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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon who noticed these interesting additions to a pylon when he was out and about near Canonbie. They are going to renew the cables.

We had another beautiful day here today. As this was the first day of summer, there is a slight worry that summer can only go downhill from here on. It will be hard to get a better day day than this.

We had our morning street coffee off the street today, tucked round the corner beside the dam where two of our number could sit in the shade of Margaret’s shed, while Liz and and I sat in the sun holding umbrellas to provide our own personal shade. Passers by, used to finding us in the street, were amazed to find us on the grass looking for all the world like an impressionist painting by Monet.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal did some work in the garden while I wandered about looking for new flowers. There were new flowers to be found.

The wiegela has started flowering.

A red geum has come to join the geum flock.

A new lupin is probably my favourite lupin now it has come out.

Both the red and white astrantias are not at their peak yet but full of promise.

And the stars of the show today are the silver lined irises.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the progress of the vegetable garden and I was able to snip some leaves from her cut and come again lettuce patch to have in a lettuce and marmite sandwich for my lunch.

After lunch, I looked at the feeder through an open window and saw a goldfinch there…

..and in the distance, I could see Mrs Tootlepedal putting the new bench to the very use it was designed for on a sunny afternoon.

it seemed to be a couple of degrees cooler than it had been yesterday, so I decided to mark the start of the summer months with a cycle ride. Wanting to avoid the Wauchope road where the tar was melting last time that I went that way, I headed south out of. Instead of crossing the river at Skippers Bridge, I kept on going down the east bank of the river and then crossed the Tarras and went through Claygate towards the Hollows.

This route is quite hilly and I was concentrating so hard on pedalling sensibly and not getting too hot that I forgot to take any pictures until I got to the shade of the old road at the Hollows.

I headed down to Canonbie, hoping to see the pylon devices that Simon had photographed but instead of the devices themselves, I saw workmen on another pylon getting ready to install them.

I heard a man on a news programme recently complaining that young barristers could only expect to earn as much as an electrician but I think that these super electricians deserve every penny that they get.

Away to my left, Canonbie Church looked at its best.

I pedalled on south and joined the main road for a mile or two at the end of the Canonbie by-pass. The traffic was still light and nowhere near back to pre-lockdown levels.

After a very unpromising winter, farmers must have feared the worst, but things have improved a lot recently as this field of waving barley near Longtown shows.

I left the main road here and turned up towards Milltown of Sark, crossing the border back into Scotland on my way. The last tree in England is also the last to get its leaves.

I looked back at the tree after I had passed it and you can see from the direction that the Gretna turbines are pointing that the wind was helping me up the hill here. I was grateful for the help but having the wind behind me and not blowing in my face meant that it was hot work for a mile or two.

Readers may have noticed how completely weed free the field of barley that I passed earlier was. I worry that this is part of the reason for the drastic drop in the number of insects about, so I was happy to see an uncultivated field full of buttercups further along my journey.

The wind continued to be helpful all the way home, and I arrived back after 26 enjoyable miles in perfect time to have a shower, a cup of tea (and a ginger biscuit or two) and join in the evening Zoom meeting with Mrs Tootlepedal and my siblings.

After the meeting, I watched the birds for a bit. Mrs Tootlepdal’s fake tree may not have any leaves but it is still a useful spot for birds waiting for a perch at the feeder to have rest.

We needed to have a queuing system as the feeder was busy.

I had time for another wander round the garden before scrambled eggs for tea and found another new flower out. This is the first of many foxgloves to come.

And I feel a bit guilty that I usually show the garage clematis en masse when the individual flowers are very pretty in themselves.

But if the silver lined irises were the morning stars, the evening star was Lilian Austin, a really lovely English rose.

The scrambled eggs (on toast) brought the first day of summer to a satisfactory close. I hope that there are many more like it as far as the weather goes, but mixed with overnight rain from time to time of course. We need rain badly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent Venetia. She was visited by a greater spotted woodpecker the other day.

We had a pleasantly sunny morning here, with enough wind to ensure that it didn’t get too hot for the morning street coffee meeting. We were greatly entertained as we sipped and chatted by a flying display from a small flight of swifts. They whistled past us great speeds.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious work in the garden while I mowed the front lawn and then wandered about looking at things.

That final tulip is reluctant go, laughing at frost, rain and high winds and it has been joined by our first white rose, ever more geraniums and Jacob’s Ladders…

…and things that come in bulk.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to catch visitors to the alliums…

….and was pleased to see the some of the Solomon’s Seal flowers have finally come out properly…

…before I started to see double…

…twice.

I was privileged to watch our resident blackbird doing its keep fit routine…

…before going in to heat up some soup and make bacon sandwiches for our lunch.

After lunch, I put some serious consideration into going out for a cycle ride, even going so far as to head upstairs to put on my cycling gear. When I got upstairs though and looked out of the window, all I could see were leaves thrashing about on trees and bushes as they were pumelled by a 25 mph wind.

I put on my walking socks instead and went for a walk.

Recently I did the first half of a walk from the Langholm Walks booklet but came back by road instead of cross country, so I thought that I would do the second cross country half of the walk (in the wrong direction) today and once more come back by road.

I set off towards Becks Farm, passing some fine clover….

…a recent addition to our road side verges.

The view as I got near the farm was good…

…and I was soon high enough up to get a view back over the town towards Whita Hill.

Once past the farmhouse, I followed a good track between fields before coming out onto open ground. I had to alter my projected route a little to avoid cattle grazing on the hill and soon found myself in tussocky country surrounded by bog cotton…

…of which there was plenty around.

Luckily, in spite of the recent rain, the ground is still very dry and I was able to bound over tussock, moss and small streams without coming to harm. When I say bound, I might be exaggerating slightly, but it sounds better than totter, stagger and stumble.

I disturbed a deer which really did bound away in front of me but stopped for a look back…

…before disappearing over the skyline.

Although it seemed quite a long way as I was crossing the rough ground into the brisk breeze, it didn’t actually take me too long to meet the Glencorf Burn…

…and soon afterwards to find myself at Wauchope Schoolhouse, ready to walk back down the road to Langholm. I paused on the bridge across the Wauchope Water to watch an oyster catcher on the rocks.

The bird had plenty of rocks to choose from as there was hardly any water in the river and when I stopped a little further on to look at one of my favourite cascades, it was a mere trickle running sideways down a channel in the rocks….

….rather than leaping over them as it was when I took this picture in June two years ago.

The walk down the road with the strong wind now at my back, was most enjoyable, with hardly a car passing me as I strolled along looking at wild flowers in the verges…

…admiring trees clinging to the hillside…

…and noticing that the conifers also seemed to have suffered from the recent frost.

The afternoon had been cloudy and when the sun came out just as I was near the end of my walk, I was grateful for the clouds as I might have been too warm if the sun had shone on me all the way round the nearly seven miles.

I got home in time to make a cup of tea and a marmalade sandwich before enjoying the regular Zoom chat with my brother and sisters in company with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden so I hadn’t been able to watch the birds at the feeder before my walk, so I had a quick look after our evening meal. I found a goldfinch with a greenfinch who was carelessly dropping seed.

My walk had been a good substitute for a cycle ride. All the same, I am hoping that the forecast of a calmer day tomorrow turns out to be true as I haven’t been out for a ride for several days because of strong winds.

The flying bird of the day is one of the elusive swifts from our morning coffee. They were either too quick or too high for me and my camera and this was the best that I could do. They are elegant fliers.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon. He has been taking walks round Canonbie during the lockdown and wonders why anyone might prefer city life to scenes like these.

It was not a promising morning today here in any way, being windy and wet from the start. I did pop out into the garden when the rain was very light and have a look around. Mrs Tootlepedal has a choisya which she doesn’t think is looking well but it is producing flowers to join the ranunculus…

…and a Rodgersia which is is looking healthy. Just to prove me wrong, the clematis by the front door has produced more flowers but it is hiding them behind its leaves to annoy.

The original flower is going over in style.

I didn’t linger long and was soon back inside wasting time on trivial but time consuming activities. Once again, we felt grateful that the weather has been fine for most of our lockdown as two months of wet and windy weather would have been very hard to bear.

I did spend some time trying out Google Meet with my sister Susan but it didn’t work satisfactorily so we will probably stick to Zoom for our regular meetings.

When I stopped doing the trivial things, the birds were there to keep me entertained.

The feeder was busy all day and new birds were constantly arriving to the disapproval of the incumbents…

…and this led to some collisions and cantankerousness.

I think that my current favourites among the visitors are the redpolls in their spring get ups.

We have many young sparrows in the garden but I haven’t seen many young blackbirds. I wondered if this was a teenager. It looked as though it wouldn’t mind being fed but no one came.

We had planned to go for a walk after lunch but the rain persisted and we didn’t start until after three o’clock in the end. We went out with some trepidation as there was still a light drizzle and the wind was boisterous to say the least.

A trail of leaves littering the track up to the Stubholm told the story of how strong the wind has been.

We met some friends at the Stubholm and they told us that they had abandoned their intention to walk up the Warbla Track because of the strong wind and advised us to keep to low level sheltered spots.

We were headed down to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge so we were able to follow their advice without changing our plan. We passed this fine tree on our way.

We crossed the bridge and walked along the road beside the river as far as the track that leads up Jenny Noble’s Gill. A movement ahead caught our eye and we spotted a grey squirrel, and it froze for a moment as it climbed a tree.

Lovers of red squirrels have been trying to keep grey squirrels at bay for some years but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle as I see more and more greys all the time.

The walk up the gill among the birch trees was lovely….

…and the seed heads of the grasses were whispering to each other as we passed.

The track back to the town was as delightful as ever, even on a dull grey day….

…but it didn’t seem as windy as it was when we set out so we left the track and ventured out of the woods onto the open hill…

…and after passing through some bluebells, we soon enjoyed good views over the valley and town below us.

The church stands out now that it has been released from the shadows of the trees.

The golf course is waiting for the arrival of keen golfers like Dropscone as soon as the traps are opened in a day or two.

Dropscone is looking forward to it in spite of his advanced age. (He advanced another year yesterday and is now officially older than me for the next six months.)

As well as the views, there were other things to look at as we went along.

We saw wild strawberries, small cow wheat (not a thing that we have seen before), a patch of white flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal told me “is that weed which grows on your lawn”, and a bunch of smiling buttercups.

An old leafless tree caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

We had had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get above the golf course and we were happy to have reached a point as we passed that tree when it was all downhill on the way home.

We walked past Whita Well and pressed on until we reached the Newcastleton Road. This let us descend gently back to river level and we walked back to Langholm along the main road from Whitshiels.

I noted some of the points of interest that we saw on our way: exuberant crosswort, fresh green hazel leaves, herb Robert and a real novelty these day, an actual puddle.

As we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge and home, the sun actually came out…

…and just as promptly, it went in again and we had to increase out pace as a light rain encouraged us to get a move on.

It had been a strenuous five mile walk and never has a cup of tea and a slice of cake been more welcome.

That finished the day off for us as we had not an ounce of energy left for anything else except a small plate of rhubarb and custard as a late supper.

The flying bird of the day is one of the young sparrows who frequent the garden at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today”s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw deer on one of his walks with his dogs.  The deer saw him but didn’t run away at once.

Tony's deer

To say that today was another uneventful day would be rather overstating the excitement.  The recent frost has put a damper on the pleasure of walking round the garden in quite a big way, and as it was another grey morning, there was not a lot of incentive to get up and go.

In the end, I managed to finish the crossword and get up in time for a walk round the garden before coffee.  The only photograph that I took was of these ill matched Icelandic poppies, and I couldn’t get a very good shot of them as they were blowing about in the breeze.

ill matched poppies

I don’t know why some of the orange poppies have white tips this year.

After coffee, I shredded more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s uprooted box bushes and then went inside.

I watched the birds through the window for a moment or two.

A greenfinch felt that I was intruding on its privacy.

sad greenfing

A sparrow watched while another greenfinch and a chaffinch arrived simultaneously, luckily heading for different perches.

greenfinch and chaffinch arriving together

And there was room for two sparrows too.

sparrow joining sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that I might like to try a recipe for a boiled cake.  This sounded very strange to me but on investigation it turned out that only some of the ingredients were boiled and that the cake was actually baked in a standard way, so I gave it a go.

It tuned out that it makes a small cake and the process was quite simple (which is probably why Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it).  You take butter, syrup, sugar and water, melt them together and add currants and sultanas and then boil this mixture very gently for a few minutes.  This is cooled and then added to flour and spices with a beaten egg and the whole thing is poured into a cake tin and baked.

Some time later, it comes out like this:

boiled cake

While it was baking, I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we had time to eat the soup before the cake came out of the oven.

After lunch, I had another walk round the garden and found a rhododendron flower which looks as though it might have survived the frost.

surviving rhododendron bud

The tree peony and the standard peonies in the flower beds are in a race to see which comes fully out first and at the moment, the tree peony is the slight favourite.

tree peony almost out

The alliums, unaffected by the frost, are going global.

global allium

In the absence of azaleas, I am probably going to spend more time looking at Welsh poppies than usual.  They have acquired some pinkish tinges this year, another mystery but quite pretty.

Sometimes the tinge is in the middle…

welsh poppy red middle

…sometimes in a line across the petals…

welsh poppy red stripe

…and sometimes round the edge.

welsh poppy red edge

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is damage of some sort.

She has completed her hedge cut back and you can see the more open view of the house that this provides.

hedge clipped

I will be interested to see how the planting changes to reflect the new vista.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden caused by baby sparrows demanding to be fed by their long suffering parents and this blackbird in the plum tree was joining in with gusto.

hopeful blackbird

It looks a little old to be needing to be fed but it wasn’t getting any attention and that didn’t suit it at all.

A starling had been doing some successful foraging.starling with food

I went in to change into my cycling gear and then went off for a short cycle ride.  Mrs Tootlepedal had looked at the clouds and brought the washing in ‘just in case’, but the forecast hadn’t got any rain in it so I set off with confidence of a dry trip round Canonbie.

My confidence was well founded and with the wind coming from a generally helpful direction, I enjoyed my ride and went a bit more quickly than recent efforts.

After taking far too many pictures in recent days, I resolved not to take too many today and was reasonably successful.  The theme of the ride was hedges and wild flowers.

The cow parsley is coming on well along the Tarcoon road…

cow parsely tarcoon

…and the tree over the hedge is now fully clothed.

tree tarcoon

A little further on, I was happy to find a beech hedge in very good condition.  My friend Nancy had sent me pictures yesterday of a beech hedge badly affected by the frost but this one was untouched.

beech hedge tarcoon

I stopped at Canonbie Bridge for a conversation with Simon, a Camera Club member who was out for a walk.  His normal work involves sporting events and international travel so he currently stacking shelves for supermarkets instead.   He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his real job.

When I got nearer Langholm, I found that the Pyrenean Valerian is beginning to line the roadsides.

pyrenean valerian clump

The boiled cake went down very well with a cup of tea on my return and the normal sibling Zoom and an excellent pasta dish for our evening meal rounded off another routine day of lockdown.

Looking at the forecast, I see that things are going to warm up a bit and there may even be a bit of rain in the next day or two but the promise of very high temperatures next week seems to have faded away, for which I am grateful as I don’t like it when it gets too warm.

We will believe in the rain when we feel it actually falling on our heads.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder.  It avoided the pole.

flying greenfinch

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