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Posts Tagged ‘geese’

Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  With all that dog walking going on, the household wellies need somewhere to have a good rest when they get home.

welly rack

Our wintery weather continued with the temperature in low single figures all day.  We had been threatened with snow but got occasional sunny spells interrupted by heavy showers of rain and sleet instead.

I had a moment to watch the birds after breakfast.  There was blackbird about…

blackbird on chimney

…and the fake tree was drawing in customers waiting for a perch at the feeder.

chaffinch on fake tree

I took no pictures in the garden in the morning as I had to set off quite promptly to go to the hospital in Dumfries for my foot x-ray.

This was an entirely satisfactory process as the road over to Dumfries was very traffic free, I got a parking spot a few yards from the main entrance to the hospital (a very rare occurrence), was in and out of the x-ray department before my appointment time had even arrived, spent some useful cheese buying time in the farm shop which is just next to the hospital and where I also bought a packet of tasty parkin biscuits and finally took the scenic road home along the banks of the Nith Estuary.

There were some impressive rain clouds about when I looked down river from the dock at Glencaple where I had parked  to eat some of the parkins…

foreboding view from Glencaple

…and I could see small rain showers on the slopes of Criffel across the water…

criffel with rain shower

…but fortunately, the rain stayed away from where I was, Criffel emerged from the cloud..

criffel in sun

…and I had time for a very short stroll among banks of gorse…caerlaverock gorse

…past clumps of primroses…

caerlaverock primroses

…and through a delightful wood…

caerlaverock wood

…before a hint of rain sent me back to the car, encouraged by loud cries from passing flights of geese.

clouds with geese nith estuary

The drive home was largely free from traffic but I did have to battle through some sharp rain showers on the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a very busy time helping out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop as they had had over 60 people for lunch, and we were both happy to have a quiet moment or two when we got home.

The sunflower hearts are going down at great speed so I was happy to see some siskins trying the peanuts.  They had various styles of approach to getting at the nuts, vertical head down….

vertical siskin on nuts down

…vertical head up….

vertical siskin on nuts up

…and horizontal.

horizontal siskin on nuts

Meanwhile, competition for places at the sunflower seed feeder was intense.

very busy feeder

I had already filled the feeder once today.

Other forms of bird food were available.

blackbird and fat ball

The redpoll was back.

redpoll

I took some advice on the little blue flower that has just come out and I can report that it is a brunnera.

brunnera

I put in some work on practising two short sets of Scottish tunes to play on my descant recorder at the concert in the evening and was distracted by the ever rolling catastrophe of the Brexit reporting on the telly.  The reporting and the process are equally catastrophic in my view as the contradictions inherent in the process are still largely unacknowledged by those promoting various schemes and those who are ignoring the realities are largely unchallenged in all the excitement of who is up and who is down.

Still, it all makes for something to talk about and I had an entertaining discussion with my choir friend Mike when I gave him a lift up to the Langholm Sings concert at the Westerkirk WRI meeting.

The concert itself, considering that we had had no practice and were without an accompanist or conductor, went better than might have been expected.  There were ten singers and the choir did five four part songs while three members sang unaccompanied solos (very nicely), one recited Daffodils by Wordsworth (also very nicely) and one tootled away merrily.

The audience was very polite and appreciative and we got a quiz half way through the concert and  an excellent light meal afterwards, as you would expect from a WRI meeting so the evening was much more enjoyable than I had anticipated.

The black spot of the day was receiving a debit card through the post from a bank that I do not use.  This indicated that some fraudster had opened an account in my name and required phoning up the bank in question.  After registering my complaint and having it acknowledged that an unauthorised account had been opened, the bank said that I would have to talk to their fraud department.  Crooks must have been very busy lately as they couldn’t put me through because the lines were fully engaged but they promised that the fraud department would ring me back.  I am still waiting at the time of writing.  This sort of thing takes some of the pleasure out of life.

Flying birds of the day however, bring it back again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a Nottingham Inn dating from 1493 which my brother Andrew passed on his way to the university there.

Nottingham 1493

It was calm and dry when I got up but it wasn’t warm.  John in the shop called it ‘fresh’ and my neighbour Liz called it ‘snell’ and at a miserly 6°C when I set off on my bicycle, I agreed with both of them and had to be well wrapped up.  I had remembered to pick up the key for the camera club meeting in the evening and this had given me an excuse to let the temperature rise a bit but it was still cold enough to make me glad of every layer that I was wearing.

I had had reports that there had been a landslip along the road to Lockerbie and indeed, I passed a sign saying ‘road closed ahead’ as I left the town.  I went to have a look.

Lockerbie road landslip

Not a pretty sight!

One of our other local roads has been closed for years after a landslip so everyone will hope that there is a bit more action in this case as it is a well used road.

I didn’t go any further along the road but turned back and went over the hill past the Bloch.  I was anxious to see whether there were signs that the sun would come out later in the day so I looked at the clouds ahead of me…

cloudscape

…and behind me…

cloudscape 2

…and wondered if I was going in the right direction.

When I got to the top of the hill, I could look down on the Solway which was the intended destination of my ride.

mist over solway

That wasn’t water that I was looking at, it was a blanket of mist…

mist over solway 2

…shrouding the English shore.

Still, mist rises in my experience so I pedalled on down to Gretna Green where a piper in full rig….

Gretna piper

…was cheerfully waiting to have his picture taken with a happy couple who had been just married at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop and were posing under a handy sculpture nearby.

happy couple

By the time that I got to the English side of the Solway, the mist had disappeared…

Solway moss at Burgh

…but sadly the sea had gone too.

I was puzzled once more by a roadside sign which says: When the water reaches this point maximum depth is 2 feet.

Solway moss at Burgh 2

I have never been able to work out quite what it means but as the tide always seems to be out when I cycle here, it hasn’t mattered.

In the absence of any sea to photograph, I turned inland and circled round to make my way home.  Although I was now heading into the wind, it was so light that I was able to keep my average speed up all the way back to Langholm.

I stopped for a picture or two on the way.  This road near Rockcliffe turns sharply right just ahead so I suppose this qualifies as a colourful corner…

colourful corner rockcliffe

…and although I hadn’t seen any geese in the fields on my way down to the Solway, I saw plenty in the pond at Longtown on my way back.

geese at Lontwon pondgeese at Lontwon pond 2

I took an autumn colour shot at Irvine House…

irvine house

…but resisted the urge to take yet another Skippers Bridge shot and got home after 62 miles feeling tired but happy.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden in the sun…

garden flowers Oct 15

Cheerful survivors

little white flower

A very pretty little white flower in thee back border

BENCH SUBMERGED BY NASTURTIUM

There’s a bench under there somewhere

…and a look at the birds…

CHAFFINCHES ON FEEDER

It was mainly a chaffinch day at the feeder

open and shut chaffinches

They came in open and shut versions.

…before I had to sit down and choose 15 pictures to show at the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then Luke came for his flute lesson and I passed on some of the insights into breathing that I had got from my singing lesson.  They apply to flute playing too.

The camera club meeting went well, with 10 members turning up and some very interesting images to look at.  We are going to try some portrait photography at our next meeting.  I hope to learn a lot as portraits are not my strong point, to say the least.

Mrs Tootlepedal returns tomorrow so whatever the weather holds, it will be a bright, bright day.

The flying chaffinches of the day are once again gender balanced.

FLYING FEMALE CHAFFINCH

flying male chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a swan which was spotted by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia while on a walk.  She notes that the magnifying effect of the water gives it enormous feet.

Venetia's swan

My day started not with swans but geese, as a large skein flew over the garden just after breakfast with a lot of honking to make me pay attention.

flying geese

A short while later, I took an impressionistic  picture of my favourite poppies…

poppies

…and went off to the Laverock Hide to fill the Moorland Project feeders for Sandy.  He is still in foreign parts and feeding elephants rather than chaffinches.

The light was very grey but it is almost always a pleasure to sit in the hide and watch the birds so I stayed for a while.

There were plenty of the usual suspects: chaffinches…

chaffinch moorland

…coal tits….

coal tit moorland

…great tits…

great tit moorland

…woodpeckers…

woodpecker moorland

…and of course, pheasants both males, in an argument….

pheasant debate

…and a female above such uncouth behaviour.

female pheasant moorland

When I got home, I had a cup of coffee and did some business on the computer but I found time to pick some raspberries, which are in fine form, and have a quick look round some flowers.

poppyastantialilian austin october

The garden is looking bedraggled.

A man came round to clean our gutters and I hope that he has done a thorough job because we have a couple of inches of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday.  This should give the gutters a good test.

I didn’t have long to hang about at home though as it was my day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was late but I managed to walk down to the park near her nursery school in time to find Matilda playing with friends.

She was in a very sunny mood and gave me a big hello…

Matilda at Pilrig posing

…and made good use of the playground slide…

Matilda at Pilrig on slide

…and the death defying ‘Flying Fox’…

Matilda at Pilrig on flying fox

Wheeeee!

…before we went home for some snap, Pelmanism and railway building.

Alistair made a delicious  pasta with mushroom sauce for our evening meal and I caught the bus back up to Princes Street in a very satisfied mood.

I was early for the train so I took a picture or two.

My Lumix is very caring and if I get it out at night it says, “I know that you are old with a wobbly hand so I will see what I can do to help.”

I thought that it did quite well for hand held night shots.

national gallery edinburgh at night

The National Gallery

Bank of scotland edinburgh at night

The bank of Scotland building on The Mound

Walter Scott edinburgh at night

Sir Walter Scott looking rather ghostly as he sits under his monument.

The train back was late too but only by a few minutes so I got home in good time.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at our own feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce, who by coincidence passed me when I was out cycling this afternoon.  He had visited a distillery on his recent highland tour and was wondering whether he had imagined the rainbow when he came out but his wife confirmed that it really was there.

highland rainbow

There was no chance of a rainbow here today as the sun shone steadily from a clear blue sky from dawn to dusk .

It wasn’t very windy and it was decidedly warm for the time of year so it was definitely a day for cycling.  I had had only one outing on my bike in the past fortnight and as a result I didn’t want to overdo things so I was more than happy to start the day with coffee and scones and a catch up with Dropscone.

He has had a busy time lately so there was a lot of catching up to do.

As the sun stays lower in the sky at this time of year, it takes some time until it gets round to shining in our garden so a breakfast shot of the feeder makes it look chillier than it actually was…

busy feeder

…but by the time that Dropscone left, the garden was full of sunshine…

october flowers in the sun

…though some flowers were still in the shade.

This was my favourite shot of the morning.

delphinium

The delphinium seems determined to go on flowering as long as possible. (The lawn needs mowing again!)

I got my new bicycle out with enough time left in the day for a reasonable ride and set out to see where my legs would carry me.

The green hills around us are definitely brown now….

View from Wauchope School Brae

..but it would be hard to find a better day for cycling in October than this one.

My legs turned out to be in a very co-operative mood and with the wind coming from the south east, I was able to have an easier start than usual and got to Eaglesfield in good time.  Thereafter, I took a route along familiar roads but with variations of direction and combinations of routes that made the ride interesting for me.  I snapped away as I went along.

I was hoping for autumn colour but it was sporadic…

autumn colour ecclefechan

…and it was warm enough for a bovine paddle near Ecclefechan.

cows in pool

I went through a good variety of road side scenery from the enclosed…

hedged in road

…to the wide open.  The sun glinting off the Solway was dazzling.

view over the solway plain

There is no shortage of peel towers in our area.  This one is beside the Annan to Kirkpatrick Fleming road…

tower near Creca

…which I left to follow the small back road down to Rigg and Gretna.  I stopped just before Rigg.

The Gretna to Dumfries railway uses the arched bridge in the foreground while the new main road uses the modern concrete bridge behind, to cross the Kirtle Water.

railway bridge at Rigg

From Gretna, I followed the course of the River Sark to Milltown of Sark.  This picture shows Scotland in the foreground, the river which constitutes the border and then England beyond.  A lot of bloodshed and diplomacy went into creating this mighty barrier between nations.

River sark on Springfield road

On my way to Milltown, while I was in England for a few miles, I passed the migrating geese which feed in the fields near Englishtown farm.  There were thousands of them and my camera could only catch a fraction of them at a  time.  They were too far from the road to get a shot of an individual goose.

lots of geese in a field

I had chosen a route with some fine beech hedges on the way, in the hope of getting some good autumn colour but the hedges were a disappointment and I had to wait until I got to the river Esk near Langholm to find something worth stopping for.

river at landslipriver from skippers looking northriver from skippers looking south

My knees are a bit creaky at the moment so I resisted the temptation to ’round up the decimals’ and settled for stopping after 47 miles at a suitably relaxed pace to match the benign day.

It was such a lovely day that I did think of a walk when I got home but for some reason got no further than the garden where a lone red admiral butterfly was to be seen ignoring the sedum.

red admiral butterlfy october

There was a contrast in clematis – ‘out there’ and ‘in there’.

two clematis

A poppy catching the low sun was the pick of the flowers this afternoon.

poppy in late sun

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir and had a good time.  I think that my first singing lesson is helping already.  We are singing music from shows as well as Christmassy stuff and there is plenty of work for the basses so there was no sleeping on the job today.

A phone call to see how Mrs Tootlepedal is getting on at her mother’s rounded off the day and I was pleased to have made good use of the best day for some days to come with threats of a new storm hanging over our heads at the weekend.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch coming into the evening sun.

flying chaffinch in late sun

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been in Glasgow getting a knee checked out.  He took the opportunity to sample the Glasgow underground train service, popularly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Glasgow underground

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning today but the late September downside was in evidence in the form of a layer of ice on the car window with the temperature at 2°C.  That was too cold for me to go cycling as I have already had one bad experience with a patch of ice on a sunny day this and I definitely don’t want another.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a fund raising coffee morning with friends and I hung about until the temperature hit 5°, finally getting going a bit later than was intended.

The wait was worth it though as it was a perfect morning for cycling, with light winds and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Callister road new lines

The newly surfaced road at Callister has got a sparkling fresh white line and was looking at its best.

I cycled through Gair and Eaglesfield and joined the old A74, going north through Ecclefechan…

Ecclefechan

..which is notable both as the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, and the home of the world famous Ecclefechan Tart.

I kept going north until I passed the biggest wood burning stove in Dumfriesshire…

Wood burning power station

…where I turned west to cross the River Annan, passing the delightful Applegarth Church…

Applegarth Church

…and a charming cottage with its own clock tower at Millhousebridge just before I crossed the river.

Millhousebridge

I must say that if I had a clock tower on my house, I would keep the clock running on time.

Once over the river, I turned south and had a stop for a roll and a banana beside the Mill Loch in Lochmaben.

Mill Loch Lochmaben

I found a bench in a sheltered spot beside the loch…

bullrushes

…and ate my roll beside Weigela and Himalayan balsam flowers.

wiegela and balasam

I pedalled on southwards  to the little village of Dalton where they had a really good idea in 2000….

Dalton handprints

…though the tiles are getting a bit discoloured with age.

My tour continued as I passed beneath the Repentance Tower at Hoddom…

Repentance Tower

…and then I followed the course of the river Annan down to the town of Annan.

Having crossed the fine bridge there, I was blown home by a friendly wind, stopping only to admire a fireless engine at the Devil’s Porridge museum at Eastriggs….

Fireless engine Eastriggs

A fireless engine is a very good idea in a large munitions factory.

…and an even larger quantity of migrating geese than last time in a field near the border..

geese in field

The noise was ferocious.

…with a few swans  keeping themselves to themselves at the other end of the field.

swans in field

Those interested may find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 28 Sept 2018

The skies clouded over for the last part of the ride and I was glad to have been well wrapped up to counter the chill at the beginning of the outing. I was able to shed a few layers as I went round though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day with the coffee morning followed by some serious gardening in the afternoon.  This involved a lot of digging as part of the new plan for the top of the vegetable garden.

After a cup of tea and a look at the feeder, which I had to fill as it had obviously been busy during the day…

busy feeder

..I went out to inspect the works and take a picture or two of things that had survived the chilly morning.

floodlit fuchsia

The fuchsias continue to shine.

triple special grandma

More Special Grandmas have come out

late september flowers

The last of the yellow crocosmia, a small rudbeckia and a late burst of phlox.

Mrs Tootlepedal made herself some very good looking courgette fritters for her evening meal and I cooked up a calorie heavy dish of macaroni cheese to make sure that I didn’t fade away after my cycling efforts.  (In fact, there is no chance of that as I am at my winter weight already and winter hasn’t even begun.)

The TV provided Gardener’s World and highlights from an exciting day of golf in France to give us both a good excuse to sit down and put our feet up in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a wonderful sunrise over the Forth captured by our older son Tony as he walked his dogs near his new house on the shore.

wemyss sunrise

We had a sunny day here but after a clear night, it was only 2°C when Mrs Tootlepedal got up and she was worried about the garden.  The cold had done for the courgettes which had collapsed but a lot was untouched by the chilly hand of autumn and she was able to garden usefully through the day and into the early evening.

After a leisurely breakfast, I cycled up to the Archive Centre to take a meter reading  and then cycled home again to collect the key which I had forgotten.  The second journey was uneventful and the meter got read.

In spite of the cold start to the day and the fact that it never got very warm out of the direct sun, the butterflies were not discouraged.

The buddleias are fading so a red admiral tried a cosmos.

red admiral butterfly on cosmos

On the red buddleia, the flowers are now so scarce that multi occupancy was the order of the day.

red admiral butterfly groups on buddleia

I watched the birds when I went in.

There were a good number of goldfinches about….

goldfinch group

…and some rough sparrows too.  A hefty one footed kick soon dislodged the bird on the right.

sparrow stamping

I had an early lunch and got my new bicycle out and set off to see how strong the wind was.

It was gusty at times but after a slow first 14 miles over Callister and out to Eaglesfield, I had chosen a route that made it more of a friend than a foe and I enjoyed a peaceful ride back to Langholm by way of Gretna.

Although it was sunny when I set out, there were some dark clouds about…

dark cloud over callister

…and I had to stop and put my rain jacket on for a few miles between Gair and Eaglesfield.  It was unfortunate that a buzzard should have chosen some poor light to pose for me on a telegraph pole….

buzzard pn pole

….because they usually fly off long before I can get my camera focused so this would have been a rare opportunity.

My bike routes often taken me along rivers and over their bridges but today’s route took me to the motorway….

M74 from bridge

…which I crossed by a bridge.  Then I pedalled against the stream of traffic down the old road which runs beside this new road before crossing under the motorway this time on my way home.

I stopped to take my rain jacket off while I was on the bridge because as you can see, the sun was out by this time.  For the rest of my trip I was often cycling on wet roads  but in broad sunshine as the rain clouds were pushed just ahead of me by the wind….

windmills in the sun

…which was very busy making electricity as it shoved the clouds along.

The sound of honking caught my attention as I approached Englishtown near the border and looking through a gate in the hedge, I could see a flock of geese in the field…

geese at Englishtown

…another sign that autumn is here to stay.

I added 37 miles to my total for the year and now I am at just under 300 miles for September.

Before I had my shower after cycling, I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal chop up some of the rhubarb roots which have come out of the new back bed.  Then as Mrs Tootlepedal was rather gloomy about prospects for the garden if the cold nights continue, I made a quick record of just some of the flowers left standing.

I thought that they might be saying, “Nos morituri, te salutumas” to the readers….

garden flowers 24 Sept (3)

From top left clockwise: potentilla, verbascum, niocotiana and Japanese anemone

garden flowers 24 Sept (2)

From top left clockwise: geranium, fancy primrose, nasturtium and fuchsia

garden flowers 24 Sept

From top left clockwise: euphorbia, lamium, potentilla and dahlia

special grandma

Special Grandma with buds still hoping for some more warm weather.

…but I hope that Mrs Tootlepedal’s gloom is unjustified as the forecast is offering us some generally warmer weather to come over the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did more work on a Quantz trio sonata with my computer supplying the continuo.

There was no trio playing with Mike and Isabel tonight so I had a quiet evening at home.

There is another gender balanced flying bird of the day scenario today with male and female chaffinches sharing the duty.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch (2)

 

 

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