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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Today’s guest picture shows a beautiful lake in Snowdonia.  It was taken by my sister Mary on her recent trip to Wales with my brother Andrew and sister Susan.

Snowdonia

Our spell of warm dry weather continued but so did the strong wind.  In the absence of any morning sunshine, I thought that it would be a good idea to get some Archive Group work done rather than wearing myself out fighting the elements on a bicycle.  Sandy very kindly came down and between us, we put three weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  This was a useful session. The other group member who enters the data has been working hard too so we are giving the data miners a run for their money.

Sandy had business in Carlisle so he left and I went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was doing in the garden.  She was busy delving so I put some buck-u-uppo onto the strawberries (which are looking good) and watered the gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes.  I am a bit worried by the shortage of bees in the garden.  There are a few but we need more for the pollination.

After lunch, I went off by myself to see if I could see a nuthatch or two.

My route took up the Lodge Walks and it became apparent that in the week that we were away, the trees have come into their own.

Lodge walks

Although I waited for a fair bit of time at the nuthatch site, the only bird that I saw was a chaffinch.

chaffinch

The day was brightening up so when I gave up hope of a nuthatch arriving, I followed a tip from Sandy and went to look at the wooded banking above the Lodge Walks.  He had thought that it might prove a good spot to see some more bluebells…

bluebells

…and how right he was.

bluebells

As you can see, the sun had come out by now and the clear skies lasted for the rest of the day.

I made a little excursion to see what I could see nearby.

Castleholm trees

The trees are enjoying the warmer weather

Castleholm trees

Looking across the playing fields towards Timpen hill

I had another look at the Lodge Walks on my way home.

Lodge Walks

The big pile of logs on the right is a reminder of our winter gales

The river is getting its spring clothes on too.

Esk in spring

I was welcomed home by one of out resident chaffinches…

chaffinch

…and then I had a look round the garden in the sunshine.

The tulips were positively glowing with delight at the good weather.

tulips

tulips

tulips and grass

Mrs Tootlepedal particularly likes this combination of colours

Then I got down to work on the front lawn which is slowly recovering from our aborted attempt to turn it into a wild flower paradise.  It is extremely mossy so I gave it a thorough scarifying and then mowed it as well.  This process will need to be repeated at least once more.

After I finished, I rewarded myself with another look round the flower beds.

There are yellow flowers…

marsh marigold and dog tooth violet

Marsh marigold and dog tooth violet

…and orange ones too.

wallflower and new tulips

Wallflower and new tulip

I couldn’t resist another look at some well established tulips offering a contrast in plain and fancy styles.

tulips

I shifted a little compost and dug up and shredded some kale that was long past its use by date and then Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cut my hair.   Next, I went for a shower.  The trouble with hot weather is that you have to do a lot more washing and changing clothes.

In the evening, we went for a practice with our Langholm Choir.  It wasn’t very satisfactory as we have two concerts coming up soon but neither our conductor nor our pianist were there.  Two choir members did a very good job of putting us through our paces but at this late notice a proper practice would have been better.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to look out for flying birds and with all the garden activity going on, the feeders were often very quiet so this goldfinch coming up to the feeder pole was the best that I could do.

goldfinch

 

 

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The guest picture of the day is a fine crab apple tree, her pride and joy, sent to me by my Somerset correspondent Venetia.   I can see why she likes it.

crab appleBy all accounts, today is to be the last of our recent sunny spell with the temperature set to drop, the wind to rise and even talk of snow at the weekend.  In these circumstances, it seemed like a good idea to put the good weather to work.

After a quick whizz round the garden….

spirea

Mrs Tootlepedal likes this combination of colours

…and a little time spent cleaning the chain and gears, it was off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

garmin 23 Apr 15For once the Garmin website has reported the weather pretty accurately.  It was warm, it was sunny and the wind was conspicuous by its absence.

After the hilly pedal with Dropscone on Tuesday, I was after a much more gentle effort today.  My legs were even more insistent about this and at one stage fairly early on, were even wondering whether going home might  be a good idea.  It is never a good plan to listen to your legs so I spoke to them severely and after about seven miles, they started to play ball and I enjoyed the rest of the ride.

I had Pocketcam with me and was able to record the complete clearing of the bank below Wauchope Schoolhouse.

Wauchope SchoolhouseIt has changed the character of the road entirely.  My favourite plan on very windy days of riding up and down to Wauchope Schoolhouse in the sheltered valley looks as though it won’t work any more.

I picked up speed as I went along after a very slow start and soon found myself on the old A74, once the main artery between England and Scotland and now a mere back road beside the new motorway.  The verges were blazing with dandelions.

A 74I pedalled down to Gretna where I found that the installers of the Armco have made special provision of a nice flat bit for an old man to sit and eat a banana.

armcoI made a brief diversion into England and then headed back north, stopping to eat my second banana beside a pretty stream near Corries Mill.

StreamJust round the corner was a large field of rape.

rape fieldThis was beautiful to look at but very bad for my breathing so I held my breath for as long as possible and got by with no harm done.   My legs held up very well, helped by the marked absence of any hills and I got home in good style.

The garden was looking good in the sun.

tulipMrs Tootlepedal has been making good progress with her work on the floor and is in the process of reintroducing some furniture.  She has been working non stop for several days and I thought that an outing would be just the thing for her on such a lovely day. By fortunate co-incidence, Sandy rang up and suggested a trip to the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie and this is just what Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys so Sandy came down and off we went.

The reserve was looking at its best…Eskrigg

…and tempted me into taking far too many pictures.

There was a lot to watch on the pond.  There were ducks diving….

duck diver…and geese watching.

geeseOne of the geese did a duck impersonation….

goose diving…but ended up looking more like a faceless but demented rabbit.

A rough gang of mallards swept across in front of us….

mallards…in pursuit of a lone female.

This is wonderful place for seeing greater spotted woodpeckers….

greater spotted woodpeckergreater spotted woodpecker…and red squirrels.

red squirrelI took about fifty squirrel pictures but I have forced myself to reduce the number of these shots used in this post of these wonderful creatures to only two.

red squirrel…oh all right….three.

red squirrel…oh go on….just one more.

red squirreland definitely the last one.

red squirrelWe met two ladies who had driven ninety miles just to watch the squirrels.  They were very happy people.

While Sandy and I snapped away, Mrs Tootlepedal had her sketch pad with her.

Eskrigg sketchIn the end, time ran out out on us and we reluctantly left the squirrels scampering about and headed for home.

After a short break for tea, I met up with Sandy again and we went off to the Archive Centre for our usual Thursday evening session.  Mrs Tootlepedal continued to work away in the front room.  For some reason, both Sandy and I were suffering from a little tiredness and we didn’t work for too long before retiring to the  Eskdale for refreshment.

All in all, I think between us, we made the very best we could of a superb spring day and I hope that the memory of it will let us laugh at the snow if it  comes on Saturday.

The flying bird of the day is one of the Eskrigg mallards.

flying Mallard

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary.  It shows the Regent’s Canal in London near Little Venice.

Regent's canal, near Little Venice

My plan for the day was to get up really early and make use of some of the forecast sunshine to warm me up in temperatures of about 5°C, then to go to the local producers’ market and then go horse racing.

Things didn’t work out.  I woke up early but the sun wasn’t shining so I went back to sleep.  I re-jigged my plan when I got up later and found it was grey and still only 6° and decided to go to the market first and pedal afterwards.

This didn’t work out either.  I did get to the market where I enjoyed some  interesting conversations and made some judicious purchases but when I got home, my knees were complaining so much that I gave them a break and left the pedal out of my plans completely.

I looked at flowers instead.

flowers

Two new ones, a potentilla and a Solomon’s seal

Flowers

A lilac just coming out and a tulip just about finished.

Toast, coffee and a crossword made for a restful morning, though I did manage to stand up once or twice to look out of the window.

Two infrequent visitors

Two infrequent visitors on the feeder, a great tit and a coal tit.

Two regulars

Two regulars below, a chaffinch and a dunnock

After lunch I went to see the first horse race meeting of the year on the Castleholm.  There was quite a good crowd and some excellent entries for the racing.  This is unlicensed horse racing or ‘flapping’ as it is called and it is run very informally but it is nevertheless well organised.

I went down to my favourite corner for the first race and was surprised by the number of runners pouring round the track.  My photo only takes in part of the field.

first race

The starter complained that he never got his picture taken so I waited in the same spot for the start of the next race.  The start was a bit delayed when one of the jockeys lost control of his horse and did two laps of the circuit before he could get it stopped.  He was withdrawn and the other starters got under way.

second race

I caught them as they came round the bottom corner after the first of two circuits of the track.

second race

In between races, I looked at trees….

tree

…and had a couple of unavailing searches for a nuthatch or two.

This left me at the top corner of the track for the next race.  One of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ex work colleagues had a horse in this race…

Jackie's horse

She told me that she didn’t think it was fit enough to win and she was right, though it did well.

After the excitement of the runaway horse in the previous race, another horse’s connection were making sure it got safely to the start in this race.

walking to the start

The all got away and I watched them round the top corner for a change.

Top corner

A fast starting group of three.

horse and rider

A study in concentration

For the last race that I watched, I went down to the bottom of the straight where I met a fellow photographer, Mel.  She is very businesslike and takes pictures of the winners passing the posts, prints them out immediately and often sells them on the spot to the connections.

She likes to get corner pictures too so here she getting a first corner shot and then sprinting back to her little set of steps to catch the finish.

Mel in action

I took a more relaxed view of the race, getting the field coming down the home straight from the start…

Six furlong race

…and then heading up the back straight on the other side of the cricket ground….

back straight

…and finally catching the winner as it passed the post.

winner passing the post

All this was too much for my knees so I called it a day and cycled home.  Although this isn’t the highest quality racing, these horses still go at a pretty tremendous lick and I wish I could get a shot that conveyed their speed better.  I tried a bit of hopeful panning in one race but it wasn’t a success.

I was ruining my figure with a bit of toast and raspberry jam at home when Mrs Tootlepedal tapped on the window and I went out to see a very unusual flying visitor.

autogiro

It was past before I could catch it but I think that this is an autogiro

I went back in and looked out of the window once more to see a more familiar sight.

redpoll

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to the Buccleuch Centre to enjoy an evening of Taiko drumming by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers.  This is a Japanese style of drumming but the group comes from South Lanarkshire and we have seen them in Langholm  before.  They are very loud, very competent and very exciting and an absolute treat to watch  as well as to listen to as they have some very smart choreography embedded in the performance.  They have a 60 second sampler here on youtube if anyone is interested in them but it doesn’t give the full picture of how just exciting they are live.

They were a complete contrast to the gentle Canadian trio which I heard last weekend and it just goes to show how lucky we are to have such a good and varied entertainment venue only  300 yards from our house.

The forecast for tomorrow is a bit gloomy so my knees might get another rest which may well be a good thing if a bit frustrating.

The flying bird of the day is very traditional.

flying chaffinch

 

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