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Posts Tagged ‘beech hedge’

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

keiron's tree

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

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

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

garden after rain

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

hellebore

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

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

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

duchess bridge walk

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

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

milnholm road

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

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

hawthorn flowers

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

milnholm hedge and field

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

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

oyster catcher potholm

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

climb past potholm

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

potholm wild flowerrs

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

forest track longfauld wood

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

wild flowers longfauld wood

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

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

liverwort

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

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

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

huge fungus holmhead

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

holmhead road

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

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

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

red campion

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

deserted playground

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

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

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

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

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

thrush in plum

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

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

flying chaffinch

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

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Today”s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw deer on one of his walks with his dogs.  The deer saw him but didn’t run away at once.

Tony's deer

To say that today was another uneventful day would be rather overstating the excitement.  The recent frost has put a damper on the pleasure of walking round the garden in quite a big way, and as it was another grey morning, there was not a lot of incentive to get up and go.

In the end, I managed to finish the crossword and get up in time for a walk round the garden before coffee.  The only photograph that I took was of these ill matched Icelandic poppies, and I couldn’t get a very good shot of them as they were blowing about in the breeze.

ill matched poppies

I don’t know why some of the orange poppies have white tips this year.

After coffee, I shredded more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s uprooted box bushes and then went inside.

I watched the birds through the window for a moment or two.

A greenfinch felt that I was intruding on its privacy.

sad greenfing

A sparrow watched while another greenfinch and a chaffinch arrived simultaneously, luckily heading for different perches.

greenfinch and chaffinch arriving together

And there was room for two sparrows too.

sparrow joining sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that I might like to try a recipe for a boiled cake.  This sounded very strange to me but on investigation it turned out that only some of the ingredients were boiled and that the cake was actually baked in a standard way, so I gave it a go.

It tuned out that it makes a small cake and the process was quite simple (which is probably why Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it).  You take butter, syrup, sugar and water, melt them together and add currants and sultanas and then boil this mixture very gently for a few minutes.  This is cooled and then added to flour and spices with a beaten egg and the whole thing is poured into a cake tin and baked.

Some time later, it comes out like this:

boiled cake

While it was baking, I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we had time to eat the soup before the cake came out of the oven.

After lunch, I had another walk round the garden and found a rhododendron flower which looks as though it might have survived the frost.

surviving rhododendron bud

The tree peony and the standard peonies in the flower beds are in a race to see which comes fully out first and at the moment, the tree peony is the slight favourite.

tree peony almost out

The alliums, unaffected by the frost, are going global.

global allium

In the absence of azaleas, I am probably going to spend more time looking at Welsh poppies than usual.  They have acquired some pinkish tinges this year, another mystery but quite pretty.

Sometimes the tinge is in the middle…

welsh poppy red middle

…sometimes in a line across the petals…

welsh poppy red stripe

…and sometimes round the edge.

welsh poppy red edge

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is damage of some sort.

She has completed her hedge cut back and you can see the more open view of the house that this provides.

hedge clipped

I will be interested to see how the planting changes to reflect the new vista.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden caused by baby sparrows demanding to be fed by their long suffering parents and this blackbird in the plum tree was joining in with gusto.

hopeful blackbird

It looks a little old to be needing to be fed but it wasn’t getting any attention and that didn’t suit it at all.

A starling had been doing some successful foraging.starling with food

I went in to change into my cycling gear and then went off for a short cycle ride.  Mrs Tootlepedal had looked at the clouds and brought the washing in ‘just in case’, but the forecast hadn’t got any rain in it so I set off with confidence of a dry trip round Canonbie.

My confidence was well founded and with the wind coming from a generally helpful direction, I enjoyed my ride and went a bit more quickly than recent efforts.

After taking far too many pictures in recent days, I resolved not to take too many today and was reasonably successful.  The theme of the ride was hedges and wild flowers.

The cow parsley is coming on well along the Tarcoon road…

cow parsely tarcoon

…and the tree over the hedge is now fully clothed.

tree tarcoon

A little further on, I was happy to find a beech hedge in very good condition.  My friend Nancy had sent me pictures yesterday of a beech hedge badly affected by the frost but this one was untouched.

beech hedge tarcoon

I stopped at Canonbie Bridge for a conversation with Simon, a Camera Club member who was out for a walk.  His normal work involves sporting events and international travel so he currently stacking shelves for supermarkets instead.   He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his real job.

When I got nearer Langholm, I found that the Pyrenean Valerian is beginning to line the roadsides.

pyrenean valerian clump

The boiled cake went down very well with a cup of tea on my return and the normal sibling Zoom and an excellent pasta dish for our evening meal rounded off another routine day of lockdown.

Looking at the forecast, I see that things are going to warm up a bit and there may even be a bit of rain in the next day or two but the promise of very high temperatures next week seems to have faded away, for which I am grateful as I don’t like it when it gets too warm.

We will believe in the rain when we feel it actually falling on our heads.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder.  It avoided the pole.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba where they really know how to have a winter.  Her picture shows her cat contemplating the hard life that a rabbit has when it has to scratch up the snow in order to find a blade or two of grass.

cat and rabbit Manitoba

Although we have still got two days to go until the winter solstice arrives, the days still seem pretty short so it was a blessing to get a brighter day after yesterday’s pervasive gloom.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day relating to her volunteering activities at the Buccleuch Centre but I idled about, drinking coffee and doing the crossword until I finally managed to get myself and my bicycle out onto the road.

In fairness, I was waiting for a text message to say when a parcel would be delivered.  They very kindly offered me a one hour slot for delivery but took four hours to tell me when that one hour slot would be which wasn’t entirely helpful.  On the plus side, it did give me time to stare out of the window in the hope of seeing some birds.

Things were very quiet again with a lone bashful goldfinch on the feeder and a single pensive chaffinch on the plum tree.

first birds

But there was more action after a while and a small flock of goldfinches flew in…

goldfinches come back

…soon to be joined by some chaffinches.

goldfinch and chaffinch reappear

I was hoping to catch a flying bird of the day at last but the goldfinches taunted me by doing their flying behind the feeder…

angel goldfinch

…and the chaffinches got in each other’s way.

scrappy chaffinches

The message about the parcel came at last and showed that I had time for a pedal so I pedalled.

It was around 6°C but the wind was light and there was even a promise of some blue sky ahead…

Callister

..though it was still grey on the top of Callister where the workers on the new Solwaybank windfarm were busy…

solwaybank wind farm workers

…preparing for the arrival of the turbines.  They are currently pouring concrete for the bases but  I read on their website that the turbines are not due until mid summer 2019 so I shall stop craning my neck to see if they have arrived yet every time I go past.

By the time that I had got to the bottom of the far side of Callister I could see a hint of sunshine at Crowdieknowe…

sdr

…and as I went along the road towards Gair, passing good looking trees…

gair road tree

…I found myself bathed in the weak sunshine which is all you can expect at this time of year,

I expect that the sheep were grateful too.

view from gair road

A clump of gorse certainly looked very cheerful.

girse near gair

Once I had got to Kirkpatrick Fleming and had turned for home, the sunlit beech hedges along the road were adding a welcome touch of colour to my trip.

beech hedge KPF road

I stopped to admire the very severe haircuts which the council men have given to the shrubs in the graveyard at Half Morton…

 

Half Morton kirkyard

…and took a little breather going up my last hill to enjoy the colour of the trees beside the busy main road.

A7 with larches

Although it was only early afternoon when I got back, the light was already fading and this was the best that I could do to capture a welcome late visit from a robin

dark robin

We also had visits from a coal tit, a blue tit and a collared dove.  This was cheering but there were still very few birds about in total and those that came didn’t linger so I am beginning to think that sparrowhawk activity might be a factor in our current bird scarcity.

My parcel arrived on time and that was the high spot of the rest of the day as by now it was almost dark.  Indeterminate indoor activity saw me through the unforgiving winter hours.

We had home grown turnips and potatoes with our tea.  This is not exactly self sufficiency but it is very satisfying none the less.

Mrs Tootlepedal has gone out to a well deserved small celebration of the work of the volunteers at the Buccleuch Centre as I write this so I shall take the opportunity to do a little singing practice while she is out.

I could only manage a very blurry flying bird of the day but any bird in the blog is better than none.

flying chaffinch gloomy

Tra la la.

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Today’s guest picture comes from the camera of Mrs Tootlepedal, who was away in Edinburgh visiting the WGB.  It shows Matilda in animated discussion with a duck.

Matilda with duckI stayed at home this week, partly because mother and grandmother can manage surprisingly well without my help and partly because we were promised a reasonable day with gentle winds and my cycling mileage has fallen a bit behind schedule.

I haven’t had a ride of above 22 miles all month so I thought that I would get a little further today if I could.  I offered Dropscone the chance of a longer run but he politely declined it and I met him whizzing home from his favourite morning run shortly after I had started out.  I was a bit late setting off as I had to wait for our plumber to finish a job before I went.

The weather looked a bit changeable so I was well waterproofed and was able to laugh in the face of a shower that chose exactly the same moment to start raining as I started pedalling.  It was not long though before I was out of the rain and able to enjoy the scenery….

Wauchope Road….and again not long before the clouds cleared and I had a good spell of pedalling in sunshine.  I was aiming for a three hour journey and hoping to do at least forty miles so I had to keep calm when I only managed 12 miles in the first hour.  This was due to some hills and a breeze in my face so I wasn’t unduly worried.

I stopped to take a picture of the ruined church at Hoddom Cross….

Hoddom Cross…before turning left to head down towards Annan.

Most of our autumn colour this year is coming from beech trees and hedges and I enjoyed this fine hedge on the road to Annan.

Beech hedgeI didn’t go into Annan itself but turned left to go past Chapelcross Power Station.  A substantial body of workers and considerable amounts of money are going into decommissioning this old nuclear power plant but it never seems to have changed as I go past it.   It will be a long and expensive business.

At the top of the hill above Eaglesfield, I paused to admire a rainbow…..which faded away in perfect synchronicity with my withdrawal of the camera from my pocket, leaving just a faint a Cheshire Cat smile behind it by the time that my finger hit the button.

faint rainbowMy route took my down through Kirtlebridge to Kirkpatrick Fleming and thence it was plain sailing with a following wind back home.  It had started to rain in quite a threatening manner near Chapelcross but for once, I managed to get ahead of the rain and got home dry and with time to admire a nice pair of hedges near Canonbie….

beech hedges…and the some bright colour at Knittyholm, just four miles from Langholm.

KnittyholmI arrived home bang on three hours of cycling time (with a little stationary banana eating time added on) and hit my forty mile target too.  In the first hour, hilly and into the wind, I covered 12 miles, in the second hour, less hilly and turning half way through, I covered 13 miles and in the last hour, flat and with a favouring breeze, I managed 16 miles.  I call that good route choice.

Those idly curious about the ride can click on the map for more details.

garmin 24 Oct 14I would have hoped to do more miles in the time but not only was my boiler a bit short of steam today but I can’t put full power through my bad knee any more so I have to be grateful for what I can do.

My friend Sue’s sourdough starter is behaving brilliantly and I was able to have a couple of slices of very tasty bread from the loaf that I made yesterday with home made raspberry jam for my lunch.

I had some time to spare for staring out of the kitchen window after lunch and I did what I should have done more often and put my camera on a tripod and used a wireless remote to fire it off.   I got a triple bonus.  The birds weren’t alarmed by my looming presence at the window, I was able to keep a better eye out for approaching birds than I could if I was peering through the view finder and the camera was a lot steadier than I can hold it.

The results in my opinion made the extra trouble worthwhile.   The first picture was taken while I was still hand holding the camera….

sparrows

A bunch of house sparrows appeared and left soon afterwards.

…but the rest are from the tripod.  Although the light was not very good, I was spoiled for choice of chaffinches.

perching chaffinchchaffinch arrivingchaffinch arrivingchaffinch arrivingflying chaffinchflying chaffinchI put down the remote and walked up to the High Street to pay for my next  bag of bird seed and some Ethiopian coffee.  Both come in big bags but fortunately the 25kg bag of sunflower hearts had been delivered to my door by the time that I got home.  I was able to carry my own coffee.

When I got home, I found a message on my answerphone to ring the hospital and when I did, they told me that they were just organising the theatre list for knee operations and that I should expect to get a date for my proposed new knee before the end of November.  This is both exciting and rather alarming.

In an effort to get nearer a Mediterranean diet, I made a large bowl of mushroom risotto using Arborio rice for my tea.

When Mrs Tootlepedal got home in the evening, she told me that she had met the World’s Greatest Uncle  (our older son Tony) while she was in Edinburgh.  He told her that he had just done four days of jury service in a very distressing case and moreover, that he had been foreman of the jury.  He was pleased that he had been excused further jury service for at least five years as he had not enjoyed doing his duty very much, though he was proud that he had done it.  He couldn’t stop long as he was scurrying around trying to catch up with all the jobs he had missed during the week.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, a female this time, in one of the very few brighter moments of the afternoon.

flying chaffinch

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