Posts Tagged ‘fern’

Today’s guest picture shows an interesting wall which Dropscone encountered on his Irish holiday.

irish wall

Our spell of calm, dry and chilly weather continued today with a bright, sunny morning making it possible to overlook the 2°C temperature.

It looks as though this pattern will stay with us for several days with the only difference being that it will be well below freezing every morning.

Under these circumstances, I thought it would be best to get a walk in today while the going was still good.  On the same basis, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardening.

I started my walk by passing the mouth of the dam, just where it joins the River Esk.  After flowing under the bridge and then past the back of our house, the dam disappears under roads and into a factory, where it supplies water, before it comes back into daylight here:


I was hoping to see interesting riverside birds while I was there but the cold weather has discouraged them and I had to make do with one of the resident ducks when I got the Kilngreen.


There were plenty of black headed gulls about but they stuck to the fence posts on the far bank of the river…

black headed gull

….where any flying action was largely confined to playing a game of musical posts.

black headed gull

They did occasionally rise high enough in the air to be described as flying….


…but nor often.

I got fed up in the end and walked on to find somewhere where more reliable subjects could be found.

Surprise, surprise, it was a wall.

It had a  wealth of interest on it.  I am getting more confused every day but there seems to be moss, liverwort and lichen all in a heap here.

moss liverwort


My favourite patch was this one.

moss lichen

As I may have remarked before, it is amazing what you can see when you look.   I should acknowledge my debts both to Sandy, who showed me how to use a camera, and the New Hampshire Gardener, who consonantly inspires me  to look closely at the things I see.

I found another wall and met two very contrasting ferns on it.


I walked along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and once again admired the skill of the tree fellers who can leave a selection of trees standing while felling all around if they wish.


On my way, I was inspected by the locals…


…and was intrigued by this tree.

tree with moss

Would that little window open and a gnome pop out and ask me to buy a ticket for my journey?   (I think that the political situation may be destroying my mind.)

I walked down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are just about at their best.


When I got down to the flat, I could see the ridge that I walked along yesterday.


I have to say that it seemed a lot steeper when I was walking up to the summit on the right yesterday than it did when I was looking at it today.

Further on, I saw more moss…

moss on wood

…which was not too difficult as there is moss everywhere at the moment after some very wet years.

I got home in time for a cup of coffee, fairly swiftly followed by lunch and the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

We always leave in plenty of time as there is a bumpy and winding road on the way to Lockerbie but this leaves me with time to stand on the platform and look around.  I love the tower of Lockerbie Town Hall.

Lockerbie Town Hall

I like the fact the clocks show slightly different times and often wonder if anyone has ever stood on the balcony and addressed the crowds below or perhaps blown a fanfare.

I didn’t have as long on the platform as I usually have as incredibly the train was on time today.  Not only that, it actually arrived in Edinburgh a little ahead of schedule and there was a bus at the bus stop to take us down to Matilda’s almost as soon as we had stepped out of the station.

We were punctual to the dot so it was no great surprise to get a text from Alistair to say that they hadn’t got home yet.

Still, the great thing about cities is that they have shops there so we were able to kill a little time without any difficulty.

We had a most enjoyable visit, being thoroughly entertained by Matilda and well fed by her parents.  And Mrs Tootlepedal had bought one of her sticky toffee puddings with her.

The journey home went as well as the  journey up and we arrived back to find that not only had the builder finished installing the pavement kerb on the bridge but the gaps had all been filled up and things look as though they are now ready for tarmac.

dam bridge repair

The state of play when we left in the afternoon and when we got back in the evening.

I did find one sympathetic gull this morning and it is the flying bird of the day.

black headed gull


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday.  He and his family visited Mizzen Head.  It is not on my list of places to visit for obvious reasons.

mizzen head Ireland

For the first time for what seems like ages, we had quite a warm day today with the thermometer gently pushing at 10°C and it was genuinely pleasant to step out of the door into the garden.

I had to go up to the Day Centre to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening and I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and gossiping in the High Street while I was about it.

By the time that I had strolled home, made a cup of coffee and done the crossword, I didn’t have much time left to look at the birds…


…who were generally….


…looking left today….


…and take a walk round the garden, which was full of soggy snowdrops (it had rained again in the night)….

wet snowdrops

…interesting moss…


…and more interesting moss….


…some of which looked liked this when viewed in close up.


After fortifying myself with sardine sandwiches, I got my slow bike out and went for another test ride to see how I was.

I managed to go a bit further (20 miles) and a bit faster (11mph) than two days ago so this was encouraging.  I would have more pleased if the last few miles hadn’t been such an effort but I got round and that was the main thing.

I completed my usual Canonbie circuit and was never more pleased to go past my three favourite trees on the way.

three trees Canonbie

I was concentrating quite hard on the actual pedalling (and trying to avoid any potholes) so I didn’t stop for many photos but I always enjoy the silhouette of this monkey puzzle tree near Canonbie….

Monkey puzzle

…and of course, a wall has enough attractions to stop you in your tracks at any time.

This one had gorse on top of it and lots of very emerald green moss clumps on its face.

gorse and moss

I took a close look at the moss. Some of the clumps resembled bracket fungi in the way that they stood out from the wall.


And there were ferns too.


Mrs Tootlepedal was making good use of the warm day by busying herself in the garden when I got back so I had a look round.  Crocuses are beginning to show up well….


…and the avenue of snowdrops along the back path is looking good too…

snowdrops in garden

…but the most interesting thing in the garden wasn’t a flower at all.


A real sign of spring.

The frogs may not be too happy though when it gets cold again later in the week.

The evening was quite busy as my flute pupil Luke came and we worked at  a couple of sonatas, very satisfactorily in the slow movements but leaving a bit of room for practice on the allegros.

And then, after tea, it was time for the camera club meeting and thanks to rival meetings, we were a bit short of numbers but the quality of the images supplied by the members more than made up for this.

As usual there was plenty to admire and quite a bit to learn as well so it was a thoroughly worthwhile evening.

It has been a quiet time as far as the dam bridge repairs go but some more shuttering was put in place today…

dam bridge repairs

…and concrete will be laid tomorrow so progress is being made.   We are wondering if the Queen will be available for the official opening.

I had several flying birds of the day to choose from but as they were all chaffinches and all at the same angle, I couldn’t make up my mind and so I have put them all in.

flying chaffinches

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from former Archive Group member Ken who has gone back to the east coast where he is celebrating the twentieth birthday of the ‘Angel of the North’.

angel of the north

It didn’t snow today.  This was quite unexpected but to make up for it, a shrewd and biting wind made going outside a bit of a trial.

I had to go out after breakfast for a final visit to the health centre for a look at the scratches and grazes on my arms from the bike tragedy.  Like my face, they have healed up well and I was pronounced fully cured and discharged.  Hooray, I can have a bath or shower at last.

It was sunny when I walked across the suspension bridge on my way to the centre and I spotted four white dots on the river gravel.  I only had my phone with me and this is what it saw.

oyster catchers

If you look carefully at the end of the gravel, you can just make out that the white dots are four oyster catchers, the first that I have seen this year.

To our great relief, the bridge builders returned and started work….

dam bridge repairs

…..and to our great amazement, a new tea shack and office appeared as well.

dam bridge repairs

Upon enquiry, it turned out that the junior worker had broken the key in the door yesterday and so great was the security of the triple lock that the whole container had to be taken away to get it opened up again.  Meanwhile, a substitute had been delivered.

On my way back into the house, I walked past a pile of stones in our back garden which had come from the repairs to our house wall three years ago.  It shows how well moss grows in our climate.

moss in garden

The roads were still icy in places so I stayed in and got my bigger lens out and peered at the birds through the kitchen window.




A lot of siskins turned up after a while and started quarelling.


Rather annoyingly, our water supply first reduced itself to a trickle and then gave up entirely.  Water is one of those things that you don’t realise how much you need until you don’t have them.

We naturally assumed that it was the bridge builders who had done it since they cut the pipe not long ago but they protested their innocence and it was true that the pipe looked untouched.  In the end, a water board man came round in the early evening and solved the problem by turning on a stopcock which a person or persons unknown had turned off at the end of our road.   First our phone and then our water.  Can we put out a plea for people not to turn off our utilities.

Anyway, while we were waiting for the water board man to come, I went shopping in the town and then took a diversion on the way home.

I got a rather distant view of a single oyster catcher as I went along the river.

oyster catcher

I was disappointed that the other three had gone somewhere else.

I am learning how varied mosses are and trying to find out what to look for in a moss so I was pleased to find a good example of two different sporangia side by side on the Castleholm wall.

moss  sporangia

The ones on the left, standing up and brown and the ones on the right, hanging down and green.    I still can’t tell you what the mosses are but it is a start.

There were ferns on the wall too.

fern sporangia in sori

This might be a broad buckle fern but there are a lot to pick from.

Later on, I saw some ferns on a tree.  They look similar but when you look again, you see that they might be different.

fern and sori

This might be Dryopteris carthusiana,  spinulose woodfern, but then again, it might not be.

I am having a lot of fun looking at mosses and ferns and lichen.

I realise that not all readers might share my enthusiasm but when you are retired, you have plenty of time to look around.


Oh look, some more mosses, one creeping along the wall with stealthy fingers and one standing up straight with interesting cups.

It was pretty chilly….

snow on Timpen

….so I didn’t dawdle too much but I did stop for some snowdrops near the Lodge….

snowdrops castleholm

….and a hint of spring.

hazel catkin and bud

We were very pleased when our water came back on and we were able to do the washing up and make a cup of tea.

I went out as usual to take a picture of the bridge works at the end of the working day.  They are busy preparing to connect the bridge to the existing road.

dam bridge repairs

In the evening I drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  Susan didn’t come with me as she is preparing to go to Ireland with her father and some of her siblings for a holiday tomorrow.   I hope to get a picture of two from them while they are away.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as Heather brought her keyboard round with her and we played sonatas for two or three players and B.C. instead of our usual consort music.

It made a refreshing change.

I was so busy peering closely at the birds today that I forgot to take a good flying bird of the day and this was the best that I could find when I looked on the camera card.

flying chaffinch

And I cycled two hundred yards to the shop and back, the first time I have been on a bike for a fortnight.  The shop was closed by the time that I got there but I enjoyed the cycle ride!


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.


After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…


…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….



…and the magnolia by the front gate.


In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.


It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018


They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…


…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…


…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.


Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from the Edmonton busker and bicyclist, Tuckamoredew, a man who sings gaily to himself while pedalling through deep snow in subzero temperatures in the dark.  But even he was a bit alarmed when he passed these two characters at night.

Edmonton statues

The wind was still from the east today and the day was colder and greyer but the Scandinavian high is stoutly keeping us safe from any Atlantic fronts and there has been no  sign of frost so we aren’t complaining (much).

I had a quiet spell after breakfast with only a few small birds to distract from an intractable crossword.

coal tit, robin and blue tit

Things perked up when Sandy arrived for coffee and we arranged to go for a walk in the afternoon.

After Sandy left, I got down to some serious work and prepared 14 copies of a DVD of the ‘Heritage of Langholm: The Mills and the Railway’ which are on sale in the Information Hub in the Market Place.  They have been selling well lately and help to raise funds for the Archive Group.  (We have a disk copier in the Archive Centre which copies seven disks at a time so that explains why I produced 14 copies.)

While the DVDs were being copied, I chased up an article on the newspaper microfiches about the dedication of a stained glass window in our parish church in 1925.  Scott, the minister had asked me for this and I delivered the DVDs to the Information Hub and the article to him on my way home.  I felt very virtuous as a result and celebrated by making some potato soup for lunch.

I had time to walk round the garden before I made the soup.  Our small sedum has come out too late for any butterflies I fear but the bees are enjoying it.

bee on sedum

There is still colour around and some of it is in the vegetable garden.

chive and mint

That is the second flowering of the chives this year


Mrs Tootlepedal stuck a couple of surplus dahlias in a veg bed.


The honeysuckle seems confused about the season

In the flower beds, there are more second blooms.

Weigela and poppy

And there is plenty of pink about…

phlox and poppy

…and a little blue too.

lobelia and clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a blackbird having a bath in our pond.  It popped out onto the side when I approached.


After lunch, Sandy arrived on cue.  We sampled the cool temperature, grey clouds and blustery winds and settled on a mainly sheltered walk through the woods above the River Esk below Skippers Bridge.

The first part of our stroll was through oak woods…

Jenny Noble's wood

…which never fail to be pleasing at any time of year.

Jenny Noble's wood

There is a sudden glut of acorns and many of the trees were covered with them.  We saw a lonely rowan tree among them.

rowan and acorn

On the far side of the oak wood is a birch plantation.  The leaves are coming off the birches, leaving them almost bare.

birch wood

We came to the top of the wood….

Jenny Noble's wood

…and walked along the track to Broomholmshiels.

We were not unobserved.


Although the trees are still mainly green, there was enough colour to catch the eye here and there but we felt that it needed a bit of sunlight to do it justice so I shall wait for a better day and come back again.

I saw an old thistle and some fresh gorse as we went along.

thistle and gorse

It started raining lightly when we went through the farmyard at Broomholmshiels so we picked up the pace as we walked back down the road to the car.

A pair of fresh white fungi shone through the gloom of the trees beside the road.


And as we went down the road….

Broomholm road

…we found a lot to enjoy….especially as the rain had stopped again.

autumn colour Broomholm

There was a splendid range of greens, oranges and yellows

lichens broomholm

Lovely lichens


And fascinating ferns

We get to the car and then stopped again at Skippers Bridge where I took far too many pictures while we stood right beside the river and watched trout swimming past.

I have selected the traditional view.

Skippers and the distillery

In spite of the gloomy conditions, I enjoyed our outing so much that I took well over  a hundred pictures trying to capture the best of the walk.  Readers have got off lightly.

The forecast is a bit gloomy at the moment but there may  be a bit of sun every now and again.  I am hoping that it doesn’t come too early in the morning.

In the evening, we had another operatic treat as the Scottish Opera’s touring company arrived at the Buccleuch Centre to give a live performance of L’Elisir d’Amore by Donizetti sung in English.

On a long tour with a cast of nine and a mini orchestra of five (violin, viola, cello, French horn and guitar) the staging had to be neatly designed, the  director had to be inventive and the conductor had to be sympathetic to do justice to this popular opera.  Luckily for us, the staging was very attractive, the direction was very sensible and imaginative and the singing and acting was first rate throughout.  The little orchestra was brilliant. It helps a fellow like me who doesn’t speak Italian to be able to understand what is going on.

I last saw this opera at Glyndebourne in 1962 in a production by Zefirelli with the leads being sung by Mirella Freni and Luigi Alva so it was not too soon to see it again.

There are quite enough pictures already today so no flower of the day but I did catch a glimpse of a flying sparrow.

flying sparrow

 Sandy has posted a description of our walk too.  You can find it here.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony, who is having a well earned rest on Cyprus with Marianne.  There they need umbrellas to shelter them from the sun, a novel idea to us.

umbrellas in cyprusWe had a genuinely warm and pleasant day today which was a great treat.  I didn’t make the fullest outdoor use of it because much of the morning was spent being social indoors.  First Dropscone came round with some scones for coffee.  He has been beaten by the gravel on the back roads and has had to alter his usually immutable morning cycle route to avoid the worst patches.  He had already been out for 20 miles by the time he came to see me, putting me to shame.

To be fair, I had walked round the garden.  There is more to see every day just now.


The first peony is nearly out


The first iris is really out.

pink strawberries

Mrs Tootlepedal’s pink strawberries are looking very pink indeed

A very small rose

A very small rose has made an effort

bee on allium

What looks like a honey bee visits an allium


How can Mrs Tootlepedal think that these are dull?

azalea and pansy

A couple of show offs

Mrs Tootlepedal and I have been discussing whether things are blue or violet.  There is nor much doubt about a cornflower and a viola..

cornflower and viola

Blue and violet

…but a polemonium is not so clear.


Is that blue or violet?

After Dropscone left (with a little rhubarb to help us reduce our rhubarb mountain), I had time to watch the birds for a moment….


baby starling

A baby starling arrived and looked round hopefully. No parent came to feed it so it flew off again.

…before the minister arrived.  Scott’s  scone and coffee radar had misfired and Drospcone and I had finished everything off before he came but he took it very well.  He too had been out on his bike so I felt very badly about my lack of exercise. He has been pedalling a lot recently and is going to do a 100km sportive this weekend.  He should be ready for it.

When he left, I went to assist Mrs Tootlepedal who was clearing out some sickly privet in the back bed.  This involved a good deal of shredding and kept me busy until lunchtime.

Usually I find it hard to get out on the bike if I don’t get going in the morning but today I surprised myself a lot by finding myself in cycling gear soon after lunch and then actually getting the fairly speedy bike out and going off on a ride.  Scott, the minister, had told me that he had been round Bailliehill and Paddockhole on his morning ride so I resolved to do the same in the afternoon.

It was a lovely day for cycling and for the first time this year, I went out with only a single jersey on.  I even ventured to expose my new knee to the fresh air and put on a pair of shorts even more stylish than those worn by Stan Warwinka in Paris last week.

I soon passed one sign of the better weather.

silage cutting

A field being cut for silage

I stopped again for a drink and a banana when I reached the top of the climb after eleven miles.  I love this unfenced road snaking across the col between the Esk and the Water of Milk.  It is not very high up but there is a great feeling of being out in the hills as you cycle along it.

BailliehillKeen cycling fans may wonder why I need to stop to eat a banana and have a drink when cyclists eat and drink on the move all the time.  All I can say is that they have much better bike handling skills than me and if I tried to eat a banana while pedalling, I would probably end up in hospital.  I have never been able to ride a bike with ‘no hands’.

I didn’t stop for any more photographs as my legs began to get rather competitive and I pedalled round the 26 miles circular route in a time that made me feel quite cheerful.  My knee was a bit sore when I got home but it soon recovered.

I had enough energy left for another walk round the garden when I got back.


This hairy monster will soon turn into a glorious oriental poppy.

shuttlecock fern

The shuttlecock fern unfurls from inside.

The chimney under the feeder has been brightened up a lot recently.

chimneyThen I went in for some bird watching….

Baby sparrow

A baby sparrow’s prayer is answered.

…before joining Mrs Tootlepedal to watch part of a very entertaining Australian production of the Pirates of Penzance on DVD.

Then I had a shower, made some tasty cauliflower cheese for tea and went off to drive Susan to Carlisle for our weekly recorder group meeting.  Our plan to put in some serious work for a forthcoming concert was somewhat dented by the absence of one of our players on account of a family crisis but we had an enjoyable play  and some useful practice all the same.

We are promised an even warmer day tomorrow with even more sun and even less wind.  If that happens, I predict an early return of the stylish shorts.  Sunblock may be involved.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch diving for a perch.


Read Full Post »

Rather gloomy

There being no guest picture to hand today, I have put in an unexpected visitor to the garden.  Although the weather has been grey and wet, it has been warm enough to tempt a primula to come out.

primulaIn the face of another wet and gloomy day, I decided to take up the offer a drive to Hawick with Mrs Tootlepedal and a visit to a supermarket there to get our Christmas meal and some day to day necessities such as cheese and coffee beans.

Although I am finding it easier to get in and out of the car, the forty mile round trip and the wander round the shopping aisles was more than enough fun for me and I was glad to get home.  Still, it was good to get out of the house, even though the roads were running with water in the persistent rain.

The birds seemed a bit fed up with the weather and there weren’t a lot about today.

chaffinch and siskin

Plenty of room at the feeder in the rain.

goldfinches in plum tree

The goldfinches seemed to prefer the plum tree to the feeder.

The rain eased off to a drizzle after lunch, so once again Mrs Tootlepedal and I got in the car and she drove us to the Castleholm where we enjoyed a 1.1 mile long circuit of the grounds of the Langholm Lodge.

Although the light was awful, I had Pocketcam with me and stopped from time to time.

The warm weather had encouraged the reappearance of a grey fungus on a felled tree trunk.


Now that the leaves are off the trees, it is possible to enjoy the fern gardens that grow on the trunks of the trees along the river bank.
ferny treeMy fern expert, Dr Tinker, tells me that these are epiphytic Common Polypody ferns.

There were hazel catkins too.

hazel catkinsAnother benefit of the leafless season is that the passer by can admire the bridges across the river.

The jubilee bridgeAs we walked back towards the car, the rain eased off for a while but it was hard to see a gap between the ground and the clouds at all.

low cloudsThere’s a hill back there somewhere.

As we went through the gate back onto the road, a little snail on the wall caught my eye.

snailAnd nearby, the ever present lichens glistened in the flash from the camera.

lichensAs we arrived home, we met fern expert Mike Tinker and we had a cup of tea and a tea cake with him.

The shopping trip and the walk was more than enough for me and after my cup of tea, I retired for a snooze and that ended the activity for the day.

A chaffinch is today’s flying bird.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »