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Posts Tagged ‘hawthorn’

Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother Andrew’s Heart Walking Group’s outings.  They found themselves near Robin Hood’s Stride, a spectacular tor of gritstone rocks perched on a ridge in the Peak District.  My brother thought that he might nip up to the top of it but was thwarted by its steepness and waved at the camera as he came down.  He didn’t tell me who took the picture.

Robin Hood's Stride

I started the day with a visit to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal.   I bought fish, meat and honey but was thwarted in my desire to buy cheese as the cheese man was not present.  I fear he may have deserted us.  This is a tragedy as a good cheese is a hard to find locally.

Mrs Tootlepedal left me to do the purchasing and set up a table where she and several members of her embroiderers’ group sat and stitched and chatted to shoppers for several hours.

While they were busy, I mowed the front and middle lawns and, though I say it myself, I am quite pleased with the state of the middle lawn after some good weather and a lot of mowing.

mown middle lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased by the border on the right hand side of the lawn so we are two happy people when we take in this view of the garden.

The stachys is out and as furry as ever.

stachys

And a large ornamental clover is peeping out from underneath the big rose bush.

big clover

Among the new arrivals are thousands of flowers on a variegated euonymous.

euonymous

Meanwhile new poppies keep popping up…

four poppies

…and day lilies appear every day.

two day lilies

Sometimes we have too much of a good thing and the luxuriant tropaeolum is going to make it very hard to clip the yew underneath…

tropaeolum flush

…and a profusion of plums is threatening to break branches on the plum tree.  We have already thinned out many more than a hundred plums but there are still big bunches hanging on high branches which we cannot reach.

too many plums

Roses are thriving and today I saw that lurking in the shade of other plants, the very first Special Grandma is just about to come out….

special grandma

…while up above, the Rosa Complicata which has been magnificent this year is reaching the end of its run.

roses going over

Other roses are still at their peak.  The moss roses have loved the weather this year…

moss rose

…and even though Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is not doing well where it is, Frau Dagmar Hastrup keeps trying to prove her wrong.

frau dagmar hastrup

And the salvia sclarea Turkestanica continues to astound me every day.  I am going to have to try to stop taking endless pictures of it but in the meantime, I took another today.  I thought that this one looked like a baroque fountain in an Italian city.

salvia

I had planned an adventurous cycle ride but mowing the lawns and taking garden pictures left me feeling a little tired so I dawdled over a very tricky prize crossword and waited until Mrs Tootlepedal came home from her stitching fest to have lunch with her.

Then I got organised and went off for a rather dull, flat pedal down the main roads to Newtown on Hadrians Wall and back.  The advantage of this ride is that it has generally good road surfaces and no significant hills, except for a very short one as you leave Langholm.

This means that on a day like today, when there is not much wind, I can just put my nose to the wheel and pedal along with a very steady rhythm, not looking out for views and wild flowers as I go.

I still stopped after every ten miles to stretch my legs as my joints are not at their best and this gave me the chance to note how low the river Esk was at Longtown where there were more rocks than river.

dig

I stopped again after twenty miles when I got to my favourite bench at Newtown on Hadrian’s Wall.

To my horror, there were people sitting on it.  However it turned out that they were two very affable Americans, now resident in Panama, who were ‘walking the wall’ and they kindly squashed up and made room for me to sit down too.

dav

They had taken the wise step of summoning a taxi to take them to their overnight stop in Brampton which was off their direct route as they didn’t fancy being harassed by traffic on the narrow road down to the town.

When their taxi came, I set off for home. I stopped again at the thirty mile mark and had a look at this peaceful stretch of the Esk just above Longtown.

dig

I noted from a nearby hedge, that it looks as though we should be in for a good display of haws shortly.

dav

I made an unscheduled stop at the top of the little hill before Langholm partly to record the lushness of the wild flowers beside this section of the road…

 

sdr

…and partly to have a breather as I had pedalled as hard as I could to get up the hill.

As an exercise in steady pedalling, the ride was very successful and I was at an average of 15 mph at each of my ten mile stops, a much faster speed than I usually manage these days and I actually managed the return journey a whisker faster than the outward leg.

Luckily, Mrs Tootlepedal was watching a catch up recording of the first day of the Tour de France when I got home so that gave me a very good excuse to sit down quietly and not do anything energetic. These boys were doing 50 mph as they came towards the finish which put my modest efforts into perspective.

I took several quite brilliant pictures of flying birds today but unhappily they were all totally out of focus when I looked at the results so a static blue tit going nuts is the best that I can do for a flying bird of the day.

blue tit going nuts

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on a break in Northumberland, where he took this picture of a bridge over the River Breamish.

River Breamish near Ingram village

It was a grey and faintly drizzly day here today so it was good to have a spot of indoor brightness supplied by the  charming flowers that Sue had brought when she came for coffee on Monday.

sue's flowers

Sandy came for coffee today.  He is suffering from sore feet too and we have been unable to go for a walk for several weeks so it was good to see him and catch up with his news.

When he left, I checked to see what the birds were up to and found a brisk demand for fat balls among the sparrows.

fat ball feeder with sparrows

The sparrows are eating anything they can get their beaks on at the moment and….

four sparrows

…they are monopolising the feeder for a good part of the day.

four sparrows (2)

I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal dispose of some of the surplus soil which we had removed from the lawn when we did the returfing. It was amazingly dry and dusty so we mixed it with some composted shreddings and Mrs Tootlepedal spread it on the front beds.

I did some shifting and sieving of the compost in Bin C and then had a wander around to admire the azaleas.  Some of them have suffered badly because of the long cool spell and the lack of rain and have not been able to develop their buds into flowers but others have put on a fine show.

orange azaleared azalea

And the alliums don’t seem to have been affected by the lack of rain at all.

four alliums

We have had an inch of rain recently but it has only been enough to dampen the top layer of the soil in the flower beds and if Mrs Tootlepedal digs down to plant out something new, it is still dry as dust below.  Looking at the forecast though, we may be about to get a persistent spell of light rain over the next few days.  Unhappily, this may turn out to be light enough to be annoying without being useful.

All the same, new flowers are appearing and the Scotch rose is developing well…

scotch rose

…and a little patch of cornflowers appeared as if by magic.  One minute it wasn’t there and the next minute, it was fully formed.

cornflower

The sparrows were interrupted on the feeder by the arrival of a starling…

starling on feeder

…which I noticed as I was making some lentil soup for our lunch.

In spite of a forecast of a 60% chance of a long spell of light rain in the faternoon, I managed to get onto my cycling gear and get out for a pedal while it was dry.

The hillsides are bright with hawthorn blossom on every side.

hawthorn on hill

I passed one of the busiest trees that you will ever see.  It had growth bursting out of every twig.  I think that it is a Norway Spruce.

busy spruce tree

The forecast was looking likely to be ominously correct as a drizzle started up before I had gone far.  I pedalled on though and was cheered up by the sight of some late bluebells on a bank bedside the road.

late bluebells

There were plenty of wild flowers to look at too…

yellow wild flowers

…and  hawthorns and lambs made the day seem nicer than it was.

hawthorn and lambs

I had a good waterproof jacket on and the drizzle was very light so I pressed on to the top of Callister in the hope of seeing some developments in the wind farm that is being built there.  There were sounds of working but nothing to see yet.

The drizzle didn’t last very long, and it turned out to be a good day for cycling with a light wind, so when I came back down the hill into Langholm, I decided to go through the town and out again to the south to see if the new road at the Tarras landslip was open for cyclists yet.

It was.

A lot of work has gone onto making the steep banking below the road stable…

landslip repaired tarras

..and the road itself was a pleasure to cycle down with a beautifully smooth new surface.

new road tarras

I was intending just to visit the road and then turn back for home but having swooshed down the new road and got to the bottom of the hill and crossed the bridge over the Tarras Water, it seemed a pity not to go on, so I cycled along a road that I haven’t used for three years or more.

old road tarras

This took me down the east side of the River Esk and having passed a splendid broom bush…

broom

…I crossed the river by the Hollows Bridge and returned to Langholm up the west bank.

The bus stop at the Hollows, is a garden in itself.

bus stop hollows

The rain stayed away and I got home warm and dry after a very enjoyable 25 miles.

As it was dry, Mrs Tootlepedal and I then took the opportunity to go and collect some more woodchips for her vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t have time to spread them on the paths as it was now time to cook our evening meal.  I left this task in the capable hands of Mrs Tootlepedal and went and had a little sit down and rest.

My cycle mileage for the month has been very poor and I have only managed half the miles that I had originally planned to do by this time of the year, so I am hoping that June brings some very cycling friendly weather and I can make some progress.  I am still quite optimistic that the worst has passed as far as my feet are concerned although I haven’t tried a good walk yet.  Time will tell.

The flying bird of the day is one of our flock of sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On a recent tour, he stopped at Tewkesbury and took a picture of the bridge there.

bridge

Yesterday’s heavy work on the lawn was an experiment in ‘kill or cure’ and when I woke up this morning, I was very happy to find that the balance had tipped firmly down on the ‘cure’ side of things.  For the first time for ages, my feet weren’t painfully sore.  I didn’t let my feet go to my head though and took things pretty gently through the day.

I did go out into the garden and look at the flowers.  I liked a vetch which has come up of its own accord.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to leave it where it is as it is popular with bees.

vetch

New white flowers have appeared: Mrs Tootlepedal describes the one on the left as an educated onion and the one on the right is the first of the philadelphus.

four flowers

The Dutchman’s breeks and the Welsh poppies are adding an international air of gaiety to the garden…

…and the light was just right to take a picture of the yellow ranunculus.

yellow ranunculus

I noticed that the plain fuchsia by the back gate is producing flowers but it doesn’t look very well so there may not be the usual waterfall of blossom this year.

old fuchsia

As my back was in such good order, I did some shifting and sifting of compost.  I started to turn Bin C into Bin D but the material had rotted down so well that I was able to sieve a lot of it and just put the remains in Bin D.   I have been trying to layer the compost in Bin A more carefully lately, green and woody in turn, so perhaps this is a reward down the line for good behaviour.

I went in for coffee and watched the birds.  Sparrows were the flavour of the day but redpolls are frequent visitors too.  The goldfinches have almost entirely found a better place to feed.

sparrows and redpoll

The old sunflower stalk continues to provide a useful perch…

sparrow on stalk

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is growing a new sunflower nearby for next year.

We had other visitors.  There were quite a few jackdaws on the peanuts during the day and Mrs Tootlepedal witnessed some angry scenes among them.  I saw this one daring anyone to come and have a go if they are tough enough.

jackdaw going nuts

There are starlings nesting in a neighbour’s tree and one came to the seed feeder today.

starling feeling seedy

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help in the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I went for a cycle ride.  I had intended to try for some long, slow distance today but the forecast was very uncertain and there had been spots of rain on and off through the morning so I settled for some short, slow distance instead and went round my familiar 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

It wasn’t hard to notice that the hawthorn had come out while we were on holiday.

 

hawthord on hill

And there were wild flowers all the way round.

verhe wild flowers

I took a closer look at the bird’s foot trefoil, a flower that I like a lot, and discovered a tiny creature among the petals.

birdsfoot trefoil

The back roads were lined with cow parsley and on this section it had a hem of buttercups as well.

cow parsley and buttercups

There was a lot of wild geranium to be seen.

wild geranium

I stopped to get a picture of the hawthorns beside the Hollows Tower and found that the managers have erected two flag poles beside the tower.

hollws tower and hawthorn

I was pleased that I had decided on a short ride because there were some very threatening showers further down the road and it rained a bit when I got back.

Back in the garden I found that a Rozeraie de L’hay had managed to survive yesterday’s rain showers.

rose in garden

I was struck by this single aquilegia which had grown through one of the golden box balls.  It looked odd.

aquilegia on box ball

When I had walked round the garden, I went in for  a cup of tea and a shower and then settled down to practice some of the songs for our Carlisle choir concert.

In the evening, our recorder group met for a play and for a change the group assembled at Wauchope Cottage which was very convenient for me.  Because the sun had come out again by the time that they arrived, we had a walk round the garden before we started playing.  We played Handel, Bach, Mozart, Byrd, Purcell, Morley and Scheidt so we had good material to work with.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was heading back towards the feeders but as it already had a mouthful of seed, I am not sure why it was bothering.

flying siskin

Footnote:  I was speaking to our daughter Annie on the phone today and she put in a  request for some more general pictures of the garden to put my flower pictures in context.  I am always anxious to please so I found a sunny moment late in the afternoon and took a random set of pictures of various borders.  In spite of the many colourful flower pictures which appear on the blog, the predominant colour in the garden is green.

 

garden bed 1garden bed 2garden bed 3garden bed 4garden bed 5garden bed 6garden bed 7garden bed 8garden bed 9garden bed 10

And of all the views, this one, taken from our new bench as the sun goes behind the walnut tree, is my favourite.

.garden bed 11

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s father, Alan.  He has been forced to go to Dubrovnik on work related business and this is the view from his hotel window.  Poor chap.

Dubrovnik

I realised that I had inexcusably omitted a great moment from yesterday’s activities in my daily account so here it is now – a new world record of fourteen castles being stamped upon being established by Matilda, mighty in battle, the castle stamper extraordinaire.

Contemplating the task…

dav

…and leaving the field in triumph.

Today was another sunny and windy day and while Al and Clare took the train back to Edinburgh to vote in the European elections and Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda to the Seabird Centre to ;earn abut birds amd have fun, I hired a bike again and rode a gentle fifteen miles through the East Lothian countryside, avoiding the wind as much as I could.

I passed the impressive doocot at Dirleton castle…

Doocot Dirleton

…and noted the flowers along the wall beside the castle grounds.

flowwers Dirleton

Unlike our pastoral countryside, the agricultural business here is growing things.  I stopped to record a colourful field of rape (canola)….

rape NB

…while across the road, a potato field stretched into the distance…

potato field NB

…though I did come across one paddock with horses in it.

horses NB

There were solid gateposts to be seen…

stone gate posts NB

…and hawthorn bushes were in flower all along my route.

hawthorn NB

I got home safely and Al and Clare arrived from Edinburgh almost at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda got back from the Seabird Centre so we are able to have a family lunch together.

After lunch, we drove a few miles up the road to visit Archerfield House….

Archerfield House and the Law

…..with its walled garden, its geese and goslings…

goslings Archerfield

…its wild flowers…

wild flowers Archerfield

…its wood full of fairy houses…

fairy houses Archerfield

…and cleverly made animals…

animals Archerfield

…and some real animals too.

deer Archerfield

The fairy wood walk  in dappled sunshine and sheltered from the wind was a treat for old and young alike….

Walking in the wood Archerfield

…and I particularly liked the glimpses of mature pines on the neighbouring golf course.

gold fcourse Archerfield

There were works of art in the woods….

Mrs T at Archerfield

…and artists at work too…

artist at Archerfield

…working with elegant models.

fairy at Archerfield

It was too breezy to build sand castles in the beach when we got home so Mrs Tootlepedal and I left the others in the cottage and got well and truly sand blasted as we walked along the shore.

sand blowing

After another excellent evening meal cooked by Alistair, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to sit on the harbour wall in a sheltered spot and watch the gannets soaring and swooping in their hundreds over the sea.

The birds were too far out to photograph satisfactorily but we couldn’t miss their home, positively glowing in the evening sun.

Bass Rock gleaming

The gannets may have stayed out of range but as usual a gull was happy to oblige as flying bird of the day.

flying gull

Note: As far as the election went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged for proxy votes to be cast on our behalf so we have done our democratic duty.  We had been too late to get a postal vote.

Another note:  I haven’t had time to do the usual reading and commenting on other people’s blogs so I apologise if if have missed any gems which would have enhanced my life.  I will try to catch up when I get home.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who like Dr Foster went to Gloucester but, unlike him,  found that the weather was fine.  She enjoyed a singing day in this lovely building.

gloucester

Our fine weather continued and with the breeze still coming from the south, we had an even warmer day than yesterday.  The watering seems to have encouraged the azaleas (though it may just have been another sunny day that did the trick) and there was a lot more colour about when I went out for a walk round the garden after breakfast.

azaleas coming out

Every flower had turned its face to the welcome sun.

poppy and peony

There were colourful corners about.

colourful corner

…and the clematis by the front door has finally plucked up the courage to open its buds and see what life is like outside.

front ddor clematis

Among the flowers, I found a siskin having a rest on the pond bridge.

siskin on pond bridge

I went in to make coffee in preparation for the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) and I got so excited when he came in that I knocked over the full coffee pot which was standing om the counter top, covering the counter top, my hand and the floor with a rich stream of coffee and grounds. I said a bad word and put my hand under a cold tap.

On the advice of Dropscone, I got old newspapers out and laid them over as much of the mess as I could before keeping Dropscone happy with a cup from yesterday’s coffee pot while I got everything as clean and dry.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in, took one look at the carnage and went out again.

Thanks to the good work of the much reviled mainstream media in soaking up the excess liquid, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might to get tidied up and I was soon able to sit and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a scone while Dropscone told me of his recent golfing triumphs.

After Dropscone left, I decided to test out some shoe advice I had received from our daughter Annie and go for a walk.  It proved to be good advice and I managed to walk a mile without too much trouble.

I went round Easton’s Walk and as I strolled through the park, I saw that a wood carver had been busy on a fallen tree.

carving in park

My main object was to see if the wild garlic was out and it didn’t take long to see and smell the pretty white flowers…

wild garlic may

…which lined my walk on all sides.

wild garlic panel

The were still some bluebells out so it was a walk to exercise the nose as well as the eye.

late bluebells

Although garlic and bluebells were by far the most numerous flowers to be seen, other plants were available…

wildflowers eastons walk

…and the first sighting of vigorous grasses…

grass seed

…were a hint of more pollen to come.

The hawthorns which are in a  position to catch the sun are coming out and it will not be long until there is blossom everywhere.

hawthorn stubholm

It was a glorious day to be out for a walk even with slightly sore feet…

stubholm track

…and my mellow mood was enhanced by azaleas and rhododendrons in the park.

azalea and rhododendron in park

We have so little rain lately that our rivers are reduced to a trickle and I could see a reflection of the suspension bridge in the Wauchope above the Kirk Bridge.

suspension bridge reflection

When I got back home, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short course on how not to set the customers on fire at the Buccleuch Centre where she is a volunteer.

She had spent the morning slaving over her Embroiderers’ Guild branch accounts as she is the treasurer and had finished up with that most annoying of all accounting errors, a difference of £1 in the balances.  I trained as an accountant for a few years after leaving school so while she was out, I went over the books and pinned the error down to a slight mistreatment in the recording of the petty cash and when this was regularised, the books balanced and all was well.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and before I could even show her the books, she whisked me out of the house to record an emperor moth which she noticed sunning itself on the side of a building on Henry Street.  It was worth looking at…

emperor moth

…but annoyingly, it wouldn’t spread its wings for me, so we left it to bask and went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her accounts ready to print and then we went out into the garden and finished off netting the fruit cages.  It was still very warm but the sky had clouded over and it felt for a while as though we might get a thunderstorm.  Happily, the rain stayed away and we completed the task and went in for a cup of tea and a moment to watch the birds.

Two goldfinches were in hot competition for the same feeder…

goldfinch competing

…and when I looked, I saw that some bad bird had made off with the perch from the opposite side of the feeder which might account for the pushing and shoving.

I just had time to go for a nine mile bike ride on the slow bike before tea and when I started out, I was very pleased to see our friendly partridge trying to work out a reason for crossing the road in Henry Street  (you can see the loss of feathers on its neck)…

Partridge and oyster catcher

…and I came across an oyster catcher nesting in the middle of the bus park at the Rugby Club near the end of my ride.  It got up when I stopped and stamped off in a huff so I took a quick shot and pedalled off apologetically.

In the evening, I went to the last practice of Langholm Sings under the direction of Mary my singing teacher, who has been our conductor for the past few years.  I will miss her when she has gone and rather annoyingly, I will also miss her final concert with the choir as we will be on holiday next week.  We had a very good sing though.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch heading towards the missing perch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba who is not in Manitoba at all at the moment.  She is in London and visited Kew Gardens where she took this picture.  You might think that as it was taken in a famous garden it shows a wonderful plant but in fact it is an even more wonderful glass sculpture by glass blower Dale Chihuly.

glass blower Dale Chihuly’s career KEW

We had another very fine day here today and with the wind coming up from the south, it was warm as well as sunny.

I pottered around the garden in the morning when I wasn’t drinking coffee or doing the crossword.

There was colour galore…

red flowers

…with old and new plants enjoying the weather.

purple flowers

There were more bees and other insects about today and I found two of them visiting a Welsh poppy…

welsh poppy with flies

…but they hadn’t discovered the first of the Icelandic poppies yet.

icelnadic poppy

When I walked over the pond bridge, there was a lot of tension on every side…

surface tension with frog

…but viewed from another angle, the frog seemed quite relaxed.

frog may

Nearby I saw this puzzle picture.  Was it a version of Jonah and the Whale?….

tadpole om lily leaf

….or was it just a water lily leaf half out of the water with a tadpole resting at its heart?

I walked along the dam at the back of the house to see if birds were bathing in the water there.

A sparrow had obviously just taken a dip when I arrived.

wet saprrow on barbed wire

When I came through the back gate, I passed one of the less cultivated areas of the garden.  Against all her ingrained gardening instincts, Mrs Tootlepedal is going a little wilder each year.

dandelions in garden

Blackbirds are nesting in the climbing hydrangea on the front wall of the house and this one took a moment to rest on the feeder pole before going off to collect more worms from the lawn.

blackbird

It had a wisp of nest stuck on its head which made me think how lucky we are to have hands and arms.  It twisted its head this way and that, so I imagined that it knew something was stuck up there, but it had no way of getting it off.

Although the crossword was quite tricky and took some time, I managed to have several wanders among the flowers.

This is Mrs Tootlepedal’s current favourite….

rhododendron in bloom

…and this is mine.

late tulip

I had a close look at the cow parsley and found, as so often is the case, that there is more to some flowers than you think.

cow parsley blossom

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and when she came back she sat on a garden bench and had a snack while I scarified the front lawn and collected the moss with the mower.

It has been very dry over the past weeks and as there is no rain in the immediate forecast, Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing a lot of watering in the vegetable garden before breakfast.  I thought that I ought to do my bit, so I watered the azaleas round the front lawn and one of the hedges which we have been cutting back.  Most of the azaleas have been refusing to progress from buds to flowers and I wondered if the dry spell was the cause.

The next task was putting the netting onto the metal frames for the two small fruit cages in the vegetable garden.  This involved measuring and cutting, and a good deal of bending and stretching.  By this time, the afternoon had got decidedly hot and we had to stop before we had quite finished the job.  Although a trick of the light makes it look as though we have only done the sides, we have done the front and back of the two cages as well.  Just the front section of the top of the left hand cage remains to be done.

fruit cages netting

After a short collapse and a cup of tea to recover from the heat, Mrs Tootlepedal made a fish pie for our tea.  When we had eaten our meal, she went back to the Buccleuch Centre where she was acting as a front of house volunteer, and stayed on to watch a screening of All My Sons by Arthur Miller.

I got my natty cycling shorts on and went out for a suitably short evening ride.  I am still trying to take care of my feet by mixing rest and gentle exercise (with frozen peas applied from time to time) but at least I can cycle without pain so I enjoyed my ten mile outing.

I looked up to see a tree at one point and was surprised to see the moon high in the sky behind it.

tree and moon

It was a grand evening to be out on very quiet roads and it was good to be able to cycle far enough to get a view.

wauchope road evening

I was keeping an eye out for hawthorn blossom but I only saw two bushes in flower and they were in a sheltered but sunny spot near the town.

first hawthorn

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the Buccleuch Centre with her withers thoroughly wring by the Miller drama and this made me quite glad that I hadn’t gone too.  I generally need cheering up not wringing out just now.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrow which appeared earlier in the post.  It came back down off the fence and took a bath.  The water was certainly flying even if the bird was not.

sparrow splashing

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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