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Posts Tagged ‘delphinium’

Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been walking on Cocklawburn beach where the sharp eyed may spy very small fossils.

Cocklawburn beach

We had another bright and sunny day here today but out of the sun, it was pretty chilly with the thermometer below zero when we woke up and staying firmly in single figures all day.

I had to go up to the town after breakfast and enjoyed the frost outlined shadows on the suspension bridge…

suspension bridge with ice

…and the two tone moss on the Day Centre car park wall.

icy moss1

The frozen side looked like this on closer inspection.

icy moss2

I visited a friend in the Langholm Reference Library to ask if the library would be happy to take some of the articles that we have collected over the years in the Archive Centre for which we will not have room when we move.  He was quite excited by the possibility and I walked along to the Centre to fetch a couple of sample boxes.

When I got them back to the library, Ron emptied them out and began recording the contents.  “I love doing this sort of thing,” he said to me.  A very useful man to know.

While I was along at the Archive Centre, I popped into the garage next door to pay my bill and stopped on the forecourt on my way out to admire the view.

warbla from the garage

On my way home, I noticed that the copper beeches at the entrance to the park were catching the low sun.

park in November

My  sore leg stood up to the walk and carrying the boxes very well so I hope that yesterday’s incident will not have done any lasting harm. This is a relief.

When I got home, it was time for coffee and a crossword and then I watched the birds for a bit.

I was struck by the resemblance between a pigeon in the plum tree and myself: largely sedentary, rather fat and definitely lacking in a bit of gruntle.

fat pigeon

The feeder was busy, first with chaffinches….

chaffinches on feeder

…and then with greenfinches (no room for chaffinches any more)…

greenfinches and approaching chaffinch

…and then with goldfinches.

three goldfinches

It is entertaining to get a steady changing of the guard.

In the plum tree, one of the blue tits was enjoying pecking at a desiccated plum…

blue tit with old plum

…and among the plants beneath the feeder, I saw one of the blackbirds which have returned to the garden lately.

first autumn blackbird

We get quite a few migrating blackbirds in the garden over the winter.

The goldfinches set about making a fuss at the feeder, sometimes from a distance…

goldfinches at feeder

…and sometimes up close and personal.

goldfinches squabbling

I didn’t want to tax my leg too much so I spent a little time after lunch walking gently round the garden.

The delphinium is still droopy but defiant…

droopy delphinium

…but there are very few flowers left and I had to look at the stem of a tree peony to get some colour…

tree peony

…though the sedums are hanging on.

sedum

And then I went in and took to lurking near my computer for an hour or so until I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.

She was busy as always and had piled up stuff ready for shredding.  I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D and then shredded about half of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pile.  The evenings are really drawing in now so between the gathering gloom and the chill, I didn’t stay out long and went in for a cup of tea.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to say that she had seen some small flocks of starlings gathering at Longtown so maybe we will have to go down to Gretna soon to see if there are enough about for a murmuration. The numbers of starlings have dropped a lot in recent years and I don’t think that we will ever see sights like this one in 2011 again

starlings

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their first traditional Friday night visit for several weeks and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights and caught up on news, Alison and I put rusty fingers into action on flute and keyboard.  It was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to spy an empty perch on a busy feeder day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who stopped to take this picture on his way up Stanage Edge in the Peak District today.

Stanage Edge

I had a busy morning which started with taking the car to the garage to get a slow puncture sorted.  I had noticed the possibility of pressure loss when I pumped up the tyres before going to Pitlochry and a second check on our return confirmed that all was not well.

I took the car up to the garage before breakfast and it was a lovely sunny day but at 2°C, it was quite chilly as I went to walk home and this may have contributed to what happened next.  I decided to nip across the road in between traffic and as I stepped off the pavement, I felt an ominous stab of pain from a calf muscle.  I had no alternative but to stagger home as best as I could hoping that I had done nothing worse than a slight strain.

It became apparent that I wasn’t going to get off so easily and after breakfast, I cycled back up to the town for a meeting regarding the Archive Group.  Cycling was better than walking but it was no fun at all.

I had seen two dippers at the river earlier on so I had my camera with me on this trip but the dippers had gone.

A goosander had appeared though so not all was lost.

goosander

The puncture was promptly fixed by the garage, the car was fetched by Mrs Tootlepedal, the meeting went well and as Dropscone brought some of his best treacle scones round for coffee when I got back, the day was very satisfactory in every way except one.  It became very plain that I had torn my calf muscle and enforced idleness would have to be the plan for the rest of the day and probably for a few days to come.

As my cycling miles for October are already very poor, this is a great pity and unless we get some very unseasonably pleasant weather in November and December, my annual target looks to be out of reach now.

As it was still sunny, I took a very gentle walk round the garden.  I had hoped to go for a walk in the hills in the sunshine so this was a poor substitute but the flowers did their best to cheer me up.

The clematis are doing amazingly well still…

clematis oct 26

clematis in october

…..but this was the very last of the Japanese anemones for the year.

last japanese anemone of year

The ‘October daisies’ are living up to their nickname…

october asters

…and the delphinium is astonishing.

delphinium oct 26

We have a couple of sunny but chilly days forecast but as there is supposed to be no sub zero temperatures, it will be interesting to see what survives in the garden.

Standing around at the kitchen window wasn’t an ideal way to treat my calf so I only had a brief look at the birds today.

In spite of the sunshine, the feeder lives in dark shadow in the mornings at this time of year and oddly enough, the brighter the sun, the harder it is to take pictures before it has moved round in the sky.

A chaffinch took advantage of the stump of the sunflower next to the feeder to size up the situation.

chaffinch on sunflower

Even when things improve, the very bright backgrounds don’t help the camera to see the birds in the foreground clearly and I often need a lot of help from the photo editor to make the birds visible at all.

busy feeder oct 26

This was a pity because there was quite a lot of lively action from time to time.

 

A greenfinch turned its back on me…

back of greenfinch

…and a goldfinch and a coal tit were simultaneously distracted by different things.

coal tit looking out

I couldn’t find a moment today without some intrusive shadows…

chaffinch in sun and shade

…unless I looked at the plum tree…

chaffinches in plum tree Oct

…but as it looked rather wintery, I didn’t look at it often.

During the day, I treated the calf as well as I could with some gentle massage, healing ointment and frozen peas but it is still pretty sore as I write this and I am not very hopeful about a miracle cure.  I may well need to draw fully on my rather scanty stock of patience tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, getting a very hard stare from a goldfinch for encroaching on its space.

close flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is taking an interest in wildlife now that he has moved to the country from the city and recently spotted and identified a yellowhammer.

yellowhammer

We had another grey and gloomy morning here and the memories of the fine summer months are slipping ever faster into oblivion as winter looms up ahead.

I didn’t have time to sit and mope however as we went off after breakfast to sing in the church choir.  It was a day when the hymns all seemed to have innumerable verses and since the service was followed by a choir practice, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself felt the need for a quiet sit down when we got home.

I filled the bird feeder and looked out of the winter while I made coffee.

Goldfinches were very much to the fore today….

busy feeder oct 18

…and sparrows and chaffinches  had to look sharp if they wanted a seat at the table.

goldfinch threatening chaffinch

After a coffee and a rest, the weather looked settled enough to risk a stroll so I snapped one of the flourishing nasturtiums at the front door…

yellow nasturtium oct

…and set off round Gaskell’s Walk to see what I could see.  The light was subdued.

I saw the larches at Pool Corner beginning to change colour.

larches turning

I saw a fine beech hedge which has been allowed to get a bit out of hand

big beech hedge

The walls were topped with droplet bespangled mosses.

moss with dropletsThe trees on the bank above the river have adopted a variety of angles.

gaskell's Walk with leaning trees

Brambles provided a splash of red.

red bramble leaf

There was one last sloe on the bush at Stubholm.

last sloe

The trees in the park are still colourful but the poplars beside the Esk in the background are over.

 

Park colour

I like looking at the park wall.

park wall lichen panel

I didn’t linger as long as I would have liked on my walk as it started to rain but it had stopped again by the time that I got home and I had enough time for a very short walk round the garden.

Not dead yet.

late poppy

very late delphinium

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to do a bit of shopping and sing with our Carlisle choir.

Our new conductor is a relentless ball of energy and keeps us hard at work.  She likes a crisp pace and after a hard singing morning, I had pretty well ground to a halt by the end of the session but in spite of that, it had been a very enjoyable day’s singing and my throat stood up to the work pretty well.  I think that my recent singing lesson has had a mildly beneficial effect on my technique but I am hoping to get a couple more lessons soon as there is plenty of scope for improvement yet.

Of course the weather had greatly improved as soon as we got inside the practice room and it was a lovely evening as we drove home.   The clocks go back next week so this will be the last time that we come home from our Carlisle choir in daylight for some months and even today, it was pretty well dark by the time that we got home.

To celebrate the arrival of the flock of goldfinches, the flying bird of the day is a double goldfinch helping.

flying goldfinch 1

Another open and shut case.

flying goldfinch 2

 

 

 

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Today’s guest post was sent to me by Sandy.  He is on holiday somewhere and I don’t think it is North Berwick.  I am looking forward to finding out all about it when he gets home.

Thailand scene

It was calm and nearly warm today so after a leisurely breakfast and a read of the newspapers which stretched until morning coffee time with Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a bike ride to try to get my October miles to look a bit more respectable.  This was only my fourth ride in 17 days.

Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a young starling at the feeder while we were having coffee…

young starling

…and I took a shot of it with my pocket camera before I went off.

I cycled past the landslip on the Lockerbie road and was pleased to see that the authorities have installed traffic lights and a sturdy barrier rather than keeping the road closed.  This may have been making the best of a bad job as people had been seen, while the road was still officially closed, removing the barriers and driving past anyway.

It was mostly a rather gloomy ride as far as the weather went and several leafless trees…

leafless trees

…and wet roads made memories of cycling in shorts and sun cream in the summer seem a very long time ago.

I always hope that the beech hedges along the road will be colourful at this time of year….

colourful hedges

…but they are have been disappointing and this was the best that I passed today.

The prancing animal at Hagg-on-Esk has changed colour.

poodle tree

But there are still a lot of green leaves about among the browns and yellows.

Irvine House mid october

I got caught in a couple of light showers on my way but I was well equipped and got home after 34 miles feeling dry and cheerful.

The afternoon was fine enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden for some autumn clearing up and I came out after a late lunch to mow the middle lawn (mostly to get walnut leaves off it) and I was surprised by how much growth of grass there has been lately.

There was a little shredding to do and then I picked a couple of late carrots while Mrs Tootlepedal looked at the turnips….

turnips and carrots october

…which were very clean and good.  Mrs Tootlepedal ate the turnips for her tea.

The fuchsia which got left behind in the great fuchsia move is thriving….

late fuschia

…and one of the ones which were moved and which I thought had given up for the year has taken on a new lease of life.

late fuschia 2

In the veg garden, a new small rudbeckia, which Mrs Tootlepedal grew from seed this year, is looking promising and she hopes that it can survive the winter…

rudbeckia

…the chives can survive anything it seems.

chives october

A secret clematis flower could be found well sheltered among other plants along the vegetable garden fence.

watery clematis

The late delphinium has done so well that Mrs Tootlepedal thought it was worthwhile to give it a cane to help it hold its head up.

delphinium october

I had a quick look at the birds when I came in.  There were no more starlings to be seen, just the usual suspects…

mixed feeder

…with the occasional added coal tit.

miced feeder with coal tit

The afternoon seemed to fly by with some tasks on the computer to be done after the gardening and in no time at all, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.

With only two basses present, we had to work hard to make ourselves heard but it made for an enjoyable couple of hours.  With the inevitable December concerts looming and a week off next week, it will be even harder work in November.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch, caught in a  sunny moment.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

20180907_181837

In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

P1140268

They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

P1140273

Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

P1140276

…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

P1140278

Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

P1140279

…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

P1140281

I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

P1140286

I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

_DSC7062

As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

_DSC7064

…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

_DSC7059

Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

P1140287

Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

_DSC7072

This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

_DSC7054

I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

_DSC7076

The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

_DSC7074

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce and shows his dog, Guthrie considering the pros and cons of a quick swim in the leisure pool  on the Castleholm.

Guthrie

The changeable weather came as forecast but luckily for us, all the rain came during the hours of darkness and the day was dry and even occasionally sunny.  There was a lot of rain in the night though and when I crossed the river after breakfast, I could see the result.

Esk in spate

I was on my way to the doctor to find out about my iron levels.  They are fine and I am now certified as fully attractive to any passing magnet.

On my way across the river, I noticed an old friend so I pedalled back to the house to get a camera and came back in the hope that he would still be there.  He was there….

heron

….tucked away in a sheltered spot in the lee of the Kirk Bridge while the river roared past.

Some vigorous bird calls made me look about and I saw a pair of very active grey wagtails, one of whom stopped still long enough for me to take a picture.

grey wgtail

When I got back to the garden, there was a pair of active blue tits there on the fat balls.

two bluetits on fat balls

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy painting a door in the kitchen and when she had finished, we had coffee.  After coffee, I applied myself to the crossword and then, when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre, I applied myself to lawn care.

I mowed both the front lawn and the greenhouse grass which were remarkably firm and dry after the night’s rain.  A brisk wind and some sun had helped.

In order to get a breather from the mowing, I broke off from time to time to look around.

In spite of the strong wind, the garden was full of butterflies again…

tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock butterflies

…and there were bees and other insects everywhere.

bees on daisies

We have had quite a good selection of bumble bees this year as well as lots of honey bees.

three bees on flowers

This was my favourite moment.

big and little insects

One of the astrantias has come again but oddly for such a bee magnet, it was bee free today.

late astrantia

I did a little bird watching too.

Sparrows and blue tits took turns on the fat balls.

sparrow coming blue tit going

A siskin had its feathers ruffled by the breeze.

blowy siskin

And a coal tit dropped in a couple of times but was rather camera shy.

coal tit

After lunch, I decided that I should brave the wind and go for a pedal as the weather looked set fair.

Once out of the shelter of the town, it was very breezy, with gusts of up to 30 mph so I settled for a ride to the top of Callister and back followed by another turn up the Wauchope valley as far as the schoolhouse and this gave me 20 miles, quite far enough for my legs.

There is no doubt that the hills are beginning to turn brown…

Wauchope road brown view

..but the overnight rain had made my favourite cascade quite dramatic and worth a scramble down the banking to see it in action.

Wauchope cascade Sept 2018

The level in the Esk had dropped though and a gull could stand on a rock by the water’s edge without risk of being swept away.

gull beside river

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon and arrived home after me and we spent a little time in the garden.

Second flowerings are to be seen on all sides.

second delphinium

Delphinium

second vebascum

Verbascum

And the golden wedding rose keeps producing new flowers.

golden wedding roses Sept 18

We are still dead heading in an effort to keep things going but it can’t be denied that the flowers are gradually fading away.

The plums are over but we are awash with apples and the raspberries are ripening steadily so we are not starved of fruit just yet.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an interesting one pot evening meal which involved almond milk, cauliflower and linguine.    It was very much to my liking though Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she could take it or leave it alone.

After previous predictions of gloom and doom, the forecast is now for another dry but windy day tomorrow.  It is difficult to plan when things change so frequently.

Under the circumstances, I thought it only proper to have two flying birds of the day today, one in the sunshine…

flying chaffinch in sunshine

….and one on the shade.

flying chaffinch in shadow

 

 

 

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You may think that I have been going on too much about the lack of rain but today’s guest picture of one of our town bowling greens is worth a thousand words.  It was taken by our friend Bruce.

New town bowling green drought

It was pleasantly cool at breakfast time but even with the sky covered in high clouds, there was no sign of any rain so I pottered about watering, weeding and dead heading.

I even went as far as mowing the drying green and the greenhouse grass to make things look a little tidier.  I am trying my best to keep the garden in a state where Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t actually burst into tears when she comes homes and sees it.

There is plenty to enjoy at the moment.  The bees were very busy today.

bees

The roses are still the pick of the crop but I focussed on blue.

cornflower

geranium

delphiniums

The delphiniums have never looked better and I had a closer peer at them.

delphinium closer

It almost looked as though they were peering back at me from under their eyelashes.

It was cool enough in the house for me to spend an hour putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.  I have slipped behind schedule and all the time the data miners are piling up more work.  Must try harder.

After lunch, I gave up the chance to lounge about watching the Tour de France and went for a bike ride instead.

I varied my route and took the main road out of the town to the north.  I hoped that the traffic would not be too bad and it turned out that my hope was justified and I had a very peaceful ride considering that the A7 is a trunk road.  The benefit of riding up a main road is that the maintenance is carried out by a national government agency and not our local council.  As it is government policy to starve local councils of money and keep it all for themselves, this means that main roads tend not to have any potholes.  The road contractors have been hard at work recently doing some resurfacing so for much of the ride, the going was extremely good.

The views aren’t bad either.

Ewes valley

The skies were cloudy but the wind was light and at 20°C, conditions were near perfect for pedalling.

The hills ought to be at their greenest just now but they too are feeling the drought.The dark green patches are bracken.

top of ewes valley

There is a lot of meadowsweet around and I liked this pool of plants nearly smothering a wall at Mosspaul.

meadowsweet at Mosspaul

I left the main road for a very small diversion to Carlenrig where Johnnie Armstrong met his end.  He was either a great local hero or a notorious gangster, depending on your point of view.  A rather gloomy notice board is to be found…

johnnie armstrong

…where a stone marks the spot.

johnnie armstrong grave
Nearby is a little church…

Carlenrig church

I took another little side road for about a mile and came to an attractive ford…

ford

…with an alternative bridge if the ford is running too high.

ford footbridge

I didn’t cross the ford or bridge and turned for home down the main road back along the flat bottomed Ewes valley…

looking down ewes valley

…and by this time, the skies had cleared a little and it was another beautiful day.

I took the picture above while I was beside an interestingly named farmhouse.

Unthank

Unlike the farm, I was very thankful for the good weather and the light breeze that blew me home.

It was a most enjoyable 30 mile outing.

I got back in time to do a little more watering and gooseberry picking before it was the moment for tea.

I watched the birds as I prepared my meal.

siskin, greenfinch and chaffinch

The scruffy blue tit was back again.

blue tit and siskin

And I noticed that one of the siskin visitors had been ringed.

ringed siskin

If no birds arrived at the feeder, I looked at poppies instead.

poppies

After tea, I managed to get the best of both worlds by watching the end of the Tour stage on the evening highlights programme and then wasted an hour watching the second half of the France/Belgium semi final in the world cup.   There was plenty of skill on show but not as much excitement as I would have liked.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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