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Posts Tagged ‘calendula’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He gets up very early to walk his dogs before going to work and thus can take pictures like this with his phone.

ANT'S SUNRISE

We had yet another day of intermittent showers, some very heavy and almost all quite short.  The shortest lasted about a minute but was quite intense while it was in action.

I started the day by filing down a key.  When we moved the Archive Group to its new premises, we got some keys cut to let members in to work.  Some of the keys fitted the lock but others didn’t and I have been meaning to sort the ill fitting ones out for some time.  Like many of my little plans though, nothing actually happened until I got a call today to do something about it.  Galvanised by this, I got busy with a little file and went up to the office where, rather to me surprise, the key now fitted and opened the door.  I delivered the key to the member who had asked for it, and she was probably even more surprised than I was.

Encouraged by this, I resolved to risk getting wet, and went off for a bike ride.  Once again the wind was very unhelpful and made cycling hard work, so I settled for fifteen miles, making sure that I had the wind behind me on the return journey.   The sun came out as I pedalled home and Wauchopedale looked very inviting.

Wauchopedale view

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and then walked round the garden.

This poppy had given all it had to give to passing bees…

exhausted poppy

…but the buddleia still has plenty left to attract butterflies….

peacock butterfly

…and the Michaelmas daisies are not short of pull either.

fly on daisy

Sadly, the sweet peas have had their day and I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand as she demolished the imposing structure which had given them support.

Nearby, I admired the fine mint plant next to the greenhouse.  It is, as they say, in mint condition.

mint in mint condition

Round the front lawn, the yellow crocosmias are making a good show.

yellow crocosmia

It was a pleasantly warm day, and after we had finished with the sweet peas, Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench and had a rest.  From the bench I could see a good crop of Japanese anemones climbing above a hedge…

Japanese anemone clump

…and a good flock of sparrows clustered on the silver pear.

sparrows in silver pear

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, we went out into the garden again.

When Mrs Tootlepedal had been cutting down the potentillas on the dam side yesterday, I had noticed that the fuchsia further along the house wall was looking good, so I took a picture of it today.

fuschia beside dam

I had also noticed a plant with many tiny white flowers on it and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is lemon balm.

lemon balm

The camera club has had a small exhibition running in the community cafe in Canonbie for some time, but it is coming to an end this week and we are going to take the pictures up to The Hub in Eskdalemuir, where they will be on show during September.  The organiser there had asked me to paint a pen portrait of the camera club and provide a poster for the exhibition, so I went in and did my best to meet her requirements.

Then there was time for another garden check to see if there were any birds wanting to have their picture taken.

A blackbird gave me that fashionable over the shoulder pose…

blackbird back

…and a dunnock tried for the same effect but didn’t quite have the neck and shoulder for it.

dunnock on fence

I took a final picture…

clump of calendula

…and went back in.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I checked over our potato crop fairly carefully to take out any tubers which had been forked or were suffering from slugs.  We put the rest of the crop into storage.  For one reason or another, we had managed to spear quite a lot of potatoes when we were digging them up but the slug damage was very slight so we were pleased to have enough to last for some time.

Although there was a hint of rain in the air when we had finished sorting the potatoes, I went for a short walk.   Along the way, there were unwelcome signs of the turning of the year to be seen.

leaves in puddle

…and unwelcome, although pretty, invasive plants to be found.

himalayan balsam park

And there was a token of how strong the winds have been in the form of a pile of branches beside the path…

fallen oak branch easton's walk

…which turned out to be from a substantial limb which had split from a tree.

fallen oak branch easton's walk 2

I didn’t walk as far as I intended as I fell into conversation with a friend whom I met on the way and we had a lively discussion about life and politics which took some time.  There were a couple of short, sharp showers while we talked but as we were under a well leafed tree, we were unaffected.  In the end, we broke off our debate and walked back together, heeding the call of the evening meal.

No flying bird of the day today, but I felt that the resident dragons in the park were taking a keener interest in me than usual as I walked by them today, so I have put them in to keep them happy.

park monsters

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who was taking some refreshment in Russell Square when she noticed that she was being watched.

Susan's owl

We had a day of almost uninterrupted sunshine and light winds, ideal for pottering about the garden so this is what I did.  I thought of going for a bike ride from time to time as it was also a perfect day for cycling but by the time that I had pottered about the garden all morning and a bit of the afternoon too, the heat of the day had rendered me too melted to pull myself together enough to go cycling.

Through the day, flowers caught the eye, both singly…

four bright flowers

…and in clumps…

four bright clumps

…and they caught the eyes of insects too and the garden was loud with buzzing.

bee and hoverfly on poppy

In the face of hot competition, this was my favourite single flower of the day…

calendula

…though for a knock ’em dead effect, it was hard to ignore the phlox…

phlox phlurry

…which is phlourishing greatly.

another phlox phlurry

I kept an eye out for butterflies while I was picking beans and digging potatoes in the morning.

We had a good selection today:

A red admiral…

red admiral butterfly

…a peacock…

peacock butterfly

…a painted lady…

painted lady butterfly

…and a small tortoiseshell…

small tortoisesgell butterfly

…and lots of plainer butterflies too.

white butterfly

There were several of each variety and it was hard to miss the butterflies as they flew about the garden.

It was pretty warm in the sun so I had to go inside from time to time just to cool down.  Not being able to stand the heat outside at one point, I went into the kitchen and made some soup for lunch using potatoes, beans and an onion from the garden.

Later, I spent some time inside watching the birds and was pleased to see a few goldfinches about.

goldfinch sparrow siskin

The number of siskins has decreased lately so they must be moving on but the goldfinches still had to wait for a free perch…

goldfinch perching

…. because there are a great number of sparrows about and they are very boisterous…

sparring sparrows

…very boisterous indeed.

squabbling sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a series of meetings in the morning but she buckled down to some serious gardening in the afternoon and only paused when these three wise men appeared at our gate.

three old men

Gavin, Mike and Charlie had been out on the hills checking on one of the Langholm Walks routes and replacing marker discs on the guideposts where necessary.  Their voluntary work is valuable as the walks bring many visitors into the town.

I mowed the front lawn and then I did some compost sieving.

As I found that I had emptied Bin D when I had finished, I shifted the compost that hadn’t gone through the sieve and which had been resting in Bin C back into Bin D and then, after a short sit down, I shifted the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

This is exciting work but I needed another sit down after it so I took a camera in hand and sat on a chair beside the front lawn.  I was greatly entertained as I rested by the persistent demands of a young blackbird to be fed by its long suffering parent.  One worm was never enough.

blackbird feeding young

Then I went in and made incessant demands of my own until Mrs Tootlepedal made our evening meal.

I haven’t done much walking lately, as I am trying not to make my feet worse but it was such a lovely evening after tea, that it seemed a crime not to go for a short walk, so I went.

A reflection in the dam caught my attention as I crossed the bridge when I left the house.

dam reflection

The park and the river beside it were full of children swimming in the river and cycling round the park so in Langholm at least, the idea that all children these days spend their time sitting inside staring at their screens is obviously not true.

The park was looking at its best.

 

Buccleuch Park

Several of the poplar trees along the river bank had to be cut down in recent years but the ones that remain look good on a day like today.

Poplars in Buccleuch Park

I walked nervously past two monsters…

two monsters Buccleuch Park

…and through the wood until I got to the Murtholm.

murtholm

It was such a lovely warm night that I was tempted to walk along the river bank to Skippers Bridge and back on the far side of the river but good sense prevailed and I turned back and walked home along the track on the top of the bank above the river.

easton's walk

This is the last post for some time in which birds on the feeder will appear, as the warm wet weather and the tendency of siskins to spill seeds when they eat has made the feeder area too smelly for comfort and I am pausing the feeding for a while.  There is plenty of other food for the birds about.

So the flying bird of the day today is a farewell sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows a rather desolate city beach in Derby.  He tells me that it was fully booked and occupied in the sunshine a couple of days ago.

Derby beach

There wouldn’t have been much demand for deck chairs in Langholm either today as it was just as wet and miserable here as in Derby.

We were very lucky to have got through Common Riding day with such kindly weather yesterday and personally, I was quite happy to have an excuse for a very quiet day today after all the excitement.

Matilda took her parents back to Edinburgh after lunch, but not before handing out a sound thrashing to mother, father, grandfather and grandmother at a game of Pelmanism.  However, to balance things up, she was a graceful loser at Beggar My Neighbour.

I did go out into the garden with her to pick a few beans for her to take home, but it was only a few because as soon as we started picking, the light drizzle turned into heavy rain.

It was very gloomy and not a day for garden pictures  as even the brightest flowers were a bit depressed…

lily wetdamp calenduawet gernaium

…and yesterday’s pink poppies were absolutely shattered.

pink poppy sogged

I filled up the bird feeder after our visitors left and a few sparrows turned up and tucked in.

pair of soggy sparrows

The new sunflower growing up beside the nuts can be clearly seen on the right of the nut feeder.

sparrow on nuts with sunflower

More sparrows arrived and a little drama played out.

With a female on the left hand a perch, a male had a look for a place…

sparrow raid 1

…and when he din’t find one, he turned and threatened the incumbent…

sparrow raid 2

…and even resorted to some ungentlemanly jostling.

sparrow raid 3

When then didn’t work, he gave up all pretence of manners and simply trod on the poor bird while eating seeds over the top of her.

sparrow raid 4

Just when we had plenty of time to spare, the Tour de France organisers severely cut the length of today’s final mountain stage  but it still remained exciting and we shall be at a loss as to how to waste time next week when the tour has finished.

We might see a little sunshine tomorrow as well as some more rain but the humidity is still very high so although things have cooled down, life is still not very comfortable.

After the great number of pictures yesterday, today’s brief post has been a bit of a relief for me and very probably for patient readers as well, but as another year in the Langholm calendar rolls by, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who take time to read the posts and/or look at the pictures, and in particular those who take the time to add the regular comments that enliven the blog.

A rather gloomy sparrow is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s fine guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She was luckier than us and was able to enjoy the eclipse of the moon last night.  We were clouded over.

moon eclipse venetia

Although I had promised myself a bike ride in the morning before forecast rain arrived, I was not at my perkiest when I staggered out of bed this morning, and I allowed myself to be persuaded by the Met Office website that the rain would pass and I would get a cycling opportunity in the early evening instead.

It was all too easy then to waste a lot of time doing the crossword, drinking coffee, making a loaf in the bread maker and wandering aimlessly round the garden.   Though to be fair, I did take aim from time to time.

I couldn’t decide whether this was the poppy of the day…

pale poppy

…or this, so I took them both.

red poppy

The salvias look better every day.salvia clump

I like the stachys which are probably the furriest plants in the garden….

stachys

..and the calendulas which are the sunniest.

calendula

The nectaroscordum is going over in a very dignified way, looking like the ruined turrets on some fairyland castle.

nectaroscordum ruins

On the vegetable garden fence, Bobbie James is flourishing…

bobbie james bunch

…and the first of the Ooh La La clematis flowers has appeared.

ooh la la clematis

My neighbour Liz passed the front gate and while I chatted to her, a blue tit rested on the wire cage that Mrs Tootlepedal has put up to protect her plants from marauding pigeons…

blue tit on wire

…while the delphiniums stood up very straight…

delphiniums standing well

…and a bee visited a hosta.

bee on hosta

Mrs Tootlepedal and I took the pea fortress off one of her rows of peas and picked a good handful for our lunch, and then I checked out the ligularia which was sticking its many tongues out at me…

ligularia close up

…and we went in for lunch with peas, beetroot, lettuce and potatoes from the garden on the menu.

And then it started to rain so I watched the birds.

As soon as I topped up the feeder, siskins started to arrive..

five siskins

…but there was a good selection of other birds too, including this chaffinch which missed its footing as it flew in…

chaffinch missing landing

…and a greenfinch being rather careless with its eating habits.

greenfinch

A blue tit looked down on the feeder from above…

blue tit looking down

…and another youngster tried out the nuts.

fluffy blue tit

I put a wet afternoon to some use by putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and practising a song that I am trying to learn for my singing teacher.

Then I gave up any pretence of activity and sat down to watch the last 50km of the Tour de France Stage.  It ended in Toulouse, a city through which Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled on our way from St Malo to Carcassone about thirteen years ago.

It is surprising how easily a few drops of light rain can persuade you to watch other people cycling rather than actually going out and pedalling yourself when you reach a certain age.

All the same, my plan was to go for a pedal when the rain stopped, but as it didn’t stop, I didn’t go.

Mrs Tootlepedal picked some carrots and I picked some broad beans and we ate them with a second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow. A fortuitous setting of the shutter speed shows just how still a bird can keep its head and body even when its wings are flapping like mad.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother Andrew’s recent walks.  He was rather surprised to find a woolly mammoth looking at him over a wall.

I had a day of mostly sitting down today although I did get about enough to mow the front lawn and do some deadheading.

We started off with some good sunshine and I had my camera with me when I was out in the garden.  I know this will comes a surprise but I took a few pictures as I went around.

While I was out pedalling yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal gave the hen a trim.

clipped chicken

Although she has appeared a lot recently, Lilian Austin demanded to have her picture taken once again and who am I to deny a lady?

lilian austin

Nearby, a calendula was smiling back at the sun.

calendula smiling

Crown Princess Margareta has found the weather very much to her taste and is crowding more flowers onto every stem each day.

three margareta roses

The Goldfinch rose on the fence is doing well too…

rose goldfinch new

…and I like the way that it changes from yellow to white as it grows old.  You can get buds, young flowers, old flowers and dead heads in the same bunch.

rose goldfinch clump

Further down the fence the ginger syllabub is happy too.

rose coldfinch

We may feel the need to do some watering in this dry spell but the roses seem very  content with the state of things.

There is no shortage of cheerful faces.

four bright flowers

To avoid wind damage, Mrs Tootlepedal has gone for shorter delphiniums this year and she has got them well sheltered too.  The results so far are good.

delphinum clump

The oddest flower in the garden at the moment is this almost black pansy.

black pansies

There are plenty of bees about which is good news and they like the poppies a lot.  You can tell when a bee has visited one of them.

bee ravaged poppy

The best thing about the morning was the arrival of the phone engineers.  For several weeks, the telephone wire to one of our neighbours has been lying at ground level across the garden.  It couldn’t be stuck back onto the electricity pole from which it had become detached because the pole was unsafe.  Finally the pole has been replaced so the wire could be retrieved and rehung today.  Now I can tidy up the grass without worrying about accidentally cutting the cable.

As the telephone engineers left, so did we.  We were off on our weekly visit to see Matilda in Edinburgh.  Rather annoyingly, it was raining when we got there so we settled down to indoor fun instead of going to the park.

The rain had stopped when it was time for us to go home and as the train was on time in both directions today, the travel was pretty painless.

No flying birds today so a pair of flamingos from Matilda’s garden take pride of place instead.

flamingoes in Edinburgh

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s walk round the Wemyss Estate.  As well as a parakeet in a tree, he came across a curious deer which was looking a bit lost.

wemyss deer

We were visited by storm Diana today.  I must say that the practice of giving passing weather fronts a name is obviously a bad idea.  They are getting ideas above their station and we got a lot of rain and some stiff winds in the afternoon.

It wasn’t too bad in the morning when Dropscone came round for coffee.  Sandy dropped in to pick up some keys for the new archive centre but he was busy and didn’t stay for coffee.  This meant that Dropscone and I could eat all the scones which was a stroke of luck as the scones were particularly tasty today.

Although it was raining lightly as Dropscone left, the forecast said that it would stop raining by twelve o’clock and then start again by one.  As it did actually stop raining at three minutes to twelve, I went out for a short three bridges walk.

I was detained for a moment by some cheerful calendulas in the garden before I left.

calendulas end of november

The clouds had lifted on the hills and I could almost see the monument.

misty monument

There was a touch of colour in the last willows which are fading away beside the town bridge.

last willow

And some of our resident ducks had found a calm spot for a paddle above the bridge.

floating ducks

I was very impressed by the amount of hay being transported by a single driver from the arable east coast to the pastoral west.

big hay

I passed more evidence of the activity of the Langholm Walks volunteers who have been putting new discs onto the walks signposts.

Langholm Walks signs

Walkers are spoiled for choice

The group is trying hard to encourage walkers to come to the town and sample the many delights of walking in our woods and hills.

As I went along the Lodge Walks, I discovered that the forecast had only said that it would have started raining by one o’clock.  It didn’t say when it would actually start and that turned out to be at about ten past twelve so I didn’t get very far on my walk before the rain came down.  Luckily I was well armed (or legged) with welly boots and a large golf umbrella.  As I was sheltered from the worst of the wind and there was plenty to look at, I still had a good walk.

I saw berries by a wall…

lodge walks berries

…and lichen on a tree…

lodge walks lichen

…as I went up the Lodge Walks.

Then as I crossed the Castleholm, I saw a tree with many, many branches…

castleholm bare tree

…a soggy gate…

soggy castleholm gate

…and a tree stump with a mixture of fungus and fallen leaves which were so well matched for colour that it was hard to tell them apart.

castleholm fungi and leaves

Round the back of the stump, there were more clear cut fungi.

castleholm fungi

As I walked back along the path to the Jubilee Bridge, I could see many hazel catkins…

castleholm catkin

…but by the time that I got to the bridge, the rain was coming down so steadily that I put my camera back in my pocket and concentrated all my energies on not letting my brolly get blown away by the wind.

By the time that I got home, it was a thoroughly miserable day and so dark and gloomy that I didn’t bother to get my bird watching camera out at all.

After lunch, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practised some singing for my various choirs.

Mrs Tootlepedal made another delicious evening meal and fortified by that, I ventured out into the wind and the rain to go to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  Some of the work that I had done in the afternoon turned out to be quite useful.

It had stopped raining by the time that we came out of the practice and this was just as well as the river was high and flowing fast as I crossed the suspension bridge.  We are promised more heavy rain tomorrow so riverside dwellers may be getting a bit nervous.

I didn’t try for a flying bird of the day today and a rather fuzzy perching gull is standing in for the position instead.

perching gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  He took a suitably black and white shot of his black and white dogs.

wemyss dogs

In theory today was very much the same temperature as yesterday but in practice it felt much colder because of a rawness in the air and as a result I was quite happy to have a lot of singing and no cycling to do.

The singing started in church.  The choir had had no notice of the hymns in advance which was unusual but didn’t matter in the case of two of them which had simple harmonies.  One of the others in particular defeated me entirely even though it was sung in unison.  However, we had a enjoyable practice afterwards and in the end, we had a good morning of singing.

While this was going on, Sandy and Nancy were supervising the removal of the Archive Group’s furniture and equipment to the new base for the group.  The removal was in the hands of a couple of every competent fellows and Sandy and Nancy reported that everything had gone smoothly.  I hope to visit the new premises tomorrow and see the results.

When I got home, I had time for a quick walk round the garden with my new phone in hand.

There are still flowers about (just).

In some cases, it is a question of hanging on by the skin of the teeth…

edf

…but others are defiantly still flowering freely…

edf

….even if conditions are a bit soggy.

edh

I can’t get over how cheerful the perennial wallflower still is.

edf

As well as flowers, there is always moss about in the garden and this morning there was some additional fungus among the moss on the elder.

edf

At the bird feeder, it was very much a chaffinch day….

chaffinch activity

…though other birds were about as well.  There were pigeons on the lawn…

pigeon on lawn

…and jackdaws in the elder…

waiting jackdaw

…and one on a chair showing off its white feathers.

white feathers jackdaw

The chaffinches were queuing up to get to the sunflower hearts…

chaffinch queue

…but when they got there, some preferred arguing to eating.  Perhaps they were politicians in a former life.

chaffinch head to head

There was no shortage of pushy behaviour.

chaffinch starmash

After lunch, we went off to sing with our choir in Carlisle.  Ellen, our usual conductor, had other commitments and our accompanist was marooned in Motherwell by a late train cancellation so we had both a substitute conductor from Glasgow and a member of the choir at the keyboard.

As it turned out, they were more than able to provide us with a satisfactory practice and as is so often the case, a new face in front of the choir provided us with fresh insights into performing  better.  As there were only three tenors present this week, our department had to work hard to make itself heard.

When we got home, I made some cauliflower cheese for tea and followed that off with an iced bun so all in all, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day, unsurprisingly, is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

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