Posts Tagged ‘dicentra’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s current visit to the Lake District.  He walked to the top of Blencathra on Tuesday and found himself in quite crowd.


We had another dry and occasionally sunny day today but the rude wind had returned so I was not unhappy to have plenty to do that didn’t involve cycling.

In the morning I went to a meeting of volunteers at the Welcome to Langholm office where we heard an interesting and well presented talk by a man from Strathclyde University about a website that is trying to better organise visitors from abroad who are interested in their family heritage.  The idea is that they should inform us of their interests and desires before they arrive and we should inform them of our capabilities to meet their wishes before they have spent money coming to see something that perhaps is no longer there or meet people who cannot help them.  It sounded like a good scheme.

I walked round the garden when I got home while Mrs Tootlepedal planted out the tulips that she had bought at Alnwick yesterday.  She dug up some of this while preparing the ground…

honey fungus

….and wonders if some knowledgeable gardening reader could help her in identifying it.  She fears it might be some sort of honey fungus.

I looked at the established tulips.



It was a degree or two warmer today and the tulips were looking good.


I saw an unexpected flash of yellow in a red tulip…


…which revealed itself as a sport as the morning went on.

The cowslippy things are loving the conditions.


…and the dicentra is doing well too.


I was pleased with that picture of the dicentra but even more pleased with the next one that I took.

dicentra with bee

Bees are always welcome in the garden.

It was a good day for seeing welcome things.


A very small frog in the pond.

I went in to have lunch and was given a couple of hard stares by a blackbird and a chaffinch.

blackbird, chaffinch

I don’t know what I had done to offend them.

The main business of the day was a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and help her celebrate her third birthday.  In honour of that momentous occasion, I am putting  in three pictures of her taken today.  One was taken by her mother in the morning on Portobello beach…

Matilda in Portobello

…and one by her father at the same venue.

Matilda in Portobello

…and I took the third as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda enjoyed the handsome butterfly wings that had been our birthday present to her.

Matilda and Ally

Time simply flew as we played, sang and danced the afternoon away, though I will pass over the fact that the birthday girl wiped me out when we played Pelmanism.  I have mastered dancing while sitting comfortably in a chair.

After tea with cake and candles, it was time for us to go home and once again the view from the top deck of the bus was very pleasant.

Edinburgh from the bus

Edinburgh showing that it has cherry trees too

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch winning the race to get to the feeder.

flying chaffinch

Matilda says hello and goodbye for today.



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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary and Venetia’s visit to Shapwick Heath.  This one was taken by Mary.

Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve 19.04.16 012

There was a hint of frost on the lawn when we got up but a bright sun soon cleared it off and the day looked set fair.  This was a bit of a misleading impression though as it soon clouded over and in the brisk north easterly wind, it was pretty chilly.

Mrs Tootlepedal kept herself warm by working hard in the garden.  She was doing major redecoration inside the house at this time last year so she has two years’ worth of work to do in one this spring.

Once again the feeders weren’t very busy but I enjoyed this sight of two goldfinches tucking in to the sunflower seed.


After coffee, I had an errand to do in the town so I got out the slow bike and tried out the solid tyre.  The ride was a bit firmer on a cold morning than it had been yesterday on a sunny afternoon but that would probably be true for a pneumatic tyre too.

When I got back, I pottered about doing a little daffodil dead heading and offering superfluous observations to the gardener from time to time.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal decided to go to the dump with some unwanted rubble from her many bits of tidying up and our neighbour Liz, who had a few things to get rid of herself, volunteered to go with her.

I stayed behind and did some useful things.  I wandered round taking some flower pictures as well.


Several different colours of Dicentra are to be seen.

I did some work on the compost heap and enjoyed seeing some very busy creepy crawlies dashing for cover in Bin B when I lifted the sheet up.

creepie crawlies

The blue lithodora is sprouting more flowers….


…and a pulsatilla beside it makes a strong contrast.


I sieved as much of the compost in Bin D as I could before needing a rest and broke the work up with some wandering about.

ladies smock

The ladies smock is doing its best to cover itself with flowers.

plum blossom

And the plum tree is trying too but the blossom is rather sparse at the moment.

The daffodils are lasting very well and looking bright and healthy.


Mrs Tootlepedal hoped that the grape hyacinths would make a river of blue round the front lawn and while they haven’t quite managed to join up enough to create that, they have made some nice pools of colour here and there.

grape hyacinths

I mowed the drying green and then returned to the sieving and finally managed to clear the compost out of Bin D….

compost bin D

I was recovering from the effort when I took this fuzzy picture as evidence

…and promptly started turning the compost from Bin C into the newly emptied bin beside it.  And so the process continues.  It gives me a lot of innocent pleasure.

The scillas have been rather depressed by the cold but there is one clump that is defying the weather.


I had a look at the magnolia to see how it had done after another frosty morning and it seem to be managing as well as can be expected.


Mrs Tootlepedal has bought some new tulips for a refurbished bed against the front wall of the house.  Half of them are rather interesting with a white edge to the leaves.  I can’t wait to see what the flower is like.

variegated tulip

The ladies returned from the dump in good spirits and we sat down to a cup of tea and some biscuits.

After tea, there were a few spots of rain about and we felt that we had probably done enough work in the garden to warrant a quiet time indoors so after a quick shopping trip, we retired indoors to read and do the crossword.

And that completed the excitement for the day.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch getting ready to land.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit by Dropscone to Crail on the Fife coast where he was doing some golf refereeing in a pleasant spot.


We had no sunny scenes like that here today.  Indeed the nearest that we came to seeing the sun was this….

cloudy sun

…and as it was raining at the same time, our rapture was severely modified.

Dropscone came round with some traditional Friday treacle scones to cheer up a gloomy morning.  He was nearly run over as he cycled into the drive by Mrs Tootlepedal who was returning from the manure mine with a carload of muck at the same time. Luckily they just missed each other.  If there had been a collision, they would both have been in deep….trouble.

I found a dry spell to walk round the garden.  Spring is coming in at a glacial pace but there are signs of life.


The rhubarb has got to the stage where we are beginning to think about crumble and custard


The Dicentra are almost fully out


A single Lamium stem is trying hard to encourage the rest

I had thought of going for a pedal but every time, I got serious about it, it seemed to start drizzling again so in the end, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive group database, caught up on some correspondence and stared out of the window from time to time.

I almost got a picture of a rare visit from a great tit…

great tit

…but I was too slow with the shutter finger.

There were plenty of other birds about in spite of the frequent visits from the sparrowhawk…

plum tree

…and this led to some frantic action on the new feeders.

goldfinches and siskins

goldfinches and siskins

I was pleased to see two redpolls at the same time…


…and I admired the  control of this siskin, hanging on to the thinnest of toeholds.


Compared with all the small birds, a rook looked liked an millionaire’s yacht among rowing boats when it visited the plum tree.


In the end, I got bored and went for a walk in a very light drizzle anyway.  I had my Lumix tucked in my pocket and got it out when I saw a pair of goosanders at Pool Corner.


The daffodils at the old manse were very lovely…

Springhill daffs

…and there was a fresh wild flower to see (an anemone I think)….


…with the merest suspicion of green on the scrub beside the path as I walked along Gaskells.


It was colder than it has been lately and a rising wind suggested that hanging about might not be a wise move, so I abandoned the idea of extending my walk and headed for home when I got to the Stubholm.

The park wall was was as rich with lichen as ever….


…and I finished the walk with the happy sight of a magnolia bloom as I went in our front gate.


It might not be so happy in a day or two as we are promised some frosty mornings.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a note to say that he had only just realised that there was quite a little waterfall under the new bridge on Gaskells Walk but he thought that it would be too hard to take a picture of it.  This was a challenge so I scrambled down a steep bank to do the best that I could….

Gaskell's waterfall

…and thanks to my new knee, I was very happy to be able to scramble back up again….just.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played sonatas by Corelli and Mancini, paying particular attention to trying to get some proper baroque style into a couple of the slow movements.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, anxious to claim a spot on the feeder.

flying goldfinch

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In the absence (hint, hint) of a proper guest picture today, the guest picture of the day is a guest blossom.  It shows the splendid flowering currant of one of our neighbours.

flowering currant

We had another fine dry day today, cloudy and a bit chilly at the start of the morning but turning out very nicely as the day wore on.  I should have been out on my bicycle like a shot as the wind was light and conditions were perfect but both the spirit and the body were rather unwillimg.  In fact, to show the depths of my unwillingness to exert myself, I spent an hour cleaning the kitchen surfaces instead of pedalling.  Mrs Tootlepedal was quite surprised when she came back from singing in the church choir….but pleased.

I am hoping to be back in the cycling mood tomorrow.

All this hanging about the house gave me plenty of opportunity to watch the birds.


I am not quite sure what has happened to this goldfinch’s head


The siskins were in quarrelsome mode

The chaffinches were practising their sideways glances.



It was too good a day to spend the whole time indoors so I had a quick look for tulips in the garden…


Nearly but not quite there yet


Promising Dicentra too

…and then went out for a short walk before lunch, hoping to see a nuthatch or two.

It was a glorious day by this time…

River Esk

I crossed the Kilngreen, nodding to a pied wagtail on the grass…

pied wagtail

…and waving at a duck in the river…


…before I strolled up the Lodge walks…

Lodge walks

…admiring a laurel in flower beside the road…


…then I crossed the Castleholm and checked out the moss on a branch high above my head…

mossy branch

…and finally arrived at the tree where I hoped to see nuthatches.

Fortunately, a nuthatch was making such a racket that even I was able to spot it on a branch.


It may have been warning its partner to watch out for photographers but if so it was in vain as the other bird was not discouraged by my presence and popped in and out of the nest hole bringing in materials.


It then posed for the camera….


…before flying off.

I went home very cheerfully after such a lucky visit.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with both her church choir and our Langholm Community Choir at an eightieth birthday celebration for her church choir leader and I went off to sing with our Carlisle Community Choir.

We both enjoyed ourselves.

On my way home, I stopped beside the Eden River near Rockcliffe to enjoy the views…

River Eden near Rocklilffe

…in both directions.

River Eden near Rocklilffe

The river is tidal at this point so obviously there was another high tide.

The evening was spent watching the Masters golf tournament on the telly which accounts for the late arrival of this post.  It was quite exciting.

I am putting in two flying birds of the day today.  The first is a redpoll.  It is not a good quality picture but catching flying redpolls is rare for me so I have used it anyway…

flying redpoll

…and the second is a better quality standard flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Oh, and why is the waiting over?  Because when I got back from choir, I found a tulip out at last.  Hooray.




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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s recent visit to Wales.  As she was with my sister Susan, a steam railway enthusiast,  it is no surprise to find that they managed to fit in a train trip.

Caernarfon April 2015 041I had hoped to get a decent pedal in before lunch today after being rather short of pedalling over the past few days but although I managed to get going quite smartly after breakfast, I didn’t get very far.   In theory, at 10°C it was quite a pleasant spring day but in practice, a brisk wind from the north ensured that that it was a pretty miserable morning.

Things weren’t helped by some light rain which started as I got up to Mosspaul.  I didn’t have a visor on and my glasses were soon verging on the useless so instead of heading over the hill and down the other side, I cut my losses and turned and headed for home.

The brisk wind meant that I had averaged a measly 10½ mph for the 10½ miles up to the top of the hill but the same wind meant that I came back at 21 mph which made me feel a lot better about the whole outing.

There were no birds at the feeder when I got back so I went on a flower hunt instead.    I found a couple of new ones…

dogs tooth violet

The first of our dog’s tooth violet or Erythronium dens-canis has appeared


A gorgeous pansy

..,.,and enjoyed a couple of old friends.


I like the colour of this dicentra against its foliage


I have been trying to get the right light conditions to show this primula off at its best.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been off to sing with the church choir and when she got back, she busied herself with the task of putting everything back into the upstairs room.  The effort of moving a lot of things out and then having to move them all back again is considerable and the only consolation is that she has been able to throw quite of lot of stuff which she hadn’t realised that we still had.

There is still decorating going on downstairs…

painting… but it is nearly finished.  Then we need the electrician to finish and we will be nearly home.

After lunch, we went off to sing with our Carlisle Choir after its two week Easter break.  The tenor ranks were very depleted by illness and people skiving off to rehearse for a musical that they are performing on Friday and Saturday with the result that myself and two ladies constituted the entire tenor section pitched against about 60 sopranos and altos.

Surprisingly, this turned out to be really good fun, partly because we could hear ourselves sing very clearly and couldn’t get away with anything less than our best and partly because the accompanist felt very sympathetic and gave us some good quality help round a couple of tricky corners.  All in all, we sang fit to bust (but always tastefully of course) and we felt that we had upheld the honour of the tenor section very well.

The weather had taken a turn for the better in the afternoon and it was a lovely evening by the time that we got home.  There were even some birds to watch.  On the feeder….


A visit from a house sparrow.


A pair of goldfinches appeared again.

….in the air…..

chaffinch…and on hedges and bushes all over the garden.

blackbirdsMrs Tootlepedal had put a venison stew into the slow cooker before she went to church and it made for a tasty evening meal.

On an  editorial note I am keenly aware that the building works and my knee operation have meant that we have been very much confined to barracks for the past four months and as a result, my daily life and thus my diary too has been quite circumscribed.  I would like to thank those regular readers who have had the patience to stick with me in these tedious times and all who take the time to make the comments which I enjoy reading.  I hope that as the weather gets better, when the building works finally come to an end and as my knee continues to improve, then we can get out and about a bit more.   I might also be a little less tired so that the quality of the writing, which has been decidedly stodgy of late, may improve too with a bit of luck.

The flying bird of the day was an evening chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent who was visiting friends when a goldcrest crashed into a window.  It recovered and flew off but not before posing for a picture.

goldcrestThere was not a snow flake to be seen today but I waited for the temperature to drag itself up from the depths before venturing out for a short cycle ride to stretch my legs after a couple of quiet days.  The forecast was a bit gloomy so in spite of light winds, I stayed close to home with a trip to the top of Callister followed by a return trip to the bottom of Callister.

I am having to look after my knee when going up hill as it still tends to be a bit swollen and hot at night so I took the uphill sections carefully but made up for it by dashing back down the hill as fast as I could and just managed to squeeze my average speed for the 21 miles up to 14 mph exactly.  (I apologise to the old lady on the mobility scooter who I forced into the gutter as I sped along the last few metres of the trip in my bid to reach the magic number.)

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal called me out into the garden to look at some new flowers.


Fritillaria on the drying green


Nearby some dicentra are trying their best

And the first aubretia are showing at the end of the drive.

aubretiaI walked around the rest of the garden.


I thought that these were primroses but Mrs T tells me that they are primulas because they have many flowers on each stalk.

There were more fritillaria in the back border….


Is that a bee in there?


Yes, it was a welcome bee.


Off to visit another flower.  I don’t know whether it has quite mastered collecting pollen yet.

And another dicentra.

dicentraAlthough they are not quite ready yet, the grape hyacinths are looking good.

grape hyacinthsThe first recorded bird of the day was a jackdaw looking for fat ball scraps.



A blackbird had found them


Chaffinches flew in and out on a regular basis.

Though some were more placid.

chaffinchI was thinking of a short walk after lunch but the light got very poor and some desultory raindrops threatened to justify the gloomy forecast so I settled down to try to do some serious practice of Mozart’s Requiem.   I have rashly enrolled to sing this work at a scratch performance on Saturday.  Sadly there are not enough hours in the day to allow me to master fitting the words to the music in the elaborate (and speedy) runs that keep cropping up so there will be quite a bit of miming on the day…unless the choir master is a genius.

I did have time to keep an eye on a crow which arrived within seconds of Mrs Tootlepedal putting out a few breadcrumbs.

crowMrs Tootlepedal generally kept herself occupied by preparing the floorboards round the edge of the front room for a geometrical pattern which she is going to paint on them.  The professional decorator appeared today and he is going to start work on Thursday so the end of the end wall saga is now really in sight.

After I had caused Mozart to rotate in his grave enough times, I had another look out of the window.


Another jackdaw but too late for any scraps. It flew off in a melancholy manner.

It was replaced by a greenfinch.

greenfinchMy long stint in the kitchen hunched over the score was brightened by some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s daffodils which have found their way indoors.

indoor daffsWhat with school holidays meaning no flute lesson, camera club meetings meaning no trios, my Friday night orchestra visiting grandchildren in NZ and unexpected visitors leading to our recorder group being cancelled, I have been seriously starved on music lately so it was a pleasure to have a visit from my flute pupil Luke and play some duets with him.  He passed his recent grade examination so we are having some relaxed playing while he recovers from all the hard work.

After tea, I added to my musical day by going off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and we had a very enjoyable evening in spite of my lack of practice.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch caught in the morning’s brightest moment..


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No guest picture today I am afraid as no one has sent me one.  Instead, here is an eye popping colour combination of peony and azalea.

azalea and peony

The weather turned out to be a lot better than the forecast and we had a fine sunny day with warm temperatures and a gentle wind.  It would have been ideal for cycling if I could have overcome my feeling that it was going to rain soon and actually gone out pedalling.  As it was. I managed to find little things to do all day which kept me off the bike.

I had a bit of business to catch up on after breakfast and then the joys of mowing grass and turning compost took over.  These day, each of these harmless activities is accompanied by a good deal of sitting down and recovering afterwards which I enjoy almost as much as the activity.  By the afternoon, I had got the message that my body simply wasn’t interested in cycling today so I gave up pretending that I was just about to go out and spent any spare time wandering about the garden with camera in hand.

It was insect day.  This little fellow got so excited by the Icelandic poppy that it fell over and lay on its back waggling its legs in the air.  Not something that you often see.

icelandic poppy

The bees where everywhere during the day.

iris and bees

On the Irises

dicentras and bees

On the Dicentras of course

beans and bees

But also on the broad bean flowers


And getting tucked into the Geranium macrorrhizum

azalea and bees

And, unusually, there was even one on an Azalea

I thought that the broad bean flowers were so pretty that they deserved a picture to themselves.

broad beans

Plus an appearance of Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden string which I didn’t notice when I was taking the shot.

A pale geranium was one of the few bee free flowers of the day.


It was a very nice day to be pottering about the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it by being active in potting and planting and tidying and all those other things she has to do to keep the garden looking good.

The best time to look at a mown lawn is in the evening.

front lawn

I gave the middle lawn a little boost and I will give this one some help too as it is looking rather paler than it should be.  Another few warm days will help as well.

My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and gladdened my heart by playing very well as we got to grips with a well known bourée by Handel.

After tea, we had a real treat. We had had a phone call earlier on the day from a lady Sandy and I had met while out on a walk at the Hollows recently.  I must have mentioned  in passing while talking to her that Mrs Tootlepedal has a simple metal detector which she uses in our garden for fun.  She told us that a friend of her son had dropped his wedding ring while helping with the lambing on their farm and they wondered if Mrs Tootlepedal could come and run the detector over the floor of the lambing shed to see if the ring was there.

Mrs Tootlepedal agreed with alacrity and I was very keen to come to as Craig had offered to let me look over his working water mill while Mrs Tootlepedal searched for gold.

When we got there, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work….

Looking for a needle in a haystack

Looking for the ring in the deep straw of the lambing shed.  It was rather like looking for a needle in a haystack

…while I went down to the mill.

Hollows Mill

Hollows Mill on the banks of the Esk

The mill is used for cleaning and grading grain rather than milling flour.  Unfortunately for me the water wheel is undershot and inside the building and as a result, it is very hard to get a good picture of the wheel at work.  I took some pictures of the wheel at rest.

Hollows Mill

Hollows Mill

The present wheel is twenty years old and should last for another twenty years at least.  There is a grand collection of gears, belts and miscellaneous machinery to look at in the mill.

Hollows Mill

Outside you can see the sluice that controls the flow into the wheelhouse, a grand commemorative plaque for the restored wheel and caul and yet another belt driven device.

Hollows Mill

The mill is set in a lovely spot…

Esk at Hollows Mill

Looking up river to the caul for the mill stream

Esk at Hollows Mill

Looking down river to Hollows Bridge

I went back up to the lambing shed to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was getting on.  I wasn’t the only interested spectator.


Swallows kept flying into the shed to see what was going on.

Sadly, although Mrs Tootlepedal’s machine gave some hopeful buzzes, none of them turned out to be a lost wedding ring.

Craig is very proud of the history of the mill where his family have been tenants since the nineteenth century but also has an eye to the future and has installed some solar PV cells on the roof of one of his large sheds and is working on adding some modern water powered machinery to his arsenal as well.

We had a very interesting time talking to him and will hope to visit again.

The non flying flower of the day is an anemone, hand painted by nature.





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