Posts Tagged ‘chionodoxa’

Today’s guest picture shows my sister Susan and a friendly penguin at Sunley Hall, a magnate’s mansion.  She was visiting it  in the company of my brother who took the picture.

Sunley Hall with penguin

There was a bit of drizzle about and a gusty breeze but Dropscone and I were not discouraged and had a good morning pedal of twenty two miles out to Gair and back.  Our local quarry seems to be providing stone for all and sundry at the moment so the only fly in the ointment was a steady trickle of big lorries passing us in every direction.

It is quite a hilly ride but the bonus was that the hills and the wind combined in a helpful manner to let us do the last 6 miles at an average speed of 21 mph which always cheers old men up.  It makes us think that we might be real cyclists.

Mrs Tootlepedal was at a church choir practice and got back in time to join us for coffee.  After Dropscone had left for home, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that as the day was warm and almost sunny, she would like a pedal too and since I was in my cycling gear already, I accompanied her up to Wauchope School and back.  We stopped so that I could take a picture of some bright orange lichens on the Auld Stane Brig.


The shady side of the parapet has a lot of this stuff.

lichen close up

A closer look.

The two cycle outings took up most of the morning but I did have a moment before the second ride to do some feeder staring.  A new visitor appeared today.


A redpoll

After weighing up the scene, it joined in.

redpoll and siskins

Siskins pointedly ignoring it.

redpoll and siskins

It pointedly ignored the siskins and got stuck into the seed.

redpoll and siskin

There was some discussion later.

I think that there were two redpolls about and I hope to see them again tomorrow.

The light was just good enough to catch some action today.


Intent on trouble



After the second ride, I took the camera out into the garden.  Spring is definitely springing.

There were scillas, bobbing about in the breeze….



…and Jet Fire daffodils nodding…

Jet Fire daffodils

…and chinodoxa looking for some drying sunbeams.


A new wallflower is just starting…


…and the garden is starting to look a bit brighter all round.

There were two frogs in the pond.  This was one of them.


That was the only opportunity that I had for taking pictures because I went off to play music with Mike and Isabel in the afternoon and by the time I got back, the light had been overtaken by grey clouds.  The enjoyment of the music more than made up for being inside though.

My flute pupil Luke came in the evening.  He has obviously been practising hard and is improving all the time.  He has  even been doing his breathing exercises.

The rest of the evening was spent in trying to sort out one of those annoying computer problems that haunt you because you don’t know what is causing them.  I had been asked to update one of the websites that I manage but was unable to get my FTP link to work, rendering updating impossible,  Fortunately for me, Luke’s dad is a computer professional and he kindly came round when all else had failed and pinpointed exactly where the root of the problem lay.  Even more luckily it could  be sorted out by a quick download and I was able to update the site successfully.

This rounded off a very good day after yesterday’s doze.

A flying bird was available too.

flying chaffinch








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Today’s picture is a tribute to the crocuses which have been brilliant in the cold weather but which are now going over as the days warm up a bit.


I had intended to cycle a forty mile circuit in the morning before the predicted winds got up in the afternoon.  As it happened, it turned out that I had an number of tasks to do in the house at the same time.  I hit on a suitable compromise and cycled up and down the Wauchope road in legs of 12 miles, 6 miles, 12 miles and 10 miles, making up my forty miles and enabling me to discharge my duties in the house at the end of each leg.  It also ensured that I got back in good time to let Mrs Tootlepedal go to a meeting of the Embroiders’ Guild so that I could wait in for expected B & B guests.

The revised plan went well, the wind staying light and my legs holding out.  I even did the last 10 miles leg at a faster speed than than the three preceding efforts.

The sun was out when I finished my pedal and the garden was loud with the sounds of frogs.  You may think that it takes great skill to find a frog to photograph but as you can see, on a sunny day I am spoilt for choice.

frogs in pond

These eight are just a sample of what was available.

Mrs Tootlepedal has recently planted out some fritillaries and has been nurturing them carefully through the cold nights.  They are doing well.


I was very pleased to see a blue tit in the garden.  This rather worn looking one popped in several times during the day.  At least, I think it was the same one.

blue tit

The feeder was as busy as ever and I managed to find four different types on it at one time, nibbling away in harmony for once.

Siskin, chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch

Siskin, chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch

Other more alien birds arrived.


A jackdaw tried out the fat balls


Two more lurked on the ground looking as though they were casing the joint.

In the end, our visitors arrived before Mrs Tootlepedal left and I was free to do whatever I wanted.   I wandered round the garden looking for new flowers and found an anemone  in a flowerbed and a chionodoxa growing unexpectedly in the lawn.

anemone chionodoxa

I saw a redpoll but fell victim to the downside of shooting in manual rather than using auto when I snatched up the camera to catch it but failed to adjust the aperture/shutter speed in time.


I could pretend that this is an intended moody study but that wouldn’t be true

As I was at a loose end, Sandy suggested an outing and I agreed.  While I was waiting for him to arrive, I managed to catch a frog in mid croak in the pond.

croaking frog

Its throat is expanded to double its usual size.

Sandy’s plan was to go to Carlisle and walk along the banks of the river Eden and this seemed good to me so off we went.  We left the car in Rickerby Park and walked down to the river bank. Inevitably by the time that we got there, the sun had gone in but the walk was very enjoyable nevertheless.


We walked along the north side of the river and then crossed the fine bridge, admiring the fortitude of an angler in what must have been very cold water…

angler in Eden

…and then walked along the other bank.  Our path followed the edge of the Carlisle municipal golf course….


There were few golfers about.

…where Dropscone often defeated me when I was a regular but erratic golfer.

We met the angler walking along the opposite way and asked him if he had caught anything.  “Nothing,” he replied, “the wind was far too strong.” He then went on to say with a smile that anglers were never happy because if it wasn’t the wind, it would be too much sun, too little sun, too much rain, no rain, too hot or too cold and he walked off quite cheerily.  We saw him back in the river in a different place when we returned from our walk so he obviously wasn’t too discouraged.

We walked through a small wood and could hear bird calls. It turned out to be two long tailed tits but they were most uncooperative and hopped from branch to branch above our heads without showing their faces.

long tailed tit

The wood was showing some signs of spring.


The river soon winds into the country but as the motorway crosses it not far away, there was always the noise of traffic to be heard.  In addition, there was a football match being played at the Carlisle United ground which is just across the water meadows and we were serenaded by the songs and shouts of the fans as we walked along.

river Eden

river Eden

This peaceful looking river is liable to flood and the golf course is often under water.   It caused tremendous flooding in the Carlisle itself  in 2005 and a large system of flood walls have been built to try to contain it.   It was quiet today though and there was a fair number of birds about.


A pair of goosanders

There were swans, ducks, oyster catchers, wagtails and a lot of gulls.


There was one of those helpful signs on the river bank telling you about all the animals and birds that are supposed to be there but which you never see but we were happy enough with what we saw and walked back to the car when  a light rain began to fall.

I allowed myself one intentionally moody shot of an old piece of piling now marooned in the water…


…but the trip was more enjoyable as a quiet walk in good company than as a photographic outing.

We arrived home safely and Sandy was thanked for his driving skills by means of  a slice of sourdough bread and a slice of Mrs Tootlepedal’s walnut and banana loaf.

After he left, I collapsed in a heap, thoroughly tired from walking and cycling and did nothing else but slump in my easy chair and watch the golf from Augusta for the rest of the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys watching the Masters too, partly for the golf and partly for the azaleas.

The flying bird of the day is a brambling.










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Today’s picture is a magnificent magnolia in front of Kenwood House, London.  It was sent by my sister Mary who took it on a walk on a rather gloomy morning.

We were greeted here by the second sunny day running and our hearts were lifted as spring was in the air all around.   There was a spring in Mrs Tootlepedal’s step as she went off to sing in the church and a more muted one in mine as I pottered across the front lawn to sit and do the crossword in the sunshine.

The ways of birds are mysterious to me, as I may have mentioned before, and after yesterday’s snowstorm of siskins there were only two in the garden all day today.  This left the feeders open to others.


A matched pair of goldfinches in the morning sun.

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned, we had a cup of coffee and then set to work.  She started digging over the vegetable beds while I got the rough mower out and mowed the middle lawn, always a transcendental experience.  This was the lawn that Mrs Tootlepedal remodelled at the back end of last year and it is looking quite promising for so early in the year.

middle lawn March

The new sowing at the far end looks better in the picture than in real life.

Mrs Tootlepedal broke off from her work to help me identify a new flower in bloom.  I should know it as I took pictures of it last year but somehow its name had slipped my mind.


It is a chionodoxa or 'glory of the snow'

The second day of sunshine had brought the scillas out too.


After lunch, I offered Mrs Tootlepedal the chance of another bicycle outing but the call of the garden was too loud and so I went off by myself on the (comparatively) speedy bike to visit the Mosspaul Hotel which sits on the east-west watershed of southern Scotland.  I had my little camera with me and as I am not rushing at the moment, I stopped to take several pictures as I went up the Ewes Valley.

First, one of my favorite views near Ewes church.


That view really sums up the sort of country we live in here.

Next shot was the old toll house at Fiddleton.

Fiddleton Toll 2012

Here is the same toll house over 100 years earlier.  Not a lot of change.

fiddleton toll c 1900

I didn’t quite have the nerve to lean my bike against their wall before taking the present day photo.

On the other side of the roads is one of the steepest hills round here.  It almost has a highland mountain air about it.

Hill at Fiddleton

From Fiddleton, the road winds through a narrow gap for the last mile or so up to Mosspaul.

approaching Mosspaul

The sudden narrowing of the valley can funnel the wind if it is coming from the right direction.  This was the case today and I was able to cruise up the hill with minimal effort.  Of course it meant that I had to pedal quite hard to get back down but you can’t have everything.

I am concentrating on going as fast as I can without having to breathe hard at the moment and this is keeping me in fairly low gears so I am hoping to improve my cadence speed (the speed the pedals go round as opposed to the speed that the bike goes) and get some benefit from this period of reduced cycling action.

I managed a speed of just under 15 mph which was reasonable for a trip with no steep hills in it.

Mrs Tootlepedal was still working in the garden when I got back so she must have done a lot of good work today.  I got the good camera out and waited for a chaffinch in the afternoon sun.

chaffinch in the afternoon

Although it is not a great shot, I like the translucent wings that the light gives at this time.

It was such a lovely evening that I got the good camera out and set off to walk along the banks of the Esk.


Now that's what I call early spring.

I crossed the Langholm Bridge and looked down the High Street before going on to the Kilngreen.  It was peaceful to say the least.

High Street

Unfortunately for me, the fine weather had brought a lot of visitors to the Kilngreen and the bird life was consequently scarce. I took the long lens off the camera and stuck on the one for views instead.

Sawmill Bridge

I walked across the Castleholm, pausing to take yet another shot of the Castle…


…before meeting two mighty beasts taking their owners for a stroll in the sun.

St Bernards

No brandy available unfortunately.

As is always the way, as I was crossing the new bridge, I saw three goosanders.  I got a shot off with the short lens and before I could get the zoom lens out, they were off up the river.


So near and yet so far!

By the time I got home, I felt that I had had a good day’s exercise and Mrs Tootlepedal must have felt the same because she had put down the spade and taken up her needle and was hard at work on her quilt.

By the end of the day, my step was definitely unsprung a bit.  I am starting my new medicine tomorrow and I am hoping that in a few weeks or so I will be back to full speed ahead.  In the meantime, here is today’s chaffinch.  It is a brambling.






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