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Today’s guest picture comes from my cycling reader Paul. He lives in Lancashire and he sent me this picture of a reservoir to show that we are not the only ones having a dry time just now.

I am starting today’s post with a picture from yesterday. I almost always only use pictures in a post which I have taken that day as this blog is a daily diary, but I had this one ready to put in yesterday’s post when the new block editor made me forget about it. The blackbird had made such a good effort to pose nicely for me that I thought that it would be a sin not to reward him.

Back to today.

It was another day of wall to wall sunshine but with a brisker breeze to keep things a little cooler.

Neither of us had slept well in the heat last night so we had a quiet start to the day. Then, instead of street coffee, we enjoyed Zoom colour bingo event curated by our granddaughter Matilda. Through the wonders of technology, it involved all four of her grandparents, two of her aunts, a cousin, and her own parents (and three of the four countries of the United Kingdom). The rules were simple enough for even me to grasp and the method ensured the games ended in good time so we had space to chat and catch up as well as play.

After Zooming, we went out into the garden, where Mrs Tootlepedal did useful thinks and I wandered around, a bit at a loss to find something to do. In lieu of anything more productive, I looked at flowers.

There are new arrivals, an orange hawkweed…

…the first of many Sweet Williams…

…a beautifully dark pansy…

…and the first bud on a rose.

I was passing the bird feeder and noticed that a greenfinch was ignoring me. I didn’t ignore it and got the benefit of photographing a bird on the feeder in good light and not through a window.

I was happy even if it it was not.

Our neighbour Kenny, who gardens the far bank of the dam, has produced a really lovely lily there…

We went back in to have lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal took the sensible view that it was a good afternoon to sit quietly indoors out of the heat. I was restless and split my time by being bored indoors and doing nothing useful outdoors. As usual, when left with nothing better to do, I pointed cameras at things. The bright light was a problem so I looked for shady corners with Welsh poppies…

….ranunculus…

…and musk.

And I found an ornamental onion.

At one stage, I went for a shady sit down on our new bench and was joined for some quality time by a blackbird on a nearby hedge.

I checked to see what had captured the bees’ fancy today. It was chive diving.

I went back in to get set up for my second Zoom meeting of the day and while the computer was warming up, I looked out of the back door at the dam to see if any birds were cooling off there. Starlings were making use of the facilities…

…but they flew off in a huff when I got too close.

The afternoon Zoom meeting was the weekly Carlisle Choir virtual rehearsal with our energetic leader Ellen. Once again she was well prepared with a really good grip on the technology. All the same, the current technology will still not let everyone sing at the same time so it was more of a chance to get together and keep the spirit of the choir going than a great singing experience. About 50 members signed in and I enjoyed it.

There was another gap in the day now, with nothing much to do so I made a batch of 30 ginger biscuits as the last lot of 30 biscuits has mysteriously disappeared.

Then I had to time to check to see if there were more birds swimming in the dam. There were none but a white clover by the back door caught my eye instead…

…and I had to look out of the front window to see some birds. The feeder was half full and the bottom layer had been taken over by three greenfinches…

…who weren’t going to let any other bird get a look in. This led to some wistful flying birds, hoping for a perch but not succeeding in dislodging the incumbents.

And then it was time for the third Zoom meeting of the day, the usual get together with my siblings. My brother was absent but my sisters were in good form. I didn’t stay for the whole meeting as I wanted to get out for a cycle ride in the comparative cool of the early evening and still be back in time for our evening meal.

it was 25°C but the sun was down in the sky a bit and a cooling breeze kept conditions ideal for the elderly cyclist. I headed north up the main road out of town, hoping that there would be little traffic on the road and that the wind would be helpful as I headed uphill.

Both hopes were fulfilled. There was hardly any traffic and the wind was not only helpful up the hill but by some fluke of meteorology, helpful to me on the way back down again. As a result, I was home in plenty of time for a delicious meal of liver and onions prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I took two pictures just to show that I had been out. The first was soon after I had set off, and shows the Ewes valley at its best…

…and the second was at the head of the valley as the shadows were closing in on the road to Mosspaul.

I was passed by two cars in the ten miles back home. Cycling heaven.

Looking at my cycling spreadsheet when I got home, I see that I have cycled 15 times this month and covered 450 miles, my best month this year by a good distance. As I have gone for a walk on the other 16 days, it has been an excellent month for exercise.

The flying bird of the day is a duck who was passing over the garden while I was wandering about.

Footnote: As an experiment because I am using the new block editor, I have put the pictures in at a larger size than usual. I don’t know if this will make any difference but if it does for good or bad, I would be grateful for any feedback.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward Winter.  He has a fine six inch wide tree peony flower in his garden which he thought that I might appreciate.  I do.

TreePeony2020

It was another grey, blustery and chilly day today here so once again there was no urgency in the getting up department.

Indeed, I got up so late that there was no time for a wander round the garden before our street coffee meeting, and it was only afterwards that I got to check to see if our peonies are out yet.

They are still trying.

peony trying

A quick check on the frost damage revealed that the Japanese azalea may have have enough surviving flowers to make a bit of a show at least.

japanese azalea

And to make up for the lack of azaleas, the first iris has put in a welcome appearance.

first iris

Tulips and poppies make sure that we still have some colour….

tulips and poppy

And thriving Limnanthes and Aquilegia will soon be joined by…

flowers old and new

…other promising flowers.

We are quite blue at the moment….

four blue things in garden

…in a delicate sort of way.

I mowed the front lawn in the hope that we will get some rain and warmer weather to make the grass grow again.  Mrs Tootlepedal got to work improving the soil in one of the beds along the lawn so I sieved the last of the compost from Bin C to give to her to add to the bed.

I didn’t watch the birds on the feeder in the morning as we were busying about but there were birds in the garden who weren’t bothered by us.  The blackbird and the thrush are both feeding young so they are often to be seen about.

blackbird an thrush panel

I did a little shredding of disused box bushes and then went in for lunch.

We had a Carlisle Choir Zoom meeting scheduled for mid afternoon at what would have been our regular choir practice time, so I sneaked out for a short walk after lunch.  It was grey and almost drizzly so I walked on at a brisk pace, hoping to get home before any rain started.

I was pleased to see that the big rhododendrons in the park seemed to have escaped frost damage, but the bluebells are fading away and going over…

rhododendron,bluebells and garlic

…leaving the wild garlic to cover the ground.

I walked along the Murtholm track towards Skippers Bridge, passing quantities of ribwort, lambs and spring things on leaves…

three things at murtholm

…and crosswort…

crosswort full

…at which I took a closer look.

crosswort close

I paused on Skippers Bridge to record just how low the river is.

low water in esk from skippers bridge

It will be interesting to see if we get enough rain to raise the water level noticeably as the ground is so dry that it will surely soak up anything less than a downpour.

I took a picture of this view a few days ago but it is still so beautiful to my mind, that I took it again today.

skippers bridge from north

As I walked along the river bank back to the town, there was plenty to admire.

six things beside the river

I saw two contrasting birds as I got up the suspension bridge, a very noisy thrush singing fit to bust on a rooftop on one side of the river and a very quiet oyster catcher sitting on her nest on the other side.

thrush and oyster catcher

When  I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had just about finished her work on the flower bed.

bed improvement

I like the big red poppy at the back of the house so I went for a look at it…

big red poppy panel

…before getting ready for the Zoom choir meeting.

While I was waiting for the meeting to start, I made a mixture for some chocolate biscuits and put it in the fridge to cool.

When the appointed time came, lots of choir members attempted to join the meeting but unfortunately, there was a glitch in the Zoom technology (not our fault) and the meeting had to be cancelled.  We are going to try again next week,

The fault, which also affected a government briefing later in the day, must have been partial as I had a one to one meeting on Archive website business with my younger son and a family meeting with my siblings later on with no problems at all.

After the failed choir meeting, I baked the biscuits and while they were cooling, our neighbour Liz rang up to say that a starling was feeding its young in her garden if I was interested.

I was interested and went out and leant over her wall to see the group in action.

liz's starlings

I took the biscuits out of the oven and left them to cool and then I had time to watch a blue tit coming to the feeder…

blue tit in garden

…before chatting to my brother and sisters with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We tried the biscuits after our evening meal.  There was an initial shock when they did not taste as we expected them to, but we enjoyed them enough to have another each.

The rain, which finally started shortly after I came home from my walk, has persisted in a mild and desultory way all evening.  There is some more in the forecast over the next two days but as it is only a few millimeters, whether it will be enough to do some good is still a moot point.

All the same, any rain, after two dry months when at times it seemed as though it might never rain again here,  is to be welcomed.

The flying bird of a day is a bee.

flying bee

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who, for her permitted exercise, walked up to the top of the hill and looked down on London .

Mary London View

We had another bright and sunny morning, perhaps not as cold as yesterday.  I was able to walk round the garden in shirtsleeves to admire the zing of the tulips after breakfast.

three tulips

The sun lit up everything, potentillas, aquilegias against the back wall of the house,  the lamium and some freshly flowering bed straw in the back border.

potentilla, columbine lamium bed straw

My morning favourite was this shot of the rhododendron in sunshine and shadow.

white rhododendron in shade

The street coffee morning did not take place today as one member was waiting for a phone call, another wasn’t there, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a WhatsApp visit to Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh at coffee time.  They seem to be doing very well and Clare is developing their small garden to grow as much as is possible.  She was happy to take some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal.  The call ended with a display of dancing from Matilda, who is keeping very active.

After the call, I checked on the bird feeder to find a dunnock just checking out….

dunnock diving

…and then a visit to the garden  revealed our resident blackbird trying to look like a pelican.

odd blackbird

I was just wandering about when a tiny glimpse of orange and white caught my eye.  You may be able to see it in the dead centre of the picture below.

orange tip fist view

It was an orange tip butterfly.  As I had nothing better to do, I followed it round and round the garden as it fluttered about trying to find the best plant for a visit.

I was beginning to think that my pursuit would be fruitless, when the cow parsley caught its eye and I managed to get two flying shots of it as it flitted from flower to flower.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 3

You can see from the bottom two pictures in the panel above just how hard it was to spot the butterfly when it closed its wings among the flowers as the orange tips only show when the wings are open.

Luckily for me, it settled on a flower at the very end of a stem and I was able to take a picture of the beautifully marked underside of its wings.

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 1

I went in to fetch Mrs Tootlepedal out to see the butterfly and very fortunately, not only was it still there when she came out, but it opened its wings just enough to show her the orange tips…

orange tip butterfly on cow parsley 2

…and then shut them again so that she could see the decorated undersides too.

This put even the arrival of a flying bee at the lamium into the shade.

bee at lamium

A lot of watering was needed and while Mrs Tootlepedal lent the plants a helping hand, I became involved in the eccentricity of the euphorbias and the beauty of the bluebells.

euphorbia bluebells watering

Mrs Tootlepedal had obtained some leeks from our local butcher so I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we enjoyed it with bacon butties on the side.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The sun had gone behind clouds and there was a brisk wind blowing but the forecast was good, it was pleasantly warm, and I went off still in my shirtsleeves.

I headed along the river, past the wild garlic and the bluebells…

garlic and bluebells

…walked along the Murtholm track and then took this delightful path….

track up from main road

…up the hill and out into open country.  Still climbing gently, I soon had a good view behind me.

track up from skipperscleuch

As the track dwindled into rough and sometimes confusing paths, I found useful signposts to keep me right.

walk eleven post

I was following the route of Walk 11 of the Langholm Walks Project.

The route took me along the side of the hill, giving me good views over the Esk Valley and the main road south…

esk valley from old irvine

…as well as the River Esk itself.

esk from old irvine

I cam to Old Irvine and followed the old green road up the hill towards the Kerr Wood.

This is now a well surfaced forestry track as there has been a lot of recent tree planting here.  There were yellow wild flowers (unknown, dandelion, tormentil and birds foot trefoil) to keep me interested….

yellow wild flowers

…as I battled up the most boring part of my route, a mile long, dead straight track, uphill and into the breeze.  I was more than pleased when I got to the top of the hill to be able to look back down it.

Old Irvine track

In the end, the track met the road which I often cycle along when I am doing my Canonbie circuit and the difference between cycling and walking was made very clear to me when I saw the signpost at the junction.

langholm sign

The five miles home, downhill and downwind, would take me less than 20 minutes on my bike but it was a different matter when I was on foot.

Still, you see a lot more when you are walking and the sun had come out and even for a walker, having the wind behind is a good thing, so I wasn’t at all unhappy.

The commercial foresters have to plant native trees as part of the license to grow conifers.  They use plastic tubes and this little plantation on the very top of the hill, certainly needed protection from the wind.

new trees Kerr

I enjoyed older trees too.

two trees bloch

When I got down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I had a choice of following the correct walk route over more rough ground and tracks, or heading straight home down the road for a cup of tea and a Garibaldi biscuit or two.

I went down the road.  I was a bit sorry not to go the full route but my feet weren’t sorry at all, and the way home was enlivened by more wild flowers, lots of lichen and interesting grass seeds.

wildflowers, lichen, seed head wauchope road

The final stage was very colourful with a good patch of ivy leaved toadflax on the wall at Pool Corner…

pool corner wall

…and a stunning display in a front garden on Buccleuch Terrace.

Buccleuch Terrace garden

I hadn’t checked the length of the walk before I set out and was quite surprised to find that I had walked nine and a half miles by the time that I got home.

An added bonus to taking the direct home from Wauchope Schoolhouse was that I arrived in time to take part in the daily Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters.  My brother had been for a three hour walk too.

Today has been a big day for Mrs Tootlepedal, as the project for the community land buy out has reached the crowd funding stage.  Anyone who wants to find out more about the project and perhaps help by making a modest contribution to the purchase fund should visit the Langholm Initiative website where everything is very well explained.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked an excellent meal of mince and tatties for our tea and after tea, I sat at the computer and knocked off six items from a to-do list for the day of six items.  This brought an excellent day to a very satisfying conclusion.

The flying bird of the day is a passing jackdaw.

flying jackdaw

Footnote:  Having all the time in the world on my hands is leading to too many photographs but kind readers have said that I can’t have too many pictures in a post.  I hope that was true of this rather overloaded effort.  If not, I am sorry but it may well happen again if the fine weather holds.

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The guest picture of the day is another from Dropscone’s recent walk.  He passed this fine tree on his way.  It seems to be involved in an intricate ballet step.

dennis's tree

We woke to a chilly morning, so chilly in fact that the street coffee morning meeting needed coats and was adjourned early on account of freezing fingers.

In spite of that, it was a fine enough day and when the sun got high enough to warm things up, it was another good day to be out in the garden.

This was lucky because in the lockdown, after coffee we go out into the garden.

I wandered around.

Mrs Tootlepedal has some very nice tulips with subdued but rich colours and they are being joined by very slender, brighter newcomers.

four tulips april 30

There were delicate and tiny flowers…

four garden flowers

…and more robust ones too…

…but the top joy of the day for me was this espalier apple going the whole hog.

apple in blossom

I was so enthused about life after seeing the apple, that I sieved some more compost.

In view of the enormous international interest, (largely unexpressed, it is true), in compost sieving,  I thought that I ought to take a picture of the high tech kit required for the process.

compost sievinh kit

The bucket beneath the barrow is for the rough bits that don’t go through the sieve.  Mrs Tootlepedal takes them away and does mysterious things with them.   The success of the compost making is measured by the proportion that ends in the wheelbarrow compared with the amount left in the bucket.  This spring the compost has been very rewarding.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the vegetable garden and I helped by tying up the runner bean poles, one of the few jobs in the garden for which I am suited by nature.

Mrs Tootlepedal planted some onions and told me that she hopes to take seed from the turnip that is flowering and get more turnips from them for this year.

turnip and onions

We were in the front garden when our friend Gavin loomed up over the hedge and we enjoyed a chat.

gavin over the hedge

Then it was time to go in and make potato soup for lunch.  While it was cooking, I watched the birds.

sparrow goldfinch chaffinch

The soup went down well with some freshly made bread and a fine selection of the cheeses which our daughter Annie had kindly sent us.

cheese board

I should have mentioned that I was very impressed that the cheese parcel came with refrigerated wrapping.

The forecast for the day was unreliable to say the least.  It promised rain at various times and finally settled on an 80% chance of heavy rain at 3 o’clock in the afternoon for an hour or so, followed by better weather.  Bearing this in mind, I settled for baking some date rolls after lunch, intending to go for a walk after the rain in the hope of catching refreshed bluebells in subdued light.

As I don’t like rubbing butter into flour, I got Mrs Tootlepedal to show me how to use the food processor to do the job.  This turned out to be a really good idea and made making the pastry a piece of cake.

I didn’t get my arithmetic quite right when it came to assembling the rolls and ended up with half the batch heavy on pastry and light on filling and the other half vice versa.  However, as the pastry turned out to be as easy to eat as it was to prepare, there will  be no difficulty in finding a home for the finished rolls.

This was satisfactory but the weather was less so.  Far from bringing any much needed rain, the afternoon was as sunny as the morning and I was forced to go out in search of unrefreshed bluebells.

They weren’t hard to find as the wood along the river was carpeted with them.

eastons walk bluebells

I wasn’t the only one out enjoying the spring colours.

beechy plains

I walked up the little path through the bluebells at the end of the wood and took far too many pictures as I went.

bluebells Apr 30 5

You can perhaps see why…

bluebells Apr 30 4

…it is so difficult to stop clicking.

bluebells Apr 30 3

At the top of the hill, I met our friend Nancy going in the opposite direction.  After some conversation, we went our separate ways but I noticed that Nancy had taken the trouble to dress in sympathetic colours for her bluebell walk.

bluebells Apr 30 2

I took a final bluebell picture in the little clearing next to the Stubholm track….

bluebells Apr 30 1

…and walked on.

There were other delights besides the bluebells and if we hadn’t needed rain so badly, this little view would have been pure pleasure.

stubholm track

At the junction at the end of the track, I decided that a larger view would be a good idea and headed up the Warbla road.

bare tree late april

Once on the open hill, I turned down the track back towards the Auld Stane Brig and  passed below my old friend Tom.

He was sitting on a handy bench, recouping his strength before the final assault on the lofty summit of Warbla.  You can see the communications mast on the top of the hill in the background to the picture.

Tom on a bench

I enjoyed the view that I had come to see…

view from Warbla

…and dropped back down into the Wauchope valley.  I crossed the Auld Stane Brig and headed up the road towards Becks Farm.

I saw some wild geums in the hedgerow and didn’t think that they were out until I saw a bee proving me wrong.

bee on wild geum

I crossed the Becks Burn and took the track back to the town.  I have been along here quite a few times recently so I won’t add to the pictures that have already appeared on the blog.  (I am over my limit for the day already.)

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and several date rolls.

After the daily Zoom chat with my siblings, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and while it was cooking, I had a final walk round the garden to enjoy the tulips again.

azalea tulips evening

It may or may not rain tomorrow.  The forecast is not committing itself definitely.  After that it says it is not going to rain for another ten days.  We will be seriously parched if this turns out to be true.  Rather annoyingly, it seems to be raining almost everywhere else.

Still, the sunny weather is making the lockdown more tolerable than wet weather would make it so I should look on the bright side.  There is no other side to look on as far as the weather goes.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch looking for a free perch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my Somerset correspondent Venetia’s recent permitted walks.  She thought I might enjoy it as it has a gate and a sort of bridge in it.  She was right.

venetia's gate

Today’s post will be short and may be a bit garbled as I have had a busy day, didn’t take many pictures and then, just when I was going to sit down to write the post at my leisure, I got waylaid by a very good streaming of Twelfth Night from the National Theatre’s on line archive.

I wasn’t intending to watch it but the production was most original and very effective and I couldn’t let it go.

Back to today.

It was warmer than it has been and the wind was calmer so although the sun didn’t shine a lot, it was a very good day to be in the garden or on the bicycle.

In the morning, I went to the chemist to pick up prescriptions and this was the first time that I had been in a shop, other than our corner food shop, since the lockdown started.  I was impressed by the dividing marks on the floor and the screen for the assistants.

When I got back, I joined the street coffee morning for a while and then went off to water in some buck-u-uppo for the front lawn After that, there was time for a garden wander.

This flower may not look very impressive but it is the first clematis flower of the year and should soon be followed by many more,

first clematis flower

The tulips continue to delight the eye…

tulip panel

…and the little group in the bottom right corner of the panel are growing on the drying green.  Mrs Tootlepedal thought that it needed brightening up.

I have been waiting for a sympathetic light to do justice to the trout lilies which are in very good form.

trout lilies

I was pleased to spot a bee getting into the dicentras through the front door and not by boring holes in the sides.

bee on dicentra with nose

I would love to tell you what this promising looking stalk is but I can’t remember.  (A kind reader has pointed out that it a lilac.)

new buds

We went in for lunch and then I embarked on a culinary adventure as I tried making fig rolls.  To be precises, they were date rolls as the pips from the figs get into my teeth and spoil the enjoyment of eating them.

I have hardly ever make pastry and the process of rubbing the butter into the flour is one that I find both tedious and difficult so I approached the task with some apprehension.  The results didn’t look particularly attractive but they were the right shape and taste fine so I will have another go soon and see if I can make some which are a bit more aesthetically pleasing.

After admiring a sparrow on the feeder…

sparrow on feeder

…I went off for a cycle ride.

At 60 degrees F and with a light wind, it was a day for cycling shorts and my knees saw the light of day for the first time for many months.

The cooking had left me a little late so I just pottered round my usual Canonbie run.

view over bloch

One of the morning coffee drinkers told us that it has been the driest April on record so far and this has left the hills looking a lot browner than they ought to be at this time of year.

In spite of the savage verge mowing, a few wild flowers are to be seen.

These are garlic mustard and they showing up in more places this year.

pyrenean valerian

I caught a flash of bluebells over a hedge as I got near Canonbie.

bluebell wood north lodge

And just before the village the road was lined with dandelions under a greening hedge.

green hedge with dandelions

Although we have a few weeks to go before ‘full leaf’, things are definitely looking up.

greening up at hollows

Rather to my surprise, I saw a partridge walking along a wall at Irvine House.

quail on wall

When I got home, I had time to spot a blackbird on an electricity pole….

balckbird on pole

….before going in to enjoy a date roll or two and a chat with my brother and sisters courtesy of Zoom.  They are all using the technology to do language classes so I feel a bit idle.

There was no flying bird today but a rather fuzzy flying bee takes its place.

flying bee

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Guess whose birthday it was today.  Guest picture courtesy of her mother Clare.

Matilda's birthday

Finding things to do in the lockdown is tricky.  Mrs Tootlepedal decided to put a stone edge on one of her garden paths today.

Mrs T's path edge

I had a couple of important things on my to do list today, take the Zoe to Carlisle for its first annual service and drop my bike in at the bike shop on the way as it needs some professional care.

I spent quite a bit of time worrying about this and working out how to take the best possible precautions but the worry was needless.  I checked the garage website before I left and found the the garage was completely shut until further notice.  I decided to take the bike to Longtown anyway and rang up to check that they were open just in case.  They were open but thanks to a misunderstanding, they were not expecting my bike.

I now have a bike appointment for next week and a highly provisional car booking for two months time.

Still, it meant that I didn’t have to worry about catching the virus.  Every cloud etc etc…

Not that there were any clouds at all here today as we had another day of wall to wall sunshine.  In fact, it was too bright to make taking garden pictures easy and a very brisk wind didn’t help things either.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been impressed by the vigour of our trout lilies…

trout lilies

…and intends to spread them about the garden a bit.

She likes this combination of tulips which were sold as a complementary lot.

mixed tulip

I like these two pairs.

two tulip twice

And these two too.  The one on the right is a tiny miniature tulip.

two tulips

In fact, I pretty well like all tulips, except very fancy ones..

It was too windy for most of the insects but one or two bees ventured out to do some work.

bee on plum blossom

I made soup for lunch and made a batch of ginger biscuits afterwards.

This all took time, so it was not until later afternoon that I set out for my permitted walk.  It was too windy to go up a hill so I settled for a sheltered lowland walk.

I started off along the Esk, with plenty to look at….

cherry gull. mallard, laurel

…headed onto the Kilngreen…

esk on lovely day

…where a very neatly framed drain cover caught my eye.

drain cover and daisies

Then I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked up the hill to take the path along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks.

There were lambs…

mixed lambs

…nice light and shade, and dry conditions underfoot…

track to north lodge

…not to mention bluebells (with, if you look very closely,  a peacock buterfly which I didn’t notice at the time).

bluebells

I ventured on to a new track for me.  It was open and sunny at times…

new track above longfauld

…and dark and gloomy at other times.

dark wood

But I came out of the dark woods on to a familiar track and was able to enjoy once again the view across the river….

across the esk from longfauld

…and the view up the Esk Valley.

view up esk valley

My peace was shattered by the passing of a very large timber wagon…

log lorry passing

…but fortunately it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

log lorry going

Did I mention that it has been very dry for weeks?

I walked home by way of the Jubilee Bridge, passing the first wild garlic flower that I have seen this spring, as well as a handsome individual bluebell, a cheery robin, and some Corydalis on the Scholar’s Field wall.

garlic, bluebell, robin, corydalis

Just as I got home, I was nearly knocked flat by the stunning cherry blossom in our neighbour Betty’s front garden.

betty's blossom

If times were normal, we might have gone to Edinburgh to help Matilda celebrate her sixth birthday today but as it was, we enjoyed a video call and were able to sing Happy Birthday to her.  “That was very surprising,” Matilda said.

No flying bird of the day today but an oyster catcher, creeping away from me on my afternoon walk is the standing bird of the day.

P1050300

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  Knowing that I like bridges, he has sent me this magnificent Derbyshire example.

andrew's little bridge

We were promised a hot, sunny day and we got a pleasantly warm and mostly sunny day which was welcome.  The wind was light and I would have liked to have gone out for a really long cycle ride, as this was the first really good cycling day for ages.  However, it was a walking day on my two day rotating walk/cycle schedule and Mrs Tootlepedal rightly pointed out that long cycle rides are against the spirit of the lockdown rules anyway.  So I stayed at home as I should have done.

The fact that we had that rare thing, a fine holiday weekend and light winds, neither of which we could make use of, unsettled me and I couldn’t get a grip on the day at all and I more or less wasted the whole of the good weather by mooching around the garden in a disgruntled mood, taking a lot of not very good pictures of bees.  I didn’t even see a butterfly to lift my mood.

The tulips didn’t care about me and were very happy to see the morning sun.

tulips in sun

And the daffodils, peeking over the back of the topiary chicken, laughed out loud.

bright daffs

And the Honesty looked promising.

honesty

In my search for bees, I saw a bee like object but as it spent a lot of time hovering in one spot before darting off to another, I don’t think it was a bee.   My research tells me that it might be a bee fly but I am open to better suggestions.

flying furry creature

It certainly had a long nose.

flying furry creature close up

Then I saw this.  It looks like a wasp to me.

wasp like creature

I did see some bees.

bees on lamium and comfrey

And of course the blackbird kept its eye on me as I wandered moodily around.

blackbird on hedge

It was a lovely day, about 15°C in the garden and the flowers and shrubs were enjoying life.

four broght flowers

In our next door neighbour Liz’s front garden, a forsythia lights up the street.

liz's forsythia

And the plum blossom is coming along nicely.

plum blossom

I hope some of the bees and other insects get going on the pollinating soon.

I shifted some compost from Bin C into Bin D just for the sake of doing something.  I thought about scarifying the lawn but decided that the forecast weather for the next few days didn’t look quite warm enough to encourage the grass to grow, so I went in and made sweet potato  soup instead.

After lunch, I checked on the bird feeder and found a bird using it…

chaffinch on feeder

…which was a surprise.

Then I sat in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal and we were serenaded by a song thrush in full voice.  It sang in the walnut tree and then decamped to the roof of a neighbouring house and then came back and sang in the walnut tree again.

song thrush panel

Then I went upstairs to put on my walking socks and inadvertently lay down on my bed and read a book for and hour or so.  I don’t know how that happened.  It happened to Mrs Tootlepedal too.

When we came down, we had a cup of tea and then we had a video call with Matilda who was enjoying a science experiment with her parents in their kitchen.  It produced a very satisfactory amount of brightly coloured foaming liquid.

We followed that up with a Zoom chat with my three sisters and my brother with a late appearance from my brother-in-law.  My oldest sister wore a hat and was very disappointed when we didn’t ask her, “Where did you get that hat?”  She told us anyway.  She got it in New Zealand.

After the call, I went for a quick walk just to stretch my legs and to try and shake off my lethargy.

It was  still warm and calm…

daff reflection pool corner

…but the sky had clouded over and gone a genteel pastel shade.

grey skies

A pheasant showed me who was king of the castle as I crossed the Becks Burn bridge…

pheasant becks burn

…and I went back to the town along Gaskell’s Walk.

old tree gaskells

The path was dotted with wood anemones and there was a lot of golden saxifrage about too…

wood anemone, golden saxifrage, blackthorn

…but very little blossom.  I think that this lonely patch is blackthorn.

After tea, I made some hot cross buns but like the rest of the day, they were vaguely unsatisfactory and I will have to have another try to see if I can make some better ones.  Mrs Tootlepedal said that the one that she tried tasted okay, but they certainly wouldn’t win a prize in a beauty competition.

The bright spot was the appearance of a genuine flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

I will pull myself together and be more cheerful tomorrow.

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