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Posts Tagged ‘dog’s tooth violet’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who appears to be spending May Day in Madrid.  He visited El Parque de Buen Retiro where he admired the colossal statue of Alfonse XIII, best viewed from across the boating lake.

8 of 96 El Parque de Buen Retiro

After putting on a good show for the visit of Mary Jo yesterday, the local weather gods fell back exhausted today and we reverted to mostly grey skies, a very cold wind and rain later. It didn’t matter all that much to me but Mrs Tootlepedal has got very fed with gardening in the cold.

She had woken up early and done quite a bit of good work in the garden before breakfast and then after breakfast, she decided to drive to the council dump, 18 miles away to get rid of the old vegetable bed boards, the old bench and sundry other items.

I had woken up with a very tender and arthritic thumb with a considerably swollen right hand so my plan was to let Mrs Tootlepedal do any work that was going and to try to rest the hand as much as possible.  While she went off to the dump, I took a  very gentle walk with my pocket camera clasped in my left hand.  Even with the light camera, taking pictures was not easy.

I had hoped that the bluebells might be out so I walked along the river past great banks of wild garlic, just about to burst into flower….

wild garlic

…and a lot of golden saxifrage and the occasional bluebell…

golden saxifrage and bluebell

…but it has been too cold and not sunny enough so when I got to my preferred bluebell spot, only a few were showing and the path up through the woods was still waiting for the blue carpet to be rolled out.

early bluebells

I walked up the path all the same and enjoyed what there was to be seen along the top.

hawthorn

Views over the town are disappearing behind fresh leaves.

leaves on Stubholm

leaves on Stubholm

When I got to the Stubholm, I continued along Gaskell’s Walk with just a hint in the blue sky above Meikleholm Hill to cheer the day up.

Meikleholm hill in spring

The path through the young birches was at its most magical.

gaskells in spring

There were a lot of grasses coming into flower along the path.

grass

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I stopped to look at the permanent little lichen forest that grows on the fence post beside the bridge.  At only a little over an inch high, it stubbornly resists rain, snow, hail, wind and the road of passing traffic.

lichen at auld stane brig

Further along the road some of the hedge was full of different lichens.

lichenA lone butterbur was in flower beside the Wauchope Water…

butterbur

…and on the wall at Pool Corner there was enough heat under the shelter for the slow worms to have come out.

slow worm

They like to snooze in a heap.

slow worm

When I got back to the garden, i was welcomed by the magnolia at the gate and Mrs Tootlepedal who had got back from her visit to the dump…

magnolia garden from gate

…and she, with a little help from me, gave the car a good clean up, even going as far as getting the vacuum cleaner on to the job.

The nearby tulips caught my eye…

P1090503

..and I went off to look at some more.

P1090505

I couldn’t hold the big camera up or get the tripod into position so there are no bird feeder pictures today.  I did take a picture of the chimney pot underneath the feeder though….

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…before going indoors.

That concluded my activity for the day and I spent the rest of the day sitting down reading the papers or working at the computer, typing carefully with gentle fingers and holding the mouse in the loosest possible grip.

As it started to rain heavily, this was no great hardship.

I did take one more picture of some flowers in a vase on the kitchen table with Mrs Tootlepedal kindly holding up one of her scarves to make a background.

P1090509

The quiet day certainly did my swollen hand no harm and I may need to look after it again tomorrow as I have learned that my new bike might be ready for collection on Friday and I shall want to be in as good condition as possible for a test ride.

There being no flying bird of the day, I have put in standing still and swimming ducks of the day instead, shot in a sunny moment on my walk.

mallards

Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture of an old man she saw at the blogging computer in our front room yesterday.   I don’t know who he is.  He looks much older than me.

blogger

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who saw this copy of the Lamazzu – a winged deity looted from the Iraq Museum – made of empty date syrup cans, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Our weather descended from the recent summer heights to slightly below the seasonal average, the feeling of slight chilliness compounded by a stiff wind which reminded everyone of the long cold months since Christmas.

The weather in the morning didn’t bother me much as I had to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I caught up on some Archive Group work.  I didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped though as I had to provide a welcome and information to no less than three visitors in the two hours.  I was fairly rushed off my feet.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having reorganised the greenhouse while I was out.  She is planting things out and improving the soil as much as she can so I sieved the last of the compost in Bin D and then set about shifting the contents of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  I then emptied the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

I know that there is an insatiable desire for compost  pictures among the readers of this blog so here is the result.

compost bin shifting

The picture does show graphically how compost reduces in bulk over time.  The small amount in Bin D was the same size as the current amount in Bin C when it first arrived from Bin B and Bin B was full to the level of six of the wooden frames when it was first filled from Bin A.

This was quite heavy work so it was now time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a delicious dish of fried eggs and fried cabbage as a reward for compost shifting.

It was far too windy, with constant gusts of 25 mph and above to think of cycling so after lunch, I went out into the garden with my camera in hand.  Windy weather makes it hard to shoot flowers but I did my best.

white flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is not certain what the pretty white flowers above are but I know what these ones below are.  They are potential plums if everything goes well.

plum flowers

The dog’s tooth violets are springing up all over the place.

dog's tooth violets

This clump of cowslip like things is enjoying the weather whether it is hot or cold and is getting larger all the time.

cowslips

The tree peony is looking very healthy.  Last year its flowers were hidden behind its foliage so we are hoping for a better show this year.

tree peony

The madness of the crab like flowers of the euphorbias is well advanced. I hope for a calmer day to take a better picture.

euphorbia

There is little pool of pale blue in the river of muscari.

muscari

And this is the start of our own clump of marsh marigolds in the pond.

marsh marigold

Once again the cold wind was causing the tulips to purse their lips but there is very promising red one waiting for some sunshine.

tulip

The daffodil of the day is a muted example.

daffodil

I put the camera down and mowed the front lawn with a great deal of huffing and puffing because the lawn is so spongy with moss.  There was a heartening amount of grass to cut even if the end result was a very patchy looking lawn.

Then, since it wasn’t really a very inviting walking day, I finished the composting job by emptying Bin A into Bin B so all is ready for Mrs Tootlepedal to start the process going again by filling up Bin A.  I may even have some grass to add to it myself.

Owing to the need for frequent pauses to admire the work in progress or chat to the gardener, it soon turned out to be time for a cup of tea and a sit down indoors.  This gave me a chance to look at the birds.  As it also started to rain, I was very happy to be inside.

The siskins really seem to have gone elsewhere although there was one on hand to join the queue for a seed today.

queue at the feeder

Mostly it was goldfinches and chaffinches again, with the goldfinches concentrating hard on the job in hand….

goldfinches

…and making sure that incoming chaffinches knew who was boss.

goldfinch and chaffinch

But the goldfinches are no match for a really angry redpoll though.

redpoll

The evening was given over to music when first my flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up by playing very well.  Then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel after tea for what seems the first time for ages.

It was good to get back to playing and our lack of practice didn’t seem to matter as we played some familiar pieces with a good deal of verve, all things considered.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

goldfinch

Strong winds and showers are on the menu for both tomorrow and Wednesday so getting out on my bike to knock off the last few miles of my monthly target may be a bit of a battle.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a boat trip that Dropscone took while on his holiday in Majorca.  He saw these  interesting rocks.

majorca cave

The forecast drop in temperature came about but it was not quite as dramatic as it might have been.  All the same, some light drizzle and clouds made the day seem very gloomy compared with the last two days.

It rained while we singing in the church choir in the morning but by the time that we emerged, it had stopped again and I paid a visit to the dam at the back of our house before going inside.  On our side of the new bridge, aubretia is beginning to drip down the concrete…

aubretia

…and on the other side of the new bridge, our neighbour Liz has a striking clump of marsh marigold.

marsh marigold

In the garden, evidence of the morning drizzle was to be seen…

daffodil

…and so I turned up the flower of a dog’s tooth violet to get a sunnier view of it.

dog's tooth violet

I went in and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker, checking on the birds outside from time to time.

The siskins seem to have found somewhere more attractive to eat and we are left with mostly goldfinches and chaffinches at the moment…

busy feeder

…who are always ready to exchange a few well chosen words.

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Once the stew was started, I took a second walk round the garden.

The hyacinths looked cheerful enough…

grape hyacinth

…but the tulips were missing the sunshine and stubbornly refused to display their charms.

closed tulips

After lunch, I had time for another quick look round.

There are some weather conditions which seem to make the hellebores lift up their heads. I haven’t quite pinned down what the requirements are but today was one of the days when it happened.

hellebores

The hellebores have been very good value this year and have been out for ages.

Something has been eating the petals of the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

We made an early start on the trip to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as we had some shopping in mind.

We visited a bookshop first and then went to a specialist tea and coffee supplier where I bought tea from India, China and Sri Lanka to go with the African teas that I am currently drinking.  Two packets of coffee beans from Nicaragua and Brazil also found their way into the shopping bag.  Sometimes, we take the wonders of international trade for granted but I reflect on a small part of it every day as I drink tea and coffee.  And am grateful.

We concluded the shopping by going to a well known clothing store where I bought a shirt just like that.   My ability to make such a bold and swift decision was greatly helped by the fact that my personal shopping adviser was holding my hand and she suggested that a shirt might be a good thing to buy.

The afternoon choir session did not turn out as expected.

We got there to find that our conductor and accompanist, who come down from Glasgow each week, had found that railway maintenance which should have stopped in time for them to get to the practice was still ongoing and they were trapped on the wrong side of it.

In the absence of anyone else, a pianist from the choir stepped forward to act as accompanist and I got the chance to take the choir for a shortened session.  As there is nothing more magical than waving your arms about in a casual way and being greeted by the sound of glorious singing, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The sun had come out by the time that we finished and the evening was so lovely that we took a longer and more scenic way than usual to drive home.

The stew was good too so the day ended very well.

A collared dove sat in the plum tree.

collared dove

I checked a weather site for local weather and it said that yesterday’s high was 69.3°F and today’s was 60°F and tomorrow’s will be 51°F.  This translates roughly as a drop from 20°C to 10°C so we will back to feeling the chill again.   April showers are also likely and I may be a bit pressed to get as many miles in on the slow bike as I would like before the new bike arrives with the new month.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

A literal footnote:  Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture to cheer me up.  It shows her husband leaving his mark on lawn in Denmark that is so mossy that it makes mine look not too bad at all.

moss in Denmark

 

 

 

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Today’s guest pictures, sent to me by Bruce, shows some of the inhabitants of Gilnockie who haven’t decided how they are going to vote in the forthcoming general election.

GilnockieIt was hard to know who or what to blame.  Was it the dry spell making for dusty conditions, was it the flowers in the garden or pollen from neighbouring trees, was it dust from the end wall work which still lies in many nooks and corners of the house or was it just life?  Whatever it was, my breathing was a little below par today and I was happy to wander around doing as little as possible.

I was assisted in this by Dropscone, who brought round some of his traditional Friday treacle scones.  He had already cycled 20 miles and I was happy to have let him do the work for today.  The scones were very good.

Mrs Tootlepedal was varnishing away in the front room and in between letting coats dry, she moved some of the furniture back in during the day.  I lent a small hand from time to time.  In a startling move, some of the furniture has gone to a different corner of the room than it occupied before.  It will take me a year or two to get used to this.

The change in the weather predicted by the forecasters had begun but it was still a pretty pleasant if windy morning and i walked round the garden…

daffodils and tulips…doing a little dead heading of daffodils.  There are still plenty left though and they go well with the tulips.

daffodils and tulipsThe blossom on the plum tree is nearly at its peak….

plum blossom…just in time to catch the drop in overnight temperatures to near zero at the weekend.   We hope for the best.

In the mornings recently, teams of sparrows have been ranging the lawns pecking away and today they were adding a few dance steps to their routine.

sparrowsI went out to see if the little fishes were still swimming in the dam (they were) but got distracted by this fine clump of marsh marigolds instead.

marsh marigoldsThe sun faded away with the morning but the weather stayed dry so after lunch, I went off for a very slow walk round the Castleholm.

I paused in the Clinthead garden to enjoy the good work the gardeners have done.

ClintheadIn the absence of any interesting birds on the Kilngreen, I bought an ice cream cornet from the van there, and licked and walked as I went on.

There were flowers growing wild by the side of the road as I walked up to the Lodge….

bluebell and anemone….though some may be garden escapes.

primrose and red flower…and there were plenty of shades of green to be seen as well, both on the ground…..

golden saxifrage

A pool of golden saxifrage under the trees

…and on the branch.

leavesI looked at trees from a distance…

trees…and close to.

treeMy knowledge of tree species, unless I am walking beside Mrs Tootlepedal, is minimal but I can still enjoy their leaves.

I do know a lime tree though.

lime treeSome fallen branches among the limes gave me a chance to admire some lichen which would otherwise have been above my head.

lichenI stopped at the Jubilee Bridge in the hope of seeing a tree creeper or a nuthatch but instead I was entertained by a wren on a branch shouting energetically at the bushes below.

wrenAfter a while two other wrens, scrapping furiously, emerged from the undergrowth like rockets and disappeared.  I would like to have known what was going on.  (Wrens are very small and hard to photograph!)

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set to work reducing the pile of cherry tree logs to firewood with the aid of our neighbour Liz’s log splitter.  While we were at work, Liz herself appeared and seizing the splitter from us, spilt twice the number of logs that we had and in half the time.  She loves splitting logs.  We stood to one side saying things like, “You won’t be able to split this large misshapen and knotty log,” in innocent tones.  That was like a red rag to a bull to her and firewood soon flew off in all directions.

I had time to be impressed by the flourishing dog’s tooth violets….

dog's tooth violets…before it started to drizzle and I went in.

I rounded off a quiet day with an even quieter evening.

The flying bid of the day is a very determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my elder son and shows one of his dogs having a grand postprandial snooze.

snoozing dogThe forecast was very good and the wind was light so it was a perfect day for a pedal and for once I had the time to take advantage of this.  Dropscone and I have been inveigled by the minister into entering a 50 mile sportive in Cumbria quite soon and the course there is very hilly so we thought that a 40 mile hilly ride of our own would be good preparation.

garmin 21 Apr 15This was by far the hilliest ride that my new knee had encountered so I persuaded Dropscone to take it very easily.  As this was a longer run than he is used to, he was quite pleased to comply.

In the event, we got round quite well, though a couple of stiff climbs in the middle of the ride caused my legs to complain a bit.

We definitely felt that we had been working hard by the time that we got back but the alarming thing is that the sportive has an extra 1000ft of climb in only an extra 10 miles and two of the climbs are steeper than anything we met today so more work is probably needed.  Hm.

I did take one picture on the way round but it turned out to be so dull that I didn’t have the heart to use it.  Fortunately there was plenty to look at in the garden when I got home.  It was really quite warm and pleasant today and the tulips spread their arms out to welcome the sun.

tulipstulipsAnd the dog’s tooth violets had come on well.

dog's tooth violetAfter lunch, I drove down to Longtown to collect two pairs of new glasses from the optician in the town.  It was such a lovely day that I took a walk round the Longtown ponds while I was there to test  my new pair of long distance spectacles.

I could see the ponds looking very green.

longtown pondsI could see flying ducks coming in to land on the river.

flying ducksAnd gorse bushes glowing in the sun.

gorseThere were quite a few butterflies about but as usual they were hard to pin down.  One peacock butterfly did a little sunbathing on the track in front of me.

butterflyIn the course of my walk, I saw three herons, one flying, one fishing and one doing some rather odd disco moves.

heronsThere were quite a lot of swallows about and several waterfowl too.  The swallows were too quick for me and the waterfowl stuck to the middle of the ponds so photo opportunities were hard to come by.  Here are a couple of shots which are representative of my efforts.

duck and swallowThe new glasses were certainly letting me see quite a lot of birds but they also seemed to alarm them too as they either swam or flew off as soon as I approached.  I saw goosanders, oyster catchers, tufted ducks, coots, herons, mallards, curlews and even a lone lapwing but in the end I had to settle for snapping first some slower moving fauna….

cattle…and finally some actually static flora.

wild flowers

Probably ladies’ smock

wild flowers

With added insect

celandine

This is definitely celandine

Spring was really springing.

spring at LongtownSpring at LongtownlichenI was pleased with my new glasses.  But even with my old gasses I wouldn’t have been able to miss the bridge over the Esk.  This is one of my favourite views.

Esk bridge at LongtownWhen I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from making the final preparations for a group presentation at a WRI competition this coming Saturday and was back filling and painting the floor in the front room.  I am looking forward to seeing her design very much.

I had time to look at some pretty flowers on the edge of the dam round the back of the house…

aubretia…before having my tea and going off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group.  We were just a quartet this week and enjoyed the music that our librarian Roy got out of his apparently inexhaustible big cupboard.  My second pair of glasses is set up to help me read music and look at computer screens.  They worked very well for the music but they are not so useful for a laptop as I am too close to the screen.  Perhaps I need longer arms.

This was the first really warm day of the year in our area and I felt that I had made good use of it.

The flying bird of the day is an oyster catcher from Longtown.  One of the many birds that flew off as I approached.

oyster catcher

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