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Posts Tagged ‘cosmos’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who must be on holiday in the West Highlands as he sent me this picture of Eilean Donan Castle taken earlier this evening as the light faded.

Eilean Donan  cas

We had plenty of light here today with a lot of sunshine and and only the odd speck of rain.

We weren’t able to make much of the good weather as we spent a lot of time indoors singing.  In the morning we went to sing with the church choir and welcome the new temporary minister who is taking charge for the next few weeks after the departure of Scott, the previous minister.  Fortunately for the absent minded parishioner, the new minister is also called Scott, though as he is American is is quite easy to distinguish him from his predecessor.

The  service went well and the choir did its bit to welcome Scott to his new charge.

Mrs Tootlepedal is helping with the administration of the music at our Carlisle choir at present so we had to be there early which didn’t leave us a lot of time between choirs.  I spent as much time as I could watching the birds…

…and there were a good many to watch…

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…with chaffinches particularly active….

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…and quite ready to shout at any sparrows coming out of the shadows at them.

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It was rare not to see a small queue heading for the feeder.

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They were joined by a sleek looking jackdaw.

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I took the bird camera out into the garden and took a shot or two there as well.

Special Grandma is my current favourite….

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…though Lilian Austin has not given up yet.

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There are some cosmos remaining and they are popular with insects…

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…though the Michaelmas daisies are still the biggest draw.

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I promised to take a picture of a butterfly every day for as long as I can so here is today’s offering, a red admiral doing a bit of sunbathing on a hosta leaf.

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I had thought that the poppies might have gone over but there has been a revival in the new bed…

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…and along with an orange hawkweed, an Icelandic poppy could be found.

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I went back in and just had time for  a sardine sandwich and a blue tit (I ate one and shot the other)…

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..before we had to set off for Carlisle.

While Mrs Tootlepedal helped with the music, I did some useful shopping and then we settled down to two hours of hard work under our new conductor, Ellen.

My voice held up not too badly but I hope that I can get it working a bit better before the Christmas concert season comes round.

We drove home in in beautiful evening sunshine but were happy to sink down for a rest rather than rush out into the garden again.

There was no shortage of flying birds today so once again there is a gender balanced chaffinch flying bird of the day situation.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent, Edward.  He and his wife went to Singapore for the FI Grand Prix and stopped off at Phuket in Thailand where he was very impressed by the wiring.

Wiring in Southern Phuket

I footered away a fine morning, firstly through a failure of communication with Dropscone about the availability of scones and secondly through indolence when the scones turned out to be a mirage.

I didn’t really do anything…

….though I must have gone out into the garden fro at least a moment or two as I did some shredding of fallen sunflowers and noticed a butterfly on the bench…

red admiral butterfly on bench

…and a bee on a lamium.

bee visiting lamium

They were obviously tucked up snugly during yesterday’s gales.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh, catching the first train to run from Manchester to Edinburgh after the line had been cleared of fallen trees.

I watched the birds.

A blackbird boogied on the lawn….

blackbird dancing on lawn

…a chaffinch put a hex on a goldfinch…

chaffinch putting the hex on goldfinch

…a male chaffinch told a female where the really good berries are….

chaffinch showing the way

…while a determined goldfinch practised its breaststroke…

Goldfinch swimming to the feeder

…and a sparrow kept an eye out for new arrivals.

sparrow checking out a chaffinch

From time to time a jackdaw dropped in to supervise.

jackdaw swing on the fat balls

I had an appointment with the dentist as I had carelessly bashed one of my teeth and I needed to know if I had broken it.  He took an x-ray and reassured me that it was sound.  However, if it is still sore after a few days, it might have to come out so I am hoping for the best and eating very soft food.

On my way to the dentist, I saw many bunches of bright red berries….

red berries by river

…and on my way back, I looked at the foliage that I had seen stuck under the town bridge yesterday.  It turned out to be quite a substantial tree, with its head on one side of the bridge….

tree under bridge top

…and its foot caught on the cutwater on the other side.

tree under bridge bottom

On the bank of the river beside the bridge, I was amused by this little family group of fungi with mother sheltering her two affectionate children.

riverside fungus group

I looked at the forecast when I got home and as it said, ‘rain later’, I decided to go cycling ‘now’.

It started to rain just as I got onto my bike.

However, the rain was very light so I decided to chance it and go anyway.  The rain stayed light as I cycled to the top of Callister and back (13 miles) and faded away as I got back to the town so I pedalled on over the river and went a few miles up the main road. This let me get to the magic twenty miles which is the minimum trip I like to do when I have gone to the trouble of getting the bike out.

After several very windy bike rides this month, it was a treat to find that the wind had dropped entirely and in spite of the light rain, cycling was a real pleasure.

The country is getting browner every day…

brown bracken

…so I looked for a bit of colour in the garden when I got back.  A lot of flowers got blown over yesterday but the verbascum just bent with the breeze rather than breaking…

verbascum leaning

…but the tall cosmos, which should be standing up and looking over the front lawn, is now leaning perilously low over the pond.

cosmos drooping

The Japanese anemone is small and tough enough to have survived quite well.

Tired Japanese anemone

After a nourishing meal of fish cakes, I was picked up by Susan, who was driving her very smart new red car, and driven to Carlisle where we played with our recorder group for the first time for a couple of months.  Roy, our librarian, had picked out a fine selection of music for our delight so we had a very good evening.

It was pouring with rain as we drove home.

I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had got home safely in spite of her train being delayed a bit on both the up and down trips.  She had had a good time in Edinburgh.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch yet again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a follow up to Dropscone’s picture from Islay.  My South African correspondent, Tom must also have visited the island because he has sent me a round church by way of counterbalance to Dropscone’s square lighthouse. Kilarrow Church is a Church of Scotland parish church, overlooking and serving Bowmore on the Isle of Islay. It was built in 1767

bowmore church

We had a very straightforward day today.  We went to church and sang in the morning and we went to Carlisle and sang in the afternoon.  There wasn’t much time for anything else as the church service was quite long with two baptisms and the Carlisle session lasted several hours because the community choir was auditioning four applicants for the post of musical director.

We were in the happy position in the community choir of having four excellent candidates, any one of whom seemed likely to be able to look after us well.  We were asked to vote for the one we liked best as a guide to the committee who are making the choice and Mrs Tootlepedal and I chose differently but I would be very happy if her choice won.

We did manage to find enough time to make a beef stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and to visit a shop in Carlisle to buy a few necessities (dates, cheese, coffee beans) on our way to the choir.

It had rained heavily over night but the day was pleasant enough.  It so windy though that I was not at all disappointed to be deprived of cycling.

Just to add a little colour to this post, I rushed out a took three pictures before we went to church…

red admiral

A single red admiral had ignored the wind and arrived on the buddleia

cosmos with dead heads

The tall cosmos looks good but shows that dead heading has been neglected lately

nerines

And some nerines have arrived very suddenly next to the chimney pot by the bird feeder

 

…and then three more pictures in the fading light when we got back in the evening.

fuchsia

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some other plants away so that I can get a good look at the fuchsias.

Special Grandma rose

Special Grandma rose is having a second go.

pink dahlia

The dahlia of the day – perfect in my view.

There was no time to watch the birds.  I will try to do better tomorrow but more strong winds are forecast.

 

 

 

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Helping out

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew.  He is recovering from an knee problem so naturally he wanted to test it out.  This was his idea of a good place to test a knee.  He got to the top.

hill

 A short post today as I am rather tired as we had a full day.  It had rained overnight and the garden was fully of soggy flowers when I went out after breakfast.

three wet flowers

This cosmos was the best of them in my view.

big cosmos

I started off by going to the dentist for a check up (passed) and as soon as I got home, we set off in the car to catch the train to Edinburgh from Tweedbank.  The reason for the unusually early visit to Edinburgh was a request from Matilda’s parents for a little help with their garden.

They are selling their house and the professional photographer from the agents was coming to take pictures for the website in the afternoon so they wanted the garden to look as neat as possible.

After two hours work, mostly by Mrs Tootlepdedal but with assistance from me on the mower and lawn edging front, it looked like this.

Carlyle Place lawn

I didn’t take a picture of the garden before Mrs Tootlepedal got to work weeding, planting, clipping and tidying but Hercules had it easy at the Augean Stables by comparison.

What the picture doesn’t show was the rain that came down as we worked.

Inside the house, Alistair and Clare had done wonders.  It was painted recently by our other son and they had tidied and re-arranged and  ‘decorated the set’ so that it looked most inviting, both downstairs….

Carlyle Place downstairs

…and up.

Carlyle Place upstairs

We lent a hand where we could for the final touches and everything was finished just as the photographer arrived.

They are fortunate to have two keen gardeners just opposite them so that the view from their windows in always interesting…..

Carlyle Place sunflowerrs

…and they are very well connected…

Carlyle Place pole

…so we hope that the sale will go well.

Al and Clare were very pleased with the results of the professional photographers work and I look forward to seeing the pictures in due course.

After all the hard work, the grown ups needed a rest so Matilda took us all out for a meal at a very nice Italian restaurant in Leith Walk.

We caught the bus up to the station after the meal…

Leith Walk

…and were impressed by the very tall cranes at the top of the road.  They are busy with construction on the site of a little loved modern set of buildings which we are old enough to have seen being built and subsequently demolished..

We walked along to the edge of the terrace above Waverley Station when we got there and admired the view of the station roof, the North Bridge and Arthur’s Seat in the background.

 

North Bridge

It had tried to rain quite a few times during the day, but the showers hadn’t lasted long and we had good weather for the train and car journey home.

The flying bird of the day is a big city snail.  Al and Clare have dozens in their garden.

Edinburgh snail

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s visit to the Netherlands.  She and her family camped beside the river Vecht.  She tells me that she passed up the opportunity to swim in its welcoming waters.

Vecht

We had plenty of water on hand today but most of it was coming directly from the sky which was not very helpful and we have had more rain in the first two days of this week than we had in the whole of last week.

The result was another very quiet day, though it was brightened up by a visit from Scott the minister which quite coincidentally turned out to be at coffee time.  He is off to his new parish near Glasgow soon and we shall miss him.

I watched the birds while I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch.

Sometime it is easy to imagine that birds are chatting to each other across the feeder….

chaffinch and sparrow chewing

…but a closer look reveals that they are simply finding the seed hard to swallow.

sparrow chewing

I did spot the occasional chaffinch and blue tit again….

chaffinch and bluetit on feeder

…but mostly it was the sparrow maelstrom as usual.

sparrow whirlwind

I have put up a subsidiary feeder on the elder tree and filled it with seed which, according to the packet, will entice an extraordinary variety of small birds to the garden.

It is attracting sparrows.

sparrow on elder feeder

I live in hope.

It stopped raining after lunch and I might have gone for a walk but by this time I had embarked on a scheme to make apple jelly with our windfalls so I cycled down to the Co-op to buy some preserving sugar.

The river was up enough after the rain to make use of all three arches of the Langholm Bridge….

Langholm Bridge in early September

…and create a bit of a ripple here and there.

Esk in minor spate

As I cycled along the river bank, I could see the first signs of impending autumn.

early autumn leaves

I stopped for a look on my way home and was delighted to see a dipper on a rock.  It was one of a pair but the other one flew off before I could catch it.

dipper september

I noticed how well the potentillas along the dam are doing  as I got home.  They started slowly this year but are making up for lost time now.

potentilla along dam

I walked round the garden when I got in.

The dahlia with apparent internal lighting was brightening up the gloomy day…

internally lit dahlia

…but this one looked more as though it was huddling up for some warmth.

huddled dhalia

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different sorts of cosmos on the go (one from a free packet of seeds on a magazine) and they are generally thriving.

four cosmos

There are even two buds on the Lilian Austin rose but they may need some better weather if they are to come out properly.

two rose buds september

Fuchsias are appearing in several different parts of the garden which is good as I like them a lot.

old fuchsia

The chives have produced some late flowers which are a bonus for insects.  I can see at least four on this flower.

chive with insects

And the sedum is getting ready to welcome butterflies should the sun ever come out again.

sedum nearly out

I went in and set about making the apple jelly. Our apples are not ideal for this task and I will have to leave the mush to drip over night to get enough liquid to make the jelly.

Mrs Tootlepedal came out into the garden and while she dug up the rest of the roots of the blackcurrant bush, I cut down the gooseberry bush as part of the projected remodelling.  It is an ambitious plan and we hope to have the energy (and the weather)  to carry it through.

The evening was devoted to music making as first my flute pupil Luke arrived and showed the value of practice once again and then I went off after tea to play trios with Mike and Isabel (and demonstrate my need for more practice).  The playing was as enjoyable as ever and rounded off an otherwise rather quiet day in a very pleasant way.

The flying bird of the day is one of the great tribe of sparrows.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started a nine mile walk today by crossing the River Manifold over this handsome bridge.

Manifold Bridge

We had a lovely day here as well but it was decidedly chilly at first so it took me some time to get going on my bike.

I checked on the buddleia after breakfast….

Three butterflies

Mixed sunbathing for two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell

…and I was just in time to take a gift of eggs from Scott, the minister (but not offer him coffee in return) just before I set off.

I was slightly nervous about how my legs would be feeling after the slow and arduous effort on Wednesday but a day visiting Matilda had worked wonders and they were in a cooperative mood today.  I took care not to upset them by going up any steep hills.

I hadn’t gone far before I noticed two buzzards which were very agitated about something and circled around above my head crying out loudly.

One hovered long enough for me to take a picture.

buzzard

I rode past banks of rosebay willowherb seed heads as I went along…

rosebay seeds

…and was impressed by the fact that the wind hadn’t dislodged them yet.

I rolled down out of the hills and into Gretna where I saw a wedding party get ready to attend their ceremony at the ‘Famous Blacksmith’s Shop’.

Gretna wedding

They avoided getting run over.

I continued down into England, passing churches with steeples and square towers.

Rockcliffe Church

Rockcliffe

Scaleby Church

Scaleby

The church at Scaleby had a shiny new padlock on the door and warning notices from the police.  Not the most welcoming of sights.

I turned off at Scaleby and followed this unassuming road.

new road to Smithfield

It was a moment to note for me though, as it was one of the few roads in the area that I had never cycled along before.

Thanks to my perky legs, I didn’t need to stop for many breathers so there are fewer pictures today and  this picture of the welcoming sight of the monument on Whita Hill is the only one that I took in the last fifteen miles.

Whita

The jaunt was almost exactly 50 miles and this took me over 3000 miles for the year so it was a satisfactory ride both for itself and statistically.  It also brought up 565 miles for the month, my biggest monthly tally for four years.  It is amazing what some good weather will do.

When I got home, I did a bit of bird watching….

goldfinch

The single goldfinch soon got swept away by an incoming tide of sparrows.

sparrow melee

…and then I had a look around the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spotted a ladybird…

ladybird

…and I spotted a small tortoiseshell stretching its wings….

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and then I spotted it again!

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2

Among the more flashy flowers, the feverfew sparkles away quite modestly…

feverfew

…but persistently.

And Mrs Tootlepedal’s new cosmos, which is improbably called ‘Double Click Cranberries’ raised its head to the sun.

cosmos

I cut down the head of the giant sunflower and put it out for the birds…

sunflower head

…and picked up one of the fallen flower heads and rested it on my knee.

sunflower flower

My neighbour Liz was trimming her cherry tree and the job seemed to call for a tall person so I went across to give her a hand and ended up with a good collection of branches for shredding and adding to our compost heap.

I had a relaxing bath and came downstairs to a delicious evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, the highlight of which was an enormous courgette fritter.

It took some time to recover from this but I was back in good order by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit.  Alison and I were playing early music in the French style and had  a hard working and enjoyable time getting to grips with some tricky pieces.

It was a good way to spend the last day of summer.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, putting down the landing gear.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  As well as seals and curlews, his new house offers him fine sunrises as he walks his dogs.

Wemyss sunrise

We had a lovely crisp and sunny morning here, perfect for cycling if I had had any go about me.  Sadly, my go was gone and I was still having a light snooze after breakfasts when Sandy came round on Archive Group business and roused me enough to make a cup of coffee.  When he went on his way, I looked round the garden.

There were peacock butterflies all over the place, on the red buddleia…

butterfly on ref buddleia

…on a cosmos…

peacock butterfly on cosmos

…and on the main buddleia too.

peacock butterfly on purple buddleia

They were sunning themselves on paths and flitting about in a very butterflyish way all morning.

The white cosmos are flowering freely…

white cosmos

…and after a slow start, poppies appear as if by magic on fine days like today.

four red poppies

As well as a lot of edible plums, we also have a silver pear on the silver pear tree.  You would need teeth of iron to eat one though.

silver pear

After a great rush of blackbirds earlier on, they have become rather scarce lately so I was pleased to see this one today.

blackbird

When I looked at the birds on the feeder, once again a blue tit was hanging about in the plum tree….

blue tit among the plums

….waiting for a chance while the sparrows played follow my leader round the feeder.

circulating sparrows

Beside the feeder, the accidental sunflower is going from strength to strength.

feeder sunflower

The main business of the day was going to Edinburgh to see Matilda and for once the trains were more or less on time and not too full so the journey was a pleasure and it is always a treat to see Matilda and her parents.

She took her father and me to the shops to get the ingredients for a one pot lemon and asparagus linguine for tea.

Matilda going shopping

(I have digitally scrubbed the graffiti off the board behind her as I don’t like to encourage  that sort of thing.)

Al and Clare are preparing their house for sale so while we shopped, Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare cleaned windows.  Then Al cooked the linguine and it turned out to be delicious so we went home in a cheerful mood.

The flying bird of the day is a strangely twisted sparrow.

twisted flying sparrow

(We are looking at it from behind and it has its head turned sharply to the right to check out the feeder.)

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