Posts Tagged ‘comfrey’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.


There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.


I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

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Today’s guest picture shows you-know-who enjoying a chocolate cake.  It was sent to me by her proud father.


The day didn’t start quite as I had planned.  Instead of leaping up and cycling into the middle distance, I staggered up, had breakfast and retired back to bed to read a magazine for an hour or so.

When I finally got up, I was just in time to help Mrs Tootlepedal.  We had accumulated a very large pile of clippings from the front hedge and the two smaller hedges in the garden which she had clipped.  We have a small electric shredder which is usually quite adequate for our needs but this pile would have meant a very long time standing and feeding the little machine.  Hidden away in the garage, we have a large petrol driven shredder which we stopped using years ago basically because it was very noisy and smelly.  But needs must so it saw the light of day again.

petrol shredder

Mrs Tootlepedal was very pessimistic about the chances of it starting after being inactive for so long but much to our surprise, it started easily and the large pile of hedge clippings  were turned into usable  composting material in a quarter of an hour.

After the machine had been stowed away, I had a look round the garden.


Peonies are bursting out all over. They look gorgeous seen from the side….


….and from above.

New roses are appearing every day.


The Queen of Denmark and Goldfinch

There were bees on all sides.


Brilliant clusters of flowers.

sweet william and onion

Sweet William and what Mrs Tootlepedal describes as ‘another onion thingy’

I like these two quite a lot….

lupin and foxglove

…but not as much as I like the astrantia.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal expressed a wish for a cycle ride somewhere new and as we have cycled round pretty well every road in the vicinity over the years, we packed the bikes in the car and drove thirty miles north and parked the car at the visitor centre at Harestanes.

Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should cycle to the village of Roxburgh about 6 miles away and make a circular route by coming back past the Waterloo Monument.

This turned out to be a very good plan indeed. The weather was perfect for cycling, the roads were quiet and well surfaced and there was something interesting to look round every corner.

We saw a huge fungus at Nisbet….


…the Cheviot Hills in the distance…


…white campion and strikingly blue comfrey in the verges…

white campion comfrey

…hares chasing each other through the fields…


…a picturesque lochan complete with many waterfowl…

lochan at Mounteviot…and if we had stopped for every photo opportunity, we would never have got round the thirteen and a half miles at all.

The roads were varied and the views often spectacular both to north and south.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very interested in visiting Roxburgh, as the original town was once a thriving market community but it has been written out of history and can no longer be seen.  She was hoping for signs of ruins but rather disappointingly for her, it turns out that the name has been passed on to the little village that we visited today and it is two miles away from the site of the ancient town.

I was more excited by the modern village…


…which had an ancient ruin but more interestingly had the remains of two substantial railway bridges which once crossed the road which we use to enter the village.

It turns out that Roxburgh was a junction where the branch line from Jedburgh met the line from Kelso to St Boswells.  As a result it also has a splendid viaduct where the Kelso railway (long shut) crossed the River Teviot.  I love a good viaduct.

Roxburgh Viaduct

We cycled down Ferry Road from the village to the river and walked along to the viaduct.  There is no need for a ferry now as there is an excellent footbridge attached to the viaduct.

Roxburgh Viaduct footbridge

As far as I can find out, the footbridge was part of the original design of the viaduct which is most unusual.  You can see that it is perched on the piers of the viaduct.

I walked onto it and looked upriver.

River Teviot

As you can imagine, I spent a good deal of time taking pictures but in the end, we pedalled back up into the village and took the road back towards the Waterloo Monument.  It can be seen from many miles away and one day (soon, I hope) I will come back and walk up the track to the monument itslef.  Today, though, we cycled past it….

Waterloo Monument

…and I had to use the zoom on the Lumix to get a good view of it.  The views over the Teviot valley as we came down the hill back to Harestanes were outstanding.

Teviotdale at Harestanes

That is a potato field in the foreground.

All in all, we thought perhaps that it might be  the best value thirteen miles that we have ever pedalled.   The  mild weather, light winds and occasional sunshine all helped of course.

We enhanced the drive home with some serious shopping in Hawick and arrived back in Langholm tired but happy.

I had no time for staring out of the kitchen window today so the flying ‘bird’ of the day is my cycling companion floating up a hill.

Mrs tootlepedal

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Today’s guest picture, shot by my Newcastle correspondent’s husband Mario, shows a small fortune in guano being sat on by guillemots on the Farne Islands.

Farne islandsIt was a very middling sort of day today after a chilly night.  It was neither too hot nor too cold, there was neither sun nor rain, it didn’t tempt you out much but it didn’t make you want to stay in.

In the end, I stayed in to entertain Dropscone to coffee in the  morning, put on a jumper and did some gardening after that and then went for a short cycle ride in the afternoon.  All in all, I put a middling day to middling use.

Dropscone’s pleasure in his golf has been slightly dimmed  by an occasional outbreak of shanking, a condition where instead of going down the middle like it should, your ball shoots sharply off to the right and dives into the nearest bush, burn or bunker.  I was much afflicted by this myself and it is one of the reasons that I don’t much miss playing golf now that I have stopped.  He is soldiering bravely on.

I mixed my gardening with photography.


Poppies looking like over iced cakes.


Scotch Burnet roses in two colours

cornflower and poached egg

Two clumps that sound as though they should be edible: cornflower and poached egg

We have loud show offs….

pansy…and discreet delights.

astrantiaSome flowers are in a state of development.


Lupins never quite seem to get to the top before the bottom fades away but these are trying hard.


Almost prettier now than when it comes out.

Mrs Tootlepedal is in full planting out mode so I sieved a little compost as my contribution and it went to help 50 leeks on their way.  I also did some light mowing and helped straighten a wooden plank at the side of a raised bed which, like me, had collapsed a little with old age.

Then it was time for lunch.

It was rather a gloomy day as far as the light went and I didn’t spend much time looking out of the kitchen window.  The only bird picture from the morning was a blackbird who was watching me in the garden.

blackbirdIt is not that there is any lack of birds on the feeder…

busy feeder…because families of sparrows and starlings are eating me out of house and home.

In the afternoon, I had a cautious look at the weather forecast and ventured out for a familiar 22 mile ride to Gair and back.  In the event, conditions were very good for cycling with enough wind to make things interesting without being annoying and a perfect cycling temperature.

I took a few pictures with my phone as I went.

wauchope tree eating

The tree eaters have got more than a mile along the road now. 


The silverweed likes to grow as close to the road surface as it possible can


This abstract composition is a thistle. The verges are full of them just about to come out.

birds foot trefoil

There were a few patches of this very vivid birds foot trefoil on my route

On my way back, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal who was on a short pedalling excursion of her own.  I had time for a walk round the garden when I got home.  There was nothing outstanding but I liked the gentle colour of this comfrey..

comfrey…and a poppy which appeared to be being eaten by a savage hairy slug.

tulip emergingThe Rosa Moyesii has provided a blossom that can be seen from inside the garden now…

Rosa Moyesii

They just can’t help looking pretty

…and I couldn’t resist a second look at this morning’s pink rose.

Scotch Burnet roseThe evening was devoted to music.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we played some enjoyable duets and then after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel. As usual, we had a most enjoyable time and if we started off playing a little more accurately than we finished, who can blame us.  Playing good music is hard work.

The flying bird of the day is one of those expensive sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my railway enthusiast friend Bruce who was in Edinburgh to see the maintenance  locomotive for the new Borders Railway being named after Madge Elliot. She was the leading protester against closure in 1969 and handed a petition into number 10 Downing Street in December 1968.  She failed to keep the railway open then but is rewarded as it partially reopens now.

Madge ElliotIt wasn’t a bad day today for weather but it didn’t concern me very much at all as far as the morning went.  I did manage to get up for breakfast but then I retired to my bed and read a book peacefully until lunchtime.  I don’t know why I did this but I was just a bit tired and it seemed like a good idea.

Perked up by an unearned cheese and chutney sandwich for lunch, I went out into the garden and finished shifting the last of the compost from Bin A to Bin C.

compostI should add that this is not the only compost system going in the garden as Mrs Tootlepedal has four plastic bins on the go as well,  One has old kitchen waste in it, one has ongoing kitchen waste in it and the other two are complete mysteries to me.

I walked round the garden after finishing the composting.

Two colourful corners

Azaleas and rhodies are providing colourful corners

comfrey and allium

Comfrey and allium add a touch of purple

clematis and London Pride

Clematis and London Pride provide the white

A tricky crossword and some French tennis gave me an excuse for more idleness but finally, the lure of the sun outside tempted me out for a short walk and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly came too.   The wind had reappeared after a quiet day yesterday and once again it brought a chill to the air so that we needed to put on a coat to be comfortable as we strolled along.

We were in no rush and made many stops on our way.  The first was at the slow worm shelter.

Not only were there slow worms there….

slow worms…but an army of ants and grubs too.

antsThe warmer weather of the last two days had encouraged a burst of wild flowers.

buttercup and crosswort

Buttercup and crosswort

ajuga and silver weed

Ajuga and silver weed



dead nettle

Dead nettle

Our route took us along roads with views….

Hallcrofts…and through shady woods.

Becks woodWe saw oak trees just coming into leaf….

oak flowers…and rowans covered in blossom and buffeted by the strong wind.

rowanI took a picture of a hawthorn flower which I have keptuntil last.  Often, as I am using a camera with no viewfinder and the screen is not easily readable on a sunny day, I have to wait until I get home to see if any of my pictures have come out well,  I am frequently disappointed and sometimes happily surprised but this one really made my eyes pop.

hawthorn I think it may be the sharpest picture that I have ever taken.  (It is a bit cropped but I have not enhanced it at all). Considering how windy it was though, it must go down as a pure fluke.

It was a lovely walk and we got back just in time to see Andy Murray retrieve what looked like a lost situation in the third set in Paris at the French Open. We wish him well when the game resumes tomorrow.

It is not often that I really do virtually nothing for a whole day but I quite enjoyed myself and I hope to be as perky as anything tomorrow as a result.  The forecast is appalling with 50 mph wind and lots of rain so I may come to regret wasting a mostly sunny day today.

I couldn’t resist another little starling saga.


Deafening demands


A moment of peace

deafening demands again

Deafening demands again

The three pictures were all taken within a minute.  The parents have to work hard to keep the customers satisfied.

The flying bird of the day is that hard working parent in action.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s recent visit to Richmond Park.

Inside the Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park

The Isabella Plantation

The road cycling sportive today didn’t offer much in the way of a photographic opportunity as it has a staggered start and the cyclists are soon well spread out so I went out for a short pedal of my own.

I started on the return section of the short sportive route but left it as soon as I could and had a gentle meander among the potholes along the Kerr road.  These have been left by the road menders who dug out all the potholes on the route before they started to fill them in from one end.  It will be a few days before they finish.

I wasn’t in a hurry though so I was able to wiggle my way through them without much difficulty. I was coming up to Barnglieshead Farm when I noticed that the roadside verges were hotching with little butterflies.  I stopped to dig out Pocketcam and expected that they would fly away before I could focus but on this occasion they behaved very well and paused to take in a few rays while I stooped over them.

white butterflies

There were quite a few orange wing tips about too but they were more flighty and wouldn’t wait for me.

I rejoined the sportive route for my last three miles but only saw one cyclist.  I wasn’t too surprised because a very strong wind meant that the participants would have had a hard time coming along the stretch from Bailliehill.  I was quite very glad not to be killing myself on the 60 mile circuit.

On my return, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had just got back from the church choir and we enjoyed a cup of coffee before going out into the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has used a bin of last year’s compost as mulch so I have started turning this year’s stuff into the vacant space.  I am doing this by degrees having learnt a lesson about doing too much with a sore hip.

I took a look at the flower beds after I had done my ration of compost turning.

Azaleas at their peak

Although some of the azaleas have been disappointing, others are great value.


Aquilegias pop up all over the garden.


The Alliums are beginning to fill out.

Not all the flowers in the garden begin with the letter A (although there are some very nice Astrantias coming along as well.)


A large comfrey is growing among the fruit and veg.

New flowers have appeared on two separate Potentillas, each with a delightful red tinge to the petals.


The mild winter has really got the plants looking well in general.  This little willow bush is just bursting with life.


The frogs too look as though they are happy enough.


Lurking under a traditional lily pad. I have never seen a frog actually on one of our lily leaves.

The garden is full of the noise of demanding sparrow chicks calling for food.


One parent was working very hard.

sparrow feeding

sparrow feeding

And getting no thanks

sparrow feeding

No manners

sparrow feeding

Silenced for a moment at least.

In the afternoon, we went off to our Carlisle choir, taking our friend Bob with us.  He is a fine singer and had decided to see whether our praise for the musical director was justified.  We had another really useful, hard working practice and Bob decided that the choir would be worth joining.  This was very good because we have enjoyed going a lot and it is always nice to share one’s pleasures with others.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that I had missed a new flower so I went out to remedy this.  It is a Rosa Moyesii and unlike the late manager of Manchester United has lasted for many years.

Rosa Moyesii

We are having a very reasonable spell of weather at the moment after quite a lot of rain recently  and although the meteorological future is a bit doubtful, everything is drying out well and we are making the most of it while it lasts.   I put this in just to show that we are not always complaining about the weather in Langholm.  Often but not always.

In the good weather, I am spending less time staring out of the kitchen window and there are not so many birds visiting the feeder at the moment anyway so finding a flying bird of the day is quite difficult.  The hard working sparrow was my only effort today.



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Today’s picture shows a wonderful contraption spotted by Bruce in Arran.

electric bike

I would like to thank everyone who took the trouble to comment on my wordless blog yesterday.  I can tell you that the original text which disappeared into the ether was a work of such sustained literary quality, brilliant insights and and wisdom just the usual stuff but it took me a long time to write  because I was tired and I was quite peeved when it vanished.  I sat down this morning to rewrite it but I couldn’t recapture that last thing at night feeling which usually animates me and gave up.  I will just say that Hermitage Castle is an impressive pile with a turbulent history-“the guardian of Scotland’s bloodiest valley’  – and well worth a visit if you are nearby.  Sandy gets the credit for spotting the tree creeper.

There must be quite a bit of pollen floating about at the moment because my asthma is annoying me.  It doesn’t do me any great harm but it does make me rather tired and I went round the morning run with Dropscone (who was on his smart new carbon fibre lightweight bike with proper clipless pedals) rather faster than was wise and spent the rest of the day moping around and grumping.  I can tell you that Dropscone’s bike has a down tube profile that  is bi-ovalised to mate perfectly with its oversized bottom bracket shell and deeper profiled chain stays.  I knew that you would be excited by this.

I am really feeling the lack of my zoom lens at present and the best I could do was to wander round the garden trying to take pictures of as many aquilegias as I could find.

There are quite a lot.


Two white


Four pinkish


And four bluish

There are more but I couldn’t get at them to take a decent shot.

The week of dry, calm weather has let the peonies really shine this year.


They are a bit fragile and in a normal year, no sooner do they come out than they are zapped by heavy rain and squally winds.

The astrantias are developing well. I like these flowers which are each a miniature garden in themselves.


I was just snapping at the first daisies of the season….


…when Mrs Tootlepedal came up and complained that I wasn’t giving the vegetable garden enough respect so I went through and took this picture of some newly planted out runner beans (complete with the gardener’s feet).

runner beans

My view is that I will be happy to take veg garden pictures when I can eat the produce but i did my duty.   Mrs Tootlepedal has some comfrey growing in the veg garden.


This is quite decorative and attracts bees but its chief use is as green manure.

Granny took us out for a meal at the Douglas last night and we were struck by the fact that the flowers in the vase on the table were chives.  This was unexpected but charming.  Our chives are looking well too.


Having dome the veg garden justice, I went in and printed out two sets of leaflets for the Tourist Information points which I had been asked to provide.  There must have been some tourists about to make this task necessary.

After lunch, I put some straw down on the strawberries and considered netting them as they are developing well but in my lethargic state, I left that task to another day.

Mrs Tootlepedal is suffering from a sore knee so she sensibly took things easy as you can see.  Here she is relaxing.

zebra grass

She is remodelling the bed at the end of the drive.  Just the thing for a sore knee.

The tulips and the daffs are finally gone and this plant will soon go too, though even in this state, it still looks  very elegant.


The alliums are sprouting up all over the garden and they are beginning to look as though they might be going to take over the world.  I caught four of them putting their heads together and muttering about revolution in the back bed.


I felt a bit perkier later in the day and the arrival of my flute pupil Luke certainly helped as once again, he showed the results of solid practice.  He too is asthmatic and we are working hard to improve his breathing as well as his technique.

After a reviving meal of cottage pie, I ventured out to play some music with Isabel.  Our third player Mike was only just back from holiday and in no state to play so Isabel and I played four recorder sonatas, one by Telemann and three by Daniel Purcell,  the younger brother of the more famous Henry Purcell.  I bought these Purcell sonatas many years ago and I have only just started playing them.  They turn out to be charming and, just as importantly for me, not too difficult.

I had a go at  trying to catch a flying bird with my little lens and this was the result.  It looks like a young chaffinch.









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