Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dahlia’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who was at the Roxburghe Golf course when he came across a reminder of the strong winds that battered us last month.

roxburghe tree snap

There was a brisk wind here today but not as brisk as the one that had knocked that tree to bits.

I had time for a quick look at the birds after breakfast….

low flying chaffinch

A chaffinch trying to sneak past the window without getting its picture taken.

…before the wind  blew me down the road to Brampton as I went off in the car for a singing lesson from the lady who conducts the Langholm Choir.  I was a bit worried in case the car gave me warning messages again but the garage had done the trick and everything went smoothly.

Mary turned out to be an excellent teacher, patient, supportive and very clear in her suggestions.  It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks as the saying goes but she managed very well and I came away with a good idea of what to work at and a bit of confidence in my ability to sing which had been lacking before.  We are going to arrange another couple of lessons when time permits.

I had a meeting arranged in Langholm at midday so I couldn’t stay around to explore the surrounding area which would have been fun and found myself back home in time for lunch.

Two friends of Mrs Tootlepedal came to visit the garden after lunch and when I went out to see them, I noticed the butterfly of the day on a dahlia.

buttefly on yellow dahlia

When they left I had a look about.

Most of the dahlias have come to the end of their useful life but one or two still look good…

last dahlia

…and others still had bees visiting.

I noticed that another clematis had sneaked a flower out behind my back…

late white clematis

…and all three buds on the Lilian Austin had lived up to their promise.

triple Lilian Austin

The Japanese anemones are still out in numbers…

bright Japanese anemone

…and the last of the hostas have a few flowers left.

dark hosta

It was far too windy to make cycling a pleasure but it was sunny enough to make being outside a good idea so I went for a walk up Meikleholm Hill.

There is an old tree stump beside the track up onto the hill that acts as a fungus collection and it was well supplied with specimens today.

fungus on Meikleholm track

A bit further up the track, I came upon another casualty of the recent strong winds.

fallen tree on Meikleholm track

I was amazed by how shallow the root system was , being no more than a foot in depth and with no roots protruding through the banking that the falling tree had lifted up.

fallen tree roots on Meikleholm track

On the other hand, it was very wide.  It is wonderful that any trees stand up at all on our very shallow soils.

There were no sheep or cattle on the hill today so I had a peaceful walk on a rich growth of grass.  There were not many wild flowers to be seen….

yarrow

…because the sheep had made a good job of eating everything interesting before they left.  However, there were a great number of these small fungi scattered all over the hillside.

mushrooms on Meiklholm Hill

And of course there were any amount of views…

Esk valley from Meikleholm Hill

…with just a hint of autumn about them…

Casdtleholm from Meikleholm Hill

…though the hint was quite marked in places.

track on Meikleholm Hill

I caught the town lying below me in a sunny moment…

view of Langholm from Meikleholm Hill

…but as I walked back down the hill, ominous clouds rolled up overhead and I abandoned a plan to extend my stroll and walked back in the company of another camera club member whom I met on the way.

Needless to say, almost as soon as I had decided to go straight home, the clouds vanished as if by magic and it was a bright day again when I got back to the garden.

When I went in, I found Mrs Tootlepedal chatting to our neighbour Liz who most unluckily broke a bone in her foot recently and is now hobbling about on crutches.  She had told me about the fallen tree on the Meikleholm track.  She had seen it on one of her last walks before her accident.

When Liz left, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to join me in the garden and I took on the role of Attila the gardener’s henchman and dug up a lot of the worst affected dahlias in one of the front beds and shredded them.  I laid their shredded remains reverently on Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bed along the fence as a green mulch.  Life goes on.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawns and then we went in.  I noted some cheerful colour on my way.

red flowers october

I made  baked eggs and spinach in a cheese sauce for my evening meal and picked some of our autumn raspberries for my pudding.

We had a quiet evening in.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the kitchen earlier on so I went to look at the birds from an upstairs window and from there took this picture of the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch concentrating

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who met an unexpected animal at St Pancras.  She thinks that there may be more roaming the streets of London.

20180918_120742

I had a day of steady but gentle activity today.  It was rather grey in the morning so I was happy to look at the hymns for next Sunday’s service and then entertain Sandy for a cup of coffee.  We arranged to go for a walk in the afternoon.

When he left, I went out into the garden to see what was going on and enjoyed a dahlia…

dahlia (2)

…and the promise of many more fuchsia flowers to come if the frost keeps away.

fuchsia buds

We are still getting a steady stream of butterflies…

red admiral butterfly

…and Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she saw no less than seven at the same time on this buddleia in the afternoon.

I kept an eye on the bird feeder…

busy feeder

…but there was nothing unusual to see.

goldfinch and chaffinch

I get the feeling that the quality and sharpness has gone out of my flying bird pictures lately so it might be a good idea to take my bird watching camera to get a service to see if I can blame it for the problem.  It may well be me though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to visit the RBS mobile bank (which only comes once a week) and then we drove down to Longtown to collect her new glasses to go with her new improved eyesight.

Since we were close at hand, we went off for lunch at a garden centre before coming home again.

I didn’t have to long to sit down before Sandy arrived for our walk and we headed south for a couple of short strolls along the river using the old main road, now by-passed and just the place for a quiet stroll.

We are a bit worried that if they persist, the brisk winds will dry out the trees’ leaves and everything will turn brown rather than giving us good autumn colour so we took in all the colour we could see meanwhile.

A7 layby

river at Broomholm

river at seven sisters

hollows bridge downstream

hollows bridge upstream

Esk from Byreburnfoot brodge

It was very enjoyable having a leisurely walk, well sheltered from the breeze, along the river in good company.

We looked about as we went and Sandy spotted a snail on a dandelion…

dandelion with snail and fly

…which turned out to have a fly as a friend.

We disturbed a small flock of mallards on one of our visits to the river bank but they flew off before we could get a good shot.

flying ducks

There are fungi everywhere this year…

fungus

…and quite a lot of them are providing food for wild life.

fungus 2

We could have done with some sunshine to bring a bit of sparkle to the leaves…

byreburn road

…but of course it waited until we got into the car to go home before the sun came out.

Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea and remarked that his house seemed very quiet and empty now his visitors had left.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a concert given by Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, two of our favourite musicians.  They have visited Langholm regularly over the past years and we go to see them whenever we can, as they provide all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

For those of you who don’t know them, they are a pair of comfortably built, affable and experienced traditional musicians of the highest quality, playing fiddle (Aly Bain) and accordion (Phil Cunningham).  They are happy to let their music speak for itself so it is played without affectation or over amplification.  The music itself always has the most gorgeous line and does not have an ounce of surplus fat on it.

The music is not the only thing that speaks as Aly and Phil keep up a running commentary between numbers and this is almost as good as the music and contains many jokes and anecdotes that are now old friends and all the more welcome for that.  All in all, it was another evening of great warmth and good cheer.

The flying bird of the day is well up to my current standard, i.e. not very good….and it is only just qualifying as a flying bird at all.

chaffinch landing

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from ex work colleague Marjorie.  She was surprised to find a common murre or guillemot in the field behind her house last week far from its usual habitat.  Presumably it was blown there by the strong winds of storm Ali.

common murre or common guillemot

Long time readers may remember New Zealand’s baby of the century, Maisie who in her youth figured in guest pictures on this blog.

maisie Sept

2102

This was one of my favourites scenes showing Maisie reading to her new little sister in 2104.  Both pictures were sent by her mother Jenny

Maisie reading

2014

The reason I mention this is because we were honoured by a visit from Maisie in person today, along with her sister Fran, her parents, Jenny and David and her grand parents. Alison and Mike.

David, Jenny and the girls are on a flying visit to the UK to meet his family and their old friends.

They are surviving serious hospitality very well…

P1140668

…and we had a most enjoyable lunch with them and Mike and Alison today.  (Note that Maisie is still reading).

They are heading home soon so our loss will be New Zealand’s gain.

It had been a very dreich morning with persistent drizzle so quite apart from getting things ready for the visit, it was not a good day for bird…

Blue tit and chaffinch

…or flower pictures.  It was warm though at 15°C so I popped out to take a picture or two before they came.

Ever more nerines are coming out…

nerines cluster

…and the dead heading among the dahlias is paying dividedns as there are still plenty to admire….

red dahlia

..both in the front bed and among the slightly less than Sunny Reggaes today.

two sunny reggae on a wet day

The garden is full of nicotianas and if we get a calm and fine evening, their scent should be delightful.

nicotiana

Lilian Austin has three flowers on the go…

three lilian austin

…but since there were two grandmothers in the house today, I will give pride of place to Special Grandma.

P1140663

When our visitors had left after lunch to do some more socialising and the lunch table had been cleared, it turned out that the drizzle had stopped for a while so I got the new bike out and did some skulking in the bottom of the valley to keep out of the brisk wind.

It was warm enough to make stretching my legs a pleasure and I had time for 17 miles which was an unexpected bonus.

After a very light evening meal, I went out to sing with our local community choir and had a good time singing some of the notes in the right place and at the right pitch.

After the choir, I walked along to the Social Club where Scott our minister was having a farewell do before leaving us on Friday to go to a parish in Glasgow.  He is working out how to get a scone radar that will work over 90 miles.  I hope he manages because it would be good to see him from time to time and find out how he is getting on in the big city.

The flying bird of the day is a rather gloomy chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is on a visit to some Scottish islands.  He looked over the water to see the Paps of Jura.  In my distant youth I ran in a fell race that went right over the tops of those hills.  It was very hard work.

Paps of Jura

It was an all singing (but no dancing) day today and it set the  pattern for Sundays for the next few months with the Langholm Parish Church Choir in the morning and the Carlisle Community Choir in the afternoon.    It was just a pity that it was also fine and pretty calm so from a cycling point of view, it was a wasted day.

Still, it was good to cycle the few hundred yards to church in bright sunlight.  We said farewell to Scott our minister.  It was his last service before leaving to take up a post in Glasgow and he will be missed.

There was no choir practice so we had enough time to do a bit of gardening after the service and while Mrs Tootlepedal toiled, I did dead heading and some shredding….and looked about.

The chilly mornings lately have stopped the grass growing so I had time to spare to stare.

The garden was alive with butterflies with both buddleias pulling their weight…

two butterflies on buiddleia

…and many other plants offering attractions too.  Oddly, the sedum hasn’t pulled a single butterfly or bee in yet…

sedum with no bees

…although it looks quite inviting to me.

The Michaelmas daisies were literally covered with bees.

bees on daisy

Some flowers had found the chilly morning too much for them but a lot survived more or less well.

two rudbeckias

Short and tall rudbeckia

calendual and gaura

Calendula and gaura

two astrantias

Two sorts of astrantia

And the star of them all was a dahlia.

shiny dahlia

I went in and made some potato soup for my lunch and watched the birds while it cooked.

Daddy sparrow supervised the children on the mixed seed feeder…

sparrows on elder feeder

..and Blue and Great Tits took sunflower hearts off to peck at in the plum tree.

blue and great tit

Chaffinches leapt from the sunflower behind the feeder onto spare perches in the shade…

chaffinch landing

…while a little later on, a goldfinch enjoyed sunbathing.

sunny greenfinch

A jackdaw gave me a sideays look.

puzzled jackdaw

We had to go early to the choir to help give out and take in music at the start of the session.  Our new conductor was very impressed by the efficiency of the system.  This term, we have all been given lanyards with our names on.  This is to help members to remember who they are.

Our new conductor made an excellent start.  She is full of pep, knows her singing, has a great sense of humour and is very encouraging so all should go well.

We were able to buy a DVD recording of our last concert with Andrew, our old conductor and I put it on our DVD player when we got back with a great deal of trepidation.  I had two areas of concern.  One was the fact that I was standing in the front row near the conductor so I hoped that the video wouldn’t show me making faces or scratching my nose.  This turned out all right and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I appeared fully committed  and singing cheerfully whenever the camera rested on us.

The other concern was what the choir was going to sound like.  This turned out well too as we sounded well prepared and pretty musical so the DVD will be a good memento of the very enjoyable years under Andrew’s direction.

Mrs Tootlepedal had made the slow cooked stew in the morning and it turned out very well.  With the addition of some home grown potatoes and marrow, it rounded a very satisfactory day off well.

The flying bird of the day came out of the shade of the sunflower.

flyinh chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.  She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.

Durham

It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.

The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new  glasses to arrive.  I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.

While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.

Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop.  I put it out and waited for visitors.

goldfinch on new feeder

A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…

chaffinch approaching new feeder

…a blue tit…

blue tit on new feeder

…another chaffinch….

another chaffinch and the new feeder

…and another blue tit…

blue tit coming to new feeder

…and another chaffinch!

flying chaffinch at new feeder

It had passed the bird magnet test.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.

When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.

The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.

I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground.  C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts.  The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.

walnuts in the garden

I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.

I noticed other things too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…

vigini creeper

…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.

We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.

sunny reggae dahlia

The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.

rose mallow

Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…

late foxglove

…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.

early wallflower

It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there.  It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,

He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.

Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening.  What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.

We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.

“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”

The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.

Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.

flying coal tit

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and reveals that the path in yesterday’s guest picture did indeed lead to a lighthouse, though the lighthouse is rather unusual.  It is opposite the port of Port Ellen next to Carraig Fhada at Kilnaughton Bay. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1832 by Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of Lady Eleanor Campbell. This is a very characteristic lighthouse with two square towers connected to each other.  It is a working lighthouse.

Islay lighthouse

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a lie in today so things started slowly and it was very hard to distinguish between breakfast and morning coffee.

It was a cool day but dry and with not anything like as much wind as we have been having recently so I eventually got my bike out and set off to see how far my legs would carry me.  I was feeling pretty creaky at the outset but once again the good Dr Velo provided if not a complete cure, at least some relief from creakiness and my legs took for me for an enjoyable 30 miles.  I might have gone a bit further but I had no food with me and I had told Mrs Tootlepedal that I was going to do 20 miles so 30 miles seemed sensible.

The farmers have managed to get a second cut of silage in and my route was dotted with green fields where the sheep were grazing and pale fields where the grass had gone.

fields near gair

I kept my nose to the wheel for the most part and didn’t stop to take pictures, except for one of the river at Irvine House with just one hint of autumn among the trees.

Irvine House

There was a bigger hint a few hundred yards further along the road.

autumn bracken

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden chatting to our neighbour Liz. Liz was taking a break from hard work in her own garden but it wasn’t long before both the gardeners were back at work.  I had a sandwich and then came out to do some dead heading and supervising.

We have got some late orange hawkweed to keep things looking bright.

orange hawkweed

And if you think that this dahlia looks a little crowded with insects…

insects on dahlia

…what about this dandelion?

insects on dandelion

I went in for a cup of tea and then there was a smir of rain which brought Mrs Tootlepedal in too.

The rain didn’t last long and the afternoon brightened up again so Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to the garden and I went for a short walk.

The park wall showed that moss is getting back into its stride after the dry spell in the summer.

park wall moss

..with some spleenwort too.

There was lichen and a flower on the wall…

park wall lichen and flower

…and sloes and fungus beside the path as I walked up past the Stubholm…

sloe and fungus

…where I found that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

Stubholm track

Gaskell’s walk had a lot to look at as I went along.

seed head

There were rosebay willowherb seed heads in abundace.

fireweed seed

…and a lot more fungus…

gaskell's fungi

…although one patch turned out to be fallen leaves.

The small lichen garden on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was still flourishing

Auls stane brig lichen

It has been there for years.

On the other side of the bridge, two cows did formation grazing.

two cows eating

The road back to town was colourful in places….

wildflowers by the road

…and there was another hint of autumn when I looked back over the graveyard to the woods that I had just walked through on the far side of the Wauchope Water..

A hint of autumn

At Pool Corner, the slow worms, both old and young, were still above ground (but under a sheltering piece of roofing felt).

slow worms

My walk was noted by interested spectators.

cows and sheep

Between the late start, the cycling and the walking, I didn’t have much time for looking at birds but in spite of that I did recognise how lucky we are to have a good variety of bird visitors.  Today we had starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, jackdaws, pigeons and collared doves.

You will have to take my word for that though as the only pictures I have is of the flying bird of the day, a chaffinch, going to join a goldfinch, sparrow and greenfinch on the feeder.

busy feeder

Looking at the picture, I notice that the chaffinch looks a little upset and this may have been because the perch that the chaffinch was hoping to land on has become unscrewed.  I will have to look for it tomorrow.

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge shows 6 cm of rain for the week or just about 2¼ inches, almost all of which came in one night early in the week so our weather has been better than expected.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »