Posts Tagged ‘bergenia’

Today’s guest picture is a look back at Venetia’s African trip.  There are so few bees in our garden that I wondered whether a relative of this handsome carmine bee eater might be responsible for the dearth….but it is probably just the cool weather.

carmine bee-eater

A cold and sometimes drizzly day made it easy for me to persuade myself that another more or less complete day of rest might be good for my feet so it was fortunate that we had plenty of visitors to brighten our day.

Our first visitor was Sandy, who came round to enjoy a cup of coffee and some biscuits.  He has been very busy in his garden organising new fencing and a sitting area in front of his garden shed.   He is also about to fly away from our cold climate and visit the Canary Islands with friends.  All in all, he was very cheery as a result.

Just as we had finished the coffee pot, Scott our ex minister turned up with his wife Jane.  Obviously living in a big city has slightly blunted his coffee radar but it was easy enough to brew another pot and we sat and caught up with their doings.

While we were sipping and  chatting, the third visitor of the morning arrived in the plum tree.

rook peering

It was a rook demanding attention.

rook shouting

Always eager to please, I picked up my camera and took two profiles…

rook right profile

…showing the rook as both sensitive and serious….

rook left profile

…and then, happy with the result, the rook flew off, leaving the centre of attention to a blackbird.pecking blackbird

When Scott and Jane left, I took a moment to wander round the garden. There is little novelty at the moment because of the cold mornings and grey afternoons.

Such tulips as are still around are in a state of suspended animation…


thin tulip

…and only one more flower has appeared on the garage clematis.

two white clematis flowers

I went back in and when I looked out of the kitchen window, I saw the power of a pigeon’s stare.  The one on the left had caused the one on the right to completely lose its focus.

hard stare pigeon

A chaffinch, though larger than  the tiny siskin, still thought it wise to nip round the back of the feeder rather than try to oust the sitting tenant.

chaffinch nipping round the back

I made some vegetable soup, with added turmeric which is rumoured to benefit arthritic joints, for our lunch, and having eaten some, I went out and mowed the middle lawn in a very gentle way.  While I was out, I noticed that the very first astrantia of the year had appeared.

first astrantia

Regular readers will know that they can expect many more shots of this flower before summer is over.

I went in and put a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.  I am a bit behind the data miners and will have to find time to put in more weeks soon.

When the week was entered, I went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing in the garden all afternoon.  She had done a lot of tidying up of the early spring growth and is busy getting ready for the next stage.  Because of the stop start nature of the weather, the first azalea is now nearing its full glory before the others have hardly produced ten flowers between them.

red azalea out

It will be a pity if it goes over before the rest have come out as it will spoil the picture which the gardener has designed.

The marsh marigolds in the pond are out of my reach and so escape dead heading but the seed heads look quite pretty in their own right.

marsh marigold

The bergenias are reaching up and still putting out new flowers…


…but this is just about the last of the trout lilies which have come and gone quite quickly this year.

last trout lily

I was just looking at a sturdy row of pea shoots growing in an old gutter in the green house…

prize peas

…..when our fourth visitor of the day arrived.  This was Mike Tinker and as it was four o’clock, we went in for a cup of tea and some ginger biscuits.

I am adding the shreddings and sawdust from his felled cherry tree to compost bin A in judicious amounts with other materials to try to get the perfect combination of green and woody layers which will result in rich compost later in the year.

After Mike left, the fifth visitor of the day was my flute pupil Luke.

We have been working hard on improving his breath control and today I finally managed to get my thoughts about this into an order which made sense to him and we made good progress.  It is always useful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something which has been explained clearly to him, then it is the fault of the teacher and the explanation not the pupil.  Don’t just say the same thing again, try something different.  This is sometimes a hard lesson for a teacher to learn.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a way with quorn mince that makes it very tasty so we enjoyed a good meal to round off an interesting day.

I did spend a few minutes before tea on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to make sure that my legs won’t drop off entirely from inactivity.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, one of our most frequent visitors of the day.

flying siskin

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who enjoyed the view at Buttermere on her recent flying visit to the Lake District.


Our fine weather continued unabated today and there were gardening and cycling opportunities as a result.  Mrs Tootlepedal seized the gardening opportunities with both hands (and a trowel)  while I rather let the cycling chances slip through my fingers.

I still had a mysteriously croaky throat when I woke up so I was happy to try to soothe it with coffee and treacle scones.  The scones were accompanied by Dropscone and came with additional agreeable conversation.

I went up to the town before coffee to replenish my stock of coffee beans and was pleased to find that a local shop had been able to source a good quantity of organic beans from Sumatra and Ethiopia.  We tried the Sumatran beans today and they were very good…though we failed to detect the overtones of apricot promised by the blurb on the packet..

When Dropscone departed, I wandered round the garden, an easy thing to do on a sunny spring morning.

The blackbird, who has been very busy feeding demanding young, was looking a bit tired, I thought….


…and had paused for a moment before diving into the compost heap looking for worms.

The alliums are finally coming out and one or two are getting near having the perfect globe…


….with all that goes with it.

allium closer

The brilliant azaleas, both red….

azalea red

…and yellow….

azalea yellow

…caught the eyes of our neighbours Liz and Ken, the pig transporters, when they stopped to exchange a few words over the garden hedge.

Liz and ken

The delights of the geums….





…and astrantia were harder to see from the road.


I did a little work and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting out needs.

Mostly though, I took things easy and only got my new bike out well after lunch.  The new bike is a delight to ride and I had an enjoyable hour and a half pottering round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Yesterday, I took pictures of both cows and trees and to save time today, I took a picture featuring both subjects in the same shot.

cows and tree

Nearer home, I stopped to look at some ‘Jack in the Hedge’…

Jack in the hedge

…although it was actually alongside a wall and not in a hedge at all.

I had a cup of tea sitting on the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back but it was hard not to jump up and take more pictures.

Tulips get some added colour as the flowers mature.


The rhododendrons just get brighter.


The first pink tinged flowers have appeared on the white potentilla in the garden.


The clematis at the back door is heavy with buds and a few flowers are giving a hint of what is to come.


And the bees were busy visiting the dicentra again.

bee on dicentra

After an early burst of visits from honey bees when it was still pretty cold, there have been hardly any in the garden during the good weather.  We must have had some blossom available when there was not much elsewhere but presumably, the bees are spoiled for choice now.   As you can see from the bumble bee in the picture above, there is plenty of pollen available here.

We are going on holiday for a week beside the sea with Matilda from tomorrow so patient readers will get a break from incessant garden flowers for a while.  There may be sand castles and sea birds instead.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good time renewing our acquaintance with some pieces which we haven’t played for some years.  It was hard work but worthwhile as the pieces were good.

Mike and Alison are kindly going to look after the greenhouse and keep an eye on the vegetable garden while we are away and Liz is going to fill the bird feeder so all should be well at Wauchope Cottage.  Whether there are any blog posts will depend on the wi-fi in our holiday cottage.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with a background of the very last of the daffodils..

flying goldfinch


Read Full Post »

My sister Mary has been visiting Kew Gardens and with a guest picture like this, who can blame her?

kew gardens

Our spell of good weather is rapidly receding in the memory and we are back to ‘business as usual’ –  grey skies, brisk winds and occasional rain.

Still, the first part of the day was forecast to be the least windiest so I got out on my bike after an early breakfast and did twenty miles and was home in time for coffee.  It was quite strenuous as I did nearly as much climbing in my twenty miles today as I did in Monday’s fifty miles.  I creaked alarmingly but got home safely.

I stopped beside a violet at ten miles…

wild flower

…and the camera played its usual trick of focussing on the dull background more clearly that the colourful  intended subject.  I should have taken more pictures just in case this happened.

On my way home, I passed a superb bank of wild garlic near Waterbeck….

wild garlic

…and several examples of Jack by the Hedge or garlic mustard a bit further along the road.

garlic mustard

I have passed this little glen at Falford many times but I don’t think that I have ever seen it looking better than today in spite of the grey weather.

Kirtle water

As forecast, the wind got a little stronger as time went by and thanks to sound route choice, I got blown home in  a very helpful way.

When I got back, I shifted a little of Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure heap and put some buck-u-uppo on the middle lawn in an effort to encourage more grass among the moss.

I had a look round too.

We have dead headed the vast majority of the daffodils now and only a few remain.  This one was my daffodil of the day today.


There are ferns springing up all round the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s current favourites are the ostrich feather ferns…

ostrich feather fern

..which are gently unfurling in the back border.

There is a smaller fern growing between the stones behind the pond.


There are other things going on.

We are getting very excited by the development of the azaleas.


A bergenia is hiding its light under a bushel.


An alpine clematis is flowering modestly.

alpine clematis

And the river of grape hyacinths is still flowing.

grape hyacinth

I didn’t have much time to watch birds today but I was pleased to get my first sighting of a baby blackbird today before I went out cycling.

blackbird baby

Ironically the baby is the larger looking of the two birds.

I saw the mother again later.


The birds are making a mess of the lawns.  Both blackbirds and jackdaws are busy digging things up.

A jackdaw sat on Mrs Tootlepdal’s bean frame and tried to look not guilty…


…but I caught one at it later in the day.


There was plenty of seed eating on the feeder today, perhaps because there wasn’t so much gardening being done on account of the gloomy weather.

flying goldfinch

The birds didn’t look very grateful though.

redpoll and goldfinch

I made some soup for lunch and then a persistent rain started which lasted on and off for the rest of the day.

I found a dry moment to walk up to the garage to collect the car.  Mrs Tootlepedal had dropped it off there while I was cycling as we have decided that it is time to take the winter tyres off and have the summer ones put on.  Surely it can’t snow at this time of year……can it?

We put the afternoon to good use by doing the sort of tasks that need a wet day to get done and then we were cheered up by a visit for a cup of tea of not just Mike Tinker but by Scott, the minister too.

In the evening, I walked through the rain for the weekly practice of Langholm Sings where I sang several notes that were in the right place and at the right time.  Some of my other notes were not quite so accurate.  Home practice needed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch supervising traffic at the feeder.

flying goldfinch



Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a view of Buckingham Palace from St James’ Park.  I am going to have a view from my sitting room window like this when I grow up.  My sister Mary took the picture.

Buckingham Palace from St James's ParkAlthough it was a rather cloudy day, the temperature wasn’t too bad and the wind was light so I leapt out of bed determined to go for a morning ride.  I just made it, finally setting off a few minutes before midday.    It wasn’t as though I had done anything more interesting than the crossword in the interim.  I had spent a little time wondering how this goldfinch had contrived to get a seed to fly over its shoulder….

goldfinch and seed

One of the mysteries of life.

…and communing with a jackdaw.

jackdawI had also been amused by a goldfinch shouting so loudly that a siskin had nearly jumped right out of its feathers.

goldfinch and siskinBut I couldn’t find any other reasons for delay and in the end I got going on the 22 mile trip to Gair and back.

I am beginning to feel that I have got a little strength back in my legs but I am far from fit yet.  I did try to press on from time to time but my efforts soon fizzled out and I was back to plodding.  I am going to try to get my average speed for this trip up to 14 mph by the end of the month which will be a start on the road back to full fitness.

The cloud was sitting down so firmly on the top of Callister that I had to stop when I got down the other side and wipe the moisture off my glasses.

When I got home, the cloud was still down on Whita and it looked as though it might be a day for going  up to the monument and getting above the cloud.  I was quite excited by this as it offers good photo opportunities so after a quick lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I jumped into the car and drove up to the Whte Yett.

McDiaramid Memorial

The combination of sunshine and cloud looked promising.

Mrs Tootlepedal stayed at the car and scanned the skies for interesting birds, while I plodded up the track to the monument.

The venture was not very successful for me to say the least.

Instead of burning off the top of the  hill, the cloud stuck around stubbornly.

monumentAs there was a hint of sunshine, I hung around in hope for a while…


There is always lichen to look at.

but instead of disappearing, the cloud thickened, blowing up the valley from the south.  This was the total view.

View from WhitaConscious of Mrs Tootlepedal waiting for me at the bottom of the track, I walked back down.  It was a curious day.  To one side of the track, blue sky…

View from Whita…and to the other, mist covered hills.  When I got to the bottom, I looked back at the monument.

WhitaA few minutes later, the summit was clear of clouds.

As a consolation I did manage to spot one of the many larks that were singing their heads off in the sky above me as i walked.


Usually they are hard to see at all let alone photograph.

Mrs Tootlepedal had not been bored at all as she had seen a hen harrier, two buzzards and a (possible) kestrel or merlin while I had been away.

We decided to go on over the hill to see if we could see more harriers and owls.

The Tarras valley was a mixture of cloud and sunshine.

Back of WhitaIt was fate, that as soon as we got parked, the cloud swept up the valley and covered the car and the surrounding moor.  We didn’t linger long.

To rub salt in the wound, the rest of the day in the town was absolutely beautiful but I didn’t have the energy left to do more than wander round the garden from time to time…


A bergenia trying hard


Tadpoles about to break free


An interloping but very pretty dandelion on the drive.

…and stare out of the kitchen window when I got in.

This time it was a chaffinch with a loud voice.


The other chaffinch was blown away by the sheer force of his argument

The chaffinches were in lively mood.

chaffinchA passing collared dove looked as though it had been in a fight.

doveAfter tea, it was time for me to go to our local camera club meeting.  We had a very reasonable turnout in spite of it being a holiday weekend and although we didn’t have as many photographs to show as we hoped, the meeting was still most enjoyable.  It was helped by the fact that I had remembered biscuits, tea, coffee, milk, a kettle and even some teaspoons so that after we had viewed the images, we had a general discussion and tea break.

This has been an experimental first year but the unanimous feeling was to do it all again next year.

A traditional chaffinch is flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by cyclist Lorne,  shows the results of a piece of well travelled sourdough starter in action.  The starter came to me from Talkin in Cumbria across the border, a gift from my recorder playing friend Sue and I passed some of it on to the clarinet playing mother of infant cyclist Sarah who took it to Linlithgow on Sunday and made this fine loaf with it.


The good spell of blue skies and warm temperatures has come to the end and Dropscone and I went out for the morning run in grey conditions and a thermometer struggling to reach 50°F.  Still, it was dry and the wind was reasonably gentle on us.

The wind gave us a helping hand on our way out but only became a factor in  the last 6 miles on the way home.  We drank our coffee and ate our treacle scones when we got back with a degree of contentment.  Nobody had got a puncture and nobody had fallen off so it had to be counted as one of the better morning runs of late.

The chief business of the day was returning 90 choir books to the public library in Carlisle.  These are heavy books in big boxes but Mrs Tootlepedal had whisked them into the car before I had finished my shower after coffee.   We had an early lunch and drove off with the books.  The library sits in a shopping mall with a multi storey car park beside it.  We phoned the librarian just as we got near and she was waiting for us with a trolley at the back door to the library which leads on to the top floor of the car park.  The transfer was completed in a matter of minutes.  If you want friendly and efficient service, the Carlisle Public Library is the place to go.

While I was in Carlisle, I took the opportunity to visit a camera shop.  I wasn’t looking for a camera though.  I have become a bit fed up with sitting or standing next to Sandy or Mrs Tootlepedal while they look at distant birds through binoculars and enjoy sights which are mere dots in the sky to me so I was looking for a pair of binoculars suitable for an old man with dodgy eyesight and specs.  They had a pair.  I bought it.   I am looking forward to using them over the weekend.

When we got home, I realised that I hadn’t taken a single photo all day so in spite of the fact that it was raining, I nipped out into the garden.  Some of our tulips are over but there are still many looking very well.


The bergenia is not the most elegant flower but it added a dash of colour to a dull day.


As did a healthy clump of lithodora.


Mrs Tootlepedal intends to divide this up for next year and spread the colour round the garden.

The rain unfortunately had turned the head of this geum towards the ground.


But this newly acquired euphorbia has settled in well and was smiling through its tears.


I didn’t stay out  in the rain for long and was soon inside looking out.

goldfinch action

The goldfinches were busy shouting at each other


Though some took a more detached view of things.


A siskin practises the one wing brush off gesture

I have left two of the perches off the feeder to try to save myself a little money but the birds can get at the seeds without a perch and still eat me out of house and home.


A rather bedraggled goldfinch on one side…


…and a calm redpoll on the other.

In the evening, the Linlithgow breadmaker’s parents arrived for their customary Friday evening visit and while Mike helped Mrs Tootlepedal to effect repairs on a seized up wheelbarrow wheel. Alison and I played a couple of enjoyable Loeillet sonatas for flute and harpsichord.  We were all happy.

The flying bird of the day was shot in rainy and gloomy  circumstances.






Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows the fine court house in Liverpool, built when crime was taken seriously and photographed by my brother.

The Court House

The weather here was a crime today, with fearsome winds and heavy rain for most of the day.  It was my turn to fill the moorland feeders and I stopped on the way to do some business in the High Street.  Nearly everyone I met said, “Well you won’t be taking any photographs today.”  I wasn’t intending to take any pictures but after all this discouragement and just to show that it was possible, I took a few through the car window after I had filled the feeders.


One of the many woodpeckers

great tit

A great tit staring morosely at the sodden seed.


A disconsolate pheasant hunching its shoulders against the downpour

I didn’t stay long and was soon back home.

The wet and windy weather had brought out a squad of siskins who almost monopolised the seed feeder in the garden for quite some time.



An occasional goldfinch managed to get a foot in among the siskin squabbles.


The poor chaffinches had to scrabble about on the ground under the feeder picking up scraps.  Luckily for them, the siskins are messy eaters and there was plenty for them to find.

The rest of the day was spent indoors until the early evening when the skies cleared for a while.  I was able to catch a breath of spring (which officially starts tomorrow) in the garden.



During the day, I turned my attention to choir music practice and transferring stuff from my XP computer to my laptop.  This latter task went so  remarkably well that I am expecting to find very bad things happening soon.  The way of computing change is a hard and rocky one.

In the afternoon, I made a sourdough loaf and so forgot my Mediterranean diet that I inadvertently made some gingerbread biscuits while thinking of other things.  In order to make sure that they don’t hang about tempting me for days on end, I have eaten most of them already.

In the evening, I went to the Archive centre with Sandy (Jean stayed at home suffering from the after effects of visiting the dentist) and we both did some useful work.

The wind has calmed down quite a bit as I write this but it is still brisk and it will take several days to subside.  Meanwhile we are going to have colder weather again which will be a disappointment after a week or two of being just under 10 degrees C.

I did get a very blurred flying bird.  I have out it in because I thought the colours looked quite striking.

flying siskin

Afternote:  Dropscone, who thinks my posts are very boring, has complained that I have only put one picture of his granny’s rocking chair onto my posts so far.  At the risk of boring you, here is another.  This is it after its re-upholstery.

drops chair







Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s trip to Spain where he did a lot and took a lot of pictures.  This shows Girona, a town to the north of Barcelona.

Girona, lies 35 mins north of Barcelona, by high speed train

We could have done with a bit of Spanish sunshine here today as it was another grey, windy day.  I was in a rather discouraged mood and let tiredness get the better of me and wasted the whole morning doing nothing more exciting than occasionally peering out of the window hoping that it would brighten up enough to take a flying bird shot.  It didn’t.

I had to shoot sitting targets today.  Argumentative siskins…



…and even more argumentative goldfinches.



There were a lot of goldfinches about today.


I did take a quick wander around the garden and found a few hopeful signs.

drumstick primula

A drumstick primula just starting out


A bergenia also just starting to show

The pulmonarias and primroses are unaffected by the wind and rain.



In the afternoon Mrs Tootlepedal snuck out for a solo cycle ride while I lounged about groaning and then we went off to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Our regular conductor was absent but a very fine substitute was at hand and we worked hard.

For the first time since we joined, we were able to drive all the way home in daylight which was another welcome sign of the turning of the year.

No one could accuse of me of doing a lot today and I didn’t even manage a convincing flying bird.  Here’s to a  bit more life and light tomorrow.  (The forecast for the next few days is for steadily increasing winds under grey skies so I am hoping that they have got it wrong.)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »