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Posts Tagged ‘flute playing’

Today’s appropriate guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who came across this ‘brolly art’ on a visit to Banbury.

banbury brollies

Mrs Tootlepedal bought some sunflower seed this year which promised low growing multi stemmed flowers.  There was obviously a ringer in the packet though, as one plant is about nine foot high….

sunflower from above

…and can only be appreciated by leaning out of an upstairs window.

tall sunflower

It was a very wet day with persistent rain, so I was happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee, especially as he came with a heap of his excellent Friday treacle scones.  In spite of the wet weather, he told me that he had found a dry day during the week to go to play in the seniors’ golf competition at Hawick.  Although his golf score had not threatened the leaders, he had won a raffle prize and had enjoyed the outing.

It was frankly a rather depressing day and the only thing that got me out of the house in the afternoon was a check on the dam…

dam getting bigger

…which was beginning to rise.

We thought it prudent to have a look at the new sluice gate at Pool Corner so I went up and was relieved to find it looking very reliable.

nes sluice woking well

It is set slightly open to avoid the swollen river putting too much pressure on the retaining wall so there was a steady flow down the dam…

full dam

…and the wall was holding back a lot of water…

wauchope at Pool Corner

…though nothing much as it was last Saturday when the river was so high that you couldn’t see the caul at all.  It was clearly to be seen today.

wauchope at Pool Corner downstream

This was all reassuring.

I followed the Wauchope down to the spot where it flows under the Kirk Brig and joins the Esk.  The Wauchope has  shifted a considerable amount of over the past week, and it is now flowing over a small cascade to join the bigger river.

wauchope flooding under kirk brig

…and on this occasion, it was adding more than its fair share of water to the Esk.

wauchope meeting esk

On the other side of the Wauchope, I could see a family of goosanders having a quiet sit down.

qgoosanders at church

The rain eased off enough as I went home to let me walk round the garden without getting too wet.

I saw a promising plum.

ripening plum

In fact, I didn’t just see it, I picked it and ate it.  It tasted very promising.  I hope that we get enough good weather to ripen the plums properly before they all split in the rain.

As well as being wet, it was also windy and three phloxes which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently transplanted needed every bit of help from their supporting canes that they could get.  You can see the salvias being bent by the breeze in the background.

transplanted phlox

The dahlias have had a hard time.  As well as being seriously nibbled, the weather has been poor ever since they came out and I am surprised whenever I see a flower looking half decent.

three rainy dahlias

The argyranthemums smile though their tears.

wet argyranthemum

Another excursion was a quick drive to the Co-op to do some shopping for our tea, not a very exciting prospect.  However, as  we combined shopping with cheerful conversation with several friends we met in the store, it did brighten our day a bit.

In the early evening, I took my entries for the Canonbie Flower Show up to Sandy.  He has a friend who always does well in the photographic section of the show staying with him, and she and her husband very kindly agreed to take both his and my pictures down to the hall and get them properly entered.  I hope to go down tomorrow and see how they have done.

Further day brightening was applied by the arrival of Mike and Alison later in the evening, and Alison and I tinkled and tootled away to provide a musical end to a very dull day.

There were no flying birds today but at least the goosanders got up and did a bit of walking.

goosanders at church alert

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows a fine collection of porcupine quills which he found when walking his dogs.  He was pleased that the original owner of the quills was not about as eager dogs and porcupines don’t mix well.

porcupine quills

Once again, with light winds and a pleasing but not excessive warmth, it was a good day for a pedal, and this time I took advantage of the conditions and went for a ride.  I didn’t get out quite as quickly as I would have liked as my tendency to faff about when faced with a cycle ride kicked in again.  One of the benefits of the time wasting was a call to the hospital that resulted in me getting a physio appointment for my feet in two weeks time.

As a result, I was in a very cheerful mood when I did finally set off, only two and a half hours after Mrs Tootlepedal had roused me from my bed.  That’s quite quick for me.

I had resolved to make the most of the day by going for a long ride if my legs were in a helpful mood and I started by going down the main roads to Gretna Green, where a piper reminded visitors that they were in Scotland.

piper at Gretna

The ride to Gretna is downhill and the wind was helping so I did the first fifteen miles of my ride in an hour and manged to keep this speed up for the second fifteen miles too, though I did stop of a couple more pictures.

It is good to see one of the old towers being incorporated into a modern residence…

tower house

The wires at the bottom of the picture are part of the mainline railway which shares the valley with a motorway and the old road that I was using.

….and I looked out over the farming country back towards Langholm.

Annandale

You couldn’t get a much nicer day for cycling.

As I approached Lockerbie, I was impressed by the lake of rosebay willowherb beside the road.

fireweed at Lockerbie

After having completed my first 30 miles at a crisp pace, things slowed down a bit as I continued the long but gentle climb towards Beattock.  Here I found that an enterprising lady had opened a fast food joint at a garage just north of the village, so I stopped for a bacon roll and a cup of coffee before embarking on the final six mils of my outward journey up the valley towards Beattock summit.

I didn’t go right to the top of the summit, thanks to my late start, and turned round at the bridge leading to the wonderfully named Greenhillstairs.  bridge over M74

I was now faced with 50 miles to get back home.  It is generally down hill for the 35 miles to Gretna, which is on the sea shore, and the assistance of gravity offset the hindrance of the light wind that I was now cycling into.

I stopped at Beattock to admire the church there, perhaps the church I like best of the ones that I have seen on my rides.

 

beattock church

I was cycling down Annandale, a broad valley full of cows.

cows in annandale

A large truck stop has been created north of Lockerbie and it has a shop and a cafe mostly for the benefit of the truck drives but open to passing cyclists as well, so I stopped there for coffee and cake to fuel me up for the final 35 miles home.  I ate outside under the eagle eye of this artwork…

carving at truck stop

…which made me wonder whether the artist had been paid by how many motifs he/she could cram into one carving.  It was very busy.

A few miles further on, I paused to take a picture of the mainline railway bridge over the Dryfe Water.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I sweep over this bridge in the train when we got to see Matilda.

railway brodge over dryfe water

I needed to stop fairly frequently over the last miles of my trip to take on more water as it was still quite a warm day and to stretch my limbs which were beginning to ask me when we would stop pedalling.

Some knapweed caught my eye on one of these stops…

knapweed by old A74

…and a couple getting a grand lift to their wedding at Gretna at the next one.

Carriage at Gretna

My last stop, about five miles from home, was to admire the fine show that the big daisies are making on the Canonbie by-pass

daisies on Canonbie by-pass

In the end, my legs decided to stop moaning and keep working so I arrived home in very good order after 102 miles.  The route was rather uninspired scenically but it avoided any steep hills and let me keep pedalling steadily all the way so I enjoyed myself a lot.

I had hoped to complete the ride in seven and a half hours and I managed that almost to the second.  The stops for the bacon roll and the coffee and cake, not to mention other immobile moments for eating the two egg rolls that I had bought from John’s shop before I left Langholm, and the stretching and hydrating breaks too, all added up to another hour and a quarter so the whole outing took 8¾ hours.

This was very convenient as it got me home in perfect time to sit down to a nourishing meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, then have a shower and finally be ready to welcome Mike and Alison for their regular Friday evening visit.  Alison and I played a good selection of pieces while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike caught up on the news.

Considering that I had had quite a busy day, I played a very satisfactory number of right notes in the right places and it rounded off a good day very well.

The flying bird of the day is a zinnia.

zinnia

Those interested can click on the map for more details of the ride.

garmin route 2 Aug 2019

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Today’s guest picture features one of our visitors today and just goes to prove that we are not the only recent grandparents about.  This is Dropscone taking the grandparenting business with Emily very seriously.  I am afraid that I don’t know who took the picture.

baby Little

We had a dry but grey morning, rather cooler than it has been, and with the ever present threat of rain and even thunderstorms about.  Like yesterday, if I wanted a dry cycle ride I would have needed to be prompt but unlike yesterday, I was not prompt at all so I didn’t go for a pedal, even though the rain held off for all of the morning and some of the afternoon too.

Luckily, there is always dead heading to be done and the garden to wander around.

The dead heading is keeping a constant flow of poppies on the go…

poppy broadcast

…and the Sweet Williams are lasting very well.

pink sweet william

A new clematis has sprung up along the back fence which is very satisfactory.

new clematis back fence

I had another go at the fancy clover and got a bit more detail without quite getting it right…

better fancy clover

…but the feverfew is easy to catch.  It has done so well that I am thinking of calling it the fevermany.

lots of fever few

I had a close look at a three things.

The back of a fern was packed with interest…

fern sporangia

….there is more to the black dot in the middle of an argyranthemum than first meets the eye….

heart of argyranthemum

…and the salvias have hidden depths too.

close up salvia

The first of the Sunny Reggae dahlias has come out but it is looking as though the slugs have spotted it.  Keen eyed readers will notice the shoe of the photographer at the back of the picture.  Because the dahlia was facing the ‘wrong way’, I had to lean over the top of it and photograph it upside down and then correct the result in the editor later.

sunny reggae dahlia

We had just gone in for coffee, when Scott, our former minister with his finely tuned coffee radar working well, popped in for a visit.  We were pleased to see him and caught with his news and shared ours with him.

After he left, we went back put into the garden to pick sweet peas and look around.  We have a lot of blackbirds, so doesn’t take a lot of looking to see one in the garden at the moment.

blackbird on fence

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex colleagues from the Health Centre and I looked around as the sun made a brief appearance.

The ligularias are attracting bees…

bee on ligularia

…as are the rambler roses.  They have come out in force over the past few days.

swathe of rambler rose

The blackbirds will soon have a fine crop of rowan berries to eat but they will have to wait for a little while before they are ripe.

lots of yellow rowan berries

I went in for a light lunch and then came back out and sieved some compost.  I was still thinking of a bike ride as it hadn’t started raining but I made the mistake of switching on the telly to see how the Tour de France time trial was going and I was still snoozing on the sofa when first Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and then we were joined by Dropscone.

He had missed coffee in the morning because he had been playing golf.  He had been beaten on the final hole but was remarkably cheerful all the same.  To cheer him up even further, we loaded him down with new potatoes and rhubarb when he left.

After that the sofa called (the time trial was quite exciting to be fair), and apart from picking a few peas, I didn’t go out again.

This did mean that I had some time to watch birds.

Siskins were busy as usual.

siskin st seed

There was hardly a dull moment.

siskins beak to brak

A blue tit was more reflective, perhaps wondering whether the siskins would go away and leave some space for other birds.

blue tit on wire

The blue tit popped up onto the peanuts but before I could record it, a sparrow came and stood in front of the camera.

sparrow on nuts

Later in the afternoon,  a pigeon took a lofty view of life from our new electricity wires.

pigeon on electricity cable

In the evening, our trio of visits was completed by the arrival of Mike and Alison, and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights, Alison and I played music for an hour which was a good way to end the day.

The light was pretty bad by the time that I sat down to watch the birds so this rather fuzzy siskin was the best that I could for a flying bird of the day.

flyimng siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sue, who lives at the bottom of the town, and sees interesting things in her garden.

sue's squirrel

Just because Sue sees more interesting things in her garden than we do in ours, she kindly invited me (and my camera) down to see what we could see this morning, so after breakfast, I cycled down with hope in my heart.  When I sat in her kitchen and saw her feeder set up through the window…

sue's feeders

…I was bowled over and I got out my camera and waited.

She told me that she had already seen nuthatches before i arrived and that this was the usual time for the squirrel to call so I sat filled with the keenest anticipation.

I saw a jackdaw….

jackdaw sue

…and several families of sparrows…

sparrows sue

…and a selection of tits…

coal tit sue

…one of which had a good stretch out for the squirrel food…

great tit sue

…and even a pair of robins…

robins sue

…all of which were were very welcome but did not include a nuthatch, woodpecker or squirrel which I had hoped to see.  Sue gave me a cup of coffee and we waited for a while but in the end, I left with that familiar feeling that many interesting things would happen as soon as I left.

Some interesting things had happened in the town over night and as I passed the Co-operative Store, I could see that it had been ringed around with crime scene tape….

co-op raid 1

…and a closer inspection revealed that the store had been the victim of a determined attack.

co-op raid 2

It turned out that overnight there had been an attempt to ram the doors with a vehicle and steal the cash machine.  The doors had suffered but the cash machine had remained in place.  Some time ago, a gang had managed to prise the cash machine out of the wall with a digger and carry it off, but obviously security has improved since then and this attempt failed.

Still, it is not the sort of thing that we see every day in Langholm so it was a shock.

I have noticed that men have been out and about trimming banks and mowing things so I took this picture of the flowery bank of the Esk as I cycled home in case it disappears soon.

flowery bank Esk

I hadn’t been home long before Sue sent me a message to say that a nuthatch and a woodpecker had appeared almost as soon as I had left and she was watching a squirrel as she typed the message.  Such is life.  I hope to get the opportunity to try again soon.

I had time for a walk round the garden before Dropscone arrived with the traditional Friday treacle scones at coffee time.

The salvias are going to make a splash when they all come fully out.

colourful corner with salvias

Although the roses have been catching my eye most lately, the peonies are still very good value.

oink peony July

I like the way that clematis flowers seem to come with wildly different numbers of petals on the same plant.  Here is one with six and one with four side by side.

two clematis with differnet petals

I was pleased to see a young blue tit on the peanuts at our feeders as I passed.  It wasn’t frightened of me at all.

bue tit on nuts 1

Dropscone arrived and we ate his scones cheerfully while he drank coffee and I had a cup of tea since I had already had a coffee.

Dropscone has almost recovered from his broken ribs, although he is taking good care not to sneeze still, and is back to playing full rounds of golf.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I made two new surrounds for raised beds in the vegetable garden.  These were to replace the beds which the digger had squashed while the new electricity pole was being put in.  The power company had given us enough wood for the job and with me on the saw and Mrs Tootlepedal on the tape measure and hammer, the new beds were made by lunchtime.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw that the blue tit was back.

bue tit on nuts 2

After lunch, I mowed the grass round the greenhouse in a free and easy way.  I have had to be careful over recent weeks because of our neighbour’s telephone wire running along the ground, but it now back attached to the new pole, so it was a relief just to be able to swing the hover mower about without worrying.

I then went in to do crossword.

While I was inside, Mrs Tootlepedal placed the smaller of the two beds in position and sorted out the soil.

new veg beds

The larger bed will have to wait until time and energy are available as there is quite a lot of work to be done before it can be lowered into position.

I had thought of going cycling but the day got very gloomy and there was a hint of drizzle so I had a walk round the garden instead.

The geraniums are going on strongly…

geranium clump

…as are the Sweet Williams.

vivid sweet william

The melancholy thistles are beginning to go to seed…

melacholy thistle seeds

…but the ligularias are just joining the party.

P1030461

I sieved a lot of compost to fill our store bucket because Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot recently and thought about mowing some lawns but went inside and had a quiet sit down instead.

In the evening, we dug up another potato from the potato patch and were very pleasantly surprised at how productive it was and how clean and slug free the crop was.  As a result we had plenty of new potatoes to go with a second helping of mince for our tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed getting back to playing flute and keyboard duets.  For one reason or another, we haven’t played for some time, so it was a treat to get back to music making.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own garden siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was hit in the eye by this burst of colour on her morning walk to Kenwood House.

Kenwood colour

After breakfast, I cycled up to the town to do some business including paying in a handsome cheque kindly sent to me by the government.  This was a refund for the very expensive road tax which I had paid on our old car.  One of the benefits of the little white zingy thingy is that it is tax free to put on the road, part of the inducements to go electric.  These benefits will doubtless disappear when more people start buying electric cars but judging by the published figures on the rate of sales, I should be safe for a while yet.

Then  I drove off into England for the third day running, this time to see my singing teacher Mary.  My ambition is to be able to sing a simple song more or less in tune and in a pleasant manner so she has her work cut out on both fronts.  However, she is a first rate teacher and I came away feeling that with work, I might be able to achieve my goal.

An added bonus was being able to watch a small flock of lapwings flying around in the field opposite her house after the lesson.

It was another fine day so when I got home, I took a walk round the garden in the hope that more azaleas would have come out.  They are very reluctant.

not out azalea

This one has been covered with  promising buds for ages but it is still strangely reluctant to burst into flower.  Our warmer weather is set to continue for a day or two so I am keeping my hopes up.

When I went in, I found that Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer and chief data miner for our local newspaper index, had brought round the sheets which will mean when they have been entered into the database that we have reached 1900.  Three cheers to all involved.

It was soon time for lunch and after I had eaten my soup and cheese and done the crossword, the downside of the little white thingy came into play.  The crucial word here is “white” and some pointed remarks from Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to the fact that a white car shows the dirt.  For many years now I have avoided washing our car because in my view, it just encourages more dirt, but even I could see that the new car is going to require regular washing.  Ah well, nothing in the world is quite perfect.

After I had washed to car, the middle lawn called to me.  The moss eating mixture which I applied a few weeks ago seems to have had an effect but there was still a very mossy patch in the middle of the lawn so I got out the scarifier and gave the whole lawn a going over.  When I had collected the moss with the mower, the lawn looked quite potential…

scarified lawn

…though my assistant thought that there was still work to be done.

scarifying assistant

…and to be fair, there is still quite a bit of moss about.

As you can see from the lawn picture, we are between colour at the moment with the tulips and daffodils past but there is a lot of green about…

green garden May

…and there are spots of colour here and there.

The sweet rocket is coming out…

sweet rocket

…the tree peony is very nearly out…

tree peony flower nearly out

…and the Japanese azalea is doing its best too.

japanese azalea

The cow parsley in the back border is beginning to look really impressive…

rampant cow parsley

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has a purple stemmed variety in another bed.

purple stemmed cow parsley

I went round to the back of the house, to check what flowers could be seen along the dam…

flowers along dam may

…and found daisies, potentilla and the first of the aquilegia, one of my favourite flowers.

I came back into the garden and found that the white polemonium…

white polemonium

…had been joined by a blue variety…

blue polemonium

…and the first geraniums have arrived too.

cranesbill

I took a view from an upstairs window which showed that only two of the five azaleas in the bed along the road have come out…

azaleas in sun

…and then went off for another short and gentle therapeutic pedal on the slow bike.

I passed the bluebells on the hill again without walking up to visit them this time.

bluebells on hill

When I had been down in England in the morning, I had noticed that quite a few hawthorns had come out and I was interested to see if ours were out too.  They weren’t….

hawthorn not out

…but they are going to make a good show when they do arrive.

Although most of our trees are now green, the alders along the river sides are still waiting to join in, as this picture of the Glencorf Burn shows.

leafless alders glencorf burn

Normally, if I have a good bike ride, as I did yesterday, I would try to go further the next day but as I had my sensible head on today, I went slightly less far than I did yesterday and my ankle thanked me for it.  I was very happy to find my sensible head as often it is well hidden away.

I didn’t have much to time watch the birds today but I liked the concentration shown by this pigeon…

concentrating pigeon

…and checked out the usual customers on the feeder.

redpoll, siskin, goldfinch

My flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and I was able to use a tip which I had picked up from my singing lesson to help him get over an awkward corner in one of our pieces.

I also introduced him to Scott Joplin as a change from baroque sonatas.

As the sun sank after a full day’s work, I resisted the temptation to take a sunset picture as I already had too many for the post and so all that is left now is the flying bird of the day.  Or rather, in today’s case, the fleeing bird of the day.

fleeing siskins

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this wonderful cave on one of his walks.  Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave) is a natural cavern located at in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire,

thor's cave

I got up quite early for me but an early bird had got up even earlier.

partrisge at breakfast

A partridge was out after seed rather than worms.

After breakfast I drove our Kangoo down to Carlisle where I traded it in for a smaller little white thingy which we hope is going to carry us about but need a lot less in the way of running  repairs.

I checked that the new car was going to be fit for purpose by stopping off on the way home to buy a big bag of bird seed.  The car carried it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal couldn’t come with me as she had to stay at home as the garage doors were being painted and she was waiting for a gas engineer to arrive.  The gas engineer had not arrived by the time that I got back and I had time to look at a bee on a dicentra..

bee on dicentra

…the trillums, which continue to do well in a shady corner…

trillium

…and signs of good things to come.  The first flower on the strawberries, the first row of lettuces and some broad beans waiting to be planted out.

strawb, lettuce and beans

The painter finished the undercoat and the gas engineer arrived.  He came to service the boiler which had developed a fault. He discovered that the boiler needs  a new part and we need a new thermostat and as he didn’t have either, he will come back tomorrow and fit them then.

After lunch, we tested the new little white thingy to see if it was up to Mrs Tootlepedal’s requirements by going off to collect some wood chippings to cover paths between the new beds in the vegetable garden.  We filled up the boot with buckets of chippings and we were nearly home, when I forgot that the new car is an automatic and stood heavily on the brake thinking that it was the clutch.  This brought the car to a sudden stop and tipped all the buckets of wood chips over.  What fun we had clearing the chippings out.

I will have to practice driving without a clutch and gear stick.

I sat down to watch the birds for a while and to recover from all this excitement.

The birds were rather dull.  First a set of goldfinches…

four goldfinches

…and then a more varied selection.

siskin, repoll goldfinch

But there weren’t many and so I went out and looked for bees in the garden.  They were quite a few buzzing about, visiting the apple blossom…

bee on apple

…and hanging out on the rosemary with well filled pollen sacs.

bee on rosemary

Back on the feeder pole, a blackbird issued a challenge to all comers…

blackbird speaking

…and waited to see if anyone would take him up.

blackbird silent

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a useful session, concentrating on musicality and phrasing to good effect.

After he left, I got my bike out and went off to see if my feet were up to a few miles pedalling.

It had been a beautiful sunny day but I hadn’t got far before the clouds gathered together to blot out the sun .  However, it was warm and dry so I enjoyed my ride.

clouds assembling

I stopped to look at two lambs…

two lambs

…which were bleating loudly.  I soon found out that this was because they were part of a small group of lambs on one side of a little stream and their parent were on the other side, also bleating loudly.

lost lambs

The lambs got safely back across though and by the time that I came past on my way back, the families were reunited.

While I was taking these pictures, I was passed by a couple of young ladies out for a bike ride themselves.  Seeing them whizzing up the road, I thought that I ought to try a bit harder too and although I couldn’t catch them up, I pedalled a lot more quickly than I usually do.  Luckily they turned off before I killed myself but all the same, my average speed for my little 12 mile ride was considerably faster than of late.  Pride is a great motivator.

Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked an tasty meal and I was pleased to sit down and eat it when I got home.

We are expecting the painter, the gas man and an electrician tomorrow so it will be a full day.

Flying birds were few and far between and this one nearly got a way before I could catch it.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Birmingham by my brother Andrew.  He took the opportunity to show us the BT Tower there on a beautiful day..

Birmingham BT Tower

I am trying mix gentle exercise with good quality rest for my foot so I went back to lie on my bed after breakfast and was fortunate to find a tricky crossword in the paper which took some time to finish and gave my leg plenty of opportunity to have a relaxing stretch.

When I came down, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and we had a look around.  I once again marvelled at the agility and pertinacity of the slug who crawled up a  stem and took a single bite out of the trumpet of just one of this bunch of daffodils and then crawled back down again.

nibbled daffodil

That’s what I call a discerning diner.

The pulmonaria hasn’t done very well over the winter this year but it is producing a few flowers.

pulmonaria

We got out hedge trimmers and a saw and trimmed a couple of bushes next to our neighbour Irvin’g fence and then sawed off two branches of a lilac which were leaning over his fence (and not doing very well anyway.)

After that, we got into the car and drove off to a garden centre where we had a light lunch and made some judicious purchases.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some plants and I bought a novel product for the lawn which claims to combine fertilizer for the grass with bacteria which are going to eat my moss and make it disappear without me having to rake the dead moss out.  This sounds a bit too good to be true but I won’t find out if I don’t use it and the grass needs a boost even if the moss doesn’t get eaten.

We came home by way of the Gretna Outlet shopping village.  I recently broke both my coffee cups by dropping one of them on the other so I was looking for replacements.  I was resigned to having to buy two unnecessary saucers to go with the new cups, and I was very pleased to find that I could buy cups without saucers thus saving both money and space in the cupboard.

Instead of going straight home when we got back to Langholm, we completed our little outing by driving through the town past my favourite view.

ewes valley

I looked back down the hill towards the town.  The foresters have been very busy in the recently felled wood and the wood is now full of the plastic tubes that go with new planting of deciduous trees.

new planting

We did see some goats on our way up to the county boundary and it is a sign of how well they blend into the background that you might think at first sight that there were four goats in the picture.  In fact the ‘goat’ on the left is a clump of heather.

three goats

They were busy eating but did keep half an eye on me to see what I was up to.

goat eating

And sometimes even both eyes.

goat staring

When we got to the county boundary we met an expert local naturalist who had parked there and was looking for interesting birds.  Had he seen anything?  Not a single thing.  If he hadn’t seen anything, we wouldn’t either so we set off  back down the hill.

We had to slow down as a goat crossed the road in front of us but by the time we had drawn alongside, it had its head down and was ignoring us entirely…

disguised goat

…as were its friends.

goats hifing

We left them to it and continued down to the Tarras bridge.  On the far side of the valley, we could see family groups of goats with their young.

goat family

When we got home, we took a moment to watch our own birds…

siskin in need of a perch

…and as there was a lot of demand but not much seed, I refilled the feeder…

not enough perhces

…but there was still more demand for perches than supply…

busy feeder full

…and things turned ugly.

threatening goldfinch

Very ugly.

two goldfinches

We left the sparring  goldfinches and siskins to it and went out to do some gardening.  The task was to use our petrol driven rotavator to dig over a grass strip between two narrow beds to make a larger bed for this year’s potato planting.

Things didn’t go well. The machine was hard to get started and when it finally burst into life, it was extremely reluctant to do any digging.  Instead of burrowing into the soil as it should, it just moved backwards towards the driver in a vaguely threatening manner.  We took the tines off and turned them round and that made no difference at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal went in  to study the handbook for the machine and I looked at it in a curious way.  I wondered vaguely what a rather faded label on the front of the machine might say and bent down to peer at it.  “The driver must always be facing this label”

This was what they call a tea tray moment, i.e. when you bang your head with a tea tray after making a discovery which should have been obvious all the time. When the machine had been reassembled after coming back in the post from its service, the handles had been put on the wrong way round. Duh!

We set about putting them on the correct way and took the machine out for another try.

Success!

rotavator

The soil was tilled.

All was not entirely sweetness and light though because the machine bumped up and down rather alarmingly at one end of the bed instead of tilling the earth.  Mrs Tootlepedal got into full archaeologist mode and dug an exploratory trench…

new bed with trench

…which revealed a double row of bricks a foot below the surface, obviously the foundation for  an old structure of some kind.

new bed bricks

Our garden has had a long existence in various forms and uses and Mrs Tootlepedal is used to finding all sorts of things under the soil when she is digging. We found a lot of big stones under the soil too today.

new bed stones

The bricks will come up and the machine will leap into action again and the potatoes will be planted.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and after Alison and I had experienced the benefits of doing some practice as we played Telemann, Corelli and Vivaldi, we all sat down together to watch the final of Masterchef.  Jilly, our local competitor, did herself proud but narrowly failed to carry off the prize.

Having watched some very good cooking, we will have to up our own game in the kitchen.  I am going to ask Mrs Tootlepedal for some quails eggs in a fig sauce to go with my porridge tomorrow…. or perhaps not.

There are not one but two flying goldfinches of the day today.

two flying goldfinches

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