Posts Tagged ‘grasses’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She got down to sea level in Madeira and brilliantly caught this Atlantic spotted dolphin in mid leap.

Atlantoc spotted dolphin

Our spell of great weather is coming to an end but we are being let down gently before rain and gales blow in tomorrow night and we had a calm, warm but rather grey day today.

The iron pills have not worked their magic yet and I am still feeling a little tired so I was happy to spend a quiet morning doing a little business and paying bills after breakfast and then doing some aimless wandering around in the garden.

I said to Mrs Tootlepedal the other day that we seemed to have a lot of philadelphus in the garden and she rather thought that I was exaggerating but when she looked round, and counted, she found that there are at least nine…

philadelphus panel

A small selection

…and as they are pretty well all out, the garden is full of blossom and delightful aromas too.

I kept my eye out for new flowers and spotted the first of many Martagon lilies.

martagon lily

Mrs Tootlepedal is getting very excited by some small but perfectly formed blue alliums which are just about to come out.

blue allium

I was pleased to see a couple of red tailed bumble bees back on the chives.  They are very striking and an ornament to any garden.

red tailed bumble bee

I pulled myself together after a cup of coffee and set about putting some liquid fertiliser on the front lawn. The front lawn is still very mossy and I thought that what grass there is needed some encouragement.  As the fertiliser is applied by watering can, it is a labour intensive activity and kept me happily occupied for some time.  I did a bit of the middle lawn too.

I took time out to do the crossword and watch the birds.  The feeder was quite busy today.


A few greenfinches turned up…

flying siskins

…but mostly it was siskins and some goldfinches again

I was thinking about a gentle afternoon pedal but a few drops of rain put me off the idea and I went for a walk instead.  It seemed like quite a time since I had been up a hill so I went up our nearest one, Meikleholm Hill.

The rain held off as I walked up the track to the hill, admiring the many grasses on the way.  There was a splendid variety…


…but the star of the grass show when I looked at them on the computer later on, was this colourful spray with added visitors.

grass with insects

Just before I got to the gate onto the open hill, I noticed a few rabbits in the field beside the track.  Most of them scampered away but one remained, pretending to be a blade of grass.

rabbit in grasses

I always like this gate just before the top of the track…

Meikleholm gate

…but I was glad to be finally out on the open hill and looking back across the town towards Whita Hill on the other side of the valley.

View of langholm from Meikleholm

Even on a grey day, it is a view to lift the heart.

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at as I followed the track which curves up round the side of the hill…

tree on meikleholm

There was a lot of tormentil which I failed to record properly and quite a bit of bird’s-foot trefoil and various hawkbits too.

trefoil and hawksbit

I was hoping to see some early orchids too and wasn’t entirely disappointed as there were a few small flowers to be seen.


There are sheep on the hill and I don’t know if they will nibble off the orchids or not but there should be a lot more flowers as the summer goes on.

They sheep probably won’t eat these marsh thistles though.

marsh thistke

I was considering an extended route when I got to the top of Meikleholm Hill but a look to the north….

rain over Potholm

…and the south….

clouds over solway

…persuaded me that the straight route home might be the best bet.

No sooner had I made up my mind than the rain started and I had to skip down the hill as fast as my creaky knee would let me.

I did stop for one last photo opportunity as the racecourse on the Castleholm looked very attractive but that was the only stop as I was getting quite wet and didn’t have a coat with me.

racecourse castleholm

The rain eased off without entirely stopping as I got down to the town so I was happy to get home without getting soaked through.

That was my last excursion for the day, though I did get as far as the back door later on to take a final picture of the day.

colourful corner

Mrs Tootlepedal finds colours and textures in flowers, grasses and shrubs and mixes them all together in a most harmonious way in my view.  I am very lucky to be the beneficiary of her skills.

In the evening, she went off to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of Swan lake performed by the Royal Ballet.  I stayed at home because although I admire the wonderful skills and fitness of the dancers, I keep waiting for something interesting to happen and as nothing does, I get easily  bored.

The flower of the day is one of our foxgloves.  Some gardeners may turn up their noses at these common wild flowers but I am glad that Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t.


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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin and shows his granddaughter Hannah, from Newcastle-on-Tyne, testing out the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal.  It seems to be perfect for all ages.

Ally and Hannah on bench

I have a simple plan for the next few years and that is to have a cycle outing at least once each year in which the number of miles is equal to or greater than my age in years (currently 76).  Today seemed to be a really good day to put the plan into action as it was very calm, pleasantly warm but not sunny and with no chance of rain according to the forecast.

I am not sleeping very comfortably at the moment so even with the twin lures of the new bike and perfect conditions, it took me an hour after breakfast to actually get going.  I took any excuse to put off the start…


…and wandered round the garden to check on new arrivals.

I couldn’t put it off for ever though and set out with a view to going to Caerlaverock Castle which is about 35 miles away and has a cafe.

I stopped every ten miles to have a drink and some small snack and take a photo or two if the opportunity arose.  My first stop on the Gair road provided me with many wild flower opportunities (which I took) and here are just a few of them.

hawthorngeumnettleyellow wild flower

My second stop was at Hollee where I concentrated on grasses.

grass biggrass smaller

I had a lot to choose from.

My third stop was at a bridge on the road to Clarencefield.  There were no interesting wild flowers nearby so I was looking at lichen when I spotted one of many ants crawling along the parapet.


Luckily the ants had not been on the part of the parapet where I sat and had my snack.  Nothing is less conducive to happy pedalling than having ants in your pants.

I made a non decimal stop at Bankend just to take a picture of the Isle Tower on the banks of the Lochar Water….

Isle tower

…which looks in need of some TLC.

On my way to Caerlaverock Castle from Bankend, it was hard not to notice the abundant broom in bloom beside the road.


It is interesting that gorse looks really bright until the broom comes out but once the broom is in full blossom, the gorse looks very dowdy in comparison.

When I got to the castle, my legs were in such good order that I merely peered at the castle over the hedge….

caerlaverock castle

…and headed down to the banks of the Nith Estuary.

It was a curious sort of day with quite a bit of blue sky if you looked straight up but a lot of mist if you looked straight ahead.  When I got to the Nith, I could hardly see, Criffel, only a few miles away on the opposite bank.

criffel in mist

In search of a cup of coffee, I headed up stream until I came to Glencaple, a very small village with a huge cafe where I purchased a mandarin sorbet (surprisingly good) and a latte (just what you might expect) and ate and drank them while talking to a fisherman and his wife from Eastriggs. They had kindly kept an eye on my bike while I was in the cafe.

The fisherman was trying to catch flounders, a bottom feeding fish.  He pulled his line in as a boat came steaming down river past us….

glencaple boat

…but like a bad rower, he found that he had caught a crab…

floundering crab

…which he returned to the river.

I had taken almost exactly three hours of cycling time to do the 40 miles out and I was hoping to get what help was available from the very light wind to help me do the 40 miles back at the same speed.

I stopped every ten miles or so on the way back and noticed how many fine grasses there were in the hedge at the Brow Well (a good place to stop as it has a handy bench for aged cyclists).

grass at brow well

I had a final stop about eight miles from Langholm and noticed a prominent patch of silverweed, a plant that seems to like to grow right on the edge of bust main roads.


Perhaps it likes the salt from the winter gritting.

Nearby, there was an unusually coloured rhododendron in a driveway.


It had the air of an enormous allium.

I got home in good order with the second 40 miles covered in more or less bang on 3 hours so I was happy about that.  If I had got going a bit earlier, it would have been a good day for 100 miles but that will have to wait for another good day to come along.

It had been a pretty warm day for the time of year as can be seen from the top quality helmet hair that resulted…

helmet hair

…but I had been well supplied with water bottles and hadn’t lost weight on the ride, always a good sign of sensible hydration and nutrition.  (Two of Johnny’s filled rolls, two bananas and the sorbet from Glencaple.  Scientific sports nutrition at its best.)

Although I did the cycling in just over six hours, the whole 82 miles actually took me seven and a half hours so the ten mile stops added up.  I tried to make them about 5 minutes each to give me a chance to relax and stretch a bit but the stop at Glencaple must have been quite a bit longer.

Mrs Tootlepedal was away visiting Matilda in Edinburgh while I was out so I was very pleased that everything went smoothly and that there was no call for the MTRS which wouldn’t have been available.  I am waiting for her to return as I write this post.

I did catch a flying bird of the day when I got home.  It is an angry siskin.

flying siskin

Those interested can find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.  It was very flat as you can see.

garmin route 31 May 2018





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Today’s guest picture was supplied by Sandy.  Because I was in the choir, I missed much of the goings on on the Baton Relay day.  To make up for this, Sandy has kindly sent me a picture of the mounted Cornet carrying the baton down the Kirk Wynd with an escort of flags of all nations in the hands of pupils from our local school lining his way.

Baton  Relay

The high pressure that has given us several days of warm dry weather with plenty of sunshine was still in place today and it was a tremendous pleasure to step out into Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden after a disgracefully late breakfast and luxuriate in the aromas and the colours that surrounded me.

We are going to take some fairly drastic action to end the problem of our leaking end wall and the joiner who will be part of the action came round to talk about the work in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal met the builder in the evening and they have both promised to get us ballpark quotes very soon so we are getting quite excited by the possibility that some work may actually be done.  It was odd to be talking about deep winter problems on midsummer day but the work needs to be done before too long or another year will pass by with more leaks through the wall.   We live in hope.

We spent the rest of the morning pottering in the garden doing useful task.  Mine included dead heading and mowing the grass round the greenhouse…and taking a few pictures of course.


The perennial nasturtium was well covered and the builder of the web can be seen in the picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted an insect on an Astrantia.  We used to think that we knew what a bee looked like but with a bit more knowledge, we now realise that we don’t know much about bees, wasps and hoverflies at all and wondered which one of these  this one is.

insect on astrantia

I took several other pictures before lunch but when I looked at them later, they all seemed to be strangely familiar from previous posts.  When the garden looks as nice as it did today, it is hard not to go round looking at the same things which you looked at yesterday as they are no less beautiful today than they were then.

I am putting one in anyway as Mrs Simpkins Feathered Pink is one of my favourites and it is thriving.

Mrs Simpkins

Among my tasks, I cleared some weed from the pond and this left a little room for a couple of water lilies to poke their heads up.

water lilies

Our pond is so small that the lily flowers don’t get much chance to do well.

l had another tin of French sardines for lunch.  With all the oily fish that I have been eating lately, my brain should be much improved but there is no evidence of this at all.  Still the sardines, which were embellished with whole green peppercorns, were very tasty.

Over lunch I had time to watch a few birds.


A sparrow, our most frequent visitors at the moment.


A jackdaw, also a regular visitor with young families to be fed.


A busy blackbird. The supply of worms from the lawn seems inexhaustible.

I sometimes think that I concentrate too much on single blooms to give a true picture of the garden so I took a couple of wider shots while I was shaking down the sardines after lunch.

rose and campanula

I took some close ups too.

There are a lot of Martagon lilies waiting to come out.

There are a lot of Martagon lilies waiting to come out.

I was very pleased to see that one of the Fuschias in the garden is doing better this year than last.  Last year it didn’t have a single bloom.  This year it has.  This is it.


Mrs Tootlepedal fed and watered it generously today. We hope for more flowers.

The garden is full of the scent of flowers and chief among the producers are several Philadelphus bushes dotted around the place.  This double one is the most recent to come into flower.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked up to Sandy’s house as he was celebrating his 64th birthday with a drop-in party and had been kind enough to invite us to join the company.  He looked very well considering his age.

Sandy at 64

It is good to see that his recovery from pneumonia is going well and he will be back at work next week.  We had a very pleasant time chatting to his friends and family in his back garden and left just in time to make room for another tranche of incoming guests.  I have no doubt that serious revelry is continuing as I write this in the evening.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal returned to pottering in the garden and I went for a short pedal on the slow bike just to shake the stiffness out of my legs.

The wild flowers in the roadside verges are gradually giving away to grasses now…

roadside grasses

…but I was quite pleased with myself for spotting a small clump of orchids at one point in the trip.


It was difficult to get a good shot of them without lying down in the road which was a risk that I didn’t care to take.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was still gardening so I walked round with a camera to record the results of her work.

A new Dutch Iris has come out just as the blue Siberian ones are almost over.  It starts off modestly and then springs into action

Dutch Iris

moss rose William Lobb

The moss rose William Lobb surrounded by the promise of many more to come.

The mellow evening light on the longest day of the year was just right for showing some of the plants at their best.

Siberian Iris and Clematis Ernest Markham

Siberian Iris and Clematis Ernest Markham



since I have started to look more closely at flowers, I have never ceased to amazed by their intricacy and variety.  A geranium and a lily provide a nice contrast in styles between the coy and the thrusting.

geranium and lily

Throughout the day, we had short practices of the two songs we are going to sing in Glasgow tomorrow and in the evening we got ourselves as well organised as we could for an early start to a long day.  I am not going to take a camera with me as I want to concentrate fully on the task in hand (and anyway I would probably leave it somewhere in the coming and going and forget to bring it home).

The ever deepening blue of an Eryngium made it an obvious candidate for the non flying flower of the day today.







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Today’s picture shows a meerkat which I found giving me the eye when I went into the kitchen tonight.  I suspect that the various needles of Mrs Tootlepedal may have something to do with it.


After the photofests of the last two days, today was a lot quieter.    It was another cold, grey morning but once again the wind was very light and there was no threat of icy patches so Dropscone and I set out for a morning pedal.  Although it was quite clear in the town, by the time we had gone four miles up the Wauchope road, it had become very misty so once again I turned back at the five mile marker and did two laps of ten miles, mostly mist free, while Dropscone vanished into the clouds on his way to Paddockhole and back over Callister.  Once again the scheduling worked out well and I only had to wait a minute or two for Dropscone to reappear at the spot where we had parted forty five minutes before.  My trip was a mile shorter and much easier than his and that is how it should be because he is fitter than me at the moment.

His Friday treacle scones to go with our Ethiopian coffee weren’t up to the usual standard of beauty because of an ill advised purchase of supermarket flour but they tasted just as good as ever.  I won’t say which supermarket sold him the dud flour because I don’t want to embarrass Tescos.

After my shower, I had some business to attend to and when I had done that, it was lunch time.  Mrs Tootlepedal was at work again to day  (she has to work to keep me in the style to which I am accustomed) and joined me for a light meal.  We are both trying to get our weight down and she is doing better than me by sticking very religiously to a meal plan which gives her good results.  I have done 200 miles on the bike on the last eleven days which is good but have eaten a lot of cheese, bread and potatoes which is not quite so helpful.

The feeder was frantically busy at times to today and it was mesmeric watching the birds whisk in and out.

busy feeder

One of the quieter moments!

There seem to be more and more bramblings visiting every day.

Brambling gallery

Here’s a brambling arc topped off with a goldfinch

goldfinch and brambling

Here’s a goldfinch having a laugh as a brambling mistimes its approach.


Chaffinches are still our most frequent visitors

With my camera aperture as wide as I can get it to let a little light in on these grey days, it is noticeable what a difference a few inches makes as to whether a bird is properly in focus or not.

chaffinch arriving

Here the fact the the chaffinch is heading for the back of the feeder is shown by its lack of sharpness

After I had completed my business and lunch, I walked up to the High Street, keeping half an eye on the weather to see if another misty photo opportunity beckoned.   It soon became clear that conditions were not the same as yesterday as although it was still a bit misty, I could see the tops of the hills.

Langholm Bridge

I replenished my stock of cheese at the local deli, purchased a fancy piece of mounting board for photographs and walked home again quite pleased that there was no need to climb up a hill again today as my legs were feeling the recent cycling activity quite noticeably.

Instead of going for a walk, I wandered round the garden and admired some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ornamental grasses, still featuring even in the middle of winter.


grass seed heads

My dieting plans went to pot as I was tempted to buy a chocolate éclair and some more potatoes at our corner shop and used the potatoes to make a tasty tomato and potato bake for my tea.  In the evening, we were joined by Mike and Alison.  Alison and I played some of a sonata by Daniel Purcell which was new to us and needs a bit of work.  We will come back to it.  We played some old favourites too and enjoyed ourselves though my brain was often not quite in gear and I made a lot of mistakes.

I am happy to have made good use of the cycling weather of the past week and a half because we are threatened with ice and even snow over the next few days although the forecasters are not prepared to put their money where their mouth is and tell us if it is definitely going to snow.  It is going to go sub zero though.  On the plus side, it hasn’t rained since Monday.

A chaffinch posed for flying bird of the day.




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