Posts Tagged ‘Great Burnet’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  There are caves near his house in East Wemyss which have a rich history dating back to the Picts and some archaeologists are currently having a dig around to find out more.


It has been getting steadily warmer here, although nothing like the heatwaves in the USA and mainland Europe and although the morning was grey, it was quite warm enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to put on her wellies and do some heavy clearing of old plants from the dam behind our house.

I was so busy wheeling barrow loads of soggy stuff round to our compost bins that I forgot to take any pictures of the activity, though when were finishing, I did spot a duck swimming in the part of the dam that our neighbour had previously cleared on the other side of the bridge.

duck on dam

When that task was finished, we had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal set about other garden business while I took a few pictures.

The poppies had perked up after being battered by the wind yesterday…

three poppies

…and I was pleased to find a lot of the taller flowers were still upstanding.

colourful border

A hosta flower stuck out its tongue for me…

hosta stamens

…and the St John’s Wort berries positively gleamed.

st johns wort berries

I was going to sit down on our new bench for a rest when I noticed that a verbena had sneaked though from behind the seat.

verbena and bench

The privet is a hive of activity.  Not only is it filling the garden with its scent, it has a continuous hum as you approach it, so full of bees is it.  I managed to spot a few today (and a butterfly out of the corner of my eye).

privet with bees

The individual flowers are very fancy with their rolled back petals and they cover the ground below the branches like snow when they fall.

Above the privet, the walnut tree is full of nuts again this year.  Whether the weather will be fine enough to ripen them is another question, but they are looking good at the moment.


I noted the first crocosmia in the garden…


…and then went in for lunch, having picked masses more sweet peas and some garden peas to add to our summer soup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out, we could just keep the soup pot going for quite a time by adding more fresh veg every day, but we probably won’t.

I noted a couple of greenfinches had come to join the crowds on the feeder…

two greenfinches

..but once again, the chief seed eaters were siskins.

passing siskin

By the time that lunch was over, the wind had calmed down a lot and there was the promise of sun for the rest of the day.  I was almost waylaid by a stage of the Tour de France but as it was a flat stage with all the excitement in the last twenty seconds and still some hours away, I pulled myself together and went off to do some pedalling myself.

I did have a choice, since it was such a pleasant day, of a more hilly scenic ride or a slightly more boring and flat ride.  Luckily I chose the boring flat ride as it turned out that while my legs were very happy to co-operate while the going was easy, as soon as I hit a rise, they started to grumble tremendously.

There were no interesting views so I stopped occasionally if I saw something interesting in the verge…

wild flower with bee

…like this great burnet or sanguisorba officinalis.  There is a lot of grass about and I had a bit of trouble in finding a burnet flower without some grass in front of it.

great burnet and grass

The grass and its many seeds may be part of the reason that my legs were a bit unhelpful as grass pollen doesn’t help my breathing.

Still, as my route was largely flat after the first eleven miles, I plodded on down into England where I saw just about the most silver silver birch that I have ever seen.

silver birch

Still in England, I stopped beside the River Esk in Longtown to have a honey sandwich and admire the handsome bridge over the river.

Longtown bridge

After the recent rain, there was enough water in the river to to tempt a fisherman to put on his waders and have a go.

fisherman at Longtown

Thanks to adopting a very sensible speed, I managed to do fifty miles exactly before sinking into a chair in the kitchen and having a reviving cup of tea.  At a bit over 20°C (70°F), and with the sun beating down, it was as hot as I can cope with these days so I was pleased to find that the house was quite cool.

When I had finished my tea, I went out into the garden in pursuit of butterflies.  I had seen quite a lot of them on my ride, so I thought that there were bound to be some in the garden.

I was disappointed.

The fancy roses are trying to prove that Mrs Tootlepedal is wrong to think of replacing with them with simpler varieties…

rose in sunshine

…though these little red charmers which live very close to the ground would probably survive a cull anyway.

roses on ground

The astilbes were beautifully back lit.

backlit astilbe

I went in to enjoy a tasty evening meal, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, and then rather collapsed for the rest of the evening for some incalculable reason.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It must have been feeling the heat too as it needed a friend to blow strongly just to keep it in the air.

flying siskin blown up



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Today’s guest picture is another from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s trip to Amsterdam.  She was taken by this structure which combines art with lost and found.  If you find something, hang it here and if you have lost something, search for it here.

Amsterdam artwork

The scientific rain gauge wasn’t called into action overnight and the day remained dry and warm.  All that was missing was sunshine.  Still, at 19°C almost from the start, it was an ideal day for lawn mowing and I mowed both lawns before Dropscone appeared (with scones) for coffee.

The butterflies made an early appearance too.

butterflies on buddleia

And the bees were on hand as well.

bee on buddleia

Dropscone had been to two golf competitions and had a family holiday in Islay since I had last seen him so there was plenty to talk about as we sipped and sconed.

When Dropscone went about his business, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green as well to complete the full set of mowing for the day…

…and then I looked about.

I couldn’t fail to notice the dahlia of the day…

bright red dahlia

…but it took a closer look to spot not one but two hoverflies enjoying another dahlia nearby.

two hoverflies on dahlia

I had a nourishing sardine sandwich for my lunch and put up the bird watching camera.

Mrs Tootlepedal reckons that we must have about forty to fifty sparrows in the garden at the moment.  She regards this as an invasion of vegetable destroyers and I regard it as a photo opportunity.

Which I took.

perching sparrow

I try not to neglect the chaffinches which visit us all year round.


And I was pleased to see that the blue tits have become regular visitors over recent days.

blue tit on fatball

After lunch, I got ready to go for a modest cycle ride.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden so before I went, I had a walk round.  I showed her a red admiral butterfly in the buddleia…

red admiral butterfly

…and when she had gone back to work, I noticed a less glamorous winged creature on the Michaelmas daisies.

moth's back

Less glamorous but utterly charming when met face to face.

moth's head

Research tells me that this little charmer may be a brown line bright eye moth.  As always, I am happy to be corrected.

Reluctantly abandoning any further bug hunting, I set off for my pedal.

The two great perils for cyclists at this time of year are hawthorn hedge cutting and the habit of the council of dressing the roads with loose gravel before the winter.  The theory is that passing cars flatten the gravel and then the council sends round a sweeper to clear off the surplus.  Until the cars and the council have dome their jobs,  the loose gravel is both hard work and  dangerous for cyclists so it is best to avoid it.  I had been warned of one section so I carefully chose a different route only to find that part this route had been gravelled too.

This led to to or three miles of very slow and careful cycling and this, combined with a light but very unhelpful wind and extremely uncooperative legs which were not interested in trying hard, led to a a very stately pace for the 31 miles.

The grey weather didn’t lend itself to views so I stopped for this mildly pastoral scene, with added pylon…

pastoral scene

…a look at the great burnet which only seems to grow on one fifty yard section of the whole route…

great burnet

…and an inhabitant of a field full of goats.

goat at Cubbyhill

I was alerted to the goats by some noisy bleating behind a hedge.  I have passed this field before on many occasions and never heard the bleating so I wonder if the goats are newcomers to the area.  There were a lot of them in the field.

My back was a bit sore at times so I paused to rest my bike on this handsome wall topped with variegated holly.

wall and holly

The moss on the wall is growing back after the drought and further on, I saw some promising brambles and a little green fly.

autumn sights

So, although slow, the ride was not entirely without interest.

The garden was empty when I got back but Mrs Tootlepedal soon returned…

Mrs T entering on cycle

…and then Mike Tinker joined us for a cup of tea in the garden in the pleasant warmth of the late afternoon.

My flute pupil Luke turned up as usual on a Monday and we worked on concentration while playing with some  heartening results.

After the wet and windy spell, the last two days have been good for cycling and I am now ahead of my schedule for the year, though not by as much as I would like so I hope to get out for at least another couple of rides before the end of the month.

Still, mustn’t grumble.

The flying bird of the day is one of the sparrow army.

flying sparrow





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Today’s guest picture is the second from my brother’s visit to churches in Hull. I liked this colourful ceiling in Hull’s cathedral.

Hull ceiling

It took me some time to really believe that it wasn’t going to rain today.  I had a bit of Archive business after breakfast to take my mind off the question and then a crossword and a cup of coffee and a walk round the garden.

The dahlias are doing their best but something has been eating them…


…and they are looking a little ragged.  The bees don’t mind though.

bee on dahlia

I found some blue berries on the tropaeolum.  They always look slightly improbable to me, as though someone has been out and painted them.

tropaeolum berries

The buddleias are going to be over before any butterfly arrives to enjoy them.  The bees are having fun meanwhile.

bees on buddleia

The poppies continue to delight me.


In the end, I became convinced about the weather and got my fairly speedy bike out and gave it a good wash and brush up, cleaned and oiled the chain and set off for a ride.

It was still breezy so I kept the distance down to a gentle 34 mile circle with no big hills and a good tailwind to blow me home.  There has been a lot of resurfacing and patching lately and with many less potholes to look out for, it was a relaxing ride.  I stopped for pictures from time to time.

hawkbit and clover

A cheery combination of hawkbit and clover on the Wauchope road

great burnet

Another pleasing combination on the Gair road, great burnet and what I think is willowherb

I think the the pink plant is willowherb but it is not the common sort.  I took a picture of another bunch of it nearby.


The pattern of the plant growth doesn’t look quite right.  It might be something else entirely.

My new mirror has settled in and is working well.

bike mirror

It needs a tweak every now and again after a bumpy piece of road but the old one did too so that is no surprise.

I always enjoy the wild flowers on the banks of the Canonbie by-pass.  I still tend to think of this as a new road as one of my pupils cut the tape when it was officially opened but it has been here for about thirty five years now and has bedded in.

Canonbie by-pass

Not the busiest of main roads. The ‘snow’ on the far bank is a big bunch of daisies.

And of course there were cows.

cows at Irvine House

The ride did perk me up and I was full of energy when I got home so I trimmed a hedge and mowed both lawns and edged them too.  Considering how soggy it has been, they lawns are holding up well  I will give them a last feed soon and hope for a dry autumn to leave them in good condition to survive the winter.

I did some garden tidying up and took a few pictures while I was at it.

There are a lot of large white butterflies about at the moment and one stopped for a while.

white butterfly

Large White butterfly

I discovered a little poppy hiding behind some leaves.  I had not noticed it before….


…and it was obviously attractive to that hovering bee as well.

bee on poppy

I have said it before but I will say it again, it is really encouraging to see bees in the garden when there has been so much worry about bee numbers.

There are poppies all over the garden from the veg patch to the front hedge.  These four are beside the middle lawn.


Beside the front lawn, phlox is the main attraction.


…with added astilbe

I slowed down in the end, picked some beetroot and went inside for tea and toast and a shower.

I have been picking the sweet peas regularly and they brighten up the kitchen windowsill.

sweet peas

This is the fourth batch since Mrs Tootlepedal went away.

I cooked the beetroot and had it with my tea.  Fresh beetroot is so sweet that it is probably taking me well over my sugar limit for the day but I don’t care.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I enjoyed some music making where quite often we were both playing the right notes at the right time.  This had a very pleasing affect on the ear and we were easily able to ignore the moments when things didn’t go quite so harmoniously.

When we finished playing, we joined Mike in front of the telly and watched Mo Farah do what he does so well for one last time in the 10,000m at the World Athletic Championships.

The flying bird of the day is a frog which I disturbed while trying unavailing to get a good picture of a water lily.



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Today’s ‘London Trip’ photograph is a peek into the Pullman coach which featured in yesterday’s post.

Pullman coach

Owing to a miscalculation there are far too many pictures in today’s post but having processed them all, I am too lazy to decide which ones to cut out so they are all here.

For the busy reader here is a synopsis of the day so that reading the rest of the post can be skipped.  Got up, mowed some grass, went for a pedal, went to bed.  Just another day.

For the long suffering and patient reader, here is the fuller version.

It was a dry and pleasantly warm day but the cloud cover never relented until late evening when we had a glimpse of sunshine.

As usual, the first business of the day was a poppy check.

opium poppies


Shirley poppies

Very encouraging


Who needs sunshine!

Other quieter flowers are available.

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta

Queen of Denmark, two clematis and a hosta. I like the pyramid of clematis in the top right frame

Then I had to run an errand for Mrs Tootlepedal and thin out some radishes before any further action could occur but I managed both of these tasks and mowed the drying green and the green house grass and hung out a load of washing.

I needed a bit of sustenance after all that so I had a lettuce and marmite sandwich and I am beginning to realise that too much of my life has been wasted in not eating lettuce and marmite sandwiches.  Of course it helps that Mrs Tootlepedal has provided an endless supply of fresh lettuces.

Coffee and a crossword merged into a healthy lunch of sardines, new potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce and by this time I had eaten so much that a bike ride was essential.

I checked on the birds in the garden first….

sparrows eating peas

This is what drives Mrs Tootlepedal to despair.

blackbird family

After a stand off, a blackbird parent and child meet in the middle for a snack

Then I set off for a gentle, flat ride.  Most unusually, there was hardly a breath of wind so with the sun behind the clouds, it was a prefect day for cycling if not for landscape views.

I was in no hurry and there were plenty of flowers to keep me happy.

orchids and willowherb

The last two orchids along the Wauchope road and a nicely decorated wall up Callister

I took the road to Gair.  This is always a treasure trove of wild flowers.  Today there was a lot of ragwort all along the road.  I stopped because I was hoping to see a cinnabar moth caterpillar which likes ragwort a lot but I had to settle for this…


…less colourful visitor.  I checked quite a few ragwort out with no luck.

I stopped further along to see how many flowers I could see within a few yards of my bicycle.

Wild flowers

wild flowers

The raspberry was delicious.  I don’t know what the pink furry flower is but it turns into a doleful looking owl as it goes over.

The butterfly was very annoying. Why my camera wouldn’t focus on it was a mystery.  Still the flower that it was settled on was worth a shot in its own right.

wild flower

On the other side of the road, a bunch of thistles were looking good, some in full flower….


…and some, like the writer of this piece, gone to seed.


The most interesting flower than I saw on the Gair road was the great burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, which grows here every year.  When you first spot it, it looks like the dull head of a plantain but when you get closer it shows up as being a dark red colour and as is so often the case, a closer looks pays dividends.

Sanguisorba officinalis

I cycled on until I came to the Old A74, passing this hedge dripping with honeysuckle…..


…on my way.

When I got to Gretna, I saw a most unusual sight.  As you can see from the photo, it was so still that the windmills were not going round at all.

Gretna Windmills

Not contributing to the grid today.

I was so excited at taking this rare picture that I stepped back and stood on the mirror on my bike and broke it.   I can’t turn my head round while cycling without falling off my bike and  I hadn’t realised just how much I depend upon the use of a mirror to cycle safely.

I pedalled bravely on though, passing pretty but less welcome flowers in the verge.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam, an invasive pest.

As I was coming towards the border near Englishtown, I heard a great chattering and saw that the starlings have begun to gather.


I hope that we get a good murmuration this winter.

I saw a lot of this peeping out of hedges on my trip.

blue vetch

Cow or blue vetch

…but my camera is reluctant to let me get a close up of it so this group shot will have to do.

I couldn’t miss the daises on the Canonbie bypass.

daisies on the by pass

I met my neighbour Ken out on his bike near Canonbie and we cycled along together for a while.  When we came to a little hill, I had to let him go on as he is a much quicker cyclist than I am.  Uphill is my downfall as a cyclist.

When I got home, I walked round the garden and found that the early potato haulms were looking very sad and collapsed so I thought it best to dig the last six plants up.  They hadn’t fallen on stony ground!

early potatoes

I left them to dry for an hour (they were pretty dry when I dug them out) and then boxed them up.  My diet will have a lot  of potatoes in it over the next few weeks.

I picked and ate raw some of the peas which the sparrows hadn’t got at and then had a last walk round the garden.

There is no shortage of colour.


A Crocosmia reaches the end of the line.


A Fuchsia puts its dancing shoes on


Shy Nasturtium


Phlox contrast

The last flower of the day is a nicotiana…


…and it is right that is should be last as it only produces its delightful smell in the cool of the evening.

It was a delight to stand in the garden after my tea, with the scent of the nicotiana, the colour of the flowers all around and not a breath of wind.  I made the most of it as the forecast for the next few days is not very promising.

The non flying bird of the day, perhaps because it seems to have lost its tail a bit, is a very doleful sparrow indeed.

doleful sparrow


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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin, who has been on holiday in the north east where he came across Donald Trump’s new golf course.  He says it looks very good and thinks that Donald should maybe concentrate on golf courses more and give up thoughts of ruling the world.

Trump course MenieI had a gentle day day today, anxious not to upset my legs after they rebelled during Wednesday’s pedal.  I ate a leisurely breakfast, nodded to a siskin outside the window…..

siskin….spent quite a long time cleaning my chain and finally got out on the fairly speedy bike.

It was another dry day but cloudy and a bit chillier than lately.  The wind wasn’t strong but it was behind me as I set out so I enjoyed the first 23 miles of my trip.  The last 15 miles, going back home up the hill and into the wind were cautious as apart from looking after my legs, I hadn’t got enough food with me for a major effort.  I stopped a few times as I went round to look at wild flowers….

poppies  and Burnet

Wild poppies near Corries Mill and Great Burnet near Gair

…and towers…..

Robgill Tower

Robgill Tower looming over the Kirtle water

….a village hall….

Stormont Hall

The strangely named Stormont Hall at Gretna Green

…and signs of autumn in the hedges.

Near Miltown of sarkI was hoping that the cloud would thin out and the sun would shine but it did just the opposite.  It was still a pleasant day for a cycle ride though and even though my average speed was modest, I enjoyed myself.  My legs continued to grumble but mostly under their breath.

When I got back, I walked round the garden.

colourful corner

Although the phlox is going over, this is still a colourful corner.  Astrantia, daisies, phlox.

The nasturtium on the front wall of the house has now grown above the gate.


The right hand picture shows a heavily treated image of the inside of the one of the flowers on the left.

I went in to have a late lunch and struggle with the crossword and when I looked up, the sun had come out and I went out too.  The garden was buzzing with insects so I looked at them.  There were  butterflies, penny plain….

white butterfly…and tuppence coloured.

peacock butterflyThere standard hoverflies….

hoverfly…and a great selection of small flies, which all look the same until you peer really closely at them.

astrantia with flyMichaelmas daisy with flysedum with flysedum with flysedum with flyThose last three on the sedum may all be the same sort.  It is hard to tell.

I had hoped to take a final picture of the pair of poppies but one had given up so I took a close up of another one for today’s poppy parade.

poppyThe Lilian Austin rose is having a final fling in the better weather and I was able to find three flowers showing the progression from new to old at the same time.

Lilian Austin rose

It doesn’t take long for the flowers to change

When I went inside again, I noticed that the goldfinch and some of the young had returned.

goldfinchI was rather full of minor aches and pains so I forwent a walk and retired for a good, long soak in a bath in an attempt to ease things off.  I rose out of it in time to make an omelette for my tea and welcome Mike and Alison round for their customary Friday night visit. In the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal (who is visiting her mother), Mike watched the first game of the Rugby World Cup while Alison and I applied some more polish to the Telemann Partita that we are practising.  It is a lovely set of short pieces and fully repays a little work.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.


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