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Posts Tagged ‘calendula’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who is beginning to get about again.  She visited the south bank of the Thames and admired the view of St Paul’s and the “Wobbly Millennium Bridge”  (now stabilised).

thames suspension bridge

Our weather is coming from the east at the moment so the temperature has dropped well into single figures and with a brisk wind blowing, it was not a day for idling around outside.

All the same, I had to go out after breakfast to return the key of the room where we had had our camera club meeting last night but I walked briskly and only stopped for one quick test of my new phone’s camera on the way.

sdr

The wind was coming from the left so by the time that I got home, a little sunshine had arrived and I tested the phone camera on a couple of the few remaining flowers in the garden.

sdrdav

The berberis is getting very thin on top now.

dav

I am still trying to get a balance between exercise and rest for my leg so I spent a quiet morning in, intending to go for a walk in the afternoon.

The birds provided a diversion.

There were goldfinch swirls….

goldfinch swirl

..and chaffinch twirls…

chaffinch twirl

…acrobatic landings….

one legged goldfinch landing

…and an anxious goldfinch hoping that a chaffinch had judged its braking distance correctly.

chaffinch pulling on brakes

Mrs Tootlepedal had put some breadcrumbs out on the lawn yesterday and two rather baffled jackdaws arrived today and wondered where they had all gone.

two curious jackdaws

On the whole, it was a quiet day and there were more chaffinches in the plum tree than on the feeder.

chaffinches in plum tree

After lunch, I went round to Nancy with a bank statement for the Archive Group and the experience of that very short walk made me reconsider my plan for a longer walk and I went home and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database instead.

Later Nancy came round with the completed accounts for the Archive Group for the year and happily, we are still solvent.

I partially made up for not going for a walk by doing a short spell on the bike to nowhere in the garage later in the afternoon and was pleased to find that my leg is continuing to improve.

This was successfully tested by a walk to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening where Mrs Tootlepedal and I watched a screened performance of the “The Madness of George III” by Alan Bennett at the Nottingham Playhouse.  I had seen the film some time ago and wondered if I would enjoy the play as much.  As it turned out, I enjoyed the play more as it was an excellent production and the immediacy of the live drama was very emotionally touching.

It says it is going to be colder still tomorrow.  I will have to think about putting the winter tyres on the car soon, not to mention looking out the winter undergarments for the driver.

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

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Ashby de la Zouch  in Leicestershire and admired the castle there.  It reminded him of our prime ministe.  Like her, it is rather battered but still standing.

Ashby de la Zouche castle

In a complete reversal of the normal order of things, Dropscone arrived for coffee this morning but didn’t bring treacle scones with him even though it was Friday.  He had been at a golf meeting up in the borders yesterday and had visited a supermarket on his way home.  Once inside, he had been tempted by a seedy malt loaf which was on display at such a reduced price that it was irresistible and he brought that to coffee today instead of scones,  It was very tasty.

When he left,  I admired a greenfinch taking in the rays on the plum tree…

greenfinch

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal led me out on a cycling expedition round the New Town.  We were tracking the dam from source to outflow.  I recorded our journey.

dam 4

  1. The dam starts at the sluice at Pool Corner, squeezes under the new flood wall just below the sluice and heads off beside the old dump (now covered over and a recreation area).

dam 3

2.  We followed its course and looked back towards Pool Corner and then turned 90 degrees to watch it as it flowed past the edge of Latimer’s shed and burrowed under Caroline Street.

dam 2

3.  It creeps along the road under the pavement here until it takes a sharp left turn  at the green hedge which you can see  and emerges to go through a patch of wild country between Caroline Street and Wauchope Place.  It creeps under the street there by a very plain bridge.

dam 1

4.  Once across Wauchope Place, it enjoys a moment of freedom as it heads between manicured banks towards the spanking new bridge at Wauchope Street and then, after passing our house,  it once more heads underground, this time beneath Walter Street and across Henry Street.

dam 5

5.  Once across Henry Street, it visits the Skinyards and then appears for a brief moment at a sluice in Reid and Taylor’s yard before sinking underground again and passing under Elizabeth Street, where it emerges from a tunnel on the banks of the Esk…

 

Esk with dam outlet

…joins the river and ends up in the sea in the Solway Firth.

The reason for this adventure was to record the dam in its present state as there has been talk of decommissioning the dam when the Reid and Taylor’s site is redeveloped.  Those who live along it would be very sorry to see it go.

While I was at the river side, I took a shot of the willows below the suspension bridge. They have been adding some late colour to the riverside scene but they are fading away now like the year.

Esk with late willows

The gentle flat cycle outing probably did my sore leg some good and I let that be my exercise for the day.

I watched the birds when I got home and once again, it was very quiet for most of the time at the feeder.  We had some busy days when the temperature dropped but it hit 13°C today and most of the birds must be happy to forage for food in the countryside at the moment.

The small flock of goldfinches returned over lunchtime, led by this handsome but slightly ruffled bird.

goldfinch ruffled

At times, there was a great deal of to-ing and  fro-ing and flapping of wings….

goldfinches on feeder

…and some smart one legged landing.

goldfinch arriving

On other occasions the landing had to be one legged as the other leg was being used to kick away the unfortunate occupier of the perch.

goldfinches coming and goin

A lone chaffinch appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinches

We took a walk round the garden and I was impressed by the staying power of the sweet rocket which would be long over by now in a normal year.

sweet rocket mid november

Mrs Tootlepedal liked the strong impression made by these primroses.

white primroses

The hips on the Goldfinch rose are  flourishing thanks to the warm summer.

goldfinch rose hips

And a few of the calendulas have suddenly taken a new lease of life and are looking as good as new.

bright calendula Nov

Not all growth is good.  Mrs Tootlepedal is a bit worried to see spring bulbs showing above ground at this time of year.  These tulips shouldn’t be visible now.

very early tulip shoots

I spent the afternoon doing useful things on my computer and in the evening, Mike and Alison came round as usual on a  Friday and Alison and I rounded off the day with some enjoyable duets.

The forecast is good for tomorrow so I might try another short, flat cycle ride to keep my leg exercised as today’s effort seems to have done no harm.

One of the goldfinches is the flying bird of the day today.

goldfinch nearly arriving

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a break with tradition and is in fact a pair of pictures as Bruce sent me a fairly standard view of the famous ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ between the mainland and Seil Island…

seil bridge

…but also included his view from the bridge.  He was surprised to find that someone had painted a white line down the middle of the channel, presumably to keep marine traffic on the right track.

seil bridge view

I was listening to a radio programme about the Roman poet Horace today.  One of his most famous phrases was ‘Carpe Diem’ which might be translated as ‘make good use of your day’

We had a beautifully sunny and reasonably warm morning and if there ever was a dies that needing carping, this was it.  Sadly, as my knee still needs cossetting, the dies remained totally uncarped.

I looked at birds instead.

In the dark months, the shadow of our house looms over the bird feeder and so the brighter the sunlight is on the plum tree….

sunny chaffinch

…the darker the shadows are on the feeder…

coal tit profile straight

…though this can produce an interesting silhouette from time to time.

coal tit profile landing

It was about midday when the sun and birds both appeared on the feeder.  Once again there were not many birds about so this gave the blue, coal and great tits plenty of scope for visiting.

blue tit with seedcoal tit with seedgreat tit

A robin popped in and although I took a very poor picture of it just as we were going out, I have put it in for the record.

robin

While I was bird watching, I couldn’t help noticing the berberis….

berberis November

 

…and I went out for a closer look.  One part of the bush has gone bright red while the other remains fairly subdued.

sunny berberis

The perennial wallflower is a marvel.  We have two and the other has now given up but this one looks as though it is ready to go through the winter.

november perennial wallflower

The calendulas are very diminished but they are still trying to produce new flowers.

november calnedula

Apart from the berberis, the brightest thing in the garden was this stone ball wrapped in a blanket of moss.

mossy stone ball

I raised my eyes to the hills and sighed…

cattle on Castle Hill

…and went back inside for lunch.

Then we went to Edinburgh.  Our up train started late from Lockerbie but arrived on time in Edinburgh.  Our down train left Edinburgh on time but arrived ten minutes late at Lockerbie.  Variety is the spice of life!

We found Matilda in very good form and she absolutely trounced me at snap though I held my own in a game of Pelmanism.   We enjoyed other games as well and after an excellent meal, cooked by her father, Matilda ended our visit with a ballet display.  We went home feeling very cheerful.

I just managed to catch today’s flying bird by the merest fraction of a millimetre.

just flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our older son Tony’s morning dog walking.   You don’t see sights like this in Langholm.  I shall expect porpoises next.

wemyss seals

We woke to another rather chilly and damp morning and things hadn’t got any drier or brighter by lunch time when I took this picture while doing some dead heading.

soggy calendula

A visit from Sandy for coffee and conversation brought a little metaphorical light into the day but otherwise it was a morning for getting Archive Group business done on the computer and making some potato and courgette soup. (The supply of courgettes is endless.)

Sandy helped me take the new bench, which I had treated with decking oil yesterday,  out into the garden and we put it back in its place.

oiled bench

In spite of the drizzle, it looked very cheerful surrounded by flowers.

I set the bird watching camera up over lunch in the hope of seeing a return of the nuthatch but had to make do with birds just failing to hit the perches at the first attempt instead.

blue tit landing

greenfinch missing

The feeder was intermittently busy…

busy feeder

…with sparrows and greenfinches but the nuthatch didn’t come back.

Jackdaws did.

jackdaw on fat balls

When we a have been out in the garden recently, we are occasionally startled by great whooshing of wings as large flocks of sparrows rise up and fly from one spot to another.

They are very fond of the seed feeder….

two sparrows with seed

…and the fat balls….

sparrows on fat balls

…but today when I was upstairs, I looked out of the window and saw that the philadelphus at the front gate had become the preferred perch for a while.

sparrows on philadelphus

The drizzle gave up and down in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing the ground for a transplant of a spirea while I cut up a huge amount of green waste for composting.  The waste had come from the work that Mrs Tootlepedal with the help of our neighbour Liz had done on Saturday as part of cleaning up the bushes at the far end of our hedge along the road.

neat hedge

They had acquired two wheelbarrow loads of soft clippings that needed cutting up before being put into the compost bin.  I would have shredded them but our shredder has not been working well lately so I laboriously cut the stuff up with secateurs and shears.

Then I wandered round with the camera for a while.

There was life in the garden.

cosmos and hoverflywhite dicentra and bee august

Mrs Tootlepedal found this woolly bear caterpillar in some long grass and it wriggled about on her glove as I tried to take its picture.

woolly bear caterpillar

There is still plenty of colour in spite of the gloomy clouds above.

four colourful flowers august

And there were even one or two butterflies.  This is a red admiral, looking a little part worn I thought.

red admiral butterfly

Beside the buddleia, the Michaelmas daisies are in full flow.

Michaelmas daisies

At this point, we were visited by Mike Tinker.  This was very fortunate as I know that he has a taste for repairing machinery so I suggested that he have a look at our shredder and before you could say “Jack Robinson”, he had the front plate off, the insides cleaned out and the thing back in full working order.  This is just the sort of visitor that you need in the garden.  We went inside and had a nice cup of tea.

After he went, my flute pupil Luke arrived and we had a very worthwhile session.  Luke guiltily admitted to practising again.  Where will this all end?

Late in the day, I spotted a couple of goldfinches at the feeder.

two goldfinches

They are infrequent visitors at the moment.

I am hoping that the weather gets either warmer or drier, or preferably both, as I would like to get another pedal or two in before the end of the month and it has not been attractive cycling weather for the last two days.

Meantime, here is the flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She really does have a scientific rain gauge and she was very pleased to find it had some rain in it, as they too have been suffering from a drought.

mary jo's rain gauge

We had a gentle spot or two of rain today but once again it was not enough to do the watering job for us.

We haven’t been suffering from the heat wave that has been hitting the south but at 22°C on a cloudy day, it was still unusually warm.

All the same, Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of our relatively cool weather by working furiously all morning in the garden.  Hedges were trimmed…

trimmed hedge

…and plants were uprooted to make space.  I did a lot of shredding and then seeing that the mound of material was going to overwhelm Compost Bin A, I turned the contents of Bin A into Bin B, which luckily was empty.  By lunchtime, Bin A was half full again.

I also sieved some of Bin D to make room at the far end of the composting process.  The results were soon back on a flower bed.

The lawns are  surviving much better than I thought that they would and I was able to mow the middle lawn.  I have been keeping the mower blades quite high but  the faint and very occasional mists of drizzle must be to the liking of the grass as I took several boxes of cuttings to add to the compost.

The result was not too bad under the circumstances.

middle lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed the edges later on.

There is a bit less colour in the flower bed at the far end of the lawn than Mrs Tootlepedal had planned because one of the sets of plants turns out to be biennials.  She tells me that she should have read the catalogue more carefully but they will doubtless make a good show next year.

There are white butterflies all over the garden and one settled on a lobelia beside the new bench while I was having a cup of coffee with the gardener.

white butterfly on blue

There are two dahlias out now and the other plants are looking quite healthy so there should be more soon.

two dahlias

They will come in fancy and plain varieties

More poppies appear every day and we greet them with a cry of “Better late than never.”

pale poppy

The brown trim on the calendulas is very striking and I turned a flower over today to show what it would look like if I was lying flat on the ground underneath it.

back of calendula

Different bumble bees were visiting the stachys.

white tailed bee on stachys

I am always happy when  a new clematis comes out.  This one is on the metal fence along the edge of the vegetable garden.

purple clematis

A second perennial wallflower has appeared in the new bed.

perennial wallflower

And sadly, the elegant yellow lilies are fading slightly as they come to the end of the flowering season.

lily

I put the bird spotting camera up over lunchtime and enjoyed chaffinches approaching the feeder.

chaffinches at feeder

A little while later, Mrs Tootlepedal looked up and said, “There are greenfinches everywhere.”

This was true.

greenfinches in control

Chaffinches hovered around but they didn’t get a look in.

greenfinch flying in

…and even the greenfinches found maintaining a seat at the table was hard work.

greenfinch beak to beak

Some made a rather huffy exit.

greenfinch flying off in huff

In the afternoon, the joiners came back and did useful work on keeping the house in good condition.

It started to drizzle and the wind was quite vigorous so I abandoned thoughts of a walk or a cycle and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have still got about six weeks waiting to be entered so it will have to rain a lot more if I am to catch up.

I did get out into the garden for other walks round in the afternoon.

A blackbird is never far away wherever you are.

blackbird on bench

This one was on the bench under the walnut tree watching me trying and failing to get a good picture of bees on the privet flowers.

I noticed that the ligularia needed watering and took a good look at it once I had done the job.

ligularia close

The late afternoon and evening were spent tootling.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we worked on smooth playing and controlled breathing.  Then, after tea, I went off to try to put some of my own advice into practice while playing trios with Isabel and Mike.

We played three trios, all by G P Telemann and that guaranteed us a most enjoyable time.

When I got back, a good day was rounded off by some very tasty courgette fritters that Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches visiting the feeder before the greenfinches came.

flying chaffinch

 

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