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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has just spent a week in the Lake District and enjoyed some good weather.  On this occasion, she was returning to Grasmere when the sun came out.

Returning to Grasmere as the sun comes out

We were actually quite grateful this morning here when the sun went in as it was still very warm.  I set off for a short cycle ride after breakfast and with a brisk wind blowing and the sun behind thin clouds, the conditions were very tolerable, even if the temperature was still over 20 degrees C.

Verges near Tarcoon

The cow parsley in the verges was blending in with a fresh outbreak of buttercups so in spite of the grey sky, my ride was quite colourful.

I didn’t take my camera with me as the forecast threatened us with thunder and rain and I didn’t want to be caught out in those conditions.  As it happened, the sun came out before the end of my ride and I was pleased to get home before being thoroughly cooked.

The twenty miles took me up to my monthly target of 350 miles and with a few days still left, I may be able to put a few miles in the bank against my annual target.

When I got back, I spent the rest of the morning in the garden watching Mrs Tootlepedal at work planting stuff out.  I looked at flowers, taking in one of my favourites….

aquilegia

….and enjoying the roses which are coming along nicely.

roses

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the candelabra primulas by the pond….

candelabra primulas

…..and I like them too.

I did some butterfly chasing…

sweet rocket and orange tip butterfly

The sweet rocket is a magnet to the orange tip butterfly

…and was yet again amazed by how active butterflies are.  They must fly great distances in a day.

Two strongly coloured flowers caught my eye…

astrantia and geranium

Astrantia and geranium

…but the most eye catching thing in the garden at the moment is probably the white clematis over the back door.

clematis

I think that it is fair to say that it is doing well this year.

I had a quick check on the fruit, both hard…..

plums and apples

The plums are doing quite well but the apples are verily flourishing

…and soft.

strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants

Considering that we nearly cut the blackcurrant bush down earlier this spring because it had a bad attack of big bud, it is doing amazingly well as you can see.

After a last look around…

lupin and polemonium

It is surprising how many different shades of white there are in a garden

…we went in.  We had a light lunch and then we came out again as the promised rain had not materialised (except for two or three heavy raindrops) and it was still a very pleasant day.

I mowed the middle lawn and sieved some more compost for Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her first sowing of poppies and cornflowers has suffered badly from unfavourable weather conditions or slugs (or possibly both) and she is having to start again.

I looked closely at a couple of flowers…

allium and iris

Allium and iris

…and then we got into the car and drove a mile or two up the road to let me take  pictures of interesting things that I had passed on my cycle ride in the morning but hadn’t been able to photograph as I hadn’t got a camera with me.

There were plenty of roadside wild flowers….

silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

Silverweed and birdsfoot trefoil

crosswort and an unidentified pink flower

Crosswort and an unidentified pink flower (with added beetle)

pine flowers and red campion

Pine flowers and red campion

…and a very nice river of bluebells flowing down the hill…

river of bluebells

…but what I had really come to see was the hawthorns.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been impressed by them when she had driven past on Thursday and you can see why, both from close up….

hawthorns

…and from further away.

hawthorns

The bank beside the road is covered with them.

hawthorns

We were only just in time.  As I got back into the car, it started to rain and by the time that we got back to the town is was raining heavily.  Shortly afterwards we were treated to a steady roll of thunder lasting many minutes.  Occasional rather vague flashes of lightning came and went but the thunder stayed rolling for an unusually long time.  I think that the explanation for this would be that the actual storm was some way away from us.

The thunder was accompanied by a really heavy rain and hail storm but it soon ended and all is quiet as I write this later in the evening.

As far as the hawthorns go, I think we can safely say that ‘May is out’ but as far as ‘casting a clout’ goes, the forecast is for temperatures to drop back into much cooler regions next week so I am not packing away my jumper just yet.

A sitting bird of the day today.

blackbird

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is something Dropscone saw in the moat when he was visiting Hever Castle  last week.  He is pretty sure that it is a bird.

goose

It was a miserable soggy, grey and windy day in the morning and I wisely found things to do indoors.  With seven songs to have off by heart for our Carlisle concert, any time spent going through them is valuable so it wasn’t a wasted morning.

I even shifted more old photos off my computer onto an external drive which is good in two ways.  It makes my computer run a bit faster and it puts them in a safe place in case of computer disaster.

It wasn’t raining in the afternoon so I went out into the garden.   There is a lot to see there even on a rotten day.

The Icelandic poppies were able to hold up their heads today but I had to hold on to the stalk of this one to stop it swaying in the wind for long enough to get a picture of it.

icelandic poppy

The vegetable garden is coming on a bit each day.

Blackcurrants, strawberries and gooseberry all look as though they will be fruitful.

soft fruit

Chives….

chives

…and potatoes are progressing well too.

potatoes

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy constructing a pea fortress against the marauding sparrows and I hope to have a picture of that when she has completed the edifice.

From the vegetable garden, I walked along the back path and found plenty to enjoy there too.

colourful corner

Definitely a colourful corner

rhododendron

The wow factor

I read in an informative blog that trilliums have three of everything and when I looked, this turned out to be true…..

trillium

…although our two little plants are sadly quite a bit worse for wear.

Moving onto the front lawn, I was surrounded by azaleas.  We transplanted this yellow one last autumn and Mrs Tootlepedal cut it back quite severely.  As it is an old plant, we wondered whether the move and the haircut might be too much for it but we need not have worried.  It is thriving in its new place.

azalea (3)

Another one was moved and placed beside it and it too is doing well.

azalea (2)

If I can find a sunny day, I will try to get a pretty picture of the lawn surrounded by azaleas.  This is the third development of spring after the daffodils and tulips.

I went onward, out of the front gate and round the back of the house where I could enjoy the first of the potentillas along the back wall.

potentilla

There are more to come out and they will last for months.

I went back into the garden and took a picture of two of the remaining tulips.

potentilla

The wind and the rain have knocked a lot of petals to the ground and there was quite a bit of tulip dead heading to do.

I had to leave the garden then and go off up to the health centre where I had a very minor operation on the side of my neck .  This left me with a few stitches covered in a theatrical sticking plaster so I look not unlike Frankenstein’s monster but in a modest way.

The whole affair was quick and painless and I was quite able to mow the greenhouse grass when I got back.  The weather had improved a  bit by this time but I thought it was sensible not to go for a pedal or a walk so I contented myself with a few more flower pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a striking blue flower in the back border I had noticed it before but I had passed it by, thinking that it was just another bluebell.  It was in fact a camassia…

camassia

…and well worth a proper look.

There are Welsh poppies popping up all over the place…

welsh poppy

…and I have put one beside a white potentilla in the frame below.

welsh poppy potentilla

The last flower of the day is a nectaroscordum, another flower that blushes unseen…

nectaroscordum

…unless you lie on your back and look up.

)

Or hold your camera facing upwards and hope for the best.

The rhubarb was badly affected by the lack  of rain but I managed to find enough stems to pull to have rhubarb and custard for pudding at our evening meal and that made a dull day end on a brighter note.

The flower of the day is one of our neighbour Liz’s plants, a really stunning azalea on the banks of the dam…

azalea

…and a singing blackbird on our front hedge is the bird of the day.

blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s continental excursion and shows a fine bridge over the Schlei at Kappeln in Schleswig-Flensburg.  Dropscone points out that it is just the same as Tower Bridge in London….but without the towers of course.

the-bridge-at-kappeln

Our spell of warm weather continued today and it was up to a  most unseasonal 20°C by mid morning and when the sun came out, it became positively hot.

The fat balls on the feeder have become sparrow magnets.

sparrows at feeder

But I managed to tear myself away from the kitchen window and get the final stage of my Archive Group  charity return to the regulators completed. This was a weight off my mind.    It is one of those tasks, quite simple in itself, for which the word procrastination is designed.  I suffer from chronic formophobia but I should have learned to overcome this by now.  Still, it is done.

After a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, I spent some time cleaning my fairly speedy bike as it had been wheezing and groaning a bit on my last ride.  When this was done, I sat on it and went for a pedal.

I was back home three minutes later as I had forgotten my bike glasses but this worked out well as Mrs Tootlepedal, who was toiling in the garden,  pointed out a painted lady butterfly….

painted lady and red admiral butterflies

…and I noticed a red admiral not far away.

I was going on my standard 20 mile pedal down to Canonbie across country and then back by the old A7 and  I stopped to add a picture of the bridge over the Esk at Canonbie to my recent bridge portfolio.

Canonbie Bridge

The rather ugly railing was added when the footway was widened a few years ago.

Although it was a lovely morning and the river was busy but not full, a glance at the bank above where I was standing….

Esk at canonbie

…showed just how high the Esk had been on Friday night after some heavy rain.  The level would have been above my head as I stood on the edge of the water.

All was quiet today though and I had a last look through the bridge….

Canonbie Bridge

….and then pedalled home in very good humour on dry roads in the warm sunshine with little or no wind.

There were more butterflies to be seen when I got back.

red admiral and peacock butterflies

The painted lady had been replaced by a peacock.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy doing some severe plant shifting requiring a pick axe while I had a light lunch and then we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  It had got a bit hairy…

hairy hedge

…although it only seems like yesterday that I gave it its last trim.

As you can see from the wires along the pavement, we were intending to use our electric hedge trimmer but the rotten thing wouldn’t work and after trying every connection, we gave it up as a bad job and settled for hand powered shears.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working too long in the sun though by this time and had to go in and lie down in a darkened room for a moment so I clipped away by myself until, providentially, the sun went in and Mrs Tootlepedal came out again.

Together we got the job done….

Trimmed hedge

…and though it is not a thing of dead straight lines and knife edge creases, we look at it as a creative work of art reflecting the troubled world that we live in and we are content.

Mrs Tootlepedal kept the shears at work by trimming a yew bush in the garden…

yew clipping

…while I snapped a few flowers….

clematis

…and spotted more butterflies.

red admiral butterfly

When you see one close up, you wouldn’t want to argue with it.

I am very happy about the number of butterflies appearing now.  It is not as large as in some previous years but it is more than we were expecting after cold weather at a crucial time.

I looked at some other flowers too and thought that the buds of a Fuchsia, hanging like lanterns, were perhaps just as pretty as the flowers in this light.

Fuchsia

I always enjoy an astrantia and our pale variety has produced some late flowers.

astrantia

On the edge of the freshly mown lawn, gently green nicotiana blended with yellow crocosmia.

nicotiana and crocosmia

I was able to pick apples for stewing and enough of our autumn fruiting raspberries to have a plate of raspberries and cream at tea time.  The front lawn had dried out enough to make mowing it a pleasure and  I even did a bit of dead heading in an effort to keep the dahlias and poppies going.  Some aspects of gardening are most enjoyable.

While I was clipping the hedge, my trio playing fried Mike had appeared with a new Mozart trio which he has just bought.  It is an arrangement of the trio in E flat K.498 (Kegelstadt) for oboe, bassoon and piano and will do very well for our flute, cello and piano trio.  Music for our combination is hard to come by.  I looked at it when I got in from the garden and enjoyed what I saw.

I went to make a cup of tea for the gardener and me and looked out of the window while we were sipping away….

jackdaw

…and received a hard stare for my trouble.

The jackdaw flew off however and was instantly replace by squabbling sparrows…

sparrows

…while a dunnock was happy to scavenge for tidbits under the feeder.

dunnock

If you have a glut of courgettes, I can heartily recommend courgette fritters.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a good recipe for them, and they are delicious, like potato latkes but better.   I could eat them every day which is handy as we have a lot of courgettes to get through.  Visitors almost always leave with a courgette or two with them.  We had some fritters for our tea with the last of the venison stew.

Later on we enjoyed some stewed apple and custard.  It was a good eating evening.

The flower of the day is a sunflower which Mrs Tootlepedal found bent over to the ground behind some other plants.  She has staked it up and it is looking none the worse for its adventures.

sunflower

The flying bird of the day is one of the disputatious sparrows, flapping furiously as it approached the feeder..

flying sparrow

 

 

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