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Posts Tagged ‘clematis’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo.  She escaped just in time from the Manitoba snow storm and arrived in London to find that it was raining a lot instead.  In the end the rain stopped for long enough for her to visit Kew Gardens where she encountered these  splendidly prickly plants.

kew

After our short spell of better weather, the weather gods had decided to bring us back down to earth today and it was raining heavily when we got up.   Mrs Tootlepedal bravely cycled off in the rain on business after breakfast while I did the sensible thing and stayed at home and arranged to have coffee with Sandy and Dropscone.

Dropscone brought his usual supply of good scones and we sconed, sipped and chatted away as the rain fell.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the town and we squeezed another cup from the pot for her.

After coffee, I had time to do the crossword and start a tarte tatin off before we had lunch,  After lunch, the rain finally eased off and I was able to get out into the garden.

There were birds posing for me all over the place.

The rather scruffy male blackbird is looking better…

blackbird improving

…even though the female doesn’t think much of him yet.

fierce balckbird

The sparrows often have a bath in the dam behind the house and then, like this one, flit up up onto the lilac to have a flutter and a shoogle to get dry again.

fluffy sparrow

A bird skulked in the shadows on the fence…

dunnock on fence

…before flying up into the rowan tree to reveal that it was a dunnock or hedge sparrow.  It is obviously a bit slow in learning the difference between a fence, a tree and a hedge.

dunnock in rowan

As you can see, the sun had come out by this time, so I took a quick look at some clematis…

two clematis

…and a fuchsia which is coming out ridiculously late for the first time this year, together with a dahlia which is hanging on very well after looking as though it was well past it.

fuchsia and dahlia

Then, as it was too good a day to miss by now, I got my bike out and checked to see how my legs were feeling after two busy days.

It turned out that they were feeling fine and they carried me round my customary twenty mile Canonbie circuit slowly but without complaining.

There is a spot along the way where the grass always turns golden brown at this time of year.

brown hillside Kerr

I didn’t stop for many pictures as this is a well documented ride already but I needed a breather after 15 miles so I took a look up stream from the Hollows Bridge…

view from hollows bridge october

…and a bit later on was much struck by the golden colour of some bracken on the old A7

bracken old A7

The sun is getting low in the sky all day now and the trees on the far bank were casting interesting shadows on the old distillery building as I crossed Skippers Bridge.

Distllery from Skippers october

When I got home, I turned out the tarte tatin and while Mrs Tootlepedal made a pot of tea, I cut a couple of slices of the tarte to go with it.  I added some ice cream to my slice and in my view, it would be hard to find a better after-ride refreshment.

I was so refreshed indeed that after I had had a shower, I went out for a short walk.  I was motivated partly by the tarte, partly by the lovely evening light and mostly by the fact that my physio has told me to walk more.

It is not long until the clocks go back so evening walks at this time of day will disappear for some months so I was pleased to able to enjoy such a beautiful light today.

The shadows were falling fast but I had time to enjoy some gentle autumn colour on my way.  The pictures speak for themselves, I think.

tree at church

Esk in evening light

looking up esk

trees by A7 kilngreen

lodge october evening

By the time that I had crossed two bridges and was approaching the third, the sun was ready to sink behind the hill and the shadows were lengthening…

castleholm october evening

…until the monument was in the sun but most of the New Town was in the shade.

Whita in sun town in shadow

I swept  a lot of walnut leaves off the front lawn when I got home.

We had courgette fritters for tea and then I went to sing with the Langholm choir.  Because of some illness going round, we had a select turnout, but we had a most enjoyable sing all the same.

As the sun went down on my walk in the afternoon, it began to feel a little chilly and I was wondering if we would have a frost tonight.  However, it was still quite warm when I walked home from the choir and when I looked at our thermometer a moment ago, it said that it is 9 degrees C.  The forecast claims that it won’t get lower than 5 degrees overnight.  We have been very lucky to have kept our flowers for so long and it looks as thought they may still be there tomorrow.

No flying bird of the day today but I was happy to see a starling back perching on the holly tree again.

starling back on holly

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.  He met this ‘wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie‘ in a field while he was out on a walk.  Whether it had a ‘panic in its breastie’ is not recorded.

wemyss mouse

We had any amount of rain overnight, and when I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge, it had five inches of rain in it. I think that that was the product of the last two weeks and judging by the forecast, it may not be too long before It fills up again.  September was an unusually wet month and October is no improvement so far.

Still, the other side of the coin has been the generally warm weather which has let Crown Princess Margareta enjoy a late burst of life.  She seems to be pretty waterproof and unfazed by the overnight rain.

princess margareta after rain

Other flowers, like this clematis, are also holding on well and have more buds ready to come out.

purple clematis october

Even Lilian Austin has been tempted into producing a final fling.

lilian austin trying

Mrs Tootlepedal started the day off by taking our guest, Riley, for a walk, and then we went to church to sing in the choir.  We had a visiting minister who radiated a serious cheerfulness (he was serious and cheerful at the same time), a reasonable number of singers in the choir and a selection of good hymns.  I enjoyed the service.

I had forgotten to make a stew for the slow cooker after breakfast so I had to defrost some of the venison that I bought yesterday and make the stew when we got back from church.  It is very good to get back from our Carlisle choir in the evening and find a hot meal waiting for us, so it was worth the effort.

Although it was a very grey day, Mrs Tootlepedal took Riley off for another walk while I was cooking, and I when I had finished, I had time to go out into the garden to do some bird watching.

The lilac tree was very busy with visits from a robin…

robin in lilac

…a blue tit…

blue tit on lilac

…and a dunnock.

`dunnock in lilac

A sparrow, anxious to appear in the post, tried out various poses on the fence for me…

sparrow posing on fence 1

…before we settled…

sparrow posing on fence 2

…on this one as the final product.

sparrow posing on fence 3

There is often a starling to be seen perched on the top of our neighbour Irving’s holly tree and I have sometimes wondered if it is always the same one.  This scruffy bird seemed quite familiar…

rough starling on holly

…but as I watched, it was replaced by this smoother version.  It waved its friend good bye.

smooth starling on holly

There may be those who can’t imagine what a gardener might do with bracken so I have put this picture in to show what happened to yesterday’s crop.  It has already done a good job in keeping last night’s heavy rain from battering the exposed soil where the courgettes were growing.

bracken on veg bed

Another alternative is to plant a covering crop.  Mrs Tootlepedal has used a sowing of grass on this year’s potato bed.

grass sown on potato bed

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for some shopping and singing.  The shopping was successful but the singing was not as useful as it might have been as once again, our regular conductor had other business.  She had sent down a very competent young man to take her place, but it is not the same as being taken by someone who knows us well.

And the heating was off when we came in so it was a bit chilly too.

Notwithstanding this, we did a lot of singing and that is always a good thing.

We had been threatened with rain but there was only the faintest drizzle on the drive home.  We arrived safely and enjoyed the slow cooked venison stew, followed by tarte tatin for our evening meal.

All in all, a good day in spite of some very gloomy weather.

The flying bird of the day is a starling leaving the holly tree at speed.

flying starling

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who is on a choir visit to the Netherlands.  In between singing , they were taken to see a parachute drop, part of the 75th anniversary Operation Market Garden commemorations in this area of The Netherlands.

parachutes

Our dry weather continued  today but it was rather misty when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Feeders after breakfast.

laverock hide road mist

I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is on holiday in Bulgaria and quite apart from the gloomy weather, there were hardly any birds about so we didn’t hang around after I had topped up the birdseed.

Instead, we drove back through the town and up the hill onto the Langholm moor to see if there were any swirling misty pictures to be taken.  There weren’t.

The clouds were just sitting on the tops of the hills, spoiling the view.

ewes valley misty hilltops

Even the tops of the turbines were hidden.

wind turbines in low cloud

We pottered back down the hill, putting the charge back into our car’s battery as we went and got home in time for coffee.

In the dam behind the house, birds were drinking and bathing.

starling and greenfinch

After coffee, I had a walk round the garden.

A grey headed blackbird was supervising affairs.

grey headed blackbird

Clematis, mallow and cosmos are still providing us with some rich colour…

three deep red flowers

…and red admiral butterflies could be seen on many different flowers.

three red admiral butterflies

We haven’t had any really cold mornings yet so there are still roses doing their best.

princess margareta rose

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with how healthy the whole of this new rose plant is looking.

new rose

She puts it down to good soil preparation and wishes that she had the time and energy to treat the whole garden so well.

She moved some nerines and was worried that they might not survive in their new location but they have not just survived, they are flourishing.

good nerine

As is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.  It has had  a couple of very poor years but after an inauspicious start to the summer, it has produced a lot of late flowers and is looking better than it has done for some time.

back wall fuchsia

Not bad for a very old plant that has been largely left to its own devices over the years.

back wall fuchsia blossom

Once again, the garden was full of butterflies in spite of the cloudy conditions.

A peacock stuck out its tongue for me.

peacock butterfly panel

And there were at least three small tortoiseshells about in varying conditions.

small tortoiseshell butterfly panel

Our visit to the garden was cut short by the need to go up to the town. Mrs Tootlepedal’s trip was to visit the bank which comes in a van for 45 minutes each week, and mine was to visit the health centre for a routine vitamin top up.

After lunch we went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents, and we were very shocked to find that our train was on time.

We  bought a new card game on our way to their house, and it turned out that Matilda has learned a new game herself as well.  She beat me at both of them.  I must remember never to play Matilda at cards for money when she grows up.

There was a stunning evening sky as we caught the bus back to the station after another delicious meal cooked by Alistair, but it was beyond the capacity of my phone camera to do it justice.  Instead I took a picture of the impressive array of cranes which are massed at the end of Princes Street for the rebuilding of the St James Centre.

burst

Our train home was also on time but the drive back to Langholm from Lockerbie was slowed by some foggy patches along the way.  This is not unexpected at this time of year but it was very unwelcome all the same.

Still, we got home safely.

The flying bird of the day, a fluffy young sparrow, is lying flat out on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  Flying is a tiring business.

plump young sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin who was in California recently seeing his son and grandchildren when he visited the Capitola Pier.

capitola pier

We had another grey morning here with the occasional threat of drizzle which didn’t come to much.  It was enough though to persuade me that coffee and a tricky  crossword and some light shopping at our corner shop could fill up the time satisfactorily.   The wind was light and I ought to have been out making the most of a reasonable cycling day but I didn’t feel guilty enough to do more than walk round the garden.

I was hoping to see blackbirds in the rowan tree again but they were too quick for me today and flew off as soon as they saw me coming.

I looked at a shy dahlia instead.

shy dahlia

The last of the poppies are far from shy.

deep red poppies

And once again, the red admirals were about.  This one was resting on a sedum…

red admiral butterfly on sedum

…and this one on a buddleia was showing off its goggle eyes and its antennae.  The antennae look as though they have LEDs on them.

red admiral butterfly close up

At noon, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop and I finally got organised and took my bike out for a pedal.

We are being threatened with the arrival of the last gasp of Storm Dorian but the rain isn’t due until the evening and although the wind was expected to speed up during the afternoon, it was still going to be pretty reasonable.  I planned a route which would take advantage of the strengthening wind to blow me back home.

These things don’t often work out well but today everything went to plan.  I cycled westwards into a gentle breeze as the sun came out.  On one of my refreshment pauses, I looked up to see a hefty crop of beech nuts on the branches above me.

beech mast

My turning point came after 20 miles when I arrived at Browhouses on the Solway coast.  I took a few minutes to eat half a banana and enjoy the views.

The tide was well out and although there were some sea birds about, they were well out of range of my cycling camera.

seas birds at browhouses

A group of swans and some of a large group of gulls with some oyster catchers behind them.

Looking westward, I could see the English shore across the shining levels of the Solway…

shining solway

 

…and looking eastwards, I could see the estuary of the River Esk rather than any sea.

esk estuary browhouses

In the distance, I could see the wind turbines at Gretna…

gretna windmills

..and at Longtown and unlike my last ride, this time the direction of the blades showed me that I would get my wish of windy support on my ride home.

longtown windmills

I noticed that one of the few wild flowers to be seen was attracting attention…

yellow flower browhouses

…and then set off to do the twenty odd miles home.

I went back by a different route to my outward journey, missing out Gretna Green which I had passed through on my way out, but going through all the other places on this neatly painted signpost which is in England in the  county of Cumbria.

cubbyhill signpost

It still carries the name of a county council which was abolished in 1974, the year in which we came to live in Langholm….

cubbyhill signpost detail

…and it is good to see that no-one thought it necessary to go to the expense of making new signposts when the old ones were in such good shape.

In the hedge beside the post were some bright rose hips.

rose hips cubbyhill

At Englishtown, the farmer had been busy cutting grass and there were bales on every side as far as the eye could see.

filed near Englishtown

Thanks to the favouring breeze, which had strengthened noticeably after I had turned for home, I did the first 20 miles down to the seaside (net elevation loss 250ft) in 1 hr 33 mins and the slightly longer return 22 mile journey to Langholm (net elevation gain 250ft) in 1 hr 27 minutes.  This is the way that well planned bike rides for the elderly should always work out.  To complete the picture, I should add that I took 23 minutes of rest and refreshment stops along the way.
 A map and details of the ride can be found here by anyone interested.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a very busy day and was working hard at some business arrangements when I got home.  I left her to it and walked round the garden after I had had a cup of tea.

The ornamental strawberries are having a late burst and look very good at the moment.

tame strawberry

Crown Princess Margareta is trying her best but will need a couple of kind days if she is to come to anything.

margareta rose

And the blue clematis at the front door continues to produce small but quite elegant flowers.

front door clematis

I picked some more plums and stewed some of them and ate them as a dessert with some ice cream after our evening meal.  Garmin (which records my ride on a nifty bike computer) claims that I used 2289 calories on my ride so that should have put most of them back.

No flying bird of the day today but another of the many young blackbirds in the garden stands in for it.

young blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from my flute pupil Luke’s mother Sharon.  She has been on Orkney where she visited the chapel built by Italian POWs on the shell of a Nissen hut.

Orkney Chapel

We had a better day today but to make up for the lack of rain, the temperature had dropped a bit and it was still windy.

The cooler weather had not discouraged butterflies and there were several red admirals about…

red admiral september

…and the occasional peacock too.

peacock september

I noticed that one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s runner beans, planted among the flowers along the vegetable garden fence is producing a good crop.

beans on fence

The effort of riding the borrowed bike into a strong wind a couple of days ago had given me a sore knee, a very common complaint when you ride a bike with a slightly different riding position to your normal steed.  The rest yesterday had improved things a lot so I took the opportunity of the dry weather to test my knee with a short ride on my own bike.

Apart from having to battle with a brisk wind again, things went very well, and I managed 10 miles without any knee trouble at all.

I stopped to admire a fungus beside the road, and if you wonder what was admirable about it….

mushroom

…it was the size that attracted my attention.

mushroom and foot

When I got home, I looked longingly at some ripe  plums on a very top branch on the plum tree, well out or reach.  The birds will have to enjoy them.

tall plums

I mowed the front lawn and got a good lot of grass off it.

It has been a good year for grass but the cosmos, which came out just  as the weather turned very wet, have generally  not enjoyed themselves at all.

poor cosmos

The various clematis have had a good year…

clematis on fence

…and crocosmia and poppies are lasting well.

poppies and crocosmialate poppy

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, and as well as the usual games, we introduced her to the delights of Clock Patience.  She impressed us by being able to say all the clock face numbers in Gaelic.

We had a lot of fun and the usual excellent meal and came home tired but content.

The flying bird of the day is a bee flitting about among the nicotiana.

bee on nocotiana

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Today’s guest picture was very kindly sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He quite rightly felt that we all needed cheering up on account of the political situation, and thought that there could be no more cheerful sight than the riverside gardens at Tamworth.

Tamworth gardens

After yesterday’s miserable day of wind and rain, we got a duplicate wet and windy day today.  As a result, I was more than happy to let breakfast and the crossword drift gently into coffee and a biscuit.  At this point, I was rescued from gloomy torpor by first, the arrival of Sandy looking to borrow the Archive Group projector, and then by Dropscone, who turned up with great expectations, having read in yesterday’s post that there was a chance of biscuits as well as coffee.

We did indeed enjoy the recorder group’s biscuits with some Guatemalan coffee.  The rain fell steadily outside.

When the coffee klatch disbanded, I thought about cycling down to Longtown on my borrowed bike in order to  hand it back and collect my own bike from the bike shop and ride it home.

I thought about it and I looked at the rain and then I thought again.

But then I remembered the Rules of the Velominati, the invisible hand that guides the cyclists of the world along the truth path of enlightenment.

Their mission statement is this:

The Rules lie at the beginning of The Path to La Vie Velominatus, not at the end; learning to balance them against one another and to welcome them all into your life as a Velominatus is a never-ending struggle waged between form and function as we continue along The Path towards transcension.

There are many rules, many of the only apply to more serious cyclists than me but I like Rule 12 which says:

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1 where n is the number of bikes that you already own.

Today I particularly thought of rule 9 which states:

If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

And the best rule of all, Rule 5:

I cannot reprint what Rule 5 says in this blog for reasons of taste, but suffice it say that the general tenor of the rule is:

“Stop Crying”

So I stopped crying and put my waterproof gear on and cycled the 15 miles down to Longtown by back and sometimes bumpy roads on my borrowed bike (which has a very upright riding position) into a stiff wind and with rain battering into my face for most of the way.

I enjoyed it.

Once you are wet, you can’t get any wetter and it was reasonably warm so there was nothing to complain about.

I enjoyed coming back by a straighter route on my own much more comfortable bike, with the wind behind me and the rain reduced to a drizzle even more for some reason.

My bike was in the repair shop because of a persistent and annoying noisy vibration, probably coming from the belt drive.  I say probably because the best brains at the bike shop are baffled and although their efforts have led to an amelioration, they have not led to a complete cure.  Further trial and research is in order.  Meanwhile the bike is riding pretty well so I am fairly happy.

When I got back, I had a look round the garden in the drizzle to enjoy what colour I could find.

rudbeckia

The bad weather had not put a small insect off visiting the zinnia.

zinnia with insect

And a cosmos smiled shyly at me through the gloom.

cosmos

Lilian Austin keeps producing more late flowers…

two lilians

…and most surprising of all is this clematis at the front door, as this is the third time is has produced flowers this year.

very late front door clematis

I had time for a shower and a late lunch and then I set off to Carlisle (in the rain) but this time by car.  I was heading for the station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.

Quite by chance, I saw this fine steam locomotive, 45699 Galatea, waiting at platform 3 to haul a steam excursion down the line.

Galatea 45699

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train was punctual to the very minute, indeed it might even have been a fraction early, so I had to leave the steam engine and go to meet her.

It wasn’t raining in Carlisle but it was raining in Langholm when we got back.  There are disadvantages in living among the hills on the edge of the Solway plain.  After several sunny days in London, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked on them.

There is no flying bird of the day, but I did take a short and wobbly video on my phone of Galatea pulling out of the station.  I have turned the sound down considerably as it was a noisy affair.

I don’t need to say it but I will anyway, it is surpassingly good to have Mrs Tootlepedal home again.

You can find the very extensive list of the Velominati rules here if your interest has been roused.  They are for a specialised taste though and probably not very funny if you are not a cyclist.  My tan lines are very disappointing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a Book Cafe but found that reading one of their books might be tricky.  He tells me that he didn’t bolt his coffee and cake though.

book cafe

This morning couldn’t have offered a greater contrast to yesterday’s summer weather.  The clouds were clamped down on the hills, the town was engulfed by gloom and there was a persistent drizzle.  The drizzle did fizzle out though and I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast to do some archive group  and camera club business.

I had hoped to have a cup of coffee with Dropscone when I got back, but he had a golfing engagement so I went out to check the garden.

It was warm enough, but the results of the drizzle could be seen hanging about on dahlias….

dahlia with droplets

…and in a hundred neat pockets along the front hedge.

hedge with jewels

I had several goes at capturing the beauty of the water filled webs…

triple panel droplets

…and this was my favourite as I thought that it caught their jewelled nature best.

web with drops

Since it wasn’t a gardening moment, I went in and made half a dozen pots of plum jam, using early plums which we had picked that were not suitable to eat yet.  Our jam thermometer is a bit like the jam maker himself, old and unreliable, and I may have overcooked the jam a bit, but I had a test helping on some new bread in the evening and it wasn’t too bad.  We are researching digital jam thermometers and if any reader has had a good experience with one, we would be pleased to learn about it.

After the jam making was finished, I went out into the garden and was happy to find that the clouds had lifted and the rain had cleared away altogether.

I had a walk round to admire the late colour.

lily, crocosmia, astilbe and rose

…and noted that sometimes, one plant gets overtaken by another as these two clematis flowers, peeking out through alien foliage, show.

two lonely clematis

Elsewhere, clematis has a clear run.

clematis on fence

I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to collect embroidery exhibits, the work of her local group, which have been on display in Hawick.  I went back out into the garden where the sun was now shining and found myself ducking to avoid being mowed down by hordes of butterflies and sparrows which were circling the garden.

Although it was pleasantly warm in the sun, it was not as hot as yesterday and the butterflies all had their wings wide open.

red admiral, two peacocks, white butterfly

Once again, there were far more peacocks about than any other sort…

peacock butterfly wings spread

…though the whites came a close second.

white butterfly

The large family of blackbirds are still around at various stages of development…

young blackbird on ground

…and they and the resident starlings and sparrows were joined by a tuneful thrush today.

starling, thrush and sparrow

There were so many butterflies about that I had to persuade them to shift over to give me a bit of room on the bench to sit….

two butterflies on bench

…and enjoy a small plum snack.

four plums on bench

It had dried up enough to let me mow the middle lawn and then I got my bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was a good day for a cycle ride…

view over Bloch

…with the country looking at its most benign.

view down wauchopedale

Farmers had been busy cutting grass in every corner of their fields.

tree with cut grass

All new deciduous trees seem to be planted in plastic tubes these days and this view as I climbed the hill over the Kerr seems to show that it is a good idea, with a flourishing little forest well under way.

successful tree tubes

As I came back home along the Esk valley, there was more evidence of grass cutting to be seen.

grass cut at grainstone

I would have liked to have had time to have gone a bit further but there was the front lawn to cut and my flute pupil Luke to welcome.

I did find time when i got home to watch a blackbird in the rowan tree.  It was eyeing up the berries and bending to check on them, but the big question was, would it pose for the ‘money shot’?

blackbird panel in rowan

It did.

blackbird with berry

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived safely back from Hawick, and while my flute pupil Luke and I practised, she made a delicious cauliflower cheese, garnished with beans and courgettes from the garden for tea.  We ate it with a side dish of beetroot which our friend Nancy had given us and i had cooked earlier.  She has grown so much beetroot on her allotment this year that she can hardly face eating any more.

We rounded off the day by watching the highlights of the Vuelta, the cycling tour of Spain.  It took our minds off the political situation.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the last big poppies.

flying bee with poppy

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