Posts Tagged ‘dahlia’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Spain.  She passed through El Rocio in Andalucia and discovered that it is the ‘Town of the Horse’.

El Rocio, Andalucia

We had another dry day today, with lighter winds but no sun in the morning.

This made the morning cycle ride round my customary Canonbie circle a slightly chilly affair and I only stopped for one picture.  It shows the end of the road….

Old A7 at Byreburn

…more literally than metaphorically.  It was at this point that a landslip in the early 1980s on what was then the main road between Carlisle and Edinburgh caused the transport authorities to decide to build a new Canonbie by-pass and leave the old road to pedestrians and cyclists.  As a result, 30 years later, I have a quiet route to cycle along.  It is an ill wind….

I was feeling a bit old and tired shortly after I passed the landslip and was struggling to make good speed.  I put it down to old age but stopping to clear the accumulated gunge between the mudguard and my front tyre had a wonderfully rejuvenating effect.  The collection of soggy mud and fallen leaves which I had picked up on my way turned out to be acting as a brake on my progress and clearing it off left me speeding home with a blithe heart.

When I got home, I had a quick look round the garden.

The front lawn was looking very stripy after yesterday’s attack  by the mower….

front lawn

…but you can see the marks where I had to dig my feet in to push the mower over the moss.  It can rest now until spring when the battle to grow a few blades of grass among the moss will begin again.

I have stopped dead heading the poppies but there are still quite a few ready to appear.


The pale poppies with the pink and red fringes are the most striking but I have a great liking for the more sober varieties too.


There was quite a bit of buzzing….

dahlia with bee

…and at the last minute the sun came out and let Crown Princess Margareta really shine.

Crown Princess Margareta

We couldn’t stop to enjoy the sunshine as we had to drive off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents. The drive and the train journey were enhanced by the sun and it was still sunny as we waited for the bus in Edinburgh…


…but I couldn’t help but have a sneaking feeling that all that sunshine was being wasted a bit.

Still, it was delightful to see Matilda and her parents and as we also got a jolly good meal, partly cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal in advance and partly cooked by Clare and Al, we thought the visit was well worth while.

The trip home was uneventful (a good thing) and we arrived home tired but happy.  It was a clear night when we got home and we are looking forward to a rather chilly morning tomorrow.

While I was having lunch before going to Edinburgh, I put the camera up at the kitchen window and waited for  something interesting to arrive.  The tousled blue tit obliged.

blue tit

I got an opportunity to show that it can fly perfectly well.

blue tit

More regulation blue tits were available too.

blue tit

Chaffinches arrived at regular intervals…




…kept on coming…


…though sparrows could be seen deep in thought as well.


I finally caught a chaffinch far enough from the feeder to make it into the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture is another mode of transport spotted by my friend Bruce on his jaunt in the south.  This time he was at Pickering.

Pickering railway

It was raining in the very early hours of the morning but by the time that we got up, the rain had gone and the sun had appeared.  To stop us getting too carried away with joy, the temperature and gone done and the wind had got up but we realise that we can’t have everything so we were quite happy.

The better weather allowed Mrs Tootlepedal to hang out some washing and then get out into the garden.  It let me get out for a walk.

Sandy had a dentist’s appointment so I went on my own, passing the ducks on the Kilngreen…..

mallards at Kilngreen

…crossing the sawmill Brig and strolling up the Lodge Walks on my way.

Lodge walks

It wasn’t sunny all the time and when the sun went in, it was decidedly chilly but when the sun came out, things looked quite cheerful.

Castleholm trees

The trees are losing their leaves at a steady rate and sometimes the road felt more wintery than autumnal…

Castleholm trees

…but a look across towards the sunlit woods on the slopes of Timpen brought a smile.

The larch trees are beginning to turn and that always makes for colourful hillsides.

Castleholm trees

I walked down to the bank of the Esk at the far end of the pheasant hatchery…

River esk opposite the Breckonwrae

…a task made more difficult by the fact that the estate has felled all the conifers there.

Timpen from Pheasant hatchery

The felling makes a bit of a mess of the ground but it does improve the views a lot.

The relatively warm weather means that there is still plenty of grass in the fields and the cattle were too busy munching away to spare me a look as i passed by.

Casteholm cattle

I could have gone through this gate on my way back….

Casteholm gate

….but I chose to cross the Duchess Bridge and walk along the leaf strewn path on the other side of the river.

Leafy path beside Esk

I was more concerned with broader views than smaller things on this particular walk but I did notice a small crop of fungus in a mossy nest on the top of a fence post.

fence post fungus

Mrs Tootlepedal was down at the river collecting stones for her new path when I got back but she soon returned and got to work in the garden.

I took a picture of a dahlia underneath the walnut tree…


…and mowed the front lawn.  There was plenty of grass to be cut but the brilliant emerald green surface when I had finished owed more to moss than anything else.

I did a little dead heading and then went into have lunch.

Over lunch, I set the camera up at the kitchen window and had a look out from time to time.

There were hordes of sparrows…


….flocks of chaffinches…


…and occasional goldfinches trying to get in on the act.

goldfinch, sparrow and chaffinch

The robin was more helpful today and posed in a nice sunny spot for me.


Finally, the sparrows and chaffinches took a break and a couple of goldfinches could enjoy a seed in peace.


I had hoped to get out for a good cycle ride today but the very brisk and chilly wind made it hard to get motivated.  I finally got out in the afternoon and used my ‘outdoor gym’ to do twenty breezy miles up and down the road to Cleughfoot twice (with a little bit added on for decimal purposes).

The sky had got a bit hazy and although it was still sunny, the sun wasn’t doing much in the way of warming me up and the breeze was boisterous enough to make me very happy to stop when I did. It took me over 350  miles for the month, which is my target, with a few days still in hand so that was satisfying.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s path is developing…

Mrs T's new path

…but an apparently simple thing like this requires enormous amounts of measuring, stamping, using spirit levels and string and doing and redoing things until they are absolutely right.  She is not rushing the job because there is nothing worse than a path that doesn’t look right when  it is finished.  It looks at you with reproachful eyes for the rest of its life.

Beside the path, the sweet rocket is still in flower.

sweet rocket

In the evening, I went off to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  Our regular conductor was off and as it is never easy for another conductor to take someone else’s choir, it wasn’t the most productive of sessions but I enjoyed it all the same.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in the best of the sunshine.

flying goldfinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son and shows a pleasant reservoir near Edinburgh round which he walks his dogs.


After yesterday’s warm, calm and sunny weather, today was rather chilly, always grey and sometimes rainy.  It came after yet more heavy rain overnight so everything is decidedly damp.  It got me down a bit and I had a indifferent day, largely wasted.

I did make some soup for lunch but that was the only noticeable activity of the morning apart from a dahlia census….


…which I conducted because Attila the Gardener is threatening to have them all up any day now.

I checked on the poppies too.


Alert readers will realise that one of the poppies is a rose but five is an awkward number for a frame so it got included to make up numbers.

It has been so frost free that odd unseasonal flowers keep on appearing.  Today I noticed two blooms on the Weigela.


I did put the camera up at the kitchen window and there was continuous activity at the seed feeder.

busy feeder

Sparrows, chaffinches and goldfinches competed for spare places at the feeder


Leading to some face to face confrontations

sparrow and goldfinches

A sparrow gives a goldfinch a hard stare


Another one actually assaults a fellow sparrow

There were some peaceful moments though.

A chaffinch tries to remember what he came out for.


A collared dove displays very fashionable bootees.

collared dove

A robin practices his “Rod Steiger as Napoleon”  pose


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is pretty well recovered now, went off for an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I sieved a bit of compost and mowed the drying green.  Both these tasks were made tricky because of the general sogginess so I stopped gardening and rang Sandy to see if he fancied an outing.

He did.

It was really too grey for a proper walk so we went to the bird hide at the Moorland Feeders for a while.  I saw coal tits, blue tits and great tits….

coal tit, blue tit and great tit

…sometimes at the same time.

coal tit and great tit

There were lots and lots of chaffinches too…


….but it was chilly sitting in the hide and no unusual birds turned up so we drove back down the hill, stopping at my favourite spot…

Skippers Bridge

….which was also looking rather grey today.

There is a bit of colour in the trees along the river here….

River Esk at Skippers

…but in general, the trees seem to be losing their leaves without putting on much of a display for us.

We drove on down the river and stopped again.  There were spots of colour to be seen…

autumn colour

…and some impressive roots on a river side tree….

riverside roots

…but there seem to be as many bare trees about as trees with leaves on.faded autumn colour

We might have explored a bit more, as it was the sort of day when fungus might be found but some persistent rain persuaded us that home was the place to be.

Sandy dropped me off and I spent some useful time practising songs for tomorrow’s rehearsal with our Carlisle choir.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting which had been very successful (and well supplied with delicious cakes) and we settled down for a quiet evening at home.

In spite of the much heralded arrival in Britain of Storm Brian, the forecast for Langholm tomorrow is quite cheerful.   I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches having an argument.

flying goldfinches


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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada.  She encountered this sturdy cobweb on a walk today.


It was grey and slightly drizzly at breakfast time but that didn’t matter to me as I was due to send two hours in the Welcome to Langholm Office, potentially offering advice to locals and visitors alike.

As I was not much occupied with advising, I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database which was pleasing.  I did have a little official work to do as well.  An anxious local motorist came in to tell me that the traffic lights which regulate the one way system on Skippers Bridge weren’t working.    I had encountered this yesterday and naturally assumed that “something would be done about it” without any input from me.

Now though, since it was obvious that nothing had been done, I rang up the road managers and reported the fault.   They thanked me and gave me an incident number, presumably so that I would feel important.  I felt very proud.  The lights were working when I walked over the bridge later in the day but whether my call and that outcome had any connection, it is impossible to say.

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and dedicated data miner called in just as I left.  She had been in the Archive Centre adding more data to the heap needing entering into the database.  It was dry as I walked back to the New Town with her and I was able to run a mower over a very soggy drying green when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her bicycle to collect some river stones for her new path.

The forecast had been for a dry afternoon so I was thinking of a cycle ride myself but by lunchtime, both the forecast and the weather had changed and it started to rain.

I stayed in and practised songs instead.

That finally got boring and since the rain had stopped for a while, I went for a walk.

I snapped a dahlia…


…and a poppy…


…in the garden as I went out and I had got about two hundred yards down the road when the clouds descended over the hills and it started to rain again.

I was feeling rather obstinate and decided to continue my walk down to Skippers Bridge to check the lights in spite of the drizzle.

I was dry enough in the woods and used my flash to capture this script lichen on a tree beside the path.

script lichen

When I got to the track along the fields on the Murtholm…

Murtholm track

…I weighed up the situation and decided that a little rain wouldn’t hurt me and walked on.

The autumn colour has started to show properly but the misty conditions didn’t let me make the best of it.  I tried anyway.

misty autumn colour

Langholm Distillery in autumn

I crossed the bridge when I came to it and walked back along the other side of the river.  The rain was very light and my walk was well sheltered so I was glad that I had decided to keep going.

Skippers Bridge in autumn

I passed a fine fungus on a tree stump at Lands End….

fungus on tree stump

…and enjoyed the seed heads and the last of the flowers that help disguise the sewage treatment works from the public gaze.

sewage works flowers

There is a sensational drift of late daisies beside the river here.

autumn daisies

I kept trying to catch the colour on the river banks as I went along….

Esk autumn colour

Esk autumn colour

…while trying to keep raindrops off my lens with varying success.

As I came up to the suspension bridge, the trees on the far bank looked quite cheerful…

Suspension bridge trees

…but the view from the bridge itself…

Misty view of Esk

…suggested that the direct route home and a cup of tea and a biscuit might be the best plan.

I was surprisingly dry after two miles in a light drizzle so I was very satisfied to have got some exercise in on such a dreich day.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we put in some good work on a piece by Quantz which requires sophisticated counting although the notes are relatively easy.

I had picked some spinach from the garden earlier and I used it to make a baked spinach and egg dish with cheese sauce for my tea.

I made too much but ate it all and then had to lie on the sofa and groan for a while until I had recovered.

We hope for better weather tomorrow.  I need to work off the big meal.


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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working in Zurich this week and took a picture of the sunset there this evening.

Zurich sunset

There was no chance of a sunset here today…or a sunrise…or a sun anything as the sun was conspicuous by its absence all day.  The forecast told me that if I was up sharp, I might be able to get up to the Moorland Feeders, where I was filling in for absent friends, before the rain started for the day.

I took them at their word and they were quite right so I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while  before the rain started.  It might not have been raining but it was very gloomy so only brightly coloured birds which came close were available to snap.  It was my lucky day.

Greater spotted woodpecker

A greater spotted woodpecker coming close

Greater spotted woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker coming closer…

Greater spotted woodpecker

…and then going away again

When it flew off, I took the hint and went away too.  I was glad to have got a brief glimpse of a goldfinch, the first of the autumn while I was there.


It was still raining when I got home and it rained on and off in a half hearted way for the rest of the day.  It was that annoying sort of rain which kept looking as though it had stopped but by the time that I had got outside to check, it had started again.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal got on with repainting the doors in the hall and I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.

You can learn a lot from the newspaper index.  In 1854 there were only 12 advertisements for food in the whole year but by 1874, there were 116.  There were 140 by 1894 but the biggest item advertised by far was tea, which was obviously a big seller by then.

I went out to our corner shop to buy food (but not tea) and noticed an unusually long array of collared doves on the wire by the dam as I left the house.

collared doves

I don’t know enough about collared doves to say whether this might be one happy family or just a gathering of friends.

At lunch time, I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought a couple of nasturtium flowers into the kitchen…


Their cheerful colour brightened the day up a bit and made me look closer too.


I did go out to check the rain.  It was light but persistent.  Flowers looked a bit depressed.


mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though


and a very low flying clematis

We picked some runner and French beans and ate them for our lunch.  Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too soggy for gardening.

It was one of those days which felt colder than the thermometer said that it should be so after lunch, I lit a fire in the front room and settled down to put music into the computer for practice purposes.  With about sixteen new songs on hand for Christmas concerts with my two choirs, I have plenty to get on with.

I kept on thinking about going for a walk in the rain but settled for making rolls with the help of the bread making machine instead.  They turned out well.


When they had come out of the oven, I had another look out into the garden at four o’clock.

colourful corner

In spite of the efforts of the flowers to persuade me that it wasn’t too bad….


…I wasn’t tempted to stay out as it was too gloomy for a photographic walk by now so I took a picture of a crow on the roof…


…and came back in and made a sausage stew for my tea.

It too turned out well and I was in a good mood in spite of some heavier rain when I went off for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  The attendance was a bit thin, possibly because of a showing of La La Land at the Buccleuch Centre at the same time.  I was happy to miss the film, which we have already seen and judged pretty dull, and very much enjoyed the practice.  All the songs and carols that we are preparing have their charms.

I am going back to the Moorland Feeders tomorrow morning, this time as a substitute for Sandy, who is sunning himself elsewhere, and I hope for better weather.



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Today’s picture shows a camel which impressed Mary Jo from Manitoba when she went to have a look at Queen Victoria’s modest tribute to her husband, the Albert Memorial.

Albert memorial

It is a rather brief post today as everything in the garden was very soggy after some heavy overnight rain…


A well sheltered dahlia had got through the night well

…and we had to have an early lunch before things were able to dry up because we had a concert in Carlisle Cathedral to prepare for.

We saw a splendid display of ink cap fungus in the car park when we got to the city.

carlisle fungus

After driving through another tremendous shower on the way to there, we were pleased to find the cathedral bathed in sunshine when we arrived.

Carlisle Cathedral

The concert was chiefly given by the Glasgow Phoenix Choir but our Carlisle choir had three songs to do as a starter for each half.  This meant an afternoon spent practising as the concert had arrived at very short notice and we were a bit underprepared and getting organised as far as things like seating and singing a couple of songs with the other choir went.

After the practice, we had a couple of hours to kill before the performance so we went to Rickerby Park in the centre of the town to have a picnic tea to restore our strength.

The car park was full of the cars of dog walkers….

Rickerby park

…but we were the only picnickers.

Rickerby park

To tell you the truth, it was perhaps a little chilly for eating outside but the light was gorgeous and if you could find a spot sheltered from the wind, it was not too bad.

The park and the river Eden were looking at their best.

River eden

Rickerby park

Rickerby park

There was even a herd of cows to make the scene look truly pastoral.

Rickerby park

Back at the cathedral, which has a spectacular ceiling….

carlisle cathedral

…I enjoyed listening to the Phoenix choir a lot and they had three splendid soloists to add a bit of variety to their menu.  I can’t speak for the whole of our choir but I felt that the tenors in particular were a lot better in the first half when we sang really well than in the second by which time, a little fatigue may have set in.

As we drove home, we noticed that the temperature had dropped to 4°C so there may be some damage to see when we get up.  We are going back to Carlisle again tomorrow for our regular choir practice so we will have done a lot of singing over the weekend.

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Today’s guest picture most unusually comes from Mrs Tootlepedal.  She took this picture of our neighbour Liz hard at work in the dam.

Liz in the dam

Unlike yesterday, I hardly stirred from the house and garden all day.  I did pop up to the town after breakfast to oversee the transfer of some unwanted stacking chairs from the Archive Centre to the Langholm Initiative.  As this involved merely opening the door and watching as two strong young men whisked the chairs out into a van and then locking the door again, it wasn’t very taxing or time consuming.

Once I got home, the day became all action.  It was dry and warm, even if it was cloudy, and too good a day not to get busy around the garden.

Because some work was being done elsewhere, the sluice to our dam was shut and this gave our neighbour Liz the chance to get busy cleaning out the part of the dam that runs along her garden and when I say busy, I am understating the case.  When she had finished, with a little help from Mrs Tootlepedal….

Dam cleaned

…the dam was auditioning for the role of Langholm’s first deep water port.

When most of the work was done, I made coffee for the workers and Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were joined by another neighbour, Margaret and between us, we cured many of the evils that are besetting the world at the moment.  It is just a pity that no local or world leaders were present to take our sage advice.

I hadn’t been entirely idle while the waterworks were going on and had managed to mow a patch of grass or two….

middle and front lawn

…trying my best to ignore signs which may indicate that Attila the gardener has plans to mangle my sward.

lawn works

Then I dead headed a lot of dahlias, calendula and poppies.  The poppies are still looking a fresh as when they first appeared….


…or even fresher.


One poppy had something that was not a bee on it and I was curious and took a closer look…


…without being much wiser as to what it was.


Perhaps because it wasn’t sunny, the poppies were not being pestered by bees to the same extent as they have been recently but there were still quite a lot about…

poppy with bees

…and on the dahlias as well.

bumble bees on dahlia

The large bumble on the left loves this dahlia and stayed on it for hours today.   There are so many different kinds of bumble bee that I can’t identify this one.

***Spoiler alert***

Infantile humour arriving.  Beware!

One I can identify, thanks to my knowledge of Rachmaninov, is this one….


…which is of course, the bum of the flightlebee.  (Sorry)

***normal service has been resumed***

The Special Grandma rose, which is well sheltered from the elements, is going bananas.

Special Grandma rose

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and Liz started on the dam behind our house on our side of the road and I did some more mowing….

green house grass and the drying green

….with the flymo…

….checked out a red admiral in profile and full wing…

red admiral

It is hard to recognise these pictures as the same butterfly

…..and then set about trimming the hedge along the road.



…and after.


As I explained to a passer by, I wasn’t aiming for geometrical precision.  Having just been to the south of France where the post impressionist painters worked, I told her that I had been inspired to create a post impressionist hedge, a hedge which didn’t look exactly like a boringly real hedge but a hedge which gave an impression of a hedge as an artist might see it, possibly while slightly drunk.  She seemed to think that I had succeeded admirably.

When I had finished the hedge, I went to see what the workers were doing.  Attila had her team beautifully regimented…

Dam team

…and their work rate was impressive.  The plan was to cut back the potentillas and thin out the dead wood until the side of the dam was clear, leaving the possibility of some variety next year. The plan was comprehensively executed….

potentilla clearing

…as were the potentillas.

I helped by barrowing away the prunings and offering helpful advice wherever it was needed….


…though I took time out to admire the fuchsia on our back wall….

bee and butterfly

…and celebrate the peaceful sharing nature of bee and butterfly on a sedum while I was dropping off a barrowload of branches.


There were innumerable barrowloads of clippings and I was happy to pause again to admire the nasturtiums and cosmos at the front gate on one of the trips.

nasturtiums and cosmos

In the end, even the indefatigable Liz and Mrs Tootlepedal proved human and work was stopped for the day.  To celebrate, I provided a large pot of tea and made some toast.  The toast was all the better for being eaten with some Saskatoon Jelly.  This had been very generously given to me by my Canadian correspondent Mary Jo when she met us in London at the weekend.

It was delicious.

Interestingly, although I had never heard of Saskatoon Jelly, it turns out to come from the plant Amelanchier alnifolia and Mrs Tootlepedal thinks there is a variety of Amelanchier  growing in a neighbour’s garden.

Throughout the day, I was keeping an eye out for walnuts which had fallen from our walnut tree.


In spite of, or perhaps because of,  our cool summer, the are plenty of nuts around and quite a lot of them are full of nutty goodness.  Jackdaws pick them from the tree and then often seem to drop them so that neighbours quite a distance away sometimes come upon walnuts in their own gardens.

There was a certain sagging at the end of a busy day but I was sufficiently refreshed by the last of the venison stew to get myself out for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  It was very well attended and as the music was varied and enjoyable, I was pleased to have made the effort.

During the day, I visited Liz to check out her electric lawn mower.  It seems both efficient and easy to use.  I am thinking of declaring our Flymo past its use by date and her mower looks like a good type of replacement.  As well as the mower, I couldn’t help noticing a very pretty rose growing on a trellis on her wall and it is the flying bird of the day.

Liz's rose



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