Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘birch trees’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  It shows a view of her garden from an upstairs room.  She tells me that her grass is left long to encourage wildlife and it has been sown with wildflowers which she hopes will appear later in the year.

venetia's garden

After yesterday’s glorious warm weather, it rained overnight and today was colder and even windier at times than yesterday.  But it didn’t rain.

This didn’t discourage the tadpoles who are now into independent swimming.

tadpoles on lily leaf

The tulips weren’t very keen on opening wide though, but they still added interest to the garden along with a very pale fritillary…

six garden flowers

…while pulmonaria, lamium and berberis added more discreet colour.

We had a leisurely morning with a little sporadic gardening and time to watch birds, sometimes through the window, sometimes in the garden…

chaffinch, blackbird, sparrows, bee

…and sometimes while sitting in the warmth of the greenhouse like these two sparrows on the fence. Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the bee on the rosemary while we were in there too.

After some lawn edging, time wasting, music making, cooking, laughing at a poem which my friend the cello playing Mike had sent me and looking at promising tulips…

new tulip

…I went out for a late afternoon permitted walk.

The river is exceedingly low after weeks with little or no rain….

esk very low april

…but no one is currently wishing for more rain after February’s exceptional rainfall.  Or at least, not out loud.

I walked through the town and then up the Kirk Wynd and onto the golf course.  It is a good golf course because if you are playing badly, which I almost always was, there is a selection of fine views to take your mind off your foozled shots.

view f Potholm Hill ridge

The greens are getting some green back onto them after the greenkeeper’s dramatic treatment, and as there are no golfers on it, the course is looking very well maintained.

golf course green

I enjoyed a final view from the course…

view up ewes from golf course

…and walked out onto the open hill, passing gorse, lichen and fresh hawthorn leaves on my way.

lichen gorse hawthorn

From Whita Well, I followed the track along the contour of the hill.  It was a lovely day, although I couldn’t see the Lake District hills as the Solway plain was covered in mist.

track toi quarry

The lovely day got a little less lovely as I went along the track because the sunshine retreated up the valley….sunshine up the valley

…thanks to this annoying cloud which hovered straight above me, leaving sunshine to both the north and the south.

clouds over whits

Dropscone had been this way on a walk lately, and he told me that he would have sent me an arty picture of a pylon if only he had remembered to take his camera with him.

So this is for him.

whita pylon square

And this one too, as I didn’t know which angle he would have chosen.

whita pylonn diagonal

Looking  south from the pylon, I could only just make out the windfarm at Gretna which shows how hazy it was down there.

gretna windfarm from whita

That dark cloud over my head was soon blown away though, and I walked back down the hill  in glorious sunshine again as i went through a little birch wood that has grown up in recent years…

birch wood on Whita

..and the sun lit up the floor of the wood as I joined the main track back to the Round House and Langholm.

jenyy noble's wood

I turned down the opportunity of a sit down on the bench at the Round House…

roundhouse bench

…and walked down the track that goes through the little oak wood…

oaks below round house

…past this fine tree…

oak tree longwood

…and ontothe old railway line.  I got to the path that leads steeply down to the road at Skippers Bridge…

steps down walk 7

…and the bridge drew me into yet another photograph.

skippers bridge april

At this stage, I realised that I was going to be late for tea if I didn’t get a move on so I got a move on.

The tea arrived on the table just as I arrived home.

At about three and a half miles, it was another walk which packed a lot of variety into a short outing.

During the afternoon, I had prepared the dough for a set of lockdown teacakes. The supply of ginger biscuits has run out and we need something to cheer us up in these troubled times.

They went in the oven after our evening meal and came out looking like this.

lockdown tea cakes

We test drove one or two and they seemed pretty cheerful to us.

The flying bird of the day is a starling, whisking across the garden in the strong wind this afternoon. (Too fast for my camera.)

flying starling

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s who visited Oslo on his Scandinavian  cruise.  He tells me that She Lies (Norwegian: hun ligger) is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels.  It is a permanent installation, floating on the water in the fjord and turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, offering changing experiences through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.  I would add that it is not often that you see a window cleaner at work on a sculpture.

P1000870

I had a quiet morning in as although it was dry again, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of going for a cycle ride in very strong winds.  I did walk round the garden where thanks to the continuing mild mornings, there are plenty of flowers still blooming.  The panel below doesn’t show everything that’s out by any means.

garden flowers late october

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious ginger biscuits and then we cracked open some of our walnut crop and she made a walnut and banana loaf.  The biscuits have been well tested but the loaf is waiting for tomorrow for a try out.

After lunch, I practised songs for our Glasgow trip and then went off for a walk. Mrs Tootlepedal, having checked my proposed route and tested the wind, decided that gardening would be more fun.

I walked up through the town and onto the golf course.  My plan was to look for toadstools which often flourish there.

I think that i was too late this year and most of the fungus has flown.  What was left was a bit tattered.

golf course fungus

Still, it was a pleasure to be on the well maintained course and the views always are available to console a golfer after a poor shot and me after a fruitless fungus hunt.

golf course

This was my favourite view from the course today.

trees from golf course

I walked up to the top of the course and took the track onto the open hill, passing this fine wall…

whita wall

…which was rich with interest.

whita moss amnd lichen

I was soon high enough up to get good views back down over the town…Langholm from whita

….and away to the south over the Gretna windmills and the Solway Firth to the Lake District Hills which were nudging the clouds as they passed over.

skiddaw from whita

I took closer looks at the town…

dye house chimney

…where the poplars beside the church was very prominent…

poplars from whita

…and looking at the New Town, I could see our walnut tree in the middle of the picture.  (It is behind the much darker tree.)

new town from whita

I walked along the old track towards the quarry and leapt nimbly over the stile at the wall (that might not be an entirely true statement) before going down the hill on the far side of the wall.

The hill is not grazed intensively these days and young trees are able to grow without being nibbled before they can established themselves.

birch on whita

Going down the hill on a rough path requires all my concentration these days and if I try to look at the views as I descend, I am likely to fall over.  I didn’t fall over today but I had to stop if I wanted to look at the river below.

river esk from whita

The sun came out as I  walked through a newly established birch thicket…

new wood on whita

…and I had one last stop for a view…

looking over langholm

…before I came to the woods on the lower slopes of the hill and walked down to the river to take the obligatory shot of Skippers Bridge.

skippers arch in autumn

This shot had added interest today, because when I looked at the picture later, I noticed something which  I hadn’t seen at the time, a cormorant doing a little fishing under the bridge.

cormorant at skippers

I crossed the bridge, clambered down the bank on the far side and looked back.

skppers from up river

A quick check on the camera at this point showed me that I had already taken over 100 pictures, so I stuck it firmly in my pocket and resolved to take no more before I got home….

…but who can resist a goosander?

goosander

My walk was about three and a half miles long and I was very pleased with the co-operation that my feet offered as I went along. My new insoles are doing a good job.

Mrs Tootlepedal had just finished her gardening when I arrived back but she had enough energy left to cook a dish of smoked sausage and spinach with a cream cheese sauce served with penne.  I needed it to give me strength as it was soon time to go out to my Langholm choir practice.

Our regular conductor was not there but our accompanist did a very good job of directing us and playing at the same time so we had a useful session.

On my way home from my walk in the afternoon, I came across a gang of jackdaws finding something interesting to do in the middle of  Henry Street.  They wisely took off when a vehicle approached, allowing me to capture a double (low) flying bird of the day.

two flying jackdaws

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan found a very steep gorge to walk along, but Susan made sure that he didn’t go too near the edge.

Highland gorge

After yesterday’s excitements. I was very happy to a have gentle morning with nothing more exciting than a cup of coffee and a treacle scone with Dropscone to keep me entertained.  When he left (with some of our surplus runner beans), I went out and had a wander round the garden.

After last night’s rain, it was dry and quiet and the garden was full of birds.  Some were easier to spot than others…

blackbird and thrush

…and some were very easy to spot indeed.

six starlings

Crown Princess Margareta is ignoring cold mornings and rainy evenings and producing more late flowers all the time.

four roses

And generally, flowers are lasting well.

four garden flowers

It was rather cool and gloomy though so I went back in and settled down to being baffled by a tricky crossword and this helped me pass the time until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had spent the morning talking to the public about the proposed community land purchase and had had some very interesting and useful conversations.

After lunch, she went back to talk to people again and i mowed the greenhouse grass and pottered around the garden.

I am very happy to see the dahlias continuing to make up for their slow start.

two dahlias

The insects are pleased too.

pair of dahlias

The day brightened up and a couple of red admiral butterflies  arrived.

two red admiral; butterflies

I had thought that the Abyssinian gladioli had come to the end of their run but a single flower has popped up to say that they are not all dead yet.  It has been joined by a surprising lone Sweet William flower.

gladiolus, sweet william, verbena, sedum

The verbena attracted a bee but the sedum  had no friends.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we decided to go for a walk and drove a few miles up and out of the Esk Valley and down into the valley of the Tarras Water to take a walk along the river there.

There was plenty of water in the Tarras…

tarras at bridge

…and the track was muddy and full of puddles in places so we had to keep an eye on where we were walking.  We were able to pause and look around though.

We were struck but the look of this conifer plantation.  It is not at all usual to be able to see the trunks of the trees like this and we wondered what had caused the trees to grow so thinly.

spruce trunks

We followed the track into a wood and met a fine crop of horsetails.

equisetum detail

We followed a trail up the hill through the woods…

tarras wood track

…which had been used by people going to fill the feeders for the pheasants….

pheasant tarras wood

…which have been put out in the woods for people to shoot at.

Although the season has just begun, there was no shooting today so we were able to enjoy our walk in peace.

The sun came out as we walked and the wood looked delightful…

tarras wood sunlit

…whichever way we turned.

tarras wood into sun

It was notable that the birch trees here had almost all lost their leaves already.

There was occasional fungus to see…

four fungi tarras wood

…and the horsetails caught the low sun as we came back down the hill.

equisetum backlit

There were hints of autumn colour

tarras wood colour

…and it had turned into a beautiful evening for a walk.

tarras wood bank

We had our flu jabs yesterday before we went to Edinburgh and we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from them but we are both still a little below par so we enjoyed a quiet evening in watching supremely talented athletes running and jumping at the World Championships, perhaps wishing that we were still young enough to run about in a vigorous way too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow going downhill.

flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and scores high points as it has two of my favourite things in it, a canal and a bridge.  It is at Butterley.

Butterly Canal

It was a beautiful day with a hint of genuine warmth about it but still with enough bite in the light wind to keep you from shedding garments recklessly.

I had a walk round the garden and was very impressed by the force of this tulip.

flash tulip

The chief business of the morning was a trip to England to visit our friend Sue for lunch and an outing.

We got there safely and took a walk round her garden where there was a lot to see….

sue's garden

…and then we enjoyed an excellent lunch before setting off in the little white zingy thingy to see how it got on in narrow lanes with many steep ups and downs.

It went well and in no time at at all we found ourselves on the other side of the valley at Hadrian’s Wall and parked beside Banks East Turret, one of the mile castles that were built into the wall.  You can see the remains of the wall itself in the centre of the picture below….

hardian's wall

…and there is a fair bit left of the mile castle too…

milecastle 56

…though it would have been more impressive when it was originally built.

poster of milecastle 56

This is the view looking south from the wall.

view from milecastle 56

Sue then took us into the back country on the north side of the wall and we finally parked on open moorland next to a secretive RAF facility at Spadeadam.  Curiously, we could see an old aeroplane resting among the heather near to the car park.  It may be a used as a marker for virtual target practice.

plane at spadeadam

We sensibly went in the opposite direction towards the River Irthing and after a short plod across some flat and boggy ground, found ourselves on the edge of a deep gorge where the River Irthing flows over the Crammel Linn waterfall.

Crammel Linn waterfall

It looked so smooth and regular at first sight that I almost took it for a sluice but a closer look shows that it is flowing over an impressive 10m rocky ledge.

Crammel Linn waterfall close

Sue told us that it a popular bathing spot in summer and enterprising young people dive or jump off the central buttress into the pool below.  The gorge was too steep to allow me to clamber down to river level so we admired the falls from a distance and headed back to the car.

The gorge narrows downstream from the waterfall and it is hidden from sight by this impressive river of birch trees.

trees at Spadeadam

The little white car took us back down into the valley and then up the other side to Sue’s house with no difficulty.  Steep hills do not seem to pose the electric motor any problem and the simple controls make driving on narrow winding roads stress free.

After a cup of tea, we thanked Sue for taking us on such an interesting excursion and set off home.

We ended up having driven 80 miles but using less than half of the battery charge so it would seem that it would not be unreasonable in the summer months to expect to be able to drive 140 miles without having to worry about recharging.  Of course this is achieved by driving steadily and without hurrying, but that is my preferred mode anyway these days so it is no hardship.

Once we got home, I cut a little mount for Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest embroidery, using the mount cutter which I share with Sandy, then conferred with my sister Mary about a very obscure clue in the day’s prize crossword and finally went off to stretch my tendon by cycling a gentle five miles.

I got distracted by carpets of bluebells on the open hillside beside the road.

bessie bell's bluebells 4

This is quite an unusual sight as bluebells are woodland flowers and it doesn’t happen every year as vividly as this.

Unfortunately, the sun had slipped off down the valley by the time that I had climbed up the hillside…

View from bessie bells

…but I enjoyed the colour all the same.

bessie bell's bluebells 3

There were bluebells on every side and I can only think that sheep don’t like the taste otherwise there would be none left.

bessie bell's bluebells with sheep

These open hill bluebells were much shorter than the ones that I recently photographed among the trees.

bessie bell's bluebells 2

I hoped that the sun might come out again but when it stayed behind the clouds, I went back to my bike and pedalled off up the road…

bessie bell's bluebells 1

…closely supervised by the sheep.

sheep spectating

Although the day’s two short walks were a bit uncomfortable, the cycling was pain free and if the good weather continues, I might try a longer ride next week.

In all this excitement, I didn’t have time to look for a flying bird and the crouching bird of the day is a partridge.  It arrived very early in the morning and spent three hours perched on our outside windowsill.

partridge on window sill

You can’t see it in the picture but it has sustained some damage to the other side of its neck.  It might have been attacked by a cat or caught its head in netting, I suppose.  We wondered whether it would need help, but by the time we left to go to Sue, it had moved round the house to another windowsill in the sunshine, and by the time that we came home, it had disappeared.  We hope it is OK.

 

Read Full Post »