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Posts Tagged ‘clematis’

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon who noticed these interesting additions to a pylon when he was out and about near Canonbie. They are going to renew the cables.

We had another beautiful day here today. As this was the first day of summer, there is a slight worry that summer can only go downhill from here on. It will be hard to get a better day day than this.

We had our morning street coffee off the street today, tucked round the corner beside the dam where two of our number could sit in the shade of Margaret’s shed, while Liz and and I sat in the sun holding umbrellas to provide our own personal shade. Passers by, used to finding us in the street, were amazed to find us on the grass looking for all the world like an impressionist painting by Monet.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal did some work in the garden while I wandered about looking for new flowers. There were new flowers to be found.

The wiegela has started flowering.

A red geum has come to join the geum flock.

A new lupin is probably my favourite lupin now it has come out.

Both the red and white astrantias are not at their peak yet but full of promise.

And the stars of the show today are the silver lined irises.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the progress of the vegetable garden and I was able to snip some leaves from her cut and come again lettuce patch to have in a lettuce and marmite sandwich for my lunch.

After lunch, I looked at the feeder through an open window and saw a goldfinch there…

..and in the distance, I could see Mrs Tootlepedal putting the new bench to the very use it was designed for on a sunny afternoon.

it seemed to be a couple of degrees cooler than it had been yesterday, so I decided to mark the start of the summer months with a cycle ride. Wanting to avoid the Wauchope road where the tar was melting last time that I went that way, I headed south out of. Instead of crossing the river at Skippers Bridge, I kept on going down the east bank of the river and then crossed the Tarras and went through Claygate towards the Hollows.

This route is quite hilly and I was concentrating so hard on pedalling sensibly and not getting too hot that I forgot to take any pictures until I got to the shade of the old road at the Hollows.

I headed down to Canonbie, hoping to see the pylon devices that Simon had photographed but instead of the devices themselves, I saw workmen on another pylon getting ready to install them.

I heard a man on a news programme recently complaining that young barristers could only expect to earn as much as an electrician but I think that these super electricians deserve every penny that they get.

Away to my left, Canonbie Church looked at its best.

I pedalled on south and joined the main road for a mile or two at the end of the Canonbie by-pass. The traffic was still light and nowhere near back to pre-lockdown levels.

After a very unpromising winter, farmers must have feared the worst, but things have improved a lot recently as this field of waving barley near Longtown shows.

I left the main road here and turned up towards Milltown of Sark, crossing the border back into Scotland on my way. The last tree in England is also the last to get its leaves.

I looked back at the tree after I had passed it and you can see from the direction that the Gretna turbines are pointing that the wind was helping me up the hill here. I was grateful for the help but having the wind behind me and not blowing in my face meant that it was hot work for a mile or two.

Readers may have noticed how completely weed free the field of barley that I passed earlier was. I worry that this is part of the reason for the drastic drop in the number of insects about, so I was happy to see an uncultivated field full of buttercups further along my journey.

The wind continued to be helpful all the way home, and I arrived back after 26 enjoyable miles in perfect time to have a shower, a cup of tea (and a ginger biscuit or two) and join in the evening Zoom meeting with Mrs Tootlepedal and my siblings.

After the meeting, I watched the birds for a bit. Mrs Tootlepdal’s fake tree may not have any leaves but it is still a useful spot for birds waiting for a perch at the feeder to have rest.

We needed to have a queuing system as the feeder was busy.

I had time for another wander round the garden before scrambled eggs for tea and found another new flower out. This is the first of many foxgloves to come.

And I feel a bit guilty that I usually show the garage clematis en masse when the individual flowers are very pretty in themselves.

But if the silver lined irises were the morning stars, the evening star was Lilian Austin, a really lovely English rose.

The scrambled eggs (on toast) brought the first day of summer to a satisfactory close. I hope that there are many more like it as far as the weather goes, but mixed with overnight rain from time to time of course. We need rain badly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon. He has been taking walks round Canonbie during the lockdown and wonders why anyone might prefer city life to scenes like these.

It was not a promising morning today here in any way, being windy and wet from the start. I did pop out into the garden when the rain was very light and have a look around. Mrs Tootlepedal has a choisya which she doesn’t think is looking well but it is producing flowers to join the ranunculus…

…and a Rodgersia which is is looking healthy. Just to prove me wrong, the clematis by the front door has produced more flowers but it is hiding them behind its leaves to annoy.

The original flower is going over in style.

I didn’t linger long and was soon back inside wasting time on trivial but time consuming activities. Once again, we felt grateful that the weather has been fine for most of our lockdown as two months of wet and windy weather would have been very hard to bear.

I did spend some time trying out Google Meet with my sister Susan but it didn’t work satisfactorily so we will probably stick to Zoom for our regular meetings.

When I stopped doing the trivial things, the birds were there to keep me entertained.

The feeder was busy all day and new birds were constantly arriving to the disapproval of the incumbents…

…and this led to some collisions and cantankerousness.

I think that my current favourites among the visitors are the redpolls in their spring get ups.

We have many young sparrows in the garden but I haven’t seen many young blackbirds. I wondered if this was a teenager. It looked as though it wouldn’t mind being fed but no one came.

We had planned to go for a walk after lunch but the rain persisted and we didn’t start until after three o’clock in the end. We went out with some trepidation as there was still a light drizzle and the wind was boisterous to say the least.

A trail of leaves littering the track up to the Stubholm told the story of how strong the wind has been.

We met some friends at the Stubholm and they told us that they had abandoned their intention to walk up the Warbla Track because of the strong wind and advised us to keep to low level sheltered spots.

We were headed down to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge so we were able to follow their advice without changing our plan. We passed this fine tree on our way.

We crossed the bridge and walked along the road beside the river as far as the track that leads up Jenny Noble’s Gill. A movement ahead caught our eye and we spotted a grey squirrel, and it froze for a moment as it climbed a tree.

Lovers of red squirrels have been trying to keep grey squirrels at bay for some years but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle as I see more and more greys all the time.

The walk up the gill among the birch trees was lovely….

…and the seed heads of the grasses were whispering to each other as we passed.

The track back to the town was as delightful as ever, even on a dull grey day….

…but it didn’t seem as windy as it was when we set out so we left the track and ventured out of the woods onto the open hill…

…and after passing through some bluebells, we soon enjoyed good views over the valley and town below us.

The church stands out now that it has been released from the shadows of the trees.

The golf course is waiting for the arrival of keen golfers like Dropscone as soon as the traps are opened in a day or two.

Dropscone is looking forward to it in spite of his advanced age. (He advanced another year yesterday and is now officially older than me for the next six months.)

As well as the views, there were other things to look at as we went along.

We saw wild strawberries, small cow wheat (not a thing that we have seen before), a patch of white flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal told me “is that weed which grows on your lawn”, and a bunch of smiling buttercups.

An old leafless tree caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

We had had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get above the golf course and we were happy to have reached a point as we passed that tree when it was all downhill on the way home.

We walked past Whita Well and pressed on until we reached the Newcastleton Road. This let us descend gently back to river level and we walked back to Langholm along the main road from Whitshiels.

I noted some of the points of interest that we saw on our way: exuberant crosswort, fresh green hazel leaves, herb Robert and a real novelty these day, an actual puddle.

As we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge and home, the sun actually came out…

…and just as promptly, it went in again and we had to increase out pace as a light rain encouraged us to get a move on.

It had been a strenuous five mile walk and never has a cup of tea and a slice of cake been more welcome.

That finished the day off for us as we had not an ounce of energy left for anything else except a small plate of rhubarb and custard as a late supper.

The flying bird of the day is one of the young sparrows who frequent the garden at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who extended her permitted walk as far as Regents Park where she enjoyed the rose garden.

Rose garden regents park

We had a warm and sunny day today with light winds.  Days like this are to be treasured.

The star in the garden was the first peony, beating the tree peony easily.

first peony

A lot of our ferns suffered badly in the frost but some of them have shrugged it off and are doing very well.

ferns after frost

I saw an orange tip buttefly in the garden but it flew off leaving me to watch this white butterfly on the sweet rocket instead.

butterfly on sweet rocket

After the rain, the garden is looking quite healthy but there is a notable gap in the far corner which should be glowing with rhododendron flowers.

no azaleas

All the same, there is colour to be found, so we are not crying too much.

four garden pictures

You have to look hard to spot this camassia though as it has got itself hidden behind taller plants.

camassia

The final remaining set of tulips looks set to last for ever.

tulips

The garage clematis is getting more flowers out every day and will soon be in full bloom.

garage clematis

Partly because I thought that it was Thursday (a lockdown category error that is quite common) and partly through natural indolence, I didn’t get my bike out to make full use of the good day until after Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out to her street coffee morning.

However, once I got going, I enjoyed myself a lot.

It was a perfect day for a pedal…

road at enzieholm

…and instead of my usual little circle starting up the Wauchope valley, I headed up Eskdale today, crossed the Black Esk by this bridge…

tanlawhill brodge

…which is one of my favourites, not because of the beauty of the structure but because of its placing in the surrounding landscape.

Once over the bridge, I followed the White Esk through Castle O’er and up to Eskdalemuir.

Like the bridge, this little road is one of my favourites too with interesting verges (the butterfly would not give me a side view….

butterfly head on

…and some lovely woods.

wood at tanlawhill

When  I got to Eskdalemuir, I climbed a stiff hill out of the valley of the White Esk towards the valley of the Black Esk.

The climb lasts for a mile and goes up just under 300 feet.  You get good views back as you climb out of the valley, but the camera does not do justice to the amount of puffing I had to put in to get the view in my opinion.

hill out of E'muir

T was heading towards Lockerbie and passing through timber country.  The forests here grow, get cut down and grow again at a dizzying pace.  I was passed by a dozen timber wagons going to and fro.  It is a highly organised and mechanised business these days.

cut timber

Having crossed the Black Esk, I got a welcome spell of downhill as I descended into the  valley of the Dryfe Water which is cattle country.

old hedge

I expect that many if not all the loaded timber lorries were heading for the huge timber yards at Steven’s Croft where I passed the country’s biggest wood burning stove.

stevens croft

Once I hit the old main road at the power station, I turned south and headed for Gretna, passing this fine lake of buttercups outside Lockerbie on my way…

pool of buttecups lockerbie

…and stopping to admire the motorway bridge over the Water Of Milk from the bridge on the old road.

motorway bridge

Peering into the shadows under the bridge, I could see extensive works, designed perhaps to let fish go up stream over a weir.  Today there was hardly enough water coming down to cater for a tadpole.

under the motorway bridge

The cycling was now pretty flat, which was a relief to my knees and I stopped from time to time to admire flowers by the road.  The red tree on the right of the panel is a red horse chestnut, I think.

rhodie, umbellifer and red chestnut

I had an interesting route mapped out in my mind for the English section of my trip when I had passed through Gretna going south, but it dawned on me as I pedalled along that the bridge at Longtown (my proposed homeward route) was shut to all traffic as it is undergoing repairs.  I wondered if it would be open to a pedestrian pushing his bike but decided not risk it, and rather tamely circled round and cycled back up to Gretna again before approaching Longtown on the north side of the bridge.

The old gravel pond there, with a fine hawthorn on its bank, looked positively Mediterranean today.

hawthorn Longtown pond

By this time, my knees were getting slightly mutinous and home and a nice sit down came into their conversation quite a lot, so I stopped taking pictures and concentrated on knocking off the final fifteen miles of route with as smooth a pedalling style as I could muster.

It has been my ambition in recent years to have at least one cycle outing each year that covers as many miles as I have had birthday.  I was born in November 1941 and my route covered exactly 80 miles today, leaving me with a couple of bonus miles in hand.

I got home in time to enjoy an evening meal of liver cooked with carrots and spinach from the garden, provided by the industrious Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had been busy in the garden while I was out.

It was a warm day today but one of the joys of cycling is that you provide your own cooling breeze as you go along and I found it very comfortable.  All the same, I lost four pounds on the jaunt in spite of eating three bananas, a satsuma, a small honey sandwich, several dates and some guava jelly.  I drank about 900ml of water too.   In normal circumstances, I would have organised a stop half way round to enjoy egg and chips at a cafe or pub on a ride of that length.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but a very obliging sparrow flew into shot as I was going for my shower.  It is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

I append the map of the ride.  I carefully organised all the climbing at the start of the route!

garmin route 20 May 2020

Those interested can click on the pic for more details.

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Today’s guest picture is a puzzle.  Is it the south of France? Is is a tropical Isle? No, it is sunny Wemyss turning up trumps yet again for the lens of our son Tony.

another wemyss view

We had a touch of frost in the very early morning but by the time that I got up the sky was as blue as the lithodora….

lithodora

…and it stayed that way all day.

In spite of coming from the south west, the wind had a distinct nip in it as I walked round the garden after breakfast.

As long as I was in the sunshine though, it was a pleasure to be out enjoying Mrs Tootlepedal’s flowers.

rhododendron

The tulips look delightful when they are backlit by the morning sun.

mroning poppy

And the sun must surely encourage the advent of the age of the azalea and alliums which is reluctant to to dawn while the mornings are so cold.

allium and azalea

To be fair to them, I looked back at previous years and found it is really a bit early to expect full blown alliums and the azaleas are often later too..

The very first honeysuckle flower is trying to creep out unobserved…

first honeysuckle

…while the clematis round the garage doors is secretly adding a flower or two every day.

growing clematis

The street socially distanced coffee morning convened at the usual time and as well as our Garibaldi biscuits, Liz provided a very tasty mixed fruit cake and the general consensus was that there wouldn’t be much call for a big lunch later on.

Because of the continuing lack of rain, there was a lot of watering to be done in the garden.  While the water was spraying,  I dead headed tulips and tore up a cardboard box to add to the compost in Bin A.

While I was there, I was very happy to note that professional pollinators were on the job in the espalier apple trees.

bees on apple blossom

The sun had encouraged an Icelandic poppy to give us a smile.

first icelandic poppy

I was encouraged to go indoors for an early lunch in order to make use of the fine day by going for a good cycle ride.  I foolishly glanced at the crossword and wasted time before I finally managed to get organised enough to actually go out on my bike.  (It was an enjoyable crossword.)

The cold wind of the morning had eased off a bit, but it was still noticeably chilly for such a lovely day.  This had the good effect of keeping me cool under a cloudless sky and the breeze wasn’t strong enough to make much of a difference to my speed.  I averaged 14 mph down to the coast over the only substantial uphill section of the ride and then I managed 14 mph on the much gentler return journey.  The joy of cycling when there isn’t a strong wind is indescribably great, if only because it is so rare.

It would have been hard to find a better day for a ride.  There is still very little traffic on the road.  I met a few but not many other cyclists and they were all going in the opposite direction to me so there was no call to try to keep up with people passing me or to get depressed when they shoot off into the distance.

The verges are perking up and I saw quite a lot of crosswort today.  By dint of putting my shadow over one example, I even got a half decent picture.

crosswort

I never cease to be amazed by the design work that goes into building flowers.

We are not quite in full leaf yet as this study of clothed and naked trees staring at each other across the Kirkpatrick Fleming road shows.

bare and clothed trees

I was aiming to do 50 miles so I stopped every twelve and a half miles to rest my legs, drink some water and eat some guava jelly and a date.  At my first stop, I leaned my bike against a road sign and had a close look at the reflective surface.

road sig pattern

The signs are so bright these days that they constitute a dazzling hazard themselves for elderly night drivers.

The cow parsley is thriving and I just had to be careful not to take my eye of any potholes while I was admiring the flowers.

cow parsley and potholes

Sometimes, both verges joined in the fun.

cow parsley both sides

When it came to trees, these four near Eastriggs were my favourites of the day…

eastriggs trees

…but they were run close by this attractive newly planted avenue near Rockcliffe in Cumbria…

avenue at rockliffe

…and this specimen with an added gorse hedge at its foot near Whamtown.

leaning tree and gorse

I realised that I was going to miss the regular family Zoom meeting, so I stopped on the road below Canonbie School to check in for a moment and apologise.

When I looked around I could see some striking red campion beside the road….

red campion canonbie

…with a shady wild flower mixture nearby…

red campion and violets

…and a Pyrenean Valerian in flower on the opposite side of the road.

pyrenean valerian canonbie

So that turned out to be a good place to pause.

After that, I headed home for a much needed sit down, having covered 54 miles, my (just) longest ride of the year so far.

I sat out in the garden for a moment with Mrs Tootlepedal while our evening meal was cooking and we enjoyed the evening sun lighting up the tulips.

evening tulips

I was getting ready to sit down and write this post, regretting that I hadn’t got a flying bird of the day to finish it, when I noticed a very nearly full ‘flower’ moon out of a window.  It may not be a flying bird, but at least it is up in the sky.

moon may

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