up with a rain shower.

With this in mind, I sensibly stopped in a cafe in the village to have a cup of coffee and a toastie.  I would have had a rock bun too, which I had paid for, if they had given it to me but I got fed up with waiting and left unbunned.  I didn’t make a fuss because by the time that I realised that it wasn’t coming, I had spent too long sitting down and needed to get my legs working again.

The ten miles down to Canonbie, along the valley of the Liddle Water were the most undulating of the whole trip but the views are often delightful…

Liddesdale

…and the general trend is downhill so with the wind still behind me, I kept up a reasonable speed.

I was expecting that the last six miles back to Langholm would be hard work into the wind but the road is well sheltered and it was easy enough.

I stopped at the Hollows Bridge to admire the rush of water coming down the Esk..

Esk from Hollows

…and pedalled home very happily.

Full details of the ride can be found by clicking here.

I did more climbing today than I have done in any ride this year but thanks to the gentle gradients and the excellent selection of low gears on my new bike, I managed to keep my tin knee turning over very sweetly and the whole ride was unalloyed pleasure.  With only one or two short rough sections, the road surfaces were pretty smooth and pothole free which makes cycling so much more enjoyable than when you have to keep your eyes stuck to the road surface ahead.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre when I got back so I had gentle potter round the garden doing some dead heading and flower watching.

The theme was pink.

These are pink Japanese anemones, new in the garden last year.

pink Japanese anemone

You might think at first sight that I was in the vegetable garden but these are dicentra seeds with Lords and Ladies in the background.

dicentra

And this is the dahlia of the day with added bee.

dahlia

Mrs Tootlepedal had lifted the onions while I was out cycling and I found them hanging on the greenhouse to dry out.

onions

Just as I got over Skippers Bridge on my way back into town on my bicycle, I had passed a lady looking at a big buddleia.  “Any butterflies?” I asked.  “Masses,” she replied. So I looked at our big buddleia.  There were a lot of butterflies on it too.

Peacock Butterfly pair

Some even posed for the camera.

Peacock Butterfly at full stretch

And among the peacocks, there was a lone red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…which wouldn’t pose properly for me.

The Michaelmas daisies beside the buddleia had lots of bees

bee on daisy

I went in to have a cup of tea and set the bird watching camera up.  The calmer weather had brought them back into the garden.

There were several blue tits about.

_DSC6538

And the usual sparring sparrows.

_DSC6548

The very white sparrow is getting some colour…

_DSC6555

..and there was a white feathered jackdaw about too.

_DSC6557

The jackdaws take a good portrait.

_DSC6558

Mrs Tootlepedal finally got back from a long screening at the Buccleuch Centre where she had been helping with front of house duties and we rounded off the day with a tasty liver casserole followed by nectarines and cream on a meringue base.  (The meringue bases come in packets of eight so we get four treats from a packet.)

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting close up and personal.

_DSC6556

Sorry about the over length post but it was such a treat getting a good day after all the drizzle that I couldn’t help myself.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She took it a week ago at the height of the hot weather in London and it shows a fine crop of green algae on the canal.

Canal basin, King's Place

The mornings are getting chillier now and I had to wait for a bit until the thermometer hit 10°C, which I thought was warm enough to start cycling.

It was an excellent day for a pedal with sunshine and clouds giving a perfect temperature and with a only a light wind which wasn’t a nuisance at all.

It might have been a day for a long ride if I hadn’t had something to do in the early afternoon.   With that in mind, I stuck to the main roads and cycled down to my favourite bench in Newtown and back again.   I was going to go on a more interesting route but I found that the Cumbria Highway Authority had just spent a lot of money resurfacing some of the bumpiest bits of the road south of Longtown so I thought that it would be rude not to go and try the new surfaces out.

They were very smooth and any cyclists will know just what a treat it is to cycle on a really smooth surface.

I was concentrating really hard on pedalling and forgot to take any pictures until I reached the thirty mile mark on my way home.  This is the broad sweep of the Esk…

River Esk at Longtown

…but the real reason that I stopped was to take a picture of this fine bunch of machines in a lay-by.

road menders vehicles

They are going to smooth out another bumpy section of the main road next week, this time to the north of Longtown.

With light traffic and winds and lots of good surfaces, I was able to average over 15 mph for my 40 miles, a very rare thing these days.  My new bike, although admirable in every way, is a little heavier than my old bike and thus a little slower.  I have done 1500 miles on it now and have no complaints about the extra weight as this comes with increased stability and comfort, important elements for the older cyclist.

I had time for a very quick look round the garden….

dahlias growing well

The dahlias are enjoying the weather a lot.

white sweet peas

Paper white sweet peas.

Mrs Tootlepedal occasionally buys gardening magazines and sometimes they have free packets of seed taped to the cover.  She has done very well out of two of these lately as the lilies were free…

big white lilies

…and so were the zinnias.

zinnia

After a quick lunch and a shower, I was ready for the next item on the calendar, an organ recital in the Parish Church in aid of the organ restoration fund.

As we got to the church, I looked back and saw the Kirk Brig looking decidedly overgrown.

kirk brig

The Wauchope Water is down there somewhere.

Once inside the church, I admired the bright colours in the stained glass windows…

Kirk window

…in front of which a former congregation in their wisdom erected a large sounding board above the pulpit.  This ruins the view of the window from the body of the church and I am told that there are plans to remove it but to place it elsewhere in the church as many parishioners like its ornamental carving a lot.  The minister is ‘miked up’ these days so the need for a sounding board has gone anyway.

The organ recital, given by Dr John Kitchen, a very competent organist from Edinburgh,  was excellent.  He had a delightful touch and was able to make the organ sound very musical to my ears, not something that every organist can manage.

Dr Kitchen is the official Edinburgh City Organist and gives many recitals in the Usher Hall there so he had no difficulty in preparing a varied and interesting programme for us.

It was a still a fine day when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal sat on the new bench with a fellow soprano from the church choir who had been at the recital  and considered the joys of gardening.

sopranos

They couldn’t help noticing a pair of butterflies making sure that there would more butterflies available in times to come.

white butterflies mating

I had a look on the buddleia….

another peacock butterfly

…but there was a disappointing turn out of coloured butterflies with just a couple of peacocks, with no small tortoiseshell, painted ladies or red admirals to be seen.  It is looking as though it is going to be a very poor year for coloured butterflies after all.

And although there are quite a few bees about…

lamium

…other insects are in very short supply with many less hoverflies about than I would expect and no clouds of small flying insects in the sunny evenings.

I thought that I ought to take a bit of action after a slow day yesterday so I mowed and edged the middle lawn, then did the same to the front lawn and while I was in the mood, I trimmed a couple of the box balls on the edge of the front lawn as well.

After a short sit down, I went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green.

I paused long enough to admire the clematis on the fence…

fence clematis

…and then went inside to enjoy a delicious meal made by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Luckily, there was a great deal of interesting athletics on the television in the evening so I refrained from any more activity.

There was no opportunity amid all this fun to set up the camera to watch the birds so the flying bird of the day is a close look at the Ooh La La clematis.

clematis centre

 

 

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The guest picture of the day is another teapot spotted by my brother Andrew.  He has a knack for finding big teapots although he tells me that he thinks that this one is a bit of a Mickey Mouse affair.

teapot

My day can be summed up very simply: got up, saw a butterfly, went for a cycle ride, saw another butterfly, mowed the lawns, had tea, went to bed.

I saw two butterflies after breakfast.

two spot white butterflymorning peacock butterfly

The buddleia is working hard.

As you can see, the sun was shining and as the forecast suggested a dry day, I left the butterflies behind and headed westward into the wind.  The first twenty five miles took me two hours and eight minutes.  The next thirty took me two hours and three minutes.

The verge mowers have been everywhere so I didn’t stop for a picture until I came across a patch of yellow flowers that are not dandelions.  Each one came with its own insect.

insects on wildflowers

As I was on a longish ride, I stopped frequently for a stretch and a drink but wild flowers were hard to find so I settled for a lichen encrusted twig instead.

yellow lichen on twig

I took a picture of the old main road near Lockerbie to show the state of the verges.

old A74 near Lockerbie

Very neatly mowed!  The white line on the left marks off a cycle lane.  As you can see, on a Saturday this is a pretty quiet road considering it used to be the main western  road between England and Scotland but it is busier on a weekday and the cycle lane is welcome.

I was stopped in my tracks by this bright red burst of berries, sticking out of a hedge all by themselves.

red berries

I crossed the River Annan twice but waited until I got to the town of Annan itself before taking a picture of a bridge.

Annan bridge

A party of goosanders was cruising up the river nearby.

goosanders

Passing through Annan, I stopped a few miles later for a fruit scone and a coffee at a museum in Eastriggs.

devil's porridge

It celebrates the story of the largest munitions factory in the world  during the First World war.  They manufactured cordite there and this accounted for the size of the factory which was spread over several miles of deserted sea coast. (You can find out more by clicking this link.)

I didn’t go into the museum but had my coffee outside beside an impressive flower pot.

When I got to Gretna, I was going to go down to the sea shore to take exciting pictures but when I looked…

Solway at Gretna

…I saw that the sea was out so I turned and headed for home.

My route was planned to make the most of a friendly wind on my way back westwards and you may be able to tell that all the leaves on these trees have their backs to me…

Glenzier road at KPF

…so the plan worked out well.

I did worry for a moment when some threatening clouds loomed up when I was about ten miles from home…

 

dark clouds

…but they blew away and the sun was out when I got back to the garden.

And so were the butterflies.

I only saw peacock butterflies today but there were a lot about…

afternoon peacock butterfly

…and the buddleia was heaving with them.

pair of peacock butterfly

I mowed both lawns and then, since I thought that they were looking quite neat, I went round the edges with the strimmer too.

Next, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some ‘neatening up’ in the vegetable garden, I dead headed poppies, mallow and calendula and took a few pictures.

One of the new lilies looks right at home among the phlox, zinnias and mallow.

lily with zinnia, phlox and mallow

The buddleia may attract butterflies but the dahlias are a treat for the bees and it is rare to pass them without finding a bee about.

dahlia with bee

And I like the poppies.

pink poppy

I was taking the dead headings to the compost bin when I noticed that the snow berry which grows behind the bins is out.  It is a bit of a pest but I like it.

snowberry

If the blog stops appearing and there is no sign to be seen of the Tootlepedals, it is most likely that we will be found buried under a great heap of courgettes.  The supply is never ending at the moment.

courgettes

I had courgette soup with potatoes for my tea.

I sadly neglected to take any bird pictures today so the flying bird of the day is the giant flower pot at the Devil’s Porridge Museum.

giant flowerpot

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Anne, my cello playing friend Mike’s wife, who came across a very odd looking bird at her daughter’s bird feeder.  I would like to see red squirrels in our garden.

squirrel on birdfeeder

It was one of those days when it was hard to get some satisfactory organisation into my outdoor life thanks to a very indifferent weather forecast.  One thing the forecast did get right was the strong wind which, with frequent  gusts at 30 mph, was quite enough to stop me cycling.

But it couldn’t work out when it was going to rain and in the end, it didn’t rain at all.

This was a bit disappointing in two ways.

Firstly because if you don’t do something because it is going to rain and then it doesn’t rain, then it means that you feel a little foolish.

Secondly, because the post brought me a great treat in the shape of a gift from Mary Jo from Manitoba…

MJ's scientific rain gauge

 

….a genuinely scientific rain gauge which  was no use to me on a day when it didn’t rain.

However, I am reasonably sure that it will come into its own quite soon.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day in the garden, determined to do as much as possible before it rained and as it didn’t rain, she did a lot.

I did a bit.  I mowed two lawns during the day and picked beans, an onion, spinach and courgettes to make some more green soup.

I took some pictures too.

flowers

We had some sunny spells and it was warm enough to make being out in the garden a pleasure.

There is a lot of yellow crocosmia waiting to come out round the garden and the first flowers have just appeared.

yellow crocosmia

The French marigolds which are protecting the carrots from carrot root fly are worth having just for themselves.

French marigolds

There is plenty of productivity to be seen among the doddering dillies and the rowan berries.

rowan and doddering dillies

Among the tasks that Mrs Tootlepedal accomplished was the first clipping of the remodelled chicken.

new chicken

It has been a patient process.  It looked this in 2016…

topiary chicken

…and then like this after some drastic surgery in April 2017. …

thin chicken

…and then like this in August 2017.

topiary chicken

Mrs Tootlepedal plays a long game.

She also trimmed this year’s growth on some of the espalier apples, revealing a good crop of fruit.

espalier apples

This led to a lot of shredding and we had to put an extra couple of sections onto compost Bin A to stop it overflowing.

While I was making the soup, I watched the birds.  They seem to be fully recovered from the soaking they got a day or two ago…

greenfinch and siskin

…but this hasn’t improved their behaviour.  After chaffinches kicking greenfinches and greenfinches kicking chaffinches, we got greenfinch versus greenfinch today.

kicking greenfinches

When the rain held off after lunch, I went for a walk.

Even after the rain showers that we have had since the weekend, there is still very little water in our rivers….

auld stane brig

…though the water has turned a little browner than usual.

I walked up the road to the the Auld Stane Brig and then went back home by way of Gaskell’s and Easton’s walk.

There was not much moss and lichen to see after the dry spell but there was plenty to catch the eye as I went along.

furry plant

And if I got peckish, I could find wild raspberries to keep me going.

wild raspberry

They were delicious.

I know enough now to expect to find different patterns on the back of ferns.

fern backs

It looks as though there will be a good crop of sloes and acorns this year.

sloe and acorn

It wasn’t hard to spot insects on the flowers beside the tracks.

insects

There were quite a few wasps about.

insect on umbellifer

When I got near the end of my stroll, I went down to the Esk to see of the family of oyster catchers was still about.  They had morphed into two gulls.

gulls on esk

They look like two juvenile lesser black backed gulls to me but I may need correcting by knowledgeable readers.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still hard at work in the garden when I got back so I did a bit of hedge clipping to help.  Mrs Tootlepedal is gradually reducing both the width and the height of the box hedges round the front lawn and this is a very labour intensive job.  The hedges recover remarkably well from this rough treatment.

I hope for more sun and less wind soon as I need to get some cycling miles in.

I did a little work updating the Langholm Walks website.  Langholm has been officially accredited (by an official accreditor) as a walking friendly town and I have added a note of this to the website.

The flying bird of the day is one of our many greenfinch visitors.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

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