Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘blackbirds’

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.

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.

butterflies

One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.

peacock

I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.

harriers

Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.

sunflower

The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set

yew

The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.

blackbirds

Getting ready to pounce

blackbirds

Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….

clematis

…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.

clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.

robin

In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.

poppy

As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

Read Full Post »

I have had enough of the London Trip pictures so it is back to guest pictures of the day.    Dropscone was on holiday in Glasgow last week when he met this attractive bridge over the Clyde.

Glasgow Bridge

After the excitement of yesterday, we had a very calm domestic day today.  We did get out in the morning to visit both the Producers’ Market where we bought honey and our corner shop where we bought milk.  We were thus fully equipped for a pleasant day.

It rained heavily at one point but mostly it was dry and occasionally it was even sunny and almost like summer though still rather cool for the time of year.

Al and Matilda took a turn round the garden…

Al and Matilda

…finding plenty to keep them interested.

I mowed both lawns and the drying green and checked on the flowers.

Dahlias

Two rather diffident dahlias…

poppy

…and a very peppy poppy

Japanese anemone and clematis

Japanese anemone and clematis, both doing well

On spite of the bright colour of the Lilian Austin rose, I rarely see a bee near one.  They much prefer the rather plainer hostas.

Lilian Austin and hosta with bee

You can see the bee is putting its heart into the job

In the greenhouse, the petunia is still looking good….

Petunia

…which is lucky, as it is my job to keep it watered in the absence of the gardener.

I bought 3lbs of raspberries at the Producer’s Market as the blackbirds are eating ours because I haven’t netted them and I made six jars of raspberry jam with them.

I have kept the breadmaking machine very busy while Matilda has been here. I have made two loaves, 12 rolls and a pizza dough.  The breadmaker makes good bread but it makes excellent dough.

In the afternoon, we all went out into the garden in a sunny spell.  I took a formal picture of the visitors.

Al Matilda and Clare

As you can see, Matilda was dressed for every weather condition.

We had lots of fun but the highlight was several games of grandmother’s footsteps (in spite of the absence of the actual grandmother).

Al Matilda and Clare

Matilda in the garden

Matilda was very difficult to creep up on….

Matilda in the garden

…but I was easier to catch.

Photos courtesy of the Al and Clare Photo Agency.

There were a couple of white butterflies flitting about but they were reluctant to pose for me.

butterfly

As Al and I wandered around, Matilda practised putting her foot down.

Clare and Matilda

She is quite good at that already.

The pizza dough made a delicious base for a home made pizza for our tea and as there were strawberries and cream and cherries about too, we ate like kings.

There are a large number of blackbirds in the garden and I can’t make up my mind whether they are all from one family or not but almost every time I look out of the window, I can see at least one.

This is one of three I could see today.  The others were the flying birds of the day and flew out of the frame before I could shoot.

blackbird

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s ‘London Trip’ photograph is a peek into the Pullman coach which featured in yesterday’s post.

Pullman coach

Owing to a miscalculation there are far too many pictures in today’s post but having processed them all, I am too lazy to decide which ones to cut out so they are all here.

For the busy reader here is a synopsis of the day so that reading the rest of the post can be skipped.  Got up, mowed some grass, went for a pedal, went to bed.  Just another day.

For the long suffering and patient reader, here is the fuller version.

It was a dry and pleasantly warm day but the cloud cover never relented until late evening when we had a glimpse of sunshine.

As usual, the first business of the day was a poppy check.

opium poppies

Good

Shirley poppies

Very encouraging

poppies

Who needs sunshine!

Other quieter flowers are available.

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta. I like the pyramid of clematis in the top right frame

Then I had to run an errand for Mrs Tootlepedal and thin out some radishes before any further action could occur but I managed both of these tasks and mowed the drying green and the green house grass and hung out a load of washing.

I needed a bit of sustenance after all that so I had a lettuce and marmite sandwich and I am beginning to realise that too much of my life has been wasted in not eating lettuce and marmite sandwiches.  Of course it helps that Mrs Tootlepedal has provided an endless supply of fresh lettuces.

Coffee and a crossword merged into a healthy lunch of sardines, new potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce and by this time I had eaten so much that a bike ride was essential.

I checked on the birds in the garden first….

sparrows eating peas

This is what drives Mrs Tootlepedal to despair.

blackbird family

After a stand off, a blackbird parent and child meet in the middle for a snack

Then I set off for a gentle, flat ride.  Most unusually, there was hardly a breath of wind so with the sun behind the clouds, it was a prefect day for cycling if not for landscape views.

I was in no hurry and there were plenty of flowers to keep me happy.

orchids and willowherb

The last two orchids along the Wauchope road and a nicely decorated wall up Callister

I took the road to Gair.  This is always a treasure trove of wild flowers.  Today there was a lot of ragwort all along the road.  I stopped because I was hoping to see a cinnabar moth caterpillar which likes ragwort a lot but I had to settle for this…

ragwort

…less colourful visitor.  I checked quite a few ragwort out with no luck.

I stopped further along to see how many flowers I could see within a few yards of my bicycle.

Wild flowers

wild flowers

The raspberry was delicious.  I don’t know what the pink furry flower is but it turns into a doleful looking owl as it goes over.

The butterfly was very annoying. Why my camera wouldn’t focus on it was a mystery.  Still the flower that it was settled on was worth a shot in its own right.

wild flower

On the other side of the road, a bunch of thistles were looking good, some in full flower….

thistle

…and some, like the writer of this piece, gone to seed.

thistle

The most interesting flower than I saw on the Gair road was the great burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, which grows here every year.  When you first spot it, it looks like the dull head of a plantain but when you get closer it shows up as being a dark red colour and as is so often the case, a closer looks pays dividends.

Sanguisorba officinalis

I cycled on until I came to the Old A74, passing this hedge dripping with honeysuckle…..

honeysuckle

…on my way.

When I got to Gretna, I saw a most unusual sight.  As you can see from the photo, it was so still that the windmills were not going round at all.

Gretna Windmills

Not contributing to the grid today.

I was so excited at taking this rare picture that I stepped back and stood on the mirror on my bike and broke it.   I can’t turn my head round while cycling without falling off my bike and  I hadn’t realised just how much I depend upon the use of a mirror to cycle safely.

I pedalled bravely on though, passing pretty but less welcome flowers in the verge.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam, an invasive pest.

As I was coming towards the border near Englishtown, I heard a great chattering and saw that the starlings have begun to gather.

Starlings

I hope that we get a good murmuration this winter.

I saw a lot of this peeping out of hedges on my trip.

blue vetch

Cow or blue vetch

…but my camera is reluctant to let me get a close up of it so this group shot will have to do.

I couldn’t miss the daises on the Canonbie bypass.

daisies on the by pass

I met my neighbour Ken out on his bike near Canonbie and we cycled along together for a while.  When we came to a little hill, I had to let him go on as he is a much quicker cyclist than I am.  Uphill is my downfall as a cyclist.

When I got home, I walked round the garden and found that the early potato haulms were looking very sad and collapsed so I thought it best to dig the last six plants up.  They hadn’t fallen on stony ground!

early potatoes

I left them to dry for an hour (they were pretty dry when I dug them out) and then boxed them up.  My diet will have a lot  of potatoes in it over the next few weeks.

I picked and ate raw some of the peas which the sparrows hadn’t got at and then had a last walk round the garden.

There is no shortage of colour.

Crocosmia

A Crocosmia reaches the end of the line.

Fuchsia

A Fuchsia puts its dancing shoes on

Nasturtium

Shy Nasturtium

Phlox

Phlox contrast

The last flower of the day is a nicotiana…

nicotiana

…and it is right that is should be last as it only produces its delightful smell in the cool of the evening.

It was a delight to stand in the garden after my tea, with the scent of the nicotiana, the colour of the flowers all around and not a breath of wind.  I made the most of it as the forecast for the next few days is not very promising.

The non flying bird of the day, perhaps because it seems to have lost its tail a bit, is a very doleful sparrow indeed.

doleful sparrow

 

Read Full Post »

The second of the ‘trip to London’ pictures shows “Topaz”, one of the elegant Pullman coaches pulled by the steam engine which we saw at Carlisle station.  I like the little lamps with shades at every table.

Pullman coach

We had a rare outbreak of summer today with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze from the north in case it got too hot.

I started the day off by going up to check on the Camera Club exhibition and making arrangements for visitors to purchase prints if the mood comes upon them.  While I was there, the volunteer custodian and I got our pictures taken by the local paper which was publicising the event for us.

I then went home and promptly had to come back up to the town again as I had forgotten to buy a Common Riding tie to wear when our little choir songs at the concert on Wednesday.  It is a quirk of the Langholm Common Riding that it has different colours each year, taken from the colour of the silks worn by the jockey of the winner of the Derby.  This means that there is a different tie every year.

All this excitement and a bit of shopping thrown in, meant that I needed a sit down and a cup of coffee when I finally got home.  Then I needed a lettuce and marmite sandwich to provide fuel so it was not until after midday that I managed to get going on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a few garden pictures before I left.

sunny flowers

Once on the bike, I soon discovered that my legs were in go slow mode so I didn’t push them and I was happy to stop for pictures as I went along.

There was plenty to see in the verges….

umbellifer with red soldier beetles

Every umbellifer seemed to have at least one red soldier beetle on it.   I saw a stem hosting nineteen insects of various sorts on its flower heads later in my ride.

The road side verges are recovering after the mowing and I liked this display of hawkbits on the road up Callister.

hawkbits on Callister

Whether they are ‘lesser, ‘autumn, ‘rough’ or some other hawbits I cannot tell but they were good to look at as I puffed up the hill.  I have no idea what the little birds in the middle of the road further up the hill were doing.

I had to cross a couple of recently gravelled sections of road on my journey but there has been sufficient traffic to make them quite safe for cycling which was a relief.

I went as far west as Paddockhole and then turned north, uphill and into the wind to get to Eskdalemuir via Bailliehill and Castle O’er.  This took me past the new windfarm at Ewe Hill and I tried to get a picture that took in all the 22 turbines…..

Ewe Hill wind farm

…and failed.  The turbines are so stretched out and alternately low and high that my camera couldn’t cope at all.

There are now so many wind turbines in Scotland that on a day of good wind and low demand, they can provide just about all the energy that is needed for the whole country.  What is required now is serious work on developing storage for renewable energy and it does seem that people are paying attention to this.  I live in hope.

I pedalled on up the valley of the Water of Milk, crossing bridges when I came to them.

little bridge on Bailliehill road

When I arrived at Bailliehill, I had crossed the col between the water of Milk and the Esk Valley….

Esk valley at Bailliehill

One of my favourite views of the Esk

…and I was soon passing the spot where the Black Esk meets the White Esk….

Black Esk meets White Esk

…and I had to cross the Black Esk…..

Black Esk bridge

…to continue up the west bank of the White Esk to Eskdalemuir.

When I got there, the northernmost point of the trip, I crossed yet another bridge…

Eskdalemuir bridge

Electricity and phone wires are everywhere I go.

…to continue my journey back to Langholm down the east bank of the river.

After pedalling the last ten miles uphill and into the wind, I was hoping for a good push from the breeze to get me back to Langholm but it was fitful and flighty and often seemed to come from the side and even into my face a bit instead of wafting me home.

Still, it was a glorious day to be out in the country so I didn’t mind too much and just pedalled along in a very stately manner admiring the views.

There are prehistoric monuments along the way.  This is a stone circle, The Girdle Stanes, half of which has been swept away by the river.

Girdle Stanes

The fields really were those colours.  The whole outing was a visual treat.

I had to pause on the Crurie Brae to let my tin knee rest as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills.  While I paused,  I looked north.  I could see the road that I had come up on the other side of the valley.

Looking back from Crurie Brae

Soon afterwards, I got my reward for the climbing I had done…..

Shaw Rigg

…as I whistled down the long straight road of the Shaw Rig.

I was soon pedalling along the back road past Georgefield, through banks of wild flowers….

Georgefield road

…until I crossed the Esk again at Bentpath by the bridge below the church….

Bentpath bridge and church

…which I see has got the builders in.

Westerkirk Church

Although the road from Eskdalemuir is theoretically downhill as it follows the river, it never seems that way when I am cycling along it. It undulates a lot and I was grateful to get to the last climb of the day.  I stopped for a breather and a final view from my ride.

View of Esk valley at Potholm

I would have taken a picture of the good crop of raspberries at the top of the hill but I inadvertently ate them before I thought of getting the camera out.  Wild raspberries are delicious.

I did 34 miles which is not far but as you can see from the elevation profile below, it was an up and down sort of ride with long uphill and short downhill sections so not very restful.  It was the slowest ride I have done for ages but also one of the most enjoyable.

Garmin route 24 July 2107

Click on the map for more details of the ride if you wish

 

When I got home, I had another wander round the garden….

poppy and roses

…edged the lawn and picked some beetroot which I then cooked.  I made a loaf of bread (with water) and went upstairs to have shower.  The front lawn looked so good from the bathroom window that I went back downstairs and got a camera.  I often say to Mrs Tootlepedal that all the work that I do on the lawn through autumn, spring and early summer is to make it look good for at least one day later in the summer.

I think that this might have been that day.

the front lawn looking good

When I came down a little later, there were forty sparrows pecking the lawn to bits.  Ah well.

Still the evening sunshine lit up a poppy very nicely so that soothed my ire.

poppy in sunshine

And a very cheery clematis at the front door completely restored my good humour.

front door clematis

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we played through our trio and that rounded off a very good day indeed.

After tea, I picked the very last of the blackcurrants and I hope to find time to make a pot or two of jelly tomorrow.

The flying birds of the day can’t make up their minds and are sitting on the fence for the time being.

blackbirds

Oh all right, it’s a hedge and not a fence.  Perhaps they are hedging their bets.

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is a cabbage from our daughter Annie’s allotment.  Possibly the best cabbage ever, I think that you will agree.

cabbage

We had a forecast of persistent rain all day so I resolved to put the day to good use by doing things that needed to be done.

It was indeed raining when we got up.

I started off by grasping my umbrella and setting off to the town, taking some of the Archive Group postcards to the paper shop where they kindly sell them for our funds and following that up by a visit to the Archive Centre to collect some more weeks of the data miners’ work.  Then I went down to the Langholm Initiative office to put in a bill for sales of Langholm Archive stuff at Welcome to Langholm.  Here my busy morning was somewhat waylaid by meeting an old friend, Dr Barlow from the Moorland project, whom I hadn’t seen for some time and having a cup of tea and a chat with her.

This meant that the morning was quite well advanced by the time that I got home.  The rain, on the other hand, had retired and it was now a pleasant morning so I walked round the garden.

Both day lilies and lilies that last more than a day are  doing very well.

lilies

New hosta flowers and old lupins added a bit of delicacy.

lupin and hosta

The blackbirds were no more cheerful than they were yesterday.

blackbirds

I walked round to the back of the house and looked at the splendid set of flowers along the dam.

Damside flowers

potentillas and crocosmia

Potentillas and crocosmia

Somehow lunch time slipped past without much happening and I went out to help Mrs Tootlepedal who was attacking the yew with her new secateurs.

They yew is on one side of the pond and she thought that she might have disturbed a frog.  Sometime later I looked at a curious brown spot on the box ball on the other side of the pond.

box ball with frog

She definitely had disturbed a frog.

box ball with frog

I have heard about a bird in the bush but I have never seen a frog in a bush before.

I spent quite a lot of time during the day mounting and framing some photos for a friend in preparation for a camera club exhibition later this month and followed that by selecting and printing a few of my own pictures for the show.

This is a tedious business because trying to pick six or eight pictures out of several hundreds is very hard and when you have picked one, it never seems to print out just as you would like.

And then there was tennis to watch. To celebrate Andy Murray’s victory, Mrs Tootlepedal made some scones and we had them with strawberry jam and some cream, which appeared as if by magic.  Mike Tinker’s scone radar was working well and he arrived in time to have one too.

It is annoying when the forecast rain doesn’t appear after you have made plans for a rainy day but it was a pleasantly warm and still day in the garden so I picked another pound of blackcurrants and took a picture of a rain battered poppy….

poppy

…which still looked quite exciting.

In the evening, as it seemed that the rain had gone for good, I went for a walk round Gaskell’s.

There was loosestrife and a hint of a good blackberry crop to come at Pool Corner…

loosestrife and bramble

…and a beckoning hand to encourage me up the Manse Brae.

willowherb

The verges on the way to the Auld Stane Brig were alive with red campion…

red campion

…and the path through the woods was lined with this flower….

blue flower

…whose name I have forgotten.

I do know that this is St John’s Wort…

St John's Wort

…because kind readers told me so when I saw it on my last walk round Gaskell’s.

But I don’t know what this is…

yellow wildflower

…but I thought that it was well worth a closer look.

yellow wildflower

It looks a bit like birds foot trefoil but it was growing on the end of quite a long stalk.  It might be a yellow vetch of some sort, I suppose.

The willowherb is coming along nicely and the path should soon be ablaze with it.

willowherb

A foxglove did its best to stop me in my tracks.

foxglove

…but I sneaked past.

I was hoping to see some fresh fungi but had to settle for some fine old specimens.

fungi

Gin drinkers will be encouraged to see that it looks as though we should have a good crop of sloes this year.

sloe

When I got back, we had mince and tatties for our tea.  This was made extra good because the tatties were from the garden and they were accompanied by some tiny carrots and three small beetroot from the same source.

Rather unexpectedly, there was still tennis to watch after tea, as the last set of an exciting match between Muller and Nadal went on for over two hours.

We are promised a warm, still and dry day for tomorrow.  I hope that the good forecast for tomorrow is more accurate than the bad forecast for today was, as I intend to go bicycling.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows Justin half way up the Old Man of Coniston in the Lake District  yesterday.  He was accompanying my brother Andrew to the summit and had paused to admire the view.  My brother took the picture.

Old Man of Coniston

I am going to break with habit and start today’s post with a picture that I took last night after I had posted yesterday’s offering.  Clear nights have been  a rarity lately so this view of the moon just breaking free of a layer of thin cloud was very welcome.

Moon

I have not been sleeping as well as I would like recently so it took me some time to get up and have a late breakfast this morning and Mrs Tootlepedal had long departed to sing with the church choir before I managed to get the fairly speedy bike out and set off for a traditional Sunday morning 40 mile run down the flat roads to Newtown and back.

I was very pleased to see that although Genghis the Grasscutter…

Canonbie by pass

…had slaughtered most of the orchids along the Canonbie by-pass, a few….

orchids

…had escaped his vengeful blades.

There was a westerly wind blowing with quite a bit of bite in it so I had to pay attention to my bicycling and didn’t stop to take any pictures until I paused for a breather and a banana on the bridge at Longtown on my way home.

The River Esk at Longtown

The River Esk at Longtown

When Mrs Tootlepedal and I had driven to Carlisle yesterday, we had noticed that the knapweed on the banks of Aucherivock diversion were beginning to make a show so I stopped just before I got to Langholm today to show the knapweed in action.

knapweed

Auchenrivock diversion wild flowers

Thanks to the hedges on the Brampton road sheltering me from the worst of the crosswind and the kindly wind helping me up the hill on my way home, I managed to knock a few minutes off last Sunday’s time for the same journey and averaged just under 16 mph for the trip, a very good speed for me these days.

When I got home, I took a look round the garden.

blackbird

It seemed to be full of blackbirds.

The roses were as gorgeous as ever…

roses

…and they have been joined by a buddleia…

buddleia

…which I am hoping will attract hordes of butterflies into the garden.

The poppies come and go quickly…

poppy seed head

…but I think that this new pretty little Fuchsia will last a bit longer.

Fuchsia

I went in to have a cup of tea and watch some of a very exciting stage of the Tour de France.  It got a bit too exciting and the strain of watching it got too much for me so I went back out into the garden for another look round and to pick some more blackcurrants.  I am hoping to make blackcurrant jelly if I have the patience to pick enough of them.

Mrs Tootlepedal has a red flowering potentilla which has been a bit disappointing after some early promise but it has just started to flower again.

potentilla

I hope that it continues to make progress.

The nasturtiums need no encouragement.

nasturtiums

More roses caught my eye.

roses

Lilian Austin and the revived Ginger Syllabub

I went back inside just in time to watch a most horrendous crash in the tour as the leaders whizzed down a hill.   They were going down a narrow and twisty road at 70 kph.  On my own ride earlier on I had gone down a wide and straight road at 50 kph and I thought that that was quite scary enough.  These tour cyclists are  very brave men.

I append a quote from Cycling News that gives you an idea of just how hard these fellows are.

 

“X-rays confirmed a non-displaced right clavicle fracture and a non-displaced right acetabulum fracture. Richie also suffered extensive superficial abrasions involving the right side of his body. At this stage, the injuries will not require surgery. The plan is to re-evaluate Richie tomorrow morning and confirm that he is stable enough to be transferred home.”

While the crash was dramatic and the injuries fairly serious, the team remains hopeful that Porte can be back in action before the season is over. If all things go to plan, then they say that he could be racing again by August.

The other person involved in the crash, got back on his bike and finished the race.  When he was asked if he was hurting at all, he replied that he couldn’t tell yet.

I take my hat off to them.

After the stage was over, I went back out to pick a few more blackcurrants and have a last look round the garden.

new white flowers

Two new white flowers

clematis

A clematis with a big smile

astrantia

A fly turning its back on the beautiful centre of an astrantia

bee on ligularia

A bee among the twists and turns of the ligularia

I didn’t have long to look around as it was soon time to get showered and changed, ready to go out for a meal with the ‘old man’ of the Coniston climb, my brother Andrew.  He is on a touring holiday with his wife’s nephew Justin who comes from New Zealand and he kindly took the three of us out to the Douglas Hotel for an excellent meal.    We enjoyed good food and stimulating conversation.  It was interesting to get a New Zealand perspective on our present political situation in the UK.

The non flying bird of the day is one of our resident blackbirds, taking a dim view of life this afternoon.

blackbird

Note: I wish that I had had my flying bird camera to hand during the afternoon when I saw a sparrowhawk arrive in the garden, do a handbrake turn and disappear into the middle of our neighbour’s holly tree.  A very large number of starlings made a hasty exit from the tree in short order.  It was an unusual sight as mostly the sparrowhawks swoop down and pluck their prey  off a feeder, a branch or the ground.  I have never seen one fly into the middle of a thickly leaved tree before.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »