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Posts Tagged ‘blackbirds’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew in Derby.  They had a spot of snow there.

Derby snow

We had a spot of snow too but not nearly so much as they did and this was the scene that welcomed us when we got up this morning.

snowy lawn

The chaffinches watched the continuing arrival of more snow rather morosely.

chaffinches and snowflake

And the daffodils and crocuses looked a bit oppressed.

daffs in snow

We went off to church where there was a rather diminished choir and came back in a mini blizzard but luckily the snow didn’t stick…

snowy lawn

…and the road surfaces must have been quite warm because in spite of the thermometer staying at a miserable 1 degree above freezing, the snow on the roads melted and we felt that it would be completely safe to drive to Carlisle after lunch for our other choir.

Over lunch, I kept and eye on the bird feeders.  The feeder  traffic was totally chaffinch.

Sometimes they all watched what was going on with interest…

chaffinches

…and sometimes, eating was  more attractive than watching squabbling…

chaffinches

…and sometimes there was so much going on that a bird simply couldn’t watch it all.

flying  chaffinch

In the snow below, a steady stream of visitors provided interest.

robin

Two old friends, a robin and a dunnock…

dunnock

…and two less frequent visitors, a wood pigeon…

pigeon

…and a collared dove.

collared dove

A blackbird kept everyone in order,  a teacher perhaps in a former life.

blackbird

The roads stayed clear and the trip to Carlisle was completed satisfactorily.  We had a substitute conductor today as Andrew had another choir’s concert to worry about.  Alison has taken us before and she is very good but as she thinks that we are bit better at picking things up quickly than we actually are it was a challenging session for someone who had not sung one of the pieces before and the other only once some years ago.

But it was all good fun.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an evening meal in the slow cooker so we had a warm welcome home.

We have one more cold day in store and then things should warm up again.  Considering that in the south and west of the country roads were closed because of the snow, we seem to have got off lightly again.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It had to be as there were no others.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  From Manitoba but not in Manitoba as she has taken a break from endless winter to catch a ray or two in Antigua.  It looks like a good decision as more snow has arrived at home.

Mary Jo's holiday

We had a generally sunny, almost totally dry day here which was very welcome.  A nippy wind kept us from discarding many layers of outdoor clothing though.

I started the day by going to a warehouse on the banks of the Wauchope to collect some bags of potting compost for Mrs Tootlepedal and I admired one of the many little Wauchope cascades as I waited for  the compost treasure house to be opened.

Wauchope cascade

When  I got back to the garden, a song thrush was living up to its name by giving a recital from a branch of the walnut tree.

thrush

Down below a blackbird was engaged in a worm hunt.

blackbird

And in the pond, frogs were being shiny.

frog

Dropscone dropped in (with scones) for a cup of coffee and I got an update on a Scottish Golf meeting which he had attended where revolting members had gone against the wishes of the executive.  That is par for the course these days.

While we sipped and chatted, a robin flew in.

robin

After Dropscone left (to go and play golf), I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden only to be greeted by some rain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long and after this shock, the day behaved itself admirably.

All our neighbours were out in their gardens too and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to pass a surplus rhubarb plant across a fence to Irving and Libby who are establishing their new garden.

I wandered around counting bees….

bees on crocus

…and finding that there were a lot to count.  I was trying to catch them while they were still flying with variable success…

bees on crocus

…this one seems to be flying with one wing and resting with the other.

Still, it was very encouraging to see so many bees among the crocuses.

The frogs were providing a musical background for the bee hunt and I went to visit them too.

Some were getting together….

frogs

…and some were just thinking about it.

frog

After lunch, I put on some cycling clothes, went outside and tested the wind and then went back in and put another layer on. Then I got the slow bike out and went off for a gentle pedal with pictures in mind.

I didn’t go along the Wauchope road as I usually do but went up the Esk valley towards Bentpath.  This route is very up and down and luckily gives me plenty of excuses to stop for a photo as I go along.

It was a glorious day for being out and about but in spite of the sunshine, there were still traces of snow about….

breckonwrae

Just before I reached the village of Bentpath, I passed a hare which had been run over by a car and got a bit of a shock when there was a tremendous flapping of wings and crying and mewing as two buzzards rose up and flew above my head.  Usually buzzards just fly off quietly when anyone approaches but the reason for their agitation became clear when I saw this:

buzzard on road

I take it that is a young buzzard and the cause of its parent’s excitement.  I passed it by and went on for a good few yards before looking back, expecting to see the parents swoop down and go off with the youngster but nothing happened.

There was no sign of the other two birds and the buzzard on the road stayed stock still even when a car could be heard approaching.  I waved the car down and it slowed and passed within a few feet of the bird which didn’t move an inch.

I was considering my options when another car approached.  Once again, I waved it down and its driver summed up the situation very well.  He drove up to the buzzard, stopped and sounded his car horn gently.  At this, the buzzard flew off and normal service was resumed.

I pedalled on but not before admiring a tree, wall and gate composition on the other side of the road.

Benty gate

I crossed the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath…

Benty bridge

…but couldn’t get a good view of the bridge because of the scrub beside the river.  I couldn’t get a very good view of the church beside the bridge either because the powers that be have thought it best to put as many posts, wires and road signs in front of it as possible.

Westerkirk Church with poles

It would be nice if they could all be made to disappear but the camera never lies…

Westerkirk Church without poles

…or does it?

I pedalled on and just as I was wondering if they still kept alpacas at Georgefield, I got the answer in the middle of the road.

alpaca on road

As I didn’t want to chase it along the road, I was worried about not being able to get past the animal but the alpaca took the matter into its own hands and trotted past me into its own farmyard.

Having been delayed by a bird and and an animal, I was expecting to be waylaid by a fish later in the journey but they kept themselves to themselves and I managed to get home with no more alarums and excursions.

I recrossed the Esk by the Enzieholm bridge and headed back down the valley.  I got a better view of the Benty bridge…

Benty bridge

…and spotted a pair of oyster catchers beside the river nearby.

oyster catchers Benty
I have cycled over the bridge across the Boyken Burn at Old Hopsrig many times but never stopped to take its picture before.

Boyken Burn bridge

As usual, I had a look at the bridge parapet to see if there was any interesting lichen or moss there and was very surprised to find a tiny but perfectly formed tree growing in a gap between stones.

Boyken Burn bridge tree

The route I was taking has been used for many hundreds of years and I could see the site of a hill top iron age fort at Craig.

Iron age fort

When I got home, needless to say I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  She had planted out her primroses but hadn’t been able to put them all where she had planned because, rather unexpectedly, some winter aconites had poked their heads above the soil.

winter aconite and primrose

Still, that is welcome problem to have and she found a home for the primroses elsewhere.

By this time, even on a fine day, the light was beginning to fade and the temperature drop so we went in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We are expecting a light frost tonight but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is light enough to do no harm.  It is the price to pay for a bit of fine weather at this time of year.  (A quick look at our local weather station tells me that it is zero degrees C  as I write this.)

In spite of the fine weather, I didn’t manage to get a picture of a flying bird today so I have had to make do with this big bird scraping the roof tiles of our neighbour.

low flying plane

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is the second portrait of Tony’s dogs by Tash.  It looks as though the dogs had had a New Year’s splash even if Tony hadn’t.

Tony's dog

We were promised better weather today and we got it but it took some time to arrive as we were covered in mist for most of the morning.

I had an early start as I had to take our car to the garage.  It had been sending us intermittent signals of distress through the dashboard display recently.  Intermittent distress signals can be very annoying as they always disappear as soon as you take a car to the garage and that is what happened on this occasion.  The garage’s diagnostic machine though is very smart and can tell what a car was thinking yesterday as well as today so the garage was confident that they could get to the bottom of the trouble.

I walked home and had breakfast and then there was a pause in the day as I waited for the mist to go.  It was too thick for safe cycling and at 2°C, it was a bit chilly anyway.

This gave me a chance to do a tricky crossword and occasionally look out of the window.

The robin was upset by being substituted by a chaffinch in a recent post so it made sure I got its best side today.

robin

The other birds weren’t posing.  They were too busy trying to get at the seed.

busy feeder

Although the picture is not of good quality, I liked this shot of a siskin sizing up its chances of knocking a goldfinch off a perch.

siskin

The mist thinned enough after coffee for me to put my cycling gear on and get the fairly speedy bike out.  Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and after putting away some bread and marmalade and a banana as fuel, I went off up the road, hoping that the mist would clear.

It took its time and while I was going along the valley bottom, things looked a bit gloomy…

Mist over the wauchope

…but as soon as I turned up into the hills, things brightened up and I got above the mist.

Misty windmills

Soon, I could look back and see the mist lying along the Wauchope valley that I had just cycled through.  It looked denser from above than it did when i was in it.

Mist in wauchope valley

Once I got over the hill and looked down into the Esk valley, more mist was to be seen.

Mist in Esk valley

And the windmills at Gretna were up to their knees in it.

Misty windmills gretna

Looking across from Tarcoon, Whita Hill was an island in a sea of mist…

Misty Whita from tarcoon

…and looking ahead to where I was going, a solid bank of mist lying along the Esk made it look as though there might be dangerous conditions for cyclists when I got down to the river.

Mist from tarcoon

But once again, the mist wasn’t as bad when I was in it as it looked from above and although my favourite trees at Grainstonehead  had a misty background….

Misty trees grainstonehead

…by the time that I had gone a couple of miles further, the mist had gone and the river was bathed in sunshine.

Esk at Byreburnfoot

As was the tower at the Hollows…..

Hollows Tower

…and the Ewes valley when I had cycled through the town and out of the other side.

Ewes valley

Having cycled a bit along all our three rivers, I felt that it was time to give my ice cold feet a break and head for home and a bit of warmth.  It was still only a meagre 3°C in spite of the sunshine.

When I got back, I had a look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new path….

garden path

…and went in for a late lunch, pretty happy with 26 miles on such a chilly day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had got some useful gardening in while I was out.

I kept an eye on the birds while I had my lunch.

I could see seven blackbirds round the feeder at one time but couldn’t get them all in one shot so I took some individuals.

blackbird

One popped up onto a hedge to make things easier for me.

blackbird

The goldfinches had given up fighting and were concentrating on eating.

goldfinch eating

goldfinch

While Mrs Tootlepedal went and fetched the car from the garage (it got a clean bill of health), I had time for a shower and some singing practice and then Mike and Alison came round for their regular Friday visit.  They usually come in the evening but once again, we had something to do in the evening so an afternoon visit with music, conversation, tea and shortbread was arranged instead.  All four were very enjoyable.

Making music in the home is always a pleasure but in the evening, we went to the Buccleuch Centre and got real musical joy in spades.

It was the annual visit to the Buccleuch Centre of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for their New Year Viennese Gala.   We are incredibly lucky to get this treat on our doorstep as the Buccleuch Centre concert is their only appearance in the whole of the  south of Scotland, the other three appearances on this tour being in Dunfermline, Inverness and Stirling.

They don’t stint either, bringing a 60 piece orchestra to play a programme designed to bring joy to the hearts of a full house.

The orchestra’s players are not particularly fond of playing in the Buccleuch Centre because they find the acoustic dry and don’t get the feedback that they would wish but I love listening to an orchestra here because of the superb clarity of the music.  Sometimes a big orchestra just makes a big noise but you can hear every instrument in its place here and the excitement of having a 60 piece orchestra playing only a few yards away from you is immense.

As an ex schoolboy viola player myself, I took a particular interest in the viola players in the Roses from the South, a piece we played with our school orchestra.  It seems a bit extravagant in a way to bring a bunch of talented players down and then just make them go “rest, bom, bom” on the same note for bars on end.  But that’s orchestral music for you and it was wonderful to listen them all.

The flying bird of the day is a crowd.

busy feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is an owl spotted by Dropscone on his recent visit to Kent.  It was keeping an eye on things near a graveyard.

owl

We had another cold, grey and wet morning today with added icy patches so I was very happy to find things to do in the house.  The  ground is still rock solid and the rain was producing fine puddles on the lawn.

lawn puddle

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and our neighbour Liz dropped in to recover with another cup of coffee from the shock of finding her drains blocked with water all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily, a plumber soon arrived and unblocked the pipe.

What with the visitors and the crossword (done to an accompaniment of Miff Mole and his Molers), the morning passed more pleasantly than it deserved.

It was soggy outside…..

goldfinch and siskin

…and the light was absolutely rotten so flying birds were out of the question.  The blackbirds were very much in evidence again…

blackbirds

…with the apples continuing to attract customers. I rarely looked out of the window and saw less than four blackbirds round the feeder and often as many as seven or eight.

Other birds dropped in too.

pigeon and dove

Finally, the weather took a turn for the better and the rain stopped.

chaffinch and goldfinch

I had to wait for the bread machine to deliver the dough for a batch of rolls before I could get out for a walk though and by that time, the light had begun to fade.

There was a hint of blue sky….

blue sky

…but the low and misty cloud that you can see in the picture above, persisted and it made sure that no sun came out to warm me on my way.

A glimpse of Mr Grumpy cheered me up…

heron

…and I enjoyed the duck in the foreground pretending to swim but sensibly keeping himself just out of the water by standing on a rock.

mallard

A goosander was quite happy to swim away as I came past.

goosander

It was still pretty chilly out but all traces of frost and snow had gone…

Meeting of the Waters

…and the morning’s ice had gone too, leaving me with a remarkably pleasant walk for a dull, cold day.

I passed the disused church on the Lodge Walks, reflecting that in its early life as a church for visitor’s to the Duke’s summer lodge, the ministers must have been chosen for their ability to play cricket as the first two appeared regularly on the pitch for Langholm Cricket Club matches.

Tin church

A flock of sheep found me interesting as I walked past them…

sheep and tree

The ram had his harness on.  It carries a block of paint which marks the ewes so that the shepherd knows which ones have had the benefit of his attention.

sheep and ram

As they were all facing me, I couldn’t tell if he had been doing his duty.

I was interested to see several protective cages with canes marked in red in them.

P1060033

These are an indication that replacements for the felled trees along the Lodge walks will soon be in place.

As always, there was lichen to look at.

lichen

And fungus too.

P1060035

Both of those were on the felled trees that are going to be replaced.

The light was fading fast so I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

P1060037

…and made my way home.

I met Mrs Tootlepedal, out on an errand, just as I reached Mike and Alison’s house and we dropped in to see if they would like to come round for scones and music tomorrow afternoon as we are busy in the evening.

This was agreed and while we there, we were entertained with nice cup of tea and several topless tarts.  (These were mince pies, which owing to a miscalculation of the available pastry, had been made without lids.  They were still delicious.)

As we left, I took a picture of this beautiful orchid on their kitchen windowsill.

P1060041

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we had a most enjoyable time.   The icing on the cake was seeing a shooting star flashing across the sky as we drove home.  A little research told me that this was one of the Geminids.

When I got back into the house, I went upstairs for a look out of the window. The sky was brilliantly clear thanks to the lack of any moon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I could see the Milky Way behind the usual constellations with the naked eye, a very rare thing for us.  Although we waited for a while, we didn’t see a shooting star.  The internet tells me that 2am will be the best time. That may be a bit late for me.

Owing to the poor light, no flying bird of the day today and owing to laziness, no inferior substitute either.

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Today’s guest picture, from my neighbour Liz’s recent holiday, was chosen as an antidote to our current miserable weather.

Liz's holiday

If yesterday was grey, today was greyer.

And wetter.

A lot wetter.

lawn puddle

As it was my birthday, I took this as a personal insult but I was greatly cheered up by the gift of a delightful plastic spoon from Mrs Tootlepedal, ideal for stirring porridge in the pan and which was, believe it or not, exactly what I wanted.

Further delight was added to an otherwise dreary day by the arrival of Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  As Dropscone had driven down from Glasgow before making scones to bring with him, this was especially welcomed.

We formed a celebration scone tower to mark the great day.

scone with candle

I feel that even the Queen would be quite pleased to have that on her birthday coffee table (though her scones might not be of such good quality).

After Sandy and Dropscone departed, I took a little time to peer through the rain at the bird feeder.

A lot of editing was needed to get the birds to appear out of the gloom.

chaffinch and blue tit

Somehow the robins always manage to look very neatly turned out whatever the weather.

blackbird and robin

And the weather was very ‘whatever’ today as this great tit found.

Great tit

This didn’t help the finches temper at all.

goldfinch and greenfinch and siskin

Goldfinches are non discriminatory shouters.  They will abuse any bird.

goldfinch and greenfinch and siskin

I made some potato soup for lunch as Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sewing a costume for our community pantomime and then after we had eaten some of it for lunch, I put on my waterproof trousers, picked up a brolly and went for a walk.

In the rain.

Quite a lot of the rain had got  into the river…

Esk in mild flood

….and the turtle was struggling to keep its head above water.

turtle

The river must have been washing some good stuff down because a couple of ducks were busy feeding.

ducks

The Sawmill Brig was a fine sight, paddling up to its knees in the water.

Sawmill Brig

But all in all, it wasn’t much of a day for taking pictures so I didn’t take many.  There are only so many ways of showing a bit if rain.

the new path

rain drops

I caught up with my correspondence when I got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me a splendid dish of scrambled eggs on toast with added tomatoes for my birthday tea.

In the evening, I went off to Langholm Sings, our local choir, and found the organisers standing around with very long faces when I arrived.  It turned out that with very few practices left before our concert, our conductor and accompanist had been unable to get to Langholm because of flooded roads.  The organisers feared that the practice would have to be cancelled as a result.

All was not lost though, as someone suggested that I might be able to help them run through a couple of things.  As I love conducting choirs and never get the chance to do it, I leapt at the opportunity and with the aid of one of my very unreliable fingers on the keyboard, we had a full practice and did some useful work.  The singers were very sympathetic to the lack of a pianist and put in their best efforts.

I don’t know what the choir thought but I had a lovely time.

It was still raining as we walked home but oddly enough, the river had gone down a bit.  There are reports of flooding to the south of us with four inches of rain in South Cumbria.

Once again I was really struggling to get a flying bird and I couldn’t manage one by itself today.

flying chaffinch

Note:  I naturally assume that all the gentle and well disposed readers of this blog wish me a happy birthday so it can easily go without saying and this will free me from the task of trying to provide a different response to the same message many times.  Those readers who don’t wish me a happy birthday can kindly keep their thoughts to themselves.

 

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My Somerset correspondent Venetia, who has recently been in Spain, has answered my plea for a guest picture with this fine study of a Spanish bull.  Like our pheasants, this one has been bred for sport and may well end up in a bullring.

bull

We had a day than never got warm, staying at under 4°C all morning and not doing much more in the afternoon.   It has got a bit warmer by the time that I write this but to make up for it, it is raining.

Still, a dry day is a dry day so we were not complaining, though I had to scrape the frost off the car before I could take Mrs Tootlepedal down to Carlisle to catch the train south to visit her mother.

Before we left, we had an early call from a sparrowhawk.  It failed to pick up a meal and sat sulking in the walnut tree for a while before flying off.

sparrowhawk

As we got ready to leave, we had a small panic when it turned out that Mrs Tootlepedal had inadvertently ordered a train ticket that would register on her smart phone.  As her phone is old and very dull, this was a problem.  However, it was a problem that was easily solved by a quick phone call to the railway ticket company who were able to change it by magic into a ticket that could be picked up from a machine in the station.

We were equally surprised and delighted to find a company with a real person at the end of the phone and systems that were not too set in bureaucratic concrete to be changed.

After I had left Mrs Tootlepedal at the station, I improved the shining hour by rushing round Carlisle like a busy bee, filling my shopping bag with absolute necessities of life such as cheese, coffee, dates, prunes and tea.

Once home, I stared out of the window through a rather dim light.

robins

There were robins everywhere

greenfinch and chaffinch

Greenfinches and chaffinches were the flavour of the day on the feeder.  No goldfinches appeared.

chaffinch

A chaffinch demonstrating keeping its head very still while in flight

sparrow and greenfinch

A sparrow and a greenfinch had a scowling competition.

sparrow

The sparrow won and did some posing.

blackbird

Matched by a blackbird

blackbird

This one chose the cuddly option.

There was just the merest suggestion of a little sleety snow at lunchtime but it came to nothing so I weighed up the charms of cycling or walking.  A check on the thermometer suggested walking and I went out, well wrapped up against the chill.

I walked out along one side of the Wauchope Water and after crossing the Auld Stane Brig….

auld stane brig

…I walked up the hill a bit and came back along the other side.

On the outward trip, I enjoyed the larches….

larches

…and a beech hanging on to its leaves….

beeches

…but was sad to see a whole crop of crab apples lying wasted on the ground.

crab apples

It was a day for big skies with subtle but interesting cloud formations.

big sky

Once I had crossed the bridge, there were more big skies in an opposite direction…

Wauchope valley clouds

…plenty of bare trees…

trees

…and, rather annoyingly, signs of blue skies and sun on the hills but not where I was.

view

I had to content myself with fungus and lichen.

fungus

Aged bracket fungus the size of serving plates

script lichen

Two sets of script lichen on trees near the Esk

Although it was only just after three when I got home, it was pretty gloomy so I went straight in.  It was not as gloomy as Mike Tinker though who dropped in while passing to say, quite correctly, that his cold was far worse than mine and that he had gone to the doctor and got medicine!

After seeing him and learning from Clare, one of my regular correspondents, that she has had her cold for four weeks now, I suppose that I shouldn’t complain so much about my minor ailment….but I will of course.

Actually, I felt quite a bit better this morning so I am hoping that light is finally visible at the end of the tunnel.  To mix my metaphors, I am not out of the wood yet though so I am trying not to get my hopes up too much.

I made good use of a gloomy afternoon by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then the gloom was lifted by the arrival of my flute pupil Luke with whom I had an enjoyable half hour of playing.

I didn’t get a very good flying bird of the day today….

flying chaffinch

….so here is final flower of the year.

sedum

An (almost) indestructible sedum.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who is in Venice working.  She caught La Serenissima in a less than serene mood.

Venice storm

A bright start to the day here soon faded to grey but at least it didn’t rain.  It was decidedly chilly for the time of year and I was pleased to have a visit to the dentist after breakfast to keep me off my bike.

When I got back, I watched blackbirds for a bit.  A small group were eating our plums but were not grateful enough to pose properly while actually pecking the plums.

blackbirds on plums

In a neighbouring back yard, another set were devouring rowan berries but I got my camera settings wrong and messed up a couple of ‘beak and berry’ chances.

blackbirds

There are plenty of berries left….

blackbirds

…so I hope to get another chance.

I looked at two good clumps of flowers at the back of the garden before I went back in.

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia

Japanese anemones

After coffee and a slice or two of bread and marmalade, the lack of rain made even a chilly day too good to resist and I got my fairly speedy bike and set off.  It was cold and grey, I was cycling into the breeze and the distant hills were so shrouded in mist that it looked as though I was heading into a rain shower.

My spirit was very weak and I nearly turned for home.

Luckily my spirit may have been weak but my legs were surprisingly strong and drove me on regardless.  In the end, I had a dry and enjoyable 43 mile ride, though it was so grey that I didn’t stop for any pictures of wild flowers or views.

I did stop at Gretna Green for a snack though and noticed a mound next to the car park which I hadn’t seen before.  It had been spiralised…

Gretna Green mound

…so I followed the spiral until I attained the summit and looked at the view.

Gretna Green view

Not very inspiring.

On the other side, inventive entrepreneurs had constructed a courtship maze…

Gretna Green maze

…though why they think that anyone should want to come to a car park in a rather dull and  flat corner of Scotland to do their courting is a mystery to me.  They probably know best though.

Of more interest to me was a small flock of birds on wires nearby.

birds at Gretna Green

Normally if I see birds like this, I assume that they are starlings but on this occasion there are clearly two different sizes of perchers perching.  I have decided that the larger ones are starlings and the smaller ones, sparrows.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I had a wander round there too.  She has been using a bit of compost to improve the soil here and there so I sieved a couple of buckets to top up the supply.

I checked out the new clematis…

white clematis

…and a late burst of flowers from Lilian Austin.

Lilian Austin

There are three in the picture although you can hardly see the two behind.

We have had an excellent crop of plums….

plum

Almost the last of the crop

…and for once we got exactly the right amount.  Usually with plums it is glut or starvation but this year we got a steady supply of sweet ripe plums to eat every day for a couple of weeks, with just enough surplus for a plum crumble last week and today’s special, an oat, ginger and plum bake.  It was delicious.

Cosmos, dahlia and poppies are doing their best to cheer us up….

poppy, dahlia , cosmos

The dahlia is sensational

…and I even saw the very last lupin and some late astrantia too.

lupin and astrantia

I dead headed the poppies and cornflowers and anything else that I could get my snippers on  and took a final look round before going in for a cup of tea and a slice or three of the oat and plum bake.

There are still more flowers to come.

sedum

The sedum is waiting for a bit of sunshine.

Salvia

A salvia looking promising

It was time for a shower after the cup of tea and cake and then, as things still looked rather gloomy outside, we sat and looked at the telly in amazed horror at the amount of rain that has fallen on Texas.   It made our month of August, the coldest for thirty years, look positively benign.

We are getting quite excited here as we are promised some sun tomorrow.

 

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