Posts Tagged ‘bee’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s current visit to the Lake District.  He walked to the top of Blencathra on Tuesday and found himself in quite crowd.


We had another dry and occasionally sunny day today but the rude wind had returned so I was not unhappy to have plenty to do that didn’t involve cycling.

In the morning I went to a meeting of volunteers at the Welcome to Langholm office where we heard an interesting and well presented talk by a man from Strathclyde University about a website that is trying to better organise visitors from abroad who are interested in their family heritage.  The idea is that they should inform us of their interests and desires before they arrive and we should inform them of our capabilities to meet their wishes before they have spent money coming to see something that perhaps is no longer there or meet people who cannot help them.  It sounded like a good scheme.

I walked round the garden when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out the tulips that she had bought at Alnwick yesterday.  She dug up some of this while preparing the ground…

honey fungus

….and wonders if some knowledgeable gardening reader could help her in identifying it.  She fears it might be some sort of honey fungus.

I looked at the established tulips.



It was a degree or two warmer today and the tulips were looking good.


I saw an unexpected flash of yellow in a red tulip…


…which revealed itself as a sport as the morning went on.

The cowslippy things are loving the conditions.


…and the dicentra is doing well too.


I was pleased with that picture of the dicentra but even more pleased with the next one that I took.

dicentra with bee

Bees are always welcome in the garden.

It was a good day for seeing welcome things.


A very small frog in the pond.

I went in to have lunch and was given a couple of hard stares by a blackbird and a chaffinch.

blackbird, chaffinch

I don’t know what I had done to offend them.

The main business of the day was a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and help her celebrate her third birthday.  In honour of that momentous occasion, I am putting  in three pictures of her taken today.  One was taken by her mother in the morning on Portobello beach…

Matilda in Portobello

…and one by her father at the same venue.

Matilda in Portobello

…and I took the third as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda enjoyed the handsome butterfly wings that had been our birthday present to her.

Matilda and Ally

Time simply flew as we played, sang and danced the afternoon away, though I will pass over the fact that the birthday girl wiped me out when we played Pelmanism.  I have mastered dancing while sitting comfortably in a chair.

After tea with cake and candles, it was time for us to go home and once again the view from the top deck of the bus was very pleasant.

Edinburgh from the bus

Edinburgh showing that it has cherry trees too

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch winning the race to get to the feeder.

flying chaffinch

Matilda says hello and goodbye for today.



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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He thought he saw a Mad March Hare when he was out walking his dogs this morning.  When he looked again, he realised that he had been stumped.

Hare stump

We had another springlike day today and once again, I was rather regretful because my fairly speedy bike was still at the bike menders.

Still, I cheered myself up by making some dropped scones and then entertaining both Dropscone and Sandy to coffee and scones. The scones weren’t as professional as Dropscone’s scones would have been but they were voted, “No too bad,” so that was praise indeed.

Our neighbour Hector, is going to build a fence between our properties as the present hedge requires a lot of clipping.  He is a hard worker and set about removing the hedge first thing in the morning and he was finished in no time at all.

No hedge

Mrs Tootlepedal was not unhappy to see the hedge go as it had a lot of holly in it and was very hard to handle.  I was a bit sorry because it means less places for birds to lurk before visiting the feeder but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she will grow all sorts of good things against the new fence.

With all this activity, there weren’t many birds at all in the garden in the morning and this coal tit was the only one that I caught on camera.

Coal Tit

At midday, I got out the slow bike and set out on a 15 mile circular ride down to Canonbie and back with photographic stops in mind.

I had hardly left the town when I made my first stop for a shy tree peeping over a hill.

Harry's hounds field

I took a few more before I got to Canonbie but they didn’t come out well so the next one shows my route home up the Esk valley taken from the road down to The Hollows.

View of Esk valley from Hollows

I usually use the old A7 rather than the main road to get home and  my next picture literally shows the end of the road.

Old A7

Luckily, as you can see,  they have left a gap for a small cycle path to take us round the corner before we join the main road for the last mile down to Skippers Bridge.

I stopped on the cycle path and walked down to the river bank.

Fisherman's Hut

I take it that this elegant hut is for the convenience of fishermen

Broomholm Island Bridge

This is the Broomholm Island bridge

I liked it so much that I took another picture.

Broomholm Island bridge

The island is on the left.

As I walked back up to the road, I noticed this little bridge…

Gaber Gill bridge

…which takes the Gaber Gill under the main road.  I have cycled over this bridge hundreds of times without ever noticing that I was doing so.  I was pleased to add it to my collection of bridge images.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  After a light lunch, I came out to join her.  While I had been out cycling, she had made me a set of mandarin jellies….

compost and jelly

…so I was happy to be able to sieve some well rotted kitchen waste and fill up the compost bucket for her.

I am getting a bit addicted to crocuses…


…which are really enjoying our spell of good weather.

As are the bees which like the crocuses too.

crocus with bee

Crocuses are available in other colours.

cream and white crocus

The white crocuses are so white that they posed quite a problem for the camera.

As the afternoon went on, the birds began to return to the garden and as I was a bit tired after cycling and composting, I was happy to spend a while inside looking out.

To begin with, there were  a few siskins hanging about…


…but they and some greenfinches were soon heading for the seed…


…while a pair of goldfinches held a watching brief.


They were followed by chaffinches flying in all directions simultaneously.


I had planned to go for a walk with Sandy later in the afternoon but I was quite pleased when he rang up and called off and I took the opportunity to do some serious sitting down with the feet up.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we did some work on breathing.  I have been doing a lot of singing lately and it has helped my flute playing  quite noticeably so I was trying to pass on some of the breathing tips that I have learned to Luke.  Whether I was successful, only time will tell.

Once again the garden was full of the sound of frogs all day so here is the frog of the day….


…and here is the flying goldfinch of the day.

flying goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal is off to visit her mother for a week tomorrow so my posts make take on a slightly doleful air for a while.

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After yesterday’s guest picture of the old Trent Bridge, I thought it only right to put my brother’s photograph of the new one in as well

Trent bridge

As it was Sunday, a certain ritual was observed today.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made  a venison stew for the slow cooker and then went off for a pedal and then, after lunch, we both went off to sing with our Carlisle choir.

After a night of rain, the morning soon brightened up and although we both enjoy singing with our choir, it is a bit annoying when it coincides with weather which would be ideal for cycling and/or gardening.

Still, it was very pleasant when I rolled out of the drive on the slow bike for a short ride before lunch.  I went off up the Wauchope road with a plan to take the single track road over the hill and then go down towards Canonbie.  This plan was rapidly modified when I found that I had been passed by a dozen cars in the first mile and I remembered that Skippers Bridge was closed for repair so a lot of traffic would be going up and down my proposed route instead.

I didn’t fancy meeting cars on the single track road over the hill so I just cycled five miles up the Wauchope road and then turned back again.  I made a little diversion up the Cleughfoot road and took a picture of the bridge that I had to cross at Wauchope school.

Wauchope school bridge

One of our newer bridges

It is at this point, as it passes under this bridge that the Logan Water, having been just joined by the Bigholms Burn, magically transforms itself into the mighty Wauchope Water which then runs the full length of its three and a bit miles into the Esk.

The Logan Water was looking very pretty today…

Logan water

…and the road beside it was hung with catkins.


I think that these are willow catkins.

When I got back to Langholm, I pedalled on down to Skippers Bridge to see if it really was closed.  It was indeed shut but not much work was going on which may be why the chap that I spoke to was so cheery.

Skippers Bridge

I spoke to a lady engineer too and complimented her on the good looking repair to the cutwater which her team had completed and she was delighted by the compliment.  She told me that her team was very proud of the work that they had done.

Maybe because of the works, some trees beside the river seemed to have been cleared and I got a better view of the bridge from the main road to the north than has been possible lately.

Skippers Bridge from the north

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was back from church and we had a walk round the garden.  Once again, there were both frogs and bees to be seen.  I took a picture of the whole of our very little pond so that you can see that when I say that it is full of frogs,  I am nearly speaking the literal truth.

pond with frogs

I can count about 14 or 15 in this shot and some had already dived as I approached.

This was the most handsome potential prince in the  pond today.


The bees were drawn to the crocuses.

crocus with bee

If you look very closely, you can see the bee’s knee

The crocuses are very pretty at the moment, either in clumps of the smaller Crocus tommasinianus…

Crocus tommasinianus

…or more sturdy  single Dutch crocuses.

Dutch crocus

A few of other colours can be seen here and there.

yellow crocus

We have two Hellebores on the go and the morning sunshine had persuaded this one to hold its head up enough so that I didn’t have to crouch much to look it in the eye.


There were very few birds about today and as I didn’t have much time to look out of the window,  this starling….


…and two chaffinches were all that I had to show for any time that I did spend.



We had to leave early for the choir because of the closed road which meant a cross country trip and some extra miles but it was such a nice day that the driving was no hardship.  After plugging away at competition songs for the last few weeks, it was good to get onto two new songs today.

Our conductor was very pleased with our performance in Manchester and was kind enough to say that he thought that we had sung as well as we possibly could have done.  Since we knew before we went that we had no realistic chance of winning, it was good to know that at least we had done ourselves justice.

We have three months to go before our summer concert so the pace should be a little more gentle for a few weeks at least.

The stew turned out well and there was an Italian bike race with a British winner to watch on the telly afterwards so the day ended very satisfactorily.

This was my best effort at a flying bird today.  Must try harder.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Chester last month.  Chester is a very photogenic town.


Our spell of dry weather continued today, although it was generally rather grey.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent almost all day helping with some archaeological work at the Roman fort at Broomholm, a couple of miles out of the town.  A visiting expert is doing a methodical survey of the site and this requires a grid of cords to be laid on the grass for him to follow to ensure that his machine is covering the whole site and not leaving any gaps.  A team of volunteers rushes about moving the grids as he moves along and it is hard work for them.

I am still not quite at my peak so I was happy to leave her to this and so I stayed at home and  enjoyed some treacle scones which Dropscone brought round to go with a cup or two of coffee.

After he left, I had a walk round the garden.  The sedum has come out but too late to attract any butterflies this year and the nerines are going over and producing berries.

sedum and nerine

The dahlias continue to flourish as we have still not had any cold nights.


And I am able to find fresh raspberries to eat every day from our autumn fruiting bushes.  They are not covered and the birds are happy to leave plenty for me to eat.  They have got a very good flavour this year.

Apart from the white clematis on the fence which is really strong, there are two other clematis in bloom but they are not very spectacular.


I went back inside and spent some peaceful time watching the birds in general and in particular trying to catch a coal tit in flight with variable success.

coal tit in flight

They are extremely nippy little birds.

The sunflower hearts have attracted a lot of customers and I counted ten goldfinches at one time.


Blue, coal and great tits are constantly visiting and it hard to say whether it is a few birds coming often or larger numbers coming now and again.  I have seen four blue tits at once and three coal tits but only one or two great tits at the same time.

blue tits

coal tit

I didn’t catch a great tit in action today.

I was delighted to see two or three greenfinches visiting.

greenfinch and goldfinch

Coal tit and greenfinch close in on a goldfinch

greenfinch and goldfinch

And a goldfinch closes in on a greenfinch

I stopped watching the birds and put on some leek and potato soup to cook for my lunch and then took another turn round the garden.

bee on nasturtium

I was happy to see that we still have some bees about

The soup came out well and fortified by a bowl of it with some bread and cheese, I went off for a short pedal around my now customary Canonbie route.

I was delighted to feel a bit of sunshine on my face shortly after I had got going and then almost instantly dismayed to feel drops of rain.  However both the sun and rain soon disappeared and I was left pedalling along in very light winds under a grey sky.

I really like this tree at the Bloch Farm which is a riot of golden colour….

Bloch tree

…but why only part of the tree has changed colour is a mystery to me.

As I was deliberately not pedalling very fast, my mind began to wander onto the current political situation here and in the United States and the responsibility of the print, broadcast and on-line media for a lot of the mess that we are in and this made me so cross that I found by the time that I had got to Canonbie, almost without realising it, that I was making quite good time.

This wasn’t the plan so I stopped to relax and enjoy the view up river at Byreburnfoot from a grassy bank…

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…and when I looked down, I saw that the grass was well sprinkled with fungus.

fungus at Byreburnfoot

Mrs Tootlepedal’s view that the 20/21 October might be peak autumn colour time seems to be pretty well founded, although there is still quite a lot of green about as well as good colour. I stopped again to see what the view of Irvine House looked like today.

Irvine house

Another day or two or even more perhaps before this scene will be at its best.

I cycled into the town and made a final stop to admire the little burst of riverside colour at the Town Bridge.

Langholm Bridge in autumn

I had time to have a shower and get changed before Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her hard day’s work and then I cooked a smoked sausage risotto and two baked apples for our tea as I thought that she needed a good rest and some looking after.

During the day, while I was  looking out of the ktichen window, I saw blackbirds, dunnocks, sparrows, jackdaws. a collared dove, greenfinches, goldfinches, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and a wren (which posed for two seconds and flitted off as soon as I made a move for my camera).    On top of these there were also some chaffinches…


…but nothing like the number I would expect.  They are usually by far the most numerous bird in our garden and I am beginning to wonder if they have had a bad year.  It may be that there is still plenty of food for them out in the country but I can’t say that I have passed many large flocks of them as I have been cycling around lately.

I checked the RSPB garden bird watch results for Scotland and chaffinches came second this year so there doesn’t seem to be a crisis and we shall see what happens when the weather gets colder.

Meanwhile the flower of the day is a vibrant dahlia (with friend)…

dahlia and bee

…and in spite of everything, the flying bird of the day is one of our few chaffinches.

flying chaffinch





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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He was working on a street just below Edinburgh Castle and found a moment to enjoy the splendid view.


The Scandinavian high pressure system is holding firm and we had another beautiful day here.  I had contemplated going for a bike ride but it was quite breezy and for some inexplicable reason, I was a bit tired so I settled for a mile down to the Co-op and back on the slow bike, followed by a walk round the garden.

The garden was glowing in the sunshine with some flowers still flourishing well after their usual sell-by date.

Crown Princess Margareta

orange hawkweed

astrantia and euphorbia

There were bees and hoverflies buzzing vigorously about with the dahlias as a popular destination.

hoverfly and bee on dahlia

bee and dahlia

It was so nice out that I decided to go the extra mile and cycle round the Kilngreen and the Castleholm while Mrs Tootlepedal spread a little of her manure about the flower beds (she has all the fun).

The fortunate arrival of a family intent on feeding the ducks meant that there was no shortage of action on the Kilngreen.

There were black headed gulls flying high…

black headed gull

…and low….

black headed gull

…with mallards coming in….

mallards flying

…and herring gulls going out.

herring gull

I cycled on over the Sawmill Brig and saw that the estate had cut down the two diseased trees on the Lodge Walks.  The gap that this has left will affect everyone’s  favourite view up the Walks in autumn.

Lodge walks

The trees are beginning to turn…

Trees on castleholm

…but there are quite a few trees shedding leaves without changing colour at all and we are worried that autumn colour may be very short if there is a sharp frost.


I got home in time for a shower and a shave, a look out of the kitchen window…


…and a late lunch.

Then it wasn’t long before it was time to jump into the car and go off to Carlisle for our choir practice with the Carlisle Community Choir.

We are taking part in a concert in the cathedral quite soon and although we will sing some numbers that we used in competitions last year, our conductor is teaching us three new songs at high speed so we had a very hard working session.

Two new tenors arrived today which is a good thing. We are a small section at the best of times and we have lost a couple of members from last season and we were a bit short staffed to say the least.  The newcomers seemed to enjoy themselves though so we hope that they will be back next week.

The fine weather bathed our drive home in golden light and it will be a memory that we will have to cherish as in three weeks time, we will be driving home in the gloom.

The flower of the day is a poppy with a delicate white outline on its petals…


…and the flying bird of the day is one of the aerobatic black headed gulls.

black headed gull

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Today’s guest picture shows that I was not the only one taking pictures in Marseille.  My sister Mary took this shot of L’Estaque from their boat as it headed back to Marseille.

On the boat, leaving L'Estaque

We had nearly as much sun here today but it was a lot cooler with a northerly breeze making sure that I had plenty of clothes on when I took my bike out for a ride in the morning.

Mrs Tootlepedal had long gone off to sing in the church choir and I had spent quite a lot of time doing nothing in particular (but doing it very well of course) after breakfast until I finally got going well after coffee time.

I chose to pedal up the main road to Mosspaul into the light wind with a view to having a swift return downhill with the wind behind.  Although the A7 is a main road, it is usually very quiet on a Sunday but it was quite busy today so I had to keep paying attention and I didn’t stop for a photograph before I got to the top of the hill and the turning point for home.

It is an entrant in the ‘Beautiful View Spoiled by Power Lines’ category and may well be a winner.


The return journey was all that I hoped for and I covered the eleven miles home at a whisker under 20 mph without having to expend too much effort.

Thanks to my late start, I didn’t have time to do much before we set off to Carlisle for our choir.  I had a plate of excellent lentil soup that Mrs Tootlepedal had made for lunch and then I had a quick dash round the garden.

Dahlias were the theme of the day.




The sharp eyed will have seen bees in all of the shots.

dahlia with bee

They have slowed down a bit with the cooler weather but there are still a lot buzzing round the garden.

There have been a lot of pink poppies lately.

pink poppies

Mrs Tootlepedal bought me a fuchsia on her visit to a flower show in Birmingham earlier in the year and it seems to have taken well…


…though we shall have to see how it goes if we get a hard winter.

I noticed a dunnock sitting on a hedge while I was out…


…and I had time for a quick look out of the kitchen window just before we left.  The pink pellets are obviously a draw for the sparrows.


A new Marks and Spencers food store has recently opened at a retail park on the edge of Carlisle and as we were passing it on our way to choir, we stopped and had a walk round.  Its main stock in trade is ready meals whichwe didn’t need but it also has Agen prunes and good dates and raisins so we were not disappointed. When we left, we popped across the road and stocked up on bird food thus hitting two targets with one arrow.

Our choir practice was good, although some time was taken up by a discussion of the results of a questionnaire about the choir which members had filled in.  Our conductor went over the points raised and gave us his reaction.  The gist of this was that he recognised what fine points had been made and having taken them in carefully, he was going to continue very much as before.  As he is doing a splendid job, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very pleased.

The flower of the day is the latest Lilian Austin rose to appear…

Lilian Austin

…and the flying bird of the day is a very picture of a sparrow.  I was pressed for time and the light had gone by the time we got back from Carlisle..

flying sparrow

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Today’s dramatic guest picture comes from my friend Sue who is on holiday in Greece.  She visited the island of Hydra, just off the coast of the Peloponnese.


We had a not dissimilar day here today, the difference being about 10°C as it was decidedly autumnal in temperature in Langholm.  I heard on the radio that this September has been one of the warmest on record which I can well believe but it is making our present more normal temperatures seem quite chilly.

On the plus side, the sun was out more or less all the time and there was only the smallest rain shower to upset the equilibrium later in the day.

I went out into the garden in  the morning to enjoy the sunshine.

Lillian Austin

Lillian Austin was enjoying it too


The Fuschia is still in full swing

I watched the sparrows having fun at the feeder…


..and noticed one or two more chaffinches around.  Perhaps they will start to come back now that I am filling the feeder again.  Watch this space.

I had seen quite a lot of flying things on my first walk round the garden….


…so I when I had come back from getting my flu jab at the health centre, I put on the macro lens and went out again.

bee on dahlia

hoverfly on cornflower

sunflower with hoverfly

The world’s smallest sunflower with friend

I took a look at the very last of the rowan berries.  They should be gone by tomorrow.


I also enjoyed some moss and lichen on the elder tree by the feeder.

lichen and moss on elder

For some reason, Mrs Tootlepedal prefers trees with leaves on rather than moss and lichen so this may be the last year that I can enjoy this sight.

Mrs Tootlepedal borrowed my track pump and blew up the tyres on her town bike and went off shopping.  She was rather a long time in coming back and it turned out that one of her tyres had actually blown up with a loud explosion on her way and she had had to walk a lot of the way home.  On inspection, the tyre was rather worn out and had split.

After having lunch and checking that my arm was showing no reaction to the flu jab, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to go up to the town and buy a new tyre and tube and I went off for a pedal on the fairly speedy bike.  I pumped my tyres up carefully before I left.

It was a good day for a pedal, even though there was quite a breeze blowing.


The hills are turning brown and the bracken is dying or dead.

My legs were in a more co-operative mood than on my last outing so I went for a 27 mile circular ride, though still at a pretty leisurely pace.

I stopped for a look down the Esk when I got near Langholm on my way back.


Not much sign of autumn here yet.

When I got home, I put Mrs Tootlepedal’s new tyre and tube on her bike.  The front tyre looks about as worn as her back tyre was so it may not be long before another replacement is due.

Before I had my shower, I had a look out of the kitchen window….

coal tit and blue tit

A coal tit and blue tit share the pink pellet feeder.

…and then I took another walk round the garden.

A sunny evening is perhaps my favourite time in the garden.


The rudbeckias are nearly over


But the poppies keep on coming


And there are still quite a few cornflowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is hard at it in the garden, taking out flowers that are over and preparing the ground for next year’s display.  It makes me quite tired just watching her work.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for the second time this week for another concert.  This time we were privileged to enjoy listening to Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, regular visitors to Langholm and in many people’s eyes, the two best musicians in Scotland.

They might  be classed as ‘folk’ musicians but their work together  on fiddle and accordion transcends such limiting boundaries and they provided us with a feast of good music by any standards.  They were amplified but gently, they interspersed the music with a stream of hilarious reminiscences and observations and they provided a golden couple of hours of sheer pleasure to the capacity audience.  No recording or video can properly capture the warmth of their live performances.

The flower of the day is a late blooming of an astrantia…


…and the flying bird of the day is the headmaster on an upward trajectory.

flying jackdaw





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