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Posts Tagged ‘bluebells’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…

bees

…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.

Up…

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…down….

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…

hawthorn

…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…

blackbirds

…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…

tulip

…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…

horsetails

…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.

horsetail

We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.

Alliums

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…

sparrows

One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…

Garden

…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture shows the railway station from which my brother began his walk up Snowdon earlier this month.  The mountain is in the background.

Rhyd Ddu

We had a traditional Sunday today.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and I prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

She came back from singing in the church, we had an early lunch and then we went off for an extra long ‘singing day’ (1pm to 6pm) with our Carlisle choir.

We came back from the singing and got ready to eat the stew only to find that although I had put the stew in the slow cooker and switched the slow cooker on, I had not actually managed to switch on the socket in the wall so slow cooking had turned to no cooking.

Traditional methods were applied and we ate the stew an hour and a half later than planned.

Not my finest moment and ironically, Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked as we drove back from Carlisle that it was really good to know that we would be coming back to a ready prepared hot meal.  Ah well.

This was not the only disappointment of the day.

It was raining when we got up but by the time that I had prepared the stew, the sun was shining so I went for a walk, hoping to see a wonderful display of bluebells in the woods beside the river.

The park looked very springlike….

Buccleuch park

…and the wild garlic beside the path along the river bank was in fine form, both collectively…

wild garlic

…and individually….

wild garlic

…but the bluebells were a bit underwhelming.  They were there…

bluebells

…and very pretty but in no way forming the complete carpet of the woodland floor which I had hoped for.  The growth looks thin for some reason.  Perhaps the trees came into leaf too soon and stopped the light getting through.  Leaves seem to be coming rather early this year and oak trees and our garden walnut are already out.

I had a last look at the bluebells….

bluebells

…and went back home to have a look round the garden.

There was some good blue there in the shape of the lithodora which is flourishing.

lithodora

And a cornflower too.

cornflower

Mrs Tootlepedal has two cultivated geums.  This is the louder of the two.

geum

It is in competition with one of the azaleas for the loudest orange plant in the garden.

azalea

I was very happy to see quite a few infant plums on the plum tree.

plum

Mrs Tootlepedal picked the first crop of the year from the vegetable garden.

radishes

…and found the first salad leaves of the season to go with the radishes for lunch.

I look forward to having lettuce and marmite sandwiches on the menu soon.

It was such a lovely day that there was still plenty of light when we got back from the choir and I had another look round.

The Japanese azalea is showing its first flowers….

Japanese azalea

…as is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.

fuchsia

Late tulips are still doing well, including some that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick…

tulips

…and some slightly curly yellow ones which were the last to flower.

We have one or two Solomon’s Seals about and they have done well this year…

solomons seal

…and I am keeping a close eye on them (and the gooseberries) for any sign of sawfly.

I had time, while the stew was cooking, to mow the middle and front lawns and the drying green so the slow cooker failure did have an upside.

In the continued absence of any birds, he flower of the day is the clematis at the back door.

solomons seal

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to the Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park last week.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17 004

Our welcome spell of dry and often sunny weather continued today, although once again it came with enough added wind to make my morning pedal down to Canonbie and back quite hard work on the return part of the journey.

I had a quick look round the garden before I set off and was pleased to find another bee hard at work on the apple blossom.

bee on apple blossom

Nearby, the strawberries are just beginning to flower….

strawberry flower

…and I saw a strangely static wasp which looked as though it was glued to a rhubarb stalk.

wasp on rhubarb

I was a bit pushed for time on my cycle ride so I only stopped twice for photographs, once to look at the river near Byreburnfoot….

River Esk

A lot of leaves, not much water.

…and once to look at the bluebells in the wood at Skipperscleuch.  They looked potential from the roadside….

bluebells

…so I left my bike and walked up into the woods.  I was a bit disappointed because although there were bluebells…..

bluebells

…there wasn’t the complete carpet that I was hoping for.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that I am looking a bit too early and they will come out fully soon.  I hope that she is right.

I got back from the ride and as usual, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden.  She was in the greenhouse, preparing things to plant our later….

plants

…although, as you can see on the left of the panel, some things are already out in the vegetable beds under cloches.

She is enjoying the dry soil which is much easier to prepare than the more usual heavy, soggy stuff we get in spring.

I had another quick walk round the flowers and saw the first blossom on the clematis by the back door and a potential allium giving notice of a fruitful flower future…

strawberry, hyacinth and allium

…while the grape hyacinths are beginning to wave goodbye.

The apple bee was really getting down to business and filling its pollen sacs.

bee with pollen

Although Mrs Tootlepedal and I have dead headed a host of golden daffodils, there are still quite a few standing.

daffodil

The cool weather has helped them last for a long time this year.

The geums under the feeders are looking superb.

geums

After I came in from the garden, I had time for a shower and a light lunch and then we got into the car and drove to Dumfries where we visited the Infirmary and I had a small and painless operation to remove a skin tag from my eyelid and then Mrs Tootlepedal drove me home again.

Always keen to combine business and pleasure, she worked in a visit to the council civic amenity waste site (The Dump) on our way and dumped some of the wood from our old compost bin and several buckets of unwanted stones from the garden.

We arrived home in a cheerful mood.

My lawn co-workers were busy excavating the moss from the middle lawn.

jackdaws

They are jackdaws.

jackdaws

While I was out thanking the jackdaws for their tireless toiling, I took a look into the mystery of the dark heart of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Alnwick tulips.

tulip

I was just about to cook my tea when Sandy rang up and suggested that I should go out into the garden and look up.  I did.

This is what I saw.

strange cloud

The oddest cloud that I have ever seen was rising from behind the trees…..

strange cloud

…and stretching half way across the sky.  It was so long and thin that I couldn’t get it all in one shot.

Even Sandy, who was a bit further away, couldn’t quite get it all in.  He sent me this shot.

strange cloud

The cloud ended rather like a feather just to the right of Sandy’s shot.

The conditions that could cause a cloud like this are a complete mystery to me.  I thought that perhaps it might be a con trail from a long departed aeroplane which had condensed as the temperature dropped in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal, and others who saw it, were of the opinion that it definitely was just a cloud, although a very strange one indeed.

Apart from it, there was not another cloud in the sky.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to look at birds and this goldfinch was the best that I could manage as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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As it is National Hedgehog Awareness Week, I was very happy to be sent this picture by Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent, who is taking care of two rescue hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Awareness Week

Our spell of dry weather continued but I was glad that I had decided not to cycle today as there was a very fresh wind blowing and as a result, it felt quite chilly.  It would have been hard and unforgiving work on a bike ride.

As it was, I made a sausage and bean stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and then went out for a walk.  I was hoping not only that our bluebells would have reached their peak but that the woods would be full of wild garlic too.  Sadly, the cool weather has slowed things up and there were only a few garlic flowers to be seen…

wild garlic

…and the bluebells were not much further forward than on my last visit…

bluebells

..though they are still delightful, whether seen from a distance….

bluebells

..or close up.

They might have looked better if the sun had come out properly but it carefully waited until I got home before putting in an appearance.

I did see these….

seeds

…and a few of these…

wild flowers

I don’t know what these are. I thought they were daisies at first.

…and a lot of this…

saxifrage

…which I think is golden saxifrage.  It has done very well this spring and the woods are full of it.

The show stopper was a rhododendron in the park.

rhododendron

If you could get out of the wind, it was quite a springlike day.

Stubholm

I went down to the river before going home and was pleased to see a pair of goosanders cruising along….

goosanders

I  followed them downstream.

goosanders

I hoped to catch them from closer up as they went under the suspension bridge but they were too quick for me so I settled for some stationary trees.

River esk

Just before I got home, I stopped to take a picture of this very fine marsh marigold in the dam.

marsh marigold

This was when the sun came out.  Too late for the bluebells alas.

When I went in, I had to practise some songs for our Carlisle choir session in the afternoon but I had a moment to look at the birds in the  garden.

redpoll

A redpoll made sure that I got his best side.

goldfinch

The sun came out again to illuminate this goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and started on some garden tasks so I went out and mowed the drying green and was pleased to find a bee on the rosemary…

bee

…though I would have been happier still to find it on the apple nearby.

I couldn’t get past the anemone in another bit of sunshine.

goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to plant some more for next year.

There was time for another quick practice and some leek soup before we went off to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.  Our conductor worked us very hard as usual and I was quite pleased to be able to relax when we had finished.

The sausage and bean stew turned out to be rather dull (but nourishing) and may have to have some additions when it returns tomorrow evening.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grumpy looking siskin.  He probably thought that it was a bit too windy as well.

siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s walk up Blencathra last week.  He got this splendid view of the Lake District as he climbed.

Lake view

We were promised a chilly day with a brisk north wind and we got it.  Luckily we got some very bright and cheerful sunshine for most of the day so as long as you were out of the wind, life was sweet.

I was out of the wind for two hours in the morning but out of the sunshine too as I was sitting in the Welcome to Langholm office, catching up on putting the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database (now at over 80,000 entries).  I did welcome the occasional visitor too so it was time well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got back and I had a look at the azalea, which has survived a couple of chilly mornings very well….

azalea

…and one of the developing fantastical tulips….

parrot tulip

…which is unfolding very slowly.  I just hope that another chilly night tonight won’t discourage it entirely.

I went in and made some sweet potato soup for lunch and then ate it.  While the soup was cooking, I watched some appalling behaviour outside.

goldfinch and siskin

Shouting and kicking. The siskin toppled the goldfinch off the perch.

goldfinch and siskin

But another goldfinch soon returned the compliment.

It was too windy for an enjoyable cycle ride so I went for a walk with nuthatches in mind.  Sadly the nuthatches didn’t have me in mind at all and were conspicuous by their absence.  I was cheered up though by the appearance of the running rails for the Castleholm horse racing track which have appeared…

Horse racing rails

…and are waiting to be erected.

Having failed with the nuthatches, I thought that I might have a look for a dipper at the Sawmill Brig and this time, I was luckier.  It wasn’t plain sailing though as the dipper was living up to it’s name…

dipper

…but it did pause for a breather on a rock once or twice.

dipper

The rock was a bit too far away for a good shot but I had a lot of fun watching the dipper dipping.

Further downstream, after pausing for a cold ice cream from the Kilngreen van, I crossed the town bridge….

The Esk from Langholm Bridge

…..and was entertained by birds flying rather than swimming.

Large numbers of swallows and martins were swooping up and down the river.  I panned the camera vigorously in trying to get a shot or two of them in the air as they passed me and an interested onlooker might well have thought that my underwear was on fire as I twisted and turned violently.

swallows and martins

You have to be really lucky or skillful to get a good picture  of a flying swallow!  I did my best.

An oyster catcher was a more available target for my lens.

Oyster catcher

I walked on down the river, stopping to admire the cherry blossom….

cherry blossom

….and crossed the Kirk Brig and walked through the park and then along the river through the woods.

As I went along, the plaintive quacking of a duck could be heard.

duck and duckling

There were half a dozen tiny ducklings scooting about in all directions paying no attention to the quacking duck.  I wondered if something had frightened them.

I wasn’t really looking for ducks though. My target was early bluebells…

bluebell

…on the banks above the river.  I found some.

bluebells

They are not fully out yet but there were enough to make a pretty picture or two….

bluebells

…or three.

bluebells

I was rather surprised to find that I was walking in broad sunshine and light snow at the same time as I went along the Stubholm track but the snow faded away and the sunshine persisted so I continued my stroll by going along Gaskell’s walk.

In spite of the cold wind and the flurry of snow, it felt like spring in the sunshine.

Gaskells in spring

blackthorn

The countryside is definitely beginning to look greener now…

Meikleholm hill

…and my walk was very green.

Gaskells in spring

The bare trees will soon be covered.

tree

I got home and then immediately went out to collect our car from the garage where it had been serviced.  To my relief, no major faults were reported and I drove it home in a good frame of mind.

I got home in good time because not long afterwards, I looked out of the window and a snowstorm was raging.  Luckily, it was a storm in a teacup and was soon past.

My flute pupil Luke came and improved the day even more as he worked very hard and listened very carefully.  I am expecting good progress over the next month or so.

In the evening, I rounded the day off with a meeting of the Langholm Camera Club where we were treated to a very interesting demonstration of photo editing techniques by an ex professional photographer who has recently joined out group. He had much sound advice to impart and I only hope that I will be able to take it on board and improve my pictures.

I often put not very good pictures on the blog just to show things that I have seen rather than for the quality of the photographs but there is no doubt that I should set myself some targets to improve the quality of shots where I do have time to worry about settings and  composition.  I hope that readers will see the results in time.

The flying bird of the day is a study in yellow.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been officiating at a junior golf tournament.  The question is whether the hare is in the water hazard or not.

hare

As far as getting up early is going, I am on a roll and once again, seeing sun pouring in at the windows when I opened my eyes, I managed to stagger out of bed and arrive at the nuthatch nest before breakfast.

The parents were busy.

nuthatch

Though quite happy to stop for the occasional pose.

nuthatch

The wood pigeon was still sitting on a nest on a neighbouring branch and her mate was still bringing her twigs.

pigeons

She looks as though a square meal might be more welcome.

I pedalled home by way of the Kilngreen and I was just thinking that I hadn’t seen a dipper there this year when, lo and behold, I saw one.

dipper

I hadn’t seen any ducklings either and lo and behold….

ducklings

…I saw three.

Neither the ducklings not the dipper were in the best spot for a photograph but you can’t have everything.

This male mallard was more obliging.

mallard

Quite apart from the birds, it was a beautiful morning to be out and about…

Timpen

…and I had taken enough pictures by the time that I sat down to my porridge to fill a whole blog.

My back was still reminding me that it was in a tender state but a further application of the magic thumb of Mrs Tootlepedal freed things up enough to let me out to sieve a little compost and wander round the garden looking at things.

chive and iris

A bee’s eye view of chive and iris

daisy

The mathematical heart of a daisy

astrantia and allium

The flowers within flowers of astrantia and allium

aquilegia

The horns of an aquilegia

The garden, particularly the vegetable part of it, is full of families of sparrows eating as many of Mrs Tootlepedal’s young plants as they can get their beaks on.

sparrows

House on the left and hedge on the right

She is not so unequivocally fond of small birds as I am for some reason.

After a lunch of bread and locally grown tomatoes, Mrs Tootlepedal got ready to drive the car off to Lockerbie to catch the train to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.  Her bag was packed, the car was full of fuel, she was all prepared……and then the car wouldn’t start.  A warning light for an open door had been on for so long that the battery had run down.  The annoying things is that the door is not open and we can’t do anything to persuade the car’s computer that it is, in fact, shut.

Still, we had to call the garage and they came round and took the  car away, not so much a Kangoo as a Kantgo.

I took the opportunity to catch a bee at work on an allium…

bee on allium

At least, I think it is a bee.

…and mow the middle lawn and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a short cycle ride.  It was a perfect day for a pedal.

Mrs Tootlepedal pedalling

And the fact that the road was lined with bluebells in places didn’t hurt at all.

bluebells on Wauchope road

bluebells on Wauchope road

It is fairly unusual to see bluebells on an exposed hillside like this as they are more often found in woodland or on the sites of old woods.

I was just coming out of the house after putting the bikes away when an unfamiliar bird shape caught my eye.  It was a coal tit, a bird I haven’t seen on the garden for a good while.

coal tit

Later on the garage brought the car back with a recharged battery but without being able to fix the faulty sensor so we can’t lock it at the moment which is an inconvenience.  This is going to cost money I fear.

In the evening, I went off with Susan to play with our recorder group in Carlisle and once again we had a very good evening of playing, rounded off by an excellent selection of biscuits to go with our post-playing cup of tea.

I had three goes at a flying bird of the day but the nuthatch was too nippy for me…

flying nuthatch

…the ducks were too high for me…

flying ducks

…so I had to fall back on an ever reliable black headed gull to fill the position.

flying gull

 

 

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Today’s springlike guest picture comes from Sandy, which is to say that I stole it from him when he wasn’t looking.

Sandy's leaves

I did see Sandy himself though when he came round for a cup of coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders.  He has been doing a lot of gardening lately and took advantage of the situation to have a conference with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I should have been cycling as my mileage for May is very poor but we were waiting for an engineer to come and give our gas boiler its annual check so I used that as an excuse for not going anywhere.

I was a bit rude about the weather forecasters yesterday so it is only fair to point out that they said it would be fine in the morning and start to rain at two o’clock today and they were absolutely right to within five minutes.

I used the dry but overcast morning to mow the front lawn, the middle lawn and the grass round the greenhouse and was pleased to see that the newly sharpened mower was cutting a bit better.

I also took the camera round the garden.  My daughter has complained that in my pursuit of striking flower pictures, I don’t show enough general pictures to convey what the garden actually looks like.  This is a fair point but we are in a state of floral pause at the moment and the general picture is quite dull.  I will be looking for colourful corners quite soon.  In the meantime here are some individual promises of better things to come.

Astrantia and geranium

The first signs of a feast to come

Lily of the valley and solomon's seal

A rather Biblical touch of Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s seal

gooseberry

The promise of gooseberry fool

tulips

…and there are still some tulips left

After lunch, I was working away at my computer because I have finally been bullied by Microsoft into upgrading to Windows 10 and there are differences to the filing system for pictures which are giving me some grief when Mike Tinker popped in.

When I went out into the garden with him, it had almost stopped raining so when he left, I decided that a short walk would perk me up and I put my coat on.  By the time that I got out of the house, it had started to rain again so I picked up a stout umbrella and went off regardless.  After a dull half mile pushing up the road into the wind and rain, I turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and with the wind and rain behind me, the rest of the walk was very pleasant.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but I poked my lens out under the umbrella from time to time because it was a beautiful stroll in spite of the conditions.

Bluebells on gaskells

Not long ago, Gaskells Walk ran through a dark and flowerless conifer plantation but these trees were cut down and the bluebells which had been lurking underground for many years have seized their chance and the walk is now lined with them.

There were wild flowers in abundance.

wild flowers

…and I was pleased to see some red campion among the bluebells.

red campion

I walked along the track down towards the Murtholm and the bluebells defied the gloomy weather.

bluebells

bluebells

As I walked back along the river side towards the park…

Beechy Plains

I know it’s hard but someone has to walk along this path

….it wasn’t only the sight of wild flowers that caught my attention but the smell too.  The wild garlic was rampant, swirling up the banking…

wild garlic

…and lining the path.

wild garlic

They look as good individually as they do en masse.

garlic and bluebell

My umbrella did its job very well and the temperature was kind enough to make my damp walk a real treat.  A little rain brings out the fresh spell of spring to add to the colours.

After a look back at the park…

Buccleuch Park

It really is that colour.  I haven’t Photoshopped it.

…I headed home for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and settled back down to try to get to grips with Windows 10.  At least I can find my files and all my programs work so I am reasonably content.

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we enjoyed a good selection of music dug out from his vast collection by our librarian Roy.  It is very good to be able to play music with old friends without any of the pressure of preparing for public performance but just for the pleasure of hearing and appreciating the music itself.

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