Posts Tagged ‘garden flowers’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and shows Mr Grumpy’s London cousin trying (successfully) to outdo a work of art in the background in Hyde Park.

Hyde Park. Mr G's cousin trying to compete with artistic installation

There were touches of frost to be seen when I got up.  However, it was cheerfully sunny and the day got warmer as it went on.  It might have been a good day for cycling but I had arranged to go with my recorder playing friend Sue to a “playing day” organised by the Roxburgh branch of the Society of Recorder players in Denholm, about 30 miles north of Langholm.

Sue arrived very promptly after breakfast and kindly offered to do the driving, an offer which I was glad to accept as I have done enough driving lately.

The playing was conducted by Helen Hooker, an accomplished player, teacher and conductor and she provided us with an excellent selection of music from Schmeltzer to Moon River by way of Bach and Steve Marshall.  As well as providing good music, Helen offered us some very sound advice as how to play the pieces which, as far as I possibly could, I followed.

Both Sue and I enjoyed the playing and we took advantage of the fine weather to go for a walk along the River Teviot during the lunch break.

It is very useful for me to have a keen wild flower enthusiast to walk ahead of me and spot the wild flowers.


She goes to wild flower courses and knows what she is talking about.

I am sure that I saw many more flowers today than I would have done if I had been walking by myself.

Here is a selection of what we passed.


Pretty little flowers


Bigger showy ones

dead nettle

Fantastically furry ones


Some were under development

There were some mysteries.

dandelion and yellow flower

At first we thought the flower on the left in the panel above was just another dandelion but a closer look showed that it clearly wasn’t.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it might be a garden escape.  The dandelions were in great form.

The most mysterious plant of the day was one that covered a woodland floor at one point.  I took several pictures of it.

white flower

The flower stalks were triangular and tall so that the flower heads bent over.  There seemed to be several flowers in turn on each stalk, leaving behind the shiny yellow spheres which you can see in the bottom right panel.  The foliage in the bottom left panel is from another plant.

I would be more than happy to have my store of information increased by any knowledgeable reader who recognises this flower.

As well as flowers, we were able to watch a pair of goosanders scoot up stream under the eagle eye of a buzzard…..


…while we sat on a bench and ate our packed lunches.  There were oyster catchers heckling the buzzard and delightful views as well…

River Teviot

…so the time passed quickly and we had to return to the village hall at a brisk pace.

I had enough time for a river view on the way…

River Teviot

…and a glance at Minto Hill.

minto hill

The bridge at Denholm is fine….

Denholm Bridge

…and it was a pleasure to walk across it twice.

We passed a neat thatched cottage in the village….


…though Sue remarked that it had a fashionable ‘green’ roof and we were nearly brained by some enormous catkins….

Denholm catkin

…as we went back to the hall.

The afternoon session was as good as the morning had been so we were very well satisfied with our day as we drove home.

And did I mention that we saw some excellent lichen too on our walk?


Denholm is a great place for this yellow lichen and the hedge plants are covered with it.  I was hoping to show Sue some script lichen but there was none to be seen and the best that I could do was this.

tree lichen

When I got home, I had a quick look round the garden…

azalea, tulip and primula

…where it looked as though the flowers had been enjoying the sunshine.


Mrs Tootlepedal’s mixed bed of tulips is developing.

I saw the first potentilla flowers on the plants along the dam at the back of the house…


…and these will be the first of many as they stay in flower for months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in the garden while we were tootling but she had enough energy left to cook a meal of mutton chops for tea and that rounded off a day which was firmly entered in large letters, underlined, on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

I just had enough time before I sat down to eat to look out of the kitchen window.

flying goldfinch and chaffinch

Note: I discovered during the day that Helen Hooker is not just a very good recorder player and teacher but a fanatically keen and expert photographer who has been posting pictures every day for many years.   You can see the record of her journey to Scotland here.

It is well worth a visit.




Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was at the sea side in Morecambe yesterday.  He was lucky enough to find the sea at home.

MorecambeThe forecasters promised us a coolish day with light winds and no rain and they got it exactly right.  There was a light frost when we woke up which caused the tulips to hang their heads in distress but didn’t appear to actually finish any plants off completely.

The chill meant that I was in no hurry to get out on my bicycle and in the end, I waited until eleven o’clock before the temperature crept up to 7.5°C and then I went out.

The sun was out and it shone on the siskins…


One wisely leaving before being awarded the order of the boot from another

…who were in a rather factious mood…


More evasive action

…but for all its cheerful brightness, it wasn’t doing much to heat the day up.

For a change, I decided to leave the town following the road up the Esk  rather than my usual route up the Wauchope.  This does involve a couple of quite sharp but short climbs as soon as you leave the town and as I am not supposed to cycle up too many steep hills with my new tin knee, I use this route sparingly.

I took it very gently though and arrived at Eskdalemuir in good order.

Bridge over the Esk

The bridge over the Esk there is guarded by many power lines and poles

I could hardly hear myself think because of the insistent baa-ing of sheep and lambs in the field beside the river.

Eskdalemuir lambs

The thrifty people who built the church at Eskdalemuir in the early nineteenth century didn’t waste any money on frivolous ornamentation.

Eskdalemuir church

I was in expansive mood though and popped into the cafe at the Eskdalemuir Hub in the old school for a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.  This gave me enough strength to head out over the hills to Lockerbie.  The route elevation….

garmin route 18 April 2017 elevation

…shows that the first part of my journey was quite hilly and annoyingly having climbed up a long hill to get to 900 feet before Eskdalemuir, it immediately drops sharply before leaving me with another climb of 400 feet or more to get back to 950 feet, the highest point of the trip.  These are not like Tour de France climbs but then I am not like a Tour de France climber and they were quite steep enough for me.

Once over the undulating plateau between Eskdalemuir and Boreland, there is some welcome down hill and the rest of the journey bobbed up and down over very gentle country.

Not all of our handsome stone bridges have survived modern traffic and this one over the Dryfe Water…

Dryfe Water bridge

…was so battered by a passing lorry that they gave up and put in a metal trough.

Once I was through Lockerbie, I was on the old main road south, now bypassed by a new motorway.  This is quite a dull road but it was brightened up a lot in places by a fringe of dandelions.

dandelions verge

It has a useful cycle lane on each side of the road.

I stopped to eat an egg roll near Eaglesfield and was reminded that this has been a busy place for many years.  In the foreground is a bridge over the Carlisle to Glasgow motorway and the flat topped hill in the background….

motorway and roman camp

…..was home not just to  a Roman camp but an Iron Age fort as well.

I didn’t stop for many pictures as the day had become quite dull and I needed to keep my mind on my cycling rather than looking for wild flowers in the verge.

In the end, I needed to go through the town for a mile and then back again to ring up exactly 60 miles on the computer as I swung into our drive.

I had enough energy left to walk round the garden and check that the frost hadn’t done too much damage.

hellebore, dicentra and dogwood

It hadn’t.

tulip, lamium and wallflower

One of the Euphorbias deserved a picture all to itself I thought.


There is no frost in the forecast for the next few days so perhaps we have escaped very lightly.

I filled up the feeders and in no time the siskins were back, taking every perch at both of  the feeders but behaving very sedately this time.


It was the goldfinches that had taken on the role of hooligans…

goldfinch kicking siskin

…though the siskins were not going quietly into the night.

goldfinch facing up to siskin

I was pleased to see a couple of redpolls keeping calm amongst the mayhem.


I had time for a shower and then we welcomed my younger brother and oldest sister to the house.  They are spending a few days in the Lake District and came up to have a meal with us in the Douglas Hotel.  The meal and the conversation were both very good value and the evening was a great delight.

We arranged to see them again in the south in July and September.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.


Those interested can find details of my cycle ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 April 2017

It was a pity that the sun didn’t last for very long.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest  photograph comes from Dropscone who is on holiday in Skye.  He managed to take a rather clever picture of himself taking a picture of a rainbow.


After yesterday’s dull, drizzly day following a good forecast, we had a sunny, bright day today following a very gloomy forecast of frequent showers.  The general forecasts remain pretty sound but the detailed local forecasts are sometimes rather ropey.

Still, we were very grateful for a good day.

I took a couple of pictures of the effects of yesterday’s rain…

lupin and pulsatilla

A lupin holding a watery diamond and a battered pulsatilla

…and set off to cycle round my 20 mile Canonbie circle.   Although the temperature was in single figures and the sun wasn’t out, the lack of wind made it feel quite pleasant for cycling and I went round at a good speed. Since I wasn’t having to battle the breeze, I was much more in the mood to stop and take pictures so I paused for a primrose, waited for a wood anemone, dawdled for a dandelion and ran out of alliteration for a bluebell.

primrose, wood anemone, dandelion, bluebell

The dandelions and anemones were out in force near Canonbie.

anemones and dandelions

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to show that the trees are getting a welcome green tinge.

Hollows Bridge

By the time that I got home, the sun had come out so I mowed the middle and front lawns and took a lot of flower pictures.

violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

Dog tooth violet, bergenia, pulmonaria and fritillary

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

berberis, wallflower, hellebore and tulip

tulip waving goodbye

Tulip dead heading will shortly be required

There were quite a few bees to be heard and I was very pleased to see some of them at work on the plum tree….

tulip waving goodbye

…though the forecast of a frost tonight might be too much for the blossoms.

I think that the tadpoles are far enough on to survive a cold night.


It was such a nice spring day by this time, although still not as warm as it should be on a sunny day in April, that I went into the house and took three shots of the garden from upstairs windows.

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The front beds, the front lawn and the pond (on the right)

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds

The plum tree, the middle lawn and the biggest flower beds (and a glimpse pf the gardener).

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

The vegetable garden and the compost bins

This doesn’t show the beds along the front of the house and the small area to the right of the greenhouse.

The birds were pleased when I filled the feeders before I went cycling and by the time that I got back they had got the level well down again.


We wanted to do some shopping at Gretna so we took advantage of the continuing sunshine by packing the bikes into the car after lunch and going for a cycle ride before we did the shopping.

The advantage of cycling from Gretna from Mrs Tootlepedal’s point of view in particular is that the roads are mostly flat but this didn’t mean that we had a dull outing.

Todhills horses

Bridge of trees at Todhills

Mrs Tootlepedal passing under an arch of trees

We went south from Gretna and cycled round a 12 mile loop that took us through Rockliffe.  After passing through the village, we took advantage of a rough track to cycle down to the bank of the river Eden.  We were able to look back at the church where we took a walk a week or so ago.

Rockcliffe church

Which ever way we looked, up or down the river, the view was delightful.

River Eden

Up river

River Eden

Down river

And the bank itself was covered with a lovely little wood.

Rockcliffe wood

We were a bit alarmed by some very black clouds ahead of us as we cycled back to Gretna but they passed over to the north before we got back to the car and we enjoyed an excellent cycle ride.

The 12 miles had given us an appetite so a cup of coffee and a cake was necessary before we completed some satisfactory shopping.  (Slippers were the main thing on the list but quality prunes came into it too.)

We got home to find that the rain shower had missed Langholm as well.  This was lucky as we had had washing hanging out.  I had to fill the feeders again as they were quite empty by this time.


Cycling and shopping had taken up most of the afternoon and it wasn’t long before it was time for our evening meal and then I went out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We haven’t played for some weeks as Mike and Isabel have been busy on church matters over the Lent period and it was very good to get back to playing again.  The time off hadn’t got too much rust into the works so we enjoyed our playing a lot.

Sometimes, I can just push the shutter button in the nick of time to catch a flying bird and today was one of those times.


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker.  He was photographed by his companion on a walk where the stepping stones left quite a lot to be desired.  How the photographer got to the other side of the steam is not recorded.

Stepping stones 4.4.17

We had another dry and occasionally sunny day but the wind was still very chilly and gusty and so I cravenly decided that there might well be other things to fill my day with than cycling.

They were good things though.

I started with entertaining Dropscone to coffee and eating his excellent scones.   His golf form is still not quite as consistent as he would like and I heard some harrowing tales of stray shots.

When he left, carrying a small gift of rhubarb with him,  I walked round the garden.

, cuckoo flower, primula and magnolia


I noticed the forsythia in particular as it appeared as the answer to a question in the semi final of University Challenge this week.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent quite a lot of the day grappling with Embroiderers’ Group paperwork so I did my best to keep from interrupting her by making myself busy in the garden and in the course of the day I did some daffodil dead heading, compost sieving, log sawing and grass cutting.  These simple tasks keep me quite happy and fill up many unforgiving hours as I have to have several little rests between and even during the activities.

I found some time to watch the birds too.

Goldfinches were flying horizontally and vertically which is a neat trick.

flying goldfinches

Chaffinches were squaring up to each other.

chaffinches squabbling

You can’t get much squarer up than that

The feeders were perpetually in demand.

busy feeder

And perch holders were subject to many pieces of advice as to where to go.

busy feeder

I made some bread in the bread machine and after lunch, I went out for a walk, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal at her work.

I took a favourite route down the river to Skippers Bridge and then back through the woods above the old railway line.

With the sun firmly behind the clouds at this point in the day, it was a day for looking at things closely rather than admiring the views.

A tree seemed to have a rather curious eye on me, a bit like an lizard perhaps and maybe a little tired from trying to decipher the script lichen on the trunk beside it.

script lichen

In spite of many signs of spring, the trees are still generally leafless…

Murtholm trees

The tree on this side of the river blends into those on the far bank.

One tree, at the end of the Hallpath track is slowly devouring a neighbourhood watch notice, eating a little more every year.

neighbourhood watch notice

There were flowers, wild and tame to see along the way and mosses too.

flowers and moss

I walked back down to the river when I got to the town, passing the spot where they hold the annual car diving competition…

car sign

…and seeing a good selection of riverside birds of varying sizes.

grey wagtail, oyster catcher and herring gull

There were lots of the grey wagtails about but they were too quick for my little camera.

I was beginning to think about going home and coming back with the Nikon in the hope of getting some better wagtail pictures when my eye was caught by a pair of goosanders on a stony reef in the river.  They were snoozing in the sun which had just come out.


They must have been very happy because if you even so much as think about approaching a sitting or standing  goosander, it normally instantly gets up and flies away but on this occasion, they were both quite content to loaf about while I walked a little closer and snapped away.

male goosander

female goosander

I hope to see many goosanderlings later in the year.

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and a slice of toast and marmalade with Mrs Tootlepedal who had finished her business and Mike Tinker who had come round to relate his adventures with the non existent stepping stones.  The secret was revealed. He and the photographer  forded the river a little further downstream.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir, Langholm Sings and although the evening had because so sunlit and tranquil by this time that being outside was almost mandatory, I still enjoyed the practice  a lot.   We have got some relatively undemanding and thoroughly tuneful songs to sing so it is possible just to relax and enjoy the music.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very happy too when I got home because she had been watching the International Space Station cruising across the skies above the town.  I was sorry to have missed it.

The flying bird of the day is another goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to one of her her favourite spots in Regents Park  by my sister Mary.

Regents park 15.03.17 002

I had a very quiet day by design today.  The weather was either windy or wet or both and we were going to sing in the local music festival with our Carlisle choir in the evening so it seemed ideal to make this a day of rest.

As a result, I entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee, put a week on the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, practised the songs and a little flute playing and did nothing more vigorous than poke my nose out into the garden a couple of times.

soggy spring flowers

The flowers were trying their hardest

soggy flowers

I hope to get a little sunshine to show them at their best soon

tulip and tadpoles

The first promise of tulips and further tadpole development.

In between times, I did the crossword, made a pot of lentil soup and watched the birds.

There were plenty of birds to watch.


The incoming birds were being stacked by the controllers


But there were plenty of potential collisions


And some actual siskin kicking

If that kicking doesn’t look too serious to you, the kicked bird certainly felt it.


Siskin down!

I liked a chaffinch making itself look as big as possible to deter a siskin from attacking it.

siskins and chaffinches

But the siskins are well able to look after themselves when it comes to giving chaffinches a hard stare.

siskins and chaffinches

I noticed the very red chaffinch again today.  A knowledgeable reader has told me that it is probably suffering from erythrism, a condition that turns feathers red.

chaffinch with erythrism

You can see a normally coloured bird behind it.

The feeders needed refilling a couple of times during the day.  I have used more seed this week than in the whole of last month…


…and most of it has gone to the siskins, though chaffinches and goldfinches have got a beak in here and there.

busy feeder

Away from all the aerial acrobatics, I was happy to see a resident robin again.


I am so fed up with my long standing internet provider that, because I had time hanging on my hands today, I was actually moved to put the process of changing to another provider in motion.  In theory the process is smooth and simple but we shall see.  I did get a really good offer though so if it does all go smoothly, I shall be a very happy chappy.

In the late afternoon, just as we were getting ready to go to Carlisle, the weather took a turn for the better and although it was annoying that it came at a time when we couldn’t make use of it, it was good not to have to drive to Carlisle in the rain.

The light was lovely when we got to our warm up place, just behind the Cathedral.


The competition was enjoyable and we did about as well as we could expect to do under an excellent substitute conductor.  All the choirs were entertaining and it was no pain to sit and listen to the other eight.  In the end, we came second out of the nine entries and as we all agreed that the choir who came first deserved to be the winners, we were quite pleased with the result.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I  rewarded ourselves with a visit to the chip shop for a late snack on our way home.

We had seen a gritter lorry out on the road when we went down to Carlisle and the car thermometer showed 1° C as we came home so we are keeping our fingers crossed for flowers and tadpoles overnight.  The forecast says that it is not going to freeze but in that case, why was the gritter gritting?

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

flying siskin

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who was mightily impressed by the size of both the choir and the organ when she went to a concert  yesterday.

organThis is  a belated post for Sunday 12 March as my internet provider stopped providing any internet just as I was about to start writing.  My provider has been ultra reliable for many years but has recently been taken over by one of the big British telephone companies and naturally, I assume that this present glitch was the result of either cost cutting or incompetence.  I am pleased to be back on line again.

There is no necessity to read this old news but as the blog is a daily diary, I am putting it in for the record.

However, to the business of the day – and in this case business is the mot juste as the feeders were frantically busy all day.  I would have expected the winter to bring the most visitors to the garden but it is the slightly warmer weather that has really brought them out.  I wonder whether the need for being in peak condition for the mating season may be a driver.

I am experimenting with using the Lumix for taking pictures of perching birds….

siskins and goldfinch

…and I very much liked the goldfinch Spiderman which I caught by accident.

The camera made a reasonable job a visiting redpoll too.


It was a dry and warm day, so I took the opportunity to go out on my bike and, as was the case last week, the Wauchope Road was very busy with cars, this time because the High Street was shut to traffic for resurfacing and I took my life in my hands as I went across the hill on a single track road, dodging a number of people who were using it as a bypass.

I didn’t stop to take any pictures because having an opportunity to be run over by someone who didn’t know the road wasn’t a very appealing prospect.

When I got home, I checked out the garden flowers….

spring flowers

…and then settled down to be entertained by the birds.

I took a short video to give a feel of the activity.

It was like this for long spells

There are a lot of siskins about and I liked this one creeping up on an unsuspecting male.

siskin and goldfinch

The redpoll returned and proved quite able to hold its own against the ever aggressive siskins.

redpoll and siskin

I liked this shot of it acting as Cool Hand Luke amongst the siskin maelstrom.

redpoll and siskin

I could happily have spent a lot more time watching the show but it was Carlisle Choir day so I went off to sing in the city.  We had an excellent practice with a new song to learn but when we went through one of the songs which we had learned by heart for the Manchester competition, the tenors discovered that not quite enough memory glue had been applied to it.  As we are singing it in a local competition this week, some homework is required.
It was a lovely evening as I drove home and I took the scenic route.

Rockliffe road trees

This pylon on the edge of the Solway caught my eye.  The dark spots on the wires are starlings gathering for their nightly murmuration.

pylon with starlings
Further along the road home, I was offered the chance to take a picture of a personal mini sunset just for me.  I took it.

Longtown sunset

The frog of the day is a handsome fellow but you can see that the frosts have damaged some of the spawn.


The flying bird is a chaffinch among all the siskins.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is the second of Susan’s  pictures from the Dunrobin falconry.

Dunrobin falcon

The day started quite promisingly with some pleasant sunshine so I popped out on the slow bike to see if there were any pictures to be had.

We don’t get many reds in our autumn colour but this tree on the Castleholm is an exception…

Castleholm tree

..but even it is a bit half hearted about the whole thing.

I cycled down to the Skippers Bridge and stumbled down to the riverside (slippery shoes!).

River Esk

I thought that it was worth the trip.

I scrambled back onto the road and pedalled on up the hill and took two views back across the valley.

Broomholm view

Broomholm view

Then, like the Grand old Duke of York, I pedalled back down again and went home, stopping on my way for a shot of the Esk in the middle of the town.

River esk

As you can see, it was a very lovely morning to be out and about.  Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t waste much time indoors and was soon hard at work in the garden.

I took advantage of the good conditions and joined her. I spiked and sanded just over a quarter of the front lawn.  It doesn’t sound much but that was as much as I could do in one go and after a little dead heading and some shredding (Attila the gardener produces a lot of debris), I went and fetched my camera and had a gentle walk round.

There was plenty of zing about.

anemone, marigold, rose and poppy


This Fuchsia is going to be moved to join my new one at the end of the year.  I hope it survives the shift as it has been very productive this season.

The poppy and cornflower bed  in front of the pond is the gift that keeps on giving.

poppies and cornflowers

After this, it was time to go in and look out of the window.


If there is such a thing as a cuddly jackdaw then this is it.

It soon flew off though…


…looking a bit less cuddly.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to catch the train from Lockerbie to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.  Just as she was leaving, it started to drizzle so I rushed out and got the washing in.

A very intractable crossword gave me lots of time to recover from  the lawn spiking and then, as the rain had stopped, I put the washing out again and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green.

I went in and looked out of the window again.


The bench was more popular with the sparrows and dunnocks than the hedge today.

sparrows on bench

Then I went to our  keyboard to go over some of the songs for our Carlisle choir as we have got a concert coming up but I was soon interrupted by the sound of heavy rain.  Once again, I dashed out and got the washing in.   I should have been paying more attention though, as most of it was almost as wet as when it was put out.

We have still got plenty of potatoes left in our potato store so I had a couple of baked potatoes for my tea and then Susan came and fetched me and we went off to Carlisle to play with our recorder group for the first time for several weeks.

Roy produced a good selection of music and we had an enjoyable evening.  It had rained while we were playing and our spell of dry weather looks as though it might have come to an end. Ah well.

The flower of the day is a cornflower triptych….


…and the flying bird of the day is a sparrow giving the fat balls the go by.

flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »